Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Vatican Princess

I read C. W. Gortner's first novel The Tudor Secret and liked it.  After seeing The Vatican Princess on my public library bookshelves I knew that I would have to get caught up with reading his other books.  I knew nothing about the Borgia family before reading this and was not sure if I would like it as much as other historical mysteries from the Tudor era. It did not disappoint however.

Lucrezia Borgia is growing up in a household owned by the widow of her father's brother Adriana de Mila.  She had left her mother Vannozza's care when she was seven.  Lucrezia is her father's favorite child and he decides that she should be educated and sends her to school, a rarity in the 1490s.  Pope Innocent VIII has just died and Lucrezia's father, Rodrigo Borgia, is soon elected to the papacy as Pope Alexander VI.  With Lucrezia's great education she becomes her father's pawn in the marriage market in an effort to gain him power.

While much of this story is about her family, it is seen through the eyes of an innocent Lucrezia.  She is used by her father and brothers throughout her father's papacy in order to gain money and power for the family. Everything that they do is all for the family.  Lucrezia is completely devoted to her father and brothers until she learns their true natures.  After that she only desires happiness, but not at the expense of the family of course.

I found it amazing that a priest who openly acknowledged his four illegitimate children could become Pope. While Pope he allowed them to violently play the political scene of the times.  In fact, Lucrezia's brother Cesare was Machiavelli's inspiration for his book The Prince.  The Borgias certainly earned their reputation in history and I enjoyed reading about them.

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