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Bio-Bibliographical Guide to Medieval and Early Modern Jurists

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Report No. r013

Alexander VI, pope

c. 1431–1503

 

Alternative Names

Alexander VI; Pope (LC); Alexandre VI; Alessandro VI; Roderigo da Borgia; Rodrigo de Borja; Rodrigo Borja y Doms; Roderico Lenzuoli Borja; Roderic de Borja; Rodrigo de Borja y Borja; Rodrgio Lanzol y Borja; Roderic Lançol y Borja; Rodrigo Borgia

 

Biography/Description

Born in Játiva, most likely in 1431, to a noble Catalan family, Rodrigo de Borja y Borja entered the ecclesiastical life in his youth, holding benefices in Valencia and other Spanish dioceses. By 1453 he was a student of law in Bologna, and he received a degree in canon law three years later. In 1455, his maternal uncle was elected pope and took the name Calixtus III. Calixtus saw to it that his nephew received a number of benefices, including being made a cardinal deacon in 1456 and vice–chancellor of the Roman Church in 1457. The accretion of benefices did not stop, however, with the death of Calixtus in 1458. In 1471 he became the cardinal–bishop of Albano, and in 1476 he was translated to Porto. Following the death of Sixtus IV in 1484, Borja attempted to garner support for his own election, though his methods earned the enimity of many, particularly Giuliano della Rovere. Rodrigo eventually threw his support behind Innocent VIII.

Rodrigo was eventually elected pope in 1492 after the death of Innocent VIII. Soon after his election, Alexander had to contend with the invasion of Italy by Charles VIII of France. In order to deal with the French threat, Alexander entered into the so–called ‘Holy League’ with Spain, Milan, Venice, and the Holy Roman Emperor. Alexander also entered into a conflict with the Florentine Dominican preacher Girolamo Savanarola, who preached vehemently against papal corruption. At the urging of Alexander, the Florentine government had Savanarola arrested, condemned, and executed in 1498. Alexander continued to deal with political intrigue involving France, Spain, and the Italian States for the rest of his pontificate. He died in 1503.

Although Alexander VI has been a frequent target for those denouncing corruption in the Church, both now and in his own day, recent scholarship has tended to place the Borgias in the context of the activities of other powerful fifteenth–century families. There is also an increased emphasis on the artistic and intellectual patronage of Alexander.

 

Text(s)

 
No. 1

De cardinalium excellentia et officio uicecancellarii.

 
No. 2

Glossa in regulas cancellariae.

 

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