His long rule saw a huge expansion in the Roman Empire and the beginnings of a dynasty that, over the next century, would transform Rome, for better and worse.
The man who would become one of Rome’s greatest leaders had an unpromising start in life.
Alexander VI was himself known as a corrupt pope bent on his family's political and material success, to an even greater extent than Sixtus IV had been.
It was no secret that Alexander VI's oldest son Cesare, was a murderer, and had killed many of his political opponents.
The already corrupt Papacy reached perhaps its ultimate depths during the reign of Rodrigo Borgia, who was elected to the papacy in 1492 after the death of the generally unnoteworthy Innocent VIII, and who assumed the name Pope Alexander VI.
Borgia, a Spaniard, had been at the center of Vatican affairs for 30 years as a Cardinal.
Despite prophesies of future greatness , Augustus was a sickly child in a family with few connections. His prospects were bleak: Rome was dangerous, engulfed by civil war between power-hungry factions. This was a fantastic opportunity for a young man from nowhere.
One of these was led by his great-uncle, Julius Caesar. In 46 BC, Caesar won the civil war and was named dictator of Rome. Almost at once, however, Caesar was dead – murdered by his own advisors.
Many saw the rise of Rodrigo Borgia to the papal throne as a sign of impending demise for the Catholic Church.
However, both Italy and the Catholic Church survived Alexander VI's reign, and perhaps even learned some valuable lessons, for Julius II and Pope Leo X reversed the slide of the Papacy and ushered in the Golden Age of Rome, during which both the city and its rulers were admired and respected, reversing the trend under which the Papacy had slipped into moral degradation while the physical city itself rose to new heights.