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The Life of Cesare Borgia by Rafael Sabatini

The Life of Cesare Borgia (1912)

by Rafael Sabatini

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The author has clearly made it his mission to redeem the reputation of the Borgia family by suggesting that most historians have either deliberately slandering or by blindly accepting the opinions of previous writers. He is fairly convincing but I expect the truth is probably somewhere in the middle ground. Interesting treatment of a fascinating subject. ( )
  rosiezbanks | Aug 27, 2017 |
I finally finished it! :) It took me the better part of the month but I got through it.

I have to be honest, it was not an easy read. Informative and interesting, very much. But at times, it was slow and very wordy. Well, it was written in 1912-ish so I have to consider the style during that time. I do like History and Historical Fiction - and lately, the Borgia family, so this was right up my alley.

The book talks about Cesare Borgia, his life, his work, and what was said about him. Sabatini quoted many Borgia historians whether they were pro- or anti-Borgia. At parts, the author praised Cesare Borgia's appearance and wit. It took every contradiction to Cesare's character like a grain of salt, giving him the benefit of the doubt. But the book itself never blatantly took sides. It never gave a piece of information that was not backed up by quotes or historical proof. The author did a great job compiling everything and making it concise.

It was new to me to read a book about the Borgias that did not dwell heavily on either Rodrigo or Lucrezia. Cesare Borgia is my favorite member of that family and he really was a fascinating man. ( )
  chaostheory08 | Jun 10, 2011 |
I enjoyed reading this book because it was exciting and well written. However I have to dock it a couple of stars because the depictions of the Borgia is way too flattering. I have access to several eyewitness accounts of the Borgia's from friends of the family (Machiavelli, the Papel Steward, etc...) who had no opportunity to get their stories straight and they contradict many details in this account.

This author describes father Rodrigo as a stunningly handsome man, when all of his portraits suggest otherwise, everyone knew of Cesare's rape of Catherine Sforza only because Cesare openly boasted about it ("She was better at defending her castle than her virtue"), and the author refuses to accept that Cesare had Don Michele strangle his brother-in-law Alfonso of Naples on his sickbed despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary -- Lucretia and Sancha ran to the pope to try to stop the murder, Cesare made a speech on the steps about why he did it, Lucretia rebelled against her father and brother as a result of the murder and had to be imprisioned, Don Michele confessed to the murder under torture, but the torturers just snickered because it was already common knowledge, etc...

A true historian changes his biases to suit the facts, not the other way around. Still, it was a fun read. ( )
1 vote weikelm | Jan 31, 2011 |
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This is no Chronicle of Saints.
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Though best known for sweeping historical epics such as Scaramouche and the Captain Blood series, Rafael Sabatini also dabbled in nonfiction from time to time, usually with wonderful results. This biography of Italian aristocrat and clergyman Cesare Borgia is packed with the kind of vivid descriptive detail that you don't usually find in musty history books.… (more)

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