Sara Poole Interview

July 13, 2011 interviews
the author of The Borgia Betrayal

The Borgia Betrayal by Sara Poole

Sara Poole visited the blog July 13, 2011, to talk about her novel The Borgia Betrayal. It's the second in a series about a woman poisoner in the employ of Rodrigo Borgia.

It's shocking to think that a cardinal might plot to murder a pope. How much evidence is there that Cardinal della Rovere might actually have had designs on Pope Alexander VI's life?

Cardinal della Rovere solicited the invasion of the Italian states by the French King Charles VIII in order to overthrow Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI. No one--least of all della Rovere--could have been under any illusion that a defeated Borgia would go quietly into retirement, especially not given the backing Borgia could count on from France’s great rival, Spain. Had della Rovere’s plan succeeded and Borgia still been allowed to live, the result would have been another, possibly fatal schism tearing the Church apart. Therefore, the only possible conclusion is that Cardinal della Rovere wanted not only to expel Borgia from the papacy but also to bring about his death. Did he also explore other more private ways to kill Borgia? That we’ll never know but doing so would have been consistent with both della Rovere’s own character and the nature of his times.

It's even more shocking that a pope would keep a poisoner on his staff. Francesca is fictional, but is there evidence Borgia may have plotted murder after he became pope?

Borgia’s enemies certainly believed that he used poison as a weapon both before and after he became pope. While this made for good propaganda against him, the evidence strongly suggests that the accusation was not entirely unfounded. For example, the death of Cardinal Michiel, Bishop of Porto and Patriarch of Constantinople, was almost certainly the result of poisoning carried out by the Borgias, who promptly confiscated his large estate. Although some of the Borgias’ supposed victims no doubt died of natural causes--and others were killed by Cesare’s preferred weapon, the garrotte--it is not likely that Cardinal Michiel’s case was unique.

What do you think the average pious Catholic of Borgia's time felt about having him as head of the Church?

Right after his election, Borgia was very popular especially with the people of Rome who saw him as a known factor who could be counted on to keep order and maintain prosperity. Their trust in him made sense considering the long, impressive record Borgia had earned for himself as Vice-Chancellor of the Church. Unfortunately, Borgia had a fatal flaw, his determination to enrich and empower his family at all cost. In the end that destroyed him.

Review of The Borgia Betrayal by Sara Poole

See listing for The Borgia Betrayal at Powell's Books

See listing for The Borgia Betrayal at

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