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The Borgias and Their Enemies: 1431-1519

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  1,359 Ratings  ·  132 Reviews
The name Borgia is synonymous with the corruption, nepotism, and greed that were rife in Renaissance Italy. The powerful, voracious Rodrigo Borgia, better known to history as Pope Alexander VI, was the central figure of the dynasty. Two of his seven papal offspring also rose to power and fame - Lucrezia Borgia, his daughter, whose husband was famously murdered by her broth ...more
Kindle Edition, 337 pages
Published (first published 2008)
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3 "Phillipa Gregory would be darn proud" stars.

Mr. Hibbert wrote an extremely entertaining and "tongue in cheek" history book about the life of the most notorious of the Borgias focusing on Pope Alexander VI and his children Cesare and Lucrezia. He did an admirable job of getting across to the general reader a huge amount of information on this most corrupt and ruthless family where other famous people such as Machiavelli and Michelangelo play small but important roles. The book is always inter
Bruno Bouchet
This book should really be called Renaissance Mules and the Fabrics they Carried as the author seems far more interesting in describing in detail how many mules loaded up with how many yards of brocade, silks and cloth of gold schlepped across the Apennines for sundry weddings and festivities. I suppose accurate history does depend on the contemporary documents available and the writers of the Borgias time might be the ones obsessed with fabrics, public parades and the costumes of the 300 page b ...more
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Without going into particulars it is shocking how Cesare made a career of stacking the dead bodies of anyone who got in his way and using their cadavers as steps to his next position of power. The whole time it seems as if it never occurred to him what would happen once the families he had offended decided to seek vengeance. A cautionary tale that still has relevance in this age of globalization.
Elaine Dowling
Jan 25, 2010 Elaine Dowling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book attempts to cover almost 100 years of Renaissance Italian history in 336 pages. Don't expect detail. Still, it does a surprisingly good job. You don't get depth of character. The various atrocities committed primarily by Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) and his son Cesare are so numerous and covered so quickly that they lack the shock value they rightly deserve. These shortcomings are a consequence merely of the length of the volume. It is well researched, well presented and, rather notab ...more
The author gives a great overview of the Borgia’s rise and fall in this book. It mainly focuses on Pope Alexander VI and his children Caesar and Lucrezia. The early years are skimmed through as a set up for the famous members of the family and the minor players are often only described in relation to the three main characters.
An in depth look at the entire family and era it is not, but it is well worth the read; especially as a start to a more comprehensive look into the family and/or time peri
Oct 15, 2008 C.W. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a marvelous, concise account of the Borgias' rise to power and the foibles and intrigues that destroyed them. Well researched and easily accessible, it's highly recommended for those who want to learn more about this infamous papal dynasty and their era.
May 04, 2011 Aaron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up after I started watching the new Showtime series The Borgias, which I find myself really enjoying. I was really curious to see how much dramatic liberty with the historical figures and events were being taken. The only thing I really remembered about the Borgias was a comment from my European history teacher in high school who said that one of them was a Pope, who had an affair with his son and his daughter. There are so many things wrong with that statement, not even taking int ...more
Jan 18, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
As with any well-written and diligently researched history book, one of the first things the reader notices about Christopher Hibbert's 'The Borgias' is the amount of subtle myth-busting that is done. In the course of this work, Hibbert manages to guide us through the lesser known points of early Renaissance Europe whilst simultaneously chipping away at rumour and gossip. Lucrezia Borgia was, so popular history would have us believe, some fully-fledged harlot (she was actually renowned in her ow ...more
Sep 04, 2011 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall an enjoyable, although grotesque and revolting, read and a good introduction. Footnotes would have been beneficial. A major takeaway for me was the lesson to avoid contracting syphilis at all costs.
Elizabeth Sulzby
I hadn't thought this book would add much to my knowledge but it's actually quite good. His accounting of the history leading up to the Borgia papacy is detailed without being boring. Within the accounts during the papacy he uses a number of original sources, including the notes of his "Master of Ceremony" Johannes Burchard. Some other original sources are near-contemporaneous. In his end notes he separates original and secondary sources as well as some other related newer sources. Hibbert is a ...more
Apr 22, 2012 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
Hibbert's familial biography of the Borgias was surprisingly interesting; but I've realized, thinking back to past books of history I've relished, that I love the breezy style with which British authors often approach such large subjects: you are swept away by the force of the writing; and, if you are like me, are willing to let go the notion you would remember the name of every personage mentioned, let alone know who they were. I was captivated by page fifteen, if I recall.

