Pope Alexander VI
Pope Alexander VI (born Rodrigo de Borja; Valencian: Roderic Llançol i de Borja [roðeˈɾiɡ ʎanˈsɔl i ðe ˈbɔɾdʒa]; Spanish: Rodrigo Lanzol y de Borja [roˈðɾiɣo lanˈθol i ðe ˈβoɾxa]; 1 January 1431 – 18 August 1503) was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 11 August 1492 until his death in 1503.
Born into the prominent Borgia family in Xàtiva under the Crown of Aragon (now Spain), Rodrigo studied law at the University of Bologna. He was ordained deacon and made a cardinal in 1456 after the election of his uncle as Pope Callixtus III, and a year later he became vice-chancellor of the Catholic Church. He proceeded to serve in the Curia under the next four popes, acquiring significant influence and wealth in the process. In 1492, Rodrigo was elected pope, taking the name Alexander VI.
Alexander's papal bulls of 1493 confirmed or reconfirmed the rights of the Spanish crown in the New World following the finds of Christopher Columbus in 1492. During the second Italian war, Alexander VI supported his son Cesare Borgia as a condottiero for the French king. The scope of his foreign policy was to gain the most advantageous terms for his family.
Alexander is considered one of the most controversial of the Renaissance popes, partly because he acknowledged fathering several children by his mistresses. As a result, his Italianized Valencian surname, Borgia, became a byword for libertinism and nepotism, which are traditionally considered as characterizing his pontificate. On the other hand, two of Alexander's successors, Sixtus V and Urban VIII, described him as one of the most outstanding popes since Saint Peter.