THE object I have in view in writing this book is merely to present as accurate a sketch of the life and times of the principal member of the Borgia family as it seems possible to produce, with the comparatively
few contemporary materials that are now available. The second and third volumes of Monsieur Thuasne's Latin edition of the Diary of John Burchard Bishop of Orta, afford much trustworthy information at
first hand. The value of this information has been minimised, firstly, by those who, like Leibnitz, have published merely extracts from it, conveying a false impression of the work itself ; and, secondly, by Borgian apologists, who have striven to cast doubts upon the veracity of the Bishop of Orta, or to attribute those entries in his Diary which tell against the Spanish Pope to interpolators who were the alleged enemies of his Holiness, and anxious to defame him. The Diary begins in 1483 and ends, with the death of its author, in 1506. In the short space of twentythree years, during which Burchard held the office of Pontifical Master of the Ceremonies, no fewer than five Popes had been personally known and served by him. He resided in the Vatican, and, as was customary, kept, for his own private use and information, a daily record of the events which interested him. This Diary was obviously not intended for publication, nor for any other eye than that of Burchard himself. The original Diary is now kept securely locked up in the Vatican, and
would probably never have seen the light of day had it not been for Rodrigo Borgia's namesake, Pope
Alexander VII. (1655-67), who caused a copy of it to be made for his kinsman, Prince Chigi, who
placed it in the library of the Chigi Palace. It thus became accessible to historical and liturgical students,
and extracts from it have, from time to time, appeared, whilst all historians of the period it covers
have sought information in its pages.