In Our Time

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History 14

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of ideas


The Borgias

November 22nd, 2012

Episode 250 of 515 episodes

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the Borgias, the most notorious family in Renaissance Italy. Famed for their treachery and corruption, the Borgias produced two popes during their time of dominance in Rome in the late 15th century. The most well-known of these two popes is Alexander VI, previously Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia. He was accused of buying votes to elect him to the papacy and openly promoted his children in positions of power. Rodrigo's daughter, Lucrezia, is widely remembered as a ruthless poisoner; his son, Cesare, as a brutal soldier. Murder, intrigue and power politics characterised their rule, but many of the stories now told about their depraved behaviour and evil ways emerged after their demise and gave rise to the so-called 'Black Legend'. The sullied reputation of the Borgia dynasty endures even today and their lives have provided a major theme for plays, novels and over forty films. With: Evelyn Welch Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London Catherine Fletcher Lecturer in Public History at the University of Sheffield Christine Shaw Honorary Research Fellow at Swansea University Producer: Natalia Fernandez.