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Cesare Borgia: His Life and Times Hardcover – 17 Sep 1981
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An illuminating biography of a man whose name has long been synonymous with evil. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Sarah Bradford was born in 1938 and educated at St Mary¿s Convent, Shaftesbury, Dorset, and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where she went after winning a state scholarship. She travelled extensively in Italy, Spain and France in the course of her researches on Cesare Borgia. Her latest book is a study of Jackie Onassis (2000). --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Bradford's biography of Cesare Borgia is balanced and straightforward: she quotes from primary sources but they're not referenced fully in the text itself (annoying!) and gives reasons for her readings of events and actions. Like other biographies of Renaissance people, this is offers up an essentially external view of Borgia and places him in his historical and political context: while Bradford gestures to some superficial psychological readings, she sticks to what can be known from the way Borgia acted throughout his life - she doesn't try to psychoanalyse him given the lack of internalised material.
What we're left with is an energetic portrait of Italy in the late fifteenth- and early sixteenth centuries, and the way Cesare Borgia exploited the opportunities of internal conflicts between the city-states and external pressure from, especially, France and Spain. He emerges as a dangerous man, ruthless, highly intelligent, eloquent and persuasive when he wanted to be, secretive and subtle, described as the most handsome man in Italy and one who believed utterly in his own will. By the time he dies, a victim of his own reckless physical courage, at the age of just 31, the Renaissance world feels a less thrilling place due to his loss. For all his brutality, Cesare Borgia lived up to both his classical namesake and his own axiom: 'Better to die in the saddle than in bed'.
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