The Borgia Family: Rumor and Representation explores the historical and cultural structures that underpin the early modern Borgia family, their notoriety, and persistence and reinvention in the popular imagination.
The book balances studies focusing on early modern observations of the Borgias and studies deconstructing later incarnations on the stage, on the page, on the street, and on the screen. It reveals how contemporary observers, later authors and artists, and generations of historians reinforced and perpetuated both rumor and reputation, ultimately contributing to the Borgia Black Legend and its representations. Focused on the deeds and posthumous reputations of Pope Alexander VI and his children, Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia, the volume charts the choices made by the family and contextualizes them amid contemporary expectations and reactions. Extending beyond their deaths, it also investigates how the Borgias became emblems of anti-Catholic and anti-Spanish criticism in the later early modern period and their residing reputation as the best and worst of the Renaissance.
Exploring a spectrum of traditional and modern media, The Borgia Family contextualizes both Borgia deeds and their modern representations to analyze the family’s continuing history and meaning in the twenty-first century. It will be of great interest to researchers and students working on interdisciplinary aspects of the Renaissance and early modern Italy.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: What would Rome be without a good plot? Telling tales about the Borgias
Jennifer Mara DeSilva
Chapter 2: Sexuality, agency, and honor in the connections between the Borgia and Farnese families in Renaissance Rome
Chapter 3: Lucrezia Borgia’s honor
Diane Y.F. Ghirardo
Chapter 4: Lucrezia Borgia’s performances at the Este Court
Chapter 5: Electing Alexander… or not? The development and reception of a Reacting to the Past role-immersion game based on the papal conclave of 1492
William Keene Thompson
Chapter 6: Picture the Borgias: what Pope Alexander VI’s Appartamento Borgia can tell us
Chapter 7: Depictions of Pope Alexander VI as the Devil
Chapter 8: Caught between fact and fantasy: the Borgia in English literature
Chapter 9: The Hispanic Ballad of the Death of the Duke of Gandía: propaganda against or sympathy for the Borgias?
Chapter 10: Prince, villain, Fortune’s fool: is Cesare Borgia’s reputation beyond repair?
Chapter 11: From church to street: making meaning out of Cesare Borgia’s death and burials in Viana, Navarre
Chapter 12: The secularization of Cesare Borgia and the American Motion Picture Production Code
Jennifer Mara DeSilva
Chapter 13: Requiescat in pace: the afterlife of the Borgia in Assassin’s Creed II and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Jennifer Mara DeSilva is an associate professor of History at Ball State University. Her published research explores the mechanics of family strategy and group identity, as well as the practical realities of ecclesiastical reform in early modern Europe. Her previous publications include, as editor, The Sacralization of Space and Behaviour in the Early Modern World (2015) and Episcopal Reform and Politics in Early Modern Europe (2012).