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10 Scandalous Facts About The Borgias

by Jessica Bugg 9 months ago in vintage · updated 9 months ago
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Poison, Prostitutes, and Sainthood?

10 Scandalous Facts About The Borgias
Photo by Womanizer Toys on Unsplash

Before the Kardashians, there was a more outrageous family keeping things scandalous, scintillating, and risque across the pond in Europe — Renaissance Italy to be more precise. That family was The Borgias. From hosted orgies at the Papal Palace to some planned murders, this family saw no end of power, intrigue, and scandal. Today, we are looking at the Top 10 most outrageous things the Borgia family did.

Disclaimer: They liked to entertain a lot of bullshit.

10). Orgies In The Papal Palace

You can see my article on The Most Famous Orgy in History for a further look into this one. You may be wondering why this is number 10? Because the Borgias did even more scandalous shit than host an orgy at the seat of religion for the time.

Highlights of this invitation only party include paid prostitutes who had to crawl around on all fours on piles of chestnuts, and prizes given out for participants who could have sex with the most partners, a more creative prize I thought was who could produce the most amount of ejaculate.

9). Cesare Borgia Allegedly Set Up The Murder Of His Brother

Giovanni (the brother) had been traveling with Cesare. A masked man appeared to Giovanni and that was the last time anyone saw a trace of Giovanni.

Many suspected Cesare setting up the masked man meeting and subsequent vanishing of Giovanni.

8). Mask Wearing To Hide Syphilis?

Syphilis in modern times is treated with medication but at the time of the Borgias, namely Renaissance Italy, Syphilis was a major fucking problem. Between the orgies and lack of medicinal discovery to treat syphilis, it was common for the upper class to experience the ravages of this sexually transmitted disease.

Cesare Borgia reportedly wore a mask to cover up his disfigurement due to syphilis. His face was covered in sores from the advancement of the disease which according to historians, he contracted in his early 20s due to his affinity for brothels.

7). Machiavelli Reads The Borgias

It is believed that the political commentary by Machiavelli The Prince, was a blatant criticism of the Borgias and how they used power to enrich themselves rather than serve the public as they were supposed to do. While this cannot be verified, it is indeed, a very plausible hypothesis.

Consider it like a twitter war for the Renaissance.

To this day, the term Machiavellian is used to describe people who act in evil ways particularly those who are in power.

6). Incest

One of the rumors going around Renaissance Italy was that Lucrezia (Borgia daughter) had split with at least one if not more of her brothers including fuckboi extraordinaire, Cesare.

Lucrezia had her fair share of sexual intrigues, trysts, and flings, but none was more scandalous for the times than the accusation that she had sex with her brother . . . often.

5). That Time Cesare’s Sister Lucrezia Kept Killing People

Lucrezia goes down in history as a famous poisoner (just like my girl Catherine de Medici). Lucrezia had a habit of marrying well and separating even better. Married at a minimum of three times, all to men with means, one she divorced and some just happened to die. And then, a lot of people seemed to just die around her. We can’t say that she poisoned them, but we can’t say she didn’t either.

4). Alexander’s Pull Out Game Was Weak

Popes, priests, etc are typically viewed as being religious, God-fearing, and oh yeah, chaste. By chaste I mean not going around having sex with people all of the time.

Not for Alexander VI.

He had ten children at a minimum but those are the only that can be verified. Most were illegitimate.

3). Pope Alexander VI Loved Prostitutes And Bribery

So the Roman Catholic Church’s finest moments were not necessarily under the leadership of Borgia man, Pope Alexander VI, who loved to give money to his family, elevate them to offices they weren’t qualified for, use bribery, and oh yeah, the whole love of prostitutes thing.

Our list wouldn’t be complete without including the numerous murders and blackmail.

2). Pope Alexander VI Signed The Paper Condoning Slavery of Native Americans

One of the most nefarious acts while Pope Alexander VI was the leader of the Catholic Church was when he signed the Papal Bull that condoned slavery of native peoples in the New World and even divided territories between Spain and Portugal.

Pope Alexander VI decreed it was acceptable to enslave native people’s of the New World, if their leaders were not Christian. Spoiler: they weren’t.

Side Note From The Author: So we have this Borgia family holding orgies at the Papal Palace, poisoning people, and living their best lives, AND THEN they sign the paperwork that sent people over to enslave the natives of the New World AND force people to have missionary sex? I can’t. Alexander, just stop.

1). One Borgia Becomes A Saint

Francis Borgia studied to become a monk but later married and had children. When his wife passed, he became a Jesuit and refused any sort of special treatment. He was chosen as a Super of the Jesuits and was later canonized as a saint.

I guess when you come from a family like the Borgias and you get married, have children, raise them, stay faithful, and then become a monk you have to be on some sort of saint level.


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Jessica Bugg

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