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Title: Lucretia Borgia - According to Original Documents and Correspondence of Her Day
Author: Gregorovius, Ferdinand
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  [Illustration: LUCRETIA BORGIA.

  From a portrait attributed to Dosso Dossi, in the possession of
  Mr. Henry Doetsch, London.]





  BENJAMIN BLOM    New York/London




  First published New York 1904
  Reissued 1968 by
  Benjamin Blom, Inc. 10452

  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-20226

  Manufactured in the United States of America


MY HONORED DUKE: I am induced to dedicate this work to you by
the historical circumstances of which it treats and also by personal

In it you will behold the founders of your ancient and illustrious
family. The Borgias were mortal enemies of the Gaetani, who narrowly
escaped the fate prepared for them by Alexander VI and his terrible son.
Beautiful Sermoneta and all the great fiefs in the Maremma fell into the
maw of the Borgias, and your ancestors either found death at their hands
or were driven into exile. Donna Lucretia became mistress of Sermoneta,
and eventually her son, Rodrigo of Aragon, inherited the estates of the

Centuries have passed, and a beautiful and unfortunate woman may be
forgiven for this confiscation of the appanages of your house. Moreover,
it was not long before your family was reinstated in its rights by a
bull of Julius II, which is now preserved--a precious jewel--in your
family archives. To your house has descended the fame of its founders,
but to yourself is due the position which the Gaetani now again enjoy.

The survival of historical tradition in things and men exercises an
indescribable charm on every student of civilization. To recognize in
the ancient and still nourishing families of modern Rome the descendants
of the great personalities of other times, and to enjoy daily
intercourse with them, made a profound impression on me. The Colonna,
the Orsini, and the Gaetani are my friends, and all afforded me the
greatest assistance. These families long ago vanished from the stage of
Roman history, but the day came, illustrious Duke, when you were to make
a place again for your ancient race in the history of the Imperial City;
the day when--the temporal power of the popes having passed away, a
power which had endured a thousand years--you carried to King Victor
Emmanuel in Florence the declaration of allegiance of the Roman
populace. This episode, marking the beginning of a new era for the city,
will live, together with your name, in the annals of the Gaetani, and
will preserve it forever in the memory of the Romans.


  ROME, _March 9, 1874_.



  CHAPTER I                                             PAGE

  LUCRETIA'S FATHER                                        3


  LUCRETIA'S MOTHER                                       10


  LUCRETIA'S FIRST HOME                                   15


  LUCRETIA'S EDUCATION                                    20






  LUCRETIA'S FIRST MARRIAGE                               53


  FAMILY AFFAIRS                                          62


  LUCRETIA LEAVES ROME                                    71


  HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION OF PESARO                       76




  THE DIVORCE AND SECOND MARRIAGE                        102


  A REGENT AND A MOTHER                                  113


  SOCIAL LIFE OF THE BORGIAS                             125


  MISFORTUNES OF CATARINA SFORZA                         137


  MURDER OF ALFONSO OF ARAGON                            145


  LUCRETIA AT NEPI                                       152


  CÆSAR AT PESARO                                        159




  NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE HOUSE OF ESTE                    182


  THE EVE OF THE WEDDING                                 196





  LUCRETIA'S JOURNEY TO FERRARA                          229


  FORMAL ENTRY INTO FERRARA                              239


  FÊTES GIVEN IN LUCRETIA'S HONOR                        250




  DEATH OF ALEXANDER VI                                  279


  EVENTS FOLLOWING THE POPE'S DEATH                      293


  ENDANGERED                                             303


  ESCAPE AND DEATH OF CÆSAR                              317


  OF LUCRETIA'S ELDEST SON                               326


  EFFECTS OF THE WAR--THE ROMAN INFANTE                  338


  LAST YEARS AND DEATH OF VANNOZZA                       345




  Lucretia Borgia, from a portrait attributed to Dosso Dossi

  Trajan's Forum, Rome                                           16

  Church of S. Maria del Popolo, Rome                            20

  Vittoria Colonna                                               30

  The Farnese Palace, Rome                                       36

  Alexander VI                                                   44

  Church of Ara Coeli, Rome                                      58

  Tasso                                                          82

  Charles VIII                                                   88

  Savonarola                                                     94

  Macchiavelli                                                  100

  Cæsar Borgia                                                  148

  Guicciardini                                                  176

  Ercole d'Este, Duke of Ferrara                                206

  Castle of S. Angelo, Rome                                     210

  Ariosto                                                       248

  Castle Vecchio, Ferrara                                       270

  Benvenuto Garofalo                                            278

  Facsimile of a letter from Alexander VI to Lucretia           281

  Cardinal Bembo                                                290

  Julius II                                                     298

  Facsimile of a letter from Lucretia to Marquis Gonzaga        301

  Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara                               304

  Aldo Manuzio                                                  328

  Leo X                                                         338

  Lucretia Borgia, after a painting in the Musée de
  Nîmes                                                         360


Lucretia Borgia is the most unfortunate woman in modern history. Is this
because she was guilty of the most hideous crimes, or is it simply
because she has been unjustly condemned by the world to bear its curse?
The question has never been answered. Mankind is ever ready to discover
the personification of human virtues and human vices in certain typical
characters found in history and fable.

The Borgias will never cease to fascinate the historian and the
psychologist. An intelligent friend of mine once asked me why it was
that everything about Alexander VI, Cæsar, and Lucretia Borgia, every
little fact regarding their lives, every newly discovered letter of any
of them, aroused our interest much more than did anything similar
concerning other and vastly more important historic characters. I know
of no better explanation than the following: the Borgias had for
background the Christian Church; they made their first appearance
issuing from it; they used it for their advancement; and the sharp
contrast of their conduct with the holy state makes them appear
altogether fiendish. The Borgias are a satire on a great form or phase
of religion, debasing and destroying it. They stand on high pedestals,
and from their presence radiates the light of the Christian ideal. In
this form we behold and recognize them. We view their acts through a
medium which is permeated with religious ideas. Without this, and
placed on a purely secular stage, the Borgias would have fallen into a
position much less conspicuous than that of many other men, and would
soon have ceased to be anything more than representatives of a large

We possess the history of Alexander VI and Cæsar, but of Lucretia Borgia
we have little more than a legend, according to which she is a fury, the
poison in one hand, the poignard in the other; and yet this baneful
personality possessed all the charms and graces.

Victor Hugo painted her as a moral monster, in which form she still
treads the operatic stage, and this is the conception which mankind in
general have of her. The lover of real poetry regards this romanticist's
terrible drama of Lucretia Borgia as a grotesque manifestation of the
art, while the historian laughs at it; the poet, however, may excuse
himself on the ground of his ignorance, and of his belief in a myth
which had been current since the publication of Guicciardini's history.

Roscoe, doubting the truth of this legend, endeavored to disprove it,
and his apology for Lucretia was highly gratifying to the patriotic
Italians. To it is due the reaction which has recently set in against
this conception of her. The Lucretia legend may be analyzed most
satisfactorily and scientifically where documents and mementos of her
are most numerous; namely, in Rome, Ferrara, and Modena, where the
archives of the Este family are kept, and in Mantua, where those of the
Gonzaga are preserved. Occasional publications show that the interesting
question still lives and remains unanswered.

The history of the Borgias was taken up again by Domenico Cerri in his
work, _Borgia ossia Alessandro VI, Papa e suoi contemporanei_, Turin,
1858. The following year Bernardo Gatti, of Milan, published Lucretia's
letters to Bembo. In 1866 Marquis G. Campori, of Modena, printed an
essay entitled _Una vittima della storia Lucrezia Borgia_, in the _Nuova
Antologia_ of August 31st of that year. A year later Monsignor
Antonelli, of Ferrara, published _Lucrezia Borgia in Ferrara, Sposa a
Don Alfonso d'Este, Memorie storiche_, Ferrara, 1867. Giovanni
Zucchetti, of Mantua, immediately followed with a similar opuscule:
_Lucrezia Borgia Duchessa di Ferrara_, Milano, 1869. All these writers
endeavored, with the aid of history, to clear up the Lucretia legend,
and to rehabilitate the honor of the unfortunate woman.

Other writers, not Italians, among them certain French and English
authors, also took part in this effort. M. Armand Baschet, to whom we
are indebted for several valuable publications in the field of
diplomacy, announced in his work, _Aldo Manuzio, Lettres et Documents,
1494-1515_, Venice, 1867, that he had been engaged for years on a
biography of Madonna Lucretia Borgia, and had collected for the purpose
a large mass of original documents.

In the meantime, in 1869, there was published in London the first
exhaustive work on the subject: _Lucrezia Borgia, Duchess of Ferrara, a
Biography, illustrated by rare and unpublished documents_, by William
Gilbert. The absence of scientific method, unfortunately, detracts from
the value of this otherwise excellent production, which, as a sequel to
Roscoe's works, attracted no little attention.

The swarm of apologies for the Borgias called forth in France one of the
most wonderful books to which history has ever given birth. Ollivier, a
Dominican, published, in 1870, the first part of a work entitled _Le
Pape Alexandre VI et les Borgia_. This production is the fantastic
antithesis of Victor Hugo's drama. For, while the latter distorted
history for the purpose of producing a moral monster for stage effect,
the former did exactly the same thing, intending to create the very
opposite. Monks, however, now are no longer able to compel the world to
accept their fables as history, and Ollivier's absurd romance was
renounced even by the strongest organs of the Church; first by Matagne,
in the _Revue des questions historiques_, Paris, April, 1871, and
January, 1872, and subsequently by the _Civiltà Cattolica_, the organ of
the Jesuits, in an article dated March 15, 1873, whose author made no
effort to defend Alexander's character, simply because, in the light of
absolutely authentic historical documents, it was no longer possible to
save it.

This article was based upon the _Saggio di Albero Genealogico e di
Memorie su la familia Borgia specialmente in relazione a Ferrara_, by L.
N. Cittadella, director of the public library of that city, published in
Turin in 1872. The work, although not free from errors, is a
conscientious effort to clear up the family history of the Borgias.

At the close of 1872 I likewise entered into the discussion by
publishing a note on the history of the Borgias. This followed the
appearance of the volume of the _Geschichte der Stadt Rom im
Mittelalter_, which embraced the epoch of Alexander VI. My researches in
the archives of Italy had placed me in possession of a large amount of
original information concerning the Borgias, and as it was impossible
for me to avail myself of this mass of valuable details in that work, I
decided to use it for a monograph to be devoted either to Cæsar Borgia
or to his sister, as protagonist.

I decided on Madonna Lucretia for various reasons, among which was the
following: in the spring of 1872 I found in the archives of the notary
of the Capitol in Rome the protocol-book of Camillo Beneimbene, who for
years was the trusted legal adviser of Alexander VI. This great
manuscript proved to be an unexpected treasure; it furnished me with a
long series of authentic and hitherto unknown documents. It contained
all the marriage contracts of Donna Lucretia as well as numerous other
legal records relating to the most intimate affairs of the Borgias. In
November, 1872, I delivered a lecture on the subject before the class in
history at the Royal Bavarian Academy of Sciences in Munich, which was
published in the account of the proceedings. These records cast new
light on the history of the Borgias, whose genealogy had only just been
published by Cittadella.

There were other reasons which induced me to write a book on Donna
Lucretia. I had treated the political history of Alexander VI and Cæsar
at length, and had elucidated some of its obscure phases, but to
Lucretia Borgia I had devoted no special attention. Her personality
appeared to me to be something full of mystery, made up of
contradictions which remained to be deciphered, and I was fascinated by

I began my task without any preconceived intention. I purposed to write,
not an apology, but a history of Lucretia, broadly sketched, the
materials for which, in so far as the most important period of her life,
her residence in Rome, was concerned, were already in my possession. I
desired to ascertain what manner of personality would be discovered by
treating Lucretia Borgia in a way entirely different from that in which
she had hitherto been examined, but at the same time scientifically, and
in accordance with the original records.

I completed my data; I visited the places where she had lived. I
repeatedly went to Modena and Mantua, whose archives are inexhaustible
sources of information regarding the Renaissance, and from them I
obtained most of my material. My friends there, as usual, were of great
help to me, especially Signor Zucchetti, of Mantua, late keeper of the
Gonzaga archives, and Signor Stefano Davari, the secretary.

The state archives of the Este family of Modena, however, yielded me the
greatest store of information. The custodian was Signor Cesare Foucard.
As might have been expected of Muratori's successor, this distinguished
gentleman displayed the greatest willingness to assist me in my task. In
every way he lightened my labors; he had one of his young assistants,
Signor Ognibene, arrange a great mass of letters and despatches which
promised to be of use to me, lent me the index, and supplied me with
copies. Therefore, if this work has any merit, no small part of it is
due to Signor Foucard's obligingness.

I also met with unfailing courtesy and assistance in other places--Nepi,
Pesaro, and Ferrara. To Signor Cesare Guasti, of the state archives of
Florence, I am indebted for careful copies of important letters of
Lorenzo Pucci, which he had made for me.

The material of which I finally found myself in possession is not
complete, but it is abundant and new.

The original records will serve as defense against those who endeavor to
discover a malicious motive in this work. No such interpretation is
worthy of further notice, because the book itself will make my intention
perfectly clear, which was simply that of the conscientious writer of
history. I have substituted history for romance.

In the work I have attached more importance to the period during which
Lucretia lived in Rome than to the time she spent in Ferrara, because
the latter has already been described, though not in detail, while the
former has remained purely legendary. As I had to base my work entirely
on original information, I endeavored to treat the subject in such a way
as to present a picture truly characteristic of the age, and animated by
concrete descriptions of its striking personalities.





The Spanish house of Borja (or Borgia as the name is generally written)
was rich in extraordinary men. Nature endowed them generously; they were
distinguished by sensuous beauty, physical strength, intellect, and that
force of will which compels success, and which was the source of the
greatness of Cortez and Pizarro, and of the other Spanish adventurers.

Like the Aragonese, the Borgias also played the part of conquerors in
Italy, winning for themselves honors and power, and deeply affecting the
destiny of the whole peninsula, where they extended the influence of
Spain and established numerous branches of their family. From the old
kings of Aragon they claimed descent, but so little is known of their
origin that their history begins with the real founder of the house,
Alfonso Borgia, whose father's name is stated by some to have been Juan,
and by others Domenico; while the family name of his mother, Francesca,
is not even known.

Alfonso Borgia was born in the year 1378 at Xativa, near Valencia. He
served King Alfonso of Aragon as privy secretary, and was made Bishop of
Valencia. He came to Naples with this genial prince when he ascended its
throne, and in the year 1444 he was made a cardinal.

Spain, owing to her religious wars, was advancing toward national unity,
and was fast assuming a position of European importance. She now, by
taking a hand in the affairs of Italy, endeavored to grasp what she had
hitherto let slip by,--namely, the opportunity of becoming the head of
the Latin world and, above all, the center of gravity of European
politics and civilization. She soon forced herself into the Papacy and
into the Empire. From Spain the Borgias first came to the Holy See, and
from there later came Charles V to ascend the imperial throne. From
Spain came also Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the most powerful
politico-religious order history has ever known.

Alfonso Borgia, one of the most active opponents of the Council of Basle
and of the Reformation in Germany, was elected pope in 1455, assuming
the name Calixtus III. Innumerable were his kinsmen, many of whom he had
found settled in Rome when he, as cardinal, had taken up his residence
there. His nearest kin were members of the three connected Valencian
families of Borgia, Mila (or Mella), and Lanzol. One of the sisters of
Calixtus, Catarina Borgia, was married to Juan Mila, Baron of Mazalanes,
and was the mother of the youthful Juan Luis. Isabella, the wife of
Jofrè Lanzol, a wealthy nobleman of Xativa, was the mother of Pedro Luis
and Rodrigo, and of several daughters. The uncle adopted these two
nephews and gave them his family name,--thus the Lanzols became Borgias.

In 1456 Calixtus III bestowed the purple upon two members of the Mila
family: the Bishop Juan of Zamora, who died in 1467, in Rome, where his
tomb may still be seen in S. Maria di Monserrato, and on the youthful
Juan Luis. Rodrigo Borgia also received the purple in the same year.
Among other members of the house of Mila settled in Rome was Don Pedro,
whose daughter, Adriana Mila, we shall later find in most intimate
relations with the family of her uncle Rodrigo.

Of the sisters of this same Rodrigo, Beatrice was married to Don Ximenez
Perez de Arenos, Tecla to Don Vidal de Villanova, and Juana to Don Pedro
Guillen Lanzol.[1] All these remained in Spain. There is a letter
extant, written by Beatrice from Valencia to her brother shortly after
he became pope.

Rodrigo Borgia was twenty-six when the dignity of cardinal was conferred
upon him, and to this honor, a year later, was added the great office of
vice-chancellor of the Church of Rome. His brother, Don Pedro Luis, was
only one year older; and Calixtus bestowed upon this young Valencian the
highest honors which can fall to the lot of a prince's favorite. Later
we behold in him a papal nepot-prince in whom the Pope endeavored to
embody all mundane power and honor; he made him his condottiere, his
warder, his body-guard, and, finally, his worldly heir. Calixtus allowed
him to usurp every position of authority in the Church domain and, like
a destroying angel, to overrun and devastate the republics and the
tyrannies, for the purpose of founding a family dynasty, the Papacy
being of only momentary tenure, and not transmittable to an heir.

Calixtus made Pedro Luis generalissimo of the Church, prefect of the
city, Duke of Spoleto, and finally, vicar of Terracina and Benevento.
Thus in this first Spanish nepot was foreshadowed the career which Cæsar
Borgia later followed.

During the life of Calixtus the Spaniards were all-powerful in Rome. In
great numbers they poured into Italy from the kingdom of Valencia to
make their fortune at the papal court as monsignori and clerks, as
captains and castellans, and in any other way that suggested itself.
Calixtus III died on the sixth of August, 1458, and a few days later Don
Pedro Luis was driven from Rome by the oppressed nobility of the
country, the Colonna and the Orsini, who rose against the hated
foreigner. Soon afterwards, in December the same year, death suddenly
terminated the career of this young and brilliant upstart, then in
Civitavecchia. It is not known whether Don Pedro Luis Borgia was married
or whether he left any descendants.[2]

Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia lamented the loss of his beloved and, probably,
only brother, and inherited his property, while his own high position in
the Curia was not affected by the change in the papacy. As
vice-chancellor, he occupied a house in the Ponte quarter, which had
formerly been the Mint, and which he converted into one of the most
showy of the palaces of Rome. The building encloses two courts, where
may still be seen the original open colonnades of the lower story; it
was constructed as a stronghold, like the Palazzo di Venizia, which was
almost contemporaneous with it. The Borgia palace, however, does not
compare in architectural beauty or size with that built by Paul II. In
the course of the years it has undergone many changes, and for a long
time has belonged to the Sforza-Cesarini.

Nothing is known of Rodrigo's private life during the pontificate of the
four popes who followed Calixtus--Pius II, Paul II, Sixtus IV, and
Innocent VIII--for the records of that period are very incomplete.

Insatiable sensuality ruled this Borgia, a man of unusual beauty and
strength, until his last years. Never was he able to cast out this
demon. He angered Pius II by his excesses, and the first ray of light
thrown upon Rodrigo's private life is an admonitory letter written by
that pope, the eleventh of June, 1460, from the baths of Petriolo.
Borgia was then twenty-nine years old. He was in beautiful and
captivating Siena, where Piccolomini had passed his unholy youth. There
he had arranged a bacchanalian orgy of which the Pope's letter gives a

     DEAR SON: We have learned that your Worthiness, forgetful
     of the high office with which you are invested, was present from
     the seventeenth to the twenty-second hour, four days ago, in the
     gardens of John de Bichis, where there were several women of Siena,
     women wholly given over to worldly vanities. Your companion was one
     of your colleagues whom his years, if not the dignity of his
     office, ought to have reminded of his duty. We have heard that the
     dance was indulged in in all wantonness; none of the allurements of
     love were lacking, and you conducted yourself in a wholly worldly
     manner. Shame forbids mention of all that took place, for not only
     the things themselves but their very names are unworthy of your
     rank. In order that your lust might be all the more unrestrained,
     the husbands, fathers, brothers, and kinsmen of the young women and
     girls were not invited to be present. You and a few servants were
     the leaders and inspirers of this orgy. It is said that nothing is
     now talked of in Siena but your vanity, which is the subject of
     universal ridicule. Certain it is that here at the baths, where
     Churchmen and the laity are very numerous, your name is on every
     one's tongue. Our displeasure is beyond words, for your conduct has
     brought the holy state and office into disgrace; the people will
     say that they make us rich and great, not that we may live a
     blameless life, but that we may have means to gratify our passions.
     This is the reason the princes and the powers despise us and the
     laity mock us; this is why our own mode of living is thrown in our
     face when we reprove others. Contempt is the lot of Christ's vicar
     because he seems to tolerate these actions. You, dear son, have
     charge of the bishopric of Valencia, the most important in Spain;
     you are a chancellor of the Church, and what renders your conduct
     all the more reprehensible is the fact that you have a seat among
     the cardinals, with the Pope, as advisors of the Holy See. We leave
     it to you whether it is becoming to your dignity to court young
     women, and to send those whom you love fruits and wine, and during
     the whole day to give no thought to anything but sensual pleasures.
     People blame us on your account, and the memory of your blessed
     uncle, Calixtus, likewise suffers, and many say he did wrong in
     heaping honors upon you. If you try to excuse yourself on the
     ground of your youth, I say to you: you are no longer so young as
     not to see what duties your offices impose upon you. A cardinal
     should be above reproach and an example of right living before the
     eyes of all men, and then we should have just grounds for anger
     when temporal princes bestow uncomplimentary epithets upon us; when
     they dispute with us the possession of our property and force us to
     submit ourselves to their will. Of a truth we inflict these wounds
     upon ourselves, and we ourselves are the cause of these troubles,
     since we by our conduct are daily diminishing the authority of the
     Church. Our punishment for it in this world is dishonor, and in the
     world to come well deserved torment. May, therefore, your good
     sense place a restraint on these frivolities, and may you never
     lose sight of your dignity; then people will not call you a vain
     gallant among men. If this occurs again we shall be compelled to
     show that it was contrary to our exhortation, and that it caused us
     great pain; and our censure will not pass over you without causing
     you to blush. We have always loved you and thought you worthy of
     our protection as a man of an earnest and modest character.
     Therefore, conduct yourself henceforth so that we may retain this
     our opinion of you, and may behold in you only the example of a
     well ordered life. Your years, which are not such as to preclude
     improvement, permit us to admonish you paternally.

  PETRIOLO, _June 11, 1460_.[3]

A few years later, when Paul II occupied the papal throne, the historian
Gasparino of Verona described Cardinal Borgia as follows: "He is
handsome; of a most glad countenance and joyous aspect, gifted with
honeyed and choice eloquence. The beautiful women on whom his eyes are
cast he lures to love him, and moves them in a wondrous way, more
powerfully than the magnet influences iron."

There are such organizations as Gasparino describes; they are men of the
physical and moral nature of Casanova and the Regent of Orleans.
Rodrigo's beauty was noted by many of his contemporaries even when he
was pope. In 1493 Hieronymus Portius described him as follows:
"Alexander is tall and neither light nor dark; his eyes are black and
his lips somewhat full. His health is robust, and he is able to bear any
pain or fatigue; he is wonderfully eloquent and a thorough man of the

The force of this happy organization lay, apparently, in the perfect
balance of all its powers. From it radiated the serene brightness of his
being, for nothing is more incorrect than the picture usually drawn of
this Borgia, showing him as a sinister monster. The celebrated Jason
Mainus, of Milan, calls attention to his "elegance of figure, his serene
brow, his kingly forehead, his countenance with its expression of
generosity and majesty, his genius, and the heroic beauty of his whole


[1] Zurita, Anales de Aragon, v. 36.

[2] Zurita (iv, 55) says he died _sin dexar ninguna sucesion_.
Notwithstanding this, Cittadella, in his _Saggio di Albero Genealogico e
di memorie su la Familia Borgia_ (Turin, 1872), ascribes two children to
this Pedro Luis, Silvia and Cardinal Giovanni Borgia, the younger.

[3] Raynaldus, 1460. No. 31.

[4] Statura procerus, colore medio, nigris oculis, ore paululum
pleniore. Hieron. Portius, Commentarius, a rare publication of 1493, in
the Casanatense in Rome.



About 1466 or 1467 Cardinal Rodrigo's magnetism attracted a woman of
Rome, Vannozza Catanei. We know that she was born in July, 1442, but of
her family we are wholly ignorant. Writers of that day also call her
Rosa and Catarina, although she named herself, in well authenticated
documents, Vannozza Catanei. Paolo Giovio states that Vanotti was her
patronymic, and although there was a clan of that name in Rome, he is
wrong. Vannozza was probably the nickname for Giovanna--thus we find in
the early records of that age: Vannozza di Nardis, Vannozza di Zanobeis,
di Pontianis, and others.

There was a Catanei family in Rome, as there was in Ferrara, Genoa, and
elsewhere. The name was derived from the title, _capitaneus_. In a
notarial document of 1502 the name of Alexander's mistress is given in
its ancient form, Vanotia de Captaneis.

Litta, to whom Italy is indebted for the great work on her
illustrious families--a wonderful work in spite of its errors and
omissions--ventures the opinion that Vannozza was a member of the
Farnese family and a daughter of Ranuccio. There is, however, no ground
for this theory. In written instruments of that time she is explicitly
called Madonna Vannozza de casa Catanei.

None of Vannozza's contemporaries have stated what were the
characteristics which enabled her to hold the pleasure-loving cardinal
so surely and to secure her recognition as the mother of several of his
acknowledged children. We may imagine her to have been a strong and
voluptuous woman like those still seen about the streets of Rome. They
possess none of the grace of the ideal woman of the Umbrian school, but
they have something of the magnificence of the Imperial City--Juno and
Venus are united in them. They would resemble the ideals of Titian and
Paul Veronese but for their black hair and dark complexion,--blond and
red hair have always been rare among the Romans.

Vannozza doubtless was of great beauty and ardent passions; for if not,
how could she have inflamed a Rodrigo Borgia? Her intellect too,
although uncultivated, must have been vigorous; for if not, how could
she have maintained her relations with the cardinal?

The date given above was the beginning of this liaison, if we may
believe the Spanish historian Mariana, who says that Vannozza was the
mother of Don Pedro Luis, Rodrigo's eldest son. In a notarial instrument
of 1482 this son of the cardinal is called a youth (_adolescens_), which
signified a person fourteen or fifteen years of age. In what
circumstances Vannozza was living when Cardinal Borgia made her
acquaintance we do not know. It is not likely that she was one of the
innumerable courtesans who, thanks to the liberality of their retainers,
led most brilliant lives in Rome at that period; for had she been, the
novelists and epigrammatists of the day would have made her famous.

The chronicler Infessura, who must have been acquainted with Vannozza,
relates that Alexander VI, wishing to make his natural son Cæsar a
cardinal, caused it to appear, by false testimony, that he was the
legitimate son of a certain Domenico of Arignano, and he adds that he
had even married Vannozza to this man. The testimony of a contemporary
and a Roman should have weight; but no other writer, except Mariana--who
evidently bases his statement on Infessura--mentions this Domenico, and
we shall soon see that there could have been no legal, acknowledged
marriage of Vannozza and this unknown man. She was the cardinal's
mistress for a much longer time before he himself, for the purpose of
cloaking his relations with her and for lightening his burden, gave her
a husband. His relations with her continued for a long time after she
had a recognized consort.

The first acknowledged husband of Vannozza was Giorgio di Croce, a
Milanese, for whom Cardinal Rodrigo had obtained from Sixtus IV a
position as apostolic secretary. It is uncertain at just what time she
allied herself with this man, but she was living with him as his wife in
1480 in a house on the Piazzo Pizzo di Merlo, which is now called
Sforza-Cesarini, near which was Cardinal Borgia's palace.

Even as early as this, Vannozza was the mother of several children
acknowledged by the cardinal: Giovanni, Cæsar, and Lucretia. There is no
doubt whatever about these, although the descent of the eldest of the
children, Pedro Luis, from the same mother, is only highly probable.
Thus far the date of the birth of this Borgia bastard has not been
established, and authorities differ. In absolutely authentic records I
discovered the dates of birth of Cæsar and Lucretia, which clear up
forever many errors regarding the genealogy and even the history of the
house. Cæsar was born in the month of April, 1476--the day is not
given--and Lucretia on the eighteenth of April, 1480. Their father, when
he was pope, gave their ages in accordance with these dates. In October,
1501, he mentioned the subject to the ambassador of Ferrara, and the
latter, writing to the Duke Ercole, said, "The Pope gave me to
understand that the Duchess (Lucretia) was in her twenty-second year,
which she will complete next April, in which month also the most
illustrious Duke of Romagna (Cæsar) will be twenty-six."

If the correctness of the father's statement of the age of his own
children is questioned, it may be confirmed by other reports and
records. In despatches which a Ferrarese ambassador sent to the same
duke from Rome much earlier, namely, in February and March, 1483, the
age of Cæsar at that time is given as sixteen to seventeen years, which
agrees with the subsequent statement of his father.[5] The son of
Alexander VI was, therefore, a few years younger than has hitherto been
supposed, and this fact has an important bearing upon his short and
terrible life. Mariana, therefore, and other authors who follow him, err
in stating that Cæsar, Rodrigo's second son, was older than his brother
Giovanni. In reality, Giovanni must have been two years older than
Cæsar. Venetian letters from Rome, written in October, 1496, describe
him as a young man of twenty-two; he accordingly must have been born in

Lucretia herself came into the world April 18, 1480. This exact date is
given in a Valencian document. Her father was then forty-nine and her
mother thirty-eight years of age. The Roman or Spanish astrologers cast
the horoscope of the child according to the constellation which was in
the ascendancy, and congratulated Cardinal Rodrigo on the brilliant
career foretold for his daughter by the stars.

Easter had just passed; magnificent festivities had been held in honor
of the Elector Ernst of Saxony, who, together with the Duke of Brunswick
and Wilhelm von Henneberg had arrived in Rome March 22d. These gentlemen
were accompanied by a retinue of two hundred knights, and a house in the
Parione quarter had been placed at their disposal. Pope Sixtus IV loaded
them with honors, and great astonishment was caused by a magnificent
hunt which Girolamo Riario, the all-powerful nepot, gave for them, at
Magliana on the Tiber. These princes departed from Rome on the
fourteenth of April.

The papacy was at that time changing to a political despotism, and
nepotism was assuming the character which later was to give Cæsar Borgia
all his ferocity. Sixtus IV, a mighty being and a character of a much
more powerful cast than even Alexander VI, was at war with Florence,
where he had countenanced the Pazzi conspiracy for the murder of the
Medici. He had made Girolamo Riario a great prince in Romagna, and later
Alexander VI planned a similar career for his son Cæsar.

Lucretia was indeed born at a terrible period in the world's history;
the papacy was stripped of all holiness, religion was altogether
material, and immorality was boundless. The bitterest family feuds raged
in the city, in the Ponte, Parione, and Regola quarters, where kinsmen
incited by murder daily met in deadly combat. In this very year, 1480,
there was a new uprising of the old factions of Guelph and Ghibbeline in
Rome; there the Savelli and Colonna were against the Pope, and here the
Orsini for him; while the Valle, Margana, and Santa Croce families,
inflamed by a desire for revenge for blood which had been shed, allied
themselves with one or the other faction.


[5] Gianandrea Boccaccio to the duke, Rome, February 25 and March 11,
1493. State archives of Modena.

[6] Sanuto, Diar. v. i, 258.



Lucretia passed the first years of her childhood in her mother's house,
which was on the Piazza Pizzo di Merlo, only a few steps from the
cardinal's palace. The Ponte quarter, to which it belonged, was one of
the most populous of Rome, since it led to the Bridge of S. Angelo and
the Vatican. In it were to be found many merchants and the bankers from
Florence, Genoa, and Siena, while numerous papal office-holders, as well
as the most famous courtesans dwelt there. On the other hand, the number
of old, noble families in Ponte was not large, perhaps because the
Orsini faction did not permit them to thrive there. These powerful
barons had resided in this quarter for a long time in their vast palace
on Monte Giordano. Not far distant stood their old castle, the Torre di
Nona, which had originally been part of the city walls on the Tiber. At
this time it was a dungeon for prisoners of state and other

It is not difficult to imagine what Vannozza's house was, for the Roman
dwelling of the Renaissance did not greatly differ from the ordinary
house of the present day, which generally is gloomy and dark. Massive
steps of cement led to the dwelling proper, which consisted of a
principal salon and adjoining rooms with bare flagstone floors, and
ceilings of beams and painted wooden paneling. The walls of the rooms
were whitewashed, and only in the wealthiest houses were they covered
with tapestries, and in these only on festal occasions. In the fifteenth
century the walls of few houses were adorned with pictures, and these
usually consisted of only a few family portraits. If Vannozza decorated
her salon with any likenesses, that of Cardinal Rodrigo certainly must
have been among the number. There was likewise a shrine with relics and
pictures of the saints and one of the Madonna, the lamp constantly
burning before it.

Heavy furniture,--great wide beds with canopies; high, brown wooden
chairs, elaborately carved, upon which cushions were placed; and massive
tables, with tops made of marble or bits of colored wood,--was ranged
around the walls. Among the great chests there was one which stood out
conspicuously in the salon, and which contained the dowry of linen. It
was in such a chest--the chest of his sister--that the unfortunate
Stefano Porcaro concealed himself when he endeavored to escape after his
unsuccessful attempt to excite an uprising on the fifth of January,
1453. His sister and another woman sat on the chest, better to protect
him, but the officers pulled him out.

Although we can only state what was then the fashion, if Vannozza had
any taste for antiquities her salon must have been adorned with them. At
that time they were being collected with the greatest eagerness. It was
the period of the first excavations; the soil of Rome was daily giving
up its treasures, and from Ostia, Tivoli, and Hadrian's Villa, from
Porto d'Anzio and Palestrina, quantities of antiquities were being
brought to the city. If Vannozza and her husband did not share this
passion with the other Romans, one would certainly not have looked in
vain in her house for the cherished productions of modern art--cups and
vases of marble and porphyry, and the gold ornaments of the jewelers.
The most essential thing in every well ordered Roman house was above all
else the _credenza_, a great chest containing gold and silver table
and drinking vessels and beautiful majolica; and care was taken always
to display these articles at banquets and on other ceremonious

[Illustration: TRAJAN'S FORUM, ROME.]

It is not likely that Rodrigo's mistress possessed a library, for
private collections of books were at that time exceedingly rare in
bourgeois houses. A short time after this they were first made possible
in Rome by the invention of printing, which was there carried on by

Vannozza's household doubtless was rich but not magnificent. She must
occasionally have entertained the cardinal, as well as the friends of
the family, and especially the confidants of the Borgias: the Spaniards,
Juan Lopez, Caranza, and Marades; and among the Romans, the Orsini,
Porcari, Cesarini, and Barberini. The cardinal himself was an
exceedingly abstemious man, but magnificent in everything which
concerned the pomp and ceremonial of his position. The chief requirement
of a cardinal of that day was to own a princely residence and to have a
numerous household.

Rodrigo Borgia was one of the wealthiest princes of the Church, and he
maintained the palace and pomp of a great noble. His contemporary Jacopo
of Volterra, gave the following description of him about 1486: "He is a
man of an intellect capable of everything and of great sense; he is a
ready speaker; he is of an astute nature, and has wonderful skill in
conducting affairs. He is enormously wealthy, and the favor accorded him
by numerous kings and princes lends him renown. He occupies a beautiful
and comfortable palace which he built between the Bridge of S. Angelo
and the Campo dei Fiore. His papal offices, his numerous abbeys in Italy
and Spain, and his three bishoprics of Valencia, Portus, and Carthage
yield him a vast income, and it is said that the office of
vice-chancellor alone brings him in eight thousand gold florins. His
plate, his pearls, his stuffs embroidered with silk and gold, and his
books in every department of learning are very numerous, and all are of
a magnificence worthy of a king or pope. I need not mention the
innumerable bed hangings, the trappings for his horses, and similar
things of gold, silver, and silk, nor his magnificent wardrobe, nor the
vast amount of gold coin in his possession. In fact it was believed that
he possessed more gold and riches of every sort than all the cardinals
together, with the exception of one, Estouteville."

Cardinal Rodrigo, therefore, was able to give his children the most
brilliant education, while he modestly maintained them as his nephews.
Not until he himself had attained greatness could he bring them forth
into the full light of day.

In 1482 he did not occupy his house in the Ponte quarter, perhaps
because he was having it enlarged. He spent more of his time in the
palace which Stefano Nardini had finished in 1475 in the Parione
quarter, which is now known as the Palazzo del Governo Vecchio. Rodrigo
was living here in January, 1482, as we learn from an instrument of the
notary Beneimbene,--the marriage contract of Gianandrea Cesarini and
Girolama Borgia, a natural daughter of the same Cardinal Rodrigo. This
marriage was performed in the presence of the bride's father, Cardinals
Stefano Nardini and Gianbattista Savelli, and the Roman nobles Virginius
Orsini, Giuliano Cesarini, and Antonio Porcaro.

The instrument of January, 1482, is the earliest authentic document we
possess regarding the family life of Cardinal Borgia. In it he
acknowledges himself to be the father of the "noble demoiselle
Hieronyma," and she is described as the sister of the "noble youth
Petrus Lodovicus de Borgia, and of the infant Johannes de Borgia." As
these two, plainly mentioned as the eldest sons, were natural children,
it would have been improper to name their mother. Cæsar also was passed
by, as he was a child of only six years.

Girolama was still a minor, being only thirteen years of age, and her
betrothed, Giovanni Andrea, had scarcely reached manhood. He was a son
of Gabriello Cesarini and Godina Colonna. By this marriage the noble
house of Cesarini was brought into close relations with the Borgia, and
later it derived great profit from the alliance. Their mutual friendship
dated from the time of Calixtus, for it was the prothonotary Giorgio
Cesarini who, on the death of that pope, had helped Rodrigo's brother
Don Pedro Luis when he was forced to flee from Rome. Both Girolama and
her youthful spouse died in 1483. Was she also a child of the mother of
Lucretia and Cæsar? We know not, but it is regarded as unlikely. Let us
anticipate by saying that there is only a single authentic record which
mentions Rodrigo's children and their mother together. This is the
inscription on Vannozza's tomb in S. Maria del Popolo in Rome, in which
she is named as the mother of Cæsar, Giovanni, Giuffrè, and Lucretia,
while no mention is made of their older brother, Don Pedro Luis, nor of
their sister Girolama.

Rodrigo, moreover, had a third daughter, named Isabella, who could not
have been a child of Vannozza. April 1, 1483, he married her to a Roman
nobleman, Piergiovanni Mattuzi of the Parione quarter.[7]


[7] Abstract of the marriage contract in the archives of the Capitol.
Cred. xiv, T. 72. From an instrument of the notary Agostino Martini.



The cardinal's relations with Vannozza continued until about 1482, for
after the birth of Lucretia she presented him with another son, Giuffrè,
who was born in 1481 or 1482.

After that, Borgia's passion for this woman, who was now about forty,
died out, but he continued to honor her as the mother of his children
and as the confidant of many of his secrets.

Vannozza had borne her husband, a certain Giorgio di Croce, a son, who
was named Octavian--at least this child passed as his. With the
cardinal's help she increased her revenues; in old official records she
appears as the lessee of several taverns in Rome, and she also bought a
vineyard and a country house near S. Lucia in Selci in the Subura,
apparently from the Cesarini. Even to-day the picturesque building with
the arched passageway over the stairs which lead up from the Subura to
S. Pietro in Vincoli is pointed out to travelers as the palace of
Vannozza or of Lucretia Borgia. Giorgio di Croce had become rich, and he
built a chapel for himself and his family in S. Maria del Popolo. Both
he and his son Octavian died in the year 1486.[8]

His death caused a change in Vannozza's circumstances, the cardinal
hastening to marry the mother of his children a second time, so that she
might have a protector and a respectable household. The new husband was
Carlo Canale, of Mantua.


Before he came to Rome he had by his attainments acquired some
reputation among the humanists of Mantua. There is still extant a letter
to Canale, written by the young poet Angelo Poliziano regarding his
_Orfeo_; the manuscript of this, the first attempt in the field of the
drama which marked the renaissance of the Italian theater, was in the
hands of Canale, who, appreciating the work of the faint-hearted poet,
was endeavoring to encourage him.[9] At the suggestion of Cardinal
Francesco Gonzaga, a great patron of letters, Poliziano had written the
poem in the short space of two days. Carlo Canale was the cardinal's
chamberlain. The _Orfeo_ saw the light in 1472. When Gonzaga died, in
1483, Canale went to Rome, where he entered the service of Cardinal
Sclafetano, of Parma. As a confidant and dependent of the Gonzaga he
retained his connection with this princely house.[10] In his new
position he assisted Ludovico Gonzaga, a brother of Francesco when he
came to Rome in 1484 to receive the purple on his election as Bishop of

Borgia was acquainted with Canale while he was in the service of the
Gonzaga, and later he met him in the house of Sclafetano. He selected
him to be the husband of his widowed mistress, doubtless because
Canale's talents and connections would be useful to him.

Canale, on the other hand, could have acquiesced in the suggestion to
marry Vannozza only from avarice, and his willingness proves that he had
not grown rich in his former places at the courts of cardinals.

The new marriage contract was drawn up June 8, 1486, by the notary of
the Borgia house, Camillo Beneimbene, and was witnessed by Francesco
Maffei, apostolic secretary and canon of S. Peter's; Lorenzo Barberini
de Catellinis; a citizen, Giuliano Gallo, a considerable merchant of
Rome; Burcardo Barberini de Carnariis, and other gentlemen. As dowry
Vannozza brought her husband, among other things, one thousand gold
florins and an appointment as _sollicitator bullarum_. The contract
clearly referred to this as Vannozza's second marriage. Would it not
have been set down as the third, or in more general terms as new, if the
alleged first marriage with Domenico d'Arignano had really been

In this instrument Vannozza's house on the Piazza de Branchis, in the
Regola quarter, where the marriage took place, is described as her
domicile. The piazza still bears this name, which is derived from the
extinct Branca family. After the death of her former husband she must,
therefore, have moved from the house on the Piazza Pizzo di Merlo and
taken up her abode in the one on the Piazza Branca. This house may have
belonged to her, for her second husband seems to have been a man without
means, who hoped to make his fortune by his marriage and with the
protection of the powerful cardinal.

From a letter of Ludovico Gonzaga, dated February 19, 1488, we learn
that this new marriage of Vannozza's was not childless. In this epistle,
the Bishop of Mantua asks his agent in Rome to act as godfather in his
stead, Carlo Canale having chosen him for this honor. The letter gives
no further particulars, but it can mean nothing else.[11]

We do not know at just what time Lucretia, in accordance with the
cardinal's provision, left her mother's house and passed under the
protection of a woman who exercised great influence upon him and upon
the entire Borgia family.

This woman was Adriana, of the house of Mila, a daughter of Don Pedro,
who was a nephew of Calixtus III, and first cousin of Rodrigo. What
position he held in Rome we do not know.

He married his daughter Adriana to Ludovico, a member of the noble house
of Orsini, and lord of Bassanello, near Civita Castellana. As the
offspring of this union, Orsino Orsini, married in 1489, it is evident
that his mother must have entered into wedlock at least sixteen years
before. Ludovico Orsini died in 1489 or earlier. As his wife, and later
as his widow, Adriana occupied one of the Orsini palaces in Rome,
probably the one on Monte Giordano, near the Bridge of S. Angelo, this
palace having subsequently been described as part of the estate which
her son Orsino inherited.

Cardinal Rodrigo maintained the closest relations with Adriana. She was
more than his kinswoman; she was the confidant of his sins, of his
intrigues and plans, and such she remained until the day of his death.

To her he entrusted the education of his daughter Lucretia during her
childhood, as we learn from a letter written by the Ferrarese ambassador
to Rome, Gianandrea Boccaccio, Bishop of Modena, to the Duke Ercole in
1493, in which he remarks of Madonna Adriana Ursina, "that she had
educated Lucretia in her own house."[12] This doubtless was the Orsini
palace on Monte Giordano, which was close to Cardinal Borgia's

According to the Italian custom, which has survived to the present day,
the education of the daughters was entrusted to women in convents, where
the young girls were required to pass a few years, afterwards to come
forth into the world to be married. If, however, Infessura's picture of
the convents of Rome is a faithful one, the cardinal was wise in
hesitating to entrust his daughter to these saints. Nevertheless there
certainly were convents which were free from immorality, such, for
example, as S. Silvestre in Capite, where many of the daughters of the
Colonna were educated, and S. Maria Nuova and S. Sisto on the Appian
Way. On one occasion during the papacy of Alexander, Lucretia chose the
last named convent as an asylum, perhaps because she had there received
her early spiritual education.

Religious instruction was always the basis of the education of the women
of Italy. It, however, consisted not in the cultivation of heart and
soul, but in a strict observance of the forms of religion. Sin made no
woman repulsive, and the condition of even the most degraded female did
not prevent her from performing all her church duties, and appearing to
be a well-trained Christian. There were no women skeptics or
freethinkers; they would have been impossible in the society of that
day. The godless tyrant Sigismondo Malatesta of Rimini built a
magnificent church, and in it a chapel in honor of his beloved Isotta,
who was a regular attendant at church. Vannozza built and embellished a
chapel in S. Maria del Popolo. She had a reputation for piety, even
during the life of Alexander VI. Her greatest maternal solicitude, like
that of Adriana, was to inculcate a Christian deportment in her
daughter, and this Lucretia possessed in such perfection that
subsequently a Ferrarese ambassador lauded her for her 'saintly

It is wrong to regard this bearing simply as a mask; for that would
presuppose an independent consideration of religious questions or a
moral process which was altogether foreign to the women of that age, and
is still unknown among the women of Italy. There religion was, and still
is, a part of education; it consisted in a high respect for form and was
of small ethical worth.

The daughters of the well-to-do families did not receive instruction in
the humanities in the convents, but probably from the same teachers to
whom the education of the sons was entrusted. It is no exaggeration to
say that the women of the better classes during the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries were as well educated as are the women of to-day.
Their education was not broad; it was limited to a few branches; for
then they did not have the almost inexhaustible means of improvement
which, thanks to the evolution of the human mind during the last three
hundred years, we now enjoy. The education of the women of the
Renaissance was based upon classical antiquity, in comparison with which
everything which could then be termed modern was insignificant. They
might, therefore, have been described as scholarly. Feminine education
is now entirely different, as it is derived wholly from modern sources
of culture. It is precisely its many-sidedness to which is due the
superficiality of the education of contemporary woman when compared with
that of her sister of the Renaissance.

The education of women at the present time, generally,--even in Germany,
which is famous for its schools,--is without solid foundation, and
altogether superficial and of no real worth. It consists usually in
acquiring a smattering of two modern tongues and learning to play the
piano, to which a wholly unreasonable amount of time is devoted.

During the Renaissance the piano was unknown, but every educated woman
performed upon the lute, which had the advantage that, in the hands of
the lady playing it, it presented an agreeable picture to the eyes,
while the piano is only a machine which compels the man or the woman who
is playing it to go through motions which are always unpleasant and
often ridiculous. During the Renaissance the novel showed only its first
beginnings; and even to-day Italy is the country which produces and
reads the fewest romances. There were stories from the time of
Boccaccio, but very few. Vast numbers of poems were written, but half of
them in Latin. Printing and the book trade were in their infancy. The
theater likewise was in its childhood, and, as a rule, dramatic
performances were given only once a year, during the carnival, and then
only on private stages. What we now call universal literature or culture
consisted at that time in the passionate study of the classics. Latin
and Greek held the place then which the study of foreign languages now
occupies in the education of women. The Italians of the Renaissance did
not think that an acquaintance with the classics, that scientific
knowledge destroyed the charm of womanliness, nor that the education of
women should be less advanced than that of men. This opinion, like so
many others prevalent in society is of Teutonic origin. The loving
dominion of the mother in the family circle has always seemed to the
Germanic races to be the realization of the ideal of womanliness. For a
long time German women avoided publicity owing to modesty or a feeling
of decorum. Their talents remained hidden except in cases where peculiar
circumstances--sometimes connected with affairs of court or of
state--compelled them to come forth. Until recently the history of
German civilization has shown a much smaller number of famous female
characters than Italy, the land of strong personalities, produced during
the Renaissance. The influence which gifted women in the Italian salons
of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and later in those of France,
exercised upon the intellectual development of society was completely
unknown in England and Germany.

Later, however, there was a change in the relative degree of feminine
culture in Teutonic and Latin countries. In the former it rose, while in
Italy it declined. The Italian woman who, during the Renaissance,
occupied a place by man's side, contended with him for intellectual
prizes, and took part in every spiritual movement, fell into the
background. During the last two hundred years she has taken little or no
part in the higher life of the nation, for long ago she became a mere
tool in the hands of the priests. The Reformation gave the German woman
greater personal freedom. Especially since the beginning of the
eighteenth century have Germany and England produced numbers of highly
cultivated and even learned women. The superficiality of the education
of woman in general in Germany is not the fault of the Church, but of
the fashion, of society, and also of lack of means in our families.

A learned woman, whom men are more apt to fear than respect, is called,
when she writes books, a blue-stocking. During the Renaissance she was
called a _virago_, a title which was perfectly complimentary. Jacopo da
Bergamo constantly uses it as a term of respect in his work, _Concerning
Celebrated Women_, which he wrote in 1496.[13] Rarely do we find this
word used by Italians in the sense in which we now employ it,--namely,
termigant or amazon. At that time a _virago_ was a woman who, by her
courage, understanding, and attainments, raised herself above the masses
of her sex. And she was still more admired if in addition to these
qualities she possessed beauty and grace. Profound classic learning
among the Italians was not opposed to feminine charm; on the contrary,
it enhanced it. Jacopo da Bergamo specially praises it in this or that
woman, saying that whenever she appeared in public as a poet or an
orator, it was above all else her modesty and reserve which charmed her
hearers. In this vein he eulogizes Cassandra Fedeli, while he lauds
Ginevra Sforza for her elegance of form, her wonderful grace in every
motion, her calm and queenly bearing, and her chaste beauty. He
discovers the same in the wife of Alfonso of Aragon, Ippolita Sforza,
who possessed the highest attainments, the most brilliant eloquence, a
rare beauty, and extreme feminine modesty. What was then called modesty
(_pudor_) was the natural grace of a gifted woman increased by education
and association. This modesty Lucretia Borgia possessed in a high
degree. In woman it corresponded with that which in man was the mark of
the perfect cavalier. It may cause the reader some astonishment to learn
that the contemporaries of the infamous Cæsar spoke of his 'moderation'
as one of his most characteristic traits. By this term, however, we must
understand the cultivation of the personality in which moderation in man
and modesty in woman were part and manifestations of a liberal

It is true that in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries emancipated
women did not sit on the benches of the lecture halls of Bologna,
Ferrara, and Padua, as they now do in many universities, to pursue
professional studies; but the same humane sciences to which youths and
men devoted themselves were a requirement in the higher education of
women. Little girls in the Middle Ages were entrusted to the saints of
the convents to be made nuns; during the Renaissance parents consecrated
gifted children to the Muses. Jacopo da Bergamo, speaking of Trivulzia
of Milan, a contemporary of Lucretia, who excited great amazement as an
orator when she was only fourteen years of age, says, "When her parents
noticed the child's extraordinary gifts they dedicated her to the
Muses--this was in her seventh year--for her education."

The course of study followed by women at that time included the classic
languages and their literature, oratory, poetry, or the art of
versifying, and music. Dilettanteism in the graphic and plastic arts of
course followed, and the vast number of paintings and statues produced
during the Renaissance inspired every cultivated woman in Italy with a
desire to become a connoisseur.

Even philosophy and theology were cultivated by women. Debates on
questions in these fields of inquiry were the order of the day at the
courts and in the halls of the universities, and women endeavored to
acquire renown by taking part in them. At the end of the fifteenth
century the Venetian, Cassandra Fedeli, the wonder of her age, was as
well versed in philosophy and theology as a learned man. She once
engaged in a public disputation before the Doge Agostino Barbarigo, and
also several times in the audience hall of Padua, and always showed the
utmost modesty in spite of the applause of her hearers. The beautiful
wife of Alessandro Sforza of Pesaro, Costanza Varano, was a poet, an
orator, and a philosopher; she wrote a number of learned dissertations.
"The writings of Augustinus, Ambrosius, Jerome, and Gregory, of Seneca,
Cicero, and Lactantius were always in her hands." Her daughter, Battista
Sforza, the noble spouse of the cultivated Federico of Urbino, was
equally learned. So, too, it was related that the celebrated Isotta
Nugarola of Verona was thoroughly at home in the writings of the fathers
and of the philosophers. Isabella Gonzaga and Elisabetta of Urbino were
likewise acquainted with them, as were numerous other celebrated women,
such as Vittoria Colonna and Veronica Gambara.

These and other names show to what heights the education of woman during
the Renaissance attained, and even if the accomplishments of these women
were exceptional, the studies which they so earnestly pursued were part
of the curriculum of all the daughters of the best families. These
studies were followed only for the purpose of perfecting and beautifying
the personality. Conversation in the modern salon is so excessively dull
that it is necessary to fill in the emptiness with singing and piano
playing. Still the symposiums of Plato were not always the order of the
day in the drawing-rooms of the Renaissance, and it must be admitted
that their social disputations would cause us intolerable weariness;
however, tastes were different at that time. In a circle of
distinguished and gifted persons, to carry on a conversation gracefully
and intelligently, and to give it a classic cast by introducing
quotations from the ancients, or to engage in a discussion in dialogue
on a chosen theme, afforded the keenest enjoyment. It was the
conversation of the Renaissance which attained later to such æsthetic
perfection in France. Talleyrand called this form of human intercourse
man's greatest and most beautiful blessing. The classic dialogue was
revived, with only the difference that cultivated women also took part
in it. As samples of the refined social intercourse of that age, we have
Castiglione's _Cortegiano_ and Bembo's _Asolani_, which was dedicated to
Lucretia Borgia.

[Illustration: VITTORIA COLONNA.

From an engraving by P. Caronni.]

Alexander's daughter did not occupy a preeminent place among the Italian
women renowned for classical attainments, her own acquirements not being
such as to distinguish her from the majority; but, considering the
times, her education was thorough. She had received instruction in the
languages, in music, and in drawing, and later the people of Ferrara
were amazed at the skill and taste which she displayed in embroidering
in silk and gold. "She spoke Spanish, Greek, Italian, and French, and a
little Latin, very correctly, and she wrote and composed poems in all
these tongues," said the biographer Bayard in 1512. Lucretia must have
perfected her education later, during the quiet years of her life, under
the influence of Bembo and Strozzi, although she doubtless had laid its
foundation in Rome. She was both a Spaniard and an Italian, and a
perfect master of these two languages. Among her letters to Bembo there
are two written in Spanish; the remainder, of which we possess several
hundred, are composed in the Italian of that day, and are spontaneous
and graceful in style. The contents of none of them are of importance;
they display soul and feeling, but no depth of mind. Her handwriting is
not uniform; sometimes it has strong lines which remind us of the
striking, energetic writing of her father; at others it is sharp and
fine like that of Vittoria Colonna.

None of Lucretia's letters indicate that she fully understood Latin, and
her father once stated that she had not mastered that language. She
must, however, have been able to read it when written, for otherwise
Alexander could not have made her his representative in the Vatican,
with authority to open letters received. Nor were her Hellenic studies
very profound; still she was not wholly ignorant of Greek. In her
childhood, schools for the study of Hellenic literature still flourished
in Rome, where they had been established by Chrysoleras and Bessarion.
In the city were many Greeks, some of whom were fugitives from their
country, while others had come to Italy with Queen Carlotta of Cyprus.
Until her death, in 1487, this royal adventuress lived in a palace in
the Borgo of the Vatican, where she held court, and where she doubtless
gathered about her the cultivated people of Rome, just as the learned
Queen Christina of Sweden did later. It was in her house that Cardinal
Rodrigo made the acquaintance, besides that of other noble natives of
Cyprus, of Ludovico Podocatharo, a highly cultivated man, afterwards his
secretary. He it was, probably, who instructed Borgia's children in

In the cardinal's palace there was also a humanist of German birth,
Lorenz Behaim, of Nurenburg, who managed his household for twenty years.
As he was a Latinist and a member of the Roman Academy of Pomponius
Laetus, he must have exercised some influence on the education of his
master's children. Generally there was no lack of professors of the
humane sciences in Rome, where they were in a nourishing condition, and
the Academy as well as the University attracted thither many talented
men. In the papal city there were numerous teachers who conducted
schools, and swarms of young scholars, ambitious academicians, sought
their fortune at the courts of the cardinals in the capacity of
companions or secretaries, or as preceptors to their illegitimate
children. Lucretia, also, received instruction in classic literature
from these masters. Among the poets who lived in Rome she found teachers
to instruct her in Italian versification and in writing sonnets, an art
which was everywhere cultivated by women as well as men. She doubtless
learned to compose verses, although the writers on the history of
Italian literature, Quadrio and Crescimbeni, do not place her among the
poets of the peninsula. Nowhere do Bembo, Aldus, or the Strozzi speak of
her as a poet, nor are there any verses by her in existence. It is not
certain that even the Spanish canzoni which are found in some of her
letters to Bembo were composed by her.


[8] See Adinolfi's notice quoted by the author in his Geschichte der
Stadt Rom im Mittelalter. 2d Aufl. vii, 312.

[9] The letter, with the inscription "A Messer Carlo Canale," is printed
in the edition of Milan, 1808. Angelo Poliziano, Le Stanze e l'Orfeo ed
altre poesie.

[10] In the archives of Mantua there is a letter from the Marchesa
Isabella to Carlo Canale, dated December 4, 1499.

[11] Lodovico Gonzaga to Bartolomeo Erba, Siamo contenti contrahi in
nome nro. compaternità cum M. Carolo Canale, et cussi per questa nostra
ti commettiamo et constituimo nostro Procuratore. Note by Affò in his
introduction to the Orfeo, p. 113.

[12] Ma Adriana Ursina, la quale è socera de la dicta madona Julia
(Farnese), che ha sempre governata essa sposa (Lucrezia) in casa propria
per esser in loco de nepote del Pontifice, la fu figliola de messer
Piedro de Mila, noto a V. Ema Sigria, cusino carnale del Papa. Despatch
from the above named to Ercole, Rome, June 13, 1493, in the state
archives of Modena. And again she is mentioned in a despatch of May 6,
1493, as madona Adriana Ursina soa governatrice figliola che fu del
quondam messer Pietro del Mila.

[13] Jacobus Burgomensis _de claris mulieribus_, Paris, 1521.



It is not difficult to imagine what emotions were aroused in Lucretia
when she first became aware of the real condition of her family. Her
mother's husband was not her father; she discovered that she and her
brothers were the children of a cardinal, and the awakening of her
conscience was accompanied by a realization of circumstances
which--frowned on by the Church--it was necessary to conceal from the
world. She herself had always hitherto been treated as a niece of the
cardinal, and she now beheld in her father one of the most prominent
princes of the Church of Rome, whom she heard mentioned as a future

The knowledge of the great advantages to be derived from these
circumstances certainly must have affected Lucretia's fancy much more
actively than the conception of their immorality. The world in which she
lived concerned itself but little with moral scruples, and rarely in the
history of mankind has there been a time in which the theory that it is
proper to obtain the greatest possible profit from existing conditions
has been so generally accepted. She soon learned how common were these
relations in Rome. She heard that most of the cardinals lived with their
mistresses, and provided in a princely way for their children. They told
her about those of Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere and those of
Piccolomini; she saw with her own eyes the sons and daughters of
Estouteville, and heard of the baronies which their wealthy father had
acquired for them in the Alban mountains. She saw the children of Pope
Innocent raised to the highest honors; to her were pointed out his son
Franceschetto Cibò and his illustrious spouse Maddalena Medici. She knew
that the Vatican was the home of other children and grandchildren of the
Pope, and she frequently saw his daughter Madonna Teodorina, the consort
of the Genoese Uso di Mare, going and coming. She was eight years old
when his daughter Donna Peretta was married in the Vatican to the
Marchese Alfonso del Carretto with such magnificent pomp that it set all
Rome to talking.

Lucretia first became conscious of the position to which she and her
brothers might be called by their birth when she learned that her eldest
brother, Don Pedro Luis, was a Spanish duke. We do not know when the
young Borgia was raised to this dignity, but it was some time after
1482. The strong ties which existed between the cardinal and the Spanish
court doubtless enabled him to have his son created Duke of Gandia in
the kingdom of Valencia. As Mariana remarks, he bought this dukedom for
his son.

Don Pedro Luis, however, when still a young man, died in Spain, for a
document of the year 1491 speaks of him as deceased, and mentions a
legacy left by his will to his sister Lucretia. The duchy of Gandia
passed to Rodrigo's second son, Don Giovanni, who hastened to Valencia
to take possession of it.

Meanwhile the fancy of the licentious cardinal had turned to other
women. In May, 1489, when Lucretia was nine years old, appears for the
first time the most celebrated of his mistresses, Giulia Farnese, a
young woman of extraordinary beauty, to whose charms the cardinal and
future pope, who was growing old, yielded with all the ardor of a young

It was the adulterous love of this Giulia which first brought the
Farnese house into the history of Rome, and subsequently into that of
the world; for Rodrigo Borgia laid the foundation of the greatness of
this family when he made Giulia's brother Alessandro a cardinal. In this
manner he prepared the way to the papacy for the future Paul III, the
founder of the house of Farnese of Parma, a distinguished family which
died out in 1758 in the person of Queen Elisabeth, who occupied the
throne of Spain.

The Farnese, up to the time of the Borgias, were of no importance in
Rome, where two of the most beautiful buildings of the Renaissance have
since helped to make their name immortal. They did not even live in
Rome, but in Roman Etruria, where they owned a few towns--Farneto, from
which, doubtless, their name was derived, Ischia, Capracola, and
Capodimonte. Some time later, though just when is not known, they were
temporarily in possession of Isola Farnese, an ancient castle in the
ruins of Veii, which from the fourteenth century had belonged to the

[Illustration: FARNESE PALACE, ROME.]

The origin of the Farnese family is uncertain, but the tradition,
according to which they were descended from the Lombards or the Franks,
appears to be true. It is supported by the fact that the name Ranuccio,
which is the Italian form of Rainer, is of frequent occurrence in the
family. The Farnese became prominent in Etruria as a small dynasty of
robber barons, without, however, being able to attain to the power of
their neighbors, the Orsini of Anguillara and Bracciano, and the famous
Counts of Vico, who were of German descent and who ruled over the
Tuscan prefecture for more than a hundred years, until that country
was swallowed up by Eugene IV. While these prefects were the most active
Ghibellines and the bitterest enemies of the popes, the Farnese, like
the Este, always stood by the Guelphs. From the eleventh century they
were consuls and podestas in Orvieto, and they appeared later in various
places as captains of the Church in the numerous little wars with the
cities and barons in Umbria and in the domain of S. Peter. Ranuccio,
Giulia's grandfather, was one of the ablest of the generals of Eugene
IV, and he had been a comrade of the great tyrant-conqueror Vitelleschi,
and through him his house had won great renown. His son, Pierluigi,
married Donna Giovanella of the Gaetani family of Sermoneta. His
children were Alessandro, Bartolomeo, Angiolo, Girolama, and Giulia.

Alessandro Farnese, born February 28, 1468, was a young man of intellect
and culture, but notorious for his unbridled passions. He had his own
mother committed to prison in 1487 under the gravest charges, whereupon
he himself was confined in the castle of S. Angelo by Innocent VIII. He
escaped from prison, and the matter was allowed to drop. He was a
prothonotary of the Church. His elder sister was married to Puccio
Pucci, one of the most illustrious statesmen of Florence, a member of a
large family which was on terms of close friendship with the Medici.

