The startling truth behind one of the most notorious dynasties in history is revealed in a remarkable new account by the acclaimed author of The Tudors and A World Undone. Sweeping aside the gossip, slander, and distortion that have shrouded the Borgias for centuries, G. J. Meyer offers an unprecedented portrait of the infamous Renaissance family and their storied milieu.
They burst out of obscurity in Spain not only to capture the great prize of the papacy, but to do so twice. Throughout a tumultuous half-century - as popes, statesmen, warriors, lovers, and breathtakingly ambitious political adventurers - they held center stage in the glorious and blood-drenched pageant known to us as the Italian Renaissance, standing at the epicenter of the power games in which Europe’s kings and Italy’s warlords gambled for life-and-death stakes.
Five centuries after their fall - a fall even more sudden than their rise to the heights of power - they remain immutable symbols of the depths to which humanity can descend: Rodrigo, the Borgia who bought the papal crown and prostituted the Roman Church; Cesare, the Borgia who became first a teenage cardinal and then the most treacherous cutthroat of a violent time; Lucrezia, the Borgia as shockingly immoral as she was beautiful. These have long been stock figures in the dark chronicle of European villainy, their name synonymous with unspeakable evil.
But did these Borgias of legend actually exist? Grounding his narrative in exhaustive research and drawing from rarely examined key sources, Meyer brings fascinating new insight to the real people within the age-encrusted myth. Equally illuminating is the light he shines on the brilliant circles in which the Borgias moved and the thrilling era they helped to shape, a time of wars and political convulsions that reverberate to the present day, when Western civilization simultaneously wallowed in appalling brutality and soared to extraordinary heights. Stunning in scope, rich in telling detail, G. J. Meyer’s The Borgias is an indelible work sure to become the new standard on a family and a world that continue to enthrall.
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Horses for Courses!
Yes, because it is a truly complex story and there are so many names that I'd never heard of before that I would really like to listen again as it's am amazingly compelling story.
There aren't any particular moments as it's not that kind of book, G J Meyer writes a particular type of history - he also wrote The Tudors which is on Audible and I had listened to that before this one. Bear in mind that Meyer is an American and, just speaking personally, I always find that Americans writing on European history are overly kind to some of Europe's most notorious and infamous characters! But, on balance, he is reasonably fair and does at least put his metaphorical cards on the tablet right at the start. This is a redemption of the Borgia's, make no mistake. An apology if you will
The reason I entitled this "Horses for Courses" is that I was very nearly put off from this book by some of the near-vitriolic comments on Enn Reitel's performance.
Personally, I liked his narration as it is very rhythmic. Yes, he does stop and start a bit but it usually seems intended to emphasize inflection or tone, or perhaps actual punctuation in the book. I found it very easy to listen to but found his Italian and Spanish pronunciations quite hard to follow and/or understand at times.
I have no idea if his European pronunciations were good, but they certainly were very "Spanish" or "Italian" if you know what I mean?!
I would say to any other potential listener, don't be put off. Listen to the sample and see how you get on. I LOVE rhymic readers who read with a kind of lilt, nice clear up and downs. Mind you, I have high-functioning autism and often find nuanced inflections quite hard to follow and so I enjoyed Enn Reitel's very clear pauses, stops, comma spaces etc.
There have been so many films of The Borgias, all of which are mostly invented history. Similarly to the British obsession with The Tudors, who are characterized as caricatures mostly, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I bearing little resemblance to their truths, so it is with The Borgias.
Meyer is attempting to redeem ALL of the Borgias in this tome. No mean feat! I find some of his interpretations a little unconvincing personally but, then again, I am an historian professionally (not European history!) and so perhaps I expect more original source research. Meyer is very honest in his introductions that original source documentation is not really his 'thing' although, to be fair, he does introduce original sources and speak about them. However, he seems to rely heavily on other historian's work, some contemporaneous with The Borgias. This is fine other than he seems to pick historians who have been mostly discounted by historians of today for being biased or bigotted. Meyer states that they are biased and bigotted and that is his entire point really - they all had something to gain by slating The Borgias - and he's right. But, whether it is entirely legitimate to base your entire work on such accounts mostly in order to dismiss them, is another question.
However, Meyer writes with humour and intelligence and I found it a really enjoyable book and would highly recommend it to others.
not enough about the borgias
it had too much information about the catholic church and other popes
didn't detract but the content was a bit dry
most of the book
if you want to know about challenges for the catholic church and the choice of popes this is for you