Rome, Sink of Iniquity

This is from Christopher Hubert’s The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici:
“There were reckoned to be almost 7,000 prostitutes in a population of less than 50,000, most of them working in brothels licenced by the papal authorities and many of them  suffering from syphilis, ‘a kind of illness very common among priests’, according to Benvenuto Cellini, who caught the disease himself. There were almost as many professional criminals as prostitutes, many if not most of whom avoided punishment by paying bribes. There were alleged to be an average of 14 murders a day; and although the stench from the tows of rotting corpses of executed men hanging from the battlements of the Castle Sant’ Angelo made it an ordeal to cross the bridge beneath, most murdered, if caught, were soon released. Roderigo Borgia, one of the richest cardinals, explained when asked when asked why so many malefactors escaped execution, ” the Lord requires not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should pay and live.”

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