What Hibbert subtly m
Rob Atkinson
Apr 09, 2013 Rob Atkinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A rather straightforward and unsensational history of one of history's most scandalous families, this work provides a good if basic overview of the careers of Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia) and his children, particularly Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia. The infamous reputations of the former two are largely confirmed, with devious deal-making, murder, theft, simony and licentiousness aplenty. Nevertheless, the Borgia Pope did prove a wily navigator of the tricky terrain of Italian politics, succe ...more
Apr 26, 2013 Louise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For the general reader, Italian history is difficult. British history, like American history, is about one country tied by one language. While these histories have religious and political strife they are very unlike the situation where city states and a religious superstructure vie for power. The many narratives and subnarratives, inclusive of the monumental art created at this time, make it hard for the general reader. A focused work like this is most appreciated.

I particularly liked that Hibbe
Lyn (Readinghearts)
Dec 06, 2010 Lyn (Readinghearts) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jennifer , Niecole, Kate, Aly,
Recommended to Lyn (Readinghearts) by: Colleen
The Borgia family has always held an allure for me since I lived on a street named after them when I was a child. In addition, I was raised a Catholic, so the Popes are intriguing to me, especially those during the period where the church was more of a political entity. When I heard that Showtime was doing a show about this family this spring, I decided now was the time to do some background reading and get the real story about the family.

I had never read any books by Christopher Hibbert, but h
Mar 06, 2012 Kara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Well researched, clearly written, well presented, sources cited, and a subject simply that oozes with scandal. In short, the perfect history book.

Hibbert starts a few generations before Rodrigo Borgia came to power, to establish just how bad Rome was in the 14th century. It was bad. Like, post-apocalyptic bad. When people talk about how great the Renaissance was, a lot of us forget part of the reason it was so great was because it was in direct contrast to the poverty-ruin-plagues-wars of the p
Jun 23, 2011 Jules rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Borgias were seriously badass. The Pope is a fairly fat corrupt conniving dude who at least cares for his family very much and at least fixes the city up a bit (fittingly played by Jeremy Irons in the series), but his son Cesare is pretty much a mass-murdering fuckhead (unfittingly portrayed as a good and hot guy in the show - he's supposed to be covered in herpes rash), his daughter is cute and cunning in both versions. The real star is 'master of ceremonies' Johannes Burchard who is forced ...more
Jul 29, 2009 Alicia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
It's always fun to find a diamond in the clearance books section, especially hardcovers. If I'd had to pay full price for this book, I probably would not have bought it, but for $5 - sure why not.

This was a quite engrossing history of the rise and fall of the Borgia family - one of Italy's most powerful families during the early years of the Italian Renaissance. I found this book shortly after the series premiere of "Warehouse 13", so my interest in Lucrezia Borgia was already piqued. This book
Apr 20, 2016 Celia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book very much, mostly due to the fact that the author doesn't impose his own opinions on the reader, the way a lot of historians seem to do when writing a book. Statements are backed up by facts and records of documentation, instead of sleazy insinuations, which is a welcome change.