On the twentieth of May, 1489, the youthful Giulia Farnese, together
with the equally youthful Orsino Orsini, appeared in the "Star Chamber"
of the Borgia palace to sign their marriage contract. It is worthy of
note that this occurred in the house of Cardinal Rodrigo. His name
appears as the first of the witnesses to this document, as if he had
constituted himself the protector of the couple and had brought about
their marriage. This union, however, had been arranged when the
betrothed were minors, by their parents, Ludovico Orsini, lord of
Bassanello, and Pierluigi Farnese, both of whom had died before 1489. In
those days little children were often legally betrothed, and the
marriage was consummated later, as was the custom in ancient Rome, where
frequently boys and girls only thirteen years of age were affianced.
Giulia was barely fifteen, May 20, 1489, and she was still under the
guardianship of her brothers and her uncles of the house of Gaetani;
while the young Orsini was under the control of his mother, Adriana, who
was Adriana de Mila, the kinswoman of Cardinal Rodrigo, and Lucretia's
governess. This, therefore, sufficiently explains the part, personal and
official, which the cardinal took in the ceremony of Giulia's betrothal.

The witnesses to the marriage contract, which was drawn up by the notary
Beneimbene, were, in addition to the cardinal, Bishop Martini of
Segovia, the Spanish Canons Garcetto and Caranza, and a Roman nobleman
named Giovanni Astalli. The bride's brothers should have supported her,
but only the younger, Angiolo, was present, Alessandro remaining away.
His failure to attend such an important family function in the Borgia
palace is strange, although it may have been occasioned by some
accident. The bride's uncles, the prothonotary Giacomo, and his brother
Don Nicola Gaetani were present. Giulia's dowry consisted of three
thousand gold florins, a large amount for that time.

The civil marriage of the young couple took place the following day, May
21st, in this same palace of the Borgias. Many great nobles were
present, among whom were specially mentioned the kinsmen of the groom,
Cardinal Gianbattista Orsini and Raynaldo Orsini, Archbishop of
Florence. The young couple, as the season was charming, may have gone to
Castle Bassanello, or, if not, may have taken up their abode in the
Orsini palace on Monte Giordano.

Before her marriage Cardinal Rodrigo must have known, and often seen
Giulia Farnese in the palace of Madonna Adriana, the mother of the young
Orsini. There, likewise, Lucretia, who was several years younger, made
her acquaintance. Like Lucretia, Giulia had golden hair, and her beauty
won for her the name La Bella. It was in Adriana's house that this
tender, lovely child became ensnared in the coils of the libertine
Rodrigo. She succumbed to his seductions either shortly before or soon
after her marriage to the young Orsini. Perhaps she first aroused the
passion of the cardinal, a man at that time fifty-eight years old, when
she stood before him in his palace a bride in the full bloom of youth.
Be that as it may, it is certain that two years after her marriage
Giulia was the cardinal's acknowledged mistress. When Madonna Adriana
discovered the liason she winked at it, and was an accessory to the
shame of her daughter-in-law. By so doing she became the most powerful
and the most influential person in the house of Borgia.

Two of the three sons of the cardinal, Giovanni and Cæsar, had in the
meantime reached manhood. In 1490 neither of them was in Rome; the
former was in Spain, and the latter was studying at the University of
Perugia, which he later left for Pisa. As early as 1488 Cæsar must have
attended one of these institutions, probably the University of Perugia,
for in that year Paolo Pompilio dedicated to him his _Syllabica_, a work
on the art of versification. In it he lauded the budding genius of
Cæsar, who was the hope and ornament of the house of Borgia, his
progress in the sciences, and his maturity of intellect--astonishing in
one so young--and he predicted his future fame.[14]

His father had intended him for the Church, although Cæsar himself felt
for it nothing but aversion. From Innocent VIII he had secured his son's
appointment as prothonotary of the Church and even as Bishop of
Pamplona. He appears as a prothonotary in a document of February, 1491,
and at the same time the youngest of Rodrigo's sons, Giuffrè, a boy of
about nine years, was made Canon and Archdeacon of Valencia.

Cæsar went to Pisa, probably in 1491. Its university attracted a great
many of the sons of the prominent Italian families, chiefly on account
of the fame of its professor of jurisprudence, Philippo Decio of Milan.
At the university the young Borgia had two Spanish companions, who were
favorites of his father, Francesco Romolini of Ilerda and Juan Vera of
Arcilla in the kingdom of Valencia. The latter was master of his
household, as Cæsar himself states in a letter written in October, 1492,
in which he also calls Romolini his "most faithful comrade."[15]
Francesco Romolini was more than thirty years of age in 1491. He was a
diligent student of law, and became deeply learned in it. He is the same
Romolini who afterwards conducted the prosecution of Savonarola in
Florence. In 1503 Alexander made him a cardinal, to which dignity Vera
had been raised in 1500. His father's wealth enabled the youthful Cæsar
to live in Pisa in princely style, and his connections brought him into
friendly relations with the Medici.

The cardinal was still making special exertions to further the fortunes
of his children in Spain. Even for his daughter Lucretia he could see no
future more brilliant than a Spanish marriage; and he must indeed have
regarded it as a special act of condescension for the son of an old and
noble house to consent to become the husband of the illegitimate
daughter of a cardinal. The noble concerned was Don Cherubino Juan de
Centelles, lord of Val d'Ayora in the kingdom of Valencia, and brother
of the Count of Oliva.

The nuptial contract was drawn up in the Valencian dialect in Rome,
February 26 and June 16, 1491. The youthful groom was in Valencia, the
young bride in Rome, and her father had appointed the Roman nobleman
Antonio Porcaro her proxy. In the marriage contract it was specified
that Lucretia's portion should be three hundred thousand timbres or sous
in Valencian money, which she was to bring Don Cherubino as dowry, part
in coin and part in jewels and other valuables. It was specially stated
that of this sum eleven thousand timbres should consist of the amount
bequeathed by the will of the deceased Don Pedro Luis de Borgia, Duke of
Gandia, to his sister for her marriage portion, while eight thousand
were given her by her other brothers, Cæsar and Giuffrè, for the same
purpose, presumably also from the estate left by the brother. It was
provided that Donna Lucretia should be taken to Valencia at the
cardinal's expense within one year from the signing of the contract, and
that the church ceremony should be performed within six months after
her arrival in Spain.[16]

Thus Lucretia, when only a child eleven years of age, found her hand and
life happiness subjected to the will of another, and from that time she
was no longer the shaper of her own destiny. This was the usual fate of
the daughters of the great houses, and even of the lesser ones. Shortly
before her father became pope it seemed as if her life was to be spent
in Spain, and she would have found no place in the history of the papacy
and of Italy if she and Don Cherubino had been married. However, the
marriage was never performed. Obstacles of which we are ignorant, or
changes in the plans of her father, caused the betrothal of Lucretia to
Don Cherubino to be annulled. At the very moment this was being done for
her by proxy, her father was planning another alliance for his daughter.

The husband he had selected, Don Gasparo, was also a young Spaniard, son
of Don Juan Francesco of Procida, Count of Aversa. This family had
probably removed to Naples with the house of Aragon. Don Juan
Francesco's mother was Donna Leonora de Procida y Castelleta, Countess
of Aversa. Gasparo's father lived in Aversa, but in 1491 the son was in
Valencia, where, probably, he was being educated under the care of some
of his kinsmen, for he was still a boy of less than fifteen years. In an
instrument drawn by the notary Beneimbene, dated November 9, 1492, it is
explicitly stated that on the thirtieth of April of the preceding year,
1491, the marriage contract of Lucretia and Gasparo had been executed by
proxy with all due form, and that in it Cardinal Rodrigo had bound
himself to send his daughter to the city of Valencia at his expense,
where the church ceremony was to be performed. However, since the
marriage contract between Lucretia and the young Centelles had been
legally executed on the twenty-sixth of February of the same year, 1491,
and was recognized as late as the following June, there is room for
doubt regarding the correctness of the date; but both the instrument in
Beneimbene's protocol-book, and an abstract of the same in the archives
of the Hospital Sancta Sanctorum in Rome, give the last of April as the
date of the marriage contract of Lucretia and Don Gasparo. In these
proceedings her proxies were, not Antonio Porcaro, but Don Giuffrè
Borgia, Baron of Villa Longa, the Canon Jacopo Serra of Valencia, and
the vicar-general of the same place, Mateo Cucia. Hence follows the
curious fact that Lucretia was the betrothed at one and the same time of
two young Spaniards.

In spite of the rejection of her first affianced, the Centelles family
appears to have remained on good terms with the Borgias, for, later,
when Rodrigo became Pope, a certain Gulielmus de Centelles is to be
found among his most trusted chamberlains, while Raymondo of the same
house was prothonotary and treasurer of Perugia.


[14] Accedit studium illud tuum et perquam fertile bonarum litterarum in
quo hac in aetate seris.... Non deerit surgenti tuæ virtuti commodus
aliquando et idoneus praeco.--At tu Cæsar profecto non parum laudandus
es; qui in hac aetate tam facile senem agis. Perge nostri temporis
Borgiæ familiæ spes et decus. Introduction to the Syllabica. Rome, 1488.
Gennarelli's Edition of Burchard's Diary.

[15] Regarding Cæsar's studies at Pisa, see Angelo Fabroni, Hist. Acad.
Pisan. i, 160, 201.

[16] On June 16, 1491, some changes were made in this contract, which
Beneimbene has noted in the same protocol-book.



On July 25, 1492, occurred the event to which the Borgias had long
eagerly looked forward, the death of Innocent VIII. Above all the other
candidates for the Papacy were four cardinals: Rafael Riario and
Giuliano della Rovere--both powerful nephews of Sixtus IV--Ascanio
Sforza, and Rodrigo Borgia.

Before the election was decided there were days of feverish expectation
for the cardinal's family. Of his children only Lucretia and Giuffrè
were in Rome at the time, and both were living with Madonna Adriana.
Vannozza was occupying her own house with her husband, Canale, who for
some time had held the office of secretary of the penitentiary court.
She was now fifty years old, and there was but one event to which she
looked forward, and upon it depended the gratification of her greatest
wish; namely, to see her children's father ascend the papal throne. What
prayers and vows she and Madonna Adriana, Lucretia, and Giulia Farnese
must have made to the saints for the fulfilment of that wish!

Early on the morning of August 11th breathless messengers brought these
women the news from the Vatican--Rodrigo Borgia had won the great prize.
To him, the highest bidder, the papacy had been sold. In the election,
Cardinal Ascanio Sforza had turned the scale, and for his reward he
received the city of Nepi; the office of vice-chancellor, and the
Borgia palace, which ever since has borne the name Sforza-Cesarini.

[Illustration: ALEXANDER VI.

From an engraving published in 1580.]

On the morning of this momentous day, when Alexander VI was carried from
the conclave hall to S. Peter's there to receive the first expressions
of homage, his joyful glance discovered many of his kinsmen in the dense
crowd, for thither they had hastened to celebrate his great triumph. It
was a long time since Rome had beheld a pope of such majesty, of such
beauty of person. His conduct was notorious throughout the city, and no
one knew him better in that hour than that woman, Vannozza Catanei, who
was kneeling in S. Peter's during the mass, her soul filled with the
memories of a sinful past.

Borgia's election did not cause all the Powers anxiety. In Milan,
Ludovico il Moro celebrated the event with public festivals; he now
hoped to become, through the influence of his brother Ascanio, a "half
pope." While the Medici expected much from Alexander, the Aragonese of
Naples looked for little. Bitterly did Venice express herself. Her
ambassador in Milan publicly declared in August that the papacy had been
sold by simony and a thousand deceptions, and that the signory of Venice
was convinced that France and Spain would refuse to obey the Pope when
they learned of these enormities.[17]

In the meantime, Alexander VI had received the professions of loyalty of
all the Italian States, together with their profuse expressions of
homage. The festival of his coronation was celebrated with unparalleled
pomp, August 26th. The Borgia arms, a grazing steer, was displayed so
generally in the decorations, and was the subject of so many epigrams,
that a satirist remarked that Rome was celebrating the discovery of the
Sacred Apis. Subsequently the Borgia bull was frequently the object of
the keenest satire; but at the beginning of Alexander's reign it was,
naïvely enough, the pictorial embodiment of the Pope's magnificence.
To-day such symbolism would excite only derision and mirth, but the
plastic taste of the Italian of that day was not offended by it.

When Alexander, on his triumphal journey to the Lateran, passed the
palace of his fanatical adherents, the Porcari, one of the boys of the
family declaimed with much pathos some stanzas which concluded with the

  Vive diu bos, vive diu celebrande per annos,
  Inter Pontificum gloria prima choros.[18]

The statements of Michele Ferno and of Hieronymus Porcius regarding the
coronation festivities and the professions of loyalty of the ambassadors
from the various Italian Powers must be read to see to what extremes
flattery was carried in those days. It is difficult for us to imagine
how imposing was the entrance of this brilliant pope upon the
spectacular stage of Rome at the time when the papacy was at the zenith
of its power--a height it had attained, not through love of the Church,
nor by devotion to religion, which had long been debased, but by
dazzling the luxury-loving people of the age and by modern politics; in
addition to this, the Church had preserved since the Middle Ages a
traditional and mystic character which held the respect of the faithful.

Ferno remarks that the history of the world offered nothing to compare
with the grandeur of the Pope's appearance and the charm of his
person,--and this author was not a bigoted papist, but a diligent
student of Pomponius Laetus. Like all the romanticists of the classic
revival, however, he was highly susceptible to theatrical effects. Words
failed him when he tried to describe the passage of Alexander to
S. Maria del Popolo: "These holiday swarms of richly clad people, the seven
hundred priests and cardinals with their retinues, these knights and
grandees of Rome in dazzling cavalcades, these troops of archers and
Turkish horsemen, the palace guards with long lances and glittering
shields, the twelve riderless white horses with golden bridles, which
were led along, and all the other pomp and parade!" Weeks would be
required for arranging a pageant like this at the present time; but the
Pope could improvise it in the twinkling of an eye, for the actors and
their costumes were always ready. He set it in motion for the sole
purpose of showing himself to the Romans, and in order that his majesty
might lend additional brilliancy to a popular holiday.

Ferno depicted the Pope himself as a demi-god coming forth to his
people. "Upon a snow-white horse he sat, serene of countenance and of
surpassing dignity; thus he showed himself to the people, and blessed
them; thus he was seen of all. His glance fell upon them and filled
every heart with joy. And so his appearance was of good augury for
everyone. How wonderful is his tranquil bearing! And how noble his
faultless face! His glance, how frank! How greatly does the honor which
we feel for him increase when we behold his beauty and vigor of body!"
Alexander the Great would have been described in just such terms by
Ferno. This was the idolatry which was always accorded the papacy, and
no one asked what was the inner and personal life of the glittering

On the occasion of his coronation Alexander appointed his son Cæsar, a
youth of sixteen, Bishop of Valencia. This he did without being sure of
the sanction of Ferdinand the Catholic, who, in fact, for a long time
did endeavor to withhold it; but he finally yielded, and the Borgias
consequently got the first bishopric in Spain into their hereditary
possession. Cæsar was not in Rome at the time his father received the
tiara. On the twenty-second of August, eleven days after Alexander's
election, Manfredi, ambassador from Ferrara to Florence, wrote the
Duchess Eleonora d'Este: "The Pope's son, the Bishop of Pamplona, who
has been attending the University of Pisa, left there by the Pope's
orders yesterday morning, and has gone to the castle of Spoleto."

The fifth of October Cæsar was still there, for on that date he wrote a
letter to Piero de' Medici from that place. This epistle to Lorenzo's
son, the brother of Cardinal Giovanni, shows that the greatest
confidence existed between him and Cæsar, who says in it that, on
account of his sudden departure from Pisa, he had been unable to
communicate orally with him, and that his preceptor, Juan Vera, would
have to represent him. He recommended his trusted familiar, Francesco
Romolini, to Piero for appointment as professor of canon law in Pisa.
The letter is signed, "Your brother, Cesar de Borja, Elector of

By not allowing his son to come to Rome immediately, Alexander wished to
give public proof of what he had declared at the time of his election;
namely, that he would hold himself above all nepotism. Perhaps there was
a moment when the warning afforded by the examples of Calixtus, Sixtus,
and Innocent caused him to hesitate, and to resolve to moderate his love
for his offspring. However, the nomination of his son to a bishopric on
the day of his coronation shows that his resolution was not very
earnest. In October Cæsar appeared in the Vatican, where the Borgias now
occupied the place which the pitiable Cibòs had left.

On September 1st the Pope made the elder Giovanni Borgia, who was Bishop
of Monreale, a cardinal; he was the son of Alexander's sister Giovanna.
The Vatican was filled with Spaniards, kinsmen, or friends of the now
all-powerful house, who had eagerly hurried thither in quest of fortune
and honors. "Ten papacies would not be sufficient to satisfy this swarm
of relatives," wrote Gianandrea Boccaccio in November, 1492, to the Duke
of Ferrara. Of the close friends of Alexander, Juan Lopez was made his
chancellor; Pedro Caranza and Juan Marades his privy chamberlains;
Rodrigo Borgia, a nephew of the Pope, was made captain of the palace
guard, which hitherto had been commanded by a Doria.

Alexander immediately began to lay the plans for a more brilliant future
for his daughter. He would no longer listen to her marrying a Spanish
nobleman; nothing less than a prince should receive her hand. Ludovico
and Ascanio suggested their kinsman, Giovanni Sforza. The Pope accepted
him as son-in-law, for, although he was only Count of Cotognola and
vicar of Pesaro, he was an independent sovereign, and he belonged to the
illustrious house of Sforza. Alexander had entered early into such close
relations with the Sforza that Cardinal Ascanio became all-powerful in
Rome. Giovanni, an illegitimate son of Costanzo of Pesaro, and only by
the indulgence of Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII his hereditary heir, was a
man of twenty-six, well formed and carefully educated, like most of the
lesser Italian despots. He had married Maddalena, the beautiful sister
of Elisabetta Gonzaga, in 1489, on the very day upon which the latter
was joined in wedlock to Duke Guidobaldo of Urbino. He had, however,
been a widower since August 8, 1490, on which date his wife died in

Sforza hastened to accept the offered hand of the young Lucretia before
any of her other numerous suitors could win it. On leaving Pesaro he
first went to the castle of Nepi, which Alexander VI had given to
Cardinal Ascanio. There he remained a few days and then came quietly to
Rome, October 31, 1492. Here he took up his residence in the cardinal's
palace of S. Clement, erected by Domenico della Rovere in the Borgo. It
is still standing, and in good preservation, opposite the Palazzo
Giraud. The Ferrarese ambassador announced Sforza's arrival to his
master, remarking, "He will be a great man as long as this pope rules."
He explained the retirement in which Sforza lived by stating that the
man to whom Lucretia had been legally betrothed was also in Rome.[20]

The young Count Gasparo had come to Rome with his father to make good
his claim to Lucretia, through whom he hoped to obtain great favor. Here
he found another suitor of whom he had hitherto heard nothing, but whose
presence had become known, and he fell into a rage when the Pope
demanded from him a formal renunciation. Lucretia, at that time a child
of only twelve and a half years, thus became the innocent cause of a
contest between two suitors, and likewise the subject of public gossip
for the first time. November 5th the plenipotentiary of Ferrara wrote
his master, "There is much gossip about Pesaro's marriage; the first
bridegroom is still here, raising a great hue and cry, as a Catalan,
saying he will protest to all the princes and potentates of Christendom;
but will he, will he, he will have to submit." On the ninth of November
the same ambassador wrote, "Heaven prevent this marriage of Pesaro from
bringing calamities. It seems that the King (of Naples) is angry on
account of it, judging by what Giacomo, Pontano's nephew told the Pope
the day before yesterday. The matter is still undecided. Both the
suitors are given fair words; both are here. However, it is believed
that Pesaro will carry the day, especially as Cardinal Ascanio, who is
powerful in deeds as well as in words, is looking after his interests."

In the meantime, November 8th, the marriage contract between Don Gasparo
and Lucretia was formally dissolved. The groom and his father merely
expressed the hope that the new alliance would reach a favorable
consummation, and Gasparo bound himself not to marry within one year.
Giovanni Sforza, however, was not yet certain of his victory; December
9th the Mantuan agent Fioravante Brognolo, wrote the Marchese Gonzaga,
"The affairs of the illustrious nobleman, Giovanni of Pesaro, are still
undecided; it looks to me as if the Spanish nobleman to whom his
Highness's niece was promised would not give her up. He has a great
following in Spain, consequently the Pope is inclined to let things take
their own course for a time, and not force them to a conclusion."[21]
Even as late as February, 1493, there was talk of a marriage of Lucretia
with the Spanish Conde de Prada, and not until this project was
relinquished was she betrothed to Giovanni Sforza.[22]

In the meantime Sforza had returned to Pesaro, whence he sent his proxy,
Nicolo de Savano, to Rome to conclude the marriage contract. The Count
of Aversa surrendered his advantage and suffered his grief to be
assuaged by the payment to him of three thousand ducats. Thereupon,
February 2, 1493, the betrothal of Sforza and Lucretia was formally
ratified in the Vatican, in the presence of the Milanese ambassador and
the intimate friends and servants of Alexander, Juan Lopez, Juan
Casanova, Pedro Caranza, and Juan Marades. The Pope's daughter, who was
to be taken home by her husband within one year, received a dowry of
thirty-one thousand ducats.

When the news of this event reached Pesaro, the fortunate Sforza gave a
grand celebration in his palace. "They danced in the great hall, and the
couples, hand in hand, issued from the castle, led by Monsignor Scaltes,
the Pope's plenipotentiary, and the people in their joy joined in and
danced away the hours in the streets of the city."[23]


[17] Cum simonia et mille ribalderie et inhonestate si è venduto il
Pontificato che è cose ignominiosa et detestabile. Despatch of Giacomo
Trotti, Ambassador of Ferrara in Milan, to the Duke Ercole, August 28,
1492, in the archives of Modena.

[18] These stanzas were written by Hieronymus Porcius, who printed them
in Hieronym. Porcius Patritius Romanus Rotæ Primarius Auditor....
Commentarius; a rare publication of Eucharius Silber, Rome, September
18, 1493. The stanzas of Michele Ferno of Milan conclude:

  Borgia stirps: bos: atque Ceres transcendit Olympo,
  Cantabunt nomen sæcula cuncta suum;

which turned out to be a true prophecy. See Michæl Fernus Historia nova
Alexandri VI ab Innocentii obitu VIII; an equally rare publication of
the same Eucharius Silber, A. 1493.

[19] Ex arce Spoletina, die v. Oct. (Di propria mano). Vr. vti fr. Cesar
de Borja Elect. Valentin. Published by Reumont in Archiv. Stor. Ital.
Serie 3, T. xvii, 1873. 3 Dispensa.

[20] Era venuto il primo marito de la dicta nepote, qual fu rimesso a
Napoli, non visto da niuno.... Despatch of Gianandrea Boccaccio, Bishop
of Modena, Rome, November 2, 1492, and November 5 and 9. Archives of

[21] Despatch of that date in the archives of Mantua. Lucretia was still
sometimes designated as the Pope's niece.

[22] Gianandrea Boccaccio to Duke Ercole, Rome, February 25, 1493.

[23] Ms. Memoirs of Pesaro, by Pietro Marzetti and Ludovico Zacconi, in
the Bibl. Oliveriana of Pesaro.



Alexander had a residence furnished for Lucretia close to the Vatican;
it was a house which Cardinal Battista Zeno had built in 1483, and was
known after his church as the Palace of S. Maria in Portico. It was on
the left side of the steps of S. Peter's, almost opposite the Palace of
the Inquisition. The building of Bernini's Colonnade has, however,
changed the appearance of the neighborhood so that it is no longer

The youthful Lucretia held court in her own palace, which was under the
management of her maid of honor and governess, Adriana Orsini. Alexander
had induced this kinswoman of his to leave the Orsini palace and to take
up her abode with Lucretia in the palace of S. Maria in Portico, where
we shall frequently see them and another woman who was only too close to
the Pope.

Vannozza remained in her own house in the Regola quarter. Her husband
had been made commandant or captain of the Torre di Nona, of which
Alexander shortly made him warden, a position of great trust, and Canale
gave himself up eagerly to his important and profitable duties. From
this time Vannozza and her children saw each other but little, although
they were not completely separated. They continued to communicate with
each other, but the mother profited only indirectly by the good fortune
and greatness of her offspring. Vannozza never allowed herself, nor did
Alexander permit her, to have any influence in the Vatican, and her name
seldom appears in the records of the time.

Donna Lucretia was now beginning to maintain the state of a great
princess. She received the numerous connections of her house, as well as
the friends and flatterers of the now all-powerful Borgia. Strange it is
that the very man who, after the stormy period of her life, was to take
her to a haven of rest should appear there about the time of her
betrothal to Sforza, and while the contract was being contested by Don

Among the Italian princes who at that period either sent ambassadors or
came in person to Rome to render homage to the new Pope was the
hereditary prince of Ferrara. In all Italy there was no other court so
brilliant as that of Ercole d'Este and his spouse Eleonora of Aragon, a
daughter of King Ferdinand of Naples. She, however, died about this
time; namely, October 11, 1493. One of her children, Beatrice, had been
married in December, 1490, to Ludovico il Moro, the brilliant monster
who was Regent of Milan in place of his nephew Giangaleazzo; her other
daughter, Isabella, one of the most beautiful and magnificent women of
her day, was married in 1490, when she was only sixteen years of age, to
the Marchese Francesco Gonzaga of Mantua. Alfonso was heir to the title,
and on February 12, 1491, when he was only fifteen years old, he married
Anna Sforza, a sister of the same Giangaleazzo.

In November, 1492, his father sent him to Rome to recommend his state to
the favor of the Pope, who received the youthful scion of the house of
Sforza,--into which his own daughter was to marry,--with the highest
honors. Don Alfonso lived in the Vatican, and during his visit, which
lasted for several weeks, he not only had an opportunity, but it was his
duty to call on Donna Lucretia. He was filled with amazement when he
first beheld the beautiful child with her golden hair and intelligent
blue eyes, and nothing was farther from his mind than the idea that the
Sforza's betrothed would enter the castle of the Este family at Ferrara,
as his own wife, nine years later.

The letter of thanks which the prince's father wrote to the Pope shows
how great were the honors with which the son had been received. The duke

     Holiness's feet and commend myself to you in all humility. What
     honor and praise was due your Holiness I have long known, and now
     the letters of the Bishop of Modena, my ambassador, and also of
     others, not alone those of my dearly beloved first born, Alfonso,
     but of all the members of his suite, show how much I owe you. They
     tell me how your Highness included us all, me and mine, within the
     measure of your love, and overwhelmed all with presents, favors,
     mercy, and benevolence on my son's arrival in Rome and during his
     stay there. Therefore I acknowledge that I have for a long time
     been indebted to your Holiness, and now am still more so on account
     of this. My obligation is more than I can ever repay, and I promise
     that my gratitude shall be eternal and measureless like the world.
     As your most dutiful servant I shall always be ready to perform
     anything which may be acceptable to your Holiness, to whom I
     recommend myself and mine in all humility. Your Holiness's son and

  Duke of Ferrara.
  [FERRARA, _January 3, 1493_.]

The letter shows how great was the duke's anxiety to remain on good
terms with the Pope.

He was a vassal in Ferrara of the Roman Church, which was endeavoring
to transform itself into a monarchy. The princes, as well as the
republicans of Italy,--at least those whose possessions were close to
the sphere of action of the Holy See or were its vassals,--studied every
new pope with suspicion and fear, and also with curiosity to see in what
direction nepotism would develop under him. How easily Alexander VI
might have again taken up the plans of the house of Borgia where they
had been interrupted by the death of his uncle Calixtus, and have
followed in the footsteps of Sixtus IV!

Moreover, it was only ten years since the last named pope had, in
conjunction with Venice, waged war on Ferrara.

Ercole had maintained friendly relations with Alexander VI when he was
only a cardinal; Rodrigo Borgia had even been godfather to his son
Alfonso when he was baptized. For his other son, Ippolito, the duke,
through his ambassador in Rome, Gianandrea Boccaccio, endeavored to
secure a cardinal's cap. The ambassador applied to the most influential
of Alexander's confidants, Ascanio Sforza, the chamberlain Marades, and
Madonna Adriana. The Pope desired to make his son Cæsar a cardinal, and
Boccaccio hoped that the youthful Ippolito would be his companion in
good fortune. The ambassador gave Marades to understand that the two
young men, one of whom was Archbishop of Valencia, the other of Gran,
would make a good pair. "Their ages are about the same; I believe that
Valencia is not more than sixteen years old, while our Strigonia (Gran)
is near that age." Marades replied that this was not quite correct, as
Ippolito was not yet fourteen, and the Archbishop of Valencia was in his
eighteenth year.[24]

The youthful Cæsar was stirred by other desires than those for spiritual
honors. He assumed the hated garb of the priest only on his father's
command. Although he was an archbishop he had only the first tonsure.
His life was wholly worldly. It was even said that the King of Naples
wanted him to marry one of his natural daughters and that if he did so
he would relinquish the priesthood. The Ferrarese ambassador called upon
him March 17, 1493, in his house in Trastevere, by which was probably
meant the Borgo. The picture which Boccaccio on this occasion gave Duke
Ercole of this young man of seventeen years is an important and
significant portrait, and the first we have of him.

"I met Cæsar yesterday in the house in Trastevere; he was just on his
way to the chase, dressed in a costume altogether worldly; that is, in
silk,--and armed. He had only a little tonsure like a simple priest. I
conversed with him for a while as we rode along. I am on intimate terms
with him. He possesses marked genius and a charming personality; he
bears himself like a great prince; he is especially lively and merry,
and fond of society. Being very modest, he presents a much better and
more distinguished appearance than his brother, the Duke of Gandia,
although the latter is also highly endowed. The archbishop never had any
inclination for the priesthood. His benefices, however, bring him in
more than sixteen thousand ducats annually. If the projected marriage
takes place, his benefices will fall to another brother (Giuffrè), who
is about thirteen years old."[25]

It will be seen that the ambassador specially mentions Cæsar's buoyant
nature. This was one of Alexander's most characteristic traits, and both
Cæsar and Lucretia who was noted for it later, had inherited it from
him. So far as his prudence was concerned, it was proclaimed six years
later by a no less distinguished man than Giuliano della Rovere, who
afterwards became pope under the name of Julius II.

The Duke of Gandia was in Rome at this time, but it was his intention to
set out for Spain to see his spouse immediately after the celebration of
the marriage of Sforza and Lucretia. Lucretia's wedding was to take
place on S. George's day, but was postponed, as it was found impossible
for the bridegroom to arrive in time. Alexander took the greatest
pleasure in making the arrangements for setting up his daughter's
establishment. Her happiness--or, what to him was the same thing, her
greatness--meant much to him. He loved her passionately, superlatively,
as the Ferrarese ambassador wrote his master.[26] On the ambassador's
suggestion the Duke of Ferrara sent as a wedding gift a pair of large
silver hand basins with the accompanying vessels, all of the finest
workmanship. Two residences were proposed for the young pair; the palace
of S. Maria in Portico and the one near the castle of S. Angelo, which
had belonged to the Cardinal Domenicus Porta of Aleria, who died
February 4, 1493. The former, in which Lucretia was already living, was

At last Sforza arrived. June 9th he made his entry by way of the
Porta del Popolo, and was received by the whole senate, his
brothers-in-law, and the ambassadors of the Powers. Lucretia, attended
by several maids of honor, had taken a position in a loggia of her
palace to see her bridegroom and his suite on their way to the Vatican.
As he rode by, Sforza greeted her right gallantly, and his bride
returned his salutation. He was most graciously received by his

[Illustration: CHURCH OF ARA COELI, ROME.]

Sforza was a man of attractive appearance, as we may readily discover
from a medal which he had struck ten years later, which represents him
with long, flowing locks and a full beard. The mouth is sensitive, the
under lip slightly drawn; the nose is somewhat aquiline; the forehead
smooth and lofty. The proportions of his features are noble, but lacking
in character.

Three days after his arrival, that is, June 12th, the nuptials were
celebrated in the Vatican with ostentatious publicity. Alexander had
invited the nobility, the officials of Rome, and the foreign ambassadors
to be present. There was a banquet, followed by a licentious comedy,
which is described by Infessura.

To corroborate the short account given by this Roman, and at the same
time to render the picture more complete, we reproduce, word for word,
the description which the Ferrarese ambassador, Boccaccio, sent his
master in a communication dated June 13th:

     Yesterday, the twelfth of the present month, the union was publicly
     celebrated in the palace, with the greatest pomp and extravagance.
     All the Roman matrons were invited, also the most influential
     citizens, and many cardinals, twelve in number, stood near her, the
     Pope occupying the throne in their midst. The palace and all the
     apartments were filled with people, who were overcome with
     amazement. The lord of Pesaro celebrated his betrothal to his wife,
     and the Bishop of Concordia delivered a sermon. The only
     ambassadors present, however, were the Venetian, the Milanese and
     myself, and one from the King of France.

     Cardinal Ascanio thought that I ought to present the gift during
     the ceremony, so I had some one ask the Pope, to whom I remarked
     that I did not think it proper, and that it seemed better to me to
     wait a little while. All agreed with me, whereupon the Pope called
     to me and said, "It seems to me to be best as you say";
     consequently it was arranged that I should bring the present to the
     palace late in the evening. His Holiness gave a small dinner in
     honor of the bride and groom, and there were present the Cardinals
     Ascanio, S. Anastasia, and Colonna; the bride and groom, and next
     to him the Count of Pitigliano, captain of the Church; Giuliano
     Orsini; Madonna Giulia Farnese, of whom there is so much talk (de
     qua est tantus sermo); Madonna Teodorina and her daughter, the
     Marchesa of Gerazo; a daughter of the above named captain, wife of
     Angelo Farnese, Madonna Giulia's brother. Then came a younger
     brother of Cardinal Colonna and Madonna Adriana Ursina. The last is
     mother-in-law of the above mentioned Madonna Giulia. She had the
     bride educated in her own home, where she was treated as a niece of
     the Pope. Adriana is the daughter of the Pope's cousin, Pedro de
     Mila, deceased, with whom your Excellency was acquainted.

     When the table was cleared, which was between three and four
     o'clock in the morning, the bride was presented with the gift sent
     by the illustrious Duke of Milan; it consisted of five different
     pieces of gold brocade and two rings, a diamond and a ruby, the
     whole worth a thousand ducats. Thereupon I presented your
     Highness's gift with suitable words of congratulation on the
     marriage and good wishes for the future, together with the offer of
     your services. The present greatly pleased the Pope. To the thanks
     of the bride and groom he added his own expressions of unbounded
     gratitude. Then Ascanio offered his present, which consisted of a
     complete drinking service of silver washed with gold, worth about a
     thousand ducats. Cardinal Monreale gave two rings, a sapphire and a
     diamond--very beautiful--and worth three thousand ducats; the
     prothonotary Cesarini gave a bowl and cup worth eight hundred
     ducats; the Duke of Gandia a vessel worth seventy ducats; the
     prothonotary Lunate a vase of a certain composition like jasper,
     ornamented with silver, gilded, which was worth seventy to eighty
     ducats. These were all the gifts presented at this time; the other
     cardinals, ambassadors, etc., will bring their presents when the
     marriage is celebrated, and I will do whatever is necessary. It
     will, I think, be performed next Sunday, but this is not certain.

     In conclusion, the women danced, and, as an interlude, a good
     comedy was given, with songs and music. The Pope and all the others
     were present. What shall I add? There would be no end to my letter.
     Thus we passed the whole night, and whether it was good or bad your
     Highness may decide.


[24] Boccaccio's despatches, Rome, February 25, March 11, 1493.

[25] Magni et excellentis ingenii et preclare indolis; præ se fert
speciem fillii magni Principis, et super omnia ilaris et jocundus, e
tutto festa: cum magna siquidem modestia est longe melioris et
prestantioris aspectus, quam sit dux Candie germanus suus. Anchora lue è
dotato di bone parte. Despatch of March 19, 1493.

[26] Mai fù visto il più carnale homo; l'hama questa madona Lucrezia in
superlativo gradu. Boccaccio's Despatch, Rome, April 4, 1493. The word
_carnale_ is to be taken only in the sense of nepotism, as it is plainly
so used elsewhere by the ambassador.



Lucretia's marriage with Giovanni Sforza confirmed the political
alliance which Alexander VI had made with Ludovico il Moro. The Regent
of Milan wanted to invite Charles VIII of France into Italy to make war
upon King Ferdinand of Naples, so that he himself might ultimately gain
possession of the duchy, for he was consumed with ambition and
impatience to drive his sickly nephew, Giangaleazzo, from the throne.
The latter, however, was the consort of Isabella of Aragon, a daughter
of Alfonso of Calabria and the grandson of Ferdinand himself.

The alliance of Venice, Ludovico, the Pope, and some of the other
Italian nobles had become known in Rome as early as April 25th. This
league, clearly, was opposed to Naples; and its court, therefore, was
thrown into the greatest consternation.

Nevertheless, King Ferdinand congratulated the Lord of Pesaro upon his
marriage. He looked upon him as a kinsman, and Sforza had likewise been
accepted by the house of Aragon. June 15, 1493, the king wrote to him
from Capua as follows:

     received your letter of the twenty-second of last month, in which
     you inform us of your marriage with the illustrious Donna Lucretia,
     the niece of his Holiness our Master. We are much pleased, both
     because we always have and still do feel the greatest love for
     yourself and your house, and also because we believe that nothing
     could be of greater advantage to you than this marriage. Therefore
     we wish you the best of fortune, and we pray God, with you, that
     this alliance may increase your own power and fame and that of your

Eight days earlier the same king had sent his ambassador to Spain a
letter, in which he asked the protection of Ferdinand and Isabella
against the machinations of the Pope, whose ways he described as
"loathsome"; in this he was referring, not to his political actions, but
to his personal conduct. Giulia Farnese, whom Infessura noticed among
the wedding guests and described as "the Pope's concubine," caused
endless gossip about herself and his Holiness. This young woman
surrendered herself to an old man of sixty-two whom she was also
compelled to honor as the head of the Church. There is no doubt whatever
about her years of adultery, but we can not understand the cause of her
passion; for however powerful the demoniac nature of Alexander VI may
have been, it must by this time have lost much of its magnetic strength.
Perhaps this young and empty-headed creature, after she had once
transgressed and the feeling of shame had passed, was fascinated by the
spectacle of the sacred master of the world, before whom all men
prostrated themselves, lying at her feet--the feet of a weak child.

There is also the suspicion that the cupidity of the Farnese was the
cause of the criminal relations, for Giulia's sins were rewarded by
nothing less than the bestowal of the cardinal's purple on her brother
Alessandro. The Pope had already designated him, among others, for the
honor, but the nomination was delayed by the opposition of the Sacred
College, over which Giuliano della Rovere presided. King Ferdinand also
encouraged this opposition, and on the very day on which Lucretia's
marriage to Pesaro was celebrated he placed his army at the disposal of
the cardinals who refused to sanction the appointment.

Her consort, Sforza, was now a great man in Rome, and intimate with all
the Borgias. June 16th he was seen by the side of the Duke of Gandia,
decked in costly robes glittering with precious stones, as if "they were
two kings," riding out to meet the Spanish ambassador. Gandia was
preparing for his journey to Spain. He had been betrothed to Doña Maria
Enriquez, a beautiful lady of Valencia, shortly before his father
ascended the papal throne; there is a brief of Alexander's dated October
6, 1492, in which he grants his son and his spouse the right to obtain
absolution from any confessor whatsoever. The high birth of Doña Maria
shows what brilliant connections the bastard Giovanni Borgia was able to
make as a grandee of Spain, for she was the daughter of Don Enrigo
Enriquez, High-Treasurer of Leon, and Doña Maria de Luna, who was
closely connected with the royal house of Aragon. Don Giovanni left
Rome, August 4, 1493, to board a Spanish galley in Civitavecchia.
According to the report of the Ferrarese agent, he took with him an
incredible number of trinkets, with whose manufacture the goldsmiths of
Rome had busied themselves for months.

Of Alexander's sons there now remained in Rome, Cæsar, who was to be
made a cardinal, and Giuffrè, who was destined to be a prince in Naples,
for the quarrel between the Pope and King Ferdinand had been settled
through the intermediation of Spain. She caused Alexander to break with
France, and to sever his connection with Ludovico il Moro. This
surprising change was immediately confirmed by the marriage of Don
Giuffrè, a boy of scarcely thirteen, and Donna Sancia, a natural
daughter of Duke Alfonso of Calabria. August 16, 1493, the marriage was
performed by proxy in the Vatican, and the wedding took place later in

Cæsar himself became cardinal, September 20, 1493, the stain of his
birth having been removed by the Cardinals Pallavicini and Orsini, who
had been charged with legitimating him. February 25, 1493, Gianandrea
Boccaccio wrote to Ferrara regarding the legitimating of Cæsar,
ironically saying, "They wish to remove the blot of being a natural son,
and very rightly; because he is legitimate, having been born in the
house while the woman's husband was living. This much is certain: the
husband was sometimes in the city and at others traveling about in the
territory of the Church and in her interest." The ambassador, however,
never mentions the name of this man, which, however, Infessura says was
Domenico d'Arignano.

Ippolito d'Este and Alessandro Farnese were made cardinals the same day.
To his sister's adultery this young libertine owed his advancement in
the Church, a fact so notorious that the wits of the Roman populace
called him the "petticoat cardinal." The jubilant kinsmen of Giulia
Farnese saw in her only the instrument of their advancement. Girolama
Farnese, Giulia 's sister, wrote to her husband, Puccio, from Casignano,
October 21, 1493, "You will have received letters from Florence before
mine reaches you and have learned what benefices have fallen to Lorenzo,
and all that Giulia has secured for him, and you will be greatly

Even the Republic of Florence sought to profit by Alexander's relations
with Giulia; for Puccio, her brother-in-law, was sent to Rome as
plenipotentiary. The Florentines had despatched this famous jurist to
the papal city immediately after Alexander's accession to the throne, to
swear allegiance, and later he was her agent for a year in Faenza, where
he conducted the government for Astorre Manfredi, who was a minor. At
the beginning of the year 1494 he went as ambassador to Rome, where he
died in August.[29]

His brother, Lorenzo Pucci, subsequently attained to eminence in the
Church under Leo X, becoming a powerful cardinal.

The Farnese and their numerous kin were now in high favor with the Pope
and all the Borgias. In October, 1493, they invited Alexander and Cæsar
to a family reunion at the castle of Capodimonte, where Madonna
Giovanella, Giulia's mother, was to prepare a banquet. Whether or not
this really took place we are ignorant, although we do know that
Alexander was in Viterbo the last of October.

In 1492 Giulia gave birth to a daughter, who was named Laura. The child
officially passed as that of her husband, Orsini, although in reality
the Pope was its father. The Farnese and the Pucci knew the secret and
shamelessly endeavored to profit by it. Giulia cared so little for the
world's opinion that she occupied the palace of S. Maria in Portico, as
if she were a blood relation of Lucretia. Alexander himself had put her
there as a lady of honor to his daughter. Her husband, Orsini,
preferred, or was compelled, to live in his castle of Bassanello, or to
stay on one of the estates which the Pope had presented to him, the
husband of Madonna Giulia, "Christ's bride," as the satirists called
her, instead of remaining in Rome to be a troublesome witness of his

A remarkable letter of Lorenzo Pucci to his brother Giannozzo, written
the 23d and 24th of December, 1493, from Rome, discloses these and other
family secrets. He shows us the most private scenes in Lucretia's
palace. Lorenzo had been invited by Cardinal Farnese to go with him to
Rome to witness the Christmas festivities. He accompanied him from
Viterbo to Rignano, where the barons of the Savelli house, kinsmen of
the cardinal, formally received them, after which they continued their
journey on horseback to Rome. Lorenzo repeated to his brother the
confidential conversation which he had enjoyed with the cardinal on the
way. Even as early as this there was talk of finding a suitable husband
for Giulia's little daughter. The cardinal unfolded his idea to Lorenzo.
Piero de' Medici wished to give his own daughter to the youthful Astorre
Manfredi of Faenza, but Farnese desired to bring about an alliance
between Astorre and Giulia's daughter. He hoped to be able to convince
Piero that this union would be advantageous for both himself and the
Republic of Florence, and would strengthen his relations with the Holy
See. The affair would be handled so that it would appear that it was
entirely due to the wishes of the Pope and of Piero. In this the
cardinal counted on the consent of both Alexander and Giulia, and on the
influence of Madonna Adriana.

Lorenzo Pucci replied to the cardinal's confidence as follows:
"Monsignor, I certainly think that our Master (the Pope) will give a
daughter to this gentleman (Astorre), for I believe that this child is
the Pope's daughter, just as Lucretia is, and your Highness's
niece."[30] In his letter Lorenzo does not say whether the cardinal
made any reply to this audacious statement, which would have brought a
blush to the face of any honorable man. Probably it only caused
Alessandro Farnese a little smile of assent. The bold Pucci repeated his
opinion in the same letter, saying, "She is the child of the Pope, the
niece of the cardinal, and the putative daughter of Signor Orsini, to
whom our Master intends to give three or four more castles near
Bassanello. In addition, the cardinal says that in case his brother
Angelo remains without heir, this child will inherit his property, as
she is very dear to him, and he is already thinking of this; and by this
means the illustrious Piero will obtain the support of the cardinal, who
will be under everlasting obligations to him." Lorenzo did not overlook
himself in these schemes; he openly expressed the wish that his brother
Puccio would come to Rome--as ambassador of the Republic, which he
did--and that he might secure through the influence of Madonna Adriana
and Giulia a number of good places.

Lorenzo continued his letter December 24th, describing a scene in
Lucretia's palace, and his narrative shows her, and especially Giulia,
as plainly as if they stood before us.

     GIANNOZZO MINE: Yesterday evening I wrote you as above.
     To-day, which is Easter evening, I rode with Monsignor Farnese to
     the papal palace to vespers, and before his Eminence entered the
     chapel I called at the house S. Maria in Portico to see Madonna
     Giulia. She had just finished washing her hair when I entered; she
     was sitting by the fire with Madonna Lucretia, the daughter of our
     Master, and Madonna Adriana, and they all received me with great
     cordiality. Madonna Giulia asked me to sit by her side; she thanked
     me for having taken Jeronima (Girolama) home, and said to me that I
     must, by all means, bring her there again to please her. Madonna
     Adriana asked, 'Is it true that she is not allowed to come here any
     more than she was permitted to go to Capodimonte and Marta?' I
     replied that I knew nothing about that, and it was enough for me if
     I had made Madonna Giulia happy by taking her home, for in her
     letters she had requested me to do so, and now they could do as
     they pleased. I wanted to leave it to Madonna Giulia, who was alive
     to all her opportunities, to meet her as she saw fit, as she wanted
     her to see her magnificence just as much as Jeronima (Girolama)
     herself wanted to see it. Thereupon Madonna Giulia thanked me
     warmly and said I had made her very happy. I then reminded her how
     greatly I was beholden to her Highness by what she had done for me,
     and that I could not show my gratitude better than by taking
     Madonna Jeronima (Girolama) home. She answered that such a trifle
     deserved no thanks. She hopes to be of still greater help to me,
     and says I shall find her so at the right time. Madonna Adriana
     joined in saying I might be certain that it was through neither the
     chancellor, Messer Antonio, nor his deputy, but owing to the favor
     of Madonna Giulia herself, that I had obtained the benefices.

     In order not to contradict, I replied that I knew that, and I again
     thanked her Highness. Thereupon Madonna Giulia asked with much
     interest after Messer Puccio and said, "We will see to it that some
     day he will come here as ambassador; and although, when he was
     here, we, in spite of all our endeavors, were unable to effect it,
     we could now accomplish it without any difficulty." She assured me
     also that the cardinal had mentioned to her the previous evening
     the matter we had discussed on the road, and she urged me to write;
     she thought if the affair were handled by yourself, the illustrious
     Piero would be favorably disposed toward it. Thus far has the
     matter progressed. Giulia also wanted me to see the child; she is
     now well grown, and, it seems to me, resembles the Pope, _adeo ut
     vere ex ejus semine orta dici possit_. Madonna Giulia has grown
     somewhat stouter and is a most beautiful creature. She let down
     her hair before me and had it dressed; it reached down to her feet;
     never have I seen anything like it; she has the most beautiful
     hair. She wore a head-dress of fine linen, and over it a sort of
     net, light as air, with gold threads interwoven in it. In truth it
     shone like the sun! I would have given a great deal if you could
     have been present to have informed yourself concerning that which
     you have often wanted to know. She wore a lined robe in the
     Neapolitan fashion, as did also Madonna Lucretia, who, after a
     little while, went out to remove it. She returned shortly in a gown
     almost entirely of violet velvet. When vespers were over and the
     cardinals were departing, I left them.

The close association with Giulia, to whose adulterous relations with
her father Lucretia was the daily witness, if not a school of vice for
her, at least must have kept her constantly in contact with it. Could a
young creature of only fourteen years remain pure in such an atmosphere?
Must not the immorality in the midst of which she was forced to live
have poisoned her senses, dulled her ideas of morality and virtue, and
finally have penetrated her own character?


[27] Cod. Aragon, ii, 2.67, ed Trinchera.

[28] Carte Strozziane, filz 343. In the archives of Florence.

[29] Lelia Ursina de Farnesio congratulated him on his appointment,
January 13, 1494. Ibidem.

[30] In the earlier edition of this work I found some difficulty in the
passage: "Chredo che questa puta sia figlia del Papa, como Madonna
Luchretia è nipote di S. R. Signoria." I am now convinced that the è is
an error of the writer or the copyist and should be simply the
conduction e. Lorenzo Pucci's brother Giannozzo was married to Lucrezia
Bini, a Florentine, who is mentioned later in this same letter.



By the end of the year 1493 Alexander had amply provided for all his
children. Cæsar was a cardinal, Giovanni was a duke in Spain, and
Giuffrè was soon to become a Neapolitan prince. The last, the Pope's
youngest son, was united in marriage, May 7, 1494, in Naples, to Donna
Sancia the same day on which his father-in-law, Alfonso, ascending the
throne as the successor of King Ferdinand, was crowned by the papal
legate, Giovanni Borgia. Don Giuffrè remained in Naples and became
Prince of Squillace. Giovanni also received great fiefs in that kingdom,
where he called himself Duke of Suessa and Prince of Teano.

For some time longer Lucretia's spouse remained in Rome, where the Pope
had taken him into his pay in accordance with an agreement with Ludovico
il Moro under whom Sforza served. His position at Alexander's court,
however, soon became ambiguous. His uncles had married him to Lucretia
to make the Pope a confederate and accomplice in their schemes which
were directed toward the overthrow of the reigning family of Naples.
Alexander, however, clung closely to the Aragonese dynasty; he invested
King Alfonso with the title to the kingdom of Naples, and declared
himself opposed to the expedition of Charles VIII.

Sforza thereby was thrown into no slight perplexity, and early in April,
1494, he informed his uncle Ludovico of his dubious position in the
following letter:

     Yesterday his Holiness said to me in the presence of Monsignor
     (Cardinal Ascanio), "Well, Giovanni Sforza! What have you to say to
     me?" I answered, "Holy Father, every one in Rome believes that your
     Holiness has entered into an agreement with the King of Naples, who
     is an enemy of the State of Milan. If this is so, I am in an
     awkward position, as I am in the pay of your Holiness and also in
     that of the State I have named. If things continue as they are, I
     do not know how I can serve one party without falling out with the
     other, and at the same time I do not wish to offend. I ask that
     your Holiness may be pleased to define my position so that I may
     not become an enemy of my own blood, and not act contrary to the
     obligations into which I have entered by virtue of my agreement
     with your Holiness and the illustrious State of Milan." He replied,
     saying that I took too much interest in his affairs, and that I
     should choose in whose pay I would remain according to my contract.
     And then he commanded the above-named monsignor to write to your
     Excellency what you will learn from his lordship's letter. My lord,
     if I had foreseen in what a position I was to be placed I would
     sooner have eaten the straw under my body than have entered into
     such an agreement. I cast myself in your arms. I beg your
     Excellency not to desert me, but to give me help, favor, and advice
     how to resolve the difficulty in which I am placed, so that I may
     remain a good servant of your Excellency. Preserve for me the
     position and the little nest which, thanks to the mercy of Milan,
     my ancestors left me, and I and my men of war will ever remain at
     the service of your Excellency.

  ROME, _April, 1494_.

The letter plainly discloses other and deeper concerns of the writer;
such, for example, as the future possession of his domain of Pesaro. The
Pope's plans to destroy all the little tyrannies and fiefs in the States
of the Church had already been clearly revealed.[31]

Shortly after this, April 23d, Cardinal della Rovere slipped away from
Ostia and into France to urge Charles VIII to invade Italy, not to
attack Naples, but to bring this simoniacal pope before a council and
depose him.

At the beginning of July Ascanio Sforza, now openly at strife with
Alexander, also left the city. He went to Genazzano and joined the
Colonna, who were in the pay of France. Charles VIII was already
preparing to invade Italy. The Pope and King Alfonso met at Vicovaro
near Tivoli, July 14th.

In the meantime important changes had taken place in Lucretia's palace.
Her husband had hurriedly left Rome, as he could do as a captain of the
Church, in which capacity he had to join the Neapolitan army, now being
formed in Romagna under the command of the Duke Ferrante of Calabria. By
his nuptial contract he was bound to take his bride with him to Pesaro.
She was accompanied by her mother, Vannozza, Giulia Farnese, and Madonna
Adriana. Alexander himself, through fear of the plague, which had
appeared, commanded them to depart. The Mantuan ambassador in Rome
reported this to the Marchese Gonzaga, May 6th, and also wrote him on
the fifteenth as follows: "The illustrious Lord Giovanni will certainly
set out Monday or Tuesday accompanied by all three ladies, who, by the
Pope's order, will remain in Pesaro until August, when they will

Sforza's departure must have taken place early in June, for on the
eleventh of that month a letter from Ascanio was sent to his brother in
Milan informing him that the lord of Pesaro with his wife and Madonna
Giulia, the Pope's mistress, together with the mother of the Duke of
Gandia, and Giuffrè, had set out from Rome for Pesaro, and that his
Holiness had begged Madonna Giulia to come back soon.[33]

Alexander had returned to Rome from Vicovaro, July 18th, and on the 24th
he wrote his daughter the following letter:

     Alexander VI, Pope; by his own hand.

     DONNA LUCRETIA, DEAREST DAUGHTER: For several days we have
     had no letter from you. Your neglect to write us often and tell us
     how you and Don Giovanni, our beloved son, are, causes us great
     surprise. In future be more heedful and more diligent. Madonna
     Adriana and Giulia have reached Capodimonte, where they found the
     latter's brother dead. His death caused the cardinal and Giulia
     such distress that both fell sick of the fever. We have sent Pietro
     Caranza to look after them, and have provided physicians and
     everything necessary. We pray to God and the glorious Madonna that
     they will soon be restored. Of a truth Don Giovanni and yourself
     have displayed very little thought for me in this departure of
     Madonna Adriana and Giulia, since you allowed them to leave without
     our permission; for you should have remembered--it was your
     duty--that such a sudden departure without our knowledge would
     cause us the greatest displeasure. And if you say that they did so
     because Cardinal Farnese commanded it, you ought to have asked
     yourself whether it would please the Pope. However, it is done; but
     another time we will be more careful, and will look about to see
     where our interest lies. We are, thanks to God and the glorious
     Virgin, very well. We have had an interview with the illustrious
     King Alfonso, who showed us no less love and obedience than he
     would have shown had he been our own son. I cannot tell you with
     what satisfaction and contentment we took leave of each other. You
     may be certain that his Majesty stands ready to place his own
     person and every thing he has in the world at our service.

     We hope that all differences and quarrels in regard to the Colonna
     will be completely laid aside in three or four days. At present I
     have nothing more to say than to warn you to be careful of your
     health and constantly to pray to the Madonna. Given in Rome in S.
     Peter's, July 24, 1494.[34]

This letter is the first of the few extant written by Alexander to his
daughter. His reproof was due to the sudden departure of his
mistress--contrary to his original instructions--from Pesaro before
August. From there Giulia went to Capodimonte to look after her sick
brother Angiolo. According to a Venetian letter written by Marino
Sanuto, she had left Rome chiefly for the purpose of attending the
wedding of one of her kinsmen, and the writer describes her in this
place as "the Pope's favorite, a young woman of great beauty and
understanding, gracious and gentle."

Alexander's letter shows us that his mistress remained in communication
with him after her departure from Rome.


[31] This letter is printed in Atti e Memorie Modenesi, i. 433.

[32] Despatch of Giorgio Brognolo to the Marchese, Rome, May 6 and 15,
1494. Archives of Mantua.

[33] Despatch of Jacomo Trotti to Duke Ercole, Milan, June 11, 1494. May
1st the women were still in Rome, for on that date Madonna Adriana wrote
a letter from there to the Marchesa of Mantua recommending a friend to
her. The letter is in the Mantuan archives.

[34] The letter is published in Ugolino's Storia dei Conti e Duchi
d'Urbino, II. Document No. 13. I saw the original in the state archives
of Florence; only the address is in Alexander's hand, the rest is
written by the Chancellor Juan Lopez, who signs himself Jo. Datarius.



The storm which suddenly broke upon Alexander did not disturb Lucretia,
for on the eighth of June, 1494, she and her spouse entered Pesaro. In a
pouring rain, which interrupted the reception festivities, she took
possession of the palace of the Sforza, which was now to be her home.

The history of Pesaro up to that time is briefly as follows:

Ancient Pisaurum, which was founded by the Siculi, received its name
from the river which empties into the sea not far from the city, and
which is now known as the Foglia. In the year 570 of Rome the city
became a Roman colony. From the time of Augustus it belonged to the
fourth department of Italy, and from the time of Constantine to the
province of Flaminia. After the fall of the Roman Empire it suffered the
fate of all the Italian cities, especially in the great war of the Goths
with the Eastern emperor. Vitiges destroyed it; Belisarius restored it.

After the fall of the Gothic power, Pesaro was incorporated in the
Exarchate, and together with four other cities on the Adriatic--Ancona,
Fano, Sinigaglia, and Rimini--constituted the Pentapolis. When Ravenna
fell into the hands of the Lombard King Aistulf, Pesaro also became
Lombard; but later, by the deed of Pipin and Charles, it passed into the
possession of the Pope.

The subsequent history of the city is interwoven with that of the
Empire, the Church and the March of Ancona. For a long time imperial
counts resided there. Innocent III invested its title in Azzo d'Este,
the Lord of the March. During the struggles of the Hohenstaufen with the
papacy it first was in the possession of the emperor and later in that
of the Pope, who held it until the end of the thirteenth century, when
the Malatesta became podestas, and subsequently lords of the city. This
famous Guelph family from the castle of Verrucchio, which lies between
Rimini and S. Marino, fell heir to the fortress of Gradara, in the
territory of Pesaro, and by degrees extended its power in the direction
of Ancona. In 1285 Gianciotto Malatesta became lord of Pesaro, and on
his death, in 1304, his brother Pandolfo inherited his domain.

From that time the Malatesta, lords of nearby Rimini, controlled not
only Pesaro, but a large part of the March which they appropriated to
themselves when the papacy was removed to Avignon. They secured
themselves in the possession of Rimini, Pesaro, Fano, and Fossombrone by
an agreement made during the life of the famous Gil d'Albornoz,
confirming them in their position there as vicars of the Church. A
branch of this house resided in Pesaro until the time of Galeazzo
Malatesta. Threatened by his kinsman Sigismondo, the tyrant of Rimini,
and unable to hold Pesaro against his attack, he sold the city in 1445
for twenty thousand gold florins to Count Francesco Sforza, and the
latter gave it as a fief to his brother Alessandro, the husband of a
niece of Galeazzo. Sforza was the great condottiere who, after the
departure of the Visconti, ascended the throne of Milan as the first
duke of his house. While he was there establishing the ducal line of
Sforza, his brother Alessandro became the founder of the ruling house of

This brave captain took possession of Pesaro in March, 1445; two years
later he received the papal investiture of the fief. He was married to
Costanza Varano, one of the most beautiful and intellectual women of the
Italian Renaissance.

To him she bore Costanzo and also a daughter, Battista, who later, as
the wife of Federico of Urbino, won universal admiration by her virtues
and talents. The neighboring courts of Pesaro and Urbino were connected
by marriage, and they vied with each other in fostering the arts and
sciences. Another illegitimate daughter of Alessandro's was Ginevra
Sforza--a woman no less admired in her day--celebrated, first as the
wife of Sante and then as that of Giovanni Bentivoglio, Lord of Bologna.

After the death of his wife, Alessandro Sforza married Sveva
Montefeltre, a daughter of Guidantonio of Urbino. After a happy reign he
died April 3, 1473, leaving his possessions to his son.

A year later Costanzo Sforza married Camilla Marzana d'Aragona, a
beautiful and spirituelle princess of the royal house of Naples. He
himself was brilliant and liberal. He died in 1483, when only
thirty-six, leaving no legitimate heirs, his sons Giovanni and Galeazzo
being natural children. His widow Camilla thenceforth conducted the
government of Pesaro for herself and her stepson Giovanni until
November, 1489, when she compelled him to assume entire control of it.

Such was the history of the Sforza family of Pesaro, into which Lucretia
now entered as the wife of this same Giovanni.

The domain of the Sforza at that time embraced the city of Pesaro and a
number of smaller possessions, called castles or villas; for example, S.
Angelo in Lizzola, Candelara, Montebaroccio, Tomba di Pesaro,
Montelabbate, Gradara, Monte S. Maria, Novilara, Fiorenzuola, Castel di
Mezzo, Ginestreto, Gabicce, Monteciccardo, and Monte Gaudio. In
addition, Fossombrone was taken by the Sforzas from the Malatesta.

The principality belonged, as we have seen, for a long time to the
Church, then to the Malatesta, and later to the Sforza, who, under the
title of vicars, held it as a hereditary fief, paying the Church
annually seven hundred and fifty gold ducats. The daughter of a Roman
pontiff must, therefore, have been the most acceptable consort the
tyrant of Pesaro could have secured under the existing circumstances,
especially as the popes were striving to destroy all the illegitimate
powers in the States of the Church. When Lucretia saw how small and
unimportant was her little kingdom, she must have felt that she did not
rank with the women of Urbino, Ferrara, and Mantua, or with those of
Milan and Bologna; but she, by the authority of the Pope, her own
father, had become an independent princess, and, although her territory
embraced only a few square miles, to Italy it was a costly bit of

Pesaro lies free and exposed in a wide valley. A chain of green hills
sweeps half around it like the seats in a theater, and the sea forms the
stage. At the ends of the semicircle are two mountains, Monte Accio and
Ardizio. The Foglia River flows through the valley. On its right bank
lies the hospitable little city with its towers and walls, and its
fortress on the white seashore. Northward, in the direction of Rimini,
the mountains approach nearer the water, while to the south the shore is
broader, and there, rising out of the mists of the sea, are the towers
of Fano. A little farther Cape Ancona is visible.

The sunny hills and their smiling valley under the blue canopy of
heaven, and near the shimmering sea, form a picture of entrancing
loveliness. It is the most peaceful spot on the Adriatic. It seems as if
the breezes from sea and land wafted a lyric harmony over the valley,
expanding the heart and filling the soul with visions of beauty and
happiness. Pesaro is the birthplace of Rosini, and also of Terenzio
Mamiani, the brilliant poet and statesman who devoted his great talents
to the regeneration of Italy.

