Today we are pleased to welcome British author Sarah Bower who is currently on a blog tour promoting her book The Sins of the Borgias. This book was previously released in the UK as The Book Of Love, which is an interesting change of title. This is her second novel following The Needle in the Blood.
Through Cesare, I got to know the rest of his extraordinary family. As well as giving us the legend of the murderous adulteress, Lucrezia, who inspired Victor Hugo’s play and Donizetti’s opera, the Borgias (or Borjas, as they were known in their native Catalonia) gave us two Popes and a saint, a convicted murderer and the man who built the famous Villa d’Este and its garden. This contrast exists best in microcosm in the life of Lucrezia, whose early years were marked by rumours of adultery, incest, extravagant partying and even lying to a convocation of cardinals about her virginity. Yet by the time of her death, she was a much-loved matriarch, a heroine of resistance who sold all her jewellery to buy artillery to defend her home in Ferrara, and a distinguished patron of the arts.
What it’s easy to forget when you list the achievements of these lives, is how short they were. Cesare and Lucrezia’s father became Pope Alexander VI in 1492. His sudden death in 1503 brought his dynasty crashing down; within twelve months Cesare had lost control of the Papal States and three years later, aged just 31, he was dead. The period of Borgia ascendancy lasted a mere nine years, in an age dominated by the great Italian dynasties such as the Medici, the Orsini and the Visconti. They left no cultural legacy, no great paintings or palazzi, yet their name remains far better known than some of the others.
They didn’t need permanent monuments. They had chutzpah, guts, flair, a glorious and flamboyant disregard for what anyone thought of them as they pursued their high, and ultimately impossible, ambitions. They were gallant and brave in the face of treachery, disease, loss and war. When they had power and wealth, they flaunted it, when they lost it, they set out undaunted to get it back.