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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Borgia, Caesar

was "one of the greatest monsters of a time of depravity, when the court of Rome was the scene of all the worst forms of crime. He was the son of Alexander VI and Catharine Vanozza, who made him archbishop of Valencia at an early age, and afterward cardinal in 1493. He unscrupulously made use of the most sacred things as means to the most iniquitous ends. His father having conferred upon his brother Giovanni the duchy of Benevento, with the counties of Terracina and Pontecorvo, Caesar, as was believed, moved with envy, caused his brother to be assassinated. He obtained the duchy and counties for himself, and was permitted by his father to resign the purple and to devote himself to the profession of arms. He was sent in 1498 to France, to convey to Louis XII a bull of divorce and dispensation from his marriage with Anne of Brittany. Louis rewarded him for the pope's complaisance with the duchy of Valentinois, a body-guard of 100 men, 20,000 livres of yearly revenue, and a promise of support in his schemes of ambition. In 1499 Caesar married a daughter of the king of Navarre, and accompanied Louis XII to Italy, where he undertook the conquest of the Romagna for the Holy See. The rightful lords of that country, who fell into his hands, were murdered, notwithstanding that their lives had been guaranteed by his oath. In 1501 he was named by his father duke of Romagna.

In the same year he wrested the principality of Piombino from Jacopo d'Appiano, but failed in an attempt to acquire Bologna and Florence. He took Camerino, and caused Giulio di Varano, the lord of that town, to be strangled along with his two sons. By treachery as much as by violence he made himself master of the duchy of Urbino. A league of Italian princes was formed to resist him, but he kept them in awe by a body of Swiss troops, till he succeeded in winning some of them over by advantageous offers, employed them against the others, and then treacherously murdered them on the day of the victory, 31st December. 1502, at Sinigaglia. He now seized their possessions, and saw no obstacle in the way of his being made king of Romagna, of the March, and of Umbria, when, on August 17th, 1503, his father died, probably of poison which he had prepared for twelve cardinals. Caesar also, who was a party to the design, (and who, like his father, had long been familiar with that mode of dispatching those who stood in the way of his ambition, or whose wealth he desired to obtain), had himself partaken of the poison, and the consequence was a severe illness, exactly at a time when the utmost activity and presence of mind were requisite for his affairs. Enemies rose against him on all hands, and one of the most inveterate of them ascended the papal throne as Julius II. Caesar was arrested and conveyed to the castle of Medina del Campo, in Spain, where he lay imprisoned for two years. At length he contrived to make his escape to the king of Navarre, whom he accompanied in the war against Castile, and was killed on the 12th of March, 1507, by a missile fiom the castle of Biano. With all his baseness and cruelty, he loved and patronized learning, and possessed a ready and persuasive eloquence. Machiavelli has delineated his character in his Principe."-"Chambers, Encyclopedia, s.v.; Hoefer, Biog. Generale, 6:711; Ranke, History of the Popes.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Borgia, Caesar'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/b/borgia-caesar.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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