Lucrezia Borgia

Article

July 3, 2022

Lucrezia Borgia, in Valencian: Lucrècia Borja; in Spanish: Lucrecia de Borja; in Latin: Lucretia Borgia (Subiaco, April 18, 1480 - Ferrara, June 24, 1519), was an Italian noblewoman of Spanish origins. She is the illegitimate third-born daughter of Pope Alexander VI (in the world Rodrigo Borgia) and of Vannozza Cattanei, she was one of the most controversial female figures of the Italian Renaissance. From the age of eleven she was subject to the marriage policy linked to her political ambitions first of her father and then of her brother Cesare Borgia. When her father ascended to the papal throne she initially gave her in marriage to Giovanni Sforza, but a few years later, following the annulment of the marriage, she Lucrezia married Alfonso of Aragon, illegitimate son of Alfonso II of Naples. A further change in the alliances, which brought the Borgias closer to the pro-French party, led to the assassination of Alfonso, on the orders of Cesare. third marriage, those with Alfonso I d'Este, eldest son of Duke Ercole I of Ferrara, who, although reluctantly, had to accept her in marriage. At the Este court Lucrezia made us forget her origins as the pope's illegitimate daughter, her two failed marriages and her whole stormy past; in fact, thanks to her beauty and her intelligence, she was well liked by both the new family and the Ferrara population. She was a perfect Renaissance castellan, she acquired a reputation as a skilled politician and shrewd diplomat, so much so that her husband came to entrust her with the political and administrative management of the duchy when she had to be absent from Ferrara. She was also an active patron, welcoming poets and humanists such as Ludovico Ariosto, Pietro Bembo, Gian Giorgio Trissino and Ercole Strozzi to court. From 1512, due to the misfortunes that struck her and the house of Ferrara, Lucrezia began to wear the sackcloth, enrolled in the Franciscan Third Order, joined the followers of San Bernardino da Siena and Santa Caterina and founded the Monte di Pietà of Ferrara to help the poor. She died in 1519, at the age of thirty-nine, from complications due to childbirth. The figure of Lucretia has taken on different shades over the course of historical periods. For a certain historiography, especially the nineteenth century, the Borgias ended up embodying the symbol of the ruthless Machiavellian politics and sexual corruption attributed to the Renaissance popes. The same reputation of Lucrezia was tarnished following the accusation of incest, addressed by Giovanni Sforza to his wife's family, to which was later added the fame of poisoner, due in particular to the tragedy of the same name by Victor Hugo, later set to music by Gaetano Donizetti: in this way the figure of Lucrezia was associated with that of a femme fatale participant in the crimes committed by her family.

Family

She was born in Subiaco on April 18, 1480, the third daughter of Spanish cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, archbishop of Valencia, who in 1492 was to be elected Pope of the Catholic Church with the name of Alexander VI. Her mother was instead a Mantuan woman, Vannozza Cattanei, Rodrigo's lover for fifteen years. The child was baptized Lucrezia and she was the only daughter Rodrigo had from Vannozza. The family already included two brothers Cesare and Juan and, two years later, little Jofré would join. Rodrigo Borgia actually had three other children, born of unknown mothers and older than those of Vannozza: Pedro Luìs, Girolama and Isabella, who had few relationships with the other half-brothers. Rodrigo, while secretly recognizing them at the time of their birth, hid the existence of his children well, at least initially, so much so that a Mantuan messenger, in February 1492, spoke of Cesare and Juan as the cardinal's nephews. Valencian origins and very close to each other. In