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Borgia, Cesare, Duke of Valentinois (1475-1507).

Spanish-Italian general and statesman. Principal wars: conquest of the Romagna (1499-1503); Navarrese War (1506-1512).

Born in Spain in 1475, the second son of then-cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (Borja) and his mistress, Vannozza dei Catanei; destined early for a career in the church, he studied at the universities of Pisa and Perugia (1490-1492); on his father's election as Pope Alexander VI, he was made archbishop of Valencia (1492) and then cardinal (1493); thereafter he was a trusted political adviser to his father; following the death of his older brother, Giovanni, Duke of Gandia and Benevento (June 1497), he renounced his cardinalate and was released from holy orders to enter secular politics (August 1498); became an ally of Louis XII of France, who made him Duke of Valentinois, and married Charlotte d'Albret (1499); made "gonfaloniere and captain general" of the Church that same year, and began his conquest of the Romagna, capturing Imola (December 1499); he went on to capture Forli and Forlimpopoli (January 1500), and after his seizure of Cesena returned to Rome to be made vicar of Romagna (March 1500); captured Rimini and Pesaro (October 1500), and went on to seize Faenza (April 1501); proclaimed himself Duke of Romagna (February 1502) and proceeded to capture Urbino (June 2) and Camerino (July); ruthlessly quashed the Conspiracy of La Magione, capturing and executing the chief conspirators at Senigallia, including several Orsini (December 31, 1502); went on to occupy Perugia, Citta della Pieve (near Perugia), and several places near Siena (spring-summer 1503), but his designs suffered a grave setback on the death of Alexander VI (August 18, 1503); he appealed unsuccessfully to Pope Julius II for aid, and he was arrested (November 1503); after his release (April 1504), he went to Naples on a safe-conduct from the viceroy, Gonsalvo de Cordoba, but was soon arrested on the orders of King Ferdinand of Aragon; he escaped from captivity in Spain (October 1506) and took service with his brother-in-law, the King of Navarre; killed in Navarre at the siege of Viana (March 12, 1507).

Unprincipled and ruthless, Cesare Borgia was the archetypical Renaissance prince; greatly admired by Machiavelli, his military skills were limited largely to siegecraft and the political uses of force. <BL>

Machiavelli, Niccolo, The Prince.
Machiavelli, Niccolo, Discourses on Titus Livius.
Mallett, Michael E., The Borgias. London, 1969.
Sanuto, Marino, I diarii. Edited by R. Fulin et al. 56 vols. N.p.,


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Author:Bongard, David L.
Publication:The Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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