Vatican City Orgy! 50 Prostitutes Entertain in Papal Palace

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A Brief History

On October 30, 1501, the long history of sordid affairs involving popes and goings on in the Vatican reached a bizarre new level when Cesare Borgia, a cardinal in the Catholic Church and son of Pope Alexander VI, hosted “The Ballet of Chestnuts” at his father’s residence, the Papal Palace.  What made this gala party so special was that it was attended by 50 prostitutes for the pleasure of the guests.

Digging Deeper

Also at the party were the Pope and his daughter Lucretia.  The 50 “party girls” were at first clothed as they danced with and for the guests, but they then removed their garments.  Chestnuts were strewn around, and the girls got down on their hands and knees to pick them off the floor.  Prizes were offered to the guests who could perform the most sex acts with the girls, and an orgy ensued.  It is said that Pope Alexander himself distributed the prizes, being personally fascinated with male virility.

Although Catholic authorities deny that this orgy as described by the Master of Ceremonies, Johann Burchard, who made a written account of the party, ever happened, they do admit that Cesare Borgia did host a party at this time.  Catholic researchers claim that enemies of Pope Alexander VI purposely exaggerated this incident to smear him and his legacy.  Those who have a much lower opinion of the Borgia family describe the reign of Alexander VI as generally rife with corruption and immorality and are inclined to believe the sordid details.

This event was portrayed in season 3, episodes 4 of the Showtime series The Borgias.  This cable television show created a version of the story in which the Borgias themselves were not present but instead used the party as a trap to blackmail the immoral Cardinals in attendance.  The gist of the series is that not only was the Vatican corrupt and ruthless but so were the other royal and powerful families of the time.  (By the way, the production is movie quality and a must see for those viewers who appreciate the dress and customs of the Renaissance.)  

Disagreement among historians and researchers as to the veracity of historical accounts is quite common.  All surviving literature about Alexander the Great was written 300 years after his death, so who knows what parts are true and what parts are exaggerated.  The Gospels were written decades after Christ’s crucifixion, though this fact is also controversial among scholars.  Was Caligula really a depraved lunatic as portrayed in the 1979 movie Caligula and in the British television series I, Claudius?  It is hard to say because the unflattering accounts were written by bitter enemies who had a strong motivation to paint him in the worst possible light.

History is written by the victors.  How will our generation and time go down in history?  Only time will tell.  Feel free to give us your assessment of the Ballet of Chestnuts and your predictions about how history will treat our era.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Blood and Beauty: A Novel About the Borgias (Paperback)


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The Borgias: The Hidden History (Paperback)


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About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.