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FLOTSAM: Prostitute Racing

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349034.  Sat May 31, 2008 8:33 am Reply with quote

Question: How did Pope Alexander VI celebrate the Feast of the Chestnuts?

Forfeits: Huge conker fight, telling really old jokes

Answer: Pope Alexander VI once hosted a party where fifty naked prostitutes were forced to race in and out of lampstands picking up chestnuts.

The feast of the chestnuts is a traditional one, celebrated in parts of Switzerland and Italy on the last Sunday of October, it generally involves the consumption of plenty of Chestnuts. However Alexander VI, one of the most controversial popes of all time, had more interesting ways of celebrating the festival.

Some historians think that Alexander bribed his way to the top, but what is certain is during his reign Rome became swarmed with prostitutes, murderers and ne’er-do-wells and that Alex was guilty of extreme nepotism towards his many children. It was one of these bastard sons, Don Cesare Borgia, that gave a supper in the apostolic palace, with The Pope, his sister Lucrezia and fifty decent prostitutes who after the meal danced with the servants and others there, first fully dressed and then naked. Following the dancing, lampstands holding lighted candles were placed on the floor and chestnuts strewn about, which the prostitutes, naked and on their hands and knees, had to pick up as they crawled in and out of the lampstands. Once the racing had finished, prizes were offered – silken doublets, pairs of shoes, hats and other garments – for those men who were most successful with the prostitutes.

It is generally claimed that Alexander’s neglect of the spiritual inheritance of the church contributed to the development of the Protestant Revolution, he was also responsible for the treaty that allowed Spain exclusive right to explore the seas and claim all New World lands lying west of a predisposed line (Portugal getting rights to anything to the East). Alexander also persuaded Michelangelo to draw plans for the rebuilding of St. Peter's Basilica. Revisionists claim that many of the orgies and corruptions accredited to him were done so by his enemies, however our source is Alexander VI's Master of Ceremonies who was actually there at the time. Machiavelli wrote at length about Alexander VI, whose son Cesar he knew well. He considered Alex a master at the art of political deception.

Further sources:

Picture Ideas:
Some Horse Chestnuts
Picture of Alexander VI

Last edited by eggshaped on Sun Jun 01, 2008 5:20 am; edited 1 time in total

349454.  Sat May 31, 2008 6:24 pm Reply with quote

Might add the source that Fred has cited, the MC guy.

Also, just my curiosity, but does
those men who were most successful with the prostitutes

mean what I think it does?

349603.  Sun Jun 01, 2008 5:22 am Reply with quote

Amended, and that's what I took "most successful" to mean, though Fred will probably confirm/deny.

350287.  Mon Jun 02, 2008 4:00 am Reply with quote

Surely you can't let a question like that go by without the key words "prostitute racing" and "pornocracy".

Frederick The Monk
355061.  Fri Jun 06, 2008 10:53 am Reply with quote

'Successful' means exactly what you think. Now the pornocracy is whole other ball game (as it were), covering the Popes from 904 to 963. it's also known as 'The Rule of the Harlots', although that's probably not what the Pope calls it.

Pope Alexander VI's Master of ceremonies was Johann Burchard (born c. 1450)

686718.  Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:17 am Reply with quote

Oxford has a Dictionary of Popes. Its entry on Rodrigo de Borja y Borja (in Italian, Borgia) - Alexander VI - says of his election:

"Possessed of ambition, energy, and versatile talents, he worked hard but unsuccessfully for election as successor to Sixtus IV. At the conclave (6 –11 Aug. ) following Innocent VIII's death, however, although as a Spaniard not at first regarded as a serious candidate, he eventually emerged as victor probably because of his administrative and political skills. He had also swung several cardinals over to his cause by holding out promises of rich preferments." ...

"He lacked the resolution to abjure sensuality" - what a nice turn of phrase.

"In 1493, at the instance of the Castilian sovereigns, Alexander drew a line of demarcation a hundred leagues west of the Azores between Spanish and Portuguese zones of exploration in the new world; as it favoured Spain, it was modified by the Treaty of Tordesillas of 7 June 1494."

"His death is usually explained as due to malaria, but there is a possibility that father and son were victims of poison intended for a cardinal who was their host at dinner which was mistakenly given to themselves."

"Alexander VI" The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. by J. N. D. Kelly. Oxford University Press Inc. Oxford Reference Online.

No mention of chestnuts ....

863677.  Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:08 am Reply with quote

According to the tradition this pope Homagium itaque *** fecisset diabolo, ut sibi ad votum omnia succederunt made an agreement with Evil so that all (the cardinals) elected him and because of this and of his fame as a magician, his tomb was thought to signal the forthcoming death of the pope. *** ossa colludit, tympanum pulsat. Si sudet Sarcophagus, obitu lacrimatur Pontificis: unde mortalibus omnibus sit hora mortis incerta Pontifici excepto Romano. When his stones collide, the (upper part of the) tomb moves. > If the sarcophagus sweats, it is necessary to start weeping for the pope: while the hour of death is uncertain for all mortals, there is an exception for the Roman Pontiff.

1080477.  Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:17 am Reply with quote

Was this event the source from which Oliver Goldsmith picked up the title for his work "She Stoops to Conker"?

I'll fetch me coat.

1080564.  Wed Jun 18, 2014 12:03 pm Reply with quote

<silently hands Nick his hat as well>


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