The passions of the tyrants of this city were less ferocious than were
those of the other dynasties of that age, perhaps because their domain
was too small a stage for the dark deeds inspired by inordinate
ambition--although the human spirit does not always develop in harmony
with the influences of nature. One of the most hideous of evil doers was
Sigismondo Malatesta of mild and beautiful Rimini. The Sforzas of
Pesaro, however, seem generous and humane rulers in comparison with
their cousins of Milan. Their court was adorned by a number of noble
women whom Lucretia may have felt it her duty to imitate.

If, when Lucretia entered Pesaro, her soul--young as she was--was not
already dead to all agreeable sensations, she must have enjoyed for the
first time the blessed sense of freedom. To her, gloomy Rome, with the
dismal Vatican and its passions and crimes, must have seemed like a
prison from which she had escaped. It is true everything about her in
Pesaro was small when compared with the greatness of Rome, but here she
was removed from the direct influence of her father and brother, from
whom she was separated by the Apennines and a distance which, in that
age, was great.

The city of Pesaro, which now has more than twelve thousand, and with
its adjacent territory over twenty thousand inhabitants had then about
half as many. It had streets and squares with substantial specimens of
Gothic architecture, interspersed, however, even then, with numerous
palaces in the style of the Renaissance. A number of cloisters and
churches, whose ancient portals are still preserved, such as S.
Domenico, S. Francesco, S. Agostino, and S. Giovanni, rendered the city
imposing if not beautiful.

Pesaro's most important structures were the monuments of the ruling
dynasty, the stronghold on the seashore and the palace facing the public
square. The last was begun by Costanzo Sforza in 1474 and was completed
by his son Giovanni. Even to-day his name may be seen on the marble
tablet over the entrance. The castle with its four low, round towers or
bastions, all in ruin, and surrounded by a moat, stands at the end of
the city wall near the sea, and whatever strength it had was due to its
environment; in spite of its situation it appears so insignificant that
one wonders how, even in those days when the science of gunnery was in
its infancy, it could have had any value as a fortress.

The Sforza palace is still standing on the little public square of which
it occupies one whole side. It is an attractive, but not imposing
structure with two large courts. The Della Rovere, successors of the
Sforza in Pesaro, beautified it during the sixteenth century; they built
the noble façade which rests upon a series of six round arches. The
Sforza arms have disappeared from the palace, but in many places over
the portals and on the ceilings the inscription of Guidobaldus II,
duke, and the Della Rovere arms may be seen. Even in Lucretia's day the
magnificent banquet hall--the most beautiful room in the palace--was in
existence, and its size made it worthy of a great monarch. The lack of
decorations on the walls and of marble casings to the doors, like those
in the castle of Urbino, which fill the beholder with wonder, show how
limited were the means of the ruling dynasty of Pesaro. The rich ceiling
of the salon, made of gilded and painted woodwork, dates from the reign
of Duke Guidobaldo. All mementos of the time when Lucretia occupied the
palace have disappeared; it is animated by other memories--of the
subsequent court life of the Della Rovere family, when Bembo,
Castiglione, and Tasso frequently were guests there. Lucretia and the
suite that accompanied her could not have filled the wide rooms of the
palace; her mother, Madonna Adriana, and Giulia Farnese remained with
her only a short time. A young Spanish woman in her retinue, Doña
Lucretia Lopez, a niece of Juan Lopez, chancellor and afterward
cardinal, was married in Pesaro to Gianfrancesco Ardizio, the physician
and confidant of Giovanni Sforza.

In the palace there were few kinsmen of her husband besides his younger
brother Galeazzo, for the dynasty was not fruitful and was dying out.
Even Camilla d'Aragona, Giovanni's stepmother, was not there, for she
had left Pesaro for good in 1489, taking up her residence in a castle
near Parma.

In summer the beautiful landscape must have afforded the young princess
much delight. She doubtless visited the neighboring castle of Urbino,
where Guidobaldo di Montefetre and his spouse Elisabetta resided, and
which the accomplished Federico had made an asylum for the
cultivated. At that time Raphael, a boy of twelve, was living in Urbino,
a diligent pupil in his father's school.

[Illustration: TASSO.

From an engraving by Raffaelle Morghen.]

In summer Lucretia removed to one of the beautiful villas on a
neighboring hill. Her husband's favorite abode was Gradara, a lofty
castle overlooking the road to Rimini, whose red walls and towers are
still standing in good preservation. The most magnificent country place,
however, was the Villa Imperiale, which is a half hour's journey from
Pesaro, on Monte Accio, whence it looks down far over the land and sea.
It is a splendid summer palace worthy of a great lord and of people of
leisure, capable of enjoying the amenities of life. It was built by
Alessandro Sforza in the year 1464, its corner-stone having been laid by
the Emperor Frederic III when he was returning from his coronation as
Emperor of Rome; hence it received the name Villa Imperiale. It was
enlarged later by Eleonora Gonzaga, the wife of Francesco Maria della
Rovere, the heir of Urbino, and Giovanni Sforza's successor in the
dominion of Pesaro. Famous painters decorated it with allegoric and
historical pictures; Bembo and Bernardo Tasso sang of it in melodious
numbers, and there, in the presence of the Della Rovere court, Torquato
read his pastoral _Aminta_. This villa is now in a deplorable state of
decay. Pesaro offered but little in the way of entertainment for a young
woman accustomed to the society of Rome. The city had no nobility of
importance. The houses of Brizi, of Ondedei, of Giontini, Magistri,
Lana, and Ardizi, in their patriarchal existence, could offer Lucretia
no compensation for the inspiring intercourse with the grandees of Rome.
It is true the wave of culture which, thanks to the humanists, was
sweeping over Italy did reach Pesaro. The manufacture of majolica,
which, in its perfection, was not an unworthy successor of the pottery
of Greece and Etruria, flourished there and in the neighboring cities on
the Adriatic, and as far as Umbria. It had reached a considerable
development in the time of the Sforza. One of the oldest pieces of
majolica in the Correro Museum in Venice, Solomon worshiping the idol,
bears the date 1482. As early as the fourteenth century this art was
cultivated in Pesaro, and it was in a very nourishing condition during
the reign of Camilla d'Aragona. There are still some remains of the
productions of the old craftsmen of the city in the State-house of

There, too, the intellectual movement manifested itself in other fields,
fostered by the Sforza or their wives, in emulation of Urbino and
Rimini, where Sigismondo Malatesta gathered about him poets and scholars
whom he pensioned during their lives, and for whom, when dead, he built
sarcophagi about the outer wall of the church. Camilla interested
herself especially in the cultivation of the sciences. In 1489 she
invited a noble Greek, Giorgio Diplovatazio, of Corfu, a kinsman of the
Laskaris and the Vatazes, who, fleeing from the Turks, had come to
Italy, and taken up his abode in Pesaro, where were living other Greek
exiles of the Angeli, Komnenen, and Paleologue families. Diplovatazio
had studied in Padua. Giovanni Sforza made him state's advocate of
Pesaro in 1492, and he enjoyed a brilliant reputation as a jurisprudent
until his death in 1541.[35]

Lucretia, consequently, found this illustrious man in Pesaro and might
have continued her studies under him and other natives of Greece if she
was so disposed. A library, which the Sforzas had collected, provided
her with the means for this end. Another scholar, however, no less
famous, Pandolfo Collenuccio, a poet, orator, and philologist, best
known by his history of Naples, had left Pesaro before Lucretia took up
her abode there. He had served the house of Sforza as secretary and in a
diplomatic capacity, and to his eloquence Lucretia's husband, Costanzo's
bastard, owed his investiture of the fief of Pesaro by Sixtus IV and
Innocent VIII. Collenuccio, however, fell under his displeasure and was
cast into prison in 1488 and subsequently banished, when he went to
Ferrara, where he devoted his services to the reigning family. He
accompanied Cardinal Ippolito to Rome, and here we find him in 1494 when
Lucretia was about to take up her residence in Pesaro. In Rome she may
have made the acquaintance of this scholar.[36]

Nor was the young poet Guido Posthumus Silvester in Pesaro during her
time, for he was then a student in Padua. Lucretia must have regretted
the absence from her court of this soulful and aspiring poet, and her
charming personality might have served him for an inspiration for verses
quite different from those which he later addressed to the Borgias.

Sforza's beautiful consort was received with open arms in Pesaro, where
she immediately made many friends. She was in the first charm of her
youthful bloom, and fate had not yet brought the trouble into her life
which subsequently made her the object either of horror or of pity. If
she enjoyed any real love in her married life with Sforza she would have
passed her days in Pesaro as happily as the queen of a pastoral comedy.
But this was denied her. The dark shadows of the Vatican reached even
to the Villa Imperiale on Monte Accio. Any day a despatch from her
father might summon her back to Rome. Her stay in Pesaro may also have
become too monotonous, too empty for her; perhaps, also, her husband's
position as condottiere in the papal army and in that of Venice
compelled him often to be away from his court.

Events which in the meantime had convulsed Italy took Lucretia back to
Rome, she having spent but a single year in Pesaro.


[35] Memorie di Tommaso Diplovatazio Patrizio Constantinopolitano e
Pesarese, da Annibale Olivieri. Pesaro, 1771.

[36] Regarding Collenuccio see the works of his compatriot Giulio
Perticari, Opp. Bologna, 1837. Vol. ii, 52 sqq.



Early in September, 1494, Charles VIII marched into Piedmont, and the
affairs of all Italy suffered an immediate change. The Pope and his
allies Alfonso and Piero de' Medici found themselves almost defenseless
in a short time. As early as November 17th the King entered Florence.
Alexander was anxious to meet him with his own and the Neapolitan troops
at Viterbo, where Cardinal Farnese was legate; but the French overran
the Patrimonium without hindrance, and even the Pope's mistress, her
sister Girolama, and Madonna Adriana, who were Alexander's "heart and
eyes," fell into the hands of a body of French scouts.

The Mantuan agent, Brognolo, informed his master of this event in a
despatch dated November 29, 1494: "A calamity has happened which is also
a great insult to the Pope. Day before yesterday Madonna Hadriana and
Madonna Giulia and her sister set out from their castle of Capodimonte
to go to their brother the cardinal, in Viterbo, and, when about a mile
from that place, they met a troop of French cavalry by whom they were
taken prisoners, and led to Montefiascone, together with their suite of
twenty-five or thirty persons."

The French captain who made this precious capture was Monseigneur
d'Allegre, perhaps the same Ivo who subsequently entered the service of
Cæsar. "When he learned who the beautiful women were he placed their
ransom at three thousand ducats, and in a letter informed King Charles
whom he had captured, but the latter refused to see them. Madonna Giulia
wrote to Rome saying they were well treated, and asking that their
ransom be sent."[37]

The knowledge of this catastrophe caused Alexander the greatest dismay.
He immediately despatched a chamberlain to Marino, where Cardinal
Ascanio was to be found in the headquarters of the Colonna, and who, on
his urgent request, had returned November 2d, and had had an interview
with King Charles. He complained to the cardinal of the indignity which
had been put upon him, and asked his cooperation to secure the release
of the prisoners. He also wrote to Galeazzo of Sanseverino, who was
accompanying the king to Siena, and who, wishing to please the Pope,
urged Charles VIII to release the ladies. Accompanied by an escort of
four hundred of the French, they were led to the gates of Rome, where
they were received December 1st by Juan Marades, the Pope's

This romantic adventure caused a sensation throughout all Italy. The
people, instead of sympathizing with the Pope, ridiculed him
mercilessly. A letter from Trotti, the Ferrarese ambassador at the court
of Milan, to Duke Ercole, quotes the words which Ludovico il Moro,
the usurper of the throne of his nephew, whom he had poisoned, uttered
on this occasion concerning the Pope.

[Illustration: CHARLES VIII.

From an engraving by Pannier.]

"He (Ludovico) gravely reproved Monsignor Ascanio and Cardinal
Sanseverino for surrendering Madonna Giulia, Madonna Adriana, and
Hieronyma to his Holiness; for, since these ladies were the 'heart and
eyes' of the Pope, they would have been the best whip for compelling him
to do everything which was wanted of him, for he could not live without
them. The French, who captured them, received only three thousand ducats
as ransom, although the Pope would gladly have paid fifty thousand or
more simply to have them back again. The same duke received news from
Rome, and also from Angelo in Florence, that when the ladies entered,
his Holiness went to meet them arrayed in a black doublet bordered with
gold brocade, with a beautiful belt in the Spanish fashion, and with
sword and dagger. He wore Spanish boots and a velvet biretta, all very
gallant. The duke asked me, laughing, what I thought of it, and I told
him that, were I the Duke of Milan, like him, I would endeavor, with the
aid of the King of France and in every other way--and on the pretext of
establishing peace--to entrap his Holiness, and with fair words, such as
he himself was in the habit of using, to take him and the cardinals
prisoners, which would be very easy. He who has the servant, as we say
at home, has also the wagon and the oxen; and I reminded him of the
verse of Catullus: 'Tu quoque fac simile: ars deluditur arte.'"[39]

Ludovico, the worthy contemporary of the Borgias, once an intimate
friend of Alexander VI, hated the Pope when he turned his face away
from him and France, and he was especially embittered by the treacherous
capture of his brother Ascanio. December 28th the same ambassador wrote
to Ercole, "The Duke Ludovico told me that he was hourly expecting the
arrival of Messer Bartolomeo da Calco with a courier bringing the news
that the Pope was taken and beheaded."[40] I leave it to the reader to
decide whether Ludovico, simply owing to his hatred of the Pope, was
slandering him and indulging in extravagances concerning him when he had
this conversation with Trotti, and also when he publicly stated to his
senate that "the Pope had allowed three women to come to him; one of
them being a nun of Valencia, the other a Castilian, the third a very
beautiful girl from Venice, fifteen or sixteen years of age." "Here in
Milan," continued Trotti in his despatch, "the same scandalous things
are related of the Pope as are told in Ferrara of the Torta."[41]

Elsewhere we may read how Charles VIII, victorious without the trouble
of winning battles, penetrated as far as Rome and Naples. His march
through Italy is the most humiliating of all the invasions which the
peninsula suffered; but it shows that when states and peoples are ready
for destruction, the strength of a weak-headed boy is sufficient to
bring about their ruin. The Pope outwitted the French monarch, who,
instead of having him deposed by a council, fell on his knees before
him, acknowledged him to be Christ's vicar, and concluded a treaty with

After this he set out for Naples, which shortly fell into his hands.
Italy rose, a league against Charles VIII was formed, and he was
compelled to return. Alexander fled before him, first in the direction
of Orvieto, and then toward Perugia. While there he summoned Giovanni
Sforza, who arrived with his wife, June 16, 1495, remained four days,
and then went back to Pesaro.[42] The King of France succeeded in
breaking his way through the League's army at the battle of the Taro,
and thus honorably escaped death or capture.

Having returned to Rome, Alexander established himself still more firmly
in the holy chair, about which he gathered his ambitious bastards, while
the Borgias pushed themselves forward all the more audaciously because
the confusion occasioned in the affairs of Italy by the invasion of
Charles VIII made it all the easier for them to carry out their

Lucretia remained a little longer in Pesaro with her husband, whom
Venice had engaged in the interests of the League. Giovanni Sforza,
however, does not appear to have been present either at the battle of
the Taro or at the siege of Novara. When peace was declared in October,
1495, between France and the Duke of Milan, whereby the war came to an
end in Northern Italy, Sforza was able to take his wife back to Rome.
Marino Sanuto speaks of her as having been in that city at the end of
October, and Burchard gives us a picture of Lucretia at the Christmas

While in the service of the League Sforza commanded three hundred foot
soldiers and one hundred heavy horse. With these troops he set out for
Naples in the spring of the following year, when the united forces lent
the young King Ferrante II great assistance in the conflicts with the
French troops under Montpensier. Even the Captain-general of Venice, the
Marchese of Mantua, was there, and he entered Rome, March 26, 1496.
Sforza with his mercenaries arrived in Rome, April 15th, only to leave
the city again April 28th. His wife remained behind. May 4th he reached

Alexander's two sons, Don Giovanni and Don Giuffrè, were still away from
Rome. One, the Duke of Gandia, was also in the pay of Venice, and was
expected from Spain to take command of four hundred men which his
lieutenant, Alovisio Bacheto, had enlisted for him. The other, Don
Giuffrè, had, as we have seen, gone to Naples in 1494, where he had
married Donna Sancia and had been made Prince of Squillace. As a member
of the house of Aragon he shared the dangers of the declining dynasty in
the hope of inducing the Pope not to abandon it. He accompanied King
Ferrante on his flight, and also followed his standard when, after the
retreat of Charles VIII, he, with the help of Spain, Venice, and the
Pope, again secured possession of his kingdom, entering Naples in the
summer of 1495.

Not until the following year did Don Giuffrè and his wife come to Rome.
In royal state they entered the Eternal City, May 20, 1496. The
ambassadors, cardinals, officers of the city, and numerous nobles went
to meet them at the Lateran gate. Lucretia also was there with her
suite. The young couple were escorted to the Vatican. The Pope on his
throne, surrounded by eleven cardinals, received his son and
daughter-in-law. On his right hand he had Lucretia and on his left
Sancia, sitting on cushions. It was Whitsuntide, and the two princesses
and their suites boldly occupied the priests' benches in S. Peter's,
and, according to Burchard, the populace was greatly shocked.

Three months later, August 10, 1496, Alexander's eldest son, Don
Giovanni, Duke of Gandia, entered Rome, where he remained, his father
having determined to make him a great prince.[44] It is not related
whether he brought his wife, Donna Maria, with him.

For the first time Alexander had all his children about him, and in the
Borgo of the Vatican there were no less than three nepot-courts.
Giovanni resided in the Vatican, Lucretia in the palace of S. Maria in
Portico, Giuffrè in the house of the Cardinal of Aleria near the Bridge
of S. Angelo, and Cæsar in the same Borgo.

They all were pleasure-loving upstarts who were consumed with a desire
for honors and power; all were young and beautiful; except Lucretia, all
were vicious, graceful, seductive scoundrels, and, as such, among the
most charming and attractive figures in the society of old Rome. For
only the narrowest observer, blind to everything but their infamous
deeds, can paint the Borgias simply as savage and cruel brutes,
tiger-cubs by nature. They were privileged malefactors, like many other
princes and potentates of that age. They mercilessly availed themselves
of poison and poignard, removing every obstacle to their ambition, and
smiled when the object was attained.

If we could see the life which these unrestrained bastards led in the
Vatican, where their father, conscious now of his security and
greatness, was enthroned, we should indeed behold strange things. It was
a singular drama which was being enacted in the domain of S. Peter,
where two young and beautiful women held a dazzling court, which was
always animated by swarms of Spanish and Italian lords and ladies and
the elegant world of Rome. Nobles and monsignori crowded around to pay
homage to these women, one of whom, Lucretia, was just sixteen, and the
other, Sancia, a little more than seventeen years of age.

We may imagine what love intrigues took place in the palace of these
young women, and how jealousy and ambition there carried on their
intricate game, for no one will believe that these princesses, full of
the passion and exuberance of youth, led the life of nuns or saints in
the shadows of S. Peter's. Their palace resounded with music and the
dance, and the noise of revels and of masquerades. The populace saw
these women accompanied by splendid cavalcades riding through the
streets of Rome to the Vatican; they knew that the Pope was in daily
intercourse with them, visiting them in person and taking part in their
festivities, and also receiving them, now privately, and now with
ceremonious pomp, as befitted princesses of his house. Alexander
himself, much as he was addicted to the pleasures of the senses, cared
nothing for elaborate banquets. Concerning the Pope, the Ferrarese
ambassador wrote to his master in 1495 as follows:

     He partakes of but a single dish, though this must be a rich one.
     It is, consequently, a bore to dine with him. Ascanio and others,
     especially Cardinal Monreale, who formerly were his Holiness's
     table companions, and Valenza too, broke off this companionship
     because his parsimony displeased them, and avoided it whenever and
     however they could.[45]

The doings in the Vatican furnished ground for endless gossip, which had
long been current in Rome. It was related in Venice, in October,
1496, that the Duke of Gandia had brought a Spanish woman to his father,
with whom he lived, and an account was given of a crime which is almost
incredible, although it was related by the Venetian ambassador and other

[Illustration: SAVONAROLA.

From a painting by Fra Bartolommeo]

It was not long before Donna Sancia caused herself to be freely gossiped
about. She was beautiful and thoughtless; she appreciated her position
as the daughter of a king. From the most vicious of courts she was
transplanted into the depravity of Rome as the wife of an immature boy.
It was said that her brothers-in-law Gandia and Cæsar quarreled over her
and possessed her in turn, and that young nobles and cardinals like
Ippolito d'Este could boast of having enjoyed her favors.

Savonarola may have had these nepot-courts in mind when, from the pulpit
of S. Marco in Florence, he declaimed in burning words against the Roman

Even if the voice of the great preacher, whose words were filling all
Italy, did not reach Lucretia's ears, from her own experience she must
have known how profligate was the world in which she lived. About her
she saw vice shamelessly displayed or cloaked in sacerdotal robes; she
was conscious of the ambition and avarice which hesitated at no crime;
she beheld a religion more pagan than paganism itself, and a church
service in which the sacred actors,--with whose conduct behind the
scenes she was perfectly familiar,--were the priests, the cardinals, her
brother Cæsar, and her own father. All this Lucretia beheld, but they
are wrong who believe that she or others like her saw and regarded it as
we do now, or as a few pure-minded persons of that age did; for
familiarity always dulls the average person's perception of the truth.
In that age the conceptions of religion, of decency, and of morality
were entirely different from those of to-day. When the rupture between
the Middle Ages and its ascetic Church and the Renaissance was complete,
human passions threw off every restraint. All that had hitherto been
regarded as sacred was now derided. The freethinkers of Italy created a
literature never equaled for bold cynicism. From the _Hermaphroditus_ of
Beccadeli to the works of Berni and Pietro Aretino, a foul stream of
novelle, epigrams, and comedies, from which the serious Dante would have
turned his eyes in disgust, overflowed the land.

Even in the less sensual novelle, the first of which was Piccolomini's
_Euryalus_, and the less obscene comedies, adultery and derision of
marriage are the leading motives. The harlots were the Muses of
belles-lettres during the Renaissance. They boldly took their place by
the side of the saints of the Church, and contended with them for fame's
laurels. There is a manuscript collection of poems of the time of
Alexander VI which contains a series of epigrams beginning with a number
in praise of the Holy Virgin and the Saints, and then, without word or
warning, are several glorifying the famous cyprians of the day;
following a stanza on S. Pauline is an epigram on Meretricis Nichine, a
well-known courtesan of Siena, with several more of the same sort. The
saints of heaven and the priestesses of Venus are placed side by side,
without comment, as equally admirable women.[47]

No self-respecting woman would now attend the performance of a comedy of
the Renaissance, whose characters frequently represented the popes, the
princes, and the noble women of the day; and their presentation, even
before audiences composed entirely of men, would now be prohibited by
the censor of the theater in every land.

The naturalness with which women of the South even now discuss subjects
which people in the North are careful to conceal excites astonishment;
but what was tolerated by the taste or morals of the Renaissance is
absolutely incredible. We must remember, however, that this obscene
literature was by no means so diffused as novels are at the present
time, and also that Southern familiarity with whatever is natural also
served to protect women. Much was external, and was so treated that it
had no effect whatever upon the imagination. In the midst of the vices
of the society of the cities there were noble women who kept themselves

To form an idea of the morals of the great, and especially of the courts
of that day, we must read the history of the Visconti, the Sforza, the
Malatesta of Rimini, the Baglione of Perugia, and the Borgias of Rome.
They were not more immoral than the members of the courts of Louis XIV
and XV and of August of Saxony, but their murders rendered them more
terrible. Human life was held to be of little value, but criminal
egotism often was qualified by greatness of mind (magnanimitas), so that
a bloody deed prompted by avarice and ambition was often condoned.

Egotism and the selfish use of conditions and men for the profit of the
individual were never so universal as in the country of Macchiavelli,
where unfortunately they still are frequently in evidence. Free from the
pedantic opinions of the Germans and the reverence for condition, rank,
and birth which they have inherited from the Middle Ages, the Italians,
on the other hand, always recognized the force of personality--no matter
whether it was that of a bastard or not--but they, nevertheless, were
just as likely to become the slaves of the successful. Macchiavelli
maintains that the Church and the priests were responsible for the moral
ruin of the peninsula--but were not the Church and these priests
themselves products of Italy? He should have said that characteristics
which were inherent in the Germanic races were foreign to the Italians.
Luther could never have appeared among them.

While our opinion of Alexander VI and Cæsar is governed by ethical
considerations, this was not the case with Guicciardini, and less still
with Macchiavelli. They examined not the moral but the political man,
not his motives but his acts. The terrible was not terrible when it was
the deed of a strong will, nor was crime disgraceful when it excited
astonishment as a work of art. The terrible way in which Ferdinand of
Naples handled the conspiracy of the nobles of his kingdom made him, in
the eyes of Italy, not horrible but great; and Macchiavelli speaks of
the trick with which Cæsar Borgia outwitted his treacherous condottieri
at Sinigaglia as a "masterstroke," while the Bishop Paolo Giovio called
it "the most beautiful piece of deception." In that world of egotism
where there was no tribunal of public opinion, man could preserve
himself only by overpowering power and by outwitting cunning with
craft. While the French regarded, and still regard, "ridiculous" as the
worst of epithets, the Italian dreaded none more than that of

Macchiavelli, in a well-known passage in his _Discorsi_ (i. 27),
explains his theory with terrible frankness, and his words are the exact
keynote of the ethics of his age. He relates how Julius II ventured into
Perugia, although Giampolo Baglione had gathered a large number of
troops there, and how the latter, overawed by the Pope, surrendered the
city to him. His comment is verbatim as follows: "People of judgment who
were with the Pope wondered at his foolhardiness, and at Giampolo's
cowardice; they could not understand why the latter did not, to his
everlasting fame, crush his enemy with one blow and enrich himself with
the plunder, for the Pope was accompanied by all his cardinals with
their jewels. They could not believe that he refrained on account of any
goodness or any conscientious scruples, for the heart of a wicked man,
who committed incest with his sister, and destroyed his cousins and
nephews so he might rule, could not be accessible to any feelings of
respect. So they came to the conclusion that there are men who can
neither be honorably bad nor yet perfectly good, who do not know how to
go about committing a crime, great in itself or possessing a certain
splendor. This was the case with Giampolo; he who thought nothing of
incest and the murder of his kinsmen did not know how, or rather did not
dare, in spite of the propitious moment, to perform a deed which would
have caused every one to admire his courage, and would have won for him
an immortal name. For he would first have shown the priests how small
men are in reality who live and rule as they do, and he would have been
the first to accomplish a deed whose greatness would have dazzled every
one, and would have removed every danger which might have arisen from

Is it any wonder that in view of such a prostitution of morals to the
conception of success, fame, and magnificence, as Macchiavelli here and
in _Il Principe_ advocates, men like the Borgias found the widest field
for their bold crimes? They well knew that the greatness of a crime
concealed the shame of it. The celebrated poet Strozzi in Ferrara placed
Cæsar Borgia, after his fall, among the heroes of Olympus; and the
famous Bembo, one of the first men of the age, endeavors to console
Lucretia Borgia on the death of the "miserable little" Alexander VI,
whom he at the same time calls her "great" father.

No upright man, conscious of his own worth, would now enter the service
of a prince stained by such crimes as were the Borgias, if it were
possible for such a one now to exist, which is wholly unlikely. But then
the best and most upright of men sought, without any scruples whatever,
the presence and favors of the Borgias. Pinturicchio and Perugino
painted for Alexander VI, and the most wonderful genius of the century,
Leonardo da Vinci, did not hesitate to enter the service of Cæsar Borgia
as his engineer, to erect fortresses for him in the same Romagna which
he had appropriated by such devilish means.

The men of the Renaissance were in a high degree energetic and creative;
they shaped the world with a revolutionary energy and a feverish
activity, in comparison with which the modern processes of civilization
almost vanish. Their instincts were rougher and more powerful, and their
nerves stronger than those of the present race. It will always appear
strange that the tenderest blossoms of art, the most ideal creations of
the painter, put forth in the midst of a society whose moral
perversity and inward brutality are to us moderns altogether loathsome.
If we could take a man such as our civilization now produces and
transfer him into the Renaissance, the daily brutality which made no
impression whatever on the men of that age would shatter his nervous
system and probably upset his reason.


From an engraving by G. Marri.]

Lucretia Borgia lived in Rome surrounded by these passions, and she was
neither better nor worse than the women of her time. She was thoughtless
and was filled with the joy of living. We do not know that she ever went
through any moral struggles or whether she ever found herself in
conscious conflict with the actualities of her life and of her
environment. Her father maintained an elaborate household for her, and
she was in daily intercourse with her brothers' courts. She was their
companion and the ornament of their banquets; she was entrusted with the
secret of all the Vatican intrigues which had any connection with the
future of the Borgias, and all her vital interests were soon to be
concentrated there.

Never, even in the later years of her life, does she appear as a woman
of unusual genius; she had none of the characteristics of the _viragos_
Catarina Sforza and Ginevra Bentivoglio; nor did she possess the
deceitful soul of an Isotta da Rimini, or the spirituelle genius of
Isabella Gonzaga. If she had not been the daughter of Alexander VI and
the sister of Cæsar Borgia, she would have been unnoticed by the
historians of her age or, at most, would have been mentioned only as one
of the many charming women who constituted the society of Rome. In the
hands of her father and her brother, however, she became the tool and
also the victim of their political machinations, against which she had
not the strength to make any resistance.


[37] This information is given by Marino Sanuto, Venuta di Carlo VIII,
in Italia; original in the Paris library, also a copy in the Marciana.
He calls Giulia "favorita del Pontefice, di età giovane, et bellissima
savia accorda et mansueta."

[38] According to one of Brognolo's despatches (Mantuan archives) Giulia
and Adriana returned December 1st, on which date Pandolfo Collenuccio,
who was in Rome, wrote, "Una optima novella ce è per alcuno. Che Ma
Julia si è recuperata, et andò Messer Joan Marrades per Lei. Et è venuta
in Roma: e dicesi, che Domenica de nocte allogiò in Palazzo." Archives
of Modena.

[39] Despatch of Giacomo Trotti, Milan, December 21, 1494. Archives of

[40] Che li pareva ogni hora vedere messer Bartolomeo da Calche venire a
Sua Eccia cum una staffetta, chel papa fosse preso, e li fosse
taliata la testa.

[41] Trotti to the Duke of Ferrara, Milan, December 24, 1494.

[42] This is the date given by Marino Sanuto in his Ms. History of the
Invasion of Charles VIII, fol. 470.

[43] These dates are from the Diary of Marino Sanuto, vol. i. fol. 55,
58, 85.

[44] Il di de S. Laurentio il Duca de Gandia figliuolo del Papa, intrò
in Roma accompagnato dal Card. de Valentia, et tutta la corte con
grandissima pompa. Despatch of Ludovico Carissimi to the Duke of
Ferrara, Rome, August 15, 1496. Archives of Modena.

[45] Boccaccio to Ercole, March 24, 1495.

[46] The report is given in Diar. Marino Sanuto, vol. i, 258, and is
reprinted in part in the Civiltà Cattolica, March 15, 1873, p. 727. The
entire passage is as follows: Da Roma per le lettere del orator nostro
se intese et etiam de private persone cossa assai abominevole in la
chiesa di Dio che al papa erra nato un fiolo di una dona romana maridata
ch'el padre l'havea rufianata e di questa il marito invitò il suocero
ala vigna el lo uccise tagliandoli el capo ponendo quello sopra uno
legno con letere che dicera questo e il capo de mio suocero che a
rufianato sua fiola al papa et che inteso questo il papa fece metter el
dito in exilio di Roma con Taglia. Questa nova vene per letere
particular etiam si godea con la sua spagnola menatali di spagna per suo
fiol duca di Gandia novamente li venuto.

[47] Epitaphia clarissimarum mulierum que virtute: arte: aut aliqua nota
claruerunt. Codex Hartmann Schedel in the State Library of Munich.



After the surrender of the remnant of the French forces in the fall of
1496, Giovanni Sforza returned from Naples. There is no doubt that he
went to Rome for the purpose of taking Lucretia home with him to Pesaro,
where we find him about the close of the year, and where he spent the
winter. The chroniclers of Pesaro, however, state that he left the city
in disguise, January 15, 1497, and that Lucretia followed him a few days
later for the purpose of going to Rome.[48] Both were present at the
Easter festivities in the papal city.

Sforza was now a worn-out plaything which Alexander was preparing to
cast away, for his daughter's marriage to the tyrant of Pesaro promised
him nothing more, the house of Sforza having lost all its influence;
moreover, the times were propitious for establishing connections which
would be of greater advantage to the Borgias. The Pope was unwilling to
give his son-in-law a command in the war against the Orsini, which he
had begun immediately after the return of his son Don Giovanni from
Spain, for whom he wanted to confiscate the property of these mighty
lords. He secured the services of Duke Guidobaldo of Urbino, who
likewise had served in the allied armies of Naples, and whom the
Venetians released in order that he might assume supreme command of the
papal troops.

This noble man was the last of the house of Montefeltre, and the Borgias
already had their eyes on his possessions. His sister Giovanna was
married in 1478 to the municipal prefect, Giovanni della Rovere, a
brother of Cardinal Giuliano, and in 1490 she bore him a daughter,
Francesca Maria, a child who was looked upon as heir of Urbino.
Guidobaldo did not disdain to serve as a condottiere for pay and in the
hope of winning honors; he was also a vassal of the Church. Fear of the
Borgias led him to seek their friendship although he hated them.

In the war against the Orsini the young Duke of Gandia was next in
command under Guidobaldo, and Alexander made him the standard-bearer of
the Church and Rector of Viterbo, and of the entire Patrimonium after he
had removed Alessandro Farnese from that position. This appears to have
been due to a dislike he felt for Giulia's brother. September 17, 1496,
the Mantuan agent in Rome, John Carolus, wrote to the Marchioness
Gonzaga: "Cardinal Farnese is shut up in his residence in the
Patrimonium, and will lose it unless he is saved by the prompt return of

The same ambassador reported to his sovereign as follows: "Although
every effort is made to conceal the fact that these sons of the Pope are
consumed with envy of each other, the life of the Cardinal of S. Giorgio
(Rafael Riario) is in danger; should he die, Cæsar would be given the
office of chancellor and the palace of the dead Cardinal of Mantua,
which is the most beautiful in Rome, and also his most lucrative
benefices. Your Excellency may guess how this plot will terminate."[49]

The war against the Orsini ended with the ignominious defeat of the
papal forces at Soriano, January 23, 1497, whence Don Giovanni, wounded,
fled to Rome, and where Guidobaldo was taken prisoner. The victors
immediately forced a peace on most advantageous terms.

Not until the conclusion of the war did Lucretia's husband return to
Rome. We shall see him again there, for the last time, at the Easter
festivities of 1497, when, as Alexander's son-in-law, he assumed his
official place during the celebration in S. Peter's, and, standing near
Cæsar and Gandia, received the Easter palm from the Pope's hand. His
position in the Vatican had, however, become untenable; Alexander was
anxious to dissolve his marriage with Lucretia. Sforza was asked to give
her up of his own free will, and, when he refused, was threatened with
extreme measures.

Flight alone saved him from the dagger or poison of his brothers-in-law.
According to statements of the chroniclers of Pesaro, it was Lucretia
herself who helped her husband to flee and thus caused the suspicion
that she was also a participant in the conspiracy. It is related that,
one evening when Jacomino, Lord Giovanni's chamberlain, was in Madonna's
room, her brother Cæsar entered, and on her command the chamberlain
concealed himself behind a screen. Cæsar talked freely with his sister,
and among other things said that the order had been given to kill
Sforza. When he had departed, Lucretia said to Jacomino: "Did you hear
what was said? Go and tell him." This the chamberlain immediately did,
and Giovanni Sforza threw himself on a Turkish horse and rode in
twenty-four hours to Pesaro, where the beast dropped dead.[50]

According to letters of the Venetian envoy in Rome, Sforza fled in
March, in Holy Week. Under some pretext he went to the Church of S.
Onofrio, where he found the horse waiting for him.[51]

The request for the divorce was probably not made by Lucretia, but by
her father and brothers, who wished her to be free to enter into a
marriage which would advance their plans. We are ignorant of what was
now taking place in the Vatican, and we do not know that Lucretia made
any resistance; but if she did, it certainly was not of long duration,
for she does not appear to have loved her husband. Pesaro's escape did
not please the Borgias. They would have preferred to have silenced this
man forever; but now that he had gotten away and raised an objection, it
would be necessary to dissolve the marriage by process of law, which
would cause a great scandal.

Shortly after Sforza's flight a terrible tragedy occurred in the house
of Borgia--the mysterious murder of the Duke of Gandia. On the failure
of Alexander's scheme to confiscate the estates of the Orsini and bestow
them on his dearly beloved son, he thought to provide for him in another
manner. He made him Duke of Benevento, thereby hoping to prepare the way
for him to reach the throne of Naples. A few days later, June 14th,
Vannozza invited him and Cæsar, together with a few of their kinsmen, to
a supper in her vineyard near S. Pietro in Vinculo. Don Giovanni,
returning from this family feast, disappeared in the night, without
leaving a trace, and three days later the body of the murdered man was
found in the Tiber.

According to the general opinion of the day, which in all probability
was correct, Cæsar was the murderer of his brother. From the moment
Alexander VI knew this crime had been committed, and assumed
responsibility for its motives and consequences, and pardoned the
murderer, he became morally accessory after the fact, and fell himself
under the power of his terrible son. From that time on, every act of his
was intended to further Cæsar's fiendish ambition.

None of the records of the day say that Don Giovanni's consort was in
Rome when this tragedy occurred. We are therefore forced to assume that
she was not there when her husband was murdered. It is much more likely
that she had not left Spain, and that she was living with her two little
children in Gandia or Valencia, where she received the dreadful news in
a letter written by Alexander to his sister Doña Beatrice Boria y
Arenos. This is rendered probable by the court records of Valencia.
September 27, 1497, Doña Maria Enriquez appeared before the tribunal of
the governor of the kingdom of Valencia, Don Luis de Cabaineles, and
claimed the estate, including the duchy of Gandia and the Neapolitan
fiefs of Suessa, Teano, Carinola, and Montefoscolo, for Don Giovanni's
eldest son, a child of three years. The duke's death was proved by legal
documents, among which was this letter written by Alexander, and the
tribunal accordingly recognized Gandia's son as his legal heir.[52]

Doña Maria also claimed her husband's personal property in his house in
Rome, which was valued at thirty thousand ducats, and which on the death
of Don Giovanni, had been transferred by Alexander VI, to the
fratricide Cæsar to administer for his nephew, as appears from an
official document of the Roman notary Beneimbene, dated December 19,

At this time Lucretia was not in her palace in the Vatican. June 4th she
had gone to the convent of S. Sisto on the Appian Way, thereby causing a
great sensation in Rome. Her flight doubtless was in some way connected
with the forced annulment of her marriage. While her father himself may
not have banished her to S. Sisto, she, probably excited by Pesaro's
departure, and perhaps angry with the Pope, had doubtless sought this
place as an asylum. That she was angry with him is shown by a letter
written by Donato Aretino from Rome, June 19th, to Cardinal Ippolito
d'Este: "Madonna Lucretia has left the palace _insalutato hospite_ and
gone to a convent known as that of S. Sisto; where she now is. Some say
she will turn nun, while others make different statements which I can
not entrust to a letter."[53]

We know not what prayers and what confessions Lucretia made at the
altar, but this was one of the most momentous periods of her life. While
in the convent she learned of the terrible death of one of her brothers,
and shuddered at the crime of the other. For she, like her father and
all the Borgias, firmly believed that Cæsar was a fratricide. She
clearly discerned the marks of his inordinate ambition; she knew that he
was planning to lay aside the cardinal's robe and become a secular
prince; she must have known too that they were scheming in the Vatican
to make Don Giuffrè a cardinal in Cæsar's place and to marry the latter
to the former's wife, Donna Sancia, with whom, it was generally known,
he was on most intimate terms.

Alexander commanded Giuffrè and his young wife to leave Rome and take up
their abode in his princely seat in Squillace, and he set out on August
7th for that place. It is stated the Pope did not want his children and
nepots about him any longer, and that he also wished to banish his
daughter Lucretia to Valencia.[54]

In the meantime, in July, Cæsar had gone to Capua as papal legate, where
he crowned Don Federico, the last of the Aragonese, as King of Naples.
September 4th he returned to Rome.

Alexander had appointed a commission under the direction of two
cardinals for the purpose of divorcing Lucretia from Giovanni Sforza.
These judges showed that Sforza had never consummated the marriage, and
that his spouse was still a virgin, which, according to her contemporary
Matarazzo of Perugia, set all Italy to laughing. Lucretia herself stated
she was willing to swear to this.

During these proceedings her spouse was in Pesaro. Thence he
subsequently went in disguise to Milan to ask the protection of Duke
Ludovico and to get him to use his influence to have his wife, who had
been taken away, restored to him. This was in June. He protested against
the decision which had been pronounced in Rome, and which had been
purchased, and Ludovico il Moro made the naive suggestion that he
subject himself to a test of his capacity in the presence of trustworthy
witnesses, and of the papal legate in Milan, which, however, Sforza
declined to do.[55] Ludovico and his brother Ascanio finally induced
their kinsman to yield, and Sforza, intimidated, declared in writing
that he had never consummated his marriage with Lucretia.[56]

The formal divorce, therefore, took place December 20, 1497, and Sforza
surrendered his wife's dowry of thirty-one thousand ducats.

Although we may assume that Alexander compelled his daughter to consent
to this separation, it does not render our opinion of Lucretia's part in
the scandalous proceedings any less severe; she shows herself to have
had as little will as she had character, and she also perjured herself.
Her punishment was not long delayed, for the divorce proceedings made
her notorious and started terrible rumors regarding her private life.
These reports began to circulate at the time of the murder of Gandia and
of her divorce from Sforza; the cause of both these events was stated to
have been an unmentionable crime. According to a reliable witness of the
day it was the lord of Pesaro himself, injured and exasperated, who
first--and to the Duke of Milan--had openly uttered the suspicion which
was being whispered about Rome. By permitting himself to do this, he
showed that he had never loved Lucretia.[57]

Alexander had dissolved his daughter's marriage for political reasons.
It was his purpose to marry Lucretia and Cæsar into the royal house of
Naples. This dynasty had reestablished itself there after the expulsion
of the French, but its position had been so profoundly shaken that its
fall was imminent; and it was this very fact that made Alexander hope to
be able to place his son Cæsar on the throne of Naples. The most
terrible of the Borgias now appropriated the place left vacant by the
Duke of Gandia, to which he had long aspired, and only for the sake of
appearances did he postpone casting aside the cardinal's robe. The Pope,
however, was already scheming for his son's marriage; for him he asked
King Federico for the hand of his daughter Carlotta, who had been
educated at the court of France as a princess of the house of Savoy. The
king, an upright man, firmly refused, and the young princess in horror
rejected the Pope's insulting offer. Federico, in his anxiety, made one
sacrifice to the monster in the Vatican; he consented to the betrothal
of Don Alfonso, Prince of Salerno, younger brother of Donna Sancia and
natural son of Alfonso II, to Lucretia. Alexander desired this marriage
for no other reason than for the purpose of finally inducing the king to
agree to the marriage of his daughter and Cæsar.

Even before Lucretia's new betrothal was settled upon it was rumored in
Rome that her former affianced, Don Gasparo, was again pressing his suit
and that there was a prospect of his being accepted. Although the young
Spaniard failed to accomplish his purpose, Alexander now recognized the
fact that Lucretia's betrothal to him had been dissolved illegally.

In a brief dated June 10, 1498, he speaks of the way his daughter was
treated--without special dispensation for breaking the engagement, in
order that she might marry Giovanni of Pesaro, which was a great
mistake--as illegal. He says in the same letter that Gasparo of Procida,
Count of Almenara, had subsequently married and had children, but not
until 1498 did Lucretia petition to have her betrothal to him formally
declared null and void. The Pope, therefore, absolved her of the perjury
she had committed by marrying Giovanni Sforza in spite of her engagement
to Don Gasparo, and while he now, for the first time, declared her
formal betrothal to the Count of Procida to have been dissolved, he gave
her permission to marry any man whom she might select.[58] Thus did a
pope play fast and loose with one of the holiest of the sacraments of
the Church.

When Lucretia had in this way been protected against the demands of all
pretenders to her hand, she was free to enter into a new alliance, which
she did June 20, 1498, in the Vatican. If we were not familiar with the
character of the public men of that age we should be surprised to learn
that King Federico's proxy on this occasion was none other than Cardinal
Ascanio Sforza, who had been instrumental in bringing about the marriage
of his nephew and Lucretia, and who had consented in Sforza's name to
the disgraceful divorce. Thus were he and his brother Ludovico
determined to retain the friendship of the Borgias at any price.

Lucretia received a dowry of forty thousand ducats, and the King of
Naples bound himself to make over the cities of Quadrata and Biselli to
his nephew for his dukedom.[59]

The young Alfonso accordingly came to Rome in July to become the husband
of a woman whom he must have regarded at least as unscrupulous and
utterly fickle. He doubtless looked upon himself as a sacrifice
presented by his father at the altar of Rome. Quietly and sorrowfully,
welcomed by no festivities, almost secretly, came this unhappy youth to
the papal city. He went at once to his betrothed in the palace of S.
Maria in Portico. In the Vatican, July 21st, the marriage was blessed by
the Church. Among the witnesses to the transaction were the Cardinals
Ascanio, Juan Lopez, and Giovanni Borgia. In obedience to an old custom
a naked sword was held over the pair by a knight, a ceremony which in
this instance was performed by Giovanni Cervillon, captain of the papal


[48] Lod. Zacconi, Hist. di Pesaro, Ms. in the Bibl. Oliveriana; also
Pietro Marzetti.

[49] Letters in the Gonzaga archives in Mantua.

[50] Battista Almerici I, and Pietro Marzetti, Memorie di Pesaro, Ms. in
the Oliveriana. These chronicles are often confusing as to dates and
full of mistakes.

[51] Marino Sanuto, Diar. vol. i, 410. March, 1497.

[52] This document is given in part by Amati in Strozzi's Periodico di
Numismatica, Anno III, part ii, p. 73. Florence, 1870.

[53] In the archives of Modena. Letters of Donato Aretino from Rome.

[54] Letter of Ludovico Carissimi, Rome, August 8, 1497. Archives of

[55] Et mancho se è curato de fare prova de se qua con Done per poterne
chiarire el Rmo. Legato che era qua, sebbene S. Extia tastandolo sopra
ciò gli ne habia facto offerta. Despatch from the Ferrarese ambassador
in Milan, Antonio Costabili, to Duke Ercole, Milan, June 23, 1497.
Archives of Modena.

[56] Concerning this, Pandolfo Collenuccio, a member of Cardinal
Ippolito's suite in Rome, wrote to the Duke of Ferrara, December 25,
1498 (1497), as follows: El S. de Pesaro ha scripto qua de sua mano: non
haverla mai cognosciuta ... et esser impotente, alias la sententia non
se potea dare.... El prefato S. dice però haver scripto così per obedire
el Duca de Milano et Aschanio. The autographic letter is in the archives
of Modena.

[57] In the same despatch from Milan, June 23, 1497, the Ferrarese
Ambassador Costabili stated that Sforza had said to the Duke Ludovico:
Anzi haverla conosciuta infinite volte, ma chel Papa non gelha tolta per
altro se non per usare con Lei. Extendendose molto a carico di S.

[58] The original of this letter is in the archives of Modena.

[59] Bisceglie, formerly pronounced and written Biseglia or Biselli.
Quadrata is now Corato, near Andria.



Lucretia, now Duchess of Biselli, had been living since July, 1498, with
a new husband, a youth of seventeen, she herself having just completed
her eighteenth year. She and her consort did not go to Naples, but
remained in Rome; for, as the Mantuan agent reported to his master, it
was expressly agreed that Don Alfonso should live in Rome a year, and
that Lucretia should not be required to take up her abode in the kingdom
of Naples during her father's lifetime.[60]

The youthful Alfonso was fair and amiable. Talini, a Roman chronicler of
that day, pronounced him the handsomest young man ever seen in the
Imperial City. According to a statement made by the Mantuan agent in
August, Lucretia was really fond of him. A sudden change in affairs,
however, deprived her of the calm joys of domestic life.

The moving principle in the Vatican was the measureless ambition of
Cæsar, who was consuming with impatience to become a ruling sovereign.
August 13, 1498, he flung aside the cardinal's robes and prepared to set
out for France; Louis XII, who in April had succeeded Charles VIII,
having promised him the title of Duke of Valentinois and the hand of a
French princess. Alexander provided for his son's retinue with regal

It happened one day that a train of mules laden with silks and cloth of
gold on the way to Cæsar in Rome was plundered by the people of Cardinal
Farnese and of his cousin Pier Paolo in the forest of Bolsena, whereupon
the Pope addressed some vigorous communications to the cardinal, in
whose territory, he stated, the robbery had been committed.[61]

In the service of the Farnese were numerous Corsicans, some as
mercenaries and bullies, some as field laborers, and these people, who
were universally feared, probably were the guilty ones, for it is
difficult to believe that Cardinal Alessandro would have undertaken such
a venture on his own account. It seems, however, that the relations of
the Borgias and the Farnese were somewhat strained during this period.
The cardinal spent most of his time on his family estates, and at this
juncture little was heard of his sister Giulia. It is not even known
whether or not she was living in Rome and continuing her relations with
the Pope, although, from subsequent revelations, it appears that she
was. April 2, 1499, we find the cardinal and his sister again in Rome,
where a nuptial contract was concluded in the Farnese palace between
Laura Orsini, Giulia's seven-year-old daughter, and Federico Farnese,
the twelve-year-old son of the deceased condottiere Raimondo Farnese, a
nephew of Pier Paolo. Laura's putative father, Orsino Orsini, was
present at the ceremony.[62]

It was probably Adriana and Giulia who were endeavoring to bring about a
reconciliation between the house of Orsini and the Borgias. In the
spring of 1498 these barons, having issued victorious from their war
with the Pope, began a bitter contest with their hereditary foes, the
Colonna, which, however, ended in their own defeat. These houses made
peace with each other in July, a fact which caused Alexander no little
anxiety, for upon the hostility of these, the two mightiest families of
Rome, depended the Pope's dominion over the city; his greatest danger
lay in their mutual friendship. He therefore endeavored again to set
them at loggerheads, and he succeeded in attaching the Orsini to
himself,--which they subsequently had reason to regret. He accomplished
his purpose so well that they intermarried with the Borgias; Paolo
Orsini, Giambattista's brother, uniting his son Fabio with Girolama, a
sister of Cardinal Giovanni Borgia the younger, September 8, 1498. The
marriage contract was concluded in the presence of the Pope and a
brilliant gathering in the Vatican, and one of the official witnesses
was Don Alfonso of Biselli, who held the sword over the young

Shortly afterwards, October first, Cæsar Borgia set sail for France,
where he was made Duke of Valentinois, and where, in May, 1499, he
married Charlotte d'Albret, sister of the King of Navarre. At this court
he met two men who were destined later to exercise great influence upon
his career--George of Amboise, Archbishop of Rouen, to whom he had
brought the cardinal's hat, and Giuliano della Rovere. The latter,
hitherto Alexander's bitterest enemy, now suffered himself, by the
intermediation of the King of France, to be won over to the cause of the
Borgias; he permitted himself even to become Cæsar's stepping-stone to

The reconciliation was sealed by a marriage between the two families;
the city prefect, Giovanni della Rovere, Giuliano's brother, betrothing
his eighteen-year-old son Francesco Maria to Angela Borgia, September 2,

Angela's father, Giuffrè, was a son of Giovanni, sister of Alexander VI,
and of Guglielmo Lanzol. Giovanni Borgia the younger, Cardinal Ludovico,
and Rodrigo, captain of the papal guard, were her brothers. Her sister
Girolama, as above stated, was married to Fabio Orsini. The ceremony of
Angela's betrothal took place in the Vatican in the presence of the
ambassador of France.

For the purpose of driving Ludovico il Moro from Milan, Louis XII had
concluded an alliance with Venice, which the Pope also joined on the
condition that France would help his son to acquire Romagna.

Ascanio Sforza, who was unable to prevent the loss of Milan, and who
knew that his own life was in danger in Rome, fled July 13, 1499, to
Genazzano and subsequently to Genoa.

His example was followed by Lucretia's youthful consort. We do not know
what occurred in the Vatican to cause Don Alfonso quietly to leave Rome,
where he had spent but a single year with Lucretia. We can only say that
his decision must have been brought about by some turn which the Pope's
politics had taken. The object of the expedition of Louis XII was not
only the overthrow of the Sforza dynasty in Milan, but also the seizure
of Naples; it was intended to be a sequel to the attempt of Charles
VIII, which was defeated by the great League. The young prince was aware
of the Pope's intention to destroy his uncle Federico, who had deeply
offended him by refusing to grant Cæsar the hand of his daughter
Carlotta. After this occurrence the relations of Lucretia's husband with
the Pope had altogether changed.

Ascanio was the only friend the unfortunate prince had in Rome, and it
was probably he who advised him to save himself from certain death by
flight, as Lucretia's other husband had done. Alfonso slipped away
August 2, 1499. The Pope sent some troopers after him, but they failed
to catch him. It is uncertain whether Lucretia knew of his intended
flight. A letter written in Rome by a Venetian, August 4th, merely says:
"The Duke of Biseglia, Madonna Lucretia's husband, has secretly fled and
gone to the Colonna in Genazzano; he deserted his wife, who has been
with child for six months, and she is constantly in tears."[64]

She was in the power of her father, who, highly incensed by the prince's
flight, banished Alfonso's sister Donna Sancia to Naples.

Lucretia's position, owing to these circumstances, became exceedingly
trying. Her tears show that she possessed a heart. She loved, and
perhaps for the first time. Alfonso wrote her from Genazzano, urgently
imploring her to follow him, and his letters fell into the hands of the
Pope, who compelled her to write her husband and ask him to return. It
was doubtless his daughter's complaining that induced Alexander to send
her away from Rome. August 8th he made her Regent of Spoleto. Hitherto
papal legates, usually cardinals, had governed this city and the
surrounding territory; but now the Pope entrusted its administration to
a young woman of nineteen, his own daughter, and thither she repaired.

He gave her a letter to the priors of Spoleto which was as follows:

     DEAR SONS: Greeting and the Apostolic Blessing! We have
     entrusted to our beloved daughter in Christ, the noble lady,
     Lucretia de Borgia, Duchess of Biseglia, the office of keeper of
     the castle, as well as the government of our cities of Spoleto and
     Foligno, and of the county and district about them. Having perfect
     confidence in the intelligence, the fidelity, and probity of the
     Duchess, which We have dwelt upon in previous letters, and likewise
     in your unfailing obedience to Us and to the Holy See, We trust
     that you will receive the Duchess Lucretia, as is your duty, with
     all due honor as your regent, and show her submission in all
     things. As We wish her to be received and accepted by you with
     special honor and respect, so do We command you in this epistle--as
     you value Our favor and wish to avoid Our displeasure--to obey the
     Duchess Lucretia, your regent, in all things collectively and
     severally, in so far as law and custom dictate in the government of
     the city, and whatever she may think proper to exact of you, even
     as you would obey Ourselves, and to execute her commands with all
     diligence and promptness, so that your devotion may receive due
     approbation. Given in Rome, in St. Peter's, under the papal seal,
     August 8, 1499.

     HADRIANUS (Secretary).[65]

Lucretia left Rome for her new home the same day. She set out with a
large retinue, and accompanied by her brother Don Giuffrè; Fabio Orsini,
now the consort of Girolama Borgia, her kinswoman; and a company of
archers. She left the Vatican mounted on horseback, the governor of the
city, the Neapolitan ambassador, and a number of other gentlemen forming
an escort to act as a guard of honor, while her father took a position
in a loggia over the portal of the palace of the Vatican to watch his
departing daughter and her cavalcade. For the first time he found
himself in Rome deprived of all his children.

Lucretia made the journey partly on horseback and partly in a litter,
and the trip from Rome to Spoleto required not less than six days. At
Porcaria, in Umbria, she found a deputation of citizens of Spoleto
waiting to greet her, and to accompany her to the city, which had been
famous since the time of Hannibal, and which had been the seat of the
mighty Lombard dukes. The castle of Spoleto is very ancient, its
earliest portions dating from the Dukes Faroald and Grimoald. In the
fourteenth century it was restored by the great Gil d'Albornoz, the
contemporary of Cola di Rienzi, and it was completed shortly afterwards
by Nicholas V. It is a magnificent piece of Renaissance architecture,
overlooking the old city and the deep ravine which separates it from
Monte Luco. From its high windows one may look out over the valley of
the Clitunno and that of the Tiber, the fertile Umbrian plain, and, on
the east, to the Apennines.

August 15th Lucretia Borgia received the priors of the city, to whom she
presented her papal appointment, whereupon they swore allegiance to her.
Later the commune gave a banquet in her honor.

Lucretia's stay in Spoleto was short. Her regency there was merely
intended to signify the actual taking possession of the territory which
Alexander desired to bestow upon his daughter.

In the meantime her husband Alfonso had decided, unfortunately for
himself, to obey Alexander's command and return to his wife--perhaps
because he really loved her. The Pope ordered him to go to Spoleto by
way of Foligno, and then to come with his spouse to Nepi, where he
himself intended to be. The purpose of this meeting was to establish his
daughter as sovereign there also.

Nepi had never been a baronial fief, although the prefects of Vico and
the Orsini had held the place at different times. The Church through its
deputies governed the town and surrounding country. When Alexander was a
cardinal his uncle Calixtus had made him governor of the city, and such
he remained until he was raised to the papal throne, when he conferred
Nepi upon Cardinal Ascanio Sforza. The neatly written parchment
containing the municipal statute confirming Ascanio's appointment, which
is dated January 1, 1495, is still preserved in the archives of the
city. At the beginning of the year 1499, however, Alexander again
assumed control of Nepi by compelling the castellan, who commanded the
fortress for the truant Ascanio, to surrender it to him. He now invested
his daughter with the castle, the city, and the domain of Nepi.[66]
September 4, 1499, Francesco Borgia, the Pope's treasurer, who was also
Bishop of Teano, took possession of the city in her name.

September 25th Alexander himself, accompanied by four cardinals, went to
Nepi. In the castle, which he had restored, he met Lucretia and her
husband, and also her brother Don Giuffrè. He returned to Rome almost
immediately--October 1st. On the tenth he addressed a brief from there
to the city of Nepi, in which he commanded the municipality thenceforth
to obey Lucretia, Duchess of Biselli, as their true sovereign. On the
twelfth he sent his daughter a communication in which he empowered her
to remit certain taxes to which the citizens of Nepi had hitherto been

Lucretia, therefore, had become the mistress of two large domains--a
fact which clearly shows that she stood in high favor with her father.
She did not again return to Spoleto, but entrusted its government to a
lieutenant. Although Alexander made Cardinal Gurk legate for Perugia
and Todi early in October, he reserved Spoleto for his daughter. Later,
August 10, 1500, he made Ludovico Borgia--who was Archbishop of
Valencia--governor of this city, without, however, impairing his
daughter's rights to the large revenue which the territory yielded.

As early as October 14th Lucretia returned to Rome. November 1, 1499,
she gave birth to a son, who was named, in honor of the Pope, Rodrigo.
Her firstborn was baptized with great pomp November 11th in the Sistine
Chapel--not the chapel now known by that name, but the one which Sixtus
IV had built in S. Peter's. Giovanni Cervillon held the child in his
arms, and near by were the Governor of Rome and a representative of the
Emperor Maximilian. All the cardinals, the ambassadors of England,
Venice, Naples, Savoy, Siena, and the Republic of Florence were present
at the ceremony. The governor of the city held the child over the font.
The godfathers were Podocatharo, Bishop of Caputaqua, and Ferrari,
Bishop of Modena.

In the meantime, October 6th, Louis XII had taken possession of Milan,
Ludovico Sforza having fled, on the approach of the French forces, to
the Emperor Maximilian. In accordance with his agreement with Alexander,
the king now lent troops to Cæsar Borgia to enable him to seize the
Romagna, where it was proclaimed that the vassals of the Church, the
Malatesta of Rimini, the Sforza of Pesaro, the Riario of Imola and
Forli, the Varano of Camerino, and the Manfredi of Faenza had forfeited
their fiefs to the Pope.

Cæsar went to Rome, November 18, 1499. He stayed in the Vatican three
days and then set forth again to join his army, which was besieging
Imola. It was his intention first to take this city and then attack
Forli, in the castle of which the mistress of the two cities, Catarina
Sforza, had established herself for the purpose of resisting him.

While he was engaged in his campaigns in Romagna, his father was
endeavoring to seize the hereditary possessions of the Roman barons. He
first attacked the Gaetani. From the end of the thirteenth century this
ancient family had held large landed estates in the Campagna and
Maritima. It had divided into several branches, one of which was settled
in the vicinity of Naples. There the Gaetani were Dukes of Traetto,
Counts of Fundi and Caserta, and likewise vassals and favorites of the
crown of Naples.

Sermoneta, the center of the domain of the Gaetani family in the Roman
Campagna, was an ancient city with a feudal castle, situated in the
foothills of the Volscian mountains. Above it and to one side were the
ruins of the great castle of Norba; below were the beautiful remains of
Nymsa; while at its foot, extending to the sea, lay the Pontine marshes.
The greater part of this territory, which was traversed by the Appian
Way, including the Cape of Circello, was the property of the Gaetani, to
whom it still belongs.

At the time of which we are speaking it was ruled by the sons of
Honoratus II, a powerful personality, who had raised his house from
ruin. He died in the year 1490, leaving a widow, Catarina Orsini, and
three sons--Nicola the prothonotary; Giacomo, and Guglielmo. His
daughter Giovanella was the wife of Pierluigi Farnese and mother of
Giulia. Nicola, who had married Eleonora Orsini, died in the year 1494;
consequently, next to the prothonotary Giacomo, Guglielmo Gaetani was
head of the house of Sermoneta.

Alexander lured the prothonotary to Rome and, having confined him in
the castle of S. Angelo, began a process against him. Guglielmo
succeeded in escaping to Mantua, but Nicola's little son Bernardino was
murdered by the Borgia hirelings. Sermoneta was besieged, and its
inhabitants surrendered without resistance.

As early as March 9, 1499, Alexander compelled the apostolic chamber to
sell his daughter the possessions of the Gaetani for eighty thousand
ducats. He stated in a document, which was signed by eighteen cardinals,
that the magnitude of the expenditures which he had recently made in the
interests of the Holy See compelled him to increase the Church property;
and for this purpose there were Sermoneta, Bassiano, Ninfa and Norma,
Tivera, Cisterna, San Felice (the Cape of Circello), and San Donato,
which, owing to the rebellion of the Gaetani, might be confiscated. This
transaction was concluded in February, 1500, and Lucretia, who was
already mistress of Spoleto and Nepi, thus became ruler of
Sermoneta.[68] In vain did the unfortunate Giacomo Gaetani protest from
his prison; July 5, 1500, he was poisoned. His mother and sisters buried
him in S. Bartolomeo, which stands on an island in the Tiber, where the
Gaetani had owned a palace for a great many years.

