Alexander VI, Pope

(Rodrigo Borgia; r. 1492-1503).
   Alexander VI received the cardinalate from his uncle, Pope Calixtus III, in 1456 and the vice-chancellorship to the Holy See in the following year. He was a licentious prelate who fathered several children and won the papal election by offering bribes to the cardinals at the conclave of 1492, as well as promises of enrichment. Alexander's papacy was punctuated by scandal and blatant nepotism. His daughter Lucretia Borgia was the wife of Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, a marriage arranged by the pope to further the family's social position. His son Cesare carried out a ruthless military campaign to recover territories that had belonged to the Papal States in the medieval era, and he committed or caused various assassinations, including perhaps his own brother's, marring the reputation of the Borgia papacy. In 1497, Alexander excommunicated the overzealous monk Girolamo Savonarola, who had sternly criticized his abuses from the pulpit. Alexander was the patron of the painter Pinturicchio who created a series of frescoes for him in the Borgia Apartments at the Vatican (1492-1494). These frescoes include the legend of Isis and Osiris to denote the Borgia family's supposed descent from these Egyptian divinities.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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