Italian people and events during the European Middle Ages.

Joan I of Naples: The Headstrong Queen

Joan I was born in 1326. Her grandfather, King Robert, ruled Naples from the early to mid-1300s. During his reign, Naples experienced economic prosperity and stability. Robert encouraged learning, and his kingdom flourished as a center of education. Due to his respected leadership, the king became known as Robert the Wise. Towards the end of his reign, Robert faced a […]

Lorenzo de’ Medici: The Magnificent Ruler

On January 1, 1449, Lorenzo de’ Medici was born in Florence, Italy. The Medici were an influential family that had gained their wealth through banking. Lorenzo’s grandfather, Cosimo, had established many branches throughout Europe. In turn, his banking abilities made him one of the wealthiest men of his time. Cosimo later used his money to gain political power and ultimately […]

Calixtus III: The First Borgia Pope

On December 31, 1378, Pope Calixtus III was born Alonso Borgia in Jativa, Aragon (Spain). The Borgias were an aristocratic family that had gained prestige during the reign of King James I. In 1240, Alonso’s ancestor, Esteban de Borja, had played a role in expelling the Muslims in Valencia. In gratitude, James ennobled the Borgia family. By the time Alonso’s […]

Alexander VI: The Sinful Pope

Alexander VI was born around 1431 as Rodrigo Borgia in Jativa, Spain. At a young age, Rodrigo came under the supervision of his uncle, Alonso de Borgia. As the Bishop of Valencia, Alonso oversaw his nephew’s education. When Rodrigo became a teenager, Alonso began to reward his nephew with church offices. As a result, Rodrigo received his first taste of […]

Boniface VIII: The Strong-Willed Pope

Boniface VIII was born around 1235 as Benedetto Caetani in Anagni, Italy. The Caetanis were an established and noble family. As Benedetto got older, he first studied law before entering the service of the papal government. Throughout his time in government, Benedetto gradually transitioned from lawyer to priest. Growing Prominence In 1281, Pope Martin IV elevated Benedetto to St. Nicholas’ […]