The Renaissance
Maker of Modern Man
Kenneth M. Setton (editor)
National Geographic Society, Washington DC, District of Columbia (USA), 1970 (1970)
402 pages

There is nothing here yet.

On a June evening in 1497, Cardinal Cesare Borgia and his brother Juan, Duke of Gandia, dined with their mother Vannozza in her garden near the church of St. Peter in Chains. As dusk fell, the brothers started back toward the Vatican Palace, where they were lodging with their father, Pope Alexander VI. Near the present Palazzo Sforza-Cesarini, Juan took leave of Cesare and set out to seek a little "entertainment"; with him went a groom, and a masked man who rode on Juan's mule behind him. The masked man's identity remains a mystery, but he had attended the dinner and had visited Juan at the Vatican almost daily for a month. In a city of carnivals and intrigues, the mask did not seem foreboding.

When Juan did not return to the Vatican the next morning, the pope assumed he had become entangled in an amorous adventure and would come back when darkness could cloak his identity. But night fell and Juan was still missing. The worried pontiff set his servitors to a thorough search of Rome.

They came up with a certain George the Slav, a lumber dealer who on the night of Juan's disappearance had been in a little boat on the Tiber, guarding some timbers. He had seen a figure on a white horse emerge from the shadows with a body slung behind him. The mounted man turned the horse's back to the Tiber, and footmen flung the corpse as far as they could into the river.
"Did it sink?" the horseman asked.
"Yes, my lord", the footmen answered.
The horseman turned in his saddle. "What is that black thing floating?"
"His cloak". One of the footmen sank it with a well-aimed stone. The group then disappeared into the night.
The papal officers asked George why he had not reported such a crime earlier. "In my day", he replied, "I have seen a hundred dead men tossed into the river at that very spot, and no attention has ever been paid to any of them"

Fishermen and divers were summoned, and at about the hour of vespers on June 16, two days after his disappearance, Juan Borgia, captain-general of the papal troops, was fished from the Tiber. He was fully clothed, his gloves fastened under his belt, 30 ducats on his person. His throat was slit, his body marked by eight other wounds. No one ever disclosed the murderer. When Cesare gave up his cardinal's hat and assumed his brother's military mantle, rumor pointed to him as the assassin, but there is no evidence for the charge.

(p. 179)

"Venetian art was a merchant's art, full of merchandise", Professor Perocco continued. "While Florentines emphasized classical form, and Romans grandeur, to the Venetians all was color and visual delight. Venetian Renaissance art is frankly sensual, radiant with joy, reveling in the finery of the passing parade".


Veronese was especially popular with these merchants. They loved his sunptuous settings, his elegant men and full-bodied women, the rich foods, musical instruments, earthy detail. And the bigger the better. But one lush feast got him in trouble: Inquisitors demanded that he remove the "buffoons, drunkards, Germans, dwarfs, and similar indedencies" he had painted "at our Lord's last supper" for a monastery. Veronese satisfied them by simply changing its title to Banquet in the House of Levi.

(pp. 218-220)

Entertainment factor: 6/10
Intellectual factor: 5/10