Birthday: April 18, 1480
Died At Age: 39
Sun Sign: Aries
Also Known As: Борджиа, Лукреция
Born in: Subiaco
Famous as: Lady of Pesaro and Gradara , Duchess of Bisceglie and Princess of Salerno , Duchess of Ferrara, Modena, and Reggio
Empresses & Queens
Spouse/Ex-: Alfonso of Aragon, Duke of Ferrara, Giovanni Sforza
father: Pope Alexander VI
mother: Vannozza dei Cattanei
siblings: Cesare Borgia, Gioffre Borgia
children: Duke of Ferrara, Rodrigo of Aragon
Died on: June 24, 1519
place of death: Ferrara
Lucrezia Borgia, Duchess of Ferrara, was the daughter of Alexander VI, the future pope and she had married thrice into famous families that helped her own family to have a flourishing political career. Borgia was born into a greedy and vicious family and many believe she was equally ambitious and ruthless. There were several marriages arranged for her by her infamous Italian family to advance their own political career and her husbands included Giovanni Sforza, Lord of Pesaro, Alfonso of Aragon, Duke of Bisceglie and Alfonso d’Este who was the Duke of Ferrara. The Duchess of Ferrara had a notorious reputation as a political schemer, that preceded her, and she was often linked to the treachery and crimes committed by her family. Though there have been arguments and debates among various historians regarding Borgia’s active involvement in the crimes committed by her notorious family several generations have been greatly interested in her that have inspired innumerable works on films, books and arts. In reality, she had perhaps been used as a pawn both by her brother and father so that their own political goals could be furthered. Read on to know more about the life of the Lady of Pesaro.
Childhood & Early Life
Lucrezia Borgia was born on 18th April, 1480 in Subiaco, a place near the city of Rome. She was the daughter of Pope Alexander VI and Vannozza Cattanei, who was one her father’s mistresses, She grew up with two elder brothers- Cesare and Giovanni.
Lucrezia was a member of the Borgias family which is one of the most well-known families in the history of world renowned for their desire to control the whole of Italy. However, it was also a family known for its notoriety, violence, evilness and corruption.
She was staying with a lady called Adriana de Mila, who was her father’s third cousin by the year 1489 and received her education at ‘Convent of St. Sixtus’, which was located at close proximity.
Lucrezia was fluent in several languages such as Greek French, Italian, Spanish and Latin. She not only spoke all these languages fluently but also wrote them with equal ease. Along with languages, as part of her early education she was also taught painting, embroidery, and music.
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Lucrezia was barely eleven years old when her father, Pope Alexander VI and her elder brother, Cesare annulled an existing marriage contract between Lucrezia and her Spanish fiancée.
Her father instead got her married to Giovanni Sforza, the lord of Pesaro who was known for his fierce temper and was twenty seven year old when they exchanged nuptial vows.
When Lucrezia was just seventeen, Giovanni sensed that he was losing favor with his wife’s family and fled to save his life. Alexander annulled his daughter’s marriage to the utter humiliation of Giovanni.
Lucrezia’s second husband was the 17 year old Alfonso of Aragon who was also the son of the late king of Naples. Lucrezia was 6 months pregnant with her first child by the time her first marriage was annulled in the year 1497.
It is said that Lucrezia was madly in love with her second husband but the Alfonso too lost his favor with his wife’s family soon as her brother Cesare wanted to have a political alliance with France and his sister’s marriage was standing in the way. Alfonso was murdered and Duchess of Bisceglie became a widow, at the age of twenty, in 1500.
Politics of her family demanded that Lucrezia got married for the third time to Alfonso d’Este who was a widower and twenty-four year old man, the eldest son of the Duke of Ferrara.
Lucrezia seemed to be eager for her third marriage as she wanted to get away from Rome, so that she could lead a life of her own in Ferrara, far from the clutches of her ambitious and scheming family.
Alfonso got married to Lucrezia on 2nd February, 1502 and became her third husband. He was a man of many talents and was interested in horses, dogs, tournaments, artilleries, pottery and played viol. However, he was also regarded as a cruel man who was known for his queer behavior and stinginess.
Lucrezia had many children by Alfonso though a few of them died quite young. She withdrew completely from her active public life in 1512 when her son Rodrigo by Alfonso of Aragon met with an untimely death.
She spent more and more time within the confinement of her apartments or in the neighbouring convents and became extremely religious.
Though Lucrezia’s individual contribution may not be well known, however her family benefitted immensely in term of achieving their political ambition through her matrimonial alliances to some of the most powerful families during that era.
In the early 16th century, especially after the death of her father, Pope Alexander, Lucrezia was widely acclaimed for being a great patron of arts and she also presided successfully over a flourishing and famed artistic community of her times.
Lucrezia socialized with noted poets, artists, and well-known citizens of the Italian Renaissance court and helped in making Ferrara one of the leading centres for writers and artists under her patronage.
Personal Life & Legacy
Lucrezia’s body thickened as the years passed by as she aged prematurely. She died after giving birth to her last child, who was a stillborn girl, on 14th June, 1519. She suffered from a strange fever that took much of her strength and finally took her last breath at the age of 39, ten days later.
Lucrezia is regarded as an ancestor of several reputed personalities such as American actress Brooke Shields and Beaugard who is known for his contribution to the Civil War of America.
The portrait of Lucrezia makes its appearance in the bedroom of Carlo and Gabby in Desperate Housewives.