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Cesare Borgia: His Life and Times

4.31  ·  Rating Details  ·  169 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
Accusations of treachery, rape, incest, and murder: almost five centuries have passed since Cesare Borgia's death, and his reputation still casts a sinister shadow. Yet the real man was a mesmerizing figure who inspired Machiavelli's classic The Prince. During the brief space of time when he occupied the stage, he shocked and stunned his contemporaries with his lofty ambit ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published December 31st 2001 by Phoenix (first published 1976)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,210)
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I am probably the most biased person to ever review any book concerning the Borgias. I think that they were a magnificent, fascinating, and amoral family; a family capable of intense love and intense brutality. They might be my favorite historical family of all time--and believe me, I take a great interest in many, many dynasties. The two most famous Borgias, Cesare and Lucrezia, are particularly captivating, for me and the rest of the world. I can't seem to shake this fixation on two such mercu ...more
READ THIS BOOK! I recently re-read this amazing book. I confess to having been unimpressed by it years ago, but the more I read about Cesare Borgia, the more interesting I find him to be. Yes, he was ruthless, but also a brilliant tactician. Having recently finished Paul Strathern's "The Artist, the Philosopher and the Warrior" I was put into a more open frame of mind as I approached the book this time. I suspect that being older and better read in history gives me a greater appreciation for thi ...more
Sara Poole
Aug 16, 2009 Sara Poole rated it it was amazing
The companion work to her superb “Lucrezia Borgia”, Bradford’s exploration of the life of Lucrezia’s highly controversial brother offers an insightful look into the world of late 15th century/early 16th century Rome and Europe in general. Born the illegitimate son of Rodrigo Borgia, who rose to become Pope Alexander VI, Cesare was originally intended by his father for a career in the Church. Within the confines of filial loyalty, he resisted but was made a cardinal at the age of eighteen. Severa ...more
Jo Walton
At first I thought that it was just that I knew it all, and then I realised my problem with this book was that Bradford just isn't very good at understanding the period mindset.

I can't recommend it, unless you happen to want dates and times and places and quotes from primary documents -- it's terrific on all of those. As a research book on Cesare, I'm glad I've read it, I guess.
Dec 18, 2015 Tony rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
CESARE BORGIA. (1976). Sarah Bradford. **.
I’m afraid that I didn’t get too far into this biography before I had to quit. There was just too much information, and a great deal of it dealing with the history of the Italian states surrounding our person of interest. Italy as a country didn’t exist during the time of Cesare. It was a collection of independent states ruled over by individual families and the Papacy. In addition, there were sections that were ruled by Spain and France. The number of p
Aug 31, 2015 electrise rated it really liked it
Shelves: faves, nonfiction
author takes a full page detour from alfonso d'aragona's murder (by cesare) to reassure the reader, with the help of multiple primary sources, that cesare was still totes hot at the time despite all the syph. author priorities: sound.
Aug 08, 2012 Kelly rated it it was amazing
I am really interested in history, particularly renaissance history and have read a fair few biographies of this era, but this one I found totally engrossing. It is written beautifully, but even more importantly, it deals with Cesare Borgia in a very even handed manner. So much that is written about the Borgias and Cesare in particular is based on rumour and reputation rather than evidence. He is either portrayed as the devil incarnate (e.g. in Dumas) or as impossibly romatic figure that really ...more
Apr 17, 2015 L'aura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bios
I found this book to be kind of lacking. Granted, it's more good than it's bad, but Bradford's research doesn't seem to be really thorough in some points and one feels like she's been too lazy to check her sources. When she mentions the infamous cantarella, for instance, it's crystal clear that she didn't even bother to find out that said cantarella possibly (likely, in fact) never existed. And it's just one of the things that left me underimpressed. Bradford also has a soft spot for the Cesare/ ...more
Jul 22, 2013 Anissa rated it it was amazing
This bio is honestly amazing, coming from someone who doesn't usually find biographies very interesting. It's clear that Bradford put in a lot of research, and that she adores her subject, the enigmatic Cesare Borgia. He's such a fascinating figure, one who gained Machiavelli's admiration - extremely cunning and resourceful, rising above his station in life, yet dead before his time.
Lulu Chains
Sep 08, 2015 Lulu Chains rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I am currently obsessed with the Borgias, especially Cesare. I find him so incredibly fascinating and compelling. Is it weird that I'm in love a man that's been dead for over 500 years? Because oh God, I am and I'd give anything to go back to Renaissance Italy and see this amazing man alive.

