Let's begin with Mario Puzo's THE FAMILY. Puzo has had a life-long passion for the Borgias, as have I. His book is both hilarious and hot. Take Astorre Manfredi. The kid was 18 and his brother 15. Astorre was the most handsome lad living at the time. Painters came from all around to do his portrait. He had also inherited a small kingdom that Cesare Borgia coveted. So Cesare convinces the kid to give him his spread in exchange for a few weeks in Rome, the then-equivalent to today's Vegas. Because Astorre knew he had no choice (due to Cesare's military superiority), he consented. The next scene has Astorre and Cesare in a hot tub (I'm not kidding!), although this one is of stone. Astorre puts his hand on Cesare's thigh, but Cesare gently moves it away, saying he's not that kind of guy (again, I'm not kidding). Later I'll tell you what happens to the most beautiful boy in Italy. Another scene: Cesare is in the apartments of his father, Pope Alexander VI, who's at his table writing. Cesare's caressing his sister Lucrezia but because he's not too gentle, Lucrezia calls for her father's assistance. This comes as no surprise since the old man is also an old pervert of the very worst kind (and as there's no real justice in life, he eventually dies in bed--he should have rotted in Hell, but there's also no Hell). The Pope her father takes over the caressing and then prompts his son to enter, deftly, nevertheless well-used portals, encouraging the boy to go gently by gently stroking his butt. One star.
E.R. Chamberlin's THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF BORGIA is old but complete. We learn that slaves could be bought for as little as six ducats, that Tartars were the best workers and Russians and Circassians best for one's bed. Prostitutes died penniless, justifying the saying the `'Venus reduces her worshipers to her own nudity.'' We learn that the gorgeous Astorre and his brother were murdered `'after they had sated the lust of a certain person,'' that person being Pope Alexander VI. One of Cesare's lieutenants was such a tyrant that `'he had thrust a clumsy page boy into the fire, pressing him down with a foot while the boy burned alive.'' Chamberlin doesn't hesitate to reveal gossip concerning Cesare, that he killed his own brother Juan in order to have access to Juan's wife Sancia and because both brothers, jealous of each other, wished to continue incestuous access to their sister Lucrezia.
Ivan Cloulas in THE BORGIAS brings us this quote from a playwright: Do people say that I am both your father and your lover? Let the world, that heap of vermin as ridiculous as they are feebleminded, believe the most absurd tale. The great law of the world is ... to grow and develop what is strongest and greatest in us. Walk straight ahead. Leave hesitation and scruples to small minds.
Marion Johnson in his THE BORGIAS tells us that Cesare had addressed questions to the scientist of the papal court about poisons; he wished to know the ways of poisoning cups, perfumes, flowers, saddles and ever stirrups (!!!).
I did read Rafael Sabatini's book THE LIFE OF CESARE BORGIA, but found it a bit outdated (1929).
Christopher Hibbert's THE BORGIAS AND THEIR ENEMIES tells us about Manfredi: `'Four days later the corpse had been fished out of the Tiber, drowned by a stone tied round his neck. This young man was of such beauty and stature that it would not be possible to find his equal among a thousand of his contemporaries.'' About Cesare: `'Cesar had fallen sick again of that illness of his. Now the flowers (as the syphilitic rashes were euphemistically known) are starting to bloom again.'' When Cesare married: `'He had consummated the matrimony eight times, but these eight times consisted of two before supper and six at night.'' Concerning the Pope, Cesare and his daughter during an orgy: `'At the end they displayed prizes, silk mantles, boots, caps and other objects which were promised to whomsoever should have made love to these prostitutes the greatest number of times.'' When it was reported to the Pope that his new son-in-law was sleeping with others than Lucrezia (`'It was reported that he took his pleasure with other women during the day'') the Pope said, `'Being young it does him good.'' Naturally, this is my favorite book. My own books can be found on Amazon under Michael Hone.