Alexander VI (Dictionary of World Biography: Renaissance)
Article abstract: Alexander VI’s policies contributed to the growth of papal temporal power in the Papal States. A discriminating patron of the arts, he employed a number of noteworthy artists, including Pinturicchio and Michelangelo.
Born Rodrigo de Borja y Doms (Borgia) in Játiva, Valencia, the boy who was to become Pope Alexander VI was the nephew of Pope Calixtus III, who adopted him, showered him with church benefices, and sent him to the University of Bologna to study law. In 1456, Rodrigo was appointed a cardinal-deacon, and the following year he was made the vice-chancellor of the Church, a lucrative post that he held until his own elevation to the Papacy in 1492.
Rodrigo’s many benefices enabled him to live in great magnificence and to indulge himself in such pastimes as cardplaying and merrymaking. His youthful indiscretions prompted Pope Pius II to send a scathing letter of reproof in 1460 for his alleged scandalous misconduct at Siena sometime earlier. His ordination to the priesthood in 1468 did not cause him to change his immoral behavior. Sometime in the early 1470’s, Rodrigo entered into an illicit relationship with the beautiful Vannozza dei Cattanei, who was to be the mother of four of his children, Juan, Cesare, Lucrezia, and Jofré. In spite of these moral failings, Rodrigo was appointed Bishop of Porto in 1476 and made dean of the Sacred College in Rome. On August 11,...
(The entire section is 2175 words.)
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