Italy

Individuals and events in Italy during the European Middle Ages.

Alexander VI: The Sinful Pope

Early Life 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 […]

Boniface VIII: The Strong-Willed Pope

Early Life 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 […]

Cesare Borgia: The Papal Prince

Early Life Cruelty and ruthlessness defined his life. Cesare Borgia’s birth and birthplace are uncertain. However, it’s believed that he was born around 1475 in Rome. The second of four illegitimate children, Cesare was the son of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia and noblewoman Vanozza Catanei. As the second son, Cesare’s career path lay with the church. Because of this, he received […]

Urban II: The Crusader Pope

Early Life His words would unite European Christians and begin the first of several crusades. In 1035, Pope Urban II was born Odo of Lagery. He was a member of a noble family located in the French region of Champagne. As he got older, Odo pursued a religious career in the Catholic Church. After completing his studies, Odo became the […]

The Western Schism

Background Seventy years before the Western Schism, the French Pope Clement V moved the church’s capital from Rome to Avignon, France. He did this to escape the factionalism in Rome and to submit to the French king, Philip IV. Ever since his conflict with Pope Boniface VIII, Philip had wanted to influence future popes better. Six popes later, Pope Gregory […]