Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Cesare Borgia

Hi everyone,

With his death day last week, I thought it would be approriate to write about Ceasre Borgia, a ruthless enemy.


Richard Mills

Cesare Borgia was one of the worst enemies you could face in battle, a fact that some leaders of city-states had to find out the hard way. He was a bastard son, nut that did not stop him from taking power and entering the church at an early age. For a few years, while attacking other city-states, Borgia took Leonardo da Vinci into his service as an engineer. Borgia died from a fatal wound that he received after being ambushed on his own by a party of knights. Borgia was also the subject of Machiavelli’s book, The Prince.
Being born an illegitimate child to a mother of Vannozza dei Cattanei and Pope Alexander VI, the original idea would have been that he could not inherit anything, but that quickly changed when his father, Pope Alexander VI publily announced all his illegitimate children. He was released of his need to prove his birth in a papal bull, essentially a sealed letter, from Pope Sixtus IV on the 1st of October 1480. This meant he was free to be the heir of his father. After studying law at Perugia and Pisa, Borgia entered the church, and at the age of 15, became the Bishop of Pamplona. At that age of 18, his father became Pope, and, with this elevation of his father, Cesare became a cardinal. Prior to his fathers elevation, his father was named Rodrigo Borgia.

The Borgia family, with Cesare entering the church, laid its stakes of success on Cesare’s brother, Giovanni, who was made the captain of the general forces of the Papal military, however, these stakes were demolished when Giovanni was assassinated in 1497, under circumstances unknown. Under these circumstances, Cesare resigned from his position as Cardinal of Valencia, and became the first person to resign the cardinalate. On the same day as Cesare’s resignation, the French King, Louis XII gave Cesare the title of Duke of Velantinois.

In 1496, his father replaced Cesare’s brother of the command of the papal army with Cesare himself, and with this newfound role, Borgia and the Pope decided to take the central Italian city-states under the control of the Pope, and create a united Italy for Cesare to rule over, however, Cesare’s plans stalled when his father, the Pope died in 1503 from malaria. As well as this, Cesare fell ill under the same illness as his father, but, after being sunken into a huge jar of ice, Cesare was cured, however, in this time, the cardinals had decided to elect a new Pope, who would later be known as Pope Julius II. This pope was actually called Giuliano della Rovere, and was a deadly enemy of the Borgia’s. This meant that a lot of the leniency given to Cesare by his father, the previous pope, would now be stopped.

While invading Naples, Cesare was betrayed by a man he though of as his ally. Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba, and imprisoned. After a while, Borgia was transferred to Spain, where he was imprisoned in the Castle of Chinchilla de Montearagon. However, after an attempted escape, he was taken to yet another castle, the Castle of La Mota, Medina del Campo. In this castle, Borgia managed to escape, and managed to get back to his brother-in-law, King John of Navarre. While he planned to go back to Italy, a rebellion was being held against King John, and Cesare had to deal with those matters. He took command of a 5,000 strong army to deal with the problem. One of the rebels was Luis de Beaumonte, who was the lord of the castle of Viana. Cesare lay siege on this castle, and soon, the castle became weakly provisioned. This was, however, soon faulted, as, on the 11th of March, 1507, de Beaumonte took provisions to the castle, commanded by de Beaumonte’s son. This was hidden under the cover of a sudden storm, but the veil couldn’t be kept over Cesare’s eyes for too long, and on his way back from the castle, Luis de Beaumonte was spotted. Cesare took off with seventy horsemen, o catch de Beaumonte, who was only being led by a pack of mulse, considerably slower than horses. In his eargerness to get to de Beaumonte, and not to let him get away, Borgia left his convoy behind, and got further and further away form his men. The enemy soon spotted Borgia, and being on his own, it was no match. He was stripped of all valuables, and all his clothes, and left naked, for King John’s men to find. Once de Beaumonte found out about the death of Borgia, he was furious with his men, as Cesare would have been a good item for ransom. King John burned Borgia’s body in Viana with an inscription saying;
Here lies in a little earth
he who everyone feared,
he who peace and war
held in his hand.
Oh, you who go in search
of worthy things to praise,
if you would praise the worthiest
then your path stops here
and you do not need to go any farther.

His remains now lay to rest in the church of Santa Maria, after his body was dug up a few times.

Borgia also stars in Maciavelli’s book, the Prince, which explained the ideal ruler. He included many lines in the book that praised Cesare like the below;
"There was one man who showed glimpses of greatness, the kind of thing that made you think he was sent by God for the country's redemption" (26.2).
"I wouldn't know what better advice to give a ruler new to power than to follow his example" (7.3).
Borgia was so ruthless and so talented, he knew so well that you have to win over people or destroy them and he had built up such solid foundations for his power in such a short time that if he hadn't had these two armies threatening him, or if he hadn't been so ill, he would have overcome every obstacle. (7.13)

Cesare Borgia was the illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI, and had two children, Louise Borgia, Duchessa of Valentinois and Girolamo Borgia. Cesare was a ruthless leader, and probably would have continued to be one, if it hadn’t have been for his death. He took chances that risked his life, and was very successful, although in his later life, he was taken into imprisonment. Borgia was a very ruthless and cruel leader, and one that leaders of city-states did not want to mess with.