“The Sin” - Heinrich Lossow - c.1880
The Ballet of Chestnuts was the most famous of the orgies held in the Vatican.
An account of the banquet is preserved in a Latin diary by the Protonotary Apostolic and Master of Ceremonies Johann Burchard (it is entitled Liber Notarum).
On Sunday evening, October 30th 1501, Cardinal Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI, hosted a banquet in the Papal Palace where fifty prostitutes were in attendance for the entertainment of the guests.
“Following the supper, lampstands holding lighted candles were placed on the floor and chestnuts strewn about, which the prostitutes, naked and on their hands and knees, had to pick up with their mouths as they crawled in and out among the lampstands. The Pope watched and admired their noble parts”.
Members of the clergy and other party guests had sex with the prostitutes for prizes. According to Burchard: “Prizes were offered—silken doublets, pairs of shoes, hats and other garments—for those men who were most successful with the prostitutes.”
“Servants kept score of each man’s orgasms, for the pope greatly admired virility; and measured a man’s machismo by his ejaculative capacity.”