Alexander VI.


May 17, 2022

Alexander VI (Originally Valencian Roderic Llançol i de Borja, Italian Rodrigo Borgia; born January 1, 1431 in Xàtiva near València; † August 18, 1503 in Rome) was Roman Catholic Pope from 1492 to 1503. He was one of the most politically influential figures in Renaissance Italy. For decades, Roderic de Borja worked to obtain the tiara until he emerged from the conclave as Pope on August 11, 1492. Alexander was the last native of Spanish territory to be elected Pope.


Church career

The Borgia family came from the village of Borja in Aragon. They maintained their roots and also spoke Valencian, a variety of the Catalan language, within the family in Rome. Roderic Llançol i de Borja (Spanish: Rodrigo Lanzol y de Borja) was born as the son of Jofré de Borja y Escrivà (1390-1436) from Valencia, son of Rodrigo Gil de Borja i de Fennolet and Sibilia d'Escrivà i de Pròixita, and Aragonese born Isabel de Borja y Llançol (1390-1468), daughter of Juan Domingo de Borja and Francina Llançol. The family name is written Llançol in Valencia, the common Spanish spelling is Lanzol. Rodrigo took the surname Borgia when his maternal uncle, Alonso de Borja, was elected Pope. He reigned as Pope Calixtus III. from 1455 to 1458 and enabled Rodrigo de Borja to rise in the church hierarchy. Rodrigo Borgia first studied - from about 1453 - canon law in Bologna, after he had already been endowed with numerous lucrative benefices by his uncle, including as a canon in Xàtiva. Although he was not a priest - as was customary at the time, he only became one years later - but his papal uncle appointed him Cardinal Deacon of San Nicola in Carcere on February 20, 1456 and Vice Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church the following year. From 1458 he was in commendam cardinal deacon of Santa Maria in Via Lata. In 1471 he became cardinal bishop of Albano and in 1476 of Porto. Despite his ecclesiastical rank, he was very attached to the female sex and – typical of the Renaissance – hardly concealed this from the public. A letter from Pope Pius II, in which he reprimanded the young prelate for his sex life, documents the fact that the liberal way of life, which was common among many contemporary prelates, also met with opposition in the Curia. With Vanozza de' Cattanei, the mother of his children Juan (Giovanni) (later Duke of Gandía), Cesare (later Duke of Romagna), Lucrezia (later Duchess of Ferrara) and Jofré, he lived for about 20 years during his tenure as cardinal together. Numerous descriptions of orgies at his court have survived, although they may have sprung from the imagination of his adversaries.


On August 11, 1492, he was elected Pope, which was typically promoted by simony (purchase of offices). He chose the name Alexander (VI) for himself. The papal name openly alluded to Alexander the Great, i. H. documented a claim to power. Since those elected pope had to give up their benefices with their coronation, rich cardinals like Rodrigo had a large number of well-endowed church goods that could be used as trading goods in an election. In the conclave, two powerful cardinals faced each other, Giuliano della Rovere, a nephew of Pope Sixtus IV, and Ascanio Sforza. Della Rovere, who after the death of Alexander VI. and of Pius III, who followed him only briefly. When Julius II was actually to become pope, a powerful group of allies had gathered around him: in addition to Florence and Naples, Venice, a third major Italian power, supported his candidacy, as did Genoa and the French king