This book was everything I wanted, it gave great details about his life and included many passages from letters written about Cesare, and even some of the things he said. I truly wish I could time travel back
Jessica Tench
Mar 14, 2014 Jessica Tench rated it it was amazing
Sarah Bradford did a wonderful job of staying as unbiased as a biographer possibly can. While she debunking some myths about Cesare and the family, she also wasn't slow to admit that he was a very ambitious, vindictive, and hard person. Parts of the beginning were a little slow, but once I got past them I flew through the rest.
Chris Feldman
Aug 01, 2009 Chris Feldman rated it really liked it
Not quite as good as Bradford's biography of Lucrezia, but still recommended.
Dec 23, 2012 Diana rated it it was amazing
Shelves: italian, research
Excellent research, easy to read and full of information. Couldn't fault it.
* Disclaimer: this is a review for a book called "De Borgia's" in Dutch, that apparently had a much better fitting title in its original English.

Don't let the title of this book fool you. It may sound like it's a book about the Borgias, but it's a book about Cesare Borgia and how he brought down his family and himself. Surely, Rodrigo, Lucrezia, Juan and Jofre are mentioned, but don't play really big parts in the book. As for how Lucrezia's and Jofre's lives ended, I have no idea. This is not ne
Apr 26, 2016 Zulfiqar rated it it was amazing
Probably one of the best autobiographies written on the Italian historical figure behind Florentine philosopher and statesmen Niccolo Machiavelli's "The Prince." Enjoyed the author's account of the Borgia Clan solely focusing on Cesare's life and death. The main key factors were his governance of the province of Romagna through the power of the papacy, aid of his father Pope Alexander VI, the murder of this brother Juan, and his relationship with his sister Lucretia Borgia.
Jun 28, 2013 Julia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historic
I liked this biography for several reasons:

*It was very well written, in a simple and clear language that helped to make the reading process flow, which unfortunately isn't often found in biographies (Many authors of biographies insist in using a tone and vocabulary that makes the reader suffer to get through the book).
*Thanks to the way that Sarah Bradford presented the story, it made the biography interesting to read and it was a fun read, like fiction actually.
*It's very accurate and full of
Yun You Xu
Apr 07, 2011 Yun You Xu rated it liked it
Fantastic research, but definitely for those who are familiar and fascinated by the political turmoils of Italian states. Bradford glides through Cesare's fascinating life with emphasis on the family's political ambitions, though occasionally we do get a glimpse of the people themselves (ie Cesare as a competitive teenager, writing threatening letters to ensure his horse won the race). Nice read.
Rio (Lynne)
Jan 15, 2014 Rio (Lynne) marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-a-copy
Yay! I finally scored a hardback copy of this very hard to find book :)
Sep 28, 2011 Belinda rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical-bio
I can't believe it's possible for a book about Cesare Borgia to be dull but this one is. I love historical bios, and have a good collection myself but this one is just not very well written. Spends too much time on Cesare's various political alliances and acts and almost nothing of the man himself. Cannot recommend.
Dec 20, 2015 Pamela rated it it was amazing
Thank you, Mrs. Bradford.
Jason Koppe
May 07, 2015 Jason Koppe rated it it was amazing
History about Cesare's life.
Theresia marked it as to-read
Apr 28, 2016
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Salacious Bee marked it as to-read
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Apr 24, 2016
tammy rated it it was amazing
Apr 26, 2016
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Alex Musicaendless rated it it was amazing
Apr 22, 2016
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Educated at St. Mary’s Convent, Shaftesbury Dorset, where she won a State Scholarship and at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where she won a College Scholarship in History, Sarah Bradford is an historian and biographer who has travelled extensively, living in the West Indies, Portugal and Italy. She speaks four languages which have been invaluable in her research for her various books, particularly Th ...more
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