Year: 2023 | Grade: 4
A sinister legend hangs over the Borgia family, a legend of corruption, abuse of power, orgies, sex and murder. These rumours proliferated especially during the papacy of Alexander VI, a descendant of the family, who was even called the Antichrist. On his death, contemporary witnesses reported that the devil himself prowled around the death chamber and a black dog run along the corridors of the Vatican as his emissary. One might say that this Borgia pope, who ruled together with his family with the greatest brutality, became demonised. Unscrupulousness, poison-toting, incest and other malice are to this day the hallmarks of this pontiff. 2. NEPOTISM Rodrigo Borgia was elected Pope on 11 August 1492. From the very start, the new pope was prepared to use any means to eliminate his opponents, either through the infamous ‘Borgia poison’ or by excommunication and execution. His son Cesare, who wanted little to do with the church, was appointed cardinal against his will. Alessandro Farnese, broth of Giulia Farnese, the Pope’s mistress, also became a cardinal. Numerous Spaniards were brought into the country and were appointed to ecclesiastical posts. This infuriated the opponents of Alexander VI. The Dominican Girolamo Savonarola from Florence demanded the removal of the Pope. He was tortured and banned. Giuliano della Rovere wanted to convene councils to depose the Pope, which Alexander managed to prevent through artful political manoeuvrings. Through great brutality, brilliant political skill and power games, this pope was able to achieve his goal of leaving for his children a great legacy. Alexander VI constantly changed his allies and always acted unscrupulously to improve his financial situation and expand his sphere of influence. At the centre of the second movement of this work is the medieval hymn Dies Irae (Day of Wrath), which acts as a warning in the background condemning the Pope’s actions.