Giulia Farnese, therefore, was unable to save her own uncle. She was
reminded that Giacomo and Nicola had stood beside her when she was
married to the youthful Orsini in 1489 in the Borgia palace. We do not
know whether Giulia was living in Rome at this time. We occasionally
find her name in the epigrams of the day, and it appears in a satire,
_Dialogue between Death and the Pope, sick of a Fever_, in which he
called upon Giulia to save him, whereupon Death replied that his
mistress had borne him three or four children. As the satire was written
in the summer of 1500, when Alexander was suffering from the fever, it
is probable that his relations with Giulia still continued.

Cæsar, who had taken Imola, December 1, 1499, was far from pleased when
he saw the great estates of the Gaetani, whose revenues he himself could
use to good advantage, bestowed upon his sister; and, as he himself
wished absolutely to control the will of his father, her growing
influence in the Vatican caused him no little annoyance. He had sinister
plans for whose execution the time was soon to prove propitious.


[60] Despatch of Joh. Lucidus Cataneus, Rome, August 8, 1498. Gonzaga

[61] The briefs are in the state archives of Venice.

[62] The instrument is in Beneimbene's protocol-book.

[63] The instrument is in Beneimbene's protocol-book.

[64] Diary of Marino Saruto, ii, 751.

[65] This brief is in the state archives of Spoleto.

[66] The Bull of Investiture, written on parchment, is dated Rome, 1499,
Non. (the month is not given). It is an absolute _donum_. The document
is now in the archives of Modena.

[67] Both briefs are preserved in the archives of the State-house of

[68] The documents concerning this sale, dated February 11 to 15, 1500,
are preserved in the archives of Modena.



Lucretia certainly must have been pleased by her brother's long absence;
the Vatican was less turbulent. Besides herself only Don Giuffrè and
Donna Sancia, who had effected her return, maintained a court there.

We might avail ourselves of this period of quiet to depict Lucretia's
private life, her court, and the people about her; but it is impossible
to do this, none of her contemporaries having left any description of
it. Even Burchard shows us Lucretia but rarely, and when he does it is
always in connection with affairs in the Vatican. Only once does he give
us a fleeting view of her palace--on February 27, 1496--when Giovanni
Borgia, Juan de Castro, and the recently created Cardinal Martinus of
Segovia were calling upon her.

None of the foreign diplomatists of that time, so far as we may learn
from their despatches, made any reports regarding Lucretia's private
life. We have only a few letters written by her during her residence in
Rome, and there is not a single poem dedicated to her or which mentions
her; therefore it is due to the malicious epigrams of Sannazzaro and
Pontanus that she has been branded as the most depraved of courtesans.
If there ever was a young woman, however, likely to excite the
imagination of the poet, Lucretia Borgia in the bloom of her youth and
beauty was that woman. Her connection with the Vatican, the mystery
which surrounded her, and the fate she suffered, make her one of the
most fascinating women of her age. Doubtless there are buried in various
libraries numerous verses dedicated to her by the Roman poets who must
have swarmed at the court of the Pope's daughter to render homage to her
beauty and to seek her patronage.

In Rome, Lucretia had an opportunity to enjoy, if she were so disposed,
the society of many brilliant men, for even during the sovereignty of
the Borgias the Muses were banished neither from the Vatican nor from
Rome. It can not be denied, however, that the daughters of princely
houses were allowed to devote themselves to the cultivation of the
intellect more freely at the secular courts of Italy than they were at
the papal court. Not until Lucretia went to Ferrara to live was she able
to endeavor to emulate the example of the princesses of Mantua and
Urbino. While living in Rome she was too young and her environment too
narrow for her to have had any influence upon the literary and æsthetic
circles of that city, although, owing to her position, she must have
been acquainted with them.

Her father was not incapable of intellectual pleasures; he had his court
minstrels and poets. The famous Aurelio Brandolini, who died in 1497,
was wont to improvise to the strains of the lute during banquets in the
Vatican and in Lucretia's palace. Cæsar's favorite, Serafino of Aquila,
the Petrarch of his age, who died in Rome in the year 1500, still a
young man, aspired to the same honor.

Cæsar himself was interested in poetry and the arts, just as were all
the cultivated men and tyrants of the Renaissance. His court poet was
Francesco Sperulo, who served under his standard, and who sang his
campaigns in Romagna and in the neighborhood of Camerino.[69] A number
of Roman poets who subsequently became famous recited their verses in
the presence of Lucretia, among them Emilio Voccabella and Evangelista
Fausto Maddaleni. Even at that time the three brothers Mario, Girolamo,
and Celso Mellini enjoyed great renown as poets and orators, while the
brothers of the house of Porcaro--Camillo, Valerio, and Antonio--were
equally famous. We have already noted that Antonio was one of the
witnesses at the marriage of Girolama Borgia in the year 1482, and that
he subsequently was Lucretia's proxy when she was betrothed to Centelles
in 1491. These facts show how closely and how long the Porcaro were
allied to the Borgias.

This Roman family had been made famous in the history of the city by the
fate of Stefano, Cola di Rienzi's successor. The Porcaro claimed descent
from the Catos, and for this reason many of them adopted the name
Porcius. Enjoying friendly relations with the Borgias, they claimed them
as kinsmen, stating that Isabella, the mother of Alexander VI, was
descended from the Roman Porcaro, who somehow had passed to Spain. The
similarity of sound in the Latin names Borgius and Porcius gave some
appearance of truth to this pretension.

Next to Antonio, Hieronymus Porcius was one of the most brilliant
retainers of the house of Borgia. Alexander, upon his election to the
papal throne, made him auditor of the Ruota (the Papal Court of
Appeals). He was the author of a work printed in Rome in September,
1493, under the title _Commentarius Porcius_, which was dedicated to the
King and Queen of Spain. In it he describes the election and coronation
of Alexander VI, and quotes portions of the declarations of loyalty
which the Italian envoys addressed to the Pope. Court flattery could not
be carried further than it was in this case by Hieronymus, an affected
pedant, an empty-headed braggart, a fanatical papist. Alexander made him
Bishop of Andria and Governor of the Romagna. In 1497 Hieronymus, then
in Cesena, composed a dialogue on Savonarola and his "heresy concerning
the power of the Pope." The kernel of the whole thing was the
fundamental doctrine of the infallibilists; namely, that only those who
blindly obey the Pope are good Christians.[70]

Porcius also essayed poetry, celebrating the magnificence of the Pope
and Cardinal Cæsar, whom, in his verses on the Borgia Steer, he
described as his greatest benefactor. Apparently he was also the author
of the elegy on the death of the Duke of Gandia, which is still

Phædra Inghirami, the famous student of Cicero, whom Erasmus admired and
whom Raphael rendered immortal by his portrait, doubtless made the
acquaintance of the Borgias and of Lucretia through the Porcaro. Even as
early as this he was attracting the attention of Rome. Inghirami
delivered an oration at the mass which the Spanish ambassador had said
for the Infante Don Juan, January 16, 1498, in S. Jacopo in Navona,
which was greatly admired. He also made a reputation as an actor in
Cardinal Rafael Riario's theater.

The drama was then putting forth its first fruits, not only at the
courts of the Este and Gonzaga families, but also in Rome. Alexander
himself, owing to his sensuous nature, was especially fond of it, and
had comedies and ballets performed at all the family festivities in the
Vatican. The actors were young students from the Academy of Pomponius
Laetus, and we have every reason to believe that Inghirami, the Mellini,
and the Porcaro took part in these performances whenever the
opportunity was offered. Carlo Canale, Vannozza's consort, must also
have lent valuable assistance, for he had been familiar with the stage
in Mantua; and no less important was the aid of Pandolfo Collenuccio,
who had repeatedly been Ferrara's ambassador in Rome, where he enjoyed
daily intercourse with the Borgias.

The celebrated Pomponius, to whom Rome was indebted for the revival of
the theater, spent his last years, during the reign of Alexander, in the
enjoyment of the highest popular esteem. Alexander himself may have been
one of his pupils, as Cardinal Farnese certainly was. Pomponius died
June 6, 1498, and the same pope who had sent Savonarola to the stake had
his court attend the obsequies of the great representative of classic
paganism, which were held in the Church of Aracoeli, a fact which lends
additional support to the belief that he was personally known to the
Borgias. Moreover, one of his most devoted pupils, Michele Ferno, had
for a long time been a firm adherent of Alexander. Although the Pope in
1501 issued the first edict of censorship, he was not an enemy of the
sciences. He fostered the University of Rome, several of whose chairs
were at that time held by men of note; for example, Petrus Sabinus and
John Argyropulos. One of the greatest geniuses--one whose light has
blessed all mankind--was for a year an ornament of this university and
of the reign of Alexander; Copernicus came to Rome from far away Prussia
in the jubilee year 1500, and lectured on mathematics and astronomy.

Among Alexander's courtiers there were many brilliant men whose society
Lucretia must have had an opportunity to enjoy. Burchard, the master of
ceremonies, laid down the rules for all the functions in which the
Pope's daughter took part. He must have called upon her frequently, but
she could scarcely have foreseen that, centuries later, this Alsatian's
notes would constitute the mirror in which posterity would see the
reflections of the Borgias. His diary, however, gives no details
concerning Lucretia's private life--this did not come within his duties.

Never did any other chronicler describe the things about him so clearly
and so concisely, so dryly, and with so little feeling--things which
were worthy of the pen of a Tacitus. That Burchard was not friendly to
the Borgias is proved by the way his diary is written; it, however, is
absolutely truthful. This man well knew how to conceal his feelings--if
the dull routine of his office had left him any. He went through the
daily ceremonial of the Vatican mechanically, and kept his place there
under five popes. Burchard must have seemed to the Borgias a harmless
pedant; for if not, would they have permitted him to behold and describe
their doings and yet live? Even the little which he did write in his
diary concerning events of the day would have cost him his head had it
come to the knowledge of Alexander or Cæsar. It appears, however, that
the diaries of the masters of ceremony were not subjected to official
censorship. Cæsar would have spared him no more than he did his father's
favorite, Pedro Calderon Perotto, whom he stabbed, and Cervillon, whom
he had killed--both of whom frequently performed important parts in the
ceremonies in the Vatican.

Nor did he spare the private secretary, Francesco Troche, whom Alexander
VI had often employed in diplomatic affairs. Troche, according to a
Venetian report a Spaniard, was, like Canale, a cultivated humanist, and
like him, he was also on friendly terms with the house of Gonzaga. There
are still in existence letters of his to the Marchioness Gonzaga, in
which he asks her to send him certain sonnets she had composed. She
likewise writes to him regarding family matters, and also asks him to
find her an antique cupid in Rome. There is no doubt but that he was one
of Lucretia's most intimate acquaintances. In June, 1503, Cæsar had also
this favorite of his father strangled.

Besides Burchard and Lorenz Behaim, there was another German who was
familiar with the family affairs of the Borgias, Goritz of Luxemburg,
who subsequently, during the reigns of Julius II and Leo X, became
famous as an academician. Even in Alexander's time the cultivated world
of Rome was in the habit of meeting at Goritz's house in Trajan's Forum
for the purpose of engaging in academic discussions. All the Germans who
came to Rome sought him out, and he must have received Reuchlin, who
visited that city in 1498, and subsequently Copernicus, Erasmus, and
Ulrich von Hutten, who remembered him with gratitude; it is also
probable that Luther visited his hospitable home. Goritz was _supplicant
referent_, and as such he must have known Lucretia personally, because
the influential daughter of the Pope was the constant recipient of
petitions of various sorts. He had ample opportunity to observe events
in the Vatican, but of his experiences he recorded nothing; or, if he
did, his diary was destroyed in the sack of Rome in 1527, when he lost
all his belongings.

Among Lucretia's personal acquaintances was still another man, one who
was in a better position than any one else to write the history of the
Borgias. This was the Nestor of Roman notaries, old Camillo Beneimbene,
the trusted legal adviser of Alexander and of most of the cardinals and
grandees of Rome. He knew the Borgias in their private as well as in
their public character; he had been acquainted with Lucretia from her
childhood; he drew up all her marriage contracts. His office was on the
Lombard Piazza, now known as S. Luigi dei Francesi. Here he worked,
drawing up legal documents until the year 1505, as is shown by
instruments in his handwriting.[71] A man who had been the official
witness and legal adviser in the most important family affairs of the
Borgias for so long a time, and who, therefore, was familiar with all
their secrets, must have occupied, so far as their house, and especially
Lucretia, were concerned, the position of a close friend. Beneimbene
records none of his personal experiences, but his protocol-book is still
preserved in the archives of the notary of the Capitol.

Adriano Castelli of Corneto, a highly cultivated humanist, and
privy-secretary to Alexander, who subsequently made him a cardinal, was
very close to the Borgias. As the Pope's secretary he must have
frequently come in contact with Lucretia. Among her intimate
acquaintances were also the famous Latinist, Cortesi; the youthful
Sardoleto, the familiar of Cardinal Cibò; young Aldo Manuzio; the
intellectual brothers Rafael and Mario Maffei of Volterra; and Egidio of
Viterbo, who subsequently became famous as a pulpit orator and was made
a cardinal. The last maintained his connection with Lucretia while she
was Duchess of Ferrara. He exercised a deep influence upon the religious
turn which her nature took during this the second period of her life.

The youthful Duchess of Biselli certainly enjoyed the lively society of
the cultured and gallant ecclesiastics about her--Cardinals Medici,
Riario, Orsini, Cesarini, and Farnese--not to mention the Borgias and
the Spanish prelates. We may look for her, too, at the banquets in the
palaces of Rome's great families, the Massimi and Orsini, the Santa
Croce, Altieri, and Valle, and in the homes of the wealthy bankers
Altoviti, Spanocchi, and Mariano Chigi, whose sons Lorenzo and
Agostino--the latter eventually became famous--enjoyed the confidence of
the Borgias.

Lucretia was able in Rome to gratify a taste for the fine arts.
Alexander found employment for the great artists of the day in the
Vatican, where Perugino executed some paintings for him, and where,
under the picture of the holy Virgin, Pinturicchio, who was his court
artist, painted the portrait of the adulteress, Giulia Farnese. He also
painted portraits of several members of the Borgia family in the castle
of S. Angelo.

"In the castle of S. Angelo," says Vasari, "he painted many of the rooms
_a grotesche_; but in the tower below, in the garden, he depicted scenes
from the life of Alexander VI. There he painted the Catholic Queen
Isabella; Niccolò Orsini, Count of Pitigliano; Giangiacomo Trivulzio;
and many other kinsmen and friends of the Pope, and especially Cæsar
Borgia and his brother and sisters, as well as numerous great men of the
age." Lorenz Behaim copied the epigrams which were placed under six of
these paintings in the "castle of S. Angelo, below in the papal
gardens." All represented scenes from the critical period of the
invasion of Italy by Charles VIII, and they were painted in such a way
as to make Alexander appear as having been victorious. One showed the
king prostrating himself at the Pope's feet in this same garden of the
castle of S. Angelo; another represented Charles declaring his loyalty
before the consistory; another, Philip of Sens and Guillaume of S. Malo
receiving the cardinal's hat; another, the mass in S. Peter's at which
Charles VIII assisted; the subject of another was the passage to S.
Paul's, with the king holding the Pope's stirrup; and, lastly, a scene
depicting the departure of Charles for Naples, accompanied by Cæsar
Borgia and the Sultan Djem.[72]

These paintings are now lost, and with them the portraits of the members
of the Borgia family. Pinturicchio doubtless painted several likenesses
of the beautiful Lucretia. Probably many of the figures in the paintings
of this master resemble the Borgias, but of this we are not certain. In
the collections of antiquaries, and among the innumerable old portraits
which may be seen hanging in rows on the discolored walls in the palaces
of Rome and in the castles in Romagna, there doubtless are likenesses of
Lucretia, of Cæsar, and of his brothers, which the beholder never
suspects as such. It is well known that there was a faithful portrait of
Alexander VI and his children above the altar of S. Lucia in the Church
of S. Maria del Popolo, the work of Pinturicchio. Later, when Alexander
restored this church, the painting was removed to the court of the
cloister, and eventually it was lost.[73]

Of the famous artists of the day, Lucretia must likewise have known
Antonio di Sangallo, her father's architect, and also Antonio
Pollajuolo, the most renowned sculptor of the Florentine school in Rome
during the last decades of the fifteenth century. He died there in 1498.

But the most famous of all the artists then in Rome was Michael Angelo.
He appeared there first in 1498, an ambitious young man of three and
twenty. At that time the city of Rome was an enchanting environment for
an artistic nature. The boundless immorality of her great past, speaking
so eloquently from innumerable monuments of the pagan and Christian
worlds; her majesty and holy calm; the sudden breaking loose of furious
passions--all this is beyond the imaginative power of modern men, just
as is the wickedly secular nature of the papacy and the spirit of the
Renaissance which swept over these ruins. We are unable to comprehend in
their entirety the soul-activities of this great race, which was both
creative and destructive. For to the same feeling which impelled men to
commit great crimes do we owe the great works of art of the Renaissance.
In those days evil, as well as good, was in the _grand style_. Alexander
VI displayed himself to the world, for whose opinion he had supreme
contempt, as shamelessly and fearlessly as did Nero.

The Renaissance, owing to the violent contrasts which it presents, now
naïvely and now in full consciousness of their incongruity, and also on
account of the fiendish traits by which it is characterized, will always
constitute one of the greatest psychologic problems in the history of

All virtues, all crimes, all forces were set in motion by a feverish
yearning for immaterial pleasures, beauty, power, and immortality. The
Renaissance has been called an intellectual bacchanalia, and when we
examine the features of the bacchantes they become distorted like those
of the suitors in Homer, who anticipated their fall; for this society,
this Church, these cities and states--in fine, this culture in its
entirety--toppled over into the abyss which was yawning for it. The
reflection that men like Copernicus, Michael Angelo, and Bramante,
Alexander VI and Cæsar Borgia could live in Rome at one and the same
time is well nigh overpowering.

Did Lucretia ever see the youthful artist, subsequently the friend of
the noble lady, Vittoria Colonna, whose portrait he painted? We know
not; but there is no reason to doubt that she did. The curiosity of the
artist and of the man would have induced Michael Angelo to endeavor to
gain a glimpse of the most charming woman in Rome. Although only a
beginner, he was already recognized as an artist of great talent. As he
had just been taken up by Gallo the Roman and Cardinal La Grolaye, it is
altogether probable that he would have been the subject also of
Lucretia's curiosity.

Affected by the recent tragedies in the house of Borgia--for example,
the murder of the Duke of Gandia--Michael Angelo was engaged upon the
great work which was the first to attract the attention of the city, the
Pietà, which Cardinal La Grolaye had commissioned him to paint. This
work he completed in 1499, about the time the great Bramante came to
Rome. The group should be studied with the epoch of the Borgias for
background; the Pietà rises supreme in ethical significance, and in the
moral darkness about her she seems a pure sacrificial fire lighted by a
great and earnest spirit in the dishonored realm of the Church. Lucretia
stood before the Pietà, and the masterpiece must have affected this
unhappy daughter of a sinful pope more powerfully than the words of her
confessor or than the admonitions of the abbesses of S. Sisto.


[69] Manuscript in the Vatican, No. 5205.

[70] Collocutores itinerantes Tuscus et Remus, Romæ in Campo Floræ,

[71] See the author's essay, Das Archiv der Notare des Capitols in Rom,
and the protocol-book of the Notary Camillus de Beneimbene, 1457 to
1505. Proceedings of k. bayr. Akademie der Wissenschaften zu München,
1872. Part iv.

[72] In the Codex Hartmann Schedel in the state library of Munich.

[73] Piazza (Gerarchia Cardinalizia) states that he saw it as late as



The jubilee year 1500 was a fortunate one for Cæsar, but an unhappy one
for Lucretia. She began it January 1st with a formal passage to the
Lateran, whither she went to make the prescribed pilgrimage to the Roman
churches. She rode upon a richly caparisoned jennet, her escort
consisting of two hundred mounted nobles, men and women. On her left was
her consort, Don Alfonso; on her right one of the ladies of her court;
and behind them came the captain of the papal guard, Rodrigo Borgia.
While she and her retinue were crossing over the Bridge of S. Angelo,
her father stood in a loggia of the castle, feasting his eyes upon his
beloved daughter.

The new year brought Alexander only good news--if we except that of the
death of the Cardinal-legate Giovanni Borgia, Bishop of Melfi and
Archbishop of Capua, who was known as the "younger," to distinguish him
from another cardinal of the same name. He died in Urbino, January 8,
1500, of a fever, according to a statement made by Elisabetta, consort
of Guidobaldo, to her brother Gonzaga, in a letter written from
Fossombrone on the same day.[74]

Cæsar was in Forli when he received the news of the cardinal's death,
the very morning--January 12th--on which the stronghold surrendered to
him. He at once conveyed the information to the Duke of Ferrara in a
letter, in which he said that Giovanni Borgia had been called to Rome
by the Pope, and having set out from Forli, had died suddenly in Urbino
of a flux. The fact that he had been in Cæsar's camp, and that,
according to Elisabetta's letter, he had been taken sick in Urbino, lent
some probability to the suspicion that he had been poisoned.

It is worthy of note that Cæsar, in his letter to the duke, speaks of
the deceased as his brother;[75] and Ercole, in offering him his
condolences, January 18th, on the death of the cardinal, also called him
Cæsar's brother. Are we thereby warranted in concluding that the younger
Giovanni Borgia was a son of Alexander VI? Further, the Ferrarese
chronicler Zambotto, speaking of the cardinal's death, uses the
expression, "son of Pope Alexander."[76] If this was the case, the
number of Alexander's children must be increased, for Ludovico Borgia
was also his son. This Borgia, who succeeded to Giovanni's benefices,
was Archbishop of Valencia and subsequently cardinal. He reported his
promotion to the Marchioness Gonzaga in a letter in which he everywhere
speaks of the deceased as "his brother," just as Cæsar had done.[77]

These statements, however, do not refute the hitherto generally accepted
opinion regarding the descent of Giovanni Borgia, "the younger," and
Zambotta certainly was in error--the word _fratre_, which he uses in his
letter means merely "dear cousin," _fratello cugino_.[78]

January 14th news reached the Vatican that Cæsar had taken the castle of
Forli. After a brave resistance Catarina Sforza Riario, together with
her two brothers, was compelled to surrender. The grandchild of the
great Francesco Sforza of Milan, the natural daughter of Galeazzo Maria
and the illegitimate sister of Blanca, wife of Emperor Maximilian, was
the ideal of the heroic women of Italy, who were found not only in
Bojardo's and Ariosto's poems, but also in real life. Her nature
exceeded the feminine and verged on caricature. To understand the
evolution of such personalities, in whom beauty and culture, courage and
reason, sensuality and cruelty combined to produce a strange organism,
we must be familiar with the conditions from which they sprang. Catarina
Sforza's experiences made her the amazon that she was.

At an early age she was married to the rude nephew of Sixtus IV,
Girolamo Riario, Count of Forli. Shortly afterwards her terrible father
met a tyrant's death in Milan. Then her husband fell beneath the daggers
of the conspirators, who flung his naked body from a window of the
stronghold of Forli. Catarina, however, with determined courage,
succeeded in keeping the castle for her children, and she avenged her
husband's death with ferocious cruelty. Subsequently she was known--to
quote Marino Sanuto's words--as "a courageous woman and cruel
virago."[79] Six years later she saw her brother Giangaleazzo die of
poison administered by Ludovico il Moro, while before her very eyes her
second, but not openly recognized, husband, Giacomo Feo of Savona, was
slain in Forli by conspirators. She immediately mounted her charger, and
at the head of her guard pursued the murderers to their quarter, where
she had every living being--men, women, and children--hacked to pieces.
She buried a third lover, Giovanni Medici, in 1497.

With cunning and force this amazon ruled her little domain until she
herself finally fell into Cæsar's hands. Few lamented her fate. When the
news reached Milan that she was in the duke's power, and consequently
also in that of Pope Alexander, the celebrated General Giangiacomo
Trivulzio made a jesting remark which clearly shows how little her fate
grieved the people. According to the stories of the day, Cæsar led her
to Rome in golden chains, like another Queen of Palmyra. He entered the
city in triumph, February 26th, and the Pope assigned the Belvedere to
the captive for her abode.

The city was filled at that time with the faithful, who had come to
receive absolution for their sins, this the jubilee year,--and from a
Borgia. Among the number was Elisabetta Gonzaga, consort of Guidobaldo
of Urbino. The pilgrimage of this famous woman was a dangerous
experiment, the Pope having secretly placed Urbino on the list of
proscribed cities included in the Church fiefs. Cæsar already looked
upon it as his property. The thought of meeting this Borgia in Rome must
have been exceedingly painful to her. How easily might he have found a
pretext for keeping her prisoner! Her brother, Francesco Gonzaga, warned
her against her decision, but on her way to Rome she wrote him a letter
so remarkable and so amiable that we quote it at length:

     Urbino and set out for Rome for the purpose of receiving
     absolution, this the jubilee year. Several days ago I informed your
     Excellency of my prospective journey. Only to-day, in Assisi, did I
     receive your letter; I understand from what you write that you
     wish me to abandon this journey--perhaps thinking that I have not
     yet set out--which grieves me greatly, and causes me unspeakable
     pain, because I wish in this as in all other things to do your
     Majesty's will, having always looked upon you as my most honored
     father, and never having had any thought or purpose but to follow
     your wishes. However, as I have said, I am now on the way and am
     out of the country. With the help of Fabritius (Colonna) and
     Madonna Agnesina, my honored sister-in-law and sister, I have made
     arrangements for a residence in Rome, and for whatever may be
     necessary for my comfort. I have also informed them that I would be
     in Marino four days hence, and consequently Fabritius has gone to
     the trouble of securing an escort for me; further, my departure and
     journey have been noised about; therefore, I see no way to abandon
     this pilgrimage without affecting my honor and that of my
     husband--since the thing has gone so far--the more so as the
     journey was undertaken with the full knowledge and consent of my
     lord, and all and everything carefully considered. Your Majesty
     must not be distressed or annoyed by this, my journey, and in order
     that you may know everything, I will tell you that I am first going
     to Marino, and thence, accompanied by Madonna Agnesina, and
     incognito, shall go to Rome for the purpose of receiving absolution
     at this the holy jubilee of the Church. I need not see any one
     there, for during my stay in Rome I shall live in the palace of the
     deceased Cardinal Savelli. The house is a good one, and is exactly
     what I want, and it is within reach of the Colonna. It is my
     intention to return soon to Marino, there to spend the greater part
     of the time. Your Majesty, therefore, need have no further anxiety
     about my journey, and must not be displeased by it. Although these
     reasons are sufficient to induce me not only to continue the
     journey, but to begin it, if I had not already set out I would
     relinquish it, not on account of any fear of anything unpleasant
     that might attend my pilgrimage, but simply to comply with the wish
     expressed in your Majesty's letter, as I desire to do always. But
     as I am now here, and as your Excellency will soon receive this
     letter, I am sure you will approve of my course. I earnestly beg
     you to do so, and to assure me by letter, addressed to Rome, that
     you are not displeased, so that I may receive absolution in
     greater peace and tranquillity. If you do not I shall suffer great
     anxiety and grief. I commend myself to your Excellency's merciful
     benevolence as your Majesty's youngest sister,


  ASSISI, _March 21, 1500_.

Agnesina di Montefeltre mentioned in the letter, Guidobaldo's soulful
sister, was married to Fabritius Colonna, who subsequently became one of
Italy's greatest captains. She was then twenty-eight years of age. She
and her husband lived at the castle of Marino in the Alban mountains,
where, in 1490, she bore him Vittoria Colonna, the future ornament of
her house. Elisabetta found this beautiful child already betrothed to
Ferrante d'Avalos, son of Marquis Alfonso of Pescara; Ferdinand II of
Naples having brought about the betrothal of the two children as early
as 1495 for the purpose of winning over the Colonna, the retainers of
the house of Aragon.

The Duchess of Urbino actually went to Rome for the purpose of
protecting her noble kinswoman, whom she kept incognito. She remained
there until Easter. On her way to S. Peter's she directed anxious
glances toward the Belvedere, where the bravest woman of Italy, a
prisoner, was grieving her life away, Catarina Sforza having been
confined there since Cæsar's return, February 26th, as is attested by a
letter of that date written by the Venetian ambassador in Rome to his
Signory. Elisabetta's feelings must have been rendered still more
painful by the fact that her own husband, as well as her brother
Gonzaga, both of whom were in the service of France, had given the
princess up for lost.

She had scarcely left Rome when Catarina received news that her uncles
Ludovico and Ascanio had fallen into the hands of the King of France.
Having, with the aid of Swiss troops, again secured possession of Milan
in 1500, they were ignominiously betrayed by the mercenaries at Novara,
April 10th. Ludovico was carried away to France, where he died in
misery, having spent ten years a prisoner in the tower of Loches; the
once powerful cardinal was likewise taken a captive to France. A great
tragedy had occurred in the house of Sforza. What must have been
Catarina's distress when she, in her prison, learned that fate had
overthrown all her race! Could one transport himself to that environment
he would breathe the oppressive atmosphere with which Shakespeare
enveloped his characters.

Catarina's jailers were the two most dreaded men of the age--the Pope
and his son. The very thought of what surrounded her must have filled
her with terror. In the Belvedere she was in constant dread of Cæsar's
poison, and it is indeed a wonder that she did escape it. She made an
unsuccessful attempt at flight, whereupon Alexander had her removed to
the castle of S. Angelo. However, certain French gentlemen in the
service of the one who was bent on her destruction--especially Ivo
d'Allegre--interceded for her; and the Pope, after she had spent a year
and a half in captivity, allowed her to choose Florence for her asylum.
He himself commended her to the Signory in the following letter:

     UNTO MY BELOVED SONS: Greeting and the Apostolic Blessing.
     Our beloved daughter in Christ, the noble lady Catarina Sforza, is
     on her way to you. She, as you are aware, having for good reasons
     been held a prisoner by Us for a time, has again become the object
     of Our mercy. We, according to Our custom and to Our pastoral
     duties, have not only exercised mercy with regard to this Catarina,
     but also, so far as We with God's help were able, have looked with
     paternal solicitude after her welfare; therefore We deem it proper
     to write you for the purpose of commending this Catarina to your
     protection, so that she, having full confidence in Our good will
     towards you, and returning, so to speak, into her own country, may
     not be deluded in her expectations and by Our recommendation. We,
     therefore, shall be glad to learn that she has been well received
     and treated by you, in gratitude to her for having chosen your city
     for her abode, and owing to your feelings toward Us. Given at Rome,
     in S. Peter's, under the Apostolic seal, July 13, 1501. In the
     ninth year of our pontificate.


Catarina Sforza died in a convent in Florence in 1509. In her fatherland
she left a son of the same mettle as herself, Giovanni Medici, the last
of the great condottieri of the country, who became famous as leader of
the Black Bands. There is a seated figure in marble of this captain, of
herculean strength, with the neck of a centaur, near the church of S.
Lorenzo in Florence.


[74] In the Gonzaga archives.

[75] In questa mattina ho hauto lo adviso de la morte del Rmo Card.
Borgia _mio fratre_ passato de questa vita in Urbino. Forli, January 16,
1500. Archives of Modena.

[76] A. 1500, Jan. 22 (this is incorrect), mori il Carle Borgia fiolo de
Papa Alexo a Orbino. Silva Cronicarum Bernardini Zambotti. Ms. in the
library of Ferrara.

[77] La bona memoria del Cardinale Borgia mio fratre. Rome, July 30,
1500. Gonzaga archives.

[78] Cittadella's opinion that Giovanni Borgia, junior, was a son of
Pierluigi, Alexander's brother, is also incorrect.

[79] Femina quasi virago crudelissima et di gran animo. Venuta di Carlo
VIII, p. 811, Ms. Virago here means amazon.



After the fall of the Riario, of Imola, and Forli, all the tyrants in
the domain of the Church trembled before Cæsar; and greater princes,
like those of the Gonzaga and Este families, who were either entirely
independent or were semi-independent vassals of the Church, courted the
friendship of the Pope and his dreaded son. Cæsar, as an ally of France,
had secured for himself the services of these princes, and since 1499
they had helped him in his schemes in the Romagna. He engaged in a
lively correspondence with Ercole d'Este, whom he treated as his equal,
as his brother and friend, although he was a young and immature man. To
him he reported his successes, and in return received congratulations,
equally confidential in tone, all of which consisted of diplomatic lies
inspired by fear. The correspondence between Cæsar and Ercole, which is
very voluminous, is still preserved in the Este archives in Modena. It
began August 30, 1498, when Cæsar was still a cardinal. In this letter,
which is written in Latin, he announces to the duke that he is about to
set out for France, and asks him for a saddle horse.

Cæsar engaged in an equally confidential correspondence with Francesco
Gonzaga, with whom he entered into intimate relations which endured
until his death. In the archives of the Gonzaga family in Mantua there
are preserved forty-one letters written by Cæsar to the marquis and his
consort Isabella. The first is dated October 31, 1498, from Avignon; the
second, January 12, 1500, from Forli; the third is as follows:

     Excellency's letter we have learned of the birth of your
     illustrious son, which has occasioned us no less joy than we would
     have felt on the birth of an heir to ourselves. As we, owing to our
     sincere and brotherly goodwill for you, wish you all increase and
     fortune, we willingly consent to be godfather, and will appoint for
     our proxy anyone whom your Excellency may choose. May he in our
     stead watch over the child from the moment of his baptism. We
     earnestly pray to God to preserve the same to you.

     Your Majesty will not fail to congratulate your illustrious consort
     in our name. She will, we hope, through this son prepare the way
     for a numerous posterity to perpetuate the fame of their
     illustrious parents. Rome, in the Apostolic Palace, May 24, 1500.

  CÆSAR BORGIA of France, Duke of Valentinois,
  Gonfallonier, and Captain-General
  of the Holy Roman Church.

This son of the Marquis of Mantua was the hereditary Prince Federico,
born May 17, 1500. Two years later, when Cæsar was at the zenith of his
power, Gonzaga requested the honor of the betrothal of this son and the
duke's little daughter Luisa.

Cæsar remained in Rome several months to secure funds for carrying out
his plans in Romagna. All his projects would have been wrecked in a
moment if his father had not escaped, almost unharmed, when the walls of
a room in the Vatican collapsed, June 27, 1500. He was extricated from
the rubbish only slightly hurt. He would allow no one but his daughter
to care for him. When the Venetian ambassador called, July 3d, he found
Madonna Lucretia, Sancia, the latter's husband, Giuffrè, and one of
Lucretia's ladies-in-waiting, who was the Pope's "favorite," with him.
Alexander was then seventy years of age. He ascribed his escape to the
Virgin Mary, just as Pius IX did his own when the house near S. Agnese
tumbled down. July 5th Alexander held a service in her honor, and on his
recovery he had himself borne in a procession to S. Maria del Popolo,
where he offered the Virgin a goblet containing three hundred ducats.
Cardinal Piccolomini ostentatiously scattered the gold pieces over the
altar before all the people.

The saints had saved a great sinner from the falling walls in the
Vatican, but they refrained from interfering eighteen days later to
prevent a hideous crime--the attempted murder of a guiltless person. In
vain had the youthful Alfonso of Biselli been warned by his own
premonitions and by his friends during the past year to seek safety in
flight. He had followed his wife to Rome like a lamb to the slaughter,
only to fall under the daggers of the assassins from whom she was
powerless to save him. Cæsar hated him, as he did the entire house of
Aragon, and in his opinion his sister's marriage to a Neapolitan prince
had become as useless as had been her union with Sforza of Pesaro;
moreover, it interfered with the plans of Cæsar, who had a matrimonial
alliance in mind for his sister which would be more advantageous to
himself. As her marriage with the Duke of Biselli had not been
childless, and, consequently, could not be set aside, he determined upon
a radical separation of the couple.

July 15, 1500, about eleven o'clock at night, Alfonso was on his way
from his palace to the Vatican to see his consort; near the steps
leading to S. Peter's a number of masked men fell upon him with daggers.
Severely wounded in the head, arm, and thigh, the prince succeeded in
reaching the Pope's chamber. At the sight of her spouse covered with
blood, Lucretia sank to the floor in a swoon.

Alfonso was carried to another room in the Vatican, and a cardinal
administered the extreme unction; his youth, however, triumphed, and he
recovered. Although Lucretia, owing to her fright, fell sick of a fever,
she and his sister Sancia took care of him; they cooked his food, while
the Pope himself placed a guard over him. In Rome there was endless
gossip about the crime and its perpetrators. July 19th the Venetian
ambassador wrote to his Signory: "It is not known who wounded the duke,
but it is said that it was the same person who killed the Duke of Gandia
and threw him into the Tiber. Monsignor of Valentinois has issued an
edict that no one shall be found with arms between the castle of S.
Angelo and S. Peter's, on pain of death."

Cæsar remarked to the ambassador, "I did not wound the duke, but if I
had, it would have been nothing more than he deserved." His hatred of
his brother-in-law must have been inspired also by personal reasons of
which we are ignorant. He even ventured to call upon the wounded man,
remarking on leaving, "What is not accomplished at noon may be done at

The days passed slowly; finally the murderer lost patience. At nine
o'clock in the evening of August 18th, he came again; Lucretia and
Sancia drove him from the room, whereupon he called his captain,
Micheletto, who strangled the duke. There was no noise, not a sound; it
was like a pantomime; amid a terrible silence the dead prince was borne
away to S. Peter's.

The affair was no longer a secret. Cæsar openly stated that he had
destroyed the duke because the latter was seeking his life, and he
claimed that by Alfonso's orders some archers had shot at him when he
was strolling in the Vatican gardens.

[Illustration: CÆSAR BORGIA.

From a painting by Giorgione.]

Nothing so clearly discloses the terrible influence which Cæsar
exercised over his wicked father as this deed, and the way in which the
Pope regarded it. From the Venetian ambassador's report it appears that
it was contrary to Alexander's wishes, and that he had even attempted to
save the unfortunate prince's life. After the crime had been committed,
however, the Pope dismissed it from his mind, both because he did not
dare to bring Cæsar--whom he had forgiven for the murder of his
brother--to a reckoning, and because the murder would result in offering
him opportunities which he desired. He spared himself the trouble of
directing useless reproaches to his son, for Cæsar would only have
laughed at them. Was the care with which Alexander had his unfortunate
son-in-law watched merely a bit of deceit? There are no grounds for
believing that the Pope either planned the murder himself or that he
consented to it.

Never was bloody deed so soon forgotten. The murder of a prince of the
royal house of Naples made no more impression than the death of a
Vatican stable boy would have done. No one avoided Cæsar; none of the
priests refused him admission to the Church, and all the cardinals
continued to show him the deepest reverence and respect. Prelates vied
with each other to receive the red hat from the hand of the all-powerful
murderer, who offered the dignity to the highest bidders. He needed
money for carrying out his schemes of confiscation in the Romagna. His
condottieri, Paolo Orsini, Giuliano Orsini, Vitellozzo Vitelli, and
Ercole Bentivoglio were with him during these autumn days. His father
had equipped seven hundred heavy men at arms for him, and, August 18th,
the Venetian ambassador reported to the signory that he had been
requested by the Pope to ask the Doge to withdraw their protection from
Rimini and Faenza. Negotiations were in progress with France to secure
her active support for Cæsar. August 24th the French ambassador, Louis
de Villeneuve, made his entry into Rome; near S. Spirito a masked man
rode up and embraced him. The man was Cæsar. However openly he committed
his crimes, he frequently went about Rome in disguise.

The murder of the youthful Alfonso of Aragon was by far the most tragic
deed committed by the Borgias, and his fate was more terrible than even
that of Astorre Manfredi. If Lucretia really loved her husband, as there
is every reason to suppose she did, his end must have caused her the
greatest anguish; and, even if she had no affection for him, all her
feelings must have been aroused against the murderer to whose fiendish
ambition the tragedy was due. She must also have rebelled against her
father, who regarded the crime with such indifference.

None of the reports of the day describe the circumstances in which she
found herself immediately after the murder, nor events in the Vatican
just preceding it. Although Lucretia was suffering from a fever, she did
not die of grief, nor did she rise to avenge her husband's murder, or to
flee from the terrible Vatican.

She was in a position similar to that of her sister-in-law, Doña Maria
Enriquez, after Gandia's death; but while the latter and her sons had
found safety in Spain, Lucretia had no retreat to which she could retire
without the consent of her father and brother.

It would be wrong to blame the unfortunate woman because at this fateful
moment of her life she did not make herself the subject of a tragedy. Of
a truth, she appears very weak and characterless. We must not look for
great qualities of soul in Lucretia, for she possessed them not. We are
endeavoring to represent her only as she actually was, and, if we judge
rightly, she was merely a woman differentiated from the great mass of
women, not by the strength, but by the graciousness, of her nature. This
young woman, regarded by posterity as a Medea or as a loathsomely
passionate creature, probably never experienced any real feeling. During
the years she lived in Rome she was always subject to the will of
others, for her destiny was controlled, first, by her father, and
subsequently by her brother. We know not how much of an effort, in view
of the circumstances by which she was trammeled, she could make to
maintain the dignity of woman. If Lucretia, however, ever did possess
the courage to assert her individuality and rights before those who
injured her, she certainly would have done so when her husband was
murdered. Perhaps she did assail her sinister brother with
recriminations and her father with tears. She was troublesome to Cæsar,
who wished her away from the Vatican, consequently Alexander banished
her for a time; and apparently she herself was not unwilling to go. The
Venetian ambassador Paolo Capello refers to some quarrel between
Lucretia and her father. He departed from Rome, September 16, 1500, and
on his return to Venice made a report to his government on the condition
of affairs, in which he says: "Madonna Lucretia, who is gracious and
generous, formerly was in high favor with the Pope, but she is so no

August 30th, Lucretia, accompanied by a retinue of six hundred riders,
set out from Rome for Nepi, of which city she was mistress. There,
according to Burchard, she hoped to recover from the perturbation which
the death of the Duke of Biselli had caused her.



Travelers from Rome to Nepi, then as now, followed the Via Cassia,
passing Isola Farnese, Baccano, and Monterosi. The road consisted in
part of the ancient highway, but it was in the worst possible condition.
Near Monterosi the traveler turned into the Via Amerina, much of the
pavement of which is still preserved, even up to the walls of Nepi.

Like most of the cities of Etruria, Nepi (Nepe or Nepete) was situated
on a high plain bordered by deep ravines, through which flowed small
streams, called _rii_. The bare cliffs of tuff constituted a natural
means of defense, and where they were low, walls were built.

The southern side of the city of Nepi, where the Falisco River flows and
empties into a deep chasm, was in ancient times fortified with high
walls built of long, square blocks of tuff laid upon each other without
mortar, like the walls of neighboring Falerii. Some remains of Nepi's
walls may still be seen near the Porta Romana, although much of the
material has been used in constructing the castle and for the high
arches of the Farnese aqueduct.

The castle defended the weakest side of Nepi, where, in the old days,
stood the city fortress. In the eighth century it was the seat of a
powerful duke, Toto, who made a name for himself also in the history of
Rome. Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia gave it the form it now has, rebuilding
the castle and enlarging the two great towers inside the walls, the
larger of which is round and the smaller square. Later the castle was
restored and furnished with bastions by Paul III and his son, Pierluigi
Farnese, the first Duke of Castro and Nepi.[80]

In 1500 this castle was as strong as that of Civitacastellana, which
Alexander VI rebuilt. Unfortunately, it is now in ruins. The remains of
the castle-palace and all the outer walls are covered with thick ivy.
Time has spared nothing but the two great towers.

On the side toward the city the ruined stronghold is entered through a
gateway above which is inscribed in the fair characters of the
into a rectangular court surrounded by walls now in ruins. The beholder
is confronted by the façade of the castle, a two-storied structure in
the style of the Renaissance, with windows whose casements are made of
peperino (cement). The inscription P. LOISIVS FAR DVX PRIMVS CASTRI on
the door frame shows that this was also the work of the Farnese.

The interior is a mass of ruins, all the walls having fallen in. This
notable monument of the past has been suffered to go to decay; it was
only eighty years ago that the walls of the last remaining salon fell
in. The only room left is an upper chamber, reached by climbing a
ladder. The place where the hearth was is still discernible, as is also
the paneled ceiling found in so many of the buildings of the early
Renaissance. The ends of the rafters are supported by beautifully
carved consoles. All the woodwork is stained dark brown, and here and
there on the ceiling are wooden shields, on which are painted the Borgia
arms in colors.

In various places in the interior, and also without, on the towers of
the stronghold, the same arms may be seen carved in stone. There are
also two stones, with the arms very carefully chiseled, set in the walls
of the entrance hall of the town house of Nepi, which were originally in
the castle where they had been placed by Lucretia's orders. The Borgia
arms and those of the house of Aragon, which Lucretia, as Duchess of
Biselli, had adopted, are united under a ducal crown.

Lonely Nepi, which now has only 2,500 inhabitants, had but few more in
the year 1500. It was a little town in Campagna, whose streets were
bordered by Gothic buildings, with a few old palaces and towers
belonging to the nobles, among the most important of whom were the
Celsi. There is a small public square, formerly the forum, on which the
town hall faces, and also an old church, originally built upon the ruins
of the temple of Jupiter. There were a few other ancient churches and
cloisters, such as S. Vito and S. Eleuterio, and other remains of
antiquity, which have now disappeared. There are only two ancient
statues left--the figures of two of Nepi's citizens whose names are now
unknown--they are on the façade of the palace, a beautiful building
dating from the late Renaissance. Owing to the topography of the region
and the general decadence peculiar to all Etruria, the country about
Nepi is forbidding and melancholy. The dark and rugged chasms, with
their huge blocks of stone and steep walls of black and dark red tuff,
with rushing torrents in their depths, cause an impression of grandeur,
but also of sadness, with which the broad and peaceful highlands and the
idyllic pastures, where one constantly hears the melancholy bleating of
the sheep, and the sad notes of the shepherds' flutes are in perfect

Here and there dark oak forests may still be seen, but four hundred
years ago, in the neighborhood of Nepi, they were more numerous and
denser than they are to-day; in the direction of Sutri and
Civitacastellana they are well cleared up; but there are still many fine
groves. From the top of the castle may be seen a magnificent panorama,
which is even more extensive than that which greets the eye from the
castle of Spoleto. There on the horizon are the dark volcano of
Bracciano and Monte di Rocca Romana, and here the mountains of Viterbo,
on whose wide slopes the town of Caprarola, which belonged to the
Farnese, is visible. On the other side rises Soracte. Towards the north
the plateau slopes gently down to the valley of the Tiber, across which,
in the misty distance, the blue chain of the Sabine mountains stands out
boldly, with numerous fortresses scattered about the declivities.

August 31st Alfonso's young widow went to the castle of Nepi, taking
with her part of her court and her child Rodrigo. These knights and
ladies, all generally so merry, were now either oppressed by a real
sorrow or were required by court etiquette to renounce all pleasures. In
this lonely stronghold Lucretia could lament, undisturbed, the
taking-off of the handsome youth who had been her husband for two years,
and together with whom she had dwelt in this same castle scarcely a
twelve-month before. There was nothing to disturb her melancholy
brooding; but, instead, castle, city, and landscape all harmonized with

Some of Lucretia's letters written during her stay at the castle of
Nepi are still in existence, and they are especially valuable, being the
only ones we have which date from what is known as the Roman period of
the life of the famous woman. Lucretia addressed them to her trusted
servant in Rome, Vincenzo Giordano; some are in her own handwriting, and
others in that of her secretary, Cristoforo. She signs herself "the most
unhappy Princess of Salerno," although she herself afterwards struck out
the words, _principessa de Salerno_, and left only the words, _La
infelicissima_. In only a single letter--and this one has no date--did
she allow the whole signature to stand.

The first letters, dated September 15th and October 24, 1500, "in our
city of Nepi," are devoted to domestic affairs, especially clothes, of
which she was in need. Two days later she states that she had written to
the Cardinal of Lisbon, her godfather, in the interest of the bearer of
the letter, Giovanni of Prato. October 28th she directs Vincenzo to have
certain clothes made for the little Rodrigo and to send them to her
immediately by a courier. She also orders him to have prayers said for
her in all the convents "on account of this, my new sorrow." October
30th she wrote as follows:

     VINCENZO: As we have decided that the memorial service for
     the soul of his Lordship, the duke, my husband--may the glory of
     the saints be his--shall be held, you will, with this end in view,
     go to his Eminence the Lord Cardinal of Colenzo, whom we have
     charged with this office, and will do whatever his Eminence
     commands you, both in regard to paying for the mass and also for
     performing whatever his Majesty directs; and you will keep account
     of what you spend of the five hundred which you have, for I will
     see that you are reimbursed, so it will be necessary. From the
     castle of Nepi, next to the last day of October, 1500.


There is an undated letter written by Lucretia which, apparently,
belongs to the same period, because it is written in a melancholy tone,
and in it she asks Heaven to watch over her bed. The last dated letters,
which are of October 31st and November 2d, are devoted to unimportant
domestic affairs; they show that Lucretia was in Nepi as late as
November. Another undated letter to the same Vincenzo Giordano refers to
her return to Rome; it purposely contains obscurities which it is now
impossible to decipher and fictitious names which had been agreed upon
with her servant. Even the signature is a conventional sign. The epistle
is word for word as follows: "I am so filled with misgivings and anxiety
on account of my returning to Rome that I can scarcely write--I can only
weep. And all this time when I found that Farina neither answered nor
wrote to me I was able neither to eat nor sleep, and wept continually.
God forgive Farina, who could have made everything turn out better and
did not do so. I will see whether I can send him Roble before I set
out--for I wish to send him. No more for the present. Again look well to
that matter, and on no account let Rexa see this letter."

Lucretia, it appears, wished to leave Nepi and return to Rome, for which
her father at first might refuse his permission. Perhaps Rexa in this
letter means Alexander, and the name Farina may signify Cardinal
Farnese, upon whose intermediation she counted. Vincenzo finally wrote
her that he had spoken to the Pope himself, and Lucretia, in an undated
letter, showed her servant how pleased she was because everything had
turned out better than she had expected. This is the only letter in
which the signature, "The unhappy Princess of Salerno" is not stricken

We do not know how long Lucretia remained in Nepi, where, in summer,
the moisture rising from the rocky chasms caused deadly fevers, and
still renders that place and Civitacastellana unhealthful. Her father
recalled her to Rome before Christmas, and received her again into his
favor as soon as her brother left the city. Only a few months had passed
when Lucretia's soul was again filled with visions of a brilliant
future, before which the vague form of the unfortunate Alfonso sank into
oblivion. Her tears dried so quickly that, on the expiration of a year,
no one would have recognized in this young and frivolous woman the widow
of a trusted consort who had been foully murdered. From her father
Lucretia had inherited, if not inexhaustible vitality, at least the
lightness of mind which her contemporaries, under the name of joy of
living, discovered in her and in the Pope.


[80] Over the Porta Romana and on the bastions may still be seen the
colossal arms of Paul III and those of his son carved in stone. The
inscription reads:




Towards the end of September, Cæsar entered Romagna with seven hundred
heavy men at arms, two hundred light horsemen, and six thousand foot
soldiers. First he advanced against Pesaro for the purpose of driving
out his former brother-in-law. Sforza, on hearing of the terrible fate
of his successor as husband of Lucretia, had good reason to congratulate
himself on his escape. He was literally consuming with hate of all the
Borgias, but, instead of being able to avenge himself for the injury
they had done him, he found himself threatened with another, a greater
and almost unavoidable one. He had been informed by his representative
in Rome and by the ambassador of Spain, who was friendly to him, of the
preparations his enemy was making, a fact proved by his letter to
Francesco Gonzaga, the brother of his first wife, Maddalena.[81]

September 1, 1500, he informed the Marquis of Cæsar's intention to
attack Pesaro, and asked him to endeavor to interest the Emperor
Maximilian in his behalf. On the twenty-sixth he wrote an urgent appeal
for help. This the marquis did not refuse, but he sent him only a
hundred men under the command of an Albanian. Thus do we see how these
illegitimate dynasties of Italy were in danger of being overthrown by
every breath. Faenza was the only place where the people loved their
lord, the young and fair Astorre Manfredi, and remained true to him. In
all the other cities of Romagna, however, the regime of the tyrants was
detested. Sforza himself could be cruel and exacting, and not in vain
had he been a pupil of the Borgias in Rome.

Never was throne so quickly overturned as his, or, rather, so promptly
abandoned before it was attacked. Cæsar was some distance from Pesaro
when there was a movement in his favor among the people; a party hostile
to the Sforza was formed, while the whole populace, excited by the
thought of what might follow the storming of the city by the heartless
enemy, was anxious to make terms with him. In vain did the poet, Guido
Posthumus, who had recently returned from Padua to his fatherland, urge
his fellow citizens, in ardent verses, to resist the enemy.[82] The
people rose Sunday, October 11th, even before Cæsar had appeared under
the city walls. What then happened is told in Sforza's letter to

     Excellency doubtless has learned ere this how the people of Pesaro,
     last Sunday morning, incited by four scoundrels, rose in arms, and
     how I, with a few who remained faithful, was forced to retire to
     the castle as best I could. When I saw that the enemy was
     approaching, and that Ercole Bentivoglio, who was near Rimini, was
     pressing forward, I left the castle at night to avoid being shut
     in--this was on the advice and with the help of the Albanian
     Jacomo. In spite of the bad roads and great obstacles, I escaped to
     this place, for which I have, first of all, to thank your
     Excellency--you having sent me Jacomo--and next, to thank him for
     bringing me through safely. What I shall now do, I know not; but if
     I do not succeed in getting to your Excellency within four days, I
     will send Jacomo, who will tell you how everything happened, and
     what my plans are. In the meantime I wish you to know that I am
     safe, and that I commend myself to you. Bologna, October 17, 1500.
     Your Excellency's Brother-in-Law and Servant,

  JOHANNES SFORZA of Aragon, Count of Cotignola and Pesaro.

October 19th he again wrote from Bologna, saying he was going to
Ravenna, and intended to return from there to Pesaro, where the castle
was still bravely holding out; he also asked the marquis to send him
three hundred men. Three days later, however, he reported from Ravenna
that the castle had capitulated.

Cæsar Borgia had taken the city of Pesaro, not only without resistance,
but with the full consent of the people, and with public honors he
entered the Sforza palace, where only four years before his sister had
held her court. He took possession of the castle October 28th, summoned
a painter and commanded him to draw a picture of it on paper for him to
send the Pope. From the battlements of the castle of the Sforza twelve
trumpeters sounded the glad tidings, and the heralds saluted Cæsar as
Lord of Pesaro. October 29th he set out for the castle of Gradara.[83]

Among those who witnessed his entry into Pesaro was Pandolfo
Collenuccio. On receiving news of the fall of the city, Duke Ercole,
owing to fear, and also on account of a certain bargain between himself
and the Pope, of which we shall soon speak, sent this man, whom Sforza
had banished, and who had found an asylum in Ferrara, to Cæsar to
congratulate him. Collenuccio gave the duke a report of his mission,
October 29th, in the following remarkable letter:

     MY ILLUSTRIOUS MASTER: Having left your Excellency, I
     reached Pesaro two and a half days ago, arriving there Thursday at
     the twenty-fourth hour. At exactly the same time the Duke of
     Valentino made his entry. The entire populace was gathered about
     the city gate, and he was received during a heavy fall of rain, and
     was presented with the keys of the city. He took up his abode in
     the palace, in the room formerly occupied by Signor Giovanni. His
     entry, according to the reports of some of my people who witnessed
     it, was very impressive. It was orderly, and he was accompanied by
     numerous horse and foot soldiers. The same evening I notified him
     of my arrival, and requested an audience whenever it should suit
     his Majesty's convenience. About two o'clock at night (eight
     o'clock in the evening) he sent Signor Ramiro and his majordomo to
     call upon me and to ask, in the most courteous manner, whether I
     was comfortably lodged, and whether, owing to the great number of
     people in the city, I lacked for anything. He had instructed them
     to tell me to rest myself thoroughly, and that he would receive me
     the following day. Early Wednesday he sent me by a courier, as a
     present, a sack of barley, a cask of wine, a wether, eight pairs of
     capons and hens, two large torches, two bundles of wax candles, and
     two boxes of sweetmeats. He, however, did not appoint an hour for
     an audience, but sent his excuses and said I must not think it
     strange. The reason was that he had risen at the twentieth hour
     (two o'clock in the afternoon) and had dined, after which he had
     gone to the castle, where he remained until night, and whence he
     returned greatly exhausted owing to a sore he had in the groin.

     To-day, about the twenty-second hour (four in the afternoon), after
     he had dined, he had Signor Ramiro fetch me to him; and with great
     frankness and amiability his Majesty first made his excuses for not
     granting me an audience the preceding day, owing to his having so
     much to do in the castle and also on account of the pain caused by
     his ulcer. Following this, and after I had stated that the sole
     object of my mission was to wait upon his Majesty to congratulate
     and thank him, and to offer your services, he answered me in
     carefully chosen words, covering each point and very fluently. The
     gist of it was, that knowing your Excellency's ability and
     goodness, he had always loved you and had hoped to enjoy personal
     relations with you. He had looked forward to this when you were in
     Milan, but events and circumstances then prevented it. But now that
     he had come to this country, he--determined to have his wish--had
     written the letter announcing his successes, of his own free will
     and as proof of his love, and feeling certain that your Majesty
     would be pleased by it. He says he will continue to keep you
     informed of his doings, as he desires to establish a firm
     friendship with your Majesty, and he proffers everything he owns
     and in his power should you ever have need. He desires to look upon
     you as a father. He also thanked your Majesty for the letter and
     for having sent it him by a messenger, although the letter was
     unnecessary; for even without it he would have known that your
     Majesty would be pleased by his success. In short, he could not
     have uttered better and more seemly words than those he used when
     he referred to you as his father and to himself as your son, which
     he did repeatedly.

     When I take both the actual facts and his words into consideration,
     I see why he wishes to establish some sort of friendly alliance
     with your Majesty. I believe in his professions, and I can see
     nothing but good in them. He was much pleased by your Majesty's
     sending a special messenger to him, and I heard that he had
     informed the Pope of it; to his followers here he spoke of it in a
     way that showed he considered it of the greatest moment.

     Replying in general terms, I said that I could only commend the
     wisdom he had shown in regard to your Excellency, owing to our
     position and to that of our State, which, however, could only
     redound to his credit; to this he emphatically assented. He gave me
     to understand that he recognized this perfectly, and thereupon,
     breaking the thread of our conversation, we came to the subject of
     Faenza. His Majesty said to me, "I do not know what Faenza wants to
     do; she can give us no more trouble than did the others; still she
     may delay matters. I replied that I believed she would do as the
     others had done; but if she did not, it could only redound to his
     Majesty's glory; for it would give him another opportunity to
     display his skill and valor by capturing the place." This seemed to
     please him, and he answered that he would assuredly crush it.
     Bologna was not mentioned. He was pleased by the messages which I
     brought him from your people, from Don Alfonso and the cardinal, of
     whom he spoke long and with every appearance of affection.

     Thereupon, having been together a full half hour, I took my
     departure, and his Majesty, mounting his horse, rode forth. This
     evening he is going to Gradara; to-morrow to Rimini, and then
     farther. He is accompanied by all his troops, including the
     artillery. He told me he would not move so slowly but that he did
     not wish to leave the cannon behind.

     There are more than two thousand men quartered here but they have
     done no appreciable damage. The surrounding country is swarming
     with troops; whether they have done much harm we do not know. He
     granted the city no privileges or exemptions. He left as his
     lieutenant a certain doctor of Forli. He took seventy pieces of
     artillery from the castle, and the guard he left there is very

     I will tell your Excellency something which a number of people
     mentioned to me; it was, however, related to me in detail by a
     Portuguese cavalier, a soldier in the army of the Duke of Valentino
     who is lodged here in the house of my son-in-law with fifteen
     troopers--an upright man who was a friend of our lord, Don
     Fernando, when he was with King Charles. He told me that the Pope
     intended to give this city to Madonna Lucretia for her portion, and
     that he had found a husband for her, an Italian, who would always
     be able to retain the friendship of Valentino. Whether this be true
     I know not, but it is generally believed.

     As to Fano, the Duke did not retain it. He was there five days. He
     did not want it, but the burghers presented it to him, and his it
     will be when he desires it. It is said the Pope commanded him not
     to take Fano unless the citizens themselves asked him to do so.
     Therefore it remained in _statu quo_.


     The Duke's daily life is as follows: he goes to bed at eight, nine,
     or ten o'clock at night (three to five o'clock in the morning).
     Consequently, the eighteenth hour is his dawn, the nineteenth his
     sunrise, and the twentieth his time for rising. Immediately on
     getting up he sits down to the table, and while there and
     afterwards he attends to his business affairs. He is considered
     brave, strong, and generous, and it is said he lays great store by
     straightforward men. He is terrible in revenge--so many tell me. A
     man of strong good sense, and thirsting for greatness and fame, he
     seems more eager to seize States than to keep and administer them.

  Your illustrious ducal Majesty's servant,


  PESARO, _Thursday, October 29_,
  Six o'clock at night, 1500.

  _The Duke's Retinue_

  Bartolomeo of Capranica, Field-Marshal.}
  Piero Santa Croce.                     }
  Giulio Alberino.                       }
  Mario Don Marian de Stephano.          }    All Noblemen of Rome.
  A brother of the last.                 }
  Menico Sanguigni.                      }
  Jo. Baptista Mancini.                  }
  Dorio Savello.                         }

  _Prominent Men in the Duke's Household._

  Bishop of Elna,                } Spaniards.
  Bishop of Sancta Sista,        }
  Bishop of Trani, an Italian.
  A Neapolitan abbot.
  Sigr Ramiro del Orca, Governor; he is the factotum.
  Don Hieronymo, a Portuguese.
  Messer Agabito da Amelio, Secretary.
  Mesr Alexandro Spannocchia, Treasurer, who says that the duke
     since his departure from Rome up to the present time has spent
     daily, on the average, eighteen hundred ducats.

Collenuccio in his letter omits to mention the fact that he had
addressed to Cæsar, the new master of Pesaro, a complaint against its
former lord, Giovanni Sforza, and that the duke had reinstated him in
the possession of his confiscated property. He was destined a few years
later bitterly to regret having taken this step. Guido Posthumus, on the
other hand, whose property Cæsar appropriated, fled to the Rangone in
Modena. Sforza, expelled, reached Venice November 2d, where he
endeavored, according to Malipiero, to sell the Republic his estates of
Pesaro--in which attempt he failed. Thence he went to Mantua. At that
time Modena and Mantua were the asylums of numerous exiled tyrants who
were hospitably received into the beautiful castle of the Gonzaga, which
was protected by the swamps of the Mincio.

After the fall of Pesaro, Rimini likewise expelled its hated oppressors,
the brothers Pandolfo and Carlo Malatesta, whereupon Cæsar Borgia laid
siege to Faenza. The youthful Astorre, its lord, finally surrendered,
April 25, 1501, to the destroyer, on the duke's promise not to deprive
him of his liberty. Cæsar, however, sent the unfortunate young man to
Rome, where he and his brother Octavian, together with several other
victims, were confined in the castle of S. Angelo. This was the same
Astorre with whom Cardinal Alessandro Farnese wished to unite his sister
Giulia in marriage, and the unfortunate youth may now have regretted
that this alliance had not taken place.


[81] His correspondence with Gonzaga is preserved in the archives of

[82] Ad. Pisaurenses: Guidi Posthumi Silvestris Pisaurensis Elegiarum
Librii ii, p. 33. Bonon, 1524.

[83] Pietro Marzetti, Memorie di Pesaro. Ms. in the Oliveriana.



