18th April 1480 – Lucrezia Borgia Is Born.


Today in history, one of the Renaissance’s most notorious and vilified women was born. Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of the future Pope Alexander VI and Vanozza Cattanei, was born at the fortress of Subiaco just outside Rome. The reasoning behind being born outside the city was likely due to Rodrigo Borgia’s policy of discretion at that time and his wish for his illegitimate family not to be so well known. It was only after his election to the Papacy that Lucrezia was moved closer to the Vatican, which brought her closer to the anti-Borgia factions who would ultimately try and tar her name with vicious rumours.

Lucrezia married three times – her first marriage to Giovanni Sforza ended in a messy divorce, her second husband was viciously murdered and her third marriage saw her becoming the Duchess of Ferrara. She ended her life in Ferrara as a deeply pious woman, definitely not the villain that she is painted as by many of her contemporaries and indeed even more modern accounts and TV shows.

I have written on the rumours that surrounded Lucrezia Borgia in the past – her name is synonymous with incest and poisoning, however the reality was much different. Lucrezia Borgia was simply a pawn in her father’s political games and a victim of the anti Borgia factions that sprang up during her father’s reign as Pope and lingered long after his death.


Lucrezia in the “Disputation of St Catherine” within the Borgia Apartments at the Vatican. Photograph by me.


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