The Borgia family became prominent during the Renaissance in Italy. They were from Valencia, the name coming from the family fief of Borja, then in the kingdom of Aragon, in Spain.
The Borgias became prominent in ecclesiastical and political affairs in the 15th and 16th centuries, producing two popes, Alfons de Borja who ruled as Pope Callixtus III during 1455–1458 and Rodrigo Lanzol Borgia, as Pope Alexander VI, during 1492–1503.
Especially during the reign of Alexander VI, they were suspected of many crimes, including adultery, simony,theft, bribery and murder (especially murder by arsenic poisoning). Because of their grasping for power, they made enemies of the Medici, the Sforza, and the Dominican friar Savonarola, among others. They were also patrons of the arts who contributed to the Renaissance.
In very close connection to this family stood also Caterina Sforza.
Caterina Sforza, Countess of Forlì (early 1463 – 28 May 1509) was an Italian noblewoman, the illegitimate daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan and Lucrezia Landriani, the wife of the courtier Gian Piero Landriani, a close friend of the Duke. The descendant of a dynasty of noted condottieri, Caterina, from an early age, distinguished herself by her bold and impetuous actions taken to safeguard her possessions from possible usurpers, and to defend her dominions from attack, when they were involved in political intrigues that were a distinguishing feature of 15th century Italy.
In her private life Caterina was devoted to various activities, among which were experiments in alchemy and a love of hunting and dancing. She had a large number of children, of whom only the youngest, Captain Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, inherited the forceful, militant character of his mother.
As evidenced by correspondence from that period, Caterina immediately became admired as one of the most beautiful and elegant among noble Roman women. She was welcomed everywhere, treated with great respect and lavishly praised by all of society including the Pope. She soon transformed from a simple adolescent into a refined and powerful intermediary between the Roman court and other Italian courts, especially Milan.
The power games of the Medieval times brought Caterina into direct confrontation with Cesare Borgia.
Following Caterina’s resistance to Cesare Borgia, she had to face his fury and he took her prisoner. Upon regaining her liberty following her imprisonment in Rome, she led a quiet life in Florence. In the final years of her life, she confided to a monk: “If I were to write the story of my life, I would shock the world.”
Share it, if you liked the article!