Alexander VI, Pope (1431–1503)

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Alexander VI, Pope (1431–1503)

Pope Alexander VI (b. 1 January 1431; d. 31 October 1503), pope (1492–1503). The Spaniard Rodrigo de Borja, the future Alexander VI, is notorious for his immorality and corruption. He fathered four illegitimate children and bribed other cardinals to elect him pope. As a protégé of King Ferdinand II of Aragon, Alexander issued a number of papal bulls sanctioning Spain's conquest and colonization of the New World. The papal bull of 1493 fixed the demarcation line of the future American empire along a circle which passed 100 leagues (3 nautical miles) west of the Cape Verde Islands and set the stage for the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494). Alexander also confirmed the new Spanish territories as a papal fief held by the crown (1493), granted the crown all tithes levied in the New World (1501), and charged the monarchs with christianizing the native populations. The responsibility for conversion was linked to Alexander's conferring upon Ferdinand and Isabella the title "the Catholic kings" (los reyes católicos) (1494).

See alsoCatholic Church: The Colonial Period .


John H. Elliott, Imperial Spain, 1469–1716 (1963), esp. pp. 52-100.

John H. Parry, The Age of Reconnaissance (1963).

Additional Bibliography

Chamberlin, Eric Russell. The Bad Popes. Gloucestershire: Sutton, 2003. Originally published in New York by Dial Press, 1969.

                          Suzanne Hiles Burkholder

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Alexander VI, Pope (1431–1503)

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