The last few chapters of this book annoyed me though. The author barely even mentioned the death of Cesare, which in it's own right was a big deal, and the author made very little mention of Jofré thro
Oct 29, 2011 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-italy
Have you seen the Showtime series? The Borgia’s would be so much cooler if they were actually like that. Still worth reading to get the idea of Italian Papal politics, but not half as interesting if they had really poisoned people.
Vince Tirri
Very interesting history about the Borgias, but seriously rushed at the end and in no way a satisfactory conclusion to Cesare's story.
Apr 16, 2009 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
To date the best (as in clearest) book on the Borgias that I've read. The various family ties can be confusing at times, as are the political ones. Anyway, what a crew! Rodrigo Borgia, who would become Pope Alexander VI, was pretty much a gangster. Even worse, his son Cesare (who probably killed his own brother), who would become the subject of Machiavelli's The Prince. Torure, murder, rape, mass murder of conquered towns, theft, graft, general corruption, cheating at horse racing, overdressing, ...more
Jan 22, 2017 lia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Since i read The Prince from Machiavelly i was superbly impressed by Cesare Borgia and always wanted to read the story about the man and the infamous family on its own but never got to it.

I found this book by accident and couldn't resist. The book is gripping, it is the story about the rise of the Borgia with Rodrigo Borgia (Pope Alexander Vi) and how he wheeled and dealed everything out of his ambition for his children.

He, a larger than life figure, has huge appetite for life and all its entr
Jan 15, 2012 Mary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was seriously disappointed in this book. Its supposed to be a biography which suggests to me that there should be a vast assortment of sources that give the book credence. There is a list of sources at the end of the book but nowhere in the entire narrative is there a footnote or endnote that links information with the sources. Instead, there are numerous references that state things on the order of "a spectator stated" or a "source noted". We don't know who these sources are or where the auth ...more
Joel Mitchell
Jan 15, 2016 Joel Mitchell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This history of the notorious Borgia family manages to navigate somewhere between the usual extremes of "Borgias as psychopathic, incestuous poisoners" and "Borgias as poor, mostly innocent victims of vicious slander." The author seems to rely most heavily on the reports of Niccolo Machiavelli (who mostly admired Cesare Borgia and used him as the model for The Prince) and the official records of Johann Burchard (master of ceremonies at the Vatican during the reigns of five successive Renaissance ...more
Sean DeLauder
An interesting overview with minimal insight, commentary, or authorial voice. Half the book seems to be bookended by quotation marks. No doubt the research was exemplary; there's no overlooking it. I feel I might have been as well served by a lengthy Wikipedia entry.

I was not enchanted as I'd hoped to be, but as much as I enjoy looking at timelines, this assemblage of events rang a pretty dull note. An abundance of telling rather than showing. It didn't help that the book read like a bus tour wi
Sara Poole
Being fascinated by all things Borgia, I picked up this work by renowned historian and biographer, Christopher Hibbert with great eagerness. I won’t say that I was disappointed; histories of the Borgias are too few and far between not to give any one of them the benefit of the doubt. The problem really lies in the book’s brevity, skimming as it does over events and personalities that deserve more detailed consideration, if only to make them comprehensible. Hibbert also wrote an examination of th ...more
The Master
Nov 30, 2012 The Master rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What awful people.
Nicole Marble
Do you think politics today are tacky? 15th century Rome and the Papacy will change your mind!
May 17, 2016 Mandy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Originally published on Unravellations Reviews .

I borrowed this from my friend because I was interested in finding out more about the Borgias. The television show aside, any one who has studied or taken an interest in history or early modern Europe would not have been able to avoid the mention of the house of Borgia, more specifically Lucrezia Borgia, who has gone down in the annals of time as a femme fatale. Otherwise, you may have heard of Cesare Borgia, widely speculated to have been the ins
Jul 03, 2017 MBybee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was really a fantastic book, and I really enjoyed it.
Compared with some of the other histories I have read, this one had a nice personable tone, and injected excerpts from relevant correspondence and works of the era to really give you not just dull facts, but the actual feelings and impressions that the contemporaries had.

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Christopher Hibbert, MC, FRSL, FRGS (5 March 1924 - 21 December 2008) was an English writer, historian and biographer. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the author of many books, including Disraeli, Edward VII, George IV, The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici, and Cavaliers and Roundheads.

Described by Professor Sir John Plumb as "a writer of the highest ability and in the N
More about Christopher Hibbert...

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“I do not deny my past. I have been a great wanderer from what is right, but at least I know it and hope that the knowledge has not come too late.” 1 likes
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