During this time Lucretia, with her child Rodrigo, was living in the
palace of S. Peter's. If she was inclined to grieve for her husband, her
father left her little time to give way to her feelings. He had recourse
to her thoughtlessness and vanity, for the dead Alfonso was to be
replaced by another and greater Alfonso. Scarcely was the Duke of
Biselli interred before a new alliance was planned. As early as
November, 1500, there was talk of Lucretia's marrying the hereditary
Prince of Ferrara, who, since 1497, had been a widower; he was
childless, and was just twenty-four years of age. Marino Zorzi, the new
Venetian ambassador, first mentioned the project to his signory November
26th. This union, however, had been considered in the Vatican much
earlier--in fact while Lucretia's husband was still living. At the
Christmas holidays of 1500 it was publicly stated that she was to marry
the Duke of Gravina, an Orsini who, undeterred by the fate of Lucretia's
former husbands, came to Rome in December to sue for her hand. Some hope
was held out to him, probably with a view to retaining the friendship of
his family.

Alexander himself conceived the plan of marrying Lucretia to Alfonso of
Ferrara. He desired this alliance both on his beloved daughter's account
and because it could not fail to prove advantageous to Cæsar; it would
not only assure to him the possession of Romagna, which Venice might
try to wrest from him, but it would also increase his chances of
consummating his plans regarding Bologna and Florence. At the same time
it would bring to him the support of the dynasties of Mantua and Urbino,
which were connected by marriage with the house of Ferrara. It would be
the nucleus of a great league, including France, the Papacy, Cæsar's
States, Ferrara, Mantua, and Urbino, which would be sufficiently strong
to defend Alexander and his house against all enemies.

If the King of France was to maintain his position in Italy he would
require, above all else, the help of the Pope. He already occupied
Milan, and he wished to seize half of the kingdom of Naples and hold it
as a vassal of the Church; for France and Spain had already agreed upon
the wicked partition of Naples, to which Alexander had thus far neither
refused nor given his consent.

In order to win over the Duke of Ferrara to his bold scheme, Alexander
availed himself, first of all, of Giambattista Ferrari of Modena, an old
retainer of Ercole, who was wholly devoted to the Pope, and whom he had
made datarius and subsequently a cardinal. Ferrari ventured to suggest
the marriage to the duke, "on account," so he wrote him, "of the great
advantage which would accrue to his State from it."[84] This proposal
caused Ercole no less embarrassment than King Federico of Naples had
felt when he was placed in a similar position. His pride rebelled. His
daughter, the noble Marchioness Isabella of Mantua, and her
sister-in-law Elisabetta of Urbino, were literally beside themselves.
The youthful Alfonso objected most vigorously. Moreover, there was a
plan afoot to marry the hereditary duke to a princess of the royal
house of France, Louise, widow of the Duke of Angoulême.[85] Ercole
rejected the offer absolutely.

Alexander had foreseen his opposition, but he felt sure he could
overcome it. He had the advantages of the alliance pointed out more
clearly, and also the disadvantages which might result from a refusal;
on one hand was Ferrara's safety and advancement, and on the other the
hostility of Cæsar and the Pope, and perhaps also that of France.[86]
Alexander was so certain of his victory that he made no secret of the
projected marriage, and he even spoke of it with satisfaction in the
consistory, as if it were an accomplished fact.[87] He succeeded in
winning the support of the French court, which, however, was not
difficult, as Louis XII was then very anxious for the Pope to allow him
to lead his army out of Tuscany, through the States of the Church, into
Naples, which he could not do without the secret consent of his
Holiness. Above all, the Pope counted on the help of Cardinal Amboise,
to whom Cæsar had taken the red hat when he went to France, and whose
ambitious glances were directed toward the papal throne, which, with the
aid of his friend Cæsar and of the Spanish cardinals, he hoped to reach
on the death of Alexander.

It is, nevertheless, a fact that Louis XII at first was opposed to the
match, and even endeavored to prevent it. He himself was not only
determinedly set against everything which would increase the power of
Cæsar and the Pope, but he was also anxious to enhance his own influence
with Ferrara by bringing about the marriage of Alfonso and some French
princess. In May Alexander sent a secretary to France to induce the king
to use his influence to effect the alliance, but this Louis declined to
do.[88] On the other hand, he was anxious to bring about the marriage of
Don Ferrante, Alfonso's brother, with Lucretia, and secure for her, as
portion, the territory of Piombino.[89] He had also placed a check on
Cæsar's operations in Central Italy, in consequence of which the
latter's attempts against Bologna and Florence had miscarried.

The whole scheme for the marriage would have fallen through if the
subject of the French expedition against Naples had not just then come
up. There is ground for believing that the Pope's consent was made
contingent upon the King's agreeing to the marriage.

June 13, 1501, Cæsar himself, now created Duke of Romagna by his father,
came secretly to Rome, where he remained three weeks, exerting all his
efforts to further the plan. After this, he and his men at arms followed
the French Marshal Aubigny, who had set out from near Rome for Naples,
to engage in a nefarious war of conquest, whose horrors, in the briefest
of time, overwhelmed the house of Aragon.

As early as June the King of France yielded to the Pope's solicitations,
and exerted his influence in Ferrara, as appears from a despatch of the
Ferrarese ambassador to France, dated June 22d. He reported to Ercole
that he had stated to the king that the Pope threatened to deprive the
duke of his domain if he did not consent to the marriage; whereupon the
king replied that Ferrara was under his protection and could fall only
when France fell. The envoy feared that the Pope might avail himself of
the question of the investiture of Naples--upon which the king was
determined--to win him over to his side. He finally wrote the duke that
Monsignor de Trans, the most influential person at the king's court, had
advised him to agree to the marriage upon the conditional payment of two
hundred thousand ducats, the remission of Ferrara's annual dues, and
certain benefices for the house of Este.[90]

Amboise sent the Archbishop of Narbonne and other agents to Ferrara to
win over the duke; the King of France himself wrote and urged him to
give his consent, and he now refused Don Alfonso the hand of the French
princess. While the French ambassador was presenting his case to the
duke, the Pope's messengers and Cæsar's agents were also endeavoring to
secure his consent. Caught in a network of intrigue, fear at last forced
Ercole to yield.

July 8th he had Louis XII notified that he would do as he wished, if he
and the Pope could agree upon the conditions.[91] He yielded only to the
demand of the king, who advised the marriage solely because he himself
had need of the Pope. All the while he was urging Ercole to give his
consent, he was also counselling him not to be in too great haste to
send his son Don Ferrante to Rome to conclude the matter, but to hold
him back as long as possible--until he himself should reach Lombardy,
which would be in September. He even had Ercole informed that he would
keep his promise to bestow the hand of Madonna d'Angoulême on Don
Alfonso, and he made no effort to conceal the displeasure he felt on
account of the projected alliance with Lucretia.[92] To the Ferrarese
ambassador he remarked that he would consider the duke unwise if he
allowed his son to marry the daughter of the Pope, for, on Alexander's
death, he would no longer know with whom he had concluded the alliance,
and Alfonso's position would become very uncertain.[93]

The duke did not hurry; it is true he sent his secretary, Hector
Bellingeri, to Rome, but only for the purpose of telling the Pope that
he had yielded to the king's wishes upon the condition that his own
demands would be satisfied. The Pope and Cæsar, however, urged that the
marriage contract be executed at once, and they requested the Cardinal
of Rouen, who was then in Milan, to induce Ercole to send his son
Alfonso there (to Milan), so that the transaction might be concluded in
the cardinal's presence. This the duke refused to do until the Pope
agreed to the conditions upon which he had based his consent.[94]

While these shameful negotiations regarding Lucretia were dragging on,
Cæsar was in Naples, and was the instrument and witness of the sudden
overthrow of the hated house of Aragon, whose throne, however, was not
to fall to his portion. Alexander used this opportunity to appropriate
the property of the barons of Latium, especially that of the Colonna,
the Savelli, and Estouteville, all of which, owing to the Neapolitan
war, had been left without protection. The confiscation of this property
was, as we shall soon see, part of the scheme which included the
marriage. As early as June, 1501, he had taken possession of a number
of cities belonging to these families. Alexander, accompanied by troops,
horse and foot-soldiers, went to Sermoneta July 27th.

This was the time that--just before his departure--he made Lucretia his
representative in the Vatican. Following are Burchard's words: "Before
his Holiness, our Master, left the city, he turned over the palace and
all the business affairs to his daughter Lucretia, authorizing her to
open all letters which should come addressed to him. In important
matters she was to ask advice of the Cardinal of Lisbon.

"When a certain matter came up--I do not know just what it was--it is
said Lucretia went to the above-named cardinal and informed him of the
Pope's instructions, and laid the matter before him. Thereupon he said
to her, that whenever the Pope had anything to submit to the consistory,
the vice-chancellor, or some other cardinal in his stead, would write it
down together with the opinions of those present; therefore some one
should now record what is said. Lucretia replied, 'I can write very
well.' 'Where is your pen?' asked the cardinal. Lucretia saw that he was
joking, and she laughed, and thus their conference had a fit ending."

What a scene for the Vatican! A young and beautiful woman, the Pope's
own daughter, presiding over the cardinals in consistory. This one scene
is sufficient to show to what depths the Church of Rome had sunk; it is
more convincing than a thousand satires, than a thousand official
reports. The affairs which the Pope entrusted to his daughter were--at
least so we assume--wholly secular and not ecclesiastical; but this bold
proceeding was entirely unprecedented. The prominence given Lucretia,
the highest proof of favor her father could show her, was due to
special reasons. Alexander had just been assured of the consent of
Alfonso d'Este to the marriage with Lucretia, and in his joy he made her
regent in the Vatican. This was to show that he recognized in her, the
prospective Duchess of Ferrara, a person of weight in the politics of
the peninsula. In doing this he was simply imitating the example of
Ercole and other princes, who were accustomed, when absent from their
domains, to confide state business to the women of their families.

The duke had found it difficult to overcome his son's objections, for
nothing could offend the young prince so deeply as the determination to
compel him to marry Lucretia; not because she was an illegitimate child,
for this blot signified little in that age when bastards flourished in
all Latin countries. Many of the ruling dynasties of Italy bore this
stain--the Sforza, the Malatesta, the Bentivoglio, and the Aragonese of
Naples; even the brilliant Borso, the first Duke of Ferrara, was the
illegitimate brother of his successor, Ercole. Lucretia, however, was
the daughter of a Pope, the child of a priest, and this, in the eyes of
the Este, constituted her disgrace. Neither her father's licentiousness
nor Cæsar's crimes could have greatly affected the moral sense of the
court of Ferrara, but not one of the princely houses of that age was so
depraved that it was indifferent to the reputation of a woman destined
to become one of its prominent members.

Alfonso was the prospective husband of a young woman whose career,
although she was only twenty-one years of age, had been most
extraordinary. Twice had Lucretia been legally betrothed, twice had she
been married, and twice had she been made a widow by the wickedness or
crimes of others. Her reputation, consequently, was bad, therefore
Alfonso, himself a man of the world, never could feel sure of this
young woman's virtue, even if he did not believe all the reports which
were circulated regarding her. The scandalous gossip about everything
which takes place at court passed from city to city just as quickly then
as it does now. The duke and his son were informed by their agents of
everything which actually occurred in the Borgia family, as well as of
every story which was started concerning its members. The frightful
reasons which the disgraced Sforza had given Lucretia's father in
writing as grounds for the annulment of his marriage were at once
communicated to the duke in Ferrara. The following year his agent in
Venice informed him that "a report had come from Rome that the Pope's
daughter had given birth to an illegitimate child."[95] Moreover, all
the satires with which the enemies of the Borgias persecuted
them--including Lucretia--were well known at the court of Ferrara, and
doubtless maliciously enjoyed. Are we warranted in assuming that the
Este considered these reports and satires as really well founded, and
yet overcame their scruples sufficiently to receive a Thais into their
house when they would have incurred much less danger by following the
example of Federico of Naples, who had persisted in refusing his
daughter's hand to Cæsar Borgia?

It is now time to investigate the charges which were made against
Lucretia; and, in view of what Roscoe and others have already proved,
this will not occupy us long. The number of accusers among her
contemporaries certainly is not small. The following--to name only the
most important--charged her explicitly or by implication with incest:
the poets Sannazzaro and Pontanus, and the historians and statesmen
Matarazzo, Marcus Attilius Alexis, Petrus Martyr, Priuli, Macchiavelli,
and Guicciardini, and their opinions have been constantly reiterated
down to the present time. On the other side we have her eulogists among
her contemporaries and their successors.

Here it should be noted that Lucretia's accusers and their charges can
refer only to the Roman period of her life, while her admirers appear
only in the second epoch, when she was Duchess of Ferrara. Among the
latter are men who are no less famous than her accusers: Tito and Ercole
Strozzi, Bembo, Aldo Manuzio, Tebaldeo, Ariosto, all the chroniclers of
Ferrara, and the French biographer Bayard. All these bore witness to the
uprightness of her life while in Ferrara, but of her career in Rome they
knew nothing. Lucretia's advocate, therefore, can offer only negative
proofs of her virtue. Even making allowance for the courtier's flattery,
we are warranted in assuming that upright men like Aldo, Bembo, and
Ariosto could never have been so shameless as to pronounce a woman the
ideal character of her day if they had believed her guilty, or even
capable, of the hideous crimes with which she had been charged only a
short time before.

Among Lucretia's accusers only those who were actual witnesses of her
life in Rome are worthy of attention; and Guicciardini, her bitterest
enemy, is not of this number. The verdicts of all later writers,
however, have been based upon his opinion of Lucretia, because of his
fame as a statesman and historian. He himself made up his estimate from
current gossip or from the satires of Pontanus and Sannazzaro--two poets
who lived in Naples and not in Rome. Their epigrams merely show that
they were inspired by a deep-seated hatred of Alexander and Cæsar, who
had wrought the overthrow of the Aragonese dynasty, and further with
what crimes men were ready to credit evil-doers.

[Illustration: GUICCIARDINI.

From an engraving by Blanchard.]

The words of Burchard, who was a daily witness of everything that
occurred in the Vatican, must be considered as of much greater weight.
Against him in particular has the spleen of the papists been directed,
for by them his writings are regarded as the poisonous source from which
the enemies of the papacy, especially the Protestants, have derived
material for their slanders regarding Alexander VI. Their anger may
readily be explained, for Burchard's diary is the only work written in
Rome--with the exception of that of Infessura, which breaks off abruptly
at the beginning of 1494--which treats of Alexander's court; moreover,
it possesses an official character. Those, however, who attempt to
palliate the doings of the papacy would feel less hatred for Burchard if
they were acquainted with the reports of the Venetian envoys and the
despatches of innumerable other ambassadors which have been used in this

Burchard is absolutely free from malice, making no mention whatever of
Alexander's private conduct. He records only facts--never rumors--and
these he glosses over or cloaks diplomatically. The Venetian ambassador
Polo Capello reports how Cæsar Borgia stabbed the chamberlain Perotto
through the Pope's robe, but Burchard makes no mention of the fact. The
same ambassador explicitly states, as does also a Ferrarese agent, that
Cæsar killed his brother Gandia; Burchard, however, utters not a word
concerning the subject.[96] Nor does he say anything about the way
Cæsar despatched his brother-in-law Alfonso. The relations of the
members of the Borgia family to each other and to strangers, such as the
Farnese, the Pucci, and the Orsini; the intrigues at the papal court;
the long series of crimes; the extortion of money; the selling of the
cardinal's hat; and all the other enormities which fill the despatches
of the ambassadors--regarding all this Burchard is silent. Even Vannozza
he names but once, and then incorrectly. There are two passages in
particular in his diary which have given the greatest offense: the
report of the bacchanal of fifty harlots in the Vatican, and the attack
made on the Borgias in the anonymous letter to Silvio Savelli. These
passages are found in all the manuscripts and doubtless also in the
original of the diary. That the letter to Silvio is a fabrication of
neither Burchard nor of some malicious Protestant is proved by the fact
that Marino Sanuto also reproduces it in his diary. Further, that
neither Burchard nor any subsequent writer concocted the story of the
Vatican bacchanal is proved by the same letter, whose author relates it
as a well-known fact. Matarazzo of Perugia also confirms it; his account
differs from that of Burchard, whose handwriting he could hardly have
seen at that time, but it agrees with reports which he himself had
heard. He remarks that he gave it full credence, "for the thing was
known far and wide, and because my informants were not Romans merely,
but were the Italian people, therefore have I mentioned it."

This remark indicates the source of the scandalous anecdote--it was
common talk. It doubtless was based upon an actual banquet which Cæsar
gave in his palace in the Vatican. Some such orgy may have taken place
there, but who will believe that Lucretia, now the legally recognized
bride of Alfonso d'Este and about to set out for Ferrara, was an amused
spectator of it?

This is the only passage in Burchard's diary where Lucretia appears in
an unfavorable light; nowhere else has he recorded anything
discreditable to her. The accusations of the Neopolitans and of
Guicciardini are not substantiated by anything in his diary. In fact we
find corroboration nowhere unless we regard Matarazzo as an authority,
which he certainly was not. He states that Giovanni Sforza had
discovered that criminal relations existed between his wife and Cæsar
and Don Giovanni, to which a still more terrible suspicion was added.
Sforza, therefore, had murdered Gandia and fled from Rome, and in
consequence Alexander had dissolved his marriage. Setting aside the
monstrous idea that the young woman was guilty at one and the same time
of threefold incest, Matarazzo's account contains an anachronism: Sforza
left Rome two months before the murder of Gandia.

An authentic despatch of the Ferrarese ambassador in Milan, dated June
23, 1497, makes it clear that Lucretia's worthless consort was the one
who started these rumors about her. Certainly no one could have known
Lucretia's character and mode of life better than her husband.
Nevertheless Sforza, before the tribunals of every age, would be
precisely the one whose testimony would receive the least credit.
Consuming with hate and a desire for revenge, this was the reason he
ascribed to the evil-minded Pope for dissolving the marriage. Thus the
suspicion he let drop became a rumor, and the rumor ultimately
crystallized into a belief. In this connection, however, it is worthy of
note that Guido Posthumus, Sforza's faithful retainer, who in epigrams
revenged himself on Alexander for his master's disgrace, neither
mentions this suspicion nor anywhere refers to Lucretia.[97]

In none of the numerous despatches of the day is this suspicion
mentioned, although in a private letter of Malipiero's, dated Rome, June
17, 1497, and in one of Polo Capello's reports, allusion is made to the
"rumor" regarding the criminal relations of Don Giovanni and his
sister.[98] Could the fact that Lucretia never engaged in any love
intrigue--at least she is not charged with having done so--with anyone
else, when there were in Rome so many courtiers, young nobles, and great
cardinals who were her daily companions, have given rise to these
reports? It is a fact that nothing has been discovered which would
indicate that this beautiful young woman ever did engage in any love
affair. Even the report of the ambassador, who, writing to Ferrara, not
from Rome but from Venice, states that Lucretia had given birth to a
child stands alone. She had at that time been separated from her husband
Sforza a whole year. But even if we admit that this rumor was well
founded, and that Lucretia did engage in some illicit love affair, are
not these relations and slips frequent enough in all societies and at
all times? Even now nothing is more readily glossed over in the polite

It is difficult to believe that Lucretia, in the midst of the depravity
of Rome, and in the environment in which she was placed, could have kept
herself spotless; but just as little will any unprejudiced person
believe that she was really guilty of that unmentionable crime. If it
were possible to conceive that a young woman could have the strength--a
strength beyond that of the most depraved and hardened man--to hide
behind a joyous exterior the moral perturbation which the most loathsome
crime in the world would certainly cause the subject, we should be
forced to admit that Lucretia Borgia possessed a power of dissimulation
which passed all human bounds. Nothing, however, charmed the Ferrarese
so much as the never failing, graceful joyousness of Alfonso's young
wife. Any woman of feeling can decide correctly whether--if Lucretia
were guilty of the crimes with which she was charged--she could have
appeared as she did, and whether the countenance which we behold in the
portrait of the bride of Alfonso d'Este in 1502 could be the face of the
inhuman fury described in Sannazzaro's epigram.


[84] Compare Sannazzaro's epitaph on Alexander VI with the epigram of
Guido Posthumus: In Tumulum Sexti.

[85] Cardinal Ferrari to Ercole, Rome, February 18, 1501. This is the
first of the letters regarding this subject in the archives of Modena.

[86] Ercole's letter to his ambassador in Florence, Manfredo Manfredi,
April 25, 1501. Archives of Modena.

[87] Ferrari to Ercole, May 1, 1501.

[88] Girolamo Saerati to Ercole, Rome, May 8, 1501.

[89] Bartolomeo de' Cavallieri, Ferrarese ambassador to France, to
Ercole, Chalons, May 26, 1501.

[90] At least such was the plan advocated by Monsignor de Trans, French
ambassador in Rome. Letter of Aldovrandus de Guidonibus to Duke Ercole,
Lugo, April 25, 1501. State archives of Modena.

[91] Bartolomeo de' Cavallieri to Ercole, Lyons, June 22, 1501.

[92] Ercole to Giovanni Valla, July 8, 1501. Ercole to the Cardinal of
Rouen, July 8, 1501.

[93] Despatches of Bartolomeo de'Cavallieri, Ferrarese ambassador at the
court of France, to Ercole, July 10, 14, and 21, 1501.

[94] Despatch of the same, undated.

[95] Ercole to Giovanni Valla, his special envoy to the Cardinal of
Rouen, in Milan, July 21 and 26, 1501.

[96] Da Roma accertasi, che la figliola del papa ha partorito.... Giov.
Alberto della Pigna to the duke, Venice, March 15, 1498. Archives of

[97] One of the first statements that Cæsar was his brother's murderer
is found in a despatch of the Ferrarese ambassador at Venice. De novo ho
inteso, como de la morte del Duca di Candia fo causa el Cardinale suo
fratello. Pigna's despatch to Ercole, Venice, February 22, 1498.

[98] The Malipiero letter (Archiv. Stor. It. VII, i, 490) contains the
following: Si dice, que il sig. Giovanni Sforza ha fatto questo effetto
(the murder of Gandia) perchè il Duca (di Gandia) usava con la sorella,
sua consorte, la qual è fiola del Papa, ma d'un altra madre (which was
incorrect). The Venetian ambassador, Polo Capello, refers to this rumor
(si dice) in his well known Relation of September, 1500.



The hereditary Prince of Ferrara made a determined resistance before
yielding to his father's pressure, but the latter was now so anxious for
the marriage to take place that he told his son that, if he persisted in
his refusal, he would be compelled to marry Lucretia himself. After the
duke had overcome his son's pride and secured his consent, he regarded
the marriage merely as an advantageous piece of statecraft. He sold the
honor of his house at the highest price obtainable. The Pope's agents in
Ferrara, frightened by Ercole's demands, sent Ramondo Remolini to Rome
to submit them to Alexander, who sought the intervention of the King of
France to secure more favorable terms from the duke. A letter from the
Ferrarese ambassador to France to his master throws a bright light on
this transaction.

     MY ILLUSTRIOUS MASTER: Yesterday the Pope's envoy told me
     that his Holiness had written him about the messenger your
     Excellency had sent him demanding two hundred thousand ducats, the
     remission of the annual tribute, the granting of the _jus
     patronatus_ for the bishopric of Ferrara, by decree of the
     consistory, and certain other concessions. He told me that the Pope
     had offered a hundred thousand, and as to the rest--your Excellency
     should trust to him, for he would grant them in time and would
     advance the interests of the house of Este so that everyone would
     see how high in his favor it stood. In addition, he told me that he
     was instructed to ask his most Christian Majesty to write to the
     illustrious cardinal to advise your Excellency to agree. As your
     Excellency's devoted servant I mention this, although it is
     superfluous; for if this marriage is to take place, you will
     arrange it in such a way that "much promising and little
     fulfillment" will not cause you to regret it. I informed your
     Excellency in an earlier letter how his most Christian Majesty had
     told me that his wishes in this affair were the same as your own,
     and that if the marriage was to be brought about, you might derive
     as much profit from it as possible, and if it was not to take
     place, his Majesty stood ready to give Don Alfonso the lady whom
     your Excellency might select for him in France.

  Your ducal Excellency's servant,


  LYONS, _August 7, 1501_.

Alexander did not wish to send his daughter to Ferrara with empty hands,
but the portion which Ercole demanded was not a modest one. It was
larger than Blanca Sforza had brought the Emperor Maximilian; moreover,
one of the duke's demands involved an infraction of the canon law, for,
in addition to the large sum of money, he insisted upon the remission of
the yearly tribute paid the Church by the fief of Ferrara, the cession
of Cento and Pieve, cities which belonged to the archbishopric of
Bologna, and even on the relinquishment of Porto Cesenatico and a large
number of benefices in favor of the house of Este. They wrangled
violently, but so great was the Pope's desire to secure the ducal throne
of Ferrara for his daughter that he soon announced that he would
practically agree to Ercole's demands, which Cæsar urged him to do.[99]
Nor was Lucretia herself less urgent in begging her father to consent;
she was the duke's most able advocate in Rome, and Ercole knew that it
was due largely to her skilful pleading that he succeeded in carrying
his point.

The negotiations took this favorable turn about the end of July or the
beginning of August, and the earliest of the duke's letters to Lucretia
and the Pope, among those preserved in the archives of the house of
Este, belong to this period.

August 6th Ercole wrote his future daughter-in-law, recommending to her
for her agent one Agostino Huet (a secretary of Cæsar's), who had shown
the greatest interest in conducting the negotiations.

August 10th he reported to the Pope the result of the conferences which
had taken place, and urged him not to look on his demands as
unreasonable. This he repeated in a letter dated August 21st, in which
he stated in plain, commercial terms that the price was low enough; in
fact, that it was merely nominal.

In the meantime the projected marriage had become known to the world,
and was the subject of diplomatic consideration, for the strengthening
of the papacy was agreeable to neither the Powers of Italy nor those
beyond the peninsula. Florence and Bologna, which Cæsar coveted were
frightened; the Republic of Venice, which was in constant friction with
Ferrara, and which had designs upon the coast of Romagna, did not
conceal her annoyance, and she ascribed the whole thing to Cæsar's
ambition.[100] The King of France put a good face upon the matter, as
did also the King of Spain; but Maximilian was so opposed to the
marriage that he endeavored to prevent it. Ferrara was just beginning to
acquire the political importance which Florence had possessed in the
time of Lorenzo de' Medici, consequently its influence was such that the
German emperor could not be indifferent to an alliance between it and
the papacy and France. Moreover, Bianca Sforza was Maximilian's wife,
and at the German court there were other members and retainers of the
overthrown house--all bitter enemies of the Borgias.

In August the Emperor despatched letters to Ferrara in which he warned
Ercole against any marital alliance between his house and that of
Alexander. This warning of Maximilian's must have been highly acceptable
to the duke, as he could use it to force the Pope to accede to his
demands. He mentioned the letter to his Holiness, but assured him that
his determination would remain unshaken. Then he instructed his
counselor, Gianluca Pozzi, to answer the Emperor's letter.[101] Ercole's
letter to his chancellor is dated August 25th, but before its contents
became known in Rome the Pope hastened to agree to the duke's
conditions, and to have the marriage contract executed. This was done in
the Vatican, August 26, 1501.[102]

He immediately despatched Cardinal Ferrari to Ercole with the contract,
whereupon Don Ramiro Remolini and other proxies hastened to
Ferrara,[103] where, in the castle of Belfiore, the nuptial contract was
concluded _ad verba_, September 1, 1501.

On the same day the duke wrote Lucretia, saying that, while he hitherto
had loved her on account of her virtues and on account of the Pope and
her brother Cæsar, he now loved her more as a daughter. In the same tone
he wrote to Alexander himself, informing him that the betrothal had
taken place, and thanking him for bestowing the dignity of Archpriest of
S. Peter's on his son, Cardinal Ippolito.[104]

Less diplomatic was Ercole's letter to the Marchese Gonzaga informing
him of the event. It clearly shows what was his real opinion, and he
tries to excuse himself for consenting by saying he was forced to take
the step.

     Majesty that we have recently decided--owing to practical
     considerations--to consent to an alliance between our house and
     that of his Holiness--the marriage of our eldest son, Alfonso, and
     the illustrious lady Lucretia Borgia, sister of the illustrious
     Duke of Romagna and Valentinois, chiefly because we were urged to
     consent by his Most Christian Majesty, and on condition that his
     Holiness would agree to everything stipulated in the marriage
     contract. Subsequently his Holiness and ourselves came to an
     agreement, and the Most Christian King persistently urged us to
     execute the contract. This was done to-day in God's name, and with
     the assistance of the (French) ambassador and the proxies of his
     Holiness, who were present; and it was also published this morning.
     I hasten to inform your Majesty of the event because our mutual
     relations and love require that you should be made acquainted with
     everything which concerns us--and so we offer ourselves to do your

     FERRARA, _September 2, 1501_.[105]

September 4th a courier brought the news that the nuptial contract had
been signed in Ferrara. Alexander immediately had the Vatican
illuminated and the cannon of Castle S. Angelo announce the glad
tidings. All Rome resounded with the jubilations of the retainers of the
house of Borgia.

This moment was the turning point in Lucretia's life. If her soul
harbored any ambition and yearning for worldly greatness, what must she
now have felt when the opportunity to ascend the princely throne of one
of Italy's oldest houses was offered her! If she had any regret and
loathing for what had surrounded her in Rome, and if longings for a
better life were stronger in her than were these vain desires, there was
now held out to her the promise of a haven of rest. She was to become
the wife of a prince famous, not for grace and culture, but for his good
sense and earnestness. She had seen him once in Rome, in her early
youth, when she was Sforza's betrothed. No sacrifice would be too great
for her if it would wipe out the remembrance of the nine years which had
followed that day. The victory she had now won by the shameful
complaisance of the house of Este was associated with deep humiliation,
for she knew that Alfonso had condescended to accept her hand only after
long urging and under threats. A bold, intriguing woman might overcome
this feeling of humiliation by summoning up the consciousness of her
genius and her charm; while one less strong, but endowed with beauty and
sweetness, might be fascinated by the idea of disarming a hostile
husband with the magic of her personality. The question, however,
whether any honor accrued to her by marrying a man against his will, or
whether under such circumstances a high-minded woman would not have
scornfully refused, would probably never arise in the mind of such a
light-headed woman as Lucretia certainly was, and if it did in her case,
Cæsar and her father would never have allowed her to give voice to any
such undiplomatic scruples. We can discover no trace of moral pride in
her; all we discern is a childishly naive joy at her prospective

The Roman populace saw her, accompanied by three hundred knights and
four bishops, pass along the city streets, September 5th, on her way to
S. Maria del Popolo to offer prayers of thanksgiving. Following a
curious custom of the day, which shows Folly and Wisdom side by side,
just as we find them in Calderon's and Shakespeare's dramas, Lucretia
presented the costly robe which she wore when she offered up her prayer,
to one of her court fools, and the clown ran merrily through the streets
of Rome, bawling out, "Long live the illustrious Duchess of Ferrara!
Long live Pope Alexander!" With noisy demonstrations the Borgias and
their retainers celebrated the great event.

Alexander summoned a consistory, as though this family affair were an
important Church matter. With childish loquacity he extolled Duke
Ercole, pronouncing him the greatest and wisest of the princes of Italy;
he described Don Alfonso as a handsomer and greater man than his son
Cæsar, adding that his former wife was a sister-in-law of the Emperor.
Ferrara was a fortunate State, and the house of Este an ancient one; a
marriage train of great princes was shortly to come to Rome to take the
bride away, and the Duchess of Urbino was to accompany it.[106]

September 14th Cæsar Borgia returned from Naples, where Federico, the
last Aragonese king of that country, had been forced to yield to France.
To his great satisfaction he found Lucretia prospective Duchess of
Ferrara. On the fifteenth Ercole's envoys, Saraceni and Bellingeri,
appeared. Their object was to see that the Pope fulfilled his
obligations promptly. The duke was a practical man; he did not trust
him. He was unwilling to send the bridal escort until he had the papal
bull in his own hands. Lucretia supported the ambassador so zealously
that Saraceni wrote his master that she already appeared to him to be a
good Ferrarese.[107] She was present in the Vatican while Alexander
carried on the negotiations. He sometimes used Latin for the purpose of
displaying his linguistic attainments; but on one occasion, out of
regard for Lucretia, he ordered that Italian be used, which proves that
his daughter was not a perfect mistress of the classic tongue.

From this ambassador's despatches it appears that life in the Vatican
was extremely agreeable. They sang, played and danced every evening. One
of Alexander's greatest delights was to watch beautiful women dancing,
and when Lucretia and the ladies of her court were so engaged he was
careful to summon the Ferrarese ambassadors so that they might note his
daughter's grace. One evening he remarked laughingly that "they might
see that the duchess was not lame."[108]

       *       *       *       *       *

The Pope never tired of passing the nights in this way, although Cæsar,
a strong man, was worn out by the ceaseless round of pleasure. When the
latter consented to grant the ambassadors an audience, a favor which was
not often bestowed even on cardinals, he received them dressed, but
lying in bed, which caused Saraceni to remark in his despatch, "I feared
that he was sick, for last evening he danced without intermission, which
he will do again tonight at the Pope's palace, where the illustrious
duchess is going to sup."[109] Lucretia regarded it as a relief when, a
few days later, the Pope went to Civitacastellana and Nepi. September
25th the ambassadors wrote to Ferrara, "The illustrious lady continues
somewhat ailing, and is greatly fatigued; she is not, however, under the
care of any physician, nor does she neglect her affairs, but grants
audiences as usual. We think that this indisposition merely indicates
that her Majesty should take better care of herself. The rest which she
will have while his Holiness is away will do her good; for whenever she
is at the Pope's palace, the entire night, until two or three o'clock,
is spent in dancing and at play, which fatigues her greatly."[110]

About this time occurred a disagreeable episode in connection with
Giovanni Sforza, Lucretia's divorced husband, which the Pope discussed
with the Ferrarese ambassadors. What they feared from him is revealed by
the following despatch:

     ILLUSTRIOUS PRINCE AND MASTER: As his Holiness the Pope
     desires to take all proper precautions to prevent the occurrence of
     anything that might be unpleasant to your Excellency, to Don
     Alfonso, and especially to the duchess, and also to himself, he has
     asked us to write your Excellency and request that you see to it
     that Lord Giovanni of Pesaro--who, his Holiness has been informed,
     is in Mantua--shall not be in Ferrara at the time of the marriage
     festivities. For, although his divorce from the above named
     illustrious lady was absolutely legal and according to prescribed
     form, as the records of the proceedings clearly show, he himself
     fully consenting to it, he may, nevertheless, still harbor some
     resentment. If he should be in Ferrara there would be a possibility
     of his seeing the lady, and her Excellency would therefore be
     compelled to remain in concealment to escape disagreeable
     memories. He, therefore, requests your Excellency to prevent this
     possibility with your usual foresight. Thereupon his Holiness
     freely expressed his opinion of the Marchese of Mantua, and
     censured him severely because he of all the Italian princes was the
     only one who offered an asylum to outcasts, and especially to those
     who were under not only his own ban, but under that of his Most
     Christian Majesty. We endeavored, however, to excuse the marchese
     by saying that he, a high-minded man, could not close his domain to
     such as wished to come to him, especially when they were people of
     importance, and we used every argument to defend him. His Holiness,
     however, seemed displeased by our defense of the marchese. Your
     Excellency may, therefore, make such arrangements as in your wisdom
     seem proper. And so we, in all humility, commend ourselves to your

     ROME, _September 23, 1501_.[111]

As a result of Ercole's insistence, the question of the reduction of
Ferrara's yearly tribute as a fief of the Holy See from four hundred
ducats to one hundred florins was brought to a vote in the consistory,
September 17th. It was expected that there would be violent opposition.
Alexander explained what Ercole had done for Ferrara, his founding
convents and churches, and his strengthening the city, thus making it a
bulwark for the States of the Church. The cardinals were induced to
favor the reduction by the intervention of the Cardinal of Cosenza--one
of Lucretia's creatures--and of Messer Troche, Cæsar's confidant. They
authorized the reduction and the Pope thanked them, especially praising
the older cardinals--the younger, those of his own creation, having been
more obstinate.[112]

The same day he secured possession of the property he had wrested from
the barons who had been placed under his ban August 20th. These domains,
which embraced a large part of the Roman Campagna, were divided into two
districts. The center of one was Nepi; that of the other Sermoneta--two
cities which Lucretia, their former mistress, immediately renounced.
Alexander made these duchies over to two children, Giovanni Borgia and
Rodrigo. At first the Pope ascribed the paternity of the former child to
his own son Cæsar, but subsequently he publicly announced that he
himself was its father.

It is difficult to believe in such unexampled shamelessness, but the
legal documents to prove it are in existence. Both bulls are dated
September 1, 1501, and are addressed to my beloved son, "the noble
Giovanni de Borgia and Infante of Rome." In the former, Alexander states
that Giovanni, a child of three years, was the natural son of Cæsar
Borgia, unmarried (which he was at the time of its birth), by a single
woman. By apostolic authority he legitimated the child and bestowed upon
it all the rights of a member of his family. In the second brief he
refers to the proceedings in which the child had been declared to be
Cæsar's son, and says verbatim: "Since it is owing, not to the duke
named (Cæsar), but to us and to the unmarried woman mentioned that you
bear this stain (of illegitimate birth), which for good reasons we did
not wish to state in the preceding instrument; and in order that there
may be no chance of your being caused annoyance in the future, we will
see to it that that document shall never be declared null, and of our
own free will, and by virtue of our authority, we confirm you, by these
presents, in the full enjoyment of everything as provided in that
instrument." Thereupon he renews the legitimation and announces that
even if this his child, which had hitherto been declared to be Cæsar's,
shall in future, in any document or act be named and described as his
(Cæsar's), and even if he uses Cæsar's arms, it shall in no way inure to
the disadvantage of the child, and that all such acts shall have the
same force which they would have had if the boy had been described not
as Cæsar's, but as his own, in the documents referring to his

It is worthy of note that both these documents were executed on one and
the same day, but this is explained by the fact that the canon law
prevented the Pope from acknowledging his own son. Alexander, therefore,
extricated himself from the difficulty by telling a falsehood in the
first bull. This lie made the legitimation of the child possible, and
also conferred upon it the rights of succession; and this having once
been embodied in a legal document, the Pope could, without injury to the
child, tell the truth.

September 1, 1501, Cæsar was not in Rome. Even a man of his stamp may
have blushed for his father, when he thus made him the rival of this
bastard for the possession of the property. Later, after Alexander's
death, the little Giovanni Borgia passed for Cæsar's son; he had,
moreover, been described as such by the Pope in numerous briefs.[114]

It is not known who was the mother of this mysterious child. Burchard
speaks of her merely as a "certain Roman." If Alexander, who described
her as an "unmarried woman," told the truth, Giulia Farnese could not
have been its mother.

It is possible, however, that the Pope's second statement likewise was
untrue, and that the "Infante of Rome" was not his son, but was a
natural child of Lucretia. The reader will remember that in March, 1498,
the Ferrarese ambassador reported to Duke Ercole that it was rumored in
Rome that the Pope's daughter had given birth to a child. This date
agrees perfectly with the age of the Infante Giovanni in September,
1501. Both documents regarding his legitimation, which are now preserved
in the Este archives, were originally in Lucretia's chancellery. She may
have taken them with her from Rome to Ferrara, or they may have been
brought to her later. Eventually we shall find the Infante at her court
in Ferrara, where he was spoken of as her "brother." These facts suggest
that the mysterious Giovanni Borgia was Lucretia's son--this, however,
is only a hypothesis. The city of Nepi and thirty-six other estates were
conferred upon the child as his dukedom.

The second domain, including the duchy of Sermoneta and twenty-eight
castles, was given to little Rodrigo, Lucretia's only son by Alfonso of

Under Lucretia's changed conditions, this child was an embarrassment to
her, for she either was not allowed or did not dare to bring a child by
her former husband to Ferrara. For the sake of her character let us
assume that she was compelled to leave her child among strangers. The
order to do so, however, does not appear to have emanated from Ferrara,
for, September 28th, the ambassador Gerardi gave his master an account
of a call which he made on Madonna Lucretia, in which he said, "As her
son was present, I asked her--in such a way that she could not mistake
my meaning--what was to be done with him; to which she replied, 'He will
remain in Rome, and will have an allowance of fifteen thousand
ducats.'"[115] The little Rodrigo was, in truth, provided for in a
princely manner. He was placed under the guardianship of two
cardinals--the Patriarch of Alexandria and Francesco Borgia, Archbishop
of Cosenza. He received the revenues of Sermoneta, and he also owned
Biselli, his unfortunate father's inheritance; for Ferdinand and
Isabella of Castile authorized their ambassador in Rome, Francesco de
Roxas, January 7, 1502, to confirm Rodrigo in the possession of the
duchy of Biselli and the city of Quadrata. According to this act his
title was Don Rodrigo Borgia of Aragon, Duke of Biselli and Sermoneta,
and lord of Quadrata.[116]


[99] Cavallieri to Ercole, Lyons, August 8, 1501. The Pope has written
his nuncio that he agreed to the duke's demands, for the purpose of
concluding the marriage, which would be extraordinarily advantageous to
himself and the Duke of Romagna.

[100] Despatches of the Ferrarese ambassador, Bartolomeo Cartari, from
Venice, June 25, July 28, and August 2, 1501. Archives of Modena.

[101] Ercole's letter to Pozzi in Ferrara, August 25, 1501. Maximilian's
letters are not in the Este archives but in Vienna.

[102] The instrument was drawn by Beneimbene.

[103] Cardinal Ferrari to Ercole, Rome, August 27, 1501.

[104] Ducal Records, September 1, 1501.

[105] The letter is reproduced in Zucchetti's Lucrezia Borgia, Duchessa
di Ferrara, Milan, 1869.

[106] Ed altre cose che egli disse per maggiormente magnificare il
fatto. Matteo Canale to the Duke of Ferrara, Rome, September 11, 1501.

[107] Quale mi pare già essere optima Ferrarese. Despatch from Rome,
September 15th.

[108] Che voleva havessimo veduto che la Duchessa non era zoppa.
Saraceni to Ercole, Rome, September 16th.

[109] Rome, September 23d, Saraceni.

[110] Despatch, September 25th.

[111] To this Ercole replied in reassuring terms. Letter to his orators
in Rome, September 18, 1501.

[112] Despatch of Matteo Canale to Ercole, Rome, September 18, 1501.

[113] Both bulls are in the archives of Modena. The first is a copy, the
second an original. The lead seal is wanting, but the red and yellow
silk by which it was attached is still preserved. I first discovered the
facts in a manuscript in the Barberiniana in Rome.

[114] Mandate of the Pope regarding certain taxes, dated July 21, 1502:
Nobili Infanti Johanni Borgia, nostro secundum carnem nepoti; and in
another brief, dated June 12, 1502, Dil filii nobilis infantis Johannis
Borgia ducis Nepesini delecti filii nobilis viri Cæsaris Borgia de
Francia, etc. Archives of Modena.

[115] Geradi to Ercole, Rome, September 28th.

[116] Datum in civitate Hispali, January 7, 1502. Yo el rey. Archives of
Modena. In Liber Arrendamentorum Terrarum ad Illmos Dnos Rodericum Bor.
de Aragonia Sermoneti, et Jo. de bor., Nepesin. Duces infantes
spectantium et alearq. scripturar. status eorundem tangentium. Biselli,



Lucretia was impatient to leave Rome, which, she remarked to the
ambassador of Ferrara, seemed to her like a prison; the duke himself was
no less anxious to conclude the transaction. The preparation of the new
bull of investiture, however, was delayed, and the cession of Cento and
Pievi could not be effected without the consent of Cardinal Giuliano
della Rovere, Archbishop of Bologna, who was then living in France.
Ercole, therefore, postponed despatching the bridal escort, although the
approach of winter would make the journey, which was severe at any time,
all the more difficult. Whenever Lucretia saw the Ferrarese ambassadors
she asked them how soon the escort would come to fetch her. She herself
endeavored to remove all obstacles. Although the cardinals trembled
before the Pope and Cæsar, they were reluctant to sign a bull which
would lose Ferrara's tribute to the Church. They were bitterly opposed
to allowing the descendants of Alfonso and Lucretia, without limitation,
to profit by a remission of the annual payment; they would suffer this
privilege to be enjoyed for three generations at most. The duke
addressed urgent letters to the cardinal and to Lucretia, who finally,
in October, succeeded in arranging matters, thereby winning high praise
from her father-in-law. During the first half of October she and the
duke kept up a lively correspondence, which shows that their mutual
confidence was increasing. It was plain that Ercole was beginning to
look upon the unequal match with less displeasure, as he discovered that
his daughter-in-law possessed greater sense than he had supposed. Her
letters to him were filled with flattery, especially one she wrote when
she heard he was sick, and Ercole thanked her for having written it with
her own hand, which he regarded as special proof of her affection.[117]

The ambassadors reported to him as follows: "When we informed the
illustrious Duchess of your Excellency's illness, her Majesty displayed
the greatest concern. She turned pale and stood for a moment bowed in
thought. She regretted that she was not in Ferrara to take care of you
herself. When the walls of the Vatican salon tumbled in, she nursed his
Holiness for two weeks without resting, as the Pope would allow no one
else to do anything for him."[118]

Well might the illness of Lucretia's father-in-law frighten her. His
death would have delayed, if not absolutely prevented, her marriage with
Alfonso; for up to the present time she had no proof that her
prospective husband's opposition had been overcome.

There are no letters written by either to the other at this time--a
silence which is, to say the least, singular. Still more disturbing to
Lucretia must have been the thought that her father himself might die,
for his death would certainly set aside her betrothal to Alfonso.
Shortly after Ercole's illness Alexander fell sick. He had caught cold
and lost a tooth. To prevent exaggerated reports reaching Ferrara, he
had the duke's envoy summoned, and directed him to write his master that
his indisposition was insignificant. "If the duke were here," said the
Pope, "I would--even if my face is tied up--invite him to go and hunt
wild boars." The ambassador remarked in his despatch that the Pope, if
he valued his health, had better change his habits, and not leave the
palace before daybreak, and had better return before nightfall.[119]

Ercole and the Pope received congratulations from all sides. Cardinals
and ambassadors in their letters proclaimed Lucretia's beauty and
graciousness. The Spanish envoy in Rome praised her in extravagant
terms, and Ercole thanked him for his testimony regarding the virtues of
his daughter-in-law.[120]

Even the King of France displayed the liveliest pleasure at the event,
which, he now discovered, would redound greatly to Ferrara's advantage.
The Pope, beaming with joy, read the congratulations of the monarch and
his consort to the consistory. Louis XII even condescended to address a
letter to Madonna Lucretia, at the end of which were two words in his
own hand. Alexander was so delighted thereby that he sent a copy of it
to Ferrara. The court of Maximilian was the only one from which no
congratulations were received. The emperor exhibited such displeasure
that Ercole was worried, as the following letter to his
plenipotentiaries in Rome shows:


     OUR WELL-LOVED: We have given his Holiness, our Lord, no
     further information regarding the attitude of the illustrious
     Emperor of the Romans towards him since Messer Michele Remolines
     departed from here, for we had nothing definite to communicate. We
     have, however, been told by a trustworthy person with whom the king
     conversed, that his Majesty was greatly displeased, and that he
     criticised his Holiness in unmeasured terms on account of the
     alliance which we have concluded with him, as he also did in
     letters addressed to us before the betrothal, in which he advised
     us not to enter into it, as you will learn from the copies of his
     letters which we send you with this. They were shown and read to
     his Holiness's ambassador here. Although, so far as we ourselves
     are concerned, we did not attach much importance to his Majesty's
     attitude, as we followed the dictates of reason, and are daily
     becoming more convinced that it will prove advantageous for us; it
     nevertheless appears proper, in view of our relations with his
     Holiness, that he should be informed of our position.

     You will, therefore, tell him everything, and also let him see the
     copies, if you think best, but you must say to him in our name that
     he is not to ascribe their authorship to us, and that we have not
     sent you these copies because of any special importance that we
     attached to them.

     FERRARA, _October 3, 1501_.

The duke now allowed nothing to shake his resolution. Early in October
he selected the escort whose departure from Ferrara, he frankly stated,
would depend upon the progress of his negotiations with the Pope. The
constitution of the bridal trains, both Roman and Ferrarese, was an
important question, and is referred to in one of Gerardo's despatches.

     ILLUSTRIOUS SIR, ETC.: To-day at six o'clock Hector and I
     were alone with the Pope, having your letters of the twenty-sixth
     ultimo and of the first of the present month, and also a list of
     those who are to compose the escort. His Holiness was greatly
     pleased, the various persons being people of wealth and standing,
     as he could readily see, the rank and position of each being
     clearly indicated. I have learned from the best of sources that
     your Excellency has exceeded all the Pope's expectations. After we
     had conversed a while with his Holiness, the illustrious Duke of
     Romagna and Cardinal Orsini were summoned. There were also present
     Monsignor Elna, Monsignor Troche, and Messer Adriano. The Pope had
     the list read a second time, and again it was praised, especially
     by the duke, who said he was acquainted with several of the persons
     named. He kept the list, thanking me warmly when I gave it to him
     again, for he had returned it to me.

     We endeavored to get the list of those who are to come with the
     illustrious Duchess, but it has not yet been prepared. His Holiness
     said that there would not be many women among the number, as the
     ladies of Rome were not skilful horsewomen.[121] Hitherto the
     Duchess has had five or six young ladies at her court--four very
     young girls and three married women--who will remain with her
     Majesty. She has, however, been advised not to bring them, as many
     of the great ladies in Ferrara will offer her their services. She
     has also a certain Madonna Girolama, Cardinal Borgia's sister, who
     is married to one of the Orsini. She and three of her women will
     accompany her. These are the only ladies of honor she has hitherto
     had. I have heard that she will endeavor to find others in Naples,
     but it is believed that she will be able to secure only a few, and
     that these will merely accompany her. The Duchess of Urbino has
     announced that she expects to come with a mounted escort of fifty
     persons. So far as the men are concerned, his Holiness said that
     there would not be many, as there were no Roman noblemen except the
     Orsini, and they generally were away from the city. Still, he hoped
     to be able to find sufficient, provided the Duke of Romagna did not
     take the field, there being a large number of nobles among his
     followers. His Holiness said that he had plenty of priests and
     scholars to send, but not such persons as were fit for a mission of
     this sort. However, the retinue furnished by your Majesty will
     serve for both, especially as--according to his Holiness--it is
     better for the more numerous escort to be sent by the groom, and
     for the bride to come accompanied by a smaller number. Still I do
     not think her suite will number less than two hundred persons. The
     Pope is in doubt what route her Majesty will travel. He thinks she
     ought to go by way of Bologna, and he says that the Florentines
     likewise have invited her. Although his Holiness has reached no
     decision, the Duchess has informed us that she would journey
     through the Marches, and the Pope has just concluded that she might
     do so. Perhaps he desires her to pass through the estates of the
     Duke of Romagna on her way to Bologna.

     Regarding your Majesty's wish that a cardinal accompany the
     Duchess, his Holiness said that it did not seem proper to him for a
     cardinal to leave Rome with her; but that he had written the
     Cardinal of Salerno, the Legate in the Marches, to go to the seat
     of the Duke in Romagna and wait there, and accompany the Duchess to
     Ferrara to read mass at the wedding. He thought that the cardinal
     would do this, unless prevented by sickness, in which case his
     Holiness would provide another.

     When the Pope discovered, during this conversation, that we had so
     far been unable to secure an audience with the illustrious Duke, he
     showed great annoyance, declaring it was a mistake which could only
     injure his Majesty, and he added that the ambassadors of Rimini had
     been here two months without succeeding in speaking with him, as he
     was in the habit of turning day into night and night into day. He
     severely criticized his son's mode of living. On the other hand, he
     commended the illustrious Duchess, saying that she was always
     gracious, and granted audiences readily, and that whenever there
     was need she knew how to cajole. He lauded her highly, and stated
     that she had ruled Spoleto to the satisfaction of everybody, and he
     also said that her Majesty always knew how to carry her point--even
     with himself, the Pope. I think that his Holiness spoke in this way
     more for the purpose of saying good of her (which according to my
     opinion she deserved) than to avoid saying anything ill, even if
     there were occasion for it. Your Majesty's Ever devoted.

     ROME, _October 6th_.

The Pope seldom allowed an opportunity to pass for praising his
daughter's beauty and graciousness. He frequently compared her with the
most famous women of Italy--the Marchioness of Mantua and the Duchess of
Urbino. One day, while conversing with the ambassadors of Ferrara, he
mentioned her age, saying that in October (1502) she would complete her
twenty-second year, while Cæsar would be twenty-six the same month.[122]

The Pope was greatly pleased with the members of the bridal escort, for
they all were either princes of the house of Este or prominent persons
of Ferrara. He also approved the selection of Annibale Bentivoglio, son
of the Lord of Bologna, and said laughingly to the Ferrarese ambassadors
that, even if their master had chosen Turks to come to Rome for the
bride, they would have been welcome.

The Florentines, owing to their fear of Cæsar, sent ambassadors to
Lucretia to ask her to come by way of their city when she went to
Ferrara; the Pope, however, was determined that she should make the
journey through Romagna. According to an oppressive custom of the day,
the people through whose country persons of quality traveled were
required to provide for them, and, in order not to tax Romagna too
heavily, it was decided that the Ferrarese escort should come to Rome by
way of Tuscany. The Republic of Florence firmly refused to entertain the
escort all the time it was in its territory, although it was willing to
care for it while in the city or to make a handsome present.[123]

In the meantime preparations were under way in Ferrara for the wedding
festivities. The Duke invited all the princes who were friendly to him
to be present. He had even thought of the oration which was to be
delivered in Ferrara when Lucretia was given to her husband. During the
Renaissance these orations were regarded as of the greatest importance,
and he was anxious to secure a speaker who could be depended upon to
deliver a masterpiece. Ercole had instructed his ambassadors in Rome to
send him particulars regarding the house of Borgia for the orator to use
in preparing his speech.[124]

The ambassadors scrupulously carried out their instructions, and wrote
their sovereign as follows:

     ILLUSTRIOUS PRINCE AND MASTER: We have spared no efforts
     to learn everything possible regarding the illustrious house of
     Borgia, as your Excellency commanded. We made a thorough
     investigation, and members of our suite here in Rome, not only the
     scholars but also those who we knew were loyal to you, did the
     same. Although we finally succeeded in ascertaining that the house
     is one of the noblest and most ancient in Spain, we did not
     discover that its founders ever did anything very remarkable,
     perhaps because life in that country is quiet and uneventful--your
     Excellency knows that such is the case in Spain, especially in

     Whatever there is worthy of note dates from the time of Calixtus,
     and, in fact, the deeds of Calixtus himself are those most worthy
     of comment; Platina, however, has given an account of his life,
     which, moreover, is well known to everybody. Whoever is to deliver
     the oration has ample material, therefore, from which to choose.
     We, illustrious Sir, have been able to learn nothing more regarding
     this house than what you already know, and this concerns only the
     members of the family who have been Popes, and is derived chiefly
     from the audience speeches. In case we succeed in finding out
     anything more, we shall inform your Excellency, to whom we commend
     ourselves in all humility.

     ROME, _October 18, 1501_.

When the descendant of the ancient house of Este read this terse
despatch he must have smiled; its candor was so undiplomatic that it
bordered on irony. The doughty ambassadors, however, apparently did not
go to the right sources, for if they had applied to the courtiers who
were intimate with the Borgia--for example, the Porcaro--they would have
obtained a genealogical tree showing a descent from the old kings of
Aragon, if not from Hercules himself.

In the meantime the impatience of the Pope and Lucretia was steadily
increasing, for the departure of the bridal escort was delayed, and the
enemies of the Borgia were already beginning to make merry. The duke
declared that he could not think of sending for Donna Lucretia until the
bull of investiture was in his hands. He complained at the Pope's delay
in fulfilling his promises. He also demanded that the part of the
marriage portion which was to be paid in coin through banking houses in
Venice, Bologna, and other cities be handed over on the bridal escort's
entry into Rome, and threatened in case it was not paid in full to have
his people return to Ferrara without the bride.[125] As it was
impossible for him to bring about the immediate cession of Cento and
Pievi, he asked from the Pope as a pledge that either the bishopric of
Bologna be given his son Ippolito, or that his Holiness furnish a bond.
He also demanded certain benefices for his natural son Don Giulio, and
for his ambassador Gianluca Pozzi. Lucretia succeeded in securing the
bishopric of Reggio for the latter and also a house in Rome for the
Ferrarese envoy.

Another important question was the dowry of jewels which Lucretia was to
receive. During the Renaissance the passion for jewels amounted to a
mania. Ercole sent word to his daughter-in-law that she must not dispose
of her jewels, but must bring them with her; he also said that he
would send her a handsome ornament by the bridal escort, gallantly
adding that, as she herself was a precious jewel, she deserved the most
beautiful gems--even more magnificent ones than he and his own consort
had possessed; it is true he was not so wealthy as the Duke of Savoy,
but, nevertheless, he was in a position to send her jewels no less
beautiful than those given her by the duke.[126]

The relations between Ercole and his daughter-in-law were as friendly as
could be desired, for Lucretia exerted herself to secure the Pope's
consent to his demands. His Holiness, however, was greatly annoyed by
the duke's conduct; he sent urgent requests to him to despatch the
escort to Rome, and assured him that the two castles in Romagna would be
delivered over to him before Lucretia reached Ferrara, but in case she
did arrive there first that everything she asked would be granted--his
love for her was such that he even thought of paying her a visit in
Ferrara in the spring.[127] The Pope suspected, however, that the delay
in sending the bridal escort was due to the machinations of Maximilian.
Even as late as November the emperor had despatched his secretary,
Agostino Semenza, to the duke to warn him not to send the escort to
Rome, adding that he would show his gratitude to Ercole. November 22d
the duke wrote the imperial plenipotentiary a letter in which he stated
that he had immediately sent a courier to his ambassador in Rome; it
would soon be winter, and the time would therefore be unfavorable for
bringing Lucretia; if the Pope was willing, he would postpone the
wedding, but he would not break off with him entirely. His Majesty
should remember that if he did this, the Pope would become his bitterest
enemy, and would persecute him, and might even make war on him. It was,
he stated, for the express purpose of avoiding this that he had
consented to enter into an alliance with his Holiness. He, therefore,
hoped that his Majesty would not expose him to this danger, but that,
with his usual justice, he would appreciate his excuses.[128]

At the same time he instructed his ambassadors in Rome to inform the
Pope of the emperor's threats, and to say to him that he was ready to
fulfil his own obligations and also to urge his Holiness to have the
bulls prepared at once, as further delay was dangerous.

Alexander thereupon fell into a rage; he overwhelmed the ambassadors
with reproaches, and called the duke a "tradesman." On December 1st
Ercole announced to the emperor's messenger that he was unable longer to
delay sending the bridal escort, for, if he did, it would mean a rupture
with the Pope. The same day he wrote to his ambassadors in Rome and
complained of the use of the epithet "tradesman," which the Pope had
applied to him.[129] He, however, reassured his Holiness by informing
him that he had decided to despatch the bridal escort from Ferrara the
ninth or tenth of December.[130]



[117] Lucretia to Ercole, October 18th; Ercole to Lucretia, October 23d.

[118] Gerardo to Ercole, October 15, 1501.

[119] Ercole to Don Francesco de Roxas, October 24, 1501.

[120] Gerardo Saraceni to Ercole, Rome, October 26, 1501.

[121] Per essere queste romane salvatiche et male apte a cavallo.

[122] Gerardo to Ercole, October 26, 1501.

[123] The orator Manfredo Manfredi to Ercole, Florence, November 22 and
24, 1501.

[124] The duke to his ambassadors in Rome, October 7, 1501.

[125] Ercole to Gerardo Saraceni, November 24, 1501. Other letters of
like import were written by the duke to his plenipotentiaries.

[126] Ercole to Gerardo Saraceni in Rome, October 11, 1501.

[127] Despatch of the Ferrarese ambassadors to Ercole, Rome, October 31,

[128] Il quale mal effecto volendo nui fugire, seamo condescesi a
contrahere la affinita cum soa Santità. Responsum illmi Dni ducis
Ferrarie D. Augustino Semetie Ces Mtis secretario. Ferrara, November 22,

[129] Che il procedere del Duca era un procedere da mercatante. Ercole
to Gerardo Saraceni, December 1, 1501.

[130] Ercole to Alexander VI, December 1, 1501.



In the meantime Lucretia's trousseau was being prepared with an expense
worthy of a king's daughter. On December 13, 1501, the agent in Rome of
the Marchese Gonzaga wrote his master as follows: "The portion will
consist of three hundred thousand ducats, not counting the presents
which Madonna will receive from time to time. First a hundred thousand
ducats are to be paid in money in instalments in Ferrara. Then there
will be silverware to the value of three thousand ducats; jewels, fine
linen, costly trappings for horses and mules, together worth another
hundred thousand. In her wardrobe she has a trimmed dress worth more
than fifteen thousand ducats, and two hundred costly shifts, some of
which are worth a hundred ducats apiece; the sleeves alone of some of
them cost thirty ducats each, being trimmed with gold fringe." Another
person reported to the Marchesa Isabella that Lucretia had one dress
worth twenty thousand ducats, and a hat valued at ten thousand. "It is
said," so the Mantuan agent writes, "that more gold has been prepared
and sold here in Naples in six months than has been used heretofore in
two years. She brings her husband another hundred thousand ducats, the
value of the castles (Cento and Pieve), and will also secure the
remission of Ferrara's tribute. The number of horses and persons the
Pope will place at his daughter's disposal will amount to a thousand.
There will be two hundred carriages--among them some of French make, if
there is time--and with these will come the escort which is to take

The duke finally concluded to send the bridal escort, although the bulls
were not ready for him. As he was anxious to make the marriage of his
son with Lucretia an event of the greatest magnificence, he sent a
cavalcade of more than fifteen hundred persons for her. At their head
were Cardinal Ippolito and five other members of the ducal house; his
brothers, Don Ferrante and Don Sigismondo; also Niccolò Maria d'Este,
Bishop of Adria; Meliaduse d'Este, Bishop of Comacchio; and Don Ercole,
a nephew of the duke. In the escort were numerous prominent friends and
kinsmen or vassals of the house of Ferrara, lords of Correggio and
Mirandola; the Counts Rangone of Modena; one of the Pio of Carpi; the
Counts Bevilacqua, Roverella, Sagrato, Strozzi of Ferrara, Annibale
Bentivoglio of Bologna, and many others.

These gentlemen, magnificently clad, and with heavy gold chains about
their necks, mounted on beautiful horses, left Ferrara December 9th,
with thirteen trumpeters and eight fifes at their head; and thus this
wedding cavalcade, led by a worldly cardinal, rode noisily forth upon
their journey. In our time such an aggregation might easily be mistaken
for a troop of trick riders. Nowhere did this brave company of knights
pay their reckoning; in the domain of Ferrara they lived on the duke; in
other words, at the expense of his subjects. In the lands of other lords
they did the same, and in the territory of the Church the cities they
visited were required to provide for them.

In spite of the luxury of the Renaissance, traveling was at that time
very disagreeable; everywhere in Europe it was as difficult then as it
is now in the Orient. Great lords and ladies, who to-day flit across the
country in comfortable railway carriages, traveled in the sixteenth
century, even in the most civilized states of Europe, mounted on horses
or mules, or slowly in sedan-chairs, exposed to all the inclemencies of
wind and weather, and unpaved roads. The cavalcade was thirteen days on
the way from Ferrara to Rome--a journey which can now be made in a few

Finally, on December 22d, it reached Monterosi, a wretched castle
fifteen miles from Rome. All were in a deplorable condition, wet to the
skin by winter rains, and covered with mud; and men and horses
completely tired out. From this place the cardinal sent a messenger with
a herald to Rome to receive the Pope's commands. Answer was brought that
they were to enter by the Porta del Popolo.

