Lucretia Borgia

Chapter I: Lucretia's Father

翻訳:John Leslie Garner
引用サイト:The Project Gutenberg

 The Spanish house of Borja (or Borgia as the name is generally written) was rich in extraordinary men. Nature endowed them generously; they were distinguished by sensuous beauty, physical strength, intellect, and that force of will which compels success, and which was the source of the greatness of Cortez and Pizarro, and of the other Spanish adventurers.

 Like the Aragonese, the Borgias also played the part of conquerors in Italy, winning for themselves honors and power, and deeply affecting the destiny of the whole peninsula, where they extended the influence of Spain and established numerous branches of their family. From the old kings of Aragon they claimed descent, but so little is known of their origin that their history begins with the real founder of the house, Alfonso Borgia, whose father's name is stated by some to have been Juan, and by others Domenico; while the family name of his mother, Francesca, is not even known.

 Alfonso Borgia was born in the year 1378 at Xativa, near Valencia. He served King Alfonso of Aragon as privy secretary, and was made Bishop of Valencia. He came to Naples with this genial prince when he ascended its throne, and in the year 1444 he was made a cardinal.

 Spain, owing to her religious wars, was advancing toward national unity, and was fast assuming a position of European importance. She now, by taking a hand in the affairs of Italy, endeavored to grasp what she had hitherto let slip by,—namely, the opportunity of becoming the head of the Latin world and, above all, the center of gravity of European politics and civilization. She soon forced herself into the Papacy and into the Empire. From Spain the Borgias first came to the Holy See, and from there later came Charles V to ascend the imperial throne. From Spain came also Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the most powerful politico-religious order history has ever known.

 Alfonso Borgia, one of the most active opponents of the Council of Basle and of the Reformation in Germany, was elected pope in 1455, assuming the name Calixtus III. Innumerable were his kinsmen, many of whom he had found settled in Rome when he, as cardinal, had taken up his residence there. His nearest kin were members of the three connected Valencian families of Borgia, Mila (or Mella), and Lanzol. One of the sisters of Calixtus, Catarina Borgia, was married to Juan Mila, Baron of Mazalanes, and was the mother of the youthful Juan Luis. Isabella, the wife of Jofrè Lanzol, a wealthy nobleman of Xativa, was the mother of Pedro Luis and Rodrigo, and of several daughters. The uncle adopted these two nephews and gave them his family name,—thus the Lanzols became Borgias.

 In 1456 Calixtus III bestowed the purple upon two members of the Mila family: the Bishop Juan of Zamora, who died in 1467, in Rome, where his tomb may still be seen in S. Maria di Monserrato, and on the youthful Juan Luis. Rodrigo Borgia also received the purple in the same year. Among other members of the house of Mila settled in Rome was Don Pedro, whose daughter, Adriana Mila, we shall later find in most intimate relations with the family of her uncle Rodrigo.

 Of the sisters of this same Rodrigo, Beatrice was married to Don Ximenez Perez de Arenos, Tecla to Don Vidal de Villanova, and Juana to Don Pedro Guillen Lanzol.

 Zurita, Anales de Aragon, v. 36.

All these remained in Spain. There is a letter extant, written by Beatrice from Valencia to her brother shortly after he became pope.

 Rodrigo Borgia was twenty-six when the dignity of cardinal was conferred upon him, and to this honor, a year later, was added the great office of vice-chancellor of the Church of Rome. His brother, Don Pedro Luis, was only one year older; and Calixtus bestowed upon this young Valencian the highest honors which can fall to the lot of a prince's favorite. Later we behold in him a papal nepot-prince in whom the Pope endeavored to embody all mundane power and honor; he made him his condottiere, his warder, his body-guard, and, finally, his worldly heir. Calixtus allowed him to usurp every position of authority in the Church domain and, like a destroying angel, to overrun and devastate the republics and the tyrannies, for the purpose of founding a family dynasty, the Papacy being of only momentary tenure, and not transmittable to an heir.

 Calixtus made Pedro Luis generalissimo of the Church, prefect of the city, Duke of Spoleto, and finally, vicar of Terracina and Benevento. Thus in this first Spanish nepot was foreshadowed the career which Caesar Borgia later followed.

 During the life of Calixtus the Spaniards were all-powerful in Rome. In great numbers they poured into Italy from the kingdom of Valencia to make their fortune at the papal court as monsignori and clerks, as captains and castellans, and in any other way that suggested itself. Calixtus III died on the sixth of August, 1458, and a few days later Don Pedro Luis was driven from Rome by the oppressed nobility of the country, the Colonna and the Orsini, who rose against the hated foreigner. Soon afterwards, in December the same year, death suddenly terminated the career of this young and brilliant upstart, then in Civitavecchia. It is not known whether Don Pedro Luis Borgia was married or whether he left any descendants.

 Zurita (iv, 55) says he died sin dexar ninguna sucesion. Notwithstanding this, Cittadella, in his Saggio di Albero Genealogico e di memorie su la Familia Borgia (Turin, 1872), ascribes two children to this Pedro Luis, Silvia and Cardinal Giovanni Borgia, the younger.

 Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia lamented the loss of his beloved and, probably, only brother, and inherited his property, while his own high position in the Curia was not affected by the change in the papacy. As vice-chancellor, he occupied a house in the Ponte quarter, which had formerly been the Mint, and which he converted into one of the most showy of the palaces of Rome. The building encloses two courts, where may still be seen the original open colonnades of the lower story; it was constructed as a stronghold, like the Palazzo di Venizia, which was almost contemporaneous with it. The Borgia palace, however, does not compare in architectural beauty or size with that built by Paul II. In the course of the years it has undergone many changes, and for a long time has belonged to the Sforza-Cesarini.

 Nothing is known of Rodrigo's private life during the pontificate of the four popes who followed CalixtusPius II, Paul II, Sixtus IV, and Innocent VIII—for the records of that period are very incomplete.

 Insatiable sensuality ruled this Borgia, a man of unusual beauty and strength, until his last years. Never was he able to cast out this demon. He angered Pius II by his excesses, and the first ray of light thrown upon Rodrigo's private life is an admonitory letter written by that pope, the eleventh of June, 1460, from the baths of Petriolo. Borgia was then twenty-nine years old. He was in beautiful and captivating Siena, where Piccolomini had passed his unholy youth. There he had arranged a bacchanalian orgy of which the Pope's letter gives a picture.

 Dear Son: We have learned that your Worthiness, forgetful of the high office with which you are invested, was present from the seventeenth to the twenty-second hour, four days ago, in the gardens of John de Bichis, where there were several women of Siena, women wholly given over to worldly vanities. Your companion was one of your colleagues whom his years, if not the dignity of his office, ought to have reminded of his duty. We have heard that the dance was indulged in in all wantonness; none of the allurements of love were lacking, and you conducted yourself in a wholly worldly manner. Shame forbids mention of all that took place, for not only the things themselves but their very names are unworthy of your rank. In order that your lust might be all the more unrestrained, the husbands, fathers, brothers, and kinsmen of the young women and girls were not invited to be present. You and a few servants were the leaders and inspirers of this orgy. It is said that nothing is now talked of in Siena but your vanity, which is the subject of universal ridicule. Certain it is that here at the baths, where Churchmen and the laity are very numerous, your name is on every one's tongue. Our displeasure is beyond words, for your conduct has brought the holy state and office into disgrace; the people will say that they make us rich and great, not that we may live a blameless life, but that we may have means to gratify our passions. This is the reason the princes and the powers despise us and the laity mock us; this is why our own mode of living is thrown in our face when we reprove others. Contempt is the lot of Christ's vicar because he seems to tolerate these actions. You, dear son, have charge of the bishopric of Valencia, the most important in Spain; you are a chancellor of the Church, and what renders your conduct all the more reprehensible is the fact that you have a seat among the cardinals, with the Pope, as advisors of the Holy See. We leave it to you whether it is becoming to your dignity to court young women, and to send those whom you love fruits and wine, and during the whole day to give no thought to anything but sensual pleasures. People blame us on your account, and the memory of your blessed uncle, Calixtus, likewise suffers, and many say he did wrong in heaping honors upon you. If you try to excuse yourself on the ground of your youth, I say to you: you are no longer so young as not to see what duties your offices impose upon you. A cardinal should be above reproach and an example of right living before the eyes of all men, and then we should have just grounds for anger when temporal princes bestow uncomplimentary epithets upon us; when they dispute with us the possession of our property and force us to submit ourselves to their will. Of a truth we inflict these wounds upon ourselves, and we ourselves are the cause of these troubles, since we by our conduct are daily diminishing the authority of the Church. Our punishment for it in this world is dishonor, and in the world to come well deserved torment. May, therefore, your good sense place a restraint on these frivolities, and may you never lose sight of your dignity; then people will not call you a vain gallant among men. If this occurs again we shall be compelled to show that it was contrary to our exhortation, and that it caused us great pain; and our censure will not pass over you without causing you to blush. We have always loved you and thought you worthy of our protection as a man of an earnest and modest character. Therefore, conduct yourself henceforth so that we may retain this our opinion of you, and may behold in you only the example of a well ordered life. Your years, which are not such as to preclude improvement, permit us to admonish you paternally.

 Petriolo, June 11, 1460.

 Raynaldus, 1460. No. 31.

 A few years later, when Paul II occupied the papal throne, the historian Gasparino of Verona described Cardinal Borgia as follows: "He is handsome; of a most glad countenance and joyous aspect, gifted with honeyed and choice eloquenc. The beautiful women on whom his eyes are cast he lures to love him, and moves them in a wondrous way, more powerfully than the magnet influences iron."

 There are such organizations as Gasparino describes; they are men of the physical and moral nature of Casanova and the Regent of Orleans. Rodrigo's beauty was noted by many of his contemporaries even when he was pope. In 1493 Hieronymus Portius described him as follows: "Alexander is tall and neither light nor dark; his eyes are black and his lips somewhat full. His health is robust, and he is able to bear any pain or fatigue; he is wonderfully eloquent and a thorough man of the world."

 Statura procerus, colore medio, nigris oculis, ore paululum pleniore. Hieron. Portius, Commentarius, a rare publication of 1493, in the Casanatense in Rome.

 The force of this happy organization lay, apparently, in the perfect balance of all its powers. From it radiated the serene brightness of his being, for nothing is more incorrect than the picture usually drawn of this Borgia, showing him as a sinister monster. The celebrated Jason Mainus, of Milan, calls attention to his "elegance of figure, his serene brow, his kingly forehead, his countenance with its expression of generosity and majesty, his genius, and the heroic beauty of his whole presence."


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Lucretia Borgia