"A Glass of Wine with Caesar Borgia" by John Collier, 1893, Ipswich Museum and Art Gallery
The Borgias. The name has become synonymous with blind ambition, murder, rape, incest, and torture. The Renaissance-era Italian family’s debaucheries and political intrigues—not to mention two popes—have been immortalized in the diaries of Johann Burckardt, The Prince by Machiavelli, and a popular cable tv series. But was there something else beyond the sex, simony, and scandal?
Art historian Elizabeth Lev provides a broader context to the family’s story. The Borgias understood that society held no reward for weakness, and pursued power in Italy despite challenges posed by figures such as puritan fanatic Savonarola and ongoing struggles among neighboring Italian city-states.
Lev highlights their political aspirations, religious conflicts, and patronage of the arts, which yielded great works that ultimately failed to redeem the family's reputation. She reveals how Church and State became intertwined for the gain of a single dynasty—and the surprising epilogue to the Borgias’ inevitable downfall.
- If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.
- Unless otherwise noted, registration for streaming programs typically closes two hours prior to the start time on the date of the program.
- Once registered, patrons should receive an automatic email confirmation from CustomerService@SmithsonianAssociates.org.
- Separate Zoom link information will be emailed closer to the date of the program. If you do not receive your Zoom link information 24 hours prior to the start of the program, please email Customer Service for assistance.
- View Common FAQs about our Streaming Programs on Zoom.