40 Facts About the Borgias, One of History's More Scandalous Dynasties

The coat of arms of the Kings of Aragon, from whom the Borgias claimed to be descended. Wikimedia Commons

39. There was much debate about their genealogy

As they increased in power, the Borgias had to establish a noble ancestry to match. Everyone knew them as Spanish newcomers in Rome, so they claimed descent from the Spanish royal House of Aragon. In Pedro de Atarés (c.1083-1151), they found just the right royal ancestor. He never became king, but importantly had noble blood in his veins. Alas, however, he actually died childless, so whichever genealogist they hired must have been having a bad day. Political rivals alternatively suggested the Borgias had Jewish ancestry, perhaps to slight the validity of the two Borgia popes.