Sweeping aside the gossip, slander, and distortion that have shrouded the Borgias for centuries, this is an unprecedented portrait of the infamous Renaissance family and their storied milieu. The Borgias. They burst out of obscurity in Spain not only to capture the great prize of the papacy, but to do so twice. Throughout a tumultuous half-century - as popes, statesmen, warriors, lovers, and breathtakingly ambitious political adventurers - they held center stage in the glorious and blood-drenched pageant known to us as the Italian Renaissance, standing at the epicenter of the power games in which Europe's kings and Italy's warlords gambled for life-and-death stakes. Five centuries after their fall - a fall even more sudden than their rise to the heights of power - they remain immutable symbols of the depths to which humanity can descend: Rodrigo Borgia, who bought the papal crown and prostituted the Roman Church; Cesare Borgia, who became first a teenage cardinal and then the most treacherous cutthroat of a violent time; Lucrezia Borgia, who was as shockingly immoral as she was beautiful. These have long been stock figures in the dark chronicle of European villainy, their name synonymous with unspeakable evil. But did these Borgias of legend actually exist?