By the end of the fifteenth century, the beauty and creativity of Italy is matched by its brutality and corruption, nowhere more than in Rome and inside the Church. When Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia buys his way into the papacy as Alexander VI, he is defined not just by his wealth or his passionate love for his illegitimate children, but by his blood: He is a Spanish Pope in a city run by Italians. If the Borgias are to triumph, this charismatic, consummate politician with a huge appetite for life, women, and power must use papacy and family—in particular, his eldest son, Cesare, and his daughter Lucrezia—in order to succeed.
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Rodrigo Borgia picks up his papal skirts and walks out on to the public balcony.Sixty-one years old. How many years does he have in front of him? By his age, four of the five popes he had served were already rotting in their tombs. Sixty-one. Three sons, a ripening daughter and a sublime young mistress, ready to drop more fruit.Borgia blood. Thick with ambition and determination. How long does he need? Give him another ten - no, fifteen - summers and he will have the bull crest emblazoned over half of Italy.