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Rise and Fall of the Borgias  By  cover art

Rise and Fall of the Borgias

By: William Landon,The Great Courses
Narrated by: William Landon
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Publisher's Summary

Since its rise to the highest ranks of power in Renaissance Europe, the Borgia family has developed a scandalous reputation. While they were indeed ostentatious, calculating, worldly, cruel—and even, occasionally, murderous—listeners may be surprised to find that the Borgias were not terribly different from other powerful and ambitious families of their day. So why has history set them apart as one of the most corrupt and reviled families in history?

In the Rise and Fall of the Borgias, listeners will spend 10 revealing lectures untangling the web of rumors, speculation, and historical embellishment from what is actually known about the infamous Roman family. With Dr. William Landon, listeners will explore the historical context that helped the Borgias make their fortune and better understand how they could be both magnanimous and ruthless, pious and morally suspect.

The story of the Borgias is rich with intrigue, even without the fictional enhancement it has received from the numerous films, novels, and television shows that have been created based on the family’s notoriety. Dr. Landon introduces listeners to the major players and lays bare their machinations to reach the highest offices of church and state. Were their exploits as salacious as listeners have been led to believe? Did they manipulate the papacy for their own gain? Are the rumors of incest, bribery, political assassinations, and other morally questionable behaviors true or the stuff of historical gossip?

As listeners explore these and other rumors surrounding the Borgias, they will pull back the curtain on the historian’s craft and see how the story of this Renaissance dynasty has been shaped over time and how new research and a healthy dose of skepticism has allowed us to get a little closer to the truth—without losing any of the drama.

©2019 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC.

Our favorite moments from Rise and Fall of the Borgias

Lecture 1, Chapter 2 from Valencia to Rome the Borja Become the Borgia
  • Lecture 1, Chapter 2 from Valencia to Rome the Borja Become the Borgia
Rumors circulate about Cesare Borgia
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Lecture 3, Chapter 4 Cardinal Borgia Becomes Pope Alexander VI
  • Lecture 3, Chapter 4 Cardinal Borgia Becomes Pope Alexander VI
"Rodrigo badly predicted how the new Pope would act"
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Lecture 8, Chapter 9 Cesare Borgia and Niccolò Machiavelli
  • Lecture 8, Chapter 9 Cesare Borgia and Niccolò Machiavelli
Machiavelli praises Cesare Borgia
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  • Lecture 1, Chapter 2 from Valencia to Rome the Borja Become the Borgia
  • Rumors circulate about Cesare Borgia
  • Lecture 3, Chapter 4 Cardinal Borgia Becomes Pope Alexander VI
  • "Rodrigo badly predicted how the new Pope would act"
  • Lecture 8, Chapter 9 Cesare Borgia and Niccolò Machiavelli
  • Machiavelli praises Cesare Borgia
.

About the Professor

Dr. William Landon is Professor of European History at Northern Kentucky University. He received his MSc and PhD in History, with an emphasis on the life and works of Niccolò Machiavelli, from the University of Edinburgh.

An international authority in the fields of Machiavelli studies, the Renaissance, and the history of ideas, Dr. Landon is also a 2017 recipient of a National Science Foundation Grant. He has published two books: Politics, Patriotism and Language: Niccolò Machiavelli’s "Secular Patria" and the Creation of an Italian National Identity; and Lorenzo di Filippo Strozzi and Niccolò Machiavelli: Patron, Client, and the Pistola fatta per la peste/An Epistle Written Concerning the Plague. He is also the presenter of a 24-lecture series on Machiavelli’s The Prince, produced by The Great Courses. Alongside his professional life as a historian, Dr. Landon is a classically trained painter, sculptor, a pianist, a lover of literature and music, and the co-owner/operator of a small organic farm.

What listeners say about Rise and Fall of the Borgias

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A remarkable history of a maligned family

This series does not disappoint. It is excellent! I learned so much… a total blast.

Normally, I don’t bother to write reviews, but this book was just lovely. Here goes!

As background, over the past few years I have been voraciously streaming historical series on Amazon and Netflix. Among those, the two relatively recent series on the Borgia family were probably my favorite. But, they left me wondering, in real life, were the Borgia really that terrible? So when I saw this new Borgia series on Audible I took a chance and bought it.

Wow, I’m glad that I did. It’s all there – intrigue, murder, sex, religion and the Renaissance. But the narrator, who also authored this series, used good history and common sense to challenge some of the most scandalous things associated with the Borgia Pope and his family. I’m not going to give away the details. Check it out for yourself. You’ll be glad that you did.

BTW, the narrator’s voice is smooth and deep (check on the samples... you'll see what I mean). I loved it.

19 people found this helpful

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Separates historical truth from factionally driven falsehoods

This my second audio series from Dr. Landon. I’ve had the benefit of also listening to his “The Prince” from Great Courses and taken classes with him in person. His style in these lectures brings new life to people that lived more than five centuries ago, and gives perspective to both historical fact and fiction surrounding one of the most infamous families of all time.
This series has left me with a far better understanding of the motivations which drove the Borgia family. I highly recommend this audio series to anyone interested in the Renaissance or the history of The Church.

6 people found this helpful

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Hidden Gem

I was so surprised to be completely taken in to this. The subject matter I knew I’d like, but the Professors writing and delivery kept me enthralled. I loved this.

5 people found this helpful

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Love this book!

I am a huge fan of historical drama and this book delivers. I have purchased other audio books that Dr. Landon narrated and loved his voice. He is entertaining , down to earth, and a great teacher. I'm buying copies of this for friends who I know will enjoy an educational experience that is scholarly, and dare I say--sexy.

4 people found this helpful

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The Borgias

Never knew how corrupt the family was. I knew that they were powerful and wealthy. Would like to know more about Listeria.


