New Catholic Dictionary – Pope Alexander VI

detail of a portrait of Pope Alexander VI by Cristofano dell'Altissimo, late 16th century, Corridoio Vasariano, Florence, ItalyArticle

(Rodrigo Borgia) (1492-1503), born Xativa, near Valencia, Spain, 1431; died Rome. He studied law at Bologna. He was adopted into the family of his uncle, Pope Callistus III, 1455, became cardinal-deacon, 1456, and cardinal-bishop, 1476, and dean of the Sacred College. From 1457 he officiated very successfully as Vice-Chancellor of the Roman Church. His election as pope met with general approval, and the attempts to attribute it to simony were never clearly proven. With great energy he labored to restore order in Rome and to stabilize its government. He was well versed in canon law, a patron of literature and science, a promoter of education, and the originator of missions to the New World. Gradually, by effective alliances with Milan, Venice, and Spain, he recovered the territories of the Papal States which had fallen under arms of the control of petty tyrants, and Alexander finally overcame the Roman barons who VI were the causes of perpetual disorder in and about the city. He took advantage of his successes to promote the fortunes of his family, chiefly of those who were reputed to be his own children. He is the most maligned of all the popes. The enemies he was compelled to make did not spare his memory. Historians in times succeeding his death were bent on reviling the papacy. Gradually writers for and against him have cleared him of the worst things imputed to him, and their controversies have brought out the fact that the mistakes or even evil deeds of a pope, deplorable though they may be, are not to be laid to the sacred office he holds.

MLA Citation

  • “Pope Alexander VI”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 November 2019. Web. 26 February 2021. <>