questions!!!: do you think Lucrezia and Cesare were lovers irl? was Juan or Cesare the eldest child? who do you think the infans romanus' parents were? is it an undisputed fact that Cesare had syphilis? what colour do you think Cesare's hair was???
…I love you.
No, I don’t think they were lovers. (Probably. They crossed a few lines, but I don’t think physically.)
Cesare was the oldest of the Rodrigo + Vanozza set IMO, and born in 1476. It’s possible that Juan was a little older, but the evidence at this point suggests otherwise. Rodrigo had at least three older children by other mothers irl, but they weren’t really part of the main sibling group.
I think the Infans Romanus’ parents were probably Lucrezia and Perotto Calderón (or some other dude), though Rodrigo + some lady is also perfectly likely. I don’t think he was Cesare’s son.
Cesare definitely had syphilis, like most of the papal court. I think it’s treated a bit as some natural justice or w/e when it frankly was super super common at that point (Francesco Gonzaga had it, Alfonso d’Este iirc, della Rovere, ~everyone’s got syphilis and shit~). It was latent through most of his main activities and he wasn’t disfigured. He may or may not have been cured by his malaria.
I think he probably had dark reddish-brown hair, though it may also have been blond. I tend to imagine historical Cesare as golden-haired, mostly to separate him in my mind from the invariably dark-haired fictional ones. He definitely didn’t have black hair.
Do you think Cesare would have acted more in the vein of Rodrigo if he didn't think he was going to die young, rather than double cross at every opportunity? Was it a kind of self fulfilling prophecy? Or do you think C's character was prone to this
No, I don’t think he would have ever behaved like Rodrigo. Their personalities were too unlike; Cesare was secretive and maneuvering, like Lucrezia, where Rodrigo was ebullient and relatively direct.
Beyond that, Cesare’s belief that he would die young could only bolster the other things driving him on. His resources could only last for the duration of his father’s papacy. The real clock ticking was Rodrigo’s life, whether Cesare himself died young or not. (And while he did, he survived a number of catastrophes afterwards—still, it was Rodrigo’s sudden death that wrecked Cesare’s fortunes. Another year, and I think we can say that Julius’ papacy would have been very different.)
I also would not say that Cesare double-crossed at every opportunity. He had a large number of passionately loyal followers for that reason. The envoy from the Duke of Ferrara, before Lucrezia’s marriage, said,
He is considered brave, strong, and liberal, and it is said that he sets great store by straightforward men. He is hard in revenge, so I have been told by many
He didn’t trick people merely because he could,but because he perceived those people to have wronged him, or to pose threats to him. Now, he was paranoid and vindictive, so his perceptions were … yeah, but there were certainly episodes where he dug in his heels about people who had neither wronged nor threatened him, and he was consistently generous and fair to those faithful to him. (More so, in some ways, than Rodrigo.)
Sanuto mentions the advices received, and the rumours which say that Cesare murdered him [his cousin Juan] through jealousy, knowing him beloved by the Pope, seeing him a legate, and fearing that he might come to be given the governorship of some Romagna fief.
When Gandia died and Cesare was accused of having murdered him, the motive advanced was that Cesare, a papal legate, resented a brother who was a duke. Now, Cesare, being a duke, resents a cousin’s being a papal legate. You will observe that, if this method of discovering motives is pursued a little further, there is no man who died in Cesare’s life-time whom Cesare could not be shown to have had motives for murdering.
Rafael Sabtini, The Life of Cesare Borgia
Sabatini’s burning hatred for previous Borgia historians fills my soul with joy <3
(he is such an apologist that he’s only somewhat better, but his scathing denunciations are still glorious)
Do you think that Cesare would have succeed in regaining power if he hasn't died in battle in 1507? Bradford makes it seem like it was an inevitable event given his unfamiliarity with civil war. Strathern, imo, seems to think w.o Rodrigo, Cesare lacked the political skills necessary to rise again, and his mental breakdowns only hurt him (effects of malaria?). The mental breakdowns are odd too, Machievelle seems to think it's his personality but are there are other earlier signs of this?
Do you have your own explanation why Cesare kills his most seemingly loyal captains at one point? People differ so much on the reasons, but I just don't understand how if this was indiscriminate killing and C using them as pawns in a bigger game, he still inspired such fierce loyalty at the end of the day? Could it be a combo of a lot of things, maybe they were part of the conspiracy, or 'someone might have slept with L' as P.S loves to claim lol
The difficulty is that Cesare was so intensely private and secretive that it’s difficult to be certain why he did anything. Sometimes his reasons become clear in context or after the fact, but plenty is still shrouded in mystery.
It’s a bit like Alfonso—was it something he wrt the failed match with Carlotta? Was he seriously in league with the Colonna? Was it opposition to the Aragonese faction? Was it feeling threatened by his influence over Rodrigo? Was it jealousy over Lucrezia? ??????
WRT Lorqua, I think there are a number of possibilities. One, that he severely overstepped his bounds in regard to the administration of the Romagna, and jeopardized Cesare’s grip on power. Two, that he insulted Lucrezia in some way (I don’t think he slept with her). Three, that he was involved in the conspiracy (given the course of events, this seems the most likely, though any possibility could be the case).
Troches seems a lot more unclear. Since we know pretty much nothing, anything is possible. To go by Cesare’s history, though, I would suspect either betrayal or a very serious mistake.
I do think it’s significant that 1) those who served him competently and faithfully were consistently rewarded and 2) his followers and subjects continued to love him and remained staunchly loyal even when it brought them no advantage and even endangered them. They clearly didn’t think he would lash out indiscriminately, or exist in fear of him à la Vader. The likes of Miguel de Corella and Francesco Remolines could be completely secure.
So—I don’t think he had no reason, or that he was terrorizing his followers in general. We may never know what it was, though.
maaaaaaybe. I think it’s the fever? (And he had a really bad case–of malaria, I mean, his syphilis seems comparatively mild, esp for the period. His skin was peeling off with the fever.) But the evidence is mixed. manymanytimesbefore would probably know more about the science side of it; historians generally agree he showed no signs of syphilis after the malaria, but that could be latency.
because we anons are a greedy lot, how do you think the whole "cesare never leaves the priesthood" would have gone?
It interests me because of the ways in which Cesare manages to make his position work for him, not just in terms of wealth or influence, but actively invoking God, Christ, religious imagery in a way that … it’s not devout love like Rodrigo’s or Lucrezia’s, but it doesn’t come off as empty, either, a sort of cool respect for the divine. I FIND THAT SUPER INTERESTING.
(Sadly, Cesare’s position wrt religion is completely erratic in S3. I could come up with headcanons and whatnot and undoubtedly will, but I prefer the gradual arc from 18-y-o Cesare all “I have corrupted my soul with bribery” to twenty-something Cesare in full Cardinal of Valencia mode: I CHALLENGE YOU IN THIS TEMPLE OF GOD)
I sadly can’t go on as much as I’d like (*glowers at hands*), so concise version:
- Juan has to linger around, which itself alters everything
- No French marriage, but the marriage is tbh a fairly minor event in the negotiations, so we’ve still got Cesare there–as cardinal.
- Cesare’s flirtation with atheism, much more loaded!
- So, warrior-priests weren’t actually entirely unknown (della Rovere perhaps most famously, but there were def some prominent warlords who were bishops or archbishops or cardinals). Of course the show has only a passing acquaintance with history, but I think it’d be interesting to see Cesare carving a place out for himself in that mould rather than the purely political/diplomatic path assigned by Rodrigo.
- But the thing that really interests me: while Cesare obviously gains a ton of his authority and influence as cardinal from his father, he remains a cardinal in his own right, he holds his benefices personally, exercises clerical authority personally, that sort of thing. And apart from very extreme circumstances it can’t be taken from him. So when Rodrigo dies, Cesare’s position will be relatively secure as long as he doesn’t get himself murdered or excommunicated. On top of that, the cadre of Spanish and Catalan cardinals routinely fell into lock-step behind him–even after he was imprisoned they kept protesting and badgering Julius over him. So Cesare who emerges from near death as leader of the Spanish cardinals and a critical person to win over … SO MANY POLITICAL SHENANIGANS. :D :D :D
wrt that other cesare/caesar ask, wouldn't the punch of the association be lost had cesare used octavian rather than Julius? it's an obvious play on his own name, and while octavian may have been more useful, i don't think for the purposes cesare used it for (it has a very propoganda-ish feel) it would have been useful. I mean idk how it was then, but when you think of caesar you think of julius caesar first and foremost.
Augustus Caesar vs Julius Caesar?
Honestly, I’m not sure. Julius is probably the first association that comes, but IMO Augustus isn’t far behind for anyone remotely familiar with the history (certainly for Italians of the time, I would think). If you’re tapping into THE GLORY OF ROME™, the one who was actually successful and forged the empire would seem to be a better association anyway. Aut Caesar aut nihil certainly seems to refer to Augustus/the emperors more than Julius himself.
I think there was a strong streak of propaganda, but it was also something Cesare took very much to heart. Ultimately, I suspect he linked himself with Julius Caesar, betrayal and failure and all, because he identified with him.