Either a Caesar, or Nothing: Reimagining the Borgia’s Vatican

“Either a Caesar, or Nothing”: Reimagining the Borgia’s Vatican looks at how the Vatican gardens might have looked should Pope Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgia, have commissioned their construction rather than his successor and bitter rival, Pope Julius II, Giuliano della Rovere.

The Borgia family is often credited as the peak of corruption within the Catholic Church. Seemingly obsessed with power and prestige, the ambitious family managed to exert control over Italy, Europe, the Renaissance, and even the New World. Though in fact, the Borgia’s were severely misunderstood, and they only played in the vicious games of Renaissance Italy to survive. This can largely be explored in The Borgias: The Hidden History by G. J. Meyer, and the quintessential political discourse, The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli.

This project looks at how landscape architecture is a form of power exercised over the natural world and does so through the vessel of the Borgia family. It takes the key players – Machiavelli, Cesare, Lucrezia, the pope, and Leonardo da Vinci – and uses the garden as an exploratory device into their lives, their impact on European history, and their philosophies on power.