The entrance of the Ferrarese into Rome was the most theatrical event
that occurred during the reign of Alexander VI. Processions were the
favorite spectacles of the Middle Ages; State, Church, and society
displayed their wealth and power in magnificent cavalcades. The horse
was symbolic of the world's strength and magnificence, but with the
disappearance of knighthood it lost its place in the history of
civilization. How the love of form and color of the people of Italy--the
home of processions--has changed was shown in Rome, July 2, 1871, when
Victor Emmanuel entered his new capital. Had this episode--one of the
weightiest in the whole history of Italy--occurred during the
Renaissance, it would have been made the occasion of a magnificent
triumph. The entrance into Rome of the first king of united Italy was
made, however, in a few dust-covered carriages, which conveyed the
monarch and his court from the railway station to their lodgings; yet
in this bourgeois simplicity there was really more moral greatness than
in any of the triumphs of the Cæsars. That the love of parades which
existed in the Renaissance has died out is, perhaps, to be regretted,
for occasions still arise when they are necessary.

Alexander's prestige would certainly have suffered if, on the occasion
of a family function of such importance, he had failed to offer the
people as evidence of his power a brilliant spectacle of some sort. The
very fact that Adrian VI did not understand and appreciate this
requirement of the Renaissance made him the butt of the Romans.

At ten o'clock on the morning of December 23d the Ferrarese reached the
Ponte Molle, where breakfast was served in a nearby villa. The
appearance of this neighborhood must at that time have been different
from what it is to-day. There were casinos and wine houses on the slopes
of Monte Mario--whose summit was occupied even at that time by a villa
belonging to the Mellini--and on the hills beyond the Flaminian Way.
Nicholas V had restored the bridge over the Tiber, and also begun a
tower nearby, which Calixtus III completed. Between the Ponte Molle and
the Porta del Popolo there was then,--just as there is now,--a wretched

[Illustration: CASTLE OF S. ANGELO, ROME.]

At the bridge crossing the Tiber they found a wedding escort composed of
the senators of Rome, the governor of the city, and the captain of
police, accompanied by two thousand men, some on foot and some mounted.
Half a bowshot from the gate the cavalcade met Cæsar's suite. First came
six pages, then a hundred mounted noblemen, followed by two hundred
Swiss clothed in black and yellow velvet with the arms of the Pope,
birettas on their heads, and bearing halberds. Behind them rode the Duke
of Romagna with the ambassador of France at his side, who wore a
French costume and a golden sash. After greeting each other mid the
blare of trumpets, the gentlemen dismounted from their horses. Cæsar
embraced Cardinal Ippolito and rode at his side as far as the city gate.
If Valentino's following numbered four thousand and the city officials
two thousand more, it is difficult to conceive, taking the spectators
also into account, how so large a number of people could congregate
before the Porta del Popolo. The rows of houses which now extend from
this gate could not have been in existence then, and the space occupied
by the Villa Borghese must have been vacant. At the gate the cavalcade
was met by nineteen cardinals, each accompanied by two hundred persons.
The reception here, owing to the oration, required over two hours,
consequently it was evening when it was over.

Finally, to the din of trumpets, fifes, and horns, the cavalcade set out
over the Corso, across the Campo di Fiore, for the Vatican, where it was
saluted from Castle S. Angelo. Alexander stood at a window of the palace
to see the procession which marked the fulfilment of the dearest wish of
his house. His chamberlain met the Ferrarese at the steps of the palace
and conducted them to his Holiness, who, accompanied by twelve
cardinals, advanced to meet them. They kissed his feet, and he raised
them up and embraced them. A few moments were spent in animated
conversation, after which Cæsar led the princes to his sister. Leaning
on the arm of an elderly cavalier dressed in black velvet, with a golden
chain about his neck, Lucretia went as far as the entrance of her palace
to greet them. According to the prearranged ceremonial she did not kiss
her brothers-in-law, but merely bowed to them, following the French
custom. She wore a dress of some white material embroidered in gold,
over which there was a garment of dark brown velvet trimmed with sable.
The sleeves were of white and gold brocade, tight, and barred in the
Spanish fashion. Her head-dress was of a green gauze, with a fine gold
band and two rows of pearls. About her neck was a heavy chain of pearls
with a ruby pendant. Refreshments were served, and Lucretia distributed
small gifts--the work of Roman jewelers--among those present. The
princes departed highly pleased with their reception. "This much I
know," wrote El Prete, "that the eyes of Cardinal Ippolito sparkled, as
much as to say, She is an enchanting and exceedingly gracious lady."

The cardinal likewise wrote the same evening to his sister Isabella of
Mantua to satisfy her curiosity regarding Lucretia's costume. Dress was
then an important matter in the eyes of a court; in fact there never was
a time when women's costumes were richer and more carefully studied than
they were during the Renaissance. The Marchioness had sent an agent to
Rome apparently for the sole purpose of giving her an account of the
bridal festivities, and she had directed him to pay special attention to
the dresses. El Prete carried out his instructions as conscientiously as
a reporter for a daily paper would now do.[132] From his description an
artist could paint a good portrait of the bride.

The same evening the Ferrarese ambassadors paid their official visit to
Donna Lucretia, and they promptly wrote the duke regarding the
impression his daughter-in-law had made upon them.

     ILLUSTRIOUS MASTER: To-day after supper Don Gerardo
     Saraceni and I betook ourselves to the illustrious Madonna
     Lucretia, to pay our respects in the name of your Excellency and
     his Majesty Don Alfonso. We had a long conversation regarding
     various matters. She is a most intelligent and lovely, and also
     exceedingly gracious lady. Your Excellency and the illustrious Don
     Alfonso--so we were led to conclude--will be highly pleased with
     her. Besides being extremely graceful in every way, she is modest,
     lovable, and decorous. Moreover, she is a devout and God-fearing
     Christian. To-morrow she is going to confession, and during
     Christmas week she will receive the communion. She is very
     beautiful, but her charm of manner is still more striking. In
     short, her character is such that it is impossible to suspect
     anything "sinister" of her; but, on the contrary, we look for only
     the best. It seems to be our duty to tell you the exact truth in
     this letter. I commend myself to your Highness's merciful
     benevolence. Rome, December 23, 1501, the sixth hour of the night.

  Your Excellency's servant,

Pozzi's letter shows how anxious were the duke and his son, even up to
the last. It must have been a humiliation for both of them to have to
confide their suspicions to their ambassador in Rome, and to ask him to
find out what he could regarding the character of a lady who was to be
the future Duchess of Ferrara. The very phrase in Pozzi's letter that
there was nothing "sinister" to be suspected of Lucretia shows how black
were the rumors that circulated regarding her. His testimony, therefore,
is all the more valuable, and it is one of the most important documents
for forming a judgment of Lucretia's character. Had she been afforded a
chance to read it, her mortification would, no doubt, have outweighed
her satisfaction.[133]

The Ferrarese princes took up their abode in the Vatican; other
gentlemen occupied the Belvedere, while the majority were provided for
by the citizens, who were compelled to entertain them. At that time the
popes handled their private matters just as if they were affairs of
state, and met expenses by taxing the court officials, who, in spite of
this, made a good living, and even grew rich by the Pope's mercy. The
merchants likewise were required to bear a part of the expense of these
ecclesiastical functions. Many of the officials grumbled over
entertaining the Ferrarese, and provided for them so badly that the Pope
was compelled to interfere.[134]

During the Christmas festivities the Pope read mass in S. Peter's. The
princes were present, and the duke's ambassador described Alexander's
magnificent and also "saintly" bearing in terms more fitting to depict
the appearance of an accomplished actor.[135]

The Pope now gave orders for the carnival to begin, and there were daily
banquets and festivities in the Vatican.

El Prete has left a naive account of an evening's entertainment in
Lucretia's palace, in which he gives us a vivid picture of the customs
of the day. "The illustrious Madonna," so wrote the reporter, "appears
in public but little, because she is busy preparing for her departure.
Sunday evening, S. Stephen's Day, December 26th, I went unexpectedly to
her residence. Her Majesty was in her chamber, seated by the bed. In a
corner of the room were about twenty Roman women dressed _a la
romanesca_, 'wearing certain cloths on their heads'; the ladies of her
court, to the number of ten, were also present. A nobleman from Valencia
and a lady of the court, Niccola, led the dance. They were followed by
Don Ferrante and Madonna, who danced with extreme grace and animation.
She wore a camorra of black velvet with gold borders and black sleeves;
the cuffs were tight; the sleeves were slashed at the shoulders; her
breast was covered up to the neck with a veil made of gold thread. About
her neck she wore a string of pearls, and on her head a green net and a
chain of rubies. She had an overskirt of black velvet trimmed with fur,
colored, and very beautiful. The trousseaux of her ladies-in-waiting are
not yet ready. Two or three of the women are pretty; one, Catalina, a
native of Valencia, dances well, and another, Angela, is charming.
Without telling her, I picked her out as my favorite. Yesterday evening
(28th) the cardinal, the duke, and Don Ferrante walked about the city
masked, and afterwards we went to the duchess's house, where there was
dancing. Everywhere in Rome, from morning till night, one sees nothing
but courtesans wearing masks, for after the clock strikes the
twenty-fourth hour they are not permitted to show themselves abroad."

Although the marriage had been performed in Ferrara by proxy, Alexander
wished the service to be said again in Rome. To prevent repetition, the
ceremony in Ferrara had been performed only _vis volo_, the exchange of
rings having been deferred.

On the evening of December 30th, the Ferrarese escorted Madonna Lucretia
to the Vatican. When Alfonso's bride left her palace she was accompanied
by her entire court and fifty maids of honor. She was dressed in gold
brocade and crimson velvet trimmed with ermine; the sleeves of her gown
reached to the floor; her train was borne by some of her ladies; her
golden hair was confined by a black ribbon, and about her neck she wore
a string of pearls with a pendant consisting of an emerald, a ruby, and
a large pearl.

Don Ferrante and Sigismondo led her by the hands; when the train set
forth a body of musicians stationed on the steps of S. Peter's began to
play. The Pope, on the throne in the Sala Paolina, surrounded by
thirteen cardinals and his son Cæsar, awaited her. Among the foreign
representatives present were the ambassadors of France, Spain, and
Venice; the German envoy was absent. The ceremony began with the reading
of the mandate of the Duke of Ferrara, after which the Bishop of Adria
delivered the wedding sermon, which the Pope, however, commanded to be
cut short.[136] A table was placed before him, and by it stood Don
Ferrante--as his brother's representative--and Donna Lucretia. Ferrante
addressed the formal question to her, and on her answering in the
affirmative, he placed the ring on her finger with the following words:
"This ring, illustrious Donna Lucretia, the noble Don Alfonso sends thee
of his own free will, and in his name I give it thee"; whereupon she
replied, "And I, of my own free will, thus accept it."

The performance of the ceremony was attested by a notary. Then followed
the presentation of the jewels to Lucretia by Cardinal Ippolito. The
duke, who sent her a costly present worth no less than seventy thousand
ducats, attached special weight to the manner in which it was to be
given her. On December 21st he wrote his son that in presenting the
jewels he should use certain words which his ambassador Pozzi would
give him, and he was told that this was done as a precautionary measure,
so that, in case Donna Lucretia should prove untrue to Alfonso, the
jewels would not be lost.[137] Until the very last, the duke handled the
Borgias with the misgivings of a man who feared he might be cheated. On
December 30th Pozzi wrote him: "There is a document regarding this
marriage which simply states that Donna Lucretia will be given, for a
present, the bridal ring, but nothing is said of any other gift. Your
Excellency's intention, therefore, was carried out exactly. There was no
mention of any present, and your Excellency need have no anxiety."

Ippolito performed his part so gracefully that the Pope told him he had
heightened the beauty of the present. The jewels were in a small box
which the cardinal first placed before the Pope and then opened. One of
the keepers of the jewels from Ferrara helped him to display the gems to
the best advantage. The Pope took the box in his own hand and showed it
to his daughter. There were chains, rings, earrings, and precious stones
beautifully set. Especially magnificent was a string of
pearls--Lucretia's favorite gem. Ippolito also presented his
sister-in-law with his gifts, among which were four beautifully chased
crosses. The cardinals sent similar presents.

After this the guests went to the windows of the salon to watch the
games in the Piazza of S. Peter; these consisted of races and a mimic
battle for a ship. Eight noblemen defended the vessel against an equal
number of opponents. They fought with sharp weapons, and five people
were wounded.

This over, the company repaired to the Chamber of the Parrots, where the
Pope took his position upon the throne, with the cardinals on his left,
and Ippolito, Donna Lucretia, and Cæsar on his right. El Prete says:
"Alexander asked Cæsar to lead the dance with Donna Lucretia, which he
did very gracefully. His Holiness was in continual laughter. The ladies
of the court danced in couples, and extremely well. The dance, which
lasted more than an hour, was followed by the comedies. The first was
not finished, as it was too long; the second, which was in Latin verse,
and in which a shepherd and several children appeared, was very
beautiful, but I have forgotten what it represented. When the comedies
were finished all departed except his Holiness, the bride, and her
brother-in-law. In the evening the Pope gave the wedding banquet, but of
this I am unable to send any account, as it was a family affair."

The festivities continued for days, and all Rome resounded with the
noise of the carnival. During the closing days of the year Cardinal
Sanseverino and Cæsar presented some plays. The one given by Cæsar was
an eclogue, with rustic scenery, in which the shepherd sang the praises
of the young pair, and of Duke Ercole, and the Pope as Ferrara's

The first day of the new year (1502) was celebrated with great pomp. The
various quarters of Rome organized a parade in which were thirteen
floats led by the gonfalonier of the city and the magistrates, which
passed from the Piazza Navona to the Vatican, accompanied by the strains
of music. The first car represented the triumph of Hercules, another
Julius Cæsar, and others various Roman heroes. They stopped before the
Vatican to enable the Pope and his guests to admire the spectacle from
the windows. Poems in honor of the young couple were declaimed, and four
hours were thus passed.

Then followed comedies in the Chamber of the Parrots. Subsequently a
_moresca_ or ballet was performed in the "sala of the Pope," whose walls
were decorated with beautiful tapestries which had been executed by
order of Innocent VIII. Here was erected a low stage decorated with
foliage and illuminated by torches. The lookers-on took their places on
benches and on the floor, as they preferred. After a short eclogue, a
_jongleur_ dressed as a woman danced the _moresca_ to the accompaniment
of tamborines, and Cæsar also took part in it, and was recognized in
spite of his disguise. Trumpets announced a second performance. A tree
appeared upon whose top was a Genius who recited verses; these over, he
dropped down the ends of nine silk ribbons which were taken by nine
maskers who danced a ballet about the tree. This _moresca_ was loudly
applauded. In conclusion the Pope asked his daughter to dance, which she
did with one of her women, a native of Valencia, and they were followed
by all the men and women who had taken part in the ballet.[139]

Comedies and _moresche_ were in great favor on festal occasions. The
poets of Rome, the Porcaro, the Mellini, Inghirami, and Evangelista
Maddaleni, probably composed these pieces, and they may also have taken
part in them, for it was many years since Rome had been given such a
brilliant opportunity to show her progress in histrionics. Lucretia was
showered with sonnets and epithalamia. It is strange that not one of
these has been preserved, and also that not a single Roman poet of the
day is mentioned as the author of any of these comedies. On January 2d a
bull fight was given in the Piazza of S. Peter's. The Spanish bull fight
was introduced into Italy in the fourteenth century, but not until the
fifteenth had it become general. The Aragonese brought it to Naples, and
the Borgias to Rome. Hitherto the only thing of the sort which had been
seen was the bull-baiting in the Piazza Navona or on the Testaccio.
Cæsar was fond of displaying his agility and strength in this barbarous
sport. During the jubilee year he excited the wonder of all Rome by
decapitating a bull with a single stroke in one of these contests. On
January 2d he and nine other Spaniards, who probably were professional
matadors, entered the enclosure with two loose bulls, where he mounted
his horse and with his lance attacked the more ferocious one
single-handed; then he dismounted, and with the other Spaniards
continued to goad the animals. After this heroic performance the duke
left the arena to the matadors. Ten bulls and one buffalo were

In the evening the _Menæchmi_ of Plautus and other pieces were
produced in which was celebrated the majesty of Cæsar and Ercole. The
Ferrarese ambassador sent his master an account of these performances
which is a valuable picture of the day.

     This evening the _Menæchmi_ was recited in the Pope's room, and
     the Slave, the Parasite, the Pandor, and the wife of Menæchmus
     performed their parts well. The Menæchmi themselves, however,
     played badly. They had no masks, and there was no scenery, for the
     room was too small. In the scene where Menæchmus, seized by command
     of his father-in-law, who thinks he is mad, exclaims that he is
     being subjected to force, he added: "This passes understanding; for
     Cæsar is mighty, Zeus merciful, and Hercules kind."

     Before the performance of this comedy the following play was given:
     first appeared a boy in woman's clothes who represented Virtue, and
     another in the character of Fortune. They began to banter each
     other as to which was the mightier, whereupon Fame suddenly
     appeared, standing on a globe which rested on a float, upon which
     were the words, "Gloria Domus Borgiæ." Fame, who also called
     himself Light, awarded Virtue the prize over Fortune, saying that
     Cæsar and Ercole by Virtue had overcome Fortune; thereupon he
     described a number of the heroic deeds performed by the illustrious
     Duke of Romagna. Hercules with the lion's skin and club appeared,
     and Juno sent Fortune to attack him. Hercules, however, overcame
     Fortune, seized her and chained her; whereupon Juno begged him to
     free her, and he, gracious and generous, consented to grant Juno's
     request on the condition that she would never do anything which
     might injure the house of Ercole or that of Cæsar Borgia. To this
     she agreed, and, in addition, she promised to bless the union of
     the two houses.

     Then Roma entered upon another float. She complained that
     Alexander, who occupied Jupiter's place, had been unjust to her in
     permitting the illustrious Donna Lucretia to go away; she praised
     the duchess highly, and said that she was the refuge of all Rome.
     Then came a personification of Ferrara--but not on a float--and
     said that Lucretia was not going to take up her abode in an
     unworthy city, and that Rome would not lose her. Mercury followed,
     having been sent by the gods to reconcile Rome and Ferrara, as it
     was in accordance with their wish that Donna Lucretia was going to
     the latter city. Then he invited Ferrara to take a seat by his side
     in the place of honor on the float.

     All this was accompanied by descriptions in polished hexameters,
     which celebrated the alliance of Cæsar and Ercole, and predicted
     that together they would overthrow all the latter's enemies. If
     this prophecy is realized, the marriage will result greatly to our
     advantage. So we commend ourselves to your Excellency's mercy.

  Your Highness's servants,

  JANUARY 2, 1502.

Finally the date set for Lucretia to leave--January 6th--arrived. The
Pope was determined that her departure should be attended by a
magnificent display; she should traverse Italy like a queen. A cardinal
was to accompany her as legate, Francesco Borgia, Archbishop of Cosenza,
having been chosen for this purpose. To Lucretia he owed his
cardinalate, and he was a most devoted retainer; "an elderly man, a
worthy person of the house of Borgia," so Pozzi wrote to Ferrara.
Madonna was also accompanied by the bishops of Carniola, Venosa, and

Alexander endeavored to persuade many of the nobles of Rome, men and
women, to accompany Lucretia, and he succeeded in inducing a large
number to do so. The city of Rome appointed four special envoys, who
were to remain in Ferrara as long as the festivities lasted--Stefano del
Bufalo, Antonio Paoluzzo, Giacomo Frangipane, and Domenico Massimi. The
Roman nobility selected for the same purpose Francesco Colonna of
Palestrina and Giuliano, Count of Anguillara. There were also Ranuccio
Farnese of Matelica and Don Giulio Raimondo Borgia, the Pope's nephew,
and captain of the papal watch, together with eight other gentlemen
belonging to the lesser nobility of Rome.

Cæsar equipped at his own expense an escort of two hundred cavaliers,
with musicians and buffoons to entertain his sister on the way. This
cavalcade, which was composed of Spaniards, Frenchmen, Romans, and
Italians from various provinces, was joined later by two famous men--Ivo
d'Allegre and Don Ugo Moncada. Among the Romans were the Chevaliers
Orsini; Piero Santa Croce; Giangiorgio Cesarini, a brother of Cardinal
Giuliano; and other gentlemen, members of the Alberini, Sanguigni,
Crescenzi, and Mancini families.

Lucretia herself had a retinue of a hundred and eighty people. In the
list--which is still preserved--are the names of many of her maids of
honor; her first lady-in-waiting was Angela Borgia, _una damigella
elegantisima_, as one of the chroniclers of Ferrara describes her, who
is said to have been a very beautiful woman, and who was the subject of
some verses by the Roman poet Diomede Guidalotto. She was also
accompanied by her sister Donna Girolama, consort of the youthful Don
Fabio Orsini. Madonna Adriana Orsini, another woman named Adriana, the
wife of Don Francesco Colonna, and another lady of the house of Orsini,
whose name is not given, also accompanied Lucretia. It is not likely,
however, that the last was Giulia Farnese.

A number of vehicles which the Pope had ordered built in Rome and a
hundred and fifty mules bore Lucretia's trousseau. Some of this baggage
was sent on ahead. The duchess took everything that the Pope permitted
her to remove. He refused to have an inventory made, as Beneimbene the
notary had advised. "I desire," so he stated to the Ferrarese
ambassadors, "that the duchess shall do with her property as she
wishes." He had also given her nine thousand ducats to clothe herself
and her servants, and also a beautiful sedan-chair of French make, in
which the Duchess of Urbino was to have a seat by her side when she
joined the cavalcade.[140]

While Alexander was praising his daughter's graciousness and modesty, he
expressed the wish that her father-in-law would provide her with no
courtiers and ladies-in-waiting but those whose character was above
question. She had told him--so the ambassadors wrote their master--that
she would never give his Holiness cause to be ashamed of her, and
"according to our view he certainly never will have occasion, for the
longer we are with her, and the closer we examine her life, the higher
is our opinion of her goodness, her decorum, and modesty. We see that
life in her palace is not only Christian, but also religious."[141]

Even Cardinal Ferrante Ferrari ventured to write Ercole--whose servant
he had been--a letter in which he spoke of the duke's daughter-in-law in
unctuous terms and praised her character to the skies.[142]

January 5th the balance of the wedding portion was paid to the Ferrarese
ambassadors in cash, whereupon they reported to the duke that everything
had been arranged, that his daughter-in-law would bring the bull with
her, and that the cavalcade was ready to start.[143]

Alexander had decided at what towns they should stop on their long
journey. They were as follows: Castelnovo, Civitacastellana, Narni,
Terni, Spoleto, and Foligno; it was expected the Duke Guidobaldo or his
wife would meet Lucretia at the last-named place and accompany her to
Urbino. Thence they were to pass through Cæsar's estates, going by way
of Pesaro, Rimini, Cesena, Forli, Faenza, and Imola to Bologna, and from
that city to Ferrara by way of the Po.

As the places through which they passed would be subjected to very great
expense if the entire cavalcade stopped, the retinue was sometimes
divided, each part taking a different route. The Pope's brief to the
Priors of Nepi shows to what imposition the people were subjected.

     DEAR SONS: Greeting and the Apostolic Blessing. As our
     dearly beloved daughter in Christ, the noble lady and Duchess
     Lucretia de Borgia, who is to leave here next Monday to join her
     husband Alfonso, the beloved son and first born of the Duke of
     Ferrara, with a large escort of nobles, two hundred horsemen will
     pass through your district; therefore we wish and command you, if
     you value our favor and desire to avoid our displeasure, to provide
     for the company mentioned above for a day and two nights, the time
     they will spend with you. By so doing you will receive from us all
     due approbation. Given in Rome, under the Apostolic seal, December
     28, 1501, in the tenth year of our Pontificate.[144]

Numerous other places had similar experiences. In every city in which
the cavalcade stopped, and in some of those where they merely rested for
a short time, Lucretia, in accordance with the Pope's commands, was
honored with triumphal arches, illuminations, and processions--all the
expense of which was borne by the commune.

January 6th Lucretia, leaving her child Rodrigo, her brother Cæsar, and
her parents, departed from Rome. Probably only two persons were present
when she took leave of Vannozza. None of those who describe the
festivities in the Vatican mention this woman by name.

The Chamber of the Parrots was the scene of her leave-taking with her
father. She remained with the Pope some time, departing on Cæsar's
entrance. As she was leaving, Alexander called after her in a loud
voice, telling her to be of good cheer, and to write him whenever she
wanted anything, adding that he would do more for her now that she had
gone from him than he had ever done for her while she was in Rome. Then
he went from place to place and watched her until she and her retinue
were lost to sight.[145]

Lucretia set forth from Rome at three o'clock in the afternoon. All the
cardinals, ambassadors, and magistrates of the city accompanied her as
far as the Porta del Popolo. She was mounted on a white jennet
caparisoned with gold, and she wore a riding habit of red silk and
ermine, and a hat trimmed with feathers. She was surrounded by more than
a thousand persons. By her side were the princes of Ferrara and the
Cardinal of Cosenza. Her brother Cæsar accompanied her a short distance,
and then returned to the Vatican with Cardinal Ippolito.

Thus Lucretia Borgia departed, leaving Rome and a terrible past behind
her forever.


[131] Despatch of Giovanni Lucido, in the archives of Mantua.

[132] The report of this agent, who signs himself El Prete, is preserved
in the archives of Mantua.

[133] The Farrarese agent, Bartolomeo Bresciani, who had been sent to
Rome on matters connected with the Church, is no less complimentary. He
says, la Excell. V. remagnera molto ben satisfacto da questa Illma
Madona per essere dotada de tanti costumi et buntade. (To the duke,
October 30, 1501.) He informed him also that Lucretia often conversed
with a saintly person who had been secluded in the Vatican for eight

[134] Despatch of Gianluca Pozzi to Ercole, Rome, December 25, 1501.

[135] Pozzi to Ercole, Rome, December 25, 1501.

[136] Fu necessario che la abreviasse, Gianluca and Gerardo to Ercole,
Rome, December 30, 1501.

[137] E ciò nello scopo, che se mancasse essa Duchessa verso lo Illmo
Don Alfonso non fosse più obbligato di quanto voleva esserlo circa dette
gioje. Ercole to Cardinal Ippolito, December 21, 1501. There is a letter
of the same date regarding the subject, written by Ercole to Gianluca

[138] Pozzi to Ercole, January 1, 1502. Archives of Modena.

[139] El Prete to Isabella, Rome, January 2, 1502.

[140] Pozzi to Ercole, Rome, December 28, 1501.

[141] Pozzi and Saraceni, Rome, December 28, 1501.

[142] Rome, January 9, 1502.

[143] La Illma Madama Lucrezia porta tutte le bolle piene et in optima
forma. Pozzi and Gerardo to Ercole, Rome, January 6, 1502.

[144] In the archives of the municipality of Nepi, where I copied the
brief from the records. There is a similar letter in the same form and
of the same date, addressed to the commune of Trevi, in the city
archives of that place. The latter is printed in Tullio Dandolo's Arte
christiána--Passeggiate nell' Umbria, 1866, p. 358.

[145] Beltrando Costabili to Ercole, Rome, January 6, 1502.





Although the escort which was taking the Duchess Lucretia to Ferrara
traveled by easy stages, the journey was fatiguing; for the roads,
especially in winter, were bad, and the weather, even in the vicinity of
Rome, was frequently wet and cold.

Not until the seventh day did they reach Foligno. As the report which
the Ferrarese ambassadors sent their lord from that place contains a
vivid description of the journey, we quote it at length:

     ILLUSTRIOUS AND HONORED MASTER: Although we wrote your
     Excellency from Narni that we would travel from Terni to Spoleto,
     and from Spoleto to this place without stopping, the illustrious
     Duchess and her ladies were so fatigued that she decided to rest a
     day in Spoleto and another in Foligno. We, therefore, shall not
     leave here until to-morrow morning, and shall not arrive at Urbino
     before next Tuesday, that is the eighteenth of the current month,
     for to-morrow we shall reach Nocera, Saturday Gualdo, Sunday
     Gubbio, Monday Cagli, and Tuesday Urbino, where we shall rest
     another day, that is Wednesday. On the twentieth we shall set out
     for Pesaro, and so on from city to city, as we have already written
     your Excellency.

     We feel certain, however, that the duchess will stop frequently to
     rest, consequently we shall not reach Ferrara before the last of
     the present or the first of next month, and perhaps not until the
     second or third. We therefore thought it well to write your
     Excellency from here, letting you know where we were and where we
     expected to be, so that you might arrange matters as you thought
     best. If you wish us not to arrive in Ferrara until the second or
     third, it would not be difficult so to arrange it; but if you think
     it would be better for us to reach the city the last of this month
     or the first of February, write us to that effect, and we will
     endeavor, as we have hitherto done, to shorten the periods of rest.

     I mention this because the illustrious Donna Lucretia is of a
     delicate constitution and, like her ladies, is unaccustomed to the
     saddle, and because we notice that she does not wish to be worn out
     when she reaches Ferrara.

     In all the cities through which her Majesty passes she is received
     with every show of affection and with great honors, and presented
     with numerous gifts by the women. Everything is done for her
     comfort. She was welcomed everywhere and, as she was formerly ruler
     of Spoleto, she was well known to the people. Her reception here in
     Foligno was more cordial and accompanied by greater manifestations
     of joy than anywhere else outside of Rome, for not only did the
     signors of the city, as the officials of the commune are called,
     clad in red silk, come on foot to meet her and accompany her to her
     inn on the Piazza, but at the gate she was confronted by a float
     upon which was a person representing the Roman Lucretia with a
     dagger in her hand, who recited some verses to the effect that her
     Majesty excelled herself in graciousness, modesty, intelligence,
     and understanding, and that therefore she would yield her own place
     to her.

     There was also a float upon which was a cupid, and on the summit,
     with the golden apple in his hand, stood Paris, who repeated some
     stanzas, the gist of which was as follows: he had promised the
     apple to Venus, the only one who excelled both Juno and Pallas in
     beauty; but he now reversed his decision, and presented it to her
     Majesty as she, of all women, was the only one who surpassed all
     the goddesses, possessing greater beauty, wisdom, riches, and power
     than all three united.

     Finally, on the Piazza we discovered an armed Turkish galley coming
     toward us, and one of the Turks, who was standing on the bulwarks,
     repeated some stanzas of the following import: the sultan well knew
     how powerful was Lucretia in Italy, and he had sent him to greet
     her, and to say that his master would surrender everything he had
     taken from the Christians. We made no special effort to remember
     these verses, for they were not exactly Petrarchian, and, moreover,
     the ship did not appear to us to be a very happy idea; it was
     rather out of place.

     We must not forget to tell you that all the reigning Baglione came
     from Perugia and their castles, and were waiting for Lucretia about
     four miles from Foligno, and that they invited her to go to

     Her Majesty, as we wrote your Excellency from Narni, persists in
     her wish to journey from Bologna to Ferrara by water to escape the
     discomfort of riding and traveling by land.

     His Holiness, our Lord, is so concerned for her Majesty that he
     demands daily and even hourly reports of her journey, and she is
     required to write him with her own hand from every city regarding
     her health. This confirms the statement which has frequently been
     made to your Excellency--that his Holiness loves her more than any
     other person of his blood.

     We shall not neglect to make a report to your Excellency regarding
     the journey whenever an opportunity offers.

     Between Terni and Spoleto, in the valley of the Strettura, one of
     the hostlers of the illustrious Don Sigismondo engaged in a violent
     altercation about some turtle doves with one of his fellows in the
     service of the Roman Stefano dei Fabii, who is a member of the
     duchess's escort. Both grasped their arms, whereupon one
     Pizaguerra, also in the service of the illustrious Don Sigismondo,
     happening to ride by on his horse, wounded Stefano's hostler on the
     head. Thereupon Stefano, who is naturally quarrelsome and
     vindictive, became so angry that he declared he would accompany the
     cavalcade no farther. About this time we reached the castle of
     Spoleto, and he passed the illustrious Don Sigismondo and Don
     Ferrante without speaking to them or even looking at them. The
     whole affair was due to a misunderstanding which we all regretted
     very much, and as Pizaguerra and Don Sigismondo's hostler had fled,
     there was nothing more to be done; the Cardinal of Cosenza, the
     illustrious Madonna, and all the others agreed that Stefano was in
     the wrong. He, therefore, was mollified, and continued on the
     journey. We commend ourselves to your Excellency's mercy. From
     Foligno, January 13, 1502.

  Your Majesty's servants,

     POSTSCRIPT: The worthy Cardinal of Cosenza, we understand,
     is unwilling to pass through the territory of the illustrious Duke
     of Urbino.

From Foligno the journey was continued by way of Nocera and Gualdo to
Gubbio, one of the most important cities in the duchy of Urbino. About
two miles from that place the Duchess Elisabetta met Lucretia and
accompanied her to the city palace. After this the two remained
constantly in each other's company, for Elisabetta kept her promise and
accompanied Lucretia to Ferrara.

Cardinal Borgia returned to Rome from Gubbio, and the two ladies
occupied the comfortable sedan-chair which Alexander had presented his
daughter. January 18th, when the cavalcade was near Urbino, Lucretia was
greeted by Duke Guidobaldo, who had come with his entire court to meet
her. He accompanied Lucretia to the residence set apart for
her--Federico's beautiful palace--where she and the princes of Este were
lodged, the duke and duchess having vacated it for them. The artful
Guidobaldo had set up the Borgia arms and those of the King of France in
conspicuous places in Urbino and throughout the various cities of his

Although Lucretia's wedding was regarded by the Montrefeltre with great
displeasure, they now, on account of Ferrara and because of their fear
of the Pope, hastened to show her every honor. They had been acquainted
with Lucretia in Rome when Guidobaldo, Alexander's condottiere,
conducted the unsuccessful war against the Orsini, and they had also
known her in Pesaro. Perhaps they now hoped that Urbino's safety would
be assured by Lucretia's influence and friendship. However, only a few
months were to pass before Guidobaldo and his consort were to be undone
by the fiendishness of their guest's brother and driven from their

After resting a day, Lucretia and the duchess, accompanied for a short
distance by Guidobaldo, set out from Urbino, January 20th, for Pesaro,
which they reached late in the evening. The road connecting these cities
is now a comfortable highway, traversing a beautiful, undulating
country, but at that time it was little more than a bridlepath;
consequently the travelers were thoroughly fatigued when they reached
their destination.

When Lucretia entered the latter city she must have been overcome by
painful emotions, for she could not fail to have been reminded of
Sforza, her discarded husband, who was now an exile in Mantua, brooding
on revenge, and who might appear at any moment in Ferrara to mar the
wedding festivities. Pesaro now belonged to her brother Cæsar, and he
had given orders that his sister should be royally received in all the
cities she visited in his domain. A hundred children clad in his
colors--yellow and red--with olive branches in their hands, greeted her
at the gates of Pesaro with the cry, "Duca! Duca! Lucretia! Lucretia!"
and the city officials accompanied her to her former residence.[146]

Lucretia was received with every evidence of joy by her former subjects,
and the most prominent of the noble women of the city, among whom was
the matron Lucretia Lopez, once her lady-in-waiting, and now wife of
Gianfrancesco Ardizi.[147]

Lucretia remained a day in Pesaro without allowing herself to be seen.
In the evening she permitted the ladies of her suite to dance with those
of the city, but she herself took no part in the festivities. Pozzi
wrote the duke that she spent the entire time in her chamber "for the
purpose of washing her head, and because she was naturally inclined to
solitude." Her seclusion while in Pesaro may be explained as more likely
due to the gloomy thoughts which filled her mind.[148]

In every town belonging to the Duke of Romagna there was a similar
reception; everywhere the magistrates presented Lucretia with the keys
of the city. She was now accompanied by her brother's lieutenant in
Cesena, Don Ramiro d'Orco,--a monster who was quartered by Cæsar's
orders a few months later.

Passing Rimini and Cesena she reached Forli, January 25th. The salon of
the palace was hung with costly tapestries, and even the ceiling was
covered with many-colored cloth; a tribune was erected for the ladies.
Presents of food, sweetmeats, and wax tapers were offered the duchess.
In spite of the stringent laws which Cæsar's rectors, especially Ramiro,
had passed, bands of robbers made the roads unsafe. Fearing that the
bold bandit Giambattista Carraro might overtake the bridal train after
it had left the boundaries of Cervia, a guard of a thousand men on foot
and a hundred and fifty troopers was furnished by the people, apparently
as an escort of honor.[149]

In Faenza Lucretia announced that she would be obliged to spend Friday
in Imola to wash her head, as she would not have an opportunity to do
this again until the end of the carnival. This washing of the head,
which we have already had occasion to notice as an important part of the
toilet in those days, must, therefore, have been in some manner
connected with dressing the hair.[150] The Ferrarese ambassador spoke of
this practice of Lucretia's as a repeated obstacle which might delay the
entrance of her Majesty into Ferrara until February 2d. Don Ferrante
likewise wrote from Imola that she would rest there a day to put her
clothes in order and wash her head, which, said she, had not been done
for eight days, and she, therefore, was suffering with headache.[151]

On the way from Faenza to Imola the cavalcade stopped at Castle
Bolognese, which had been abandoned by Giovanni Bentivoglio when he was
threatened by Cæsar. They found the walls of the town razed, the moat
filled up, and even its name changed to Cesarina.

After resting a day in Imola the cavalcade set out January 28th for
Bologna. When they reached the borders of the territory belonging to the
city they were met by Bentivoglio's sons and his consort Ginevra, with a
brilliant retinue, and two miles from the city gate Giovanni himself was
waiting to greet them.

The tyrant of Bologna, who owed his escape from Cæsar wholly to the
protection of the French, spared nothing to honor his enemy's sister.
Accompanied by several hundred riders, he led her in triumph through the
city, where the arms of the Borgias, of Cæsar, the Pope, and Lucretia,
and those of France, and of the Este met her eye on every side. The
proud matron Ginevra, surrounded by a large number of noble ladies,
received Lucretia at the portals of her magnificent palace. How this
famous woman, the aunt of Giovanni Sforza of Pesaro, must in her soul
have hated this Borgia! However, it was neither Alexander nor Cæsar, but
Giuliano della Rovere, subsequently Julius II, who was destined, only
four years later, to drive her and all her race from Bologna forever.

January 30th was devoted to gorgeous festivities, and in the evening the
Bentivoglio gave a ball and a banquet.

The following day they accompanied Lucretia for a part of the way, as it
was her purpose to continue her journey to Ferrara, which now was not
far distant, by boat on the canal, which at that time ran from Bologna
to the Po.

The same day--January 31st--towards evening, Lucretia reached Castle
Bentivoglio, which was but twenty miles from Ferrara. She had no sooner
arrived at that place than her consort Alfonso suddenly appeared. She
was greatly overcome, but promptly recovered herself and received him
"with many professions of esteem and most graciously," to all of which
he responded with great gallantry.[152] Hitherto the hereditary Prince
of Ferrara had sullenly held aloof from the wife that had been forced
upon him. Men of that age had not a trace of the tenderness or
sentimentality of those of to-day, but, even admitting this, it is
certainly strange that there is no evidence of any correspondence
between Lucretia and Alfonso during the time the marriage was being
arranged, although a great many letters then passed between the duchess
and Ercole. Either owing to a desire to please his father or to his own
curiosity or cunning, the rough and reticent Alfonso now threw off his
reserve. He came in disguise, remained two hours, and then suddenly left
for Ferrara.

During this short interview he was greatly impressed by his wife.
Lucretia in those two hours had certainly brought Alfonso under the
spell of her personality, even if she had not completely disarmed him.
Not wholly without reason had the gallant burghers of Foligno awarded
the apple of Paris to Lucretia. Speaking of this meeting, one of the
chroniclers of Ferrara says, "The entire people rejoiced greatly, as did
also the bride and her own followers, because his Majesty had shown a
desire to see her and had received her so well--an indication that she
would be accepted and treated still better."[153]

Probably no one was more pleased than the Pope. His daughter immediately
informed him of her reception, for she sent him daily letters giving an
account of her journey; and he also received numerous despatches from
other persons in her train. Up to this time he had felt some misgivings
as to her reception by the Este, but now he was relieved. After she had
left Rome he frequently asked Cardinal Ferrari to warn the duke to treat
his daughter-in-law kindly, remarking, at the same time, that he had
done a great deal for her, and would do still more. He declared that the
remission of Ferrara's tribute would, if paid for in money, require not
less than two hundred thousand ducats, and that the officials of the
chancellery had demanded between five and six thousand ducats merely for
preparing the bulls. The kings of France and Spain had been compelled to
pay the Duke of Romagna a yearly tribute of twenty thousand ducats for
the remission of the taxes of Naples, which consisted only in the
payment of a single white horse. Ferrara, on the other hand, had been
granted everything.[154]

The duke replied to the cardinal January 22d, assuring him that his
daughter-in-law would meet with a most affectionate reception.[155]


[146] Lucretia's colors were yellow and dark brown (morrelo aperto),
while Alexander's were yellow and black.

[147] Spogli di Giambattista Almerici. i, 284. Ms. in the Oliveriana in

[148] Si per attendere a lavarse il capo, como anche per essere assai
solitaria et remota di soa natura. Despatch from Rimini, January 22,

[149] Ferrante to Ercole, Rimini, January 23, 1502.

[150] The expression is lavarsi il capo.

[151] Ferrante to Ercole, Imola, January 27, 1502.

[152] Gianluca to Ercole, January 31, 1502.

[153] Bernardino Zambotto. See Monsignor Giuseppe Antonelli's work,
Lucrezia Borgia in Ferrara, sposa a Don Alfonso d'Este, Memorie
storiche.... Ferrara, 1867.

[154] The ambassador Beltrando Costabili to Duke Ercole, Rome, January
7, 1502.

[155] The duke to his ambassador in Rome, Ferrara, January 22, 1502, in
the Minute Ducali a Costabili Beltrando Oratore a Roma.



February 1st Lucretia continued her journey to Ferrara by the canal.
Near Malalbergo she found Isabella Gonzaga waiting to meet her. At the
urgent request of her father, the marchioness, much against her will,
had come to do the honors during the festivities in his palace. "In
violent anger," so she wrote her husband, who remained at home, she
greeted and embraced her sister-in-law. She accompanied her by boat to
Torre della Fossa, where the canal empties into a branch of the Po. This
river, a majestic stream, flows four miles from Ferrara, and only a
branch--Po di Ferrara--now known as the Canale di Cento, reaches the
city, where it divides into two arms, the Volano and Primaro, both of
which empty into the Adriatic. They are very small canals, and,
therefore, it could have been no pleasure to travel on them, nor was it
an imposing spectacle.

The duke, with Don Alfonso and his court, awaited Lucretia at Torre
della Fossa. When she left the boat the duke saluted her on the cheek,
she having first respectfully kissed his hand. Thereupon, all mounted a
magnificently decorated float, to which the foreign ambassadors and
numerous cavaliers came to kiss the bride's hand. To the strains of
music and the thunder of cannon the cavalcade proceeded to the Borgo S.
Luca, where they all descended. Lucretia took up her residence in the
palace of Alberto d'Este, Ercole's illegitimate brother. Here she was
received by Lucretia Bentivigolio, natural daughter of Ercole, and
numerous ladies of her court. The duke's seneschal brought to her Madonna
Teodora and twelve young women who were to serve her as
ladies-in-waiting. Five beautiful carriages, each drawn by four horses,
a present from her father-in-law, were placed at her disposal. In this
villa, which is no longer in existence, Lucretia spent the night. The
suburb of S. Luca is still there, but the entire locality is so changed
that it would be impossible to recognize it.

The seat of the Este was thronged with thousands of sightseers, some of
whom had been invited by the duke and others drawn thither by curiosity.
All the vassals of the State, but not the reigning princes, were
present. The lords of Urbino and Mantua were represented by the ladies
of their families, and the house of Bentivoglio by Annibale. Rome,
Venice, Florence, Lucca, Siena, and the King of France had sent
ambassadors, who were lodged in the palaces of the nobles. The Duke of
Romagna had remained in Rome and sent a representative. It had been
Alexander's wish that Cæsar's wife, Charlotte d'Albret, should come from
France to attend the wedding festivities in Ferrara and remain a month,
but she did not appear.

With royal extravagance Ercole had prepared for the festivities; the
magazines of the court and the warehouses of the city had been filled
with supplies for weeks past. Whatever the Renaissance had to offer,
that she provided in Ferrara; for the city was the seat of a cultivated
court and the home of a hospitable bourgeoisie, and also a town where
science, art, and industry thrived.

Lucretia's entrance, February 2d, was, therefore, one of the most
brilliant spectacles of the age, and, as far as she herself was
concerned, it was the greatest moment of her life; for she was entering
into the enjoyment of the highest and best of which her nature was

At two o'clock in the afternoon, the duke and all the ambassadors betook
themselves to Alberto's villa to fetch his daughter-in-law to the city.
The cavalcade set out over the bridge, crossing the branch of the Po, to
pass through the gate of Castle Tedaldo, a fortress no longer in

At its head were seventy-five mounted archers in the livery of the house
of Este--white and red--who were accompanied by eighty trumpeters and a
number of fifes. Then came the nobility of Ferrara without regard to
rank, followed by the members of the courts of the Marchioness of
Mantua, who remained behind in the palace, and of the Duchess of Urbino.
Behind them rode Alfonso, with his brother-in-law, Annibale Bentivoglio,
at his side, and accompanied by eight pages. He was dressed in red
velvet in the French fashion, and on his head he wore a black velvet
biretta, upon which was an ornament of wrought gold. He wore small red
boots and French gaiters of black velvet. His bay horse was caparisoned
in crimson and gold.

On the way to Ferrara, Don Alfonso did not ride by the side of his
consort as this would have been contrary to the etiquette of the day.
The bridegroom led the procession, near the middle of which was the
bride, while the father-in-law came last. This arrangement was intended
to indicate that Lucretia was the chief personage in the parade. Just
behind Alfonso came her escort, pages, and court officials, among whom
were several Spanish cavaliers; then five bishops, followed by the
ambassadors according to rank; the four deputies of Rome, mounted upon
beautiful horses and wearing long brocade cloaks and black birettas
coming next. These were followed by six tambourines and two of
Lucretia's favorite clowns.

Then came the bride herself, radiantly beautiful and happy, mounted upon
a white jennet with scarlet trappings, and followed by her master of
horse. Lucretia was dressed in a loose-sleeved camorra of black velvet
with a narrow gold border, and a cape of gold brocade trimmed with
ermine. On her head she wore a sort of net glittering with diamonds and
gold--a present from her father-in-law. She did not wear a diadem. About
her neck she had a chain of pearls and rubies which had once belonged to
the Duchess of Ferrara--as Isabella noticed with tears in her eyes. Her
beautiful hair fell down unconfined on her shoulders. She rode beneath a
purple baldachin, which the doctors of Ferrara--that is, the members of
the faculties of law, medicine, and mathematics--supported in turn.

For the purpose of honoring the King of France, the protector of Ferrara
and of the Borgias, Lucretia had summoned the French ambassador, Philipp
della Rocca Berti, to ride at her left, near her, but not under the
baldachin. This was intended to show that it was owing to this powerful
monarch that the bride was entering the palace of the Este.

Behind Lucretia came the duke, in black velvet, on a dark horse with
trappings of the same material. On his right was the Duchess of Urbino
clad in a dark velvet gown.[156]

Then followed nobles, pages, and other personages of the house of Este,
each of whom was accompanied by one of Lucretia's ladies. The only
important member of the family not present was Cardinal Ippolito, who
had remained in Rome, and who, from that city, wrote Lucretia, January
16th, saying he had called on her son Rodrigo and found him asleep.
February 9th he wrote that the Pope had invited Cæsar and himself
together with Cardinal Borgia and the Signora Principessa--this was
Sancia--to supper.[157] Of the women who accompanied Lucretia, only
three were mounted--Girolama Borgia, wife of Fabio Orsini; another
Orsini, who is not described more explicitly; and Madonna Adriana, "a
widowed noblewoman, a kinswoman of the Pope."[158]

Behind them came fourteen floats upon which were seated a number of the
noble women of Ferrara, beautifully dressed, including the twelve young
ladies who had been allotted to Lucretia as maids of honor. Then
followed two white mules and two white horses decked with velvet and
silk and costly gold trappings. Eighty-six mules accompanied the train
bearing the bride's trousseau and jewels. When the good people of
Ferrara saw them slowly wending their way through the streets, they must
have thought that Alfonso had chosen a rich bride. It never occurred to
them that these chests, boxes, and bales which were being carried
through the streets with such ostentation were filled with the plunder
of various cities of Christendom.

At the gate near Castle Tedaldo, Lucretia's horse was frightened by the
discharge of a cannon, and the chief actor was thrown. The bride rose
without assistance, and the duke placed her upon another horse,
whereupon the cortege started again. In honor of Lucretia there were
triumphal arches, tribunes, orations, and mythological scenes. Among the
last was a procession of nymphs, with their queen at their head, riding
upon a bull, with satyrs disporting themselves about her. Sannazzaro may
have thought that the epigram in which he had referred to Giulia Farnese
as Europa on the bull suggested this representation of the Borgia arms.

When the cavalcade reached the Piazza before the church, two
rope-walkers descended from the towers and addressed compliments to the
bride; thus was the ludicrous introduced into public festivities at that

It was now night, and the procession had reached the palace of the duke,
and at the moment it did so all prisoners were given their liberty. At
this point all the trumpeters and fifes were massed.

It is impossible to tell exactly where the palace was situated to which
Lucretia was conducted. The Este had built a number of residences in the
city, which they occupied in turn. Among them were Schifanoja, Diamanti,
Paradiso, Belvedere, Belfiore, and Castle Vecchio. A local chronicler in
the year 1494 mentions, in enumerating the palaces of the lords of the
house of Este, the Palazzo del Cortile and Castle Vecchio as belonging
to the duke; Castle Vecchio to Alfonso and the palace of the Certosa to
Cardinal Ippolito.[159] Ercole, therefore, in the year 1502, was
residing in one of the two palaces mentioned above, which were connected
with each other by a row of structures extending from the old castle to
the Piazza before the church, which ended in the Palazzo della Ragione.
They are still connected, although the locality has greatly changed.

The duke's palace was opposite the church. It had a large court with a
marble stairway, and was therefore called the Palazzo del Cortile. This
court is doubtless the one now known as the Cortile Ducale. It was
entered from the Piazza through a high archway, at the sides of which
were columns which formerly supported statues of Niccolò III and Borso.
The writers who describe Lucretia's entrance into the city say that she
dismounted from her horse at the steps of the marble court (a le scale
del Cortile di Marmo).

Here she was received by the Marchioness Gonzaga and numerous other
prominent ladies. Alfonso's young wife must have smiled--if in the
excitement of the moment she noticed it--when she found that the noble
house of Este had selected such a large number of their bastard
daughters to welcome her. She was greeted at the stairway by Lucretia,
Ercole's natural daughter, wife of Annibale Bentivoglio, and three
illegitimate daughters of Sigismondo d'Este--Lucretia, Countess of
Carrara; the beautiful Diana, Countess of Uguzoni; and Bianca

It was night, and lights and torches illuminated the palace. To the
sound of music the young couple was conducted to the reception hall,
where they took their places on a throne. Here followed the formal
introduction of the court officials, and an orator delivered a speech
apparently based upon the information which the duke had instructed his
ambassadors to secure regarding the house of Borgia. It is not known who
was the fortunate orator, but we are familiar with the names of some of
the poets who addressed epithalamia to the beautiful princess. Nicolaus
Marius Paniciatus composed a number of spirituelle Latin poems and
epigrams in honor of Lucretia, Alfonso, and Ercole, which were collected
under the title of "Borgias." Among them are some ardent wishes for the
prosperity of the young couple. Lucretia's beauty is described as
excelling that of Helen because it was accompanied by incomparable

Apparently this youthful poet did not have his stanzas printed, for they
exist only in a manuscript in the library of Ferrara. Before Lucretia's
entry the printer Laurentius published an epithalamium by a young
Latinist, the celebrated Celio Calcagnini, who subsequently became
famous as a mathematician. He was a favorite of Cardinal Ippolito, and a
friend of the great Erasmus. The subject matter of the poem is very
simple. Venus leaves Rome and accompanies Lucretia. Mnemosyne admonishes
her daughters, the Muses, to celebrate the noble princess, which they
accordingly do. The princes of the house are not forgotten, for Euterpe
sings the praises of Ercole, Terpsicore lauds Alfonso, and Caliope
recites Cæsar's victories in the Romagna.[162]

Another Ferrarese poet makes his appearance on this occasion, a man of
whom much was expected, Ariosto, who was then twenty-seven years old,
and already known at the court of the Este and in the cultivated circles
of Italy as a Latinist and a writer of comedies. He also wrote an
epithalamium addressed to Lucretia. It is graceful, and not burdened
with mythological pedantry, but it lacks invention. The poet
congratulates Ferrara,--which will henceforth be the envy of all other
cities,--for having won an incomparable jewel. He sympathizes with Rome
for the loss of Lucretia, saying that it has again fallen into
ruins.[163] He describes the young princess as "pulcherrima virgo," and
refers to Lucretia of ancient times.

On the conclusion of the festivities which greeted her on her arrival,
the duke accompanied Lucretia to the apartments which had been prepared
for her. She must have been pleased with her reception by the house of
Este, and the impression made by her own personality was most favorable.
The chronicler Bernardino Zambotto speaks of her as follows: "The bride
is twenty-four years of age (this is incorrect); she has a beautiful
countenance, sparkling and animated eyes; a slender figure; she is keen
and intellectual, joyous and human, and possesses good reasoning powers.
She pleased the people so greatly that they are perfectly satisfied with
her, and they look to her Majesty for protection and good government.
They are truly delighted, for they think that the city will greatly
profit through her, especially as the Pope will refuse her nothing, as
is shown by the portion he gave her, and by presenting Don Alfonso with
certain cities."

Lucretia's face, judging by the medal, must have been fascinating.
Cagnolo of Parma describes her as follows: "She is of medium height and
slender figure. Her face is long, the nose well defined and beautiful;
her hair a bright gold, and her eyes blue; her mouth is somewhat large,
the teeth dazzlingly white; her neck white and slender, but at the same
time well rounded. She is always cheerful and good-humored."[164]

To indicate the color of the eyes, Cagnolo uses the word "bianco," which
in the language of the people still means blue. In the folk songs of
Tuscany collected by Tigri, there is frequent mention of _occhi
bianchi_,--that is, "blue eyes." The Florentine Firenzuola, in his work
on "the perfect beauty of woman," says she must have blond hair and blue
eyes, with the pupil not quite black, although the Greeks and Italians
preferred it so. The most beautiful color for the eyes, according to
this writer, is tané.[165] The poets of Ferrara, who immediately began
to sing the dazzling power of the eyes of their beautiful duchess, did
not mention their color.

This remarkable woman charmed all beholders with her indescribable
grace, to which there was added something of mystery, and not by any
classic beauty or dignity. Vivacity, gentleness, and amiability are the
qualities which all Lucretia's contemporaries discovered in her.[166]
This animated and delicate face, with large blue eyes, and surrounded
with golden hair, suggests the ethereal beauty of Shakespeare's Imogene.

[Illustration: ARIOSTO.

From a painting by Titian.]


[156] Isabella Gonzaga, who watched the parade from a window of the
palace, describes this scene to the duke. Letter to her husband,
Ferrara, February 2d, in the Archivio Storico Ital. App. ii, 305. Her
report excels in some particulars the picture given by Marino Sanuo
(Diar. vol. iv, fol. 104, sq.). Ordine di le pompe e spectaculi di le
noze de mad. Lucretia Borgia. Reprinted in Rawdon Brown's Ragguaglio
sulla vita e le opere di M. Sanudo, ii, 197, sq.

[157] Letters in the archives of Modena.

[158] This is according to Isabella Gonzaga; Cagnolo's report mentioned,
instead of this woman, another Adriana, the wife of Francesco Colonna of

[159] Ms. chronicle of Mario Equicola in the library of Ferrara, in the
University, formerly the Paradiso.

[160] Paolo Zerbinati, Memorie, Ms. in the library of Ferrara, p. 3.

[161] The Ms. is in the library of Ferrara: Nicolai Marii Paniciati
ferrariensis, Borgias. Ad. Excell. D. Lucretiam Borgiarm III. Alphonsi
Estensis Sponsam celeber MDII. One epigram is as follows:

    Tyndaridem jactant Heroica secula cujus
  Armavit varies forma superba Duces,
    Haec collata tibi, merito Luoretia cedit,
  Nam tuus omne Helenes lumen obumbrat honor:
    Illa neces populis, diuturnaque bella paravit:
  Tu bona tranquillae pacis opima refers.
    Moribus illa suis speciem temeravit honestam:
  Innumeris speciem dotibus ipsa colis:
    Ore deam præstas: virtute venustior alma:
  Foeda Helenæ facies æquiparata tuæ.

[162] Cælii Calcagnini Ferrariensis. In Illustriss. Divi Alphonsi
Primogeniti Herculis Ducis Ferr. ac Divæ Lucretiæ Borgiæ Nuptias
Epithalamium. Laurentius de Valentia Imprimebat Ferrariæ Deo Opt. Max.
Favente. Calend. Febr. MDII.


  Est levis hæc jactura tamen, ruat hoc quoque quicquid
  Est reliquum, juvet et nudis habitare sub antris,
  Vivere dura liceat tecum pulcherrima virgo.

Ludovici Areosti Ferrariensis Epithalamion, in vol. i of Carmina
Illustrium Poetarum Italorum, p. 342-346.

[164] Di mediocre statura, gracile in aspetto, di faccia alquanto lunga,
il naso profilato e bello, li capelli aurei, gli occhi bianchi, la bocca
alquanto grande con li denti candidissimi; la gola schietta e bianca
ornata con decente valore, ed in essere continuamente allegra e ridente.
See Lucrezia Borgia in Ferrara. Ferrara, 1867.

[165] Agnolo Firenzuola, vol. i. Della perfetto bellezza di una donna.

[166] Fu essa Lucrezia di venusto e mansueto aspetto, prudente, di
gratissime maniere negli atti, e nel parlare di molta grazia e
allegrezza, says Alfonso's secretary, Bonaventura Pistofilo, in his Vita
di Alfonso I d'Este. The epithets venusta, gentile, graziosa, amabile,
are conferred upon her by all her contemporaries.



The wedding festivities in Ferrara continued for six days during the
carnival. At the period of the Renaissance, court functions and
festivities, so far as the intellectual part is concerned, were not
unlike those of the present day; but the magnificent costumes, the
highly developed sense of material beauty, and the more elaborate
etiquette of the age which gave birth to Castiglione's _Cortegiano_ lent
these festivities a higher character.

The sixteenth century was far behind our own in many of its
productions--theatrical performances, displays of fireworks, and concert
music. There were illuminations, and mounted torchlight processions; and
rockets were frequently used; but an illuminated garden fête such as the
Emperor of Austria gave for the Shah of Persia at Schönbrunn would at
that time have been impossible. The same might be said of certain forms
of musical entertainment; for example, concerts. Society in that age
would have shuddered at the orchestral music of to-day, and the
ear-splitting drums would have appeared barbarous to the Italians of the
Renaissance, just as would the military parades, which are still among
the favorite spectacles with which distinguished guests are either
honored or intimidated at the great courts of Europe. Even then tourneys
were rare, although there were occasional combats of gladiators, whose
costumes were greatly admired.

The duke and his master of ceremonies had spent weeks in preparing the
program for the wedding festivities, although these did not admit of any
great variety, being limited as they are now to banquets, balls, and
theatrical productions. It was from the last-named form of entertainment
that Ercole promised himself the most, and which, he expected, would win
for him the applause of the cultivated world.

He was one of the most active patrons of the theater during the
Renaissance. Several years before he had commissioned the poets at his
court to translate some of the plays of Plautus and Terence into _terza
rima_, and had produced them. Guarino, Berardo, Collenuccio, and even
Bojordo had been employed in this work by him. As early as 1486 an
Italian version of the _Menæchmi_, the favorite play of Plautus, had
been produced in Ferrara. In February, 1491, when Ercole, with most
brilliant festivities, celebrated the betrothal of his son Alfonso and
Anna Sforza, the _Menæchmi_ and one of the comedies of Terence were
given. The _Amphitryon_, which Cagnolo had prepared for the stage, was
also played.

There was no permanent theater in Ferrara, but a temporary one had been
erected which served for the production of plays which were given only
during the carnival and on other important occasions. Ercole had
arranged a salon in the palace of the Podestà--a Gothic building
opposite the church--which is still standing and is known as the Palazzo
della Ragione. The salon was connected with the palace itself by a
passage way.

A raised stage called the tribune was erected. It was about one hundred
and twenty feet long and a hundred and fifty feet wide. It had houses of
painted wood, and whatever was necessary in the way of scenery, rocks,
trees, etc. It was separated from the audience by a wooden partition in
which was a sheet-metal curtain. On the forward part of the stage--the
orchestra--sat the princes and other important personages, and in the
amphitheater were thirteen rows of cushioned seats, those in the middle
being occupied by the women, and those at the sides by the men. This
space accommodated about three thousand people.

According to Strozzi, Ariosto, Calcagnini, and other humanists of
Ferrara, it was Ercole himself who constructed this theatre. They and
other academicians probably took part in the performances, but the duke
also brought actors from abroad, from Mantua, Siena, and Rome. They
numbered in all no less than a hundred and ten persons, and it was
necessary to build a new dressing-room for them. The theatrical
performances on this brilliant occasion must, therefore, have aroused
great expectations.

The festivities began February 3d, and it was soon apparent that the
chief attraction would be the beauty of three famous women--Lucretia,
Isabella, and the Duchess of Urbino. They were regarded as the three
handsomest women of the age, and it was difficult to decide which was
the fairer, Isabella or Lucretia. The Duchess of Mantua was six years
older than her sister-in-law, but a most beautiful woman, and with
feminine curiosity she studied Lucretia's appearance. In the letters
which she daily wrote to her husband in Mantua, she carefully described
the dress of her rival, but said not a word regarding her personal
charms. "Concerning Donna Lucretia's figure," so she wrote February 1st,
"I shall say nothing, for I am aware that your Majesty knows her by
sight." She was unable to conceal her vanity, and in another letter,
written February 3d, she gave her husband to understand that she hoped,
so far as her own personality and her retinue were concerned, to be able
to stand comparison with any of the others and even to bear away the
prize. One of the ladies of her suite, the Marchesana of Cotrone, wrote
the duke, saying, "The bride is not especially handsome, but she has an
animated face, and in spite of her having such a large number of ladies
with her, and notwithstanding the presence of the illustrious lady of
Urbino, who is very beautiful, and who clearly shows that she is your
Excellency's sister, my illustrious mistress Isabella, according to our
opinion and of those who came with the Duchess of Ferrara, is the most
beautiful of all. There is no doubt about this; compared with her
Majesty, all the others are as nothing. Therefore we shall bring the
prize home to the house of our mistress."[167]

The first evening of the festivities a ball was given in the great salon
of the palace at which the attendance was so large that many were unable
to gain admission. Lucretia was enthroned upon a tribune, and near her
were the princesses of Mantua and Urbino. Other prominent ladies and the
ambassadors also came and took up a position near her. The guests,
therefore, in spite of the crowd, had a chance to admire the beautiful
women, and their gowns and jewels. During the Renaissance, balls were
less formal than they are now. Pleasures then were more natural and
simple; frequently the ladies danced with each other, and sometimes even
alone. The dances were almost exclusively French, for even at that time
France had begun to impose her customs on all the rest of the world;
still there were some Spanish and Italian ones. Lucretia was a graceful
dancer, and she was always ready to display her skill. She frequently
descended from the tribune and executed Spanish and Roman dances to the
sound of the tambourine.[168]

The following day the eagerly expected dramatic performances were given.
First the duke had the actors appear in masks and costumes for the
purpose of reviewing them. The director of the troop then came forward
in the character of Plautus and read the program and the argument of
each piece which was to be rendered during the five evenings. The
selection of comedies by living dramatists in the year 1502 could not
have cost the duke much thought, for there were none of any special
importance. The _Calandra_ of Dovizi, which a few years later caused
such a sensation, was not yet written. It is true Ariosto had already
composed his _Cassaria_ and the _Suppositi_, but he had not yet won
sufficient renown for him to be honored by their presentation at the
wedding festivities.[169] Moreover, the duke would have none but classic
productions. He wanted to set all the world talking; and, in truth,
Italy had never seen any theatrical performances equal to these. We
possess careful descriptions of them which have not yet been
incorporated in the history of the stage. They show more clearly than do
the reports regarding the Vatican theater in the time of Leo X what was
the real nature of theatrical performances during the Renaissance;
consequently, they constitute a valuable picture of the times.

