Cesare Borgia (il Valentino)

Cesare Borgia (il Valentino)

The influence of "Valentino" brought law and order to the Romagna.

Cesare Borgia (1475 - 1507), known as Duke of Valentino, respectively named "il Valentino", was an Italian renaissance sovereign, commander, cardinal and archbishop, who also became famous because Nicoló Machiavelli took him as role model for his book "The Sovereign". Cesare Borgia was the illegitimate son of Rodrigo Borgia, later became pope Alexander VI. and the brother of Lucrezia Borgia.

In 1492, short after his father was elected pope, Cesare Borgia who was just 18 years old was appointed archbishop of Valencia and in the year after appointed cardinal. Because of his excessive ways of life he soon came under criticism. In 1497 he was accused of being involved in the assassination of his brother Juan, Duke of Benevent and Gandia. Since after this event he was more qualified as a military leader than as a churchman and resigned from his clerical duties in favour of a political career. By order of his father he adjourned to France some months later to deliver the message to the new King Ludwig XII that his first marriage had been cancelled. As a gratification for these good news and for obtaining papal courtesy for his own Italian policy, Ludwig relinquished the dukedom Valentinois to Cesare Borgia. As a result, Borgia was named "il Valentino"!



Cesare Borgia  - il Valentino
Later, Cesare Borgia married Charlotte d'Albray, King Johann of Navarra's sister and Ludwig's XII niece in 1499. In the same year he started a crusade against Italy and lead French and papal troops. He recaptured once lost territories of the Papal Estates and proclaimed himself Duke of Romagna in 1501. Cesare Borgia aspired to construct a united kingdom of Mid-Italy, and during his following crusades he occupied Rimini, Pesaro, the principality of Piombino in Mid-Italy and Elba, parts of the marches as well as Umbria. He adopted the title of a Duke of Urbino. He only failures in Bologna and Florence. During his government he employed Leonardo da Vinci as military engineer in 1502. At that time Leonardo suffered from shortage of money. Although Cesare Borgia was a capable statesman and general as well as an intelligent, dynamic and initiative person he could not maintain his power after his father died on 18th August 1503. Soon after Pius III died who had become the follower of Alexander IV in 1503. On 31st October 1503 the College of Cardinals elected Giuliano della Rovere, Borgia's opposer to become the new pope. He led the clergy as Pope Julius II until his death in 1513. Cesare Borgia conquered a closed territory (Der Begriff ist unklar. Was ist ein geschlossenes Gebiet?) with French assistance in the Romagna in Mid-Italy. Julius II disempowered him and strengthened the Papal Estates by taking over this territory. Hereupon the contact between the pope and the French king Ludwig XII broke up. Ludwig XII had conquered Milan and other cities in northern Italy and thereby created a mighty position. Together with Venice and Spain Julius II built the holy league and together they aimed to banish the French from Italy.

As a result, Cesare Borgia fled to Naples on 19th April 1504. He asked the Spanish captain Gonzalo de Córdoba for help. But instead of assisting him, King Ferdinand of Spain arrested and exiled him to Spain. In 1506, after two years of captivity Cesare Borgia managed to break free and fled to his brother-in-law Johann, King of Navarra.

He allied with his brother-in-law, king Jean d'Albert of Navarra . Being Navarra's soldier he was ambushed and stroke dead during the siege of Viana 1507. He had foreseen but ignored the ambush planned by the Earl of Lera. The Earl stood up against his Lord, King Johann, in 1507 and Cesare Borgia led a force under Navarra's service against the Earl's fortifications in Viana. During the siege of the town, the 31 year old Cesare Borgia got into an ambush and was mortally wounded.

In his tract "Il Principe" Nicoló Machiavelli selected the sole reign as a central theme and described the way a sovereign has to act if he wants to conquer territories and keep them save for a long time. Machiavelli's unemotional descriptions of Cesare's doings gave him the reputation of being especially cold-hearted and unscrupulous.

Nowadays historical research regards Borgia's reputation and prestige differently. Concerning historical documents it is assumed that overstatements of his enemies led to his bad reputation. Indications for that can be seen in the fact that the Borgias had a bad prestige in the eye of long-established Italian families because of their Spanish parentage. They did not forgive them to have bought themselves into agencies and hierarchies, then brought their own relatives systematically into important positions. Accusations against Cesare concerning favouritism, sexual excesses and brutality were typical for all forms of the exclusive dominion during the renaissance and not only valid for the Borgia family.

Historians, however, agree on the assumption that Borgia's operations had positive results. Cesare Borgia was considered to be cruel. Nevertheless, he managed to organise and unite Romagna with his cruelty, and renewed peace and loyalty in the country. Before that anarchy ruled life in that region.