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Borgias as a product of their time, not an anomaly

excellent presentation that sets the record straight on what is and isn't true about the deeds and misdeeds of the Borgias, from the devout Alphonse to the perhaps psychopathic Caesare and a sympathetic Lucrezia.

3 people found this helpful

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Good, unbiased teaching

Great course!

Clear, concise and the reading is well delivered and compelling.

There’s a bit of personal exposition at the end that I thought was well placed to help deliver a bit of context needed by the modern learner.

3 people found this helpful

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Disappointing

History presented in this manner is a tight race between abysmal and dull. It is about as enjoyable as reading a laundry list.
I I hoped for but could not wait could not wait for it to get better. HWS

3 people found this helpful

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Monotone

This man has the most monotone dull voice. Why the hell he is doing an audible book is a mystery to me. I can’t give any review of the book because I was so turned off by the speaker I couldn’t manage to finish the first chapter.

3 people found this helpful

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Ripping Renaissance History

I loved every bit of this course. It's real, sink-your-teeth-in history with all the tension and drama of a PBS or STARZ series, delivered by an actual scholar with a perfect voice, and who tells you when he agrees or disagrees with traditional scholarship. Ideal course and well worth my time and credit.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Mike Bingham
  • 07-31-20

excellent....<br />

thoroughly enjoyed listening to Rise and Fall of the Borgia's.....excellent listening it had me hooked throughout and full of interesting information...superbly written and narrated by William Landon......my first listening in "lecture" form but it won't be my last...would highly recommend.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-07-20

Excellent

This guy is a great lecturer. I would love to hear a lecture by him on the Medici family.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mark Dana Floden
  • 01-30-22

Surprising and refreshing.

Solzhenitsyn said that the line between good and evil crosses every human heart.
The author seems have also discovered this fact in his research for thisbook.
It is compelling in its attempt to put aside outrage and horror in seeking to find the truth..

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 01-15-22

Fascinating

Thoroughly enjoyed this. Fascinating insight into the Borgias and their lives. Told in straightforward language it was easy to listen to.

1 person found this helpful

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  • SharonRAmreview
  • 12-22-21

Slightly dry but interesting

I wasn’t digging for historical gossip but would still have preferred a more engaging reading of this book…it felt a bit like a teacher reading at school. Interesting anyway!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Norma Miles
  • 11-06-22

"Ten lectures.."

A well researched look at the known facts and rumours surrounding the Borgias, mostly from the last three decades of the fifteenth century into the early years of the sixteenth, and lately concentrating on
Rodrigo, Cezere and Lucretia. Whilst very interesting, it is best suited to readers who already know a reasonable background to the characters as there is not only a fairly complex list of people, some with more than one title, and places to absorb, but also there is no chronological order to the lecture content, nor, it would seem, a coherent pursuit of a theme other than to show that, whilst condemned for their actions, the Borgia reputation was mostly attributed by rumours created by those enemies who hated or envied them and they were really not !such different from anyone else of their time.

It is an interesting glimpse into their time, however, and the narrator/ lecturer has a pleasant voice, well balanced. The Rise and Fall of the Borgias is currently available to read free of charge as a download from the Audible Plus programme. Well worth reading for anyone with an interest in the period, but best not digested one gulp. Better to consume it with breaks , even if short ones, between text chapters.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-03-22

Excellent & interesting

It’s hard to think of better source material for an engaging historical lecture about the Italian renaissance period than the Borgias and this doesn’t let down. The lectures are impressively planned and delivered, the structure works, the story fascinates and the history is authoritative and objective with excellent use and analysis of sources but woven cleverly and subtly into the narrative so that it never detracts or distracts from it. The manner in which the lecturer skilfully separates myth from fact with regard to the much, much maligned Borgia family while remaining clear-headed about who they were makes for an informative & satisfying listen

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  • Gayle Taylor
  • 08-17-22

A History of The Borgias

I enjoyed listening to this run of history for the famous Borgia family. It debunks many of the myths and clears up the facts that can be proven.

As it turns out they were a normal family of the time of status. They were slandered by those who didn't like them.

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  • Solilique
  • 04-28-22

Compelling

A refreshing account, concise and well structured, setting straight the lives of this infamous family. The craft employed by the writer is displayed well through the way in which he leads the listener through the original source material separating the rumors from the reality.

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  • Walmsley Family
  • 04-16-22

Great listening

I am a fan of stories of the Borgias and this lecture gave me new insights.

It was brilliant and I am now going to listen to his one on the Medici family.

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  • Grant Lewis
  • 08-13-22

Fascinating

a terrific course. i am transfixed by the skullduggery plans and murderous lives of the borgias. but more disturbingly not unisual for their times

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Heidi
  • 06-16-22

Interesting and well read but jumped around a bit

Had never heard of this family, so was interesting to learn about them and the papacy.
Struggled to keep track of the chronology a bit - seemed to follow each persons whole lives, theb jump back to several older children and repeat some events.

As someone without any knowledge or bias of the matters in book before I read it, the author was very insistent in assuring the reader that this family was completely normal for its time, and didn’t deserve the reputation it had.
It may be true that everyone was committing crimes against humanity, and that not the whole family was responsible, but those crimes existed (even if exaggerated often), and to suggest that the papacy should not be held up to a higher standard than the average nobility seems… odd.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-26-22

Brilliant

As well as being incredibly informative, this was a brilliant insight into the methodology of the historian.

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  • Deirdre E Siegel
  • 10-20-21

Well rounded, researched and written.

An excellent look back at the reality of who, what, where, when, why the Borgia were,
extraordinarily good for those who already know them.
Thoroughly enjoyable re-examination and listen, thank you William :-)