Alexander VI
Alexander Borgia was born in Jativa, Spain. A member of the powerful Borgia family he was made a cardinal by his uncle in 1455. Elected pope in 1492 - previously secured by bribery - he strove to break the power of the Italian princes, and to appropriate their possessions for the benefit of his own family.

Alexander VI typified the decadence of the Renaissance papacy; he reformed the papal finances but he was a corrupt, and ambitious pope, whose neglect of the spiritual needs of the church contributed to the Protestant Reformation.

He first supported the war against the Ottomans, but subsequently allied with the Turks when the king of France claimed the kingdom of Naples.

During his pontificate, he apportion-ed the New World between Spain and Portugal, and introduced the censorship of books.

His son, Cesare, brought the north of Italy under his control with a ruthless policy of assassinations, earning the admiration of Machiavelli who used Cesare as the model for his classic on politics.

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