If one could follow the reports of Gagnolo, Zambotto, and Isabella, and
reproduce in imagination the brilliant wedding and the guests in their
rich costumes seated in rows, he would behold one of the fairest and
most illustrious gatherings of the Renaissance. This scene, rich in form
and color, taken in conjunction with the stage, and the performances of
the comedies of Plautus, and with the pantomimes and the _moresche_
which occupied the time between the acts, is so romantic that we might
imagine ourselves translated to Shakespeare's _Midsummer-Night's Dream_,
and that Duke Ercole had changed places with Theseus, Duke of Athens,
and that the comedies were being performed before him and the happy
bridal pair.

According to the program, from February 3d to February 8th--with the
exception of one evening--five of the plays of Plautus were to be given.
The intermissions were to be devoted to music and _moresche_. The
_moresca_ resembled the modern ballet; that is, a pantomime dance. It is
of very ancient origin, and traces of it appear in the Middle Ages. At
first it was a war dance in costume, which character it preserved for a
long time. The name is, I believe, derived from the fact that in all the
Latin countries which suffered from the invasions of the Saracens,
dances in which the participants were armed and which simulated the
battles of the Moor and Christian were executed. The Moors, for the sake
of contrast, were represented as black. Subsequently the meaning of the
term _moresca_ was extended to include the ballet in general, and all
sorts of scenes in which dances accompanied by flutes and violins were
introduced. The subjects were derived from mythology, the age of
chivalry, and everyday life.

There were also comic dances performed by fantastic monsters, peasants,
clowns, wild animals, and satyrs, during which blows were freely dealt
right and left. The classico-romantic ballet appears to have reached a
high development in Ferrara, which was the home of the romantic
epics--the _Mambriano_ and the _Orlando_. It is needless to say that the
ballet possessed great attraction for the public in those days, just as it
now does. The presentation of the comedies of Plautus would have no more
effect upon people of this age than would a puppet show. They lasted
from four to five hours--from six in the evening until midnight.

The first evening the duke conducted his guests into the theater, and
when they had taken their seats, Plautus appeared before the bridal
couple and addressed some complimentary verses to them. After this the
_Epidicus_ was presented. Each act was followed by a ballet, and five
beautiful _moresche_ were given during the interludes of the play. First
entered ten armed gladiators, who danced to the sound of tambourines;
then followed a mimic battle between twelve people in different
costumes; the third _moresca_ was led by a young woman upon a car which
was drawn by a unicorn, and upon it were several persons bound to the
trunk of a tree, while seated under the bushes were four lute players.
The young woman loosed the bonds of the captives, who immediately
descended and danced while the lute players sang beautiful canzone--at
least so says Gagnolo; the cultured Duchess of Mantua, however, wrote
that the music was so doleful that it was scarcely worth listening to.
Isabella, however, judging by her remarkable letters, was a severe
critic, not only of the plays but of all the festivities. The fourth
_moresca_ was danced by ten Moors holding burning tapers in their
mouths. In the fifth there were ten fantastically dressed men with
feathers on their heads, and bearing lances with small lighted torches
at their tips. On the conclusion of the _Epidicus_ there was a
performance by several jugglers.

Friday, February 4th, Lucretia did not appear until the afternoon. In
the morning the duke showed his guests about the city, and they went to
see a famous saint, Sister Lucia of Viterbo, whom the devout Ercole had
brought to Ferrara as a great attraction. Every Friday the five wounds
of Christ appeared on the body of this saint. She presented the
ambassador of France with a rag with which she had touched her scars,
and which Monseigneur Rocca Berti received with great respect. At the
castle the duke showed his guests the artillery, to the study of which
his son Alfonso was eagerly devoted. Here they waited for Lucretia, who,
accompanied by all the ambassadors, soon appeared in the great salon. A
dance was given which lasted until six in the evening. Then followed a
presentation of the _Bacchides_ which required five hours. Isabella
found these performances excessively long and tiresome. Ballets similar
to those which accompanied the _Epidicus_ were given; men dressed in
flesh-colored tights with torches in their hands, which diffused
agreeable odors, danced fantastic figures, and engaged in a battle with
a dragon.

The following day Lucretia did not appear, as she was engaged in writing
letters and in washing her hair, and the guests amused themselves by
wandering about the city. No entertainments were given for the populace.
The French ambassador, in the name of the King of France, sent presents
to the princes of the house. The duke received a golden shield with a
picture of S. Francis in enamel, the work of a Parisian artist, which
was highly valued; to the hereditary Prince Alfonso was given a similar
shield with a portrait of Mary of Magdala, the ambassador remarking that
his Majesty had chosen a wife who resembled the Magdalene in character:
_Quæ multum meruit, quia multum credidit._ Perhaps presenting Alfonso
with a gift suggestive of the Magdalene was an intentional bit of irony
on the part of the French king. In addition to this he received a
written description of a process for casting cannon. A golden shield was
likewise presented to Don Ferrante. Lucretia's gift was a string of gold
beads filled with musk, while her charming maid of honor, Angela, was
honored with a costly chain.

Everything was done to flatter the French ambassador. He was invited to
dinner in the evening by the Marchioness of Mantua, and was placed
between his hostess and the Duchess of Urbino. The evening was passed,
according to Gagnolo, in gallant and cultivated conversation. On leaving
the table the marchioness sang the most beautiful songs to the
accompaniment of the lute, for the entertainment of the French
ambassador. After this she conducted him to her chamber, where, in the
presence of two of her ladies-in-waiting, they held an animated
conversation for almost an hour, at the conclusion of which she drew off
her gloves and presented them to him, "and the ambassador received them
with assurances of his loyalty and his love, as they came from such a
charming source; he told her that he would preserve them until the end
of time, as a precious relic." We may believe Gagnolo, for doubtless the
fortunate ambassador regarded this memento of a beautiful woman as no
less precious than the rag poor Saint Lucia had given him.

Sunday, February 6th, there was a magnificent ceremony in the church;
one of the Pope's chamberlains in the name of his Holiness presented Don
Alfonso with a hat and also a sword which the Holy Father had blessed,
and which the archbishop girded on him at the altar. In the afternoon
the princes and the princesses of the house of Este went to Lucretia's
apartments to fetch her to the banquet hall. They danced for two hours;
Lucretia herself, with one of her ladies-in-waiting, taking part in some
French dances. In the evening the _Miles Gloriosus_ was presented; it
was followed by a _moresca_ in which ten shepherds with horns on their
heads fought with each other.

February 7th there was a tourney in the piazza before the church between
two mounted knights, one of whom was a native of Bologna and the other a
citizen of Imola. No blood was shed. In the evening the _Asinaria_ was
presented, together with a wonderful _moresca_ in which appeared
fourteen satyrs, one of which carried a silvered ass's head in his
hands, in which there was a music-box, to the strains of which the
clowns danced. This play of the satyrs was followed by an interlude
performed by sixteen vocalists,--men and women,--and a virtuoso from
Mantua who played on three lutes. In conclusion there was a _moresca_ in
which was simulated the agricultural work of the peasants. The fields
were prepared, the seed sown, the grain cut and threshed, and the
harvest feast followed. Finally a native dance to the accompaniment of
the bagpipe was executed.

The last day of the festivities, February 8th, also marked the end of
the carnival. The ambassadors, who were soon to depart, presented the
bride with costly gifts consisting of beautiful stuffs and silverware.
The most remarkable present was brought by the representatives of
Venice. The Republic at its own expense had sent two noblemen to the
festivities, Niccolò Dolfini and Andrea Foscolo, both of whom were
magnificently clothed. In those days dress was as costly as it was
beautiful, and the artists who made the clothes for the men and women of
the Renaissance would look with contempt upon those of the present time,
for in that æsthetic age their productions were works of art. The most
magnificent stuffs, velvet, silk, and gold embroidery were used, and
painters did not scorn to design the color schemes and the shapes and
folds of the garments. Dress, therefore, was a most weighty
consideration, and one to which great value was attached, as it
indicated the importance of the wearer. All who have left accounts of
the festivities in Ferrara describe in detail the costumes worn on each
occasion by Donna Lucretia and the other prominent women, and even those
of the men. The reports which the Venetians sent home and the
description in the diary of Marino Sanuto show how great was the
importance attached to these matters. The following is even more
striking evidence: before the two ambassadors of Venice set out for
Ferrara they were required to appear before the whole senate in their
robes of crimson velvet trimmed with fur, and wearing capes of similar
material. More than four thousand persons were present in the great
council hall, and the Piazza of S. Marco was crowded with people who
gazed with wonder on these strange creatures. One of these robes
contained thirty-two and the other twenty-eight yards of velvet.[170]
Following the instructions of the Seignory of Venice, the ambassadors
sent their robes to Duchess Lucretia as a bridal gift.[171] This
wonderful gift was presented in the most naive way imaginable. One of
the noble gentlemen delivered a Latin oration, and the other followed
with a long discourse in Italian; thereupon they retired to an adjoining
room, removed their magnificent robes, and sent them to the bride. This
present and the pedantry of the two Venetians excited the greatest mirth
at the Ferrarese court.[172]

In the evening they danced for the last time, and attended the final
theatrical performance, the _Casina_. Before the comedy began, music
composed by Rombonzino was rendered, and songs in honor of the young
couple were sung. Everywhere throughout the _Casina_, musical interludes
were introduced. During the intermission six violinists, among them Don
Alfonso, the hereditary prince, who was a magnificent amateur performer,
played. The violin seems to have been held in great esteem in Ferrara,
for when Cæsar Borgia was about to set out for France he asked Duke
Ercole for a violin player to accompany him, as they were much sought
after in that country.[173]

The ballet which followed was a dance of savages contending for the
possession of a beautiful woman. Suddenly the god of love appeared,
accompanied by musicians, and set her free. Hereupon the spectators
discovered a great globe which suddenly split in halves and began to
give forth beautiful strains. In conclusion twelve Swiss armed with
halberds and wearing their national colors entered, and executed an
artistic dance, fencing the while.

If this scene, as Cagnolo says, ended the dramatic performances we are
forced to conclude that they were exceedingly dull and spiritless. The
_moresca_ partook of the character of both the opera and ballet. It was
the only new form of spectacle offered during all the festivities.
Compared with those which were given in Rome on the occasion of
Lucretia's betrothal, they were much inferior. Among the former we
noticed several pastoral comedies with allegorical allusions to
Lucretia, Ferrara, Cæsar, and Alexander.

In spite of the outlay the duke had made, his entertainments lacked
novelty and variety, although they probably pleased most of those
present. Isabella, however, did not hesitate to mention the fact that
she was bored. "In truth," so she wrote her husband, "the wedding was a
very cold affair. It seems a thousand years before I shall be in Mantua
again, I am so anxious to see your Majesty and my son, and also to get
away from this place where I find absolutely no pleasure. Your
Excellency, therefore, need not envy me my presence at this wedding; it
is so stiff I have much more cause to envy those who remained in
Mantua." Apparently the noble lady's opinion was influenced by the
displeasure she still felt on account of her brother's marriage with
Lucretia, but it may also have been due partly to the character of the
festivities themselves, for the marchesa in all her letters complains of
their being tiresome.[174]

Soon after the conclusion of the festivities the marchioness returned to
Mantua; her last letter from Ferrara to her husband is dated February
9th. Her first letter from Mantua to her sister-in-law, which was
written February 18th, is as follows:

     ILLUSTRIOUS LADY: The love which I feel for your Majesty,
     and my hope that you continue in the same good health in which you
     were at the time of my departure, cause me to believe that you have
     the same feelings for me; therefore I inform you--hoping that it
     will be pleasant news to you--that I returned to this city on
     Monday in the best of health, and that I found my illustrious
     consort also well. There is nothing more for me to write but to ask
     your Majesty to tell me how you are, for I rejoice like an own
     sister in your welfare. Although I regard it as superfluous to
     offer you what belongs to you, I will remind you once for all, I
     and mine are ever at your disposal. I am also much beholden to you,
     and I ask you to remember me to your illustrious consort, my most
     honored brother.

Lucretia replied to the marchioness's letter as follows:

     SISTER: Although it was my duty to anticipate your Excellency
     in the proof of affection which you have given me, this neglect on
     my part only makes me all the more beholden to you. I can never
     tell you with what pleasure and relief I learned that you had
     reached Mantua safely and had found your illustrious husband well.
     May he and your Majesty, with God's help, continue to enjoy all
     happiness, and the increase of all good things, according to your
     desires. In obedience to your Majesty's commands I am compelled,
     and I also desire, to let you know that I, by God's mercy, am well,
     and shall ever be disposed to serve you.

  Your devoted sister, who is anxious to serve you,


  FERRARA, _February 22, 1502_.

These letters, written with diplomatic cunning, are the beginning of the
correspondence of these two famous women which was carried on for
seventeen years, and which shows that Isabella's displeasure gradually
passed away, and that she became a real friend of her sister-in-law.

The duke was heartily glad when his guests finally departed. Madonna
Adriana, Girolama, and the woman described simply as "an Orsini" seemed
in no haste to return to Rome. Alexander had instructed them to remain
until Cæsar's wife arrived. They were to wait for her in Lombardy, and
then accompany her to Rome. The Duchess of Romagna, however, in spite of
the urgent requests of the nuncio, refused to leave France. Her brother,
Cardinal d'Albret, reached Ferrara February 6th, and shortly afterwards
set out for Rome.

Adriana, as a near connection of the Pope and Lucretia, had been treated
with the highest respect at Ercole's court, where she had enjoyed a
close intimacy with the Marchioness Isabella, as is shown by a letter
which the latter addressed to Adriana, February 18th, the same day on
which she wrote Lucretia. It is regarding a certain person whom Adriana
while in Ferrara had recommended to her in her own name and also in that
of Donna Giulia. It, therefore, appears that the anonymous Orsini was
not Giulia Farnese.

Ercole was exceedingly anxious for the women to leave. In a letter,
dated February 14th, to his ambassador in Rome, Costabili, he complains
bitterly about their "useless" stay at his court. "I tell you," so he
wrote, "that these women by remaining here cause a large number of other
persons, men as well as women, to linger, for all wish to depart at the
same time, and it is a great burden and causes heavy expense. The
retinue of these ladies, taken into consideration with the other people,
numbers not far from four hundred and fifty persons and three hundred
and fifty horses." Ercole instructed his ambassador to inform the Pope
of this, also to tell him that the supplies were about exhausted, and
that the Duchess of Romagna would not arrive before Easter, and that he
could stand the expense no longer, as the wedding festivities had
already cost twenty-five thousand ducats. The Pope should therefore
direct the ladies to return. In a postscript to the same letter the duke
says: "After the noble ladies of the Duchess of Romagna had been here
twelve days, I sent them away because they were impertinent, and because
their presence would not do his Holiness or the duchess any good."[176]

The troublesome women finally departed. There is a despatch of the
orator Girardo Saraceni, dated Rome, May 4th, in which he informs the
duke that Monsignor Venosa and Donna Adriana had returned from Ferrara,
and had expressed to the Pope their gratitude for the affectionate
reception which had been accorded them.

February 14th Ercole wrote the Pope a letter whose meaning is perfectly
clear, if we eliminate one or two phrases.

     HOLY FATHER AND MASTER: Before the illustrious Duchess,
     our daughter, came here, it was my firm determination to receive
     her, as was meet, with all friendliness and honor, and to show her
     in every way how great was the affection I felt for her. Now that
     her Majesty is here, I am so pleased with her on account of the
     virtues and good qualities which I have discovered in her that I am
     not only strengthened in that determination, but also am resolved
     to do even more than I had intended, and all the more because your
     Holiness has asked me to do so in the autographic letter which you
     wrote me. Your Holiness need have no fears, for I shall treat the
     Duchess in such a way that your Holiness will see that I regard her
     as the most precious jewel I have in the world.


[167] Isabella's remarkable letters regarding the marriage festivities
in Ferrara are printed in the Notizie di Isabella Estense by Carlo
d'Arco. Archivio Storico Ital. App. ii. 223, sq. The letter of the
Marchesa of Cotrone of February 1st is in the library of Mantua, and
there are several other letters in the archives of that city written by
her to Gonzaga regarding the festivities.

[168] Qual Madama Sposa danzò molte danze al suono delli suoi Tamburini
alla Romanesca e Spagnuola: report of Niccolò Gagnolo of Parma, who had
accompanied the French ambassador to Ferrara. Zambotto used this
description of the wedding festivities in his chronicle, and it was
subsequently reprinted in Lucrezia Borgia in Ferrara, etc.

[169] The Cassaria was first produced in 1508, and the Suppositi in
1509. Giuseppe Campori, Notizie per la vita di Lod. Ariosto, 2d ed.
Modena, 1871, p. 67.

[170] Despatch of the Ferrarese orator, Bartolomeo Cartari, to Ercole,
Venice, January 25, 1502. Archives of Modena.

[171] Cartari says in the same despatch that the robes he had described
were intended for presents. Li Ambasciatori Veneziani le presentarono
due vesti grandi in forma di palii velluto Cremesino foderati di
ermelini, quali levatesi di sopra loro le presentarono. Cagnolo.

[172] Ano dato materia di ridere ad hogni homo cum suo presente. The
Marchesana of Cotrone to the Marquis of Mantua, Ferrara, February 8th.

[173] Violas arcu pulsantes. Cæsar Borgia to Ercole, Rome, September 3,

[174] See Isabella's letters of February 3d and 5th.

[175] Zuccheti reproduces the letter.

[176] P.S. Li gentilhomini de lo Illmo. Sig. Duca de Romagna poichè
sono stati qui XII giorni sono stati da me licentiate per essere
impertinente e senza fructo alcuno a la Santità de N.S. et allo Illmo.
Sig. Duca de Romagna. Minute Ducali a Costabili Beltrando, February 14,



On entering the castle of the Este, Lucretia found a new environment,
new interests--one might almost say a new world. She was a princess in
one of the most important Italian States, and in a strange city, which,
during the latter half of the century, had assumed a place of the first
importance, for the spirit of Italian culture had there developed new
forms. She had been received with the highest honors into a family
famous and princely; one of the oldest and most brilliant in the
peninsula. It was a piece of supreme good fortune that had brought her
to this house, and now she would endeavor to make herself worthy of it.

The family of Este, next to that of Savoy, was the oldest and most
illustrious in Italy, and it forced the latter into the background by
assuming the important position which the State of Ferrara, owing to its
geographical position, afforded it.

The history of the Este is briefly as follows:

These lords, whose name is derived from a small castle between Padua and
Ferrara, and who first appeared about the time of the Lombard invasion,
were descended from a family whose remote ancestor was one Albert. The
names Adalbert and Albert assume in Italian the form Oberto, from which
we have the diminutives Obizzo and Azzo. In the tenth century there
appears a Marquis Oberto who was first a retainer of King Berengar and
later of Otto the Great. It is not known from what domain he and his
immediate successors derived their title of marquis; they were, however,
powerful lords in Lombardy as well as in Tuscany. One of Oberto's
ancestors, Alberto Azzo II, who is originally mentioned as Marchio de
Longobardia, governed the territory from Mantua to the Adriatic and the
region about the Po, where he owned Este and Rovigo. He married
Kunigunde, sister of Count Guelf III of Swabia, and in this way the
famous German family of Guelf became connected with the Oberti and drawn
into Italian politics. When Alberto Azzo died in the year 1096--more
than a hundred years old--he left two sons, Guelf and Folco, who were
the founders of the house of Este in Italy and the Guelf house of
Braunschweig in Germany, for Guelf inherited the property of his
maternal grandfather, Guelf III, in whom the male line of the house
became extinct in the year 1055. He went to Germany, where he became
Duke of Bavaria and founded the Guelf line.

Folco inherited his father's Italian possessions, and in the great
struggle of the German emperor with the papacy, the Margraves of Este
were aggressive and determined soldiers. At first they were simply
members of the Guelf faction, but subsequently they became its leaders,
and thus were able to establish their power in Ferrara.

The origin of the city is lost in the mists of antiquity. By the gift of
Pipin and Charles it passed to the Church. It was also included in the
deed of Matilda. In the war between the Pope and the Emperor, occasioned
by this gift of Matilda, Ferrara succeeded in regaining its independence
as a republic.

The Este first appeared there about the end of the twelfth century.
Folco's grandson, Azzo V, married Marchesella Adelardi, who was the heir
of the leader of the Guelfs in that city, where Salinguerra was the head
of the Ghibellines. From that time the Margraves of Este possessed great
influence in Ferrara. They were likewise leaders of the Guelf party in
the north of Italy.

In the year 1208 Azzo VI succeeded in driving Salinguerra out of
Ferrara, and the city having wearied of the long feud made the victor
its hereditary Podestà. This is the first example of a free republic
voluntarily submitting to a lord. In this way the Este established the
first tyranny on the ruins of a commune. The brave Salinguerra, one of
the greatest captains of Italy in the time of the Hohenstaufen,
repeatedly drove Azzo VI and his successor, Azzo VII, from Ferrara, but
he himself was finally defeated in 1240 and cast into prison, where he
died. Thenceforth the Este ruled Ferrara.

About the time of the removal of the papacy to Avignon they were
expelled from the city by the Church, but they returned on the
invitation of the citizens who had risen against the papal legate. John
XXII issued a diploma of investiture by the terms of which they were to
hold Ferrara as a fief of the Church on payment of an annual tribute of
ten thousand gold ducats. The Este now set themselves up as tyrants in
Ferrara, and in spite of numerous wars maintained the dynasty for a
great many years. This dominion was not, like that in many other Italian
States, due to a lucky stroke on the part of an upstart, but it was
ancient, hereditary, and firmly established.

It was due to a succession of remarkable princes, beginning with
Aldobrandino, Lord of Ferrara, Modena, Rovigo, and Comacchio, that
Ferrara succeeded in winning the important position she held at the
beginning of the sixteenth century. Aldobrandino was followed by his
brothers, Niccolò, from 1361 to 1388, and Alberto until 1393. After that
his son Niccolò III, a powerful and bellicose man, ruled until the year
1441. As his legitimate children Ercole and Sigismondo were minors, he
was succeeded by his natural son Lionello. This prince not only
continued the work begun by his father, but also beautified Ferrara. In
the year 1444 the great Alfonso of Naples gave him his daughter Maria as
wife, and the Este thus entered into close relations with the royal
house of Aragon. Lionello was intelligent and liberal, a patron of all
the arts and sciences, a "prince of immortal name." In the year 1450 he
was succeeded by his brother Borso, illegitimate like himself, as an
effort was being made to displace the legitimate sons of Niccolò II.

Borso was one of the most magnificent princes of his age. Frederick II,
when he stopped in Ferrara on his return from his coronation in Rome,
made him Duke of Modena and Reggio, and Count of Rovigo and Comacchio,
all of which territories belonged to the empire. The Este thereupon
adopted for their arms, instead of the white eagle they had hitherto
borne, the black eagle of the empire, to which were added the lilies of
France, the use of which had been granted them by Charles VII. April 14,
1471, Paul VII in Rome created Borso Duke of Ferrara. Soon after
this--May 27th--this celebrated prince died unmarried and childless.

He was succeeded by Ercole, the legitimate son of Niccolò II, the direct
line of the Este thereby reacquiring the government of Ferrara, the
importance of the State having been greatly increased by the efforts of
the two illegitimate sons. In June, 1473, amid magnificent festivities,
Ercole married Eleonora of Aragon, daughter of Ferdinand of Naples.
Twenty-nine years--years of conflict--had passed when the second Duke of
Ferrara married his son to Lucretia with similar pomp. By putting an end
to the war with Venice and Pope Sixtus IV, in the year 1482, Ercole had
succeeded in saving his State from the great danger which threatened it,
although he had been forced to relinquish certain territory to the
Venetians. This danger, however, might arise again, for Venice and the
Pope continued to be Ferrara's bitterest enemies. Political
considerations, therefore, compelled her to form an alliance with
France, whose king already owned Milan and might permanently secure
possession of Naples. For the same reason he had married his son to
Lucretia on the best terms he was able to make. She, therefore, must
have been conscious of her great importance to the State of Ferrara, and
this it was which gave her a sense of security with regard to the noble
house to which she now belonged.

The Duke presented the young couple Castle Vecchio for their residence,
and there Lucretia established her court. This stronghold, which is
still in existence, is one of the most imposing monuments of the Middle
Ages. It overlooks all Ferrara, and may be seen for miles around. Its
dark red color; its gloominess, which is partly due to its architectural
severity; its four mighty towers--all combine to cause a feeling of
fear, especially on moonlight nights, when the shadows of the towers
fall on the water in the moat, which still surrounds the castle as in
days of old. The figures of the great ones who once lived in the
stronghold--Ugo and Parisina Malatesta, Borso, Lucretia Borgia and
Alfonso, Renée of France, and Calvin, Ariosto, Alfonso II, the
unfortunate Tasso and Eleonora--seem to rise before the beholder.


The Marchese Niccolò, owing to an uprising of the citizens began Castle
Vecchio in the year 1385, and his successor completed it and decorated
the interior. It is connected by covered passage-ways with the palace
opposite the church. Before Ercole extended Ferrara on the north, the
castle marked the boundary of the city. One of the towers, called the
Tower of the Lions, protected the city gate. A branch of the Po, which
at that time flowed near by, supplied the moat--over which there were
several drawbridges--with water.

In Lucretia's time only the main features of the stronghold were the
same as they are now; the cornices of the towers are of a later date,
and the towers themselves were somewhat lower; the walls were embattled
like those of the Gonzaga castle in Mantua. Cannon, cast under the
direction of Alfonso, were placed at various points. There is an
interior quadrangular court with arcades, and there Lucretia was shown
the place where Niccolò II had caused his son Ugo and his stepmother,
the beautiful Parisina, to be beheaded. This gruesome deed was a warning
to Alexander's daughter to be true to her husband.

A wide marble stairway led to the two upper stories of the castle, one
of which, the lower, consisting of a series of chambers and salons, was
set aside for the princes. In the course of time this has suffered so
many changes that even those most thoroughly acquainted with Ferrara do
not know just where Lucretia's apartments were.[177] Very few of the
paintings with which the Este adorned the castle are left. There are
still some frescoes by Dossi and another unknown master.

The castle was always a gloomy and oppressive residence. It was in
perfect accord with the character of Ferrara, which even now is
forbidding. Standing on the battlements, and looking across the broad,
highly cultivated, but monotonous fields, whose horizon is not
attractive, because the Veronese Alps are too far distant, and the
Apennines, which are closer, are not clearly defined; and gazing down
upon the black mass of the city itself, one wonders how Ariosto's
exuberant creation could have been produced here. Greater inspiration
would be found in the sky, the land, and the sea of idyllic Sorrento,
which was Tasso's birthplace, but this is only another proof of the
theory that the poet's fancy is independent of his environment.

Ferrara is situated in an unhealthful plain which is traversed by a
branch of the Po and several canals. The principal stream does not
contribute to the life of the city or its suburbs, as it is several
miles distant. The town is surrounded by strong walls in which are four
gates. In addition to Castle Vecchio on the north, there was, in
Lucretia's time, another at the southwest--Castle Tealto or
Tedaldo--which was situated on one of the branches of the Po, and which
had a gate opening into the city and a pontoon bridge connecting it with
the suburb S. Giorgio. Lucretia had entered by this gate. Nothing is now
left of Castle Tedaldo, as it was razed at the beginning of the
seventeenth century, when the Pope, having driven out Alfonso's
successors, erected the new fortress.

Ferrara has a large public square, and regular streets with arcades. The
church, which faces the principal piazza, and which was consecrated in
the year 1135, is an imposing structure in the Lombardo-Gothic style.
Its high façade is divided in three parts and gabled, and it has three
rows of half Roman and half Gothic arches supported on columns. With its
ancient sculptures, black with time, it presents a strange appearance of
mediæval originality and romance. In Ferrara there is now nothing else
so impressive on first sight as this church. It seems as if one of the
structures of Ariosto's fairy world had suddenly risen before us.
Opposite one side of the castle, the Palazzo del Ragione is still
standing, and there are also two old towers, one of which is called the
Rigobello. Opposite the façade was the Este palace in which Ercole
lived, and which Eugene IV occupied when he held the famous council in
Ferrara. In front of it rose the monuments of the two great princes of
the house of Este, Niccolò III and Borso. One is an equestrian statue,
the other a sitting figure; both were placed upon columns, and therefore
are small. The crumbling pillars by the entrance archway are still
standing, but the statues were destroyed in 1796.

The Este vied with the other princes and republics in building churches
and convents, of which Ferrara still possesses a large number. In the
year 1500 the most important were: S. Domenico, S. Francesco, S. Maria
in Vado, S. Antonio, S. Giorgio before the Porta Romana, the convent
Corpus Domini, and the Certosa. All have been restored more or less, and
although some of them are roomy and beautiful, none have any special
artistic individuality.

As early as the fifteenth century there were numerous palaces in Ferrara
which are still numbered among the attractions of the gloomy city, and
which are regarded as important structures in the history of
architecture, from the early Renaissance until the appearance of the
rococo style. Many of them, however, are in a deplorable state of
decay. Marchese Alberto built the Palazzo del Paradiso (now the
University) and Schifanoja at the end of the sixteenth century. Ercole
erected the Palazzo Pareschi. He also restored a large part of Ferrara
and extended the city by adding a new quarter on the north, the
Addizione Erculea, which is still the handsomest part of Ferrara. The
city is traversed by two long, wide streets--the Corso di Porta Po, with
its continuation, the Corso di Porta Mare, and the Strada dei Piopponi.
Strolling through these quiet streets one is astonished at the long rows
of beautiful palaces of the Renaissance, reminders of a teeming life now
passed away. Ercole laid out a large square which is surrounded by noble
palaces, and which is now known as the Piazza Ariostea, from the
monument of the great poet which stands in the center. This is,
doubtless, the most beautiful memorial ever erected to a poet. The
marble statue stands upon a high column and looks down upon the entire
city. The history of the monument is interesting. Originally it was
intended that an equestrian statue of Ercole on two columns should
occupy this position. When the columns were being brought down the Po on
a raft, one of them rolled overboard and was lost; the other was used in
the year 1675 to support the statue of Pope Alexander VII, which was
pulled down during the revolution of 1796 and replaced with a statue of
Liberty, the unveiling of which was attended by General Napoleon
Bonaparte. Three years later the Austrians overthrew the statue of
Liberty, leaving the column standing, and in the year 1810 a statue of
the Emperor Napoleon was placed upon it. This fell with the emperor. In
the year 1833 Ferrara set Ariosto's statue upon the column, where it
will remain in spite of all political change.

Magnificent palaces rose in Ercole's new suburb. His brother Sigismondo
erected the splendid Palazzo Diamanti, now Ferrara's art gallery, while
the Trotti, Castelli, Sacrati, and Bevilacqua families built palaces
there which are still in existence. Ferrara was the home of a wealthy
nobility, some of whom belonged to the old baronial families. In
addition there were the Contrarii, Pio, Costabili, the Strozzi,
Saraceni, Boschetti, the Roverella, the Muzzarelli, and Pendaglia.

The Ferrarese aristocracy had long ago emerged from the state of
municipal strife and feudal dependence, and had set up their courts. The
Este, especially the warlike Niccolò III, had subjugated the barons, who
originally lived upon their estates beyond the city walls, and who were
now in the service of the ruling family, holding the most important
court and city offices; they were also commanders in the army. They took
part, probably more actively than did the nobility of the other Italian
States, in the intellectual movement of the age, which was fostered by
the princes of the house of Este. Consequently many of these great lords
won prominent places in the history of literature in Ferrara.

The university, which had flourished there since the middle of the
fifteenth century, was, excepting those of Padua and Bologna, the most
famous in Italy. Founded by the Margrave Alberto in 1391, and
subsequently remodeled by Niccolò III, it reached the zenith of its fame
in the time of Lionello and Borso. The former was a pupil of the
celebrated Guarino of Verona, and was himself acquainted with all the
sciences. The friend and idol of the humanists of his age, he collected
rare manuscripts and disseminated copies of them. He founded the
library, and Borso continued the work begun by him.

As early as 1474 the University of Ferrara had forty-five well paid
professors, and Ercole increased their number. Printing was introduced
during his reign. The earliest printer in Ferrara after 1471 was the
Frenchman Andreas, called Belforte.[178]

Like the city, the people seemed to have been of a serious cast of mind,
which led to speculation, criticism, and the cultivation of the exact
sciences. From Ferrara came Savonarola, the fanatical prophet who
appeared during the moral blight which characterized the age of the
Borgias, and Lucretia must frequently have recalled this man in whom her
father, by the executioner's hand, sought to stifle the protestations of
the faithful and upright against the immorality of his rule.

Astronomy and mathematics, and especially the natural sciences and
medicine, which at that time were part of the school of philosophy, were
extensively cultivated in Ferrara. It is stated that Savonarola himself
had studied medicine; his grandfather Michele, a famous physician of
Padua, had been called to Ferrara by Niccolò II.[179] Niccolò Leoniceno,
a native of Vincenza, at whose feet many of the most famous scholars and
poets had sat, enjoyed great renown in Ferrara about 1464 as a
physician, mathematician, philosopher, and philologist. He was still the
pride of the city when Lucretia arrived there, as the great
mathematician, Domenico Maria Novara, was then teaching in Bologna,
where Copernicus had been his pupil.

Many famous humanists, who at the time of Lucretia's arrival were still
children or youths--for example, the Giraldi and genial Celio
Calcagnini, who dedicated an epithalamium to her on her appearance in
the city--were members of the Ferrarese university. All of these men
were welcome at the court of the Este because they were accomplished and
versatile. It was not until later, after the sciences had been
classified and their boundaries defined, that the graceful learning of
the humanists degenerated into pedantry.

It was, however, especially the art of poetry which gave Ferrara, in
Lucretia's time, a peculiarly romantic cast. This it was which first
attracted attention to the city as one of the main centers of the
intellectual movement. Ferrara produced numerous poets who composed in
both tongues--Latin and Italian. Almost all the scholars of the day
wrote Latin verses; most of them, however, it must be admitted, were
lacking in poetic fire. Some of the Ferrarese, however, rose to high
positions in poetry and are still remembered; preeminent were the two
Strozzi, father and son, and Antonio Tebaldeo. The poets, however, who
originated the romantic epic in Italian were much more important than
the writers of Latin verse. The brilliant and sensuous court of Ferrara,
together with the fascinating romance of the house of Este--which really
belongs to the Middle Ages--and the charming nobility and modern
chivalry, all contributed to the production of the epic, while the city
of Ferrara, with its eventful history and its striking style of
architecture, was a most favorable soil for it. Monuments of Roman
antiquity are as rare in Ferrara as they are in Florence; everything is
of the Middle Ages. Lucretia did not meet Bojardo, the famous author of
the _Orlando Inamorato_, at the court of his friend Ercole, but the
blind singer of the _Mambriano_, Francesco Cieco, probably was still
living. We have seen how Ariosto, who was soon to eclipse all his
predecessors, greeted Lucretia on her arrival.

The graphic arts had made much less progress in Ferrara than had poetry
and the sciences; but while no master of the first rank, no Raphael or
Titian appeared, there were, nevertheless, some who won a not
unimportant place in the history of Italian culture. The Este were
patrons of painting; they had their palaces decorated with frescoes,
some of which, still considered noteworthy on account of their
originality, are preserved in the Palazzo Schifanoja, where they were
rediscovered in the year 1840. About the middle of the fifteenth
century, Ferrara had its own school, the chief of which was Cosimo Tura.
It produced two remarkable painters, Dosso Dossi and Benvenuto Tisio,
the latter of whom, under the name of Garofalo, became famous as one of
Raphael's greatest pupils. The works of these artists, who were
Lucretia's contemporaries--Garofalo being a year younger--still adorn
many of the churches, and are the chief attractions in the galleries of
the city.

Such, broadly sketched, was the intellectual life of Ferrara in the year
1502. We, therefore, see that in addition to her brilliant court and her
political importance as the capital of the State, she possessed a highly
developed spiritual life. The chroniclers state that her population at
that time numbered a hundred thousand souls; and at the beginning of the
sixteenth century--her most flourishing period--she was probably more
populous than Rome. In addition to the nobility there was an active
bourgeoisie engaged in commerce and manufacturing, especially weaving,
who enjoyed life.


From an engraving by G. Batt. Cecchi.]


[177] Cittadella (Guida del Forestiere in Ferrara, Ferrara, 1873)
ridicules the story of the looking-glass that disclosed the love of Ugo
and Parisina. See his Castello di Ferrara, Turin, 1873, and the
description of the castle in the Notizie storico-artistiche sui primarii
palazzi d'Italia, Firenze, Cennini, 1871.

[178] Luigi Napoleone Cittadella, La Stampa in Ferrara. Ferrara, 1873.

[179] See first part of Villari's well known biography of Savonarola.



Alexander carefully followed everything that took place in Ferrara. He
never lost sight of his daughter. She and his agents reported every mark
of favor or disfavor which she received. Following the excitement of the
wedding festivities there were painful days for Lucretia, as she was
forced to meet envy and contempt, and to win for herself a secure place
at the court.

Alexander was greatly pleased by her reports, especially those
concerning her relations with Alfonso. He never for a moment supposed
that the hereditary prince loved his daughter. All he required was that
he should treat her as his wife, and that she should become the mother
of a prince. With great satisfaction he remarked to the Ferrarese
ambassador on hearing that Alfonso spent his nights with Lucretia,
"During the day he goes wherever he likes, as he is young, and in doing
this he does right."[180]

Alexander also induced the duke to grant his daughter-in-law a larger
allowance than he had agreed to give her. The sum stipulated was six
thousand ducats. Lucretia was extravagant, and needed a large income.
The amount she received from her father-in-law did not, however, exceed
ten thousand ducats.

In the meantime Cæsar was pursuing his own schemes, the success of which
was apparently insured by his alliance with Ferrara and the sanction of
France. The youthful Astorre Manfredi having been strangled in the
castle of S. Angelo by his orders, Valentino set out for Romagna, June
13th, where he succeeded in ensnaring the unsuspecting Guidobaldo of
Urbino and in seizing his estates, June 21st. Guidobaldo fled and found
an asylum in Mantua, whence he and his wife eventually went to Venice.

Cæsar now turned toward Camerino, where he surprised the Varano,
destroying all but one of them. He reported these doings to the court of
Ferrara, and the duke did not hesitate to congratulate him for a crime
which had resulted in the overthrow of princes who were not only
friendly to himself but were also closely connected with him. From
Urbino Cæsar wrote his sister as follows:

     be better medicine for your Excellency in your present illness than
     the good news which I have to impart. I must tell you that I have
     just had information that Camerino will yield. We trust that on
     receiving this news your condition will rapidly improve, and that
     you will inform us at once of it. For your indisposition prevents
     us from deriving any pleasure from this and other news. We ask you
     to tell the illustrious Duke Don Alfonso, your husband, our
     brother-in-law, at once, as, owing to want of time, we have not
     been able to write him direct.

     Your Majesty's brother, who loves you better than he does himself,


  URBINO, _July 20, 1502_.

Shortly after this he surprised his sister by visiting her in the palace
of Belfiore, whither he came in disguise with five cavaliers. He
remained with her scarcely two hours, and then hastily departed,
accompanied by his brother-in-law Alfonso as far as Modena, intending to
go to the King of France, who was in Lombardy.

[Illustration: Reduced facsimile of a letter written by Alexander VI to
his daughter, Lucretia.]

In the meantime Alexander had arrived at a decision regarding the
seizure of Camerino which conflicted with Cæsar's plans, and which shows
that the father's will was not wholly under his son's control. September
2, 1502, Alexander bestowed Camerino as a duchy upon the Infante
Giovanni Borgia, whom he sometimes described as his own son and at
others as Cæsar's. Giovanni had already been invested with the title of
Nepi, and Francesco Borgia, Cardinal of Cosenza, as the child's
guardian, administered these estates. There are coins of this ephemeral
Duke of Camerino still in existence.[181]

September 5th Lucretia gave birth to a still-born daughter, to the great
disappointment of Alexander, who desired an heir to the throne. She was
sick unto death, and her husband showed the deepest concern, seldom
leaving her for a moment. September 7th Valentino came to see her. The
secretary Castellus sent a report of this visit to Ercole, who was in
Reggio, whither he had gone to meet Cæsar, who was returning from
Lombardy. "To-day," he wrote, "at the twentieth hour, we bled Madama on
the right foot. It was exceedingly difficult to accomplish it, and we
could not have done it but for the Duke of Romagna, who held her foot.
Her Majesty spent two hours with the duke, who made her laugh and
cheered her greatly." Lucretia had a codicil added to her will, which
she had made before leaving for Ferrara, in the presence of her
brother's secretary and some monks. She, however, recovered. Cæsar
remained with her two days and then departed for Imola. When Ercole
returned he found his daughter-in-law attended by Alexander's most
skilful physician, the Bishop of Venosa, and out of all danger.[182]

As Lucretia felt oppressed in Castle Vecchio, and yearned for the free
air, she removed October 8th, accompanied by the entire court, to the
convent of Corpus Domini. Her recovery was so rapid that she was able
again to take up her residence in the castle, October 22d, to the great
joy of every one, as Duke Ercole wrote to Rome. Alfonso even went to
Loretto in fulfilment of a vow he had made for the recovery of his wife.
The solicitude which was displayed for Lucretia on this occasion shows
that she had begun to make herself beloved in Ferrara.[183]

In this same month of October occurred the disaffection of Cæsar's
condottieri which nearly ended in his overthrow. In consequence of the
desertion of his generals, the country about Urbino rose, and Guidobaldo
even succeeded in reentering his capital city, October 18th. The
protection of France and the lack of decision on the part of his
enemies, however, saved the Duke of Romagna from the danger which
threatened him. December 31st he relieved himself of the barons by the
well-known coup of Sinigaglia. This was his masterstroke. He had
Vitellozzo and Oliverotto strangled forthwith; the Orsini--Paolo,
father-in-law of Girolama Borgia, and Francesco, Duke of Gravina, who
had once been mentioned as a possible husband for Lucretia--suffered the
same fate January 18, 1503.

The Duke of Ferrara congratulated Cæsar, as did also the Gonzaga. Even
Isabella did not hesitate to write a graceful letter to the man that had
driven her dear sister-in-law,--whose husband had been forced to flee a
second time,--from Urbino. The Gonzaga, who were anxious to marry the
little hereditary Prince Federico to his daughter Luisa, were
endeavoring to secure this end with the help of Francesco Trochio in
Rome. Isabella's contemptible letter to Cæsar is as follows:


     ILLUSTRIOUS SIR: The happy progress of which your
     Excellency has been good enough to inform us in your amiable letter
     has caused us all the liveliest joy, owing to the friendship and
     interest which you and my illustrious husband feel for each other.
     We, therefore, congratulate you in his and our own name for the
     good fortune which has befallen you, and for your safety, and we
     thank you for informing us of it and for your offer to keep us
     advised of future events, which we hope will be no less favorable,
     for, loving you as we do, we hope to hear from you often regarding
     your plans so that we may be able to rejoice with you at the
     success and advancement of your Excellency. Believing that you,
     after the excitement and fatigue which you have suffered while
     engaged in your glorious undertakings, will be disposed to give
     some time to recreation, it seems proper to me to send you by our
     courier, Giovanni, a hundred masks. We, of course, know how slight
     is this present in proportion to the greatness of your Excellency,
     and also in proportion to our desires; still it indicates that if
     there were anything more worthy and more suitable in this our
     country, we certainly would send it you. If the masks, however,
     are not as beautiful as they ought to be, your Highness will know
     that this is due to the makers in Ferrara, who, as it has been for
     years against the law to wear masks, long ago ceased making them.
     May, however, our good intentions and our love make up for their
     shortcomings. So far as our own affairs are concerned there is
     nothing new to tell you until your Excellency informs us as to the
     decision of his Holiness, our Master, concerning the articles of
     guaranty upon which we, through Brognolo, have agreed. We,
     therefore, look forward to this, and hope to reach a satisfactory
     conclusion. We commend ourselves to your service.

  JANUARY 15, 1503.

Cæsar replied to the marchioness from Aquapendente as follows:

     received your Excellency's present of the hundred masks, which,
     owing to their diversity and beauty, are very welcome, and because
     the time and place of their arrival could not have been more
     propitious. If we neglected to inform your Excellency of all our
     plans and of our intended return to Rome, it was because it was
     only to-day that we succeeded in taking the city and territory
     adjacent to Sinigaglia together with the fortress, and punished our
     enemies for their treachery; freed Città di Castello, Fermo,
     Cisterna, Montone, and Perugia from their tyrants, and rendered
     them again subject to his Holiness, our Master; and deposed
     Pandolfo Petrucci from the tyranny which he had established in
     Siena, where he had shown himself such a determined enemy of
     ourselves. The masks are welcome especially because I know that the
     present is due to the affection which you and your illustrious
     husband feel for us, which is also shown by the letter which you
     send with it. Therefore we thank you a thousand times, although the
     magnitude of your and your husband's deserts exceeds the power of
     words. We shall use the masks, and they are so beautiful that we
     shall be saved the trouble of providing ourselves with any other
     adornment. On returning to Rome we will see that his Holiness, our
     Master, does whatever is necessary to further our mutual interests.
     We, in compliance with your Excellency's request, will grant the
     prisoner his liberty. We will inform your Illustrious Majesty at
     once, so that you may rejoice in it the moment he is free. We
     commend ourselves to you. From the papal camp near Aquapendente,
     February 1st.

     Your Excellency's friend and brother, the Duke of Romagna, etc.


Cæsar was then near the zenith of his desires--a king's throne in
central Italy. This project, however, was never realized; Louis XII
forbade him further conquests. The Orsini (the cardinal of this house
had just been poisoned in the castle of S. Angelo) and other barons
whose estates were in the vicinity of Rome rose for a final struggle,
and Cæsar was compelled to hasten back to the papal city. Alexander and
his son now turned toward Spain, as Gonsalvo had defeated the French in
Naples and had entered the capital of the kingdom May 14th. Louis XII,
however, despatched a new army under La Tremouille to recapture Naples.
The Marquis of Mantua was likewise in his pay, and in August, 1503, the
army entered the Patrimonium Petri.

Alexander and Cæsar were suddenly taken sick at the same moment. The
Pope died August 18th. It has been affirmed and also denied that both
were poisoned, and proofs equally good in support of both views have
been adduced; it is, therefore, a mooted question.

Aside from her grief due to affection, the death of Lucretia's father
was a serious event for her, as it might weaken her position in Ferrara.
Alexander's power was all that had given her a sense of security, and
now she could no longer feel certain of the continuance of the affection
of her father-in-law or of that of her husband. Well might Alfonso now
recall the words Louis XII had uttered to the effect that on the death
of Alexander he would not know who the lady was whom he had married. The
king one day asked the Ferrarese plenipotentiary at his court how
Madonna Lucretia had taken the Pope's death. When the ambassador replied
that he did not know, Louis remarked, "I know that you were never
satisfied with this marriage; this Madonna Lucretia is not Don Alfonso's
real wife."[184]

       *       *       *       *       *

Lucretia would have been frightened had she read a letter which Ercole
wrote to Giangiorgio Seregni, then his ambassador in Milan, which at
that time was under French control, and in which he disclosed his real
feelings on the Pope's demise.

     GIANGIORGIO: Knowing that many will ask you how we are
     affected by the Pope's death, this is to inform you that he was in
     no way displeasing to us. At one time we wished, for the honor of
     God, our Master, and for the general good of Christendom, that God
     in his goodness and foresight would provide a worthy shepherd, and
     that his Church would be relieved of this great scandal. Personally
     we had nothing to wish for; we were concerned chiefly with the
     honor of God and the general welfare. We may add, however, that
     there was never a Pope from whom we received fewer favors than from
     this one, and this, even after concluding an alliance with him. It
     was only with the greatest difficulty that we secured from him what
     he had promised, but beyond this he never did anything for us. For
     this we hold the Duke of Romagna responsible; for, although he
     could not do with us as he wished, he treated us as if we were
     perfect strangers. He was never frank with us; he never confided
     his plans to us, although we always informed him of ours. Finally
     as he inclined to Spain, and we remained good Frenchmen, we had
     little to look for either from the Pope or his Majesty. Therefore
     his death caused us little grief, as we had nothing but evil to
     expect from the advancement of the above-named duke. We want you to
     give this our confidential statement to Chaumont, word for word, as
     we do not wish to conceal our true feelings from him--but speak
     cautiously to others about the subject and then return this letter
     to our worthy councilor Gianluca.

  BELRIGUARDO, _August 24, 1503_.

This statement was very candid. In view of the advantages which had
accrued to Ercole's State through the marriage with Lucretia, he might
be regarded as ungrateful; he had, however, never looked upon this
alliance as anything more than a business transaction, and so far as his
relations with Cæsar were concerned his view was entirely correct.

Let us now hear what another famous prince--one who was in the
confidence of the Borgias--says regarding the Pope's death. At the time
of this occurrence the Marquis of Mantua was at his headquarters with
the French army in Isola Farnese, a few miles from Rome. From there,
September 22, 1503, he wrote his consort, Isabella, as follows:

     Majesty may be familiar with the circumstances attending the Pope's
     death, we send you the following particulars. When he fell sick, he
     began to talk in such a way that anyone who did not know what was
     in his mind would have thought that he was wandering, although he
     was perfectly conscious of what he said; his words were, "I come;
     it is right; wait a moment." Those who know the secret say that in
     the conclave following the death of Innocent he made a compact with
     the devil, and purchased the papacy from him at the price of his
     soul. Among the other provisions of the agreement was one which
     said that he should be allowed to occupy the Holy See twelve years,
     and this he did with the addition of four days. There are some who
     affirm that at the moment he gave up his spirit seven devils were
     seen in his chamber. As soon as he was dead his body began to
     putrefy and his mouth to foam like a kettle over the fire, which
     continued as long as it was on earth. The body swelled up so that
     it lost all human form. It was nearly as broad as it was long. It
     was carried to the grave with little ceremony; a porter dragged it
     from the bed by means of a cord fastened to the foot to the place
     where it was buried, as all refused to touch it. It was given a
     wretched interment, in comparison with which that of the cripple's
     dwarf wife in Mantua was ceremonious. Scandalous epigrams are every
     day published regarding him.

The reports of Burchard, of the Venetian ambassador Giustinian, of the
Ferrarese envoy Beltrando, and of numerous others describe Alexander's
end in almost precisely the same way, and the fable of the devil or
"babuino" that carried Alexander's soul off is also found in Marino
Sanuto's diary. The highly educated Marquis of Gonzaga, with a
simplicity equal to that of the people of Rome, believed it.

The Mephisto legend of Faust and Don Juan, which was immediately
associated with Alexander's death--even the black dog running about
excitedly in St. Peter's is included--shows what was the opinion of
Alexander's contemporaries regarding the terrible life of the Borgia,
and the extraordinary success which followed him all his days.
Alexander's moral character is, however, so incomprehensible that even
the keenest psychologists have failed to fathom it.

In him neither ambition nor the desire for power, which, in the majority
of rulers, is the motive of their crimes, was the cause of his evil
deeds. Nor was it hate of his fellows, nor cruelty, nor yet a vicious
pleasure in doing evil. It was, however, his sensuality and also his
love for his children--one of the noblest of human sentiments. All
psychological theory would lead us to expect that the weight of his sins
would have made Alexander a gloomy man with reason clouded by fear and
madness, like Tiberius or Louis XI; but instead of this we have ever
before us the cheerful, active man of the world--even until his last
years. "Nothing worries him; he seems to grow younger every day," wrote
the Venetian ambassador scarcely two years before his death.

It is not his passions or his crimes that are incomprehensible, for
similar and even greater crimes have been committed by other princes
both before and after him, but it is the fact that he committed them
while he was Pope. How could Alexander VI reconcile his sensuality and
his cruelty with the consciousness that he was the High Priest of the
Church, God's representative on earth? There are abysses in the human
soul to the depths of which no glance can penetrate. How did he overcome
the warnings, the qualms of conscience, and how was it possible for him
constantly to conceal them under a joyous exterior? Could he believe in
the immortality of the soul and the existence of a divine Being?

When we consider the utter abandon with which Alexander committed his
crimes, we are forced to conclude that he was an atheist and a
materialist. There is a time in the life of every philosophic and
unhappy soul when all human endeavor seems nothing more than the
despairing, purposeless activity of an aggregation of puppets. But in
Alexander VI we discover no trace of a Faust, nothing of his supreme
contempt of the world, of his Titanic skepticism; but we find, on the
contrary, that he possessed an amazingly simple faith, coupled with a
capacity for every crime. The Pope who had Christ's mother painted
with the features of the adulteress Giulia Farnese believed that he
himself enjoyed the special protection of the Virgin.

[Illustration: CARDINAL BEMBO.

From an engraving by G. Benaglia.]

Alexander's life is the very antithesis of the Christian ideal. To be
convinced of this it is only necessary to compare the Pope's deeds with
the teachings of the Gospel. Compare his actions with the Commandments:
"Thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not
bear false witness."

The fact that Rodrigo Borgia was a pope must seem to all the members of
the Church the most unholy thing connected with it, and one which they
have reason bitterly to regret. This fact, however, can never lessen the
dignity of the Church--the greatest production of the human mind--but
does it not destroy a number of transcendental theories which have been
associated with the papacy?

The execrations which all Italy directed against Alexander could
scarcely have reached Lucretia's ears, but she doubtless anticipated
them. Her distress must have been great. Her entire life in Rome
returned and overwhelmed her. Her father had been the cause, first, of
all her unhappiness, and subsequently of all her good fortune. Filial
affection and religious fears must have assailed her at one and the same
time. Bembo describes her suffering. This man, subsequently so famous,
came to Ferrara in 1503, a young Venetian nobleman of the highest
culture and fairest presence. He was warmly received by Lucretia, for
whom he conceived great admiration. The accomplished cavalier wrote her
the following letter of condolence:

     I called upon your Majesty yesterday partly for the purpose of
     telling you how great was my grief on account of your loss, and
     partly to endeavor to console you, and to urge you to compose
     yourself, for I knew that you were suffering a measureless sorrow.
     I was able to do neither the one nor the other; for, as soon as I
     saw you in that dark room, in your black gown, lying weeping, I was
     so overcome by my feelings that I stood still, unable to speak, not
     knowing what to say. Instead of giving sympathy, I myself was in
     need of it, therefore I departed, completely overcome by the sad
     sight, mumbling and speechless, as you noticed or might have
     noticed. Perhaps this happened to me because you had need of
     neither my sympathy nor my condolences; for, knowing my devotion
     and fidelity, you would also be aware of the pain which I felt on
     account of your sorrow, and you in your wisdom may find consolation
     within and not look to others for it. The best way to convey to you
     an idea of my grief is for me to say that fate could cause me no
     greater sorrow than by afflicting you. No other shot could so
     deeply penetrate my soul as one accompanied by your tears.
     Regarding condolence, I can only say to you, as you yourself must
     have thought, that time soothes and lessens all our griefs. So high
     is my opinion of your intelligence and so numerous the proofs of
     your strength of character that I know that you will find
     consolation, and will not grieve too long. For, although you have
     now lost your father, who was so great that Fortune herself could
     not have given you a greater one, this is not the first blow which
     you have received from an evil and hostile destiny. You have
     suffered so much before that your soul must now be inured to
     misfortune. Present circumstances, moreover, require that you
     should not give any one cause to think that you grieve less on
     account of the shock than you do on account of any anxiety as to
     your future position. It is foolish for me to write this to you,
     therefore I will close, commending myself to you in all humility.
     Farewell. In Ostellato.[185]

  AUGUST 22, 1503.


[180] Maxime intendendo che continuano dormire insieme la nocte. Se ben
intende ch'el Sig. Don Alfonso el dì va a piacere in diversi loci come
giovene; il quale, dice S. Stà. fa molto bene. Beltrando Costabili to
the duke, Rome, April 1, 1502.

[181] Silver carlins. Obverse: JOANNES. BOR. DVX. CAMERINI; the Borgia
arms surrounded with lilies and the crest of the Lenzuoli. Reverse: S.
VENANTIVS DE CAMERI. They are described in the Periodico di Numismatica
e Sfragistica per la Storia d'Italia diretto dal March. C. Strozzi,
Flor. 1870, A. III, Fascic. ii, 70-77, by G. Amati, and also in A. IV,
fasc. vi, 259-265, by M. Santoni. Both writers erroneously describe this
Giov. Borgia as the son of the Duke of Gandia, and Amati even confuses
Valence in Dauphiné with Valencia in Spain.

[182] In the state archives of Modena there are several letters
regarding Lucretia's illness written by the Ferrarese physicians
Ludovicus Carrus and J. Castellus.

[183] The duke to Costabili, his ambassador in Rome, October 9-23, 1502.

[184] Despatch of Bartolomeo Cavalieri to Ercole, Macon, September 8,

[185] Bembo, Opp. iii, 309.



After Lucretia's first transports had passed she may well have blessed
her good fortune, for to what danger would she have been exposed if she
now, instead of being Alfonso's wife, was still forced to share the
destiny of the Borgias! She was soon able to convince herself that her
position in Ferrara was unshaken. She owed this to her own personality
and to the permanent advantages which she had brought to the house of
Este. She saw, however, that the lives of her kinsmen in Rome were in
danger; there were her sick brother, her child Rodrigo, and Giovanni,
Duke of Nepi; while the Orsini, burning with a desire to wipe out old
scores, were hastening thither to avenge themselves for the blood of
their kinsmen.

She besought her father-in-law to help Cæsar and to preserve his estates
for him. Ercole thought that it would be more to his own advantage for
Cæsar to hold the Romagna than to have it fall into the hands of Venice.
He, therefore, sent Pandolfo Collenuccio thither to urge the people to
remain true to their lord. To his ambassador in Rome he confided his joy
that Cæsar was on the road to recovery.[186]

With the exception of the Romagna, the empire of Alexander's son at once
began to crumble away. The tyrants he had expelled returned to their
cities. Guidobaldo and Elisabetta hastened from Venice to Urbino and
were received with open arms. Still more promptly Giovanni Sforza had
returned from Mantua to Pesaro. The Marquis Gonzaga had sent him the
first news of Alexander's death and of Cæsar's illness, and Sforza
thanked him in the following letter:

     Excellency for the good news which you have given me in your
     letter, especially regarding the condition of Valentino. My joy is
     great because I believe my misfortunes are now at an end. I assure
     you that if I return to my country, I shall regard myself as your
     Excellency's creature, and you may dispose of my person and my
     property as you will. I ask you, in case you learn anything more
     regarding Valentino, and especially of his death, that you will
     send me the news, for by so doing you will afford me great joy. I
     commend myself to you at all times.

  MANTUA, _August 25, 1503_.

As early as September 3d, Sforza was able to inform the Marquis that he
had entered Pesaro amid the acclamations of the people. He immediately
had a medal struck in commemoration of the happy event. On one side is
his bust and on the other a broken yoke with the words PATRIA
RECEPTA.[187] Filled with the desire for revenge he punished the rebels
of Pesaro by confiscating their property, casting them into prison, or
by putting them to death. He had a number of the burghers hanged at the
windows of his castle. Even Collenuccio, who had placed himself under
the protection of Lucretia and the duke, in Ferrara, was soon to fall
into his hands. With flattering promises Giovanni induced him to come to
Pesaro, and then on the ground of the complaint he had addressed to
Cæsar Borgia, which Sforza claimed he had only just discovered, he cast
him into prison. Collenuccio, not wholly guiltless as far as his former
master and friend was concerned, resigned himself to his fate and died
in July, 1504.[188]

Meanwhile Lucretia was anxiously following the course of events in Rome.
None of her letters to Cæsar written at this time are preserved, nor are
any of Cæsar's to her. The only ones we have are those which he
exchanged with the Duke of Ferrara, who continued to write him.
September 13th Ercole wrote congratulating him on his recovery, and
informing him that he had sent a messenger to the people of Romagna
urging them to remain true to him.

Cæsar was in Nepi when he received this letter, having gone there
September 2d after he had arranged with the French ambassador in Rome,
on the suggestion of the cardinal, to place himself under the protection
of France. He was accompanied by his mother, Vannozza, his brother
Giuffrè, and, doubtless, also by his little daughter Luisa and the two
children Rodrigo and Giovanni, the latter of whom was Duke of Nepi.
There he was safe, as the French army was camped in the neighborhood.
Just as if nothing had happened, he wrote letters to the Marquis
Gonzaga, who was then at his headquarters in Campagnano. He even sent
him some hunting dogs as a present. There is also in existence a letter
written by Giuffrè to the same Gonzaga, dated Nepi, September 18th.
While here Cæsar learned that his protector and friend, Amboise, had
not been elected pope as he had hoped, but that Piccolomini had been
chosen. September 22d this cardinal, senile and moribund, ascended the
papal throne, assuming the name Pius III. He was the happy father of no
less than twelve children, boys and girls, who would have been brought
up in the Vatican as princes but for his early death. He permitted Cæsar
to return to Rome and even showed him some favor; but scarcely had the
Borgia appeared--October 3d--when the Orsini rose in their wrath and
clamored for the death of their enemy. He and the two children took
refuge in Castle S. Angelo, and October 18th Piccolomini died.

The two children now had no protector but Cæsar and the cardinals whom
Alexander had appointed as their guardians. On the death of the Pope
their duchies crumbled away. The Gaetani returned from Mantua and again
took possession of Sermoneta and all the other estates which had been
bestowed upon the little Rodrigo. Ascanio Sforza demanded either Nepi or
the position of chamberlain, and the last Varano again secured Camerino.

