Borgia, Lucrezia

Borgia, Lucrezia

Borgia, Lucrezia, 1480-1519, Italian noblewoman, famous figure of the Italian Renaissance; daughter of Pope Alexander VI. Her first marriage (1492) to Giovanni Sforza of Pesaro was annulled in 1497, and she was married to Alfonso of Aragón, illegitimate son of Alfonso II of Naples. Her brother, Cesare Borgia, had her second husband murdered in 1500, and, in 1501, Lucrezia was married to Alfonso d'Este, who became duke of Ferrara in 1505. As duchess of Ferrara, Lucrezia at last escaped the vicious atmosphere of her family. Her brilliant court attracted many artists and poets, notably Ariosto, and her beauty and kindness won esteem for her. Rumors of her participation in her family's poison plots, of incestuous relations with her father and brother, and of her supposed extravagant vices have not been proved. Nevertheless, Lucrezia Borgia remains best known as portrayed in Victor Hugo's drama and Donizetti's opera, both based on these legends.

See biography by S. Bradford (2004).

Lucrezia Borgia, detail from the fresco the “Dispute of St. Catherine,” by elipsis

(born April 18, 1480, Rome—died June 24, 1519, Ferrara, Papal States) Italian noblewoman. The daughter of the future pope Alexander VI and sister of Cesare Borgia, she was probably more an instrument for their ambitious projects than, as has been suggested, an active participant in their many crimes. Her three marriages into prominent families helped augment the political and territorial power of the Borgias. Her child may have been the issue of an incestuous relationship with her father. After her father's death (1503), she ceased to play a political role and increasingly turned to religion. She died at age 39.

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