Thursday, April 18, 2013

April 18 - Lucrezia Borgia

Lucrezia Borgia was born on April 18, 1480, near Rome. She was the daughter of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia of Aragon (Spain), who would later become the politically adept Pope Alexander VI, and one of his mistresses, Vannozza Cattanei, who was also the mother of Lucrezia's two older brothers, the immoral and likely murderous Cesare and the ill-fated Giovanni. Her three marriages into influential families – the powerful and princely Giovanni Sforza, then Alfonso d'Aragon of Naples, and finally Alfonso I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara – served to increase the political power of her family, in its violent quest to control large parts of Italy. Lucrezia’s reputation is dogged by rumors: incest with her brother Cesare, her skill with poisons, the birth of a mysterious baby, and her role in a massive orgy (the Banquet of Chestnuts) hosted by Cesare that involved countless clergy. Historians debate whether Lucrezia actively participated in the Borgias’ notorious crimes or was a helpless pawn in their schemes.

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