Cesare Borgia /seh-zar-ah`borj-ee-uh/ (1476-1507)
The first thing that's so appallingly special about Cesare is that he's the younger of two illegitimate children sired by Pope Alexander VI. This is why I hold the Catholic church in the highest of regards. Anyways, another significant thing to point out is that he's the archetypical Prince in the Machiavellian sense of the word. To put it entirely too simply, he was the example that The Prince was written around.
As is the case with most sons of powerful political figures (George W. Bush,
for one) his father shamelessly promoted his son to the point where he became the Archbishop of Valencia as well as a cardinal. However, he resigned after the 'unfortunate' death of his older brother in 1498, an endeavor in which he most likely partook, probably because of their shared jealousy over their sister, Lucrezia Borgia, who had amorous affairs with both of the brothers. See Borgia Family for more details.
Cesare then began his political career as a papal legate to France. There he allied himself with King Louis XII, who agreed to bestow upon him the title of Duc de Valentinois, or Duke of Valence. In 1499 he married Charlotte d'Albret, a sister of the king of Navarre. In the Italian Wars, the armies of France successfully overran Italy, upon which he capitalized by conquering the cities of Romangna one by one between 1499 and 1500.
After becoming the Duke of Romagna in 1501, Cesare then proceeded to seize dominion of Piombino, Elba, Camerino, as well as the duchy of Urbino.
This is where the fun part starts. Cesare decided that he needed assistance in ruling his newly-conquered territories in Romagna, so he gave nearly absolute power over the lands to Remirro de Orco. Remirro, a cruel yet efficient man who pacified the people through a reign of terror. After the land was calm and united, Cesare had no more need for Remirro. Since the people of Romagna had become familiar with the atrocities dealt out by Remirro, Cesare sought to win hearts by demonstrating that these sins were performed by Remirro as opposed to himself. It seemed to him that the best way of doing this was to hapazardly place the corpse of Remirro, cut in two, in the middle of the Piazza at Cesena, beside a block of wood and a bloody knife. Apparently, the sheer brutality of the episode had
both satiated and stupefied the people of Romagna.
As somewhat as a victory celebration, Cesare had all of his chief enemies meet with him at the castle of Senigallia, where he all had them brutally strangled. He then proceeded to command the loyalty of both the Roman gentry and the College of Cardinals, to ensure that the election of a future pope would appease him.
Unfortunately for him, he was assailed by an illness that had claimed his father's life, but he himself survived. However, his political career never convalesced as did his body. Pope Pius III was succeeded by Pope Julius II, an arch enemy of Cesare. Partially because of this, King Louis XII betrayed Cesare, and Julius II demanded the return of all the territory Cesare had conquered an had him arrested. Returning to Naples, he then was arrested by the Spanish governor as a side-effect of the conflicts between Julius II and the monarchs of
Spain, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Having been imprisoned in Spain, he escaped an eventually found salvation in the court of the king of Navarre, as we remember, is the brother of Cesare's wife. Cesare fought and died under his command at Viana.
All of Cesare's possessions came under the jurisdiction of the Papacy, and thus his exploits were fundamental in the consolidation of the Papal States.