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Harmonia Early Music

A Spaniard In The Papal Court

A family dynasty that makes the Sopranos look like the Cleavers.

The Borgia family could claim two popes and a large number of cardinals within a hundred-year period . For most of the history of the Catholic Church, popes had always come from Italian families. Members of these powerful families would bargain and cut deals to have their ordained family member elevated to the position of pope.

When the upstart Spanish-born Alfonso de Borgia was made pope in 1455, he immediately made a number of enemies. Naturally, his reaction was to surround himself with cardinals and advisers who would protect him from potential enemies, thus an influx of more Spanish cardinals loyal to Alfonso. The next Borgia to become pope was Alfonso’s nephew Rodrigo Borgia, who would become Pope Alexander VI in 1492. He furthered his influence by marrying some of his seven children to influential Italian and Spanish families.

Jordi Savall and Hesperion XXI took on a monumental task. They have compiled music that might have accompanied significant events during the lives of these members of the Borgia dynasty. The result is Dinastia Borja: Eglesia I poder al Renaixement, a three-CD compilation with an accompanying book giving further information about members of the Borgia family.

Anna Pranger

Anna Pranger moved to Bloomington in 2009 to pursue a degree in music librarianship. Before this, she worked on a degree in music history at the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio. She serves as both an assistant producer for Harmonia and the Music Library Assistant for WFIU.

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