See biographies by M. Mallett, The Borgias (1969) and E. R. Chamberlain, Fall of the House of Borgia (1989).
(September 13, 1475 – March 12, 1507), Duke of Valentinois, and Romagna, Prince of Andria and Venafro, Count of Dyois, Lord of Piombino, Camerino and Urbino, Gonfalonier and Captain General of the Church, was a Spanish-Italian condottiero, lord and cardinal. He was the son of Pope Alexander VI and his long-term mistress Vannozza dei Cattanei, sibling to Lucrezia Borgia, Gioffre Borgia Prince of Squillace and Giovanni Borgia, duke of Gandia, and half-brother to Don Pedro Luis de Borja and Girolama de Borja, children of unknown mothers.
Stefano Infessura writes that Cardinal Borgia falsely claimed Cesare to be the legitimate son of another man, the nominal husband of Vannozza de' Cattanei. More likely Pope Sixtus IV granted Cesare a release from the necessity of proving his birth in a papal bull.
On August 17, 1498, Cesare became the first person in history to resign the cardinalate. On the same day the French King Louis XII named Cesare Duke of Valentinois, and this title along with his former position as Cardinal of Valencia explains the nickname "Valentino".
Cesare's career was founded upon his father's ability to distribute patronage, and through his alliance with France (reinforced by his marriage with Charlotte d'Albret, sister of John III of Navarre) in the course of the Italian Wars. Louis XII invaded Italy in 1499: after Gian Giacomo Trivulzio had ousted its duke Ludovico Sforza, Cesare accompanied the king in his entrance in Milan.
At this point Alexander decided to profit from the favourable situation and carve out for Cesare a state of his own in northern Italy. To this end, he declared deposed all his vicars in Romagna and Marche. Though in theory subject directly to the pope, these rulers had been practically independent or dependent on other states for generations.
Cesare was appointed commander of the papal armies with a number of Italian mercenaries, supported by 300 cavalry and 4,000 Swiss infantry sent by the King of France. His first victim was Caterina Sforza (mother of the Medici condottiero Giovanni dalle Bande Nere), ruler of Imola and Forlì. Deprived of his French troops after the conquest of those two cities, Borgia returned anyway to Rome to celebrate a triumph and to receive the title of Papal Gonfaloniere from his father. In 1500 the creation of twelve new cardinals granted Alexander enough money for Cesare to hire the condottieri Vitellozzo Vitelli, Gian Paolo Baglioni, Giulio and Paolo Orsini, and Oliverotto da Fermo, who resumed his campaign in Romagna.
Giovanni Sforza, first husband of Cesare's sister Lucrezia, was soon ousted from Pesaro; Pandolfo Malatesta lost Rimini; Faenza surrendered, its young lord Astorre III Manfredi being later drowned in the Tiber river by Cesare's order. In May 1501 the latter was created duke of Romagna. Hired by Florence, Cesare subsequently added the lordship of Piombino to his new lands.
While his condottieri took over the siege of Piombino (which ended in 1502), Cesare commanded the French troops in the sieges of Naples and Capua, defended by Prospero and Fabrizio Colonna. On june 24 1501 his troops stormed the latter, causing the collapse of Aragonese power in southern Italy.
In June 1502 he set out for the Marche, where he was able to capture Urbino and Camerino by treason. The next step would be Bologna, but his condottieri, fearing Cesare's cruelty, set up a plot against him. Guidobaldo da Montefeltro and Giovanni Maria da Varano returned in Urbino and Camerino and Fossombrone revolted. Cesare called for a reconciliation, but treacherously imprisoned his condottieri in Senigallia, a feat described as a "Wonderful deceiving" by Paolo Giovio, and had them executed.
While moving to Romagna to quench a revolt, he was seized and imprisoned by Gian Paolo Baglioni near Perugia. All his lands were acquired by the Papal States. Exiled to Spain, in 1504, he was imprisoned in the Castle of La Mota, Medina del Campo, from where he escaped and joined his brother-in-law, King John III of Navarre. In his service, Cesare died at the siege of Viana in 1507, at the age of thirty-one.
Cesare Borgia was greatly admired by Niccolò Machiavelli, who met the Duke on a diplomatic mission in his function as Secretary of the Florentine Chancellery. Machiavelli was at Borgia's court from October 7, 1502 through January 18, 1503. During this time he wrote regular dispatches to his superiors in Florence, many of which have survived and are published in Machiavelli's Collected Works. Machiavelli used many of Borgia's exploits and tactics as examples in The Prince and advised politicians to imitate Borgia. Two episodes were particularly impressive to Machiavelli: the method by which Borgia pacified the Romagna, which Machiavelli describes in chapter VII of The Prince, and Borgia's assassination of his captains on New Year's Eve of 1503 in Senigallia.
Machiavelli's praise for Borgia is subject to controversy. Some scholars see in Machiavelli's Borgia the precursor of state crimes in the 20th Century. Others, including Macaulay and Lord Acton have historicized Machiavelli's Borgia, explaining the admiration for such violence as an effect of the general criminality and corruption of the time.
In Volume One of Celebrated Crimes, Alexandre Dumas, père states that some pictures of Jesus Christ produced around Borgia's lifetime were based on Cesare Borgia, and that this in turn has influenced images of Jesus produced since that time. Cesare Borgia briefly employed Leonardo da Vinci as military architect and engineer between 1502 and 1503. Cesare and Leonardo became intimate instantaneously - Cesare provided Leonardo with an unlimited pass to inspect and direct all planned and undergoing construction in his domain. Before meeting Cesare, Leonardo had worked at the Milanese court of Ludovico Sforza for many years, until Charles VIII of France drove Sforza out of Italy. After Cesare, Leonardo was unsuccessful in finding another patron and eventually moved to France, where he died.
He wanted to take over Mantua while Isabella d'Este was ruling.
Cesare was also father to at least eleven illegitimate children, among them Girolamo Borgia, who married Isabella Contessa di Carpi, and Lucrezia Borgia, who, after Cesare's death, was moved to Ferrara to the court of her aunt, Lucrezia Borgia.
Cesare Borgia at Sinigallia: December 31st, 1502. (Months Past).(legendary Military Leader Thwarts Conspiracy)
Dec 01, 2002; CESARE BORGIA (1475-1517) was the most brilliant, ambitious and forceful of the illegitimate children of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia,...