ivan cloulas

Aristo was not the only one to fall under the golden-haired Lucrezia’s spell. “She is full of charm and grace,” Il Prete,Isabella d'Este’s secret agent,wrote from Rome. The marchioness of Cotrone,one of Isabella’s ladies-in-waiting wrote more critically, “If the bride is not noticeably beautiful,she stands out thanks to her sweetness of her expression.” and to her physical charm she added that of her character: “She is full of tact,prudent,intelligent,animated,pleasing,very amiable,” wrote one of those who saw her arrive,the chronicler Zambotto, “ Her quick mind makes her eyes sparkle.” Gaiety was the quality most often singled out. One of the best descriptions of her came from Niccoló Cagnolo of Parma: “She is of middle height and graceful of form; her face is rather  long as is her nose; her hair is golden, her eyes gray,her mouth rather large,the teeth brilliantly white,her bosom smooth and white and admirably proportioned. Her whole being exudes good humor and gaiety.” Love of life and laughter were the secrets of Lucrezia’s charm,as they were of her father’s and brother’s.
—  Ivan Cloulas - The Borgias

The greatness of the Borgias is,in fact,the result of a concerted family effort stretching over hundreds of years. Their story begins in the late fourteenth century. A quick of fate gave a handful of modest Spanish landowners their chance when the Great Schism tore Western Christendom apart. 

One of the the actors in the drama is Alonso Borgia. A simple cleric from the kingdom of Valencia,he rose to the papacy and,gathering his family around the throne of St. Peter,founded a dynasty of priests. Fifty years later,this family held sway over Rome and many parts of Italy,France and Spain. Pope Alexander VI and his children,Cesare,Juan,Lucrezia,and Jofré,were no different from such dynastic figures of the age as The Riarios,Medicis,Sforzas,Estes and Gonzagas. But the Borgias remained outsiders,they loathed hypocrisy,and their genius inspired Machiavelli. This is what their enemies have held against them,branding them with the mark of infamy. 

 Yet Providence keeps watch: a half-century later a scandalous Borgia pope’s sins are redeemed by the merits of his descendant,a genuine saint.
When examined in detail, the Borgias’ story is an extraordinary one,full of dramatic twists. Closely linked to the crises tearing Europe apart,the family’s saga provides the human counterpoint. We learn about the customs,ways of thinking,the arts and technology prevailing in the Renaissance courts and the camps of the great condottieri.

Yet our interest in the Borgias is not confined to the picturesque or the bright colors of a painting. We feel a strange,personal involvement in this period. Licentiousness,cruelty and violence are with us today just as in the time of the Borgias,and in their portrait,we see a reflection of ourselves.

—  The Borgias - Ivan Cloulas

amaranthinelover  asked:

Hey! What really good books would you recommend on the Borgia family (wouldn't mind if they concentrated on Cesare and Lucrezia's relationship)?

Fiction, non fiction? I’d say “Lucrezia Borgia” by Maria Bellonci and The Borgias by Cloulas (non-fiction, Cloulas died yesterday and I’m so sorry ;_;), as for fiction I didn’t mind “Blood and Beauty” (Dunant) and “Sins of the House of Borgia” (Bower)!

What strikes the observer,at first glance,is indeed how supremely efficient the duke was in everything he undertook. He knew how to delegate power and at the same time keep total control of it. He retained the option of taking it back and wielding it absolutely whenever he chose.

(…)The way the Romagna was governed served as a lesson in administration. The province changed from an arena of dissension,robbery and crimes aggravated by the wars of rival baronial clans to a peaceful state where lives and property were protected by the prince,who also encouraged public prosperity. The protector of Da Vinci,who besides being a painter of genius was also a great engineer,Cesare was unendingly curious about innovations and started scores of public-works projects in the cities and ports of the Romagna.(…)

—  Ivan Cloulas - The Borgias
While the negotiations were going on,Cesare found out about his sister’s pregnancy and her affair with Perotto. His fury can be easily imagined. The Venetian envoy,Capello,described the drama that was played out at the Vatican at the time. One month after Lucrezia’s marriage had been annulled, Cesare made a run at Perotto,his sword at the ready,and chased him all the way up to the pontifical throne where the pope sat in state. There,under the pope’s nose - he was wrapping his chamberlain in the folds of this cape, as if to protect him -the cardinal of Valencia struck the young Spaniard savagely so that “the blood spurted onto the pope’s face” though not mortally wounded,Perotto, in prison hardly had time to languish on his straw. During the night of February 8,writes Burckard,“he fell into the Tiber against his will” Six days later his body was fished out- at the same time,according to the Venetian Sanudo,as that of Lucrezia’s servant,Pentasilea. These murders,which wagging tongues immediately attributed to Cesare,could not erase the scandal and the news of Lucrezia’s pregnancy buzzed from one Italian court to the next.
—  The Borgias - Ivan Cloulas (The Perotto affair)