Thursday, September 15, 2011

Alexander Borgia wasn't all bad

The Descent from the Cross c. 1435. Oil on oak panel, 220cm × 262 cm. Museo del Prado, Madrid

Alexander VI, the Borgia Pope did a few good things, one was to suppress the Feast of the Swoon of the Virgin, he taught that scripture say "she stood" at the foot of the Cross.

He also stopped an impending war between Portugal and Spain, which could have been a world war, by dividing the globe between the Spanih went west, the Portugese east.

5 comments:

Patricius said...

And he made sure all his sons had good jobs!

georgem said...

And his daughter married well - several times. Shame about all the spousal 'accidents'.
It's probably a coincidence the Reformation began in earnest only 14 years after Alexander's death.
The state of the Catholic Church was, in many instances, pretty eye-watering. Sounds familiar. The difference is that our time is not producing the great works of religious art and music.

Alan Harrison said...

Still looking from the other bank of the Tiber, I think maybe Pope Alexander could do with the honest but balanced treatment we have seen Duffy give to the reign of Queen Mary I. (I went to Queen Mary's School, where our foundress got a fair crack of the whip from the history masters!)

I do recall a charming young lady RE teacher, at the time of the BBC series, say in her winsome Irish accent, "Oi was prayin's last noight, 'Please, Lord, don't let the kids see this.'" I also remeber, on seeing a portrait of Pope Alexander in the Vatican Museum, being struck by how closely the he resembled the actor who had played him.

Of course, renaissance pontifical nepotism sometimes turned out well, as when Contessa Margherita Borromeo's brother got the top job and made his nephew Cardinal Archbishop of Milan.

Once I Was A Clever Boy said...

I am tempted to argue that some other Popes, personally and morally far better men than Alexander VI, may have done more long-term harm to the Church. Viewed in terms both of the necessities facing the Ppapacy in his own time and indeed over many centuries Alexander, acted as circumstances dictated. He was not the only Pope in the period to have children or other relatives whose interests he advanced. He may have been unfortunate in having opponants who could so effectively be his detractors. He had the problem from the start of being an "outsider", not Italian but Aragonese. I recommend Michael Mallets's "The Borgias" - a scholarly biography of the family or Marion Johnson's book of the same name, which is handsomely illustrated, and also seeks to give a fair assessment.

John Nolan said...

Also there's no evidence that Lucrezia ever poisoned anybody; like other young women of the time she was a pawn in her family's dynastic ambitions.

The same family, of course, also produced a saint.