Ruthless Borgia to be celebrated at resting place

Cesare Borgia, son of Rodrigo Borgia - Pope Alexander VI - brother of Lucrezia, a serial murderer by his early twenties, whose family name has long been a byword for corruption, greed and violence, is to be rehabilitated in the northern Spanish town where he died.

The family was originally Spanish - "the Borjas" - and, in Viana in Navarra, where Cesare fell in battle in 1507, a campaign is afoot to recycle this symbol of Catholic depravity as a local hero.

Only a small stone in the pavement outside Viana's Santa Maria church marks the tomb of Cesare Borgia, whose ruthless skills in eliminating enemies inspired Machiavelli's The Prince. He was patron to Leonardo da Vinci and his brown eyes and russet hair provided a model of beauty that Renaissance artists are said to have copied for their images of Christ.

Bishop of Pamplona at 15, cardinal at 18, then appointed commander of the papal armies, Cesare was exiled to Spain after the death of his father. He took refuge in the court of the King of Navarra, whose sister he had married, and died in a siege in Viana early on 12 March 1507, aged 31.

To mark the 500th anniversary of his death, residents of Viana (population 3,600) want to move his remains to a more spectacular resting place inside the church. Today's sophisticated "cultural tourists" who find their way to this remote-ish town on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela are apparently fascinated by the Borgia connection, but disappointed to find memorabilia limited to just one slab beneath their feet. "They see a historical figure of his stature, buried just anyhow. It makes us look like brutes," says Juan Cruz Labeaga, a parish priest and local historian.

So Viana town hall and Navarra's regional authorities aim to restore Borgia to the public eye with elaborate celebrations to mark his fifth centenary. They plan to establish a "Borgia route" from Viana to the nearby spot where he died in combat with three enemies from rival families. Also planned are commemorative concerts of Renaissance music, Renaissance banquets, exhibitions, conferences, Borgia souvenirs and theatrical re-enactments of his death.

"Cesare Borgia represents an interesting moment in our history, when Navarra was the smallest kingdom of Europe, disputed by the two great powers, Spain and France," Juan Roman Corpas, the region's tourism director, told El Pais. "There is increasing interest in cultural tourism. And Borgia is a fascinating personality, very literary. I'd have liked to meet him."

Spain's Catholic hierarchy is unsurprisingly reluctant to restore to prominence a man whose family symbolises all the perversions of papal power, let alone transfer his remains inside the church.

After his death, Borgia was originally buried in an alabaster tomb in the Santa Maria church, but that was destroyed after the visiting bishop of Calahorra expressed outrage that a sinner should be buried in a holy place, and his remains were banished beneath Viana's main street. The bones were exhumed in 1945 and put in their present resting place near the church's main door, and the plaque installed in 1953.

"This gentleman doesn't bother me," says Cesar Gonzalez, priest at the church and member of Opus Dei. "My task is with the living. The main transfer is from here to eternal life." The archbishop of Pamplona does not object to removing Borgia's remains to "somewhere more dignified," a spokesman said, but "not inside the church because that practice is not permitted nowadays".

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

SQL Technical Implementation Consultant (Java, BA, Oracle, VBA)

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...

Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

Lead C# Developer (.Net, nHibernate, MVC, SQL) Surrey

£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering