TV Characters. The Borgia women. Vanozza dei Cattanei

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.

One of very significant women in Borgia family was Vanozza dei Cattanei.


Vannozza dei Cattanei (13 July 1442 – 24 November 1518) was an Italian noblewoman from the House of Candia, who was one of the many mistresses of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, future Pope Alexander VI. Among them, she was the one whose relationship with him lasted the longest.



The connection with Alexander VI began in 1470, and she bore him four children whom he openly acknowledged as his own:

  • Giovanni, afterwards duke of Gandia (1474–1497);
  • Cesare (1475–1507);
  • Lucrezia (1480–1519);
  • Gioffre (1481/1482–1518);


Before his elevation to the papacy, Alexander VI’s passion for Vannozza somewhat diminished, and she subsequently led a very retired life. However, Alexander VI’s love for his children by Vannozza remained as strong as ever; it proved, indeed, the determining factor of his whole career. He lavished vast sums on them and lauded them with every honour.


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