Gaspar de Borja y Velasco

Gaspar de Borja y Velasco (26 June 1580[1] – 28 December 1645) was a Spanish cardinal, ecclesiastic and politician. He belonged to the house of Borgia (though he always used the Spanish spelling of Borja) and served as Primate of Spain, Archbishop of Seville, Archbishop of Toledo and viceroy of Naples.[2] He was the great-great-great-great-grandson of Pope Alexander VI.

Gaspar de Borja y Velasco
Primate of Spain
Archbishop of Toledo
Cardenal Gaspar de Borja y Velasco.JPG
Portrait by Diego Velázquez, ca. 1643
ChurchRoman Catholic
SeeCathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo
Installed16 January 1645
Term ended28 December 1645
PredecessorPosition vacant
SuccessorBaltasar Moscoso y Sandoval
Other post(s)Archbishop of Seville
Personal details
Born26 June 1580
Died28 December 1645(1645-12-28) (aged 65)
Toledo, Castile–La Mancha, Kingdom of Spain
Alma materColegio Mayor de San Ildefonso


Borja was born at Villalpando. His father was Francisco Tomás de Borja y Centellas, 6th Duke of Gandia, the son of Francis Borgia (4th Duke of Gandia and 3rd Father-General of the Society of Jesus) and thus related to Pope Callixtus III and Pope Alexander VI - one historian refers to Gaspar wanting to become the third Borgia pope.[3] Gaspar's mother was Juana Enríquez de Velasco y de Aragón, daughter of Iñigo Tovar y Fernández de Velasco, 4th Duke of Frías and 10th Constable of Castile.


He graduated from the Universidad Complutense, in the Colegio Mayor de San Ildefonso, with a degree in Theology. He owed his rise through the church hierarchy to Francisco Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas, a favourite in the court of Philip III. He was made a cardinal in August 1611 by Pope Paul V, as cardinal priest of Santa Susanna, and stayed in Rome to exercise his office. He was indignant when the minor nobleman Cardinal Gabriel Trejo Paniagua was chosen as Spain's crown-cardinal instead of him and, when Trejo lost political influence after his patron's fall, Borja played an even greater part in the Roman Curia. He supported the crown-cardinal Antonio Zapata y Cisneros, served a first term as Spain's ambassador to the Holy See (1616–19), participated in the Holy Office, attended the papal conclaves in 1621 and 1623, and held the posts of Camerlengo (1627–28) and Bishop of Albano[4] (1630–1645).

His tomb at the Toledo Cathedral

From 1631 to 1634, he was once again Spain's ambassador to the Holy See and, on orders from the Spanish king, accused Pope Urban VIII (then maintaining neutrality or favouring France) in the consistory of 8 March 1632 of failing to defend Catholicism in its Thirty Years War with the Protestant nations and threatened that Spain would depose him. Part of the grounds for Spain's complaint lay in unfounded rumours of the pope siding with the Protestant Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden (a heretic in the church's eyes). In response, the pope changed his policy somewhat and made a contribution to the Spanish exchequer, which was then running out of money to finance the war. However, Borja's approach to the pope had lacked diplomacy and in retaliation Urban forced him out of Rome in 1634 and had Spain dismiss him as their ambassador.

Borja then returned to the Archdiocese of Seville, of which he was already archbishop. The patent enmity between Urban VIII and Cardinal Borja showed itself when Urban refused Philip IV's proposal of Borja for Archbishop of Toledo in 1643, though he received the post from Urban's successor Pope Innocent X in 1645, shortly before Borja's death in Toledo later that year.

He is buried in the Cathedral of Toledo.

In fictionEdit

In the 1632 series of alternate history science fiction novels, the South European thread is a series of novels in which Borja is the villain. He attempts to depose and kill Urban VIII, who is perceived by Spain as sympathetic to Gustavus Adolphus and his heretical American allies in the United States of Europe. Borja, exceeding his orders from Madrid, has a rump consistory declare him Pope; but is widely dismissed as an anti-pope.


  1. ^ In reality Gaetano Moroni affirms that his year of birth was 1589. As Moroni adds that he died in 1645 "in the 56th year of his age", his "1589" seems unlikely to be a typographical error (Gaetano Moroni, "Borgia, Gaspare" in Dictionary of Historical and Ecclesiastical Scholarship, 1840. vol. VI, 51-52)
  2. ^ (in Spanish) Virreyes de Nápoles, by José Raneo with notes by Eustaquio Fernández Navarrete, pages 398-408, included in the "Colección de documentos inéditos para la historia de España", vol. XXIII.
  3. ^ (in Italian) Francesco Cancellieri, Dissertazioni epistolari bibliografiche di Francesco Cancellieri sopra Cristoforo Colombo di Cuccaro nel Monferrato discopritore dell'America e Giovanni Gersen di Cavaglia abate di San Stefano in Vercelli, Roma, Bourlie, 1809. 197
  4. ^ (in Italian) Alberto Galieti, Cronotassi storico-critica dei vescovi albanensi in Contributi alla storia della diocesi suburbicaria di Albano Laziale, Citta del Vaticano, Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, 1948. 108


  • von Thiessen, Hillard (2004). "Familienbande und Kreaturenlohn. Der (Kardinal-)Herzog von Lerma und die Kronkardinäle Philipps III. von Spanien". Die Jagd nach dem roten Hut, hrsg. von Arne Karsten (in German). Göttingen. ISBN 3-525-36277-3.

External linksEdit

Government offices
Preceded by Viceroy of Naples
Succeeded by
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Bishop of Albano
Succeeded by
Preceded by Archbishop of Seville
Succeeded by
Preceded by Archbishop of Toledo
and Primate of Spain

Succeeded by