24 June 1519 – Lucrezia Borgia dies

1520_Veneto_Idealbildnis_einer_Kurtisane_als_Flora_anagoria (1)

On 24 June 1519, Lucrezia Borgia passed away after a difficult pregnancy. She had given birth to a daughter, Isabella, on 14 June who had been so weak that Lucrezia’s husband had almost immediately had the child christened. Immediately following the birth, Lucrezia suffered with a mild fever but it was thought that she would quickly recover – it was not to be.

By 20th June she was in such a dangerous state of health that her doctors feared for her life, particularly as she had not been purged of the ‘bad material’ (believed to be the accumulation of menstrual blood during pregnancy). Lucrezia suffered from fits so the doctors bled her and shaved off all of her beautiful hair. Incapable of speech and having lost her sight, her husband Alfonso despaired. She briefly regained some of her strength and the doctors believed that if she did not suffer another fit then it was likely that she would survive. But Lucrezia knew that she was on death’s door and dictated a final letter to the Pope (Leo X) in Rome.

On the morning of the 24th June, Lucrezia barely clung to life. She had more and more fits and her doctors tried everything they could to save her life. Nothing worked. She died later that night, at the fifth hour, just two months after her thirty ninth birthday.

All her life she had been used as a pawn in the dynastic ambitions of her father and brother and in Ferrara, as wife of Alfonso, she had finally found some peace surrounded by her children. She had grown to be an incredibly pious woman who was haunted by the sins of the Borgia and the vicious rumour that followed her everywhere she went. Even after her death her name was vilified as that as an incestuous, poisoning harlot – none of which was true in the slightest.

Lucrezia Borgia was buried in the convent of Corpus Domini in Ferrara where she was later joined by her husband and two of their children.

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