Borgias – raising nepotism to a fine art

mach  popecesare lucr


How to keep a sense of perspective with rising fears of global and domestic turmoil everywhere, power-hungry demagogue leaders, rampant corruption and nepotism? Go read Sarah Dunant’s excellent (as ever) novel In the Name of the Family about the Borgias and Machiavelli.

Set in the febrile and brutal times of Renaissance Italy of the 15th century, it focuses on the family of Pope Alexander, a byword for corruption in the Vatican, whose illegitimate son by his mistress, Cesare Borgia, a Cardinal turned soldier rampaged across the country, attacking and seizing independent City States. Alexander’s illegitimate daughter Lucrezia Borgia stamped her own infamous mark on history though there’s some doubt about how much of the wild tales of incest and murder swirling around her was urban legend and how much fact. She made several dynastic marriages which favoured her family’s status

Niccolo Machiavelli also appears, a Florentine diplomat and historian, who despite his reputation for political deviousness became renowned as an astute philosopher who inspired Enlightenment democratic thinking. He served as an envoy at one point in Cesare Borgia’s circle.

[NB. Some dates which follow are questionable. See]


Machiavelli, 2 May 1469 JC 11.07 pm Florence, Italy, has a chart that makes sense, with a slippery Neptune on his Scorpio MC in a paranoid opposition to Saturn (trust no one!); and an intellectual Air Grand Trine of an Aquarius Moon North Node trine Mercury in Gemini trine Uranus in Libra. His 8th house influential-behind-the-scenes Pluto was in a tough-minded, resourceful-in-crisis opposition to his Mars squaring on to his Mercury. So his words carried weight. And no doubt an amiable Jupiter in the 7th in a sugar-coated square to Venus would help in his diplomatic role.

Pope Alexander, 31 Dec 1430 JC 7.24am Jativa, Spain (might have been Jan 1 1431) had an ambitious and cold Sun Saturn in Capricorn on the point of a T square to Mars in Libra opposition Uranus – so cut out for executive power, not good at sharing the driving seat, explosive and a risk-taker. He also had an entrepreneurial Fire Grand Trine of Uranus trine Neptune in Leo trine Venus in Sagittarius, so overflowing with confidence and keen on expansion.

Cesare Borgia, 13 Sept 1475 5am Rome (??) looks about right with a bullish Sun Pluto in Virgo trine Jupiter in Aquarius; Jupiter in turn opposed a military/cruel Mars Saturn in Leo; with Saturn in an autocratic square to Uranus. He was killed aged 33, after his father’s death when he was no longer as protected; and probably had syphilis.

Lucrezia Borgia, 19 April 1479 JC 12.30pm Subiaco, Italy, has been cast as a femme fatale and certainly knew how to throw a party, or endless streams of them. Whether the stories of incest with her brother and her propensity to poison enemies is true is debatable. She had a charming and indulgent Taurus Sun Venus; but with a determined Mars in Taurus as well in a ruthless/gutsy trine to Pluto. Plus an inspired though highly strung Uranus Neptune in Sagittarius in an expansive opposition to Jupiter. She contracted three marriages, had affairs, and possibly eight children, before dying aged 39.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: