The Prince

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Cesare Borgia Character Analysis

The illegitimate son of pope Alexander VI, Cesare Borgia pursued military campaigns throughout Italy with the aid of his powerful father. After a series of impressive victories, Borgia's power diminished following Alexander's death in 1503. Borgia eventually lost his conquests and died in 1507. During diplomatic missions Machiavelli closely studied Borgia's tactics. Machiavelli praises Borgia's prowess but laments the "malice" of fortune that led to his downfall.
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Cesare Borgia Character Timeline in The Prince

The timeline below shows where the character Cesare Borgia appears in The Prince. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 7
Fortune and Prowess Theme Icon
The Masses and The Elite Theme Icon
...status with great effort but held it with "little exertion." On the other hand, Cesare Borgia gained his position easily through "the good fortune of his father," Pope Alexander VI, but... (full context)
Laws and Arms Theme Icon
Goodwill and Hatred Theme Icon
Machiavelli retells the story of Cesare Borgia for instructional purposes. He begins with Pope Alexander VI, who encountered considerable challenges when he... (full context)
Laws and Arms Theme Icon
Goodwill and Hatred Theme Icon
The Masses and The Elite Theme Icon
Discussing the Romagna at length, Machiavelli describes the situation that Borgia inherited when he conquered it. The Romagna had been ruled poorly and was rife with... (full context)
Laws and Arms Theme Icon
Fortune and Prowess Theme Icon
Machiavelli returns to Borgia's saga. With his power fairly consolidated, Borgia began to consider further expansion. Knowing that he... (full context)
Fortune and Prowess Theme Icon
The Masses and The Elite Theme Icon
Thus, with Pope Alexander VI's unexpected death, Cesare Borgia found himself "with his state in the Romagna consolidated but with everything else in the... (full context)
Laws and Arms Theme Icon
Goodwill and Hatred Theme Icon
Machiavelli's only criticism of Cesare Borgia stems from his choice of pope, Julius II (also known as San Pietro ad Vincula).... (full context)
Chapter 8
Laws and Arms Theme Icon
..."strengthened his position" further by creating "new civil and military institutions." A year later, Cesare Borgia and his troops trapped Oliverotto and his troops, eventually capturing and killing Oliverotto. (full context)
Chapter 11
Laws and Arms Theme Icon
Fortune and Prowess Theme Icon
...both the Orsini and Colonna until the reign of Alexander VI. Using his son, Cesare Borgia, as "his instrument" and the invasion of France as his opportunity, Alexander VI waged war... (full context)
Laws and Arms Theme Icon
Fortune and Prowess Theme Icon
Following Alexander VI's death and Cesare Borgia's subsequent loss of power, the Church inherited "the fruits" of the previous pope's conquests. Pope... (full context)
Chapter 13
Laws and Arms Theme Icon
Discussing Cesare Borgia, Machiavelli writes, "One can easily see the difference between these forces by considering the difference... (full context)
Chapter 17
Laws and Arms Theme Icon
Virtue vs. Vice Theme Icon
The Masses and The Elite Theme Icon
...cruelty." However, Machiavelli warns rulers to "not make bad use of compassion." Machiavelli cites Cesare Borgia's cruelty in subduing the Romagna as a modern example of cruelty used well. Borgia's cruelty... (full context)
Chapter 26
Laws and Arms Theme Icon
Fortune and Prowess Theme Icon
The Masses and The Elite Theme Icon
Machiavelli cites an unnamed leader [Cesare Borgia] that some believed "was ordained by God to redeem" Italy. Nonetheless, fortune "rejected" Borgia. Thus,... (full context)