THE BORGIAS by J. Lucas-Dubreton


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The year of the Borgias- with two biographies (Bellonci and Haslip) on the fascinating Lucretia Borgia, and now this on the whole tapestry of the family. This work, originally published in France and translated by Philip John Stead, is a serious and unfortunately somewhat pedestrian historical study, which lacks the psychological insight that might have given it stature. But anyone interested in the Borgias, from their Spanish beginnings, through the vivid personalities that brought the family to a dominant position in Italy, will find the facts here. Illuminating chapters are devoted to the general background in Spain and Italy, with the period of the Pope, Alexander VI, and of Cesare, Machiavellian Prince, of Lucretia, and of their arch enemy, Savonarola, highlighted. It is extraordinary that so flamboyant and fascinating a span of history could become dull, confused and heavy going. There is little flair to the organization of the material, no illumination by even a gift for story telling. The one function achieved is the debunking of the idea of the Borgias as monsters of cruelty and corruption. The author sees them as reflecting their times- and conspicuous only in being more powerful than their contemporaries. Disappointing.

Publisher: Dutton