Rodrigo was Duke of Biselli, and as such under the protection of Spain,
Alexander having succeeded in obtaining, May 20, 1502, from Ferdinand
and Isabella of Castile, a diploma by virtue of which the royal house of
Spain confirmed the Borgia family in the possession of all their
Neapolitan estates. In this act Cæsar and his heirs, Don Giuffrè of
Squillace; Don Juan, son of the murdered Gandia; Lucretia, as Duchess of
Biselli, and her son and heir Rodrigo are explicitly named.[189] There
is likewise in the Este archives an instrument which was drawn up in
Lucretia's chancellery, referring to the control of Rodrigo's property,
and also others regarding the little Giovanni.[190] The two children,
Rodrigo and Giovanni, during their early years were reared together.
Lucretia provided for them from Ferrara, as is shown by the record of
her household expenses in 1502 and 1503. There are numerous entries for
velvet and silk and gold brocade which she bought for the purpose of
clothing the children.[191]

In spite of the protection of Spain, Lucretia's son's life was in danger
in Rome, and it was her duty to have the child brought to her; but this
she neglected to do, either because she did not dare to do so, or she
was not strong enough to bring it about, or because she perhaps feared
that the child would be in still greater danger in Ferrara. The Cardinal
of Cosenza, Rodrigo's guardian, suggested to her that she sell all his
personal property and send him to Spain, where he would be safe. In a
letter she informed her father-in-law of this, and he replied as

     DAUGHTER: We have received your Majesty's letter, and also the
     one which his Eminence the Cardinal of Cosenza addressed to you and
     which you sent us; this we return to you with our letter; no one
     but ourselves read it. We note the unanimity with which your
     Majesty and the cardinal write. His advice shows such solicitude
     that it is at once apparent that it is due to his affection and
     wisdom. We have considered everything carefully, and it seems to us
     that your Majesty can and ought to do what the worthy monsignor
     suggests. In fact I think your Majesty is bound to do as he advises
     on account of the affection which he displays for you and the
     illustrious Don Rodrigo, your son, who, I am told, owes his life to
     the cardinal. Although Don Rodrigo will be at a distance from you,
     it is better for him to be away and safe than for him to be near
     and in danger, as the cardinal thinks he would be. Your mutual love
     would in no way suffer by this separation. When he grows up he can
     decide, according to circumstances, whether it is best for him to
     return to Italy or remain away. The cardinal's suggestion to
     convert his personal property into money to provide for his support
     and to increase his income--as he states he is anxious to do--is a
     good idea. In brief, as we have said, it seems to us that you had
     best consent. Nevertheless, if your Majesty, who is perfectly
     competent to decide this, determine otherwise, we are perfectly
     willing. Farewell.

  HERCULES, Duke of Ferrara, etc.

  CODEGORIO, _October 4, 1503_.

In the meantime, November 1, 1503, Della Rovere ascended the papal
throne as Julius II. The Rovere, the Borgias, and the Medici, each gave
the Church two popes, and they impressed upon the papacy the political
form of the modern state. In the entire annals of the Church there are
no other families which have so deeply affected the course of history.
Their names suggest innumerable political and moral revolutions. Della
Rovere now released Cæsar, whose bitterest enemy he had once been. It
was apparent that Valentino's destruction was imminent.

Elsewhere we may read how Julius II first used Cæsar for the purpose of
assuring his election by means of his influence on the Spanish
cardinals, and how he subsequently--after the surrender of the
fortresses in the Romagna--cast him aside. Cæsar threw himself into
the arms of Spain, going from Ostia to Naples in October, 1504, where
the great Captain Gonsalvo represented Ferdinand the Catholic. Don
Giuffrè accompanied him. Cardinals Francesco Remolini of Sorrento and
Ludovico Borgia had preceded him to Naples to escape a prosecution with
which they were threatened. There Gonsalvo broke the safe-conduct which
he had given Cæsar. May 27th he seized him in the name of King Ferdinand
and confined him in the castle of Ischia.

[Illustration: JULIUS II.

From an engraving published in 1580.]

We hear nothing of the fate of the Borgia children; apparently they
remained under the protection of the Spanish cardinals in Rome or
Naples. Cæsar, saving nothing, and barely escaping with his life, set
out for Spain. He had previously placed his valuables in the hands of
his friends in Rome to keep for him or to send to Ferrara. December 31,
1503, Duke Ercole wrote his ambassador in Rome to take charge of Cæsar's
chests when the Cardinal of Sorrento should send them to him, and
forward them to Ferrara as the property of the Cardinal d'Este.[192]
Cardinal Remolini died in May, 1507, and Julius II confiscated in his
house twelve chests and eighty-four bales which contained tapestries,
rich stuffs, and other property belonging to Cæsar.[193] The Pope
ordered the Florentines to return certain other property of Cæsar's
consisting of gold, silver, and similar valuables which he had sent to
their city. The Florentine Signory,[194] however, stated that they would
have nothing to do with the matter.

The removal of Cæsar to Spain caused great excitement. No one, neither
Gonsalvo, the Pope, nor King Ferdinand was willing to assume the
responsibility for it. It was even stated that it was due to Gandia's
widow, who was at the Castilian court endeavoring to secure the arrest
of her husband's murderer.[195] The Spanish cardinals and Lucretia
exerted themselves to obtain Cæsar's release. The first news of him came
from Spain in October, 1504. Costabili wrote to Ferrara: "The affairs of
the Duke of Valentino do not appear to be in such a desperate condition
as has been represented, for the Cardinal of Salerno has a letter of the
third instant from Requesenz, the duke's majordomo, which his Majesty
despatched before he reached there, and letters from several cardinals
to his Majesty of Spain. Requesenz writes that the duke was confined
with one servant in the castle of Seville, which, although very strong,
is roomy. He was soon furnished with eight servants. He also writes that
he has spoken to the king regarding freeing Cæsar, and that his Majesty
stated that he had not ordered the duke's confinement but had given
instructions for him to be brought to Spain on account of certain
charges which Gonsalvo had made against him. If these were found to be
untrue he would do as the cardinal requested concerning Cæsar. However,
nothing could be done until the queen recovered. He made the same answer
to the ambassador of the King and Queen of Navarre, who endeavored to
secure the duke's release, and consequently Requesenz hoped that he
would soon be set free."[196]

From this letter of Requesenz it appears that Cæsar was first taken to
Seville and from there was sent to the castle of Medina del Campo in
Castile. The King of France turned a deaf ear to his petitions. No one
in Italy wanted him set free. His sister was the only person in the
peninsula who took any interest in the overthrown upstart, and her
appeals found little support among the Este. It was well known that if
Cæsar returned to Italy he would only cause uneasiness at the court of
Ferrara, and would in all probability make it the center of his
intrigues. The Gonzaga alone appeared not to have entirely withdrawn
their favor from him, although, instead of wishing, as they once had
done, to establish a matrimonial alliance with him, they now connected
themselves with the Rovere, the Marquis of Mantua marrying his young
daughter Leonora to Julius's nephew, Francesco Maria della Rovere, heir
of Urbino, April 9, 1505.[197] It was especially Isabella who, owing to
her affection for her sister-in-law Lucretia, seconded her appeals to
her husband. In the archives of the house of Gonzaga are several letters
written by Lucretia to the marquis in the interests of her brother.

[Illustration: Reduced facsimile of a letter written by Lucretia Borgia
to Marchese Gonzaga.]

August 18, 1505, she wrote him from Reggio that she had taken steps in
Rome to induce the Pope to permit Cardinal Petro Isualles to go to the
Spanish court to endeavor to secure Cæsar's freedom, and she hoped to
succeed. She, therefore, asked the marquis himself to request the Pope
to allow the cardinal to undertake this mission. She wrote to him again
from Belriguardo thanking him for his promise to despatch an agent to
Spain, and she sent him a letter for King Ferdinand and another for her
brother. It is not known whether the cardinal actually undertook this
journey to Madrid, but it is hardly likely that Julius would have
allowed him to do so.


[186] Minute Ducali a Costabili Beltrando, Ferrara, August 28, 1503.

[187] One of these medals is preserved in the cabinet of the Oliveriana
in Pesaro. It is reproduced in the Nuova Raccolta delle Monete e Zecche
d'Italia di Guidantonio Zanetti, p. 1.

[188] See Giulio Perticari, Op. Bol. 1839, vol. ii. Intorno la morte di
Pandolfo Collenuccio. Perticari's opinion is too one-sided and
optimistic. The beautiful elegy which he states Collenuccio wrote
shortly before his death was written at a much happier time.

[189] The document is in the Este archives.

[190] This is the record already mentioned, Liber Arrendamentorum
terrarum ad IIImos Dominos Rodericum Borgiam de Aragonia, Sermoneti,
etc., et Johannem Borgiam Nepesini Duces, infantes spectantium. Biselli,

[191] Raxo pavonazo trovato in Guardaroba. De dito raso se ne fodrato
dui ziponi e dui boniti per Don Rodrigo e Don Joanne (Braccia 6). De
dito raso se ne posto in la capa de Don Rodrigo--Tela d'oro. De dita
tela se ne posto a fodrare due cape de raxo pavonazo per Don Rodrigo e
Don Joane--braza 12. Dite peze de fuxo doro tirato se ne pose per
commission de la Signora nei saioni de Don Rodrigo e Don Joanne, etc.
Estratti dall' inventario di roba di Lucrezia Borgia, 1502-1503.
Archives of Modena.

[192] Ercole to his ambassador in Rome, December 31, 1503.

[193] Costabili to Ercole, May 6, 1507.

[194] Manfredo Manfredi's despatch to Ercole, Florence, August 20, 1504.

[195] Perche la mogliera del Duca di Candia, che fu morto dal Duca
Valentino ha procurato questo acto de tencione et vendicta et che Lei è
parente del Re di Spagna. Letter of Giovanni Alberto della Pigna to
Ercole, Venice, June 18, 1504.

[196] Costabili's despatch to Duke Ercole, Rome, October 27, 1504.

[197] The contract is in Beneimbene's protocol-book.



During the year, when Lucretia, filled with a sister's love, was
grieving over the fate of her terrible brother, a great change occurred
in her own circumstances, she having become Duchess of Ferrara, January
25, 1505. Her husband, Alfonso, in compliance with his father's wishes,
had undertaken a journey to France, Flanders, and England for the
purpose of becoming acquainted with the courts of those countries. He
was to return to Italy by way of Spain, but while he was at the court of
Henry VII of England he received despatches informing him that his
father was sick. He hastened back to Ferrara, and Ercole died shortly
after his return.

Alfonso ascended the ducal throne at a time when a strong hand and high
intelligence were required to save his State from the dangers which
threatened it. The Republic of Venice had already secured possession of
a part of Romagna, and was planning to cut Ferrara off from the mouth of
the Po; at the same time Julius II was scheming to take Bologna, and if
he succeeded in this he would doubtless also attack Ferrara. In view of
these circumstances it was a fortunate thing for the State that its
chief was a practical, cool-headed man like Alfonso. He was neither
extravagant nor fond of display, and he cared nothing for a brilliant
court. He was indifferent to externals, even to his own clothing. His
chief concern was to increase the efficiency of the army, build
fortresses, and cast cannon. When the affairs of state left him any
leisure he amused himself at a turning-lathe which he had set up, and
also in painting majolica vases, in which art he was exceedingly
skilful. He had no inclination for the higher culture--this he left to
his wife.

The small collection of books which Lucretia brought with her from Rome
shows that she possessed some education and an inclination to take part
in the intellectual movement of Ferrara. We have a catalogue of these
books, of the years 1502 and 1503, which shows what were Lucretia's
tastes. According to this list she possessed a number of books, many of
which were beautifully bound in purple velvet, with gold and silver
mountings: a breviary; a book with the seven psalms and other prayers; a
parchment with miniatures in gold, called _De Coppelle ala Spagnola_;
the printed letters of Saint Catharine of Siena; the Epistles and
Gospels in the vulgar tongue; a religious work in Castilian; a
manuscript collection of Spanish canzone with the proverbs of Domenico
Lopez; a printed work entitled _Aquilla Volante_; another, called
_Supplement of Chronicles_, in the vulgar tongue; the _Mirror of Faith_,
in Italian; a printed copy of Dante, with a commentary; a work in
Italian, on philosophy; the _Legend of the Saints_ in the vulgar tongue;
an old work, _De Ventura_; a _Donatus_; a _Life of Christ_ in Spanish; a
manuscript of Petrarch on parchment, in duodecimo. From this catalogue
it is evident that Lucretia's studies were not very profound. Her books
were confined to religious works and belles-lettres.[198]


Lucretia established her ducal court in accordance with the dictates of
her own fancy. She was now the soul and center of the intellectual life
of Ferrara. Her cultivated intellect, her beauty, and the irresistible
joyousness of her being charmed all who came into her presence. The
opposition which the members of the house of Este at first had shown her
had disappeared, and, especially in the case of Isabella Gonzaga, had
changed into affection, as is proved by the extensive correspondence
which the two women maintained up to the time of Lucretia's death. In
the archives of the house of Gonzaga there are several hundred of her
letters to the Marchesa of Mantua.

Her relations with the house of Urbino were no less pleasant, and they
continued so even after the death of Guidobaldo in April, 1508, for his
successor was Francesco Maria della Rovere, son-in-law of Isabella
Gonzaga. She was frequently visited by these princes, and she enjoyed
the friendship of a number of remarkable men--Baldassar Castiglione,
Ottaviano Fregoso, Aldus Manutius, and Bembo.

Bembo, who was in love with the beautiful duchess, constantly sang her
praises, and, August 1, 1504, he dedicated to her his dialogue on love,
the _Asolani_, in a letter in which he celebrated her virtues. His
friend Aldo first spent some time in Ferrara at the court of Ercole, and
subsequently went to the Pio at Carpi; finally he settled in Venice,
where he printed the _Asolani_ in the year 1505 and dedicated it to
Lucretia. There is no doubt about Bembo's passion for the duchess, but
it would be a fruitless undertaking to endeavor to prove, from the
evidences of affection which the beautiful woman bestowed upon him,
that it passed the bounds of propriety. The belief that it did is due to
the letters which Bembo wrote her, and which are printed in his works,
and still more to those which Lucretia addressed to him. From 1503 to
1506--in which year he removed to the court of Guidobaldo--the
intellectual Venetian enjoyed the closest friendship with Lucretia. He
corresponded with her while he was living with his friends the Strozzi
in Villa Ostellato. These letters, especially those addressed to an
"anonymous friend," by which designation he clearly meant Lucretia, are
inspired by friendship, and display a tender confidence. Lucretia's
letters to Bembo are preserved in the Ambrosiana in Milan, where they
and the lock of blond hair near them are examined by every one who
visits the famous library. The letters are written in her own hand, and
there is no doubt of their authenticity; concerning the lock of hair
there is some uncertainty; still it may be one of the pledges of
affection which the happy Bembo carried away with him. Lucretia's
letters to Bembo were first examined and described by Baldassare
Oltrocchi, and subsequently by Lord Byron; in 1859 they were published
in Milan by Bernardo Gatti.[199] There are nine in all--seven in Italian
and two in Spanish. They are accompanied by a Castilian canzone.

It seems certain that she felt more than mere friendship for Bembo, for
she was young, and he was an accomplished cavalier, fair, amiable, and
witty, who cast the rough Alfonso completely in the shade. He excited
the latter's jealousy, and the danger which threatened him may have
been the cause of his removal to Urbino. Lucretia kept up her friendly
relations with him until the year 1513.

Several other poets in Ferrara devoted their talents to her
glorification. The verses which the two Strozzi addressed to her are
even more ardent than those of Bembo--perhaps because their authors
possessed greater poetical talent. Tito, the father, experienced the
same feelings for the beautiful duchess as did his genial son Ercole,
and he expressed them in the same poetical forms and imagery. This very
similarity indicates that their devotion was merely æsthetic. Tito sang
of a rose which Lucretia had sent him, but his son excelled him in an
epigram on the _Rose of Lucretia_, which could hardly have been the same
one his father had received.[200]

Tito, in his epigram, described himself as senescent, and consequently
not likely to be wounded by Cupid's darts, but he, nevertheless, was
ensnared by Lucretia's charms. "In her," so he says, "all the majesty of
heaven and earth are personified, and her like is not to be found on
earth." He addressed an epigram to Bembo, with whose passion for
Lucretia he was acquainted, in which he derives the name Lucretia from
"_lux_" and "_retia_," and makes merry over the _net_ in which Bembo was

His son Ercole describes her as a Juno in good works, a Pallas in
decorum, and a Venus in beauty. In verses in imitation of Catullus he
sang of the marble Cupid which the duchess had set up in her salon,
saying that the god of Love had been turned into stone by her glance. He
compared Lucretia's beautiful eyes with the sun, that blinds whosoever
ventures to look at it; like Medusa, whose glance turned the beholder to
stone, yet in this case "the pains of love still continued immortalized
in the stone."

Is it possible to believe that these poets would have written such
verses if they had considered Lucretia Borgia guilty of the crimes
which, even after her father's death, had been ascribed to her by

Antonio Tebaldeo, Calcagnini, and Giraldi sang of Lucretia's beauty and
virtue. Marcelle Filosseno dedicated a number of charming sonnets to
her, in which he compared her with Minerva and Venus. Jacopo Caviceo,
who in the last years of his life (he died in 1511) was vicar of the
bishopric of Ferrara, dedicated to her his wonderful romance
"Peregrino," with an inscription in which he describes her as beautiful,
learned, wise, and modest. The number of poets who threw themselves at
her feet was certainly large, and she doubtless received their flattery
with the same satisfied vanity with which a beautiful woman of to-day
would accept such offerings. Some of these poets may really have been in
love with her, while others burned their incense as court flatterers;
all, doubtless, were glad to find in her an ideal to serve as a platonic
inspiration for their rhymes and verses.

Ariosto excepted, these poets are to us nothing more than names in the
history of literature. The great poet's relations with the princely
house of Ferrara began about 1503, when he entered the service of
Cardinal Ippolito. Soon after this--in the year 1505--he began his great
epic, and the beautiful duchess appears to have had very little
influence on his work. He refers to her occasionally, especially in a
stanza for which she owed the poet little thanks if she foresaw his
immortality--the eighty-third stanza in the forty-second canto of the
_Orlando Furioso_, in which he places Lucretia's portrait in the temple
to woman. The inscription under her portrait says that her fatherland,
Rome, on account of her beauty and modesty must regard her as excelling
Lucretia of old.[202]

A recent Italian writer, speaking of Ariosto's adulation, says, "However
much of it may be looked upon as court flattery, and as due to the
poet's obligations to the house of Este, we know that the art of
flattery had also its laws and bounds, and that one who ascribed such
qualities to a prince who was known to be entirely lacking in them would
be regarded as little acquainted with the world and with court manners,
for he would cause the person to be publicly ridiculed. In this case the
praise would degenerate into satire and the incautious flatterer would
fare badly."[203] Flattery has always been the return which court poets
make for their slavery. Ariosto and Tasso were no more free from it than
were Horace and Virgil. When the poet of the _Orlando Furioso_
discovered that Cardinal Ippolito was beginning to treat him coldly, he
thought to strike out everything he had said in his praise. Although it
was probably merely the name Lucretia which Ariosto and other poets
used--comparing it with the classic ideal of feminine honor--it is,
nevertheless, difficult wholly to reject the interpretation of
Lucretia's modern advocates, for, even when this comparison was not
made, other admirers--Ariosto especially--praised the beautiful duchess
for her decorum. This much is certain: her life in Ferrara was regarded
as a model of feminine virtue.

There was a young woman in her household who charmed all who came in
contact with her until she became the cause of a tragedy at the court.
This was the Angela Borgia whom Lucretia had brought with her from Rome,
and who had been affianced to Francesco Maria Rovere. It is not known
when the betrothal was set aside, although it may have been shortly
after Alexander's death. The heir of Urbino married, as has been stated,
Eleonora Gonzaga. Among Angela's admirers were two of Alfonso's
brothers, who were equally depraved, Cardinal Ippolito and Giulio, a
natural son of Ercole. One day when Ippolito was assuring Angela of his
devotion, she began to praise the beauty of Giulio's eyes, which so
enraged his utterly degenerate rival that he planned a horrible revenge.
The cardinal hired assassins and commanded them to seize his brother
when he was returning from the hunt, and to tear out the eyes which
Donna Angela had found so beautiful. The attempt was made in the
presence of the cardinal, but it did not succeed as completely as he had
wished. The wounded man was carried to his palace, where the physicians
succeeded in saving one of his eyes. This crime, which occurred November
3, 1505,[204] aroused the whole court. The unfortunate Giulio demanded
that it be paid in kind, but the duke merely banished the cardinal. The
injured man brooded on revenge, and the direst consequences followed.

Ariosto, the wicked cardinal's courtier, fell into difficulties from
which he escaped in a way not altogether honorable, which lessens the
worth of the praise he bestowed upon Lucretia. He wrote a poem in which
he endeavored to clear the murderer by blackening Giulio's character and
concealing the motive for the crime. In this same eclogue he poured
forth the most ardent praise of Lucretia. He lauded not only her beauty,
her good works, and her intellect, but above all her modesty, for which
she was famous before coming to Ferrara.[205]

A year later, December 6, 1506, Lucretia married Donna Angela to Count
Alessandro Pio of Sassuolo, and by a remarkable coincidence her son
Giberto subsequently became the husband of Isabella, a natural daughter
of Cardinal Ippolito.

In November, 1505, an event occurred in the Vatican which aroused great
interest on the part of Lucretia, and likewise caused her most painful
memories. Giulia Farnese, the companion of her unhappy youth, made her
appearance there under circumstances which must have overcome her. We
know nothing of the life of Alexander's mistress during the years
immediately preceding and following his death. She and her husband,
Orsini, were living in Castle Bassanello, to which her mother Adriana
had also removed. At least Giulia was there in 1504, about which time
one of the Orsini committed one of those crimes with which the history
of the great families of Italy is filled. Her sister, Girolama Farnese,
widow of Puccio Pucci, had entered into a second marriage--this time
with Count Giuliano Orsini of Anguillara--and had been murdered by her
stepson, Giambattista of Stabbia, because, as it was alleged, she had
tried to poison him. Giulia buried her deceased sister in 1504, at

She must have gone to Rome the following year and taken up her abode in
the Orsini palace. Her husband was not living, and Adriana may also have
been dead, for she was not present at the ceremony in the Vatican in
November, 1505, when Giulia, to the great astonishment of all Rome,
married her only daughter, Laura, to the nephew of the Pope, Niccolò
Rovere, brother of Cardinal Galeotto.

Laura passed among all those who were acquainted with her mother's
secrets as the child of Alexander VI and natural sister of the Duchess
of Ferrara. When she was only seven years old her mother had betrothed
her to Federico, the twelve-year-old son of Raimondo Farnese; this was
April 2, 1499. This alliance was subsequently dissolved to enable her to
enter into a union as brilliant as her heart could possibly desire.

The consent of Julius II to the betrothal of his nephew with the bastard
daughter of Alexander VI is one of the most astonishing facts in the
life of this pope. It perhaps marks his reconciliation with the Borgia.
He had hated the men of this family while he was hostile to them, but
his hatred was not due to any moral feelings. Julius II felt no contempt
for Alexander and Cæsar, but, on the other hand, it is more likely that
he marveled at their strength as did Macchiavelli. We do not know that
he had any personal relations with Lucretia Borgia after he ascended
the papal throne, although this certainly would have been probable owing
to the position of the house of Este. On one occasion he deeply offended
Lucretia when, in reinstating Guglielmo Gaetani in possession of
Sermoneta by a bull dated January 24, 1504, he applied the most
uncomplimentary epithets to Alexander VI, describing him as a "swindler"
who had enriched his own children by plundering others.[206] This
especially concerned Lucretia, for she had been mistress of Sermoneta,
which had subsequently been given to her son Rodrigo.

Later, after Alfonso ascended the ducal throne, the relations between
the Pope and Lucretia must have become more friendly. She kept up a
lively correspondence with Giulia Farnese, and doubtless received from
her the news of the betrothal of her daughter to a member of the Pope's

The betrothal took place in the Vatican, in the presence of Julius II,
Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, and the mother of the young bride. This was
one of the greatest triumphs of Giulia's romantic life--she had overcome
the opposition of another pope, and one who had been the enemy of
Alexander VI, and the man who had ruined Cæsar. She, the adulteress, who
had been branded by the satirists of Rome and of all Italy as mistress
of Alexander VI, now appeared in the Vatican as one of the most
respectable women of the Roman aristocracy, "the illustrious Donna
Giulia de Farnesio," Orsini's widow, for the purpose of betrothing the
daughter of Alexander and herself to the Pope's nephew, thereby
receiving absolution for the sins of her youth. She was still a
beautiful and fascinating woman, and at most not more than thirty years
of age.

This good fortune and the rehabilitation of her character (if, in view
of the morals of the time, we may so describe it) she owed to the
intercession of her brother the cardinal. Political considerations
likewise induced the Pope to consent to the alliance, for, in order to
carry out his plan for extending the pontifical States, it was necessary
for him to win over the great families of Rome. He secured the support
of the Farnese and of the Orsini; in May, 1506, he married his own
natural daughter Felice to Giangiordano Orsini of Bracciano, and in July
of the same year he gave his niece, Lucretia Gara Rovere, sister of
Niccolò, to Marcantonio Colonna as wife.

Again Giulia Farnese vanished from sight, and neither under Julius II
nor Leo X does she reappear. March 14, 1524, she made a will which was
to be in favor of her nieces Isabella and Costanza in case her daughter
should die without issue. March 23d the Venetian ambassador in Rome,
Marco Foscari, informed his Signory that Cardinal Farnese's sister,
Madama Giulia, formerly mistress of Pope Alexander VI, was dead. From
this we are led to assume that she died in Rome. No authentic likeness
of Giulia Bella has come down to us, but tradition says that one of the
two reclining marble figures which adorn the monument of Paul
III--Farnese--in St. Peter's, Justice, represents his sister, Giulia
Farnese, while the other, Wisdom, is the likeness of his mother,
Giovanella Gaetani.

Giulia's daughter was mistress of Bassanello and Carbognano. She had one
son, Giulio della Rovere, who subsequently became famous as a

In the meantime the attempt against Giulio d'Este had been attended by
such consequences that the princely house of Ferrara found itself
confronted by a grave danger. Giulio complained to Alfonso of injustice,
while the cardinal's numerous friends considered his banishment too
severe a punishment. Ippolito had a great following in Ferrara. He was a
lavish man of the world, while the duke, owing to his utilitarian ways
and practical life, repelled the nobility. A party was formed which
advocated a revolution. The house of Este had survived many of these
attempts. One had occurred when Ercole ascended the throne.

Giulio succeeded in winning over to his cause certain disaffected nobles
and conscienceless men who were in the service of the duke; among them
Count Albertino Boschetti of San Cesario; his son-in-law, the captain of
the palace guard; a chamberlain; one of the duke's minstrels, and a few
others. Even Don Ferrante, Alfonso's own brother, who had been his proxy
when he married Lucretia in Rome, entered into the conspiracy. The plan
was, first to despatch the cardinal with poison; and, as this act would
be punished if the duke were allowed to live, he was to be destroyed at
a masked ball, and Don Ferrante was to be placed on the throne.

The cardinal, who was well served by his spies in Ferrara, received news
of what was going on and immediately informed his brother Alfonso. This
was in July, 1506. The conspirators sought safety in flight, but only
Giulio and the minstrel Guasconi succeeded in escaping, the former to
Mantua and the latter to Rome. Count Boschetti was captured in the
vicinity of Ferrara. Don Ferrante apparently made no effort to escape.
When he was brought before the duke he threw himself at his feet and
begged for mercy; but Alfonso in his wrath lost control of himself, and
not only cast him from him but struck out one of his eyes with a staff
which he had in his hand. He had him confined in the tower of the
castle, whither Don Giulio, whom the Marchese of Mantua had delivered
after a short resistance, was soon brought. The trial for treason was
quickly ended, and sentence of death passed upon the guilty. First
Boschetti and two of his companions were beheaded in front of the
Palazzo della Ragione. This scene is faithfully described in a
contemporaneous Ferrarese manuscript on criminology now preserved in the
library of the university.

The two princes were to be executed in the court of the castle, August
12th. The scaffold was erected, the tribunes were filled, the duke took
his place, and the unfortunate wretches were led to the block. Alfonso
made a signal--he was about to show mercy to his brothers. They lost
consciousness and were carried back to prison. Their punishment had been
commuted to life imprisonment. They spent years in captivity, surviving
Alfonso himself. Apparently it caused him no contrition to know that his
miserable brothers were confined in the castle where he dwelt and held
his festivities. Such were the Este whom Ariosto in his poem lauded to
the skies. Not until February 22, 1540, did death release Don Ferrante,
then in the sixty-third year of his age. Don Giulio was granted his
freedom in 1559, and died March 24, 1561, aged eighty-three.


[198] Another list of the year 1516 contains a number of magnificently
bound breviaries and books of offices, but there are no additional works
of a secular nature. For this catalogue I am indebted to Foucard, who
copied it from an inventory of the personal property of Lucretia Borgia
in the archives of Modena.

[199] Dissertazione del Sig. Dottor Baldassare Oltrocchi sopra i primi
amori di Pietro Bembo, indirizzata al sig. Conte Giammaria Mazzucchelli
Bresciana. In the Nuova Raccolta d'Opuscoli Scientifici del Calogerà,
vol. iv. Lettere di Lucrezia Borgia a messer Pietro Bembo dagli
autografi conservati in un Codice della Bibl. Ambrosiana. Milano eoi
Tipi dell' Ambrosiana, 1859.


  Laeto nata solo, dextrâ, rosa, pollice carpta;
    Unde tibi solito pulcrior, unde color?
  Num te iterum tinxit Venus? an potius tibi tantum
    Borgia purpureo praebuit ore decus?


    Ad Bembum de Lucretia.
  Si mutatur in X. C. tertia nominis hujus
    Littera lux fiet, quod modo luc fuerat.
  Retia subsequitur, cui tu hæc subiunge paraque,
    Subscribens lux hæc retia, Bembe, parat.


  La prima inscrizion ch'agli occhi occorre,
    Con lungo honor Lucrezia Borgia noma,
  La cui bellezza ed onestà preporre
    Debbe all' antiqua la sua patria Roma.
  I duo che voluto han sopra sè torre
    Tanto eccellente ed onorata soma,
  Noma lo scritto: Antonio Tebaldeo,
    Ercole Strozza: un Lino, e un Orfeo.

[203] See the Marquis Giuseppe Campori's work: Una Vittima della Storia,
Lucrezia Borgia, in the Nuova Antologia, August 31, 1866.

[204] Frizzi Storia di Ferrara, iv, 205.

[205] Cose tutte che sono in ontà del vero, says Antonio Cappelli.
Introduction to his Lettere di Lodovico Ariosto, Bologna, 1866. The
eclogue is in Ariosto's Opere Minori i. 267. Angela Borgia is mentioned
in the last canto (stanza 4) of the Orlando.

[206] The bull is in the archives of the house of Gaetani.

[207] As late as January 15, 1519, a few months before her death,
Lucretia wrote to Giulia. The 13th of that month, Pietro Torelli, the
Ferrarese ambassador in Florence, reported that he had received a letter
for Giulia and would attend to it. Archives of Modena.

[208] Fioravanti Martinelli Carbognano illustrado, Rome, 1644.



It was at the time of this great tragedy in Ferrara, which must have
vividly reminded Lucretia of her own experiences in the papal city, that
Julius II left Rome for the purpose of carrying out his bold plans for
reestablishing the pontifical states by driving out the tyrants who had
succeeded in escaping Cæsar's sword. Alfonso, as a vassal of the Church,
sent him some troops, but he did not take part personally in the
expedition. Guidobaldo of Urbino, who had adopted Francesco Maria Rovere
as his son and heir, and the Marchese Gonzaga served in the army of
Julius II. September 12, 1506, the Pope entered Perugia, whose tyrants,
the Baglioni, surrendered. November 11th he made his entry into Bologna,
Giovanni Bentivoglio and his wife Ginevra having fled with their
children. There Julius halted, casting longing looks at Romagna,
formerly Cæsar's domain, but now occupied by the Venetian army.

It is a curious coincidence that it was at this very moment that the
Duke of Romagna, who had vanished from the stage, again appeared. In
November Lucretia received news that her brother had escaped from his
prison in Spain, and she immediately communicated the fact to the
Marchese Gonzaga, who, as field marshal of the Church, was in

Lucretia had frequently exerted herself to secure Cæsar's freedom and
had remained in constant communication with him by messenger. Her
petitions, however, had produced no effect upon the King of Spain.
Finally, owing to favorable circumstances, Cæsar succeeded in effecting
his escape. Zurita says that Ferdinand the Catholic intended to remove
him from his prison in the spring of 1506 to Aragon, and then to take
him to Naples, whither he was going to place the affairs of the kingdom
in order, and to assure himself of Gonsalvo, whose loyalty he suspected.
His son-in-law, the Archduke Philip, with whom he was at variance on
account of his pretensions to the kingdom of Castile, refused to allow
Cæsar to be released from Medina, a Castilian place. While Ferdinand was
absent on his journey, Philip died at Burgos, September 5, 1506, and
Cæsar took advantage of this opportunity and the king's absence to
escape. This he did with the help of the Castilian party, who hoped to
profit by the services of the famous condottiere.

October 25th he escaped from the castle of Medina to the estates of the
Count of Benavente, where he remained. Some of the barons who wished to
place the government of Castile in the hands of Maximilian, Philip's
father, were anxious to send him to Flanders as their messenger to the
emperor's court. As this plan fell through, Cæsar betook himself to
Pamplona to his brother-in-law, the King of Navarre, who had become
embroiled in this Castilian intrigue and was at war with his rebellious
constable the Count of Lerin.

From that place Cæsar wrote the Marchese of Mantua, and this is the
last letter written by him which has been discovered.

     ILLUSTRIOUS PRINCE: I inform you that after innumerable
     disappointments it has pleased God, our Master, to free me and to
     release me from prison. How this happened you will learn from my
     secretary Federigo, the bearer. May this, by God's never-failing
     mercy, redound to his great service. At present I am with the
     illustrious King and Queen of Navarre in Pamplona, where I arrived
     December 3d, as your Majesty will learn from the above-named
     Federigo, who will also inform you of all that has occurred. You
     may believe whatever he tells you in my name, just as if I myself
     were speaking to you.

     I commend myself to your Excellency forever. From Pamplona,
     December 7, 1506. Your Majesty's friend and younger brother,


The letter has a wafer bearing the combined arms of Cæsar with the
inscription _Cæsar Borgia de Francia Dux Romandiolæ_. One shield has the
Borgia arms, with the French lilies, and a helmet from which seven
snarling dragons issue; the other the arms of Cæsar's wife, with the
lilies of France, and a winged horse rising from the casque.

Cæsar's secretary reached Ferrara the last day of December. This same
Federigo had been in that city once before,--during July of the year
1506, and had been sent back to Spain by the duchess.[210] He now
returned to Italy, not for the purpose of bringing the news of his
master's escape, but to learn how matters stood and to ascertain whether
there was any prospect of restoring the Duke of Romagna. His majordomo,
Requesenz, who was in Ferrara in January, had come for the same
purpose. No time, however, could have been less favorable for such
schemes than the year 1506, for Julius II had just taken possession of
Bologna. The Marchese Gonzaga, upon whose good will Cæsar still
reckoned, was commander of the papal army, which--it was believed--was
planning an expedition into the Romagna. This was the only country where
there was the slightest possibility of Cæsar's succeeding in reacquiring
his power, for his good government had left a favorable impression on
the Romagnoles, who would have preferred his authority to that of the
Church. Zurita, the historian of Aragon, is correct when he says:
"Cæsar's escape caused the Pope great anxiety, for the duke was a man
who would not have hesitated to throw all Italy in turmoil for the
purpose of carrying out his own plans; he was greatly beloved, not only
by the men of war, but also by many people in Ferrara and in the States
of the Church--something which seldom falls to the lot of a tyrant."

Cæsar's messenger ventured to Bologna in spite of the presence of the
Pope, and there the latter had him seized. This was reported to
Lucretia, who immediately wrote to the Marchese of Gonzaga as follows:

     just learned that by command of his Holiness our Federigo, the
     chancellor of the duke, my brother, has been seized in Bologna; I
     am sure he has done nothing to deserve this, for he did not come
     here with the intention of doing or saying anything that would
     displease or injure his Holiness--his Excellency would not
     countenance or risk anything of this sort against his Holiness. If
     Federigo had been given any order of this nature he would have
     first informed me of it, and I should never have permitted him to
     give any ground for complaint, for I am a devoted and faithful
     servant of the Pope, as is also my illustrious husband. I know of
     no other reason for his coming than to inform us of the duke's
     escape. Therefore I consider his innocence as beyond question. This
     apprehension of the courier is especially displeasing to me because
     it will injure my brother, the duke, making it appear that he is
     not in his Holiness's favor, and the same may be said of myself. I,
     therefore, urgently request your Excellency--of course if you are
     disposed to do me a favor--to use every means to induce his
     Holiness to release the messenger promptly, which I trust he will
     do out of his own goodness, and owing to the mediation of your
     Excellency. There is no way your Majesty could give me greater
     pleasure than by doing this, for the sake of my own honor and every
     other consideration, and in no way could I become more beholden to
     you. Therefore, I commend myself again to you with all my heart.
     Your Majesty's Sister and Servant,


  FERRARA, _January 15, 1507_.

Cæsar had sent his former majordomo, Don Jaime de Requesenz, from
Pamplona to the King of France to ask him to allow him to return to his
court and enter his service. To this, however, Louis XII would not
listen. The messenger met with a severe rebuff when he demanded in
Cæsar's name the duchy of Valentinois and the revenue which he had
formerly enjoyed as a prince of the French house.[211]

Death soon put an end to the hopes of the famous adventurer. While in
the service of his brother-in-law, the King of Navarre, he conducted the
siege of the castle of Viana, which was defended by the king's vassal
Don Loys de Beamonte, Count of Lerin. There he fell, bravely fighting,
March 12, 1507. This place is situated in the diocese of Pamplona, and,
as Zurita remarks, Cæsar's death by a curious coincidence occurred on
the anniversary of the day on which to him had been given the bishopric
of Pamplona. There he was interred with high honors. Like Nero he was
only thirty-one years of age at the time of his demise.

The fall of this terrible man, before whom all Italy had once trembled,
and whose name was celebrated far and wide, relieved Julius II of a
pretender who in time might have been a hindrance to him; for Cæsar, as
an ally and a condottiere of Venice, would have spared no effort to
force him into a war with the Republic for the possession of Romagna, or
into a war with France on his withdrawal from the League of Cambray, and
the revengeful Louis XII would certainly have brought Cæsar back to the
Romagna for the purpose of availing himself both of his former
connections in that country, and also of his great talents as a soldier.

The news of Cæsar's death reached Ferrara while the duke was absent, in
April, 1507, by way of Rome and Naples. His counselor Magnanini and
Cardinal Ippolito withheld the news from the duchess, who was near her
confinement. She was merely told that her brother had been wounded in
battle. Greatly distressed, she betook herself to one of the convents in
the city, where she spent two days in prayer before returning to the
castle. As soon as the talk regarding Cæsar's death reached her ears she
despatched her servant Tullio for Navarre, but on the way he received a
report of the burial and turned back to Ferrara. Grasica, one of
Cassar's equerries, also came to Ferrara and gave a full report of the
circumstances attending the death of his master, at whose interment in
Pamplona he had been present. The cardinal therefore decided to tell
Lucretia the truth, and gave her her husband's letter containing the
news of Cæsar's death.[212]

The duchess displayed more self-control than had been expected. Her
sorrow was mingled with the bitter recollection of all she had
experienced and suffered in Rome, the memory of which had been dulled
but not wholly obliterated by her life in Ferrara. Twice the murder of
her young husband Alfonso must have come back to her in all its
horror--once on the death of her father and again on that of her
terrible brother. If her grief was not inspired by the overwhelming
memories of former times, the sight of Lucretia weeping for Cæsar Borgia
is a beautiful example of sisterly love--the purest and most noble of
human sentiments.

Valentino certainly did not appear to his sister or to his
contemporaries in the form in which we now behold him, for his crimes
seem blacker and blacker, while his good qualities and that
which--following Macchiavelli--we may call his political worth, are
constantly diminishing. To every thinking man the power which this young
upstart, owing to an unusual combination of circumstances, acquired is
merely a proof of what the timid, short-sighted generality of mankind
will tolerate. They tolerated the immature greatness of Cæsar Borgia,
before whom princes and states trembled for years, and he was not the
last bold but empty idol of history before whom the world has tottered.

Although Lucretia may not have had a very clearly defined opinion of her
brother, neither her memory nor her sight could have been wholly dulled.
She herself forgave him, but she must, nevertheless, have asked herself
whether the incorruptible Judge of all mankind would forgive him--for
she was a devout and faithful Catholic according to the religious
standards of the age. She doubtless had innumerable masses said for his
soul, and assailed heaven with endless prayers.

Ercole Strozzi sought to console her in pompous verse; in 1508 he
dedicated to her his elegy on Cæsar. This fantastic poem is remarkable
as having been the production of this man, and it might be defined as
the poetic counterpart of Macchiavelli's "Prince." First the poet
describes the deep sorrow of the two women, Lucretia and Charlotte,
lamenting the deceased with burning tears, even as Cassandra and
Polyxena bewailed the loss of Achilles. He depicts the triumphant
progress of Cæsar, who resembled the great Roman by his deeds as well as
in name. He enumerated the various cities he had seized in Romagna, and
complained that an envious Fate had not permitted him to subjugate more
of them, for if it had, the fame of the capture of Bologna would not
have fallen to Julius II. The poet says that the Genius of Rome had once
appeared to the people and foretold the fall of Alexander and Cæsar,
complaining that all hope of the savior of the line of Calixtus,--whom
the gods had promised,--would expire with them. Eratus had told the poet
of these promises made in Olympus. Pallas and Venus, one as the friend
of Cæsar and Spain, the other as the patron of Italy, unwilling that
strangers should rule over the descendants of the Trojans, had
complained to Jupiter of his failure to fulfil his promise to give Italy
a great king who would be likewise her savior. Jupiter had reassured
them by saying that fate was inexorable. Cæsar like Achilles had to die,
but from the two lines of Este and Borgia, which sprang from Troy and
Greece, the promised hero would come. Pallas thereupon appeared in Nepi,
where, after Alexander's death, Cæsar lay sick of the pest, in his camp,
and, in the form of his father, informed him of his approaching end,
which he, conscious of his fame, must suffer like a hero. Then she
disappeared in the form of a bird and hastened to Lucretia in Ferrara.
After the poet described Cæsar's fall in Spain he sought to console the
sister with philosophic platitudes, and then with the assurance that she
was to be the mother of the child who was destined for such a great

According to Zurita, Cæsar left but one legitimate child, a daughter,
who was living with her mother under the protection of the King of
Navarre. Her name was Luisa; later she married Louis de la Tremouille,
and on his death Philipp of Bourbon, Baron of Busset. Her mother,
Charlotte d'Albret, having suffered much in life, gave herself up to
holy works. She retired from the world, and died March 11, 1504. Two
natural children of Cæsar, a son Girolamo and a daughter Lucretia were
living in Ferrara, where the latter became a nun and died in 1573, she
being at the time abbess of San Bernardino.[214] As late as February,
1550, an illegitimate son of Cæsar's appeared in Paris. He was a priest,
and he announced that he was the natural son of the Duke of Romagna, and
called himself Don Luigi. He had come from Rome to ask assistance of the
King of France, because, as he said, his father had met his death while
he was in the service of the French crown in the kingdom of Navarre.
They gave him a hundred ducats, with which he returned to Rome.[215]


[209] In the record of her household expenses, under date of November
20, 1506, there is the following entry: A Garzia Spagnolo per andare a
Venezia per la nova del Duca Valentino che era fugito de progione.
November 27, she wrote to Gonzaga.

[210] Record of Lucretia's household expenses for the year 1506
(Archives of Modena): July 31, 1506, a Federigo Cancelliere del Duca
Valentino per andare per le poste in Spagna dal Duca.

[211] Despatch of the Ferrarese ambassador to France, Manfredo Manfredi,
to Duke Alfonso, January, 1507.

[212] Letters of Hieronymus Magnaninus to his master, Alfonso, Ferrara,
April 11 to 22, archives of the Este.

[213] Cæsaris Borgiæ Ducis Epicedium per Herculem Strozzam ad Divam
Lucretiam Borgiam Ferrariæ Ducem. In Strozzi Poetæ Pater et Filius,
Paris, 1530.

[214] See Cittadella's genealogy of the house of Borgia.

[215] Letter of Giulio Alvarotti from France, February 14, 1550, in the
archives of Modena.



Alfonso's hopes of having an heir had twice been disappointed by
miscarriages, but April 4, 1508, his wife bore him a son, who was
baptized with the name of his grandfather.

Ercole Strozzi regarded the birth of this heir to the throne as the
fulfilment of his prophesy. In a _genethliakon_ he flatters the duchess
with the hope that the deeds of her brother Cæsar and of her father
Alexander would be an incentive to her son--both would remind him of
Camillus and the Scipios as well as of the heroes of Greece.

Only a few weeks after this the genial poet met with a terrible end. His
devotion to Lucretia was doubtless merely that of a court gallant and
poet celebrating the beauty of his patroness. The real object of his
affections was Barbara Torelli, the youthful widow of Ercole
Bentivoglio, who gave him the preference over another nobleman. Strozzi
married her in May, 1508.

Thirteen days later, on the morning of June 6th, the poet's dead body
was found near the Este palace, which is now known as the Pareschi,
wrapped in his mantle, some of his hair torn out by the roots, and
wounded in two and twenty places. All Ferrara was in an uproar, for she
owed her fame to Strozzi, one of the most imaginative poets of his time,
the pet of everybody, the friend of Bembo and Ariosto, the favorite of
the duchess and of the entire court. On his father's death he had
succeeded to his position as chief of the twelve judges of Ferrara. He
was still in the flower of his youth, being only twenty-seven years old.

This terrible event must have reminded Lucretia of the day when her
brother Gandia was slain. The mystery attending these crimes has never
been dispelled. "No one named the author of the murder, for the pretor
was silent," says Paul Jovius in his eulogy of the poet. But who, except
those who had the power to do so could have compelled the court to
remain silent?

Some have ascribed the deed to Alfonso, stating that he destroyed
Strozzi on account of his passion for the latter's wife; others claim
that he simply revenged himself for the favor which Lucretia had shown
the poet. Recent writers who have endeavored to fathom the mystery and
who have availed themselves of authentic records of the time regard
Alfonso as the guilty one.[216] One of the strongest proofs of his guilt
is found in the fact that the duke, who not only had punished the
conspirators against his own life so cruelly, and who had always shown
himself an unyielding supporter of the law, allowed the matter to drop.

Lucretia has even been charged with the murder on the ground of her
jealousy of Barbara Torelli, or owing to her fear that Strozzi might
disclose her relations with Bembo, especially as he had hoped to obtain
the cardinal's hat through the influence of the duchess, in which he was
disappointed. None of the later historians has given any credence to
this theory. Ariosto did not believe it, for if he did how could he have
made Ercole Strozzi the herald of her fame in the temple of honor in
which he placed the women of the house of Este? Even if he wrote this
stanza before the poet's death--which is not probable--he would
certainly have changed it before the publication of the poem, which was
in 1516.

Nor did Aldo Manuzio believe in Lucretia's guilt, for in 1513 he
dedicated to her an edition of the poems of the two Strozzi, father and
son, accompanied by an introduction in which he praises her to the

In the meantime Julius II had formed the League of Cambray, which was to
crush Venice, and which Ferrara had also joined. The war kept Alfonso
away from his domain much of the time, and consequently he made Lucretia
regent during his absence. In former days she had occasionally acted as
regent in the Vatican and in Spoleto--but in a different way. In 1509
she saw the war clouds gathering about Ferrara, for it was in that year
that her husband and the cardinal attacked the Venetian fleet on the Po.
August 25th of this same year Lucretia bore a second son, Ippolito.

The war which convulsed the entire peninsula immediately drew Ferrara
into the great movement which did not subside until Charles V imposed a
new order of things on the affairs of Italy. Lucretia's subsequent life,
therefore, was largely influenced by politics. Her first peaceful years
in Ferrara, like her youth, were past. She now devoted herself to the
education of her children, the princes of Este, and to affairs of state
whenever her husband entrusted them to her. She was a capable woman; her
father was not mistaken in his opinion of her intellect. She made
herself felt as regent in Ferrara. She was regent for the first time
in May, 1506, and she acquitted herself most creditably. The Jews in
Ferrara were being oppressed, and Lucretia had a law passed to protect
them, and all who transgressed it were severely punished. In the
dedication of the poems of the Strozzi addressed to her by Aldo, he
lauds, among her other good qualities, not only her fear of God, her
benevolence to the poor, and her kindness toward her relatives, but also
her ability as a ruler, saying that she made an excellent regent, whose
sound opinions and perspicacity were greatly admired by the burghers.
Even if we make allowances for the flattery, there is still much truth
in what he says.

[Illustration: ALDO MANUZIO.

From an engraving by Angustin de St. Aubin.]

Owing to these facts it is not strange that Lucretia's personality was
quite obliterated or eclipsed by the political history of Ferrara during
this period. The chroniclers of the city make no mention of her except
on the occasion of the birth of her children, and Paul Jovius speaks of
her only two or three times in his biography of Alfonso, although in
each case with the greatest respect. The personal interest which the
early career of this woman had excited died out with the change in her
life. Even her letters to Alfonso and those to her friend Isabella
Gonzaga contain little of importance to her biographers. No one now
questioned her virtues; even the Emperor Maximilian, who had endeavored
to prevent her marriage with Alfonso, acknowledged them. One day in
February, 1510, in Augsburg, while in conversation with the Ferrarese
ambassador, Girolamo Cassola--having discussed the ladies and the
festivities of Augsburg at length--he questioned the ambassador about
the women of Italy, and especially about those of Ferrara, whereupon
"much was said regarding the good qualities of our duchess. I spoke of
her beauty, her graciousness, her modesty, and her virtues. The emperor
asked me what other beauties there were in Ferrara, and I named Donna
Diana and Donna Agnola, one the sister and the other the wife of Ercole
d'Este." Such was the report the ambassador sent to Ferrara.[217]

Lucretia's nature had become more composed, thanks to the stability of
the world to which she now belonged and owing to the important duties
she now had, and only rarely was it disturbed by any reminder of her
experiences in Rome. The death of Giovanni Sforza of Pesaro, however, in
1510, served to recall her early life.

On returning to his State, Sforza had been confirmed in its possession
as a vassal of the Church by a bull of Julius II. He endeavored to rule
wisely, made many improvements, and strengthened the castle of Pesaro.
He was a cultivated man given over to the study of philosophy. Ratti, a
biographer of the house of Sforza, mentions a catalogue which he
compiled of the entire archives of Pesaro. In 1504 he married a noble
Venetian, Ginevra, of the house of Tiepolo, whose acquaintance he had
made while in exile. November 4, 1505, she bore him a son,

What were his exact relations with the Este, with whom he was connected,
we do not know, although they, doubtless, were not altogether pleasant.
Sforza could not have found much pleasure in life, for his famous house
was fast becoming extinct, and he could not foresee a long future for
his race. He died peacefully July 27, 1510, in the castle of Gradara,
where he had been in the habit of spending much of his time alone.

As his son was still a small child his natural brother Galeazzo, who
had married Ginevra, a daughter of Ercole Bentivoglio, assumed the
government of Pesaro. Giovanni's child died August 15, 1512, whereupon
Pope Julius II withdrew his support from Galeazzo, and forced the last
of the Sforza of Pesaro to enter into an agreement by which, October 30,
1512, he surrendered the castle and domain to Francesco Maria Rovere,
who had been Duke of Urbino since the death of Guidobaldo in April,
1508. Pesaro therefore was united with this State. Galeazzo died in
Milan in 1515, having made the Duke Maximilian Sforza his heir. The line
of the lords of Pesaro thus became extinct, for Giovanni Sforza had left
only a natural daughter, Isabella, who in 1520 married Sernigi Cipriano,
a noble Florentine, and who died in Rome in 1561, famous for her culture
and intellect. Her epitaph may still be read on a stone in the wall of
the passageway behind the tribune in the Lateran basilica.[219]

The death of Lucretia's first husband must have vividly reminded her of
the wrong she had done him, because she had now reached the age when
frivolity no longer dulled conscience; but the times were so troublous
that she directed her thoughts into other channels. August 9, 1510, a
few days after the death of Sforza, Julius II placed Alfonso under his
ban and declared that he had forfeited all his Church fiefs. The Pope
again took up the plans of his uncle Sixtus, who, in conjunction with
the Venetians, had schemed to wrest Ferrara from the Este. After the
Venetians had appeased him by withdrawing from the cities of Romagna, he
had made peace with the Republic, and commanded Alfonso to withdraw from
the League and to cease warring against Venice. The duke refused, and
this was the reason for the ban. Ferrara thereupon, together with
France, found itself drawn into a ruinous war which led to the famous
battle of Ravenna, April 1, 1512, which was won by Alfonso's artillery.

It was during this war, and on the occasion of the attempt of Julius II
to capture Ferrara by surprise, that the famous Bayard made the
acquaintance of Lucretia. After the French cavaliers, with their
companions in arms, the Ferrarese, had captured the fortress they
returned in triumph to Ferrara where they were received with the
greatest honors. In remembrance of this occasion the biographer Bayard
wrote in praise of Lucretia as follows: "The good duchess received the
French before all the others with every mark of favor. She is a pearl in
this world. She daily gave the most wonderful festivals and banquets in
the Italian fashion. I venture to say that neither in her time nor for
many years before has there been such a glorious princess, for she is
beautiful and good, gentle and amiable to everyone, and nothing is more
certain than this, that, although her husband is a skilful and brave
prince, the above-named lady, by her graciousness, has been of great
service to him."[220]

Owing to the death of Gaston de Foix at the battle of Ravenna, the
victory of the French turned to defeat and the rout of the Pope into
victory. Alfonso finding himself defenseless, hastened to Rome in July,
1512, to ask forgiveness from Julius, and, although this was accorded
him, he was saved from destruction, or a fate similar to Cæsar Borgia's,
only by secret flight. With the help of the Colonna, who conducted him
to Marino, he reached Ferrara in disguise.

These were anxious days for Lucretia; for, while she was trembling for
the life of her husband, she received news of the death, abroad, of her
son. August 28, 1512, the Mantuan agent Stazio Gadio wrote his master
Gonzaga from Rome, saying news had reached there that the Duke of
Biselli, son of the Duchess of Ferrara and Don Alfonso of Aragon, had
died at Bari, where he was living under the care of the duchess of that
place.[221] Lucretia herself gave this information to a person whose
name is not known, in a letter dated October 1st, saying, "I am wholly
lost in bitterness and tears on account of the death of the Duke of
Biselli, my dearest son, concerning which the bearer of this will give
you further particulars."[222]

We do not know how the unfortunate Rodrigo spent the first years
following Alexander's death and Cæsar's exile in Spain, but there is
ground for believing that he was left in Naples under the guardianship
of the cardinals Ludovico Borgia and Romolini of Sorrento. By virtue of
a previous agreement, the King of Spain recognized Lucretia's son as
Duke of Biselli, and there is an official document of September, 1505,
according to which the representative of the little duke placed his oath
of allegiance in the hands of the two cardinals above named.[223]
Rodrigo may have been brought up by his aunt, Donna Sancia, for she was
living with her husband in the kingdom of Naples, where Don Giuffrè had
been confirmed in the possession of his property. Sancia died childless
in the year 1506, just as Ferdinand the Catholic appeared in Naples. The
king, consequently, appropriated a large part of Don Giuffrè's estates,
although the latter remained Prince of Squillace. He married a second
time and left several heirs. Of his end we know nothing. One of his
grandchildren, Anna de Borgia, Princess of Squillace, the last of her
race, brought these estates to the house of Gandia by her marriage with
Don Francesco Borgia at the beginning of the seventeenth century.

It may have been on the death of Sancia that Rodrigo was placed under
the protection of another aunt, Isabella d'Aragona, his father's eldest
sister, the most unfortunate woman of the age, wife of Giangaleazzo of
Milan, who had been poisoned by Ludovico il Moro. The figure of Isabella
of Milan is the most tragic in the history of Italy of the period
beginning with the invasion of Charles VIII--an epoch filled with a
series of disasters that involved every dynasty of the country. For she
was affected at one and the same time by the fall of two great houses,
that of Sforza and that of Aragon. The saying of Caracciolo in his work,
_De varietate fortunæ_, regarding the Sforza, namely, that there is no
tragedy however terrible for which this house would not furnish an
abundance of material may well be applied to both these families.
Isabella had beheld the fall of her once mighty house, and she had seen
her own son Francesco seized and taken to France by Louis XII, where he
died, a priest, in his early manhood. She herself had retired to Bari, a
city which Ludovico il Moro had given up to her in 1499, and of which
she remained duchess until her death, February 11, 1524.

Donna Isabella had taken Lucretia's son to herself, and from the records
of the household expenses of the Duchess of Ferrara it appears that he
was with her in Bari in March, 1505, for on the twenty-sixth of that
month there is the following entry: "A suit of damask and brocade which
her Majesty sent her son Don Rodrigo in Bari as a present."[224] April
3d his mother sent his tutor, Baldassare Bonfiglio, who had come to
Naples, back to him. This man is named in the register under date of
February 25, 1506, as tutor of Don Giovanni. It appears, therefore, that
this child also was in Bari, and was being educated with his playfellow
Rodrigo. In October, 1506, we find the little Giovanni in Carpi, where
he was probably placed at the court of the Pio. From there Lucretia had
him brought to the court of Ferrara on the date mentioned. She therefore
was allowed to have this mysterious infante, but not her own child
Rodrigo, with her. In November, 1506, Giovanni must again have been in
Carpi, for Lucretia sent him some fine linen apparel to that place.[225]

Both children were together again in Bari in April, 1508, for in the
record of the household expenses the expenditures for both, beginning
with May of that year, are given together, and a certain Don Bartolommeo
Grotto is mentioned as instructor to both.[226] The son of Lucretia and
of the murdered Alfonso, therefore, died in the home of Donna Isabella
in Bari, which was not far from his hereditary duchy of Biselli.

We have a letter written by this unhappy Princess Isabella a few weeks
after the death of the youthful Rodrigo, to Perot Castellar, Governor of

     MONSIGNOR PEROT: We write this merely to ask you to compel
     those of Corato to pay us what they have to pay, from the revenue
     of the illustrious Duke of Biselli, our nephew of blessed memory,
     for shortly a bill will come from the illustrious Duchess of
     Ferrara, and in case the money is not ready we might be caused
     great inconvenience. Those of Corato may delay, and we might be
     compelled to find the money at once. Therefore you must see to it
     that we are not subjected to any further inconvenience, and that we
     are paid immediately; for by so doing you will oblige us, and we
     offer ourselves to your service.

  ISABELLA OF ARAGON, Duchess of Milan, alone in

  BARI, _October 14, 1592_.

Rodrigo's[228] mother laid claim to the property he left, which, as is
shown by certain documents, she recovered from Isabella d'Aragona as
guardian of the deceased, to the amount of several thousand ducats. To
do this she was forced to engage in a long suit, and as late as March,
1518, she sent her agent, Giacomo Naselli, to Rome and Naples regarding
it. His report to Cardinal Ippolito is still in existence.

Whatever were the circumstances which had compelled Lucretia to send her
son away, on whom, as we have shown, she always lavished her maternal
care, the unfortunate child's experience will always be a blot on her


[216] Campori; Una Vittima della Storia; Antonio Capelli, Lettere di L.
Ariosto, Introduction, p. lxi. Also W. Gilbert, Lucrezia Borgia, Duchess
of Ferrara, ii, 240.

[217] Despatch of Girolamo Cassola, Augsburg, February 27, 1510.
Archives of Modena.

[218] This he announced to the Marchese Gonzaga from Pesaro, November 4,
1505. Archives of Mantua.

[219] Copies of the following instruments concerning the last Sforza of
Pesaro are in the archives of Florence: will of Giovanni Sforza, July
24, 1510; agreement between Galeazzo and the Papal Legate, October 30,
1512; Galeazzo's will, March 23, 1515; Isabella's marriage contract,
Pesaro, September 29, 1520. The epitaph in the Lateran is as follows:
Isabellas Sfortiæ Joannis Pisaurensium P. Feminæ Sui Temporis Prudentia
Ac Pietate Insigni Exec. Test. P. Vix. Ann LVII. M. VII. D. III Obiit
Ann. MDLXI. XI Kal. Febr. Consensu Nobilium De Mutis De Papazurris.
Above is a profile in marble.

[220] J'ose bien dire que, de son temps, ni beaucoup avant, il ne s'est
point trouvé de plus triomphante princesse, car elle était belle, bonne,
douce et courtoise, à toutes gens. Le Loyal Serviteur Histoire du bon
Chevalier, le seigneur de Bayard, chap. xlv.

[221] Despatch of this ambassador in the archives of Mantua.

[222] Per trovarmi tuttavia involta in lachryme et amaritudine per la
morte del Duca di Biselli mio figliolo carrissimo.

[223] The instrument is in the Liber Arrendamentorum, from Lucretia's

[224] El quale zipon de Dernascho e brochato, sua Signoria el manda a
donare a don Rodrigo suo figliolo a Barri.

[225] October 24, 1506. Spesa per un nocchiero, che ha condotto Don
Giovanni Borgia de Finale a Ferrara. November 5, 1506. Tela di renso
sottile per far camicie mandato a Carpi al sig. Don Giovanni Borgia.

[226] May 15, 1508. Berette per Don Giovanni e Don Rodrigo Borgia. May
25th. Spesa per guanti a Don Giovanni e Don Rodrigo Borgia. October
16th. Bartolommeo Grotto, maestro de li ragazzi, per pagare certi libri
zoè Donati e regule per detti ragazzi. December 15. Per un Virgilio
comprato da Don Bartolommeo Grotto a don Giovanni.

[227] Unica in disgracia.

[228] Letters in the Este archives show that there was another Don
Rodrigo Borgia, who, in the year 1518, was described as the "brother" of
the Duchess Lucretia, and was then under the care of tutors in Salerno.
His guardians were Madama Elisabetta--who may have been his mother--and
her daughter Giulia. Lucretia, to whom the letters of Giovanni Cases
(Rome, May 12, September 3, 1518) and another by Don Giorgio de Ferrara
(Rome, December, 1518,) are addressed, seems to have acted as a mother
to this child. This second Rodrigo died, a young clerk, in 1527. August
30th of that year the Ferrarese ambassador in Naples, Baldassare da
Fino, wrote from Posilipo as follows: Lo Illmo et Rev. Signor Don
Rodrico de Casa Borgia, stando in Ciciano, cum la Signora Madama sua
matre, sono da 15 giorni che, prima vexato da Febre continua, se ne
morse--a sheet without any address, in the archives of Modena. Again, in
January, 1535, this deceased son of Alexander VI is mentioned in a
report sent from Rome, which contains the following words: Era venuta
nuovamente un Vescovo fratello di Don Roderico Borgia, figliuolo che fu
di Papa Alessandro.... Avvisi di Roma. State archives of Modena.



The war about Ferrara, thanks to Alfonso's skill and the determined
resistance of the State, had ended. Julius II had seized Modena and
Reggio, which was a great loss to the State of Ferrara, and consequently
the history of that country for many years hence is taken up with her
efforts to regain these cities. Fortunately for Alfonso, Julius II died
in February, 1513, and Leo X ascended the papal throne. Hitherto he had
maintained friendly relations with the princes of Urbino and Ferrara,
who continued to look for only amicable treatment from him; but both
houses were destined to be bitterly deceived by the faithless Medici,
who deceived all the world. Alfonso hastened to attend Leo's coronation
in Rome, and, believing a complete reconciliation with the Holy See
would soon be effected, he returned to Ferrara.

There Lucretia had won universal esteem and affection; she had become
the mother of the people. She lent a ready ear to the suffering and
helped all who were in need. Famine, high prices, and depletion of the
treasury were the consequences of the war; Lucretia had even pawned her
jewels. She put aside, as Jovius says, "the pomps and vanities of the
world to which she had been accustomed from childhood, and gave herself
up to pious works, and founded convents and hospitals. This was due as
much to her own nature as it was to her past life and the fate she
had suffered. Most women who have lived much and loved much finally
become fanatics; bigotry is often only the last form which feminine
vanity assumes. The recollection of a world of vice, and of crimes
committed by her nearest kinsmen, and also of her own sins, must have
constantly disturbed Lucretia's conscience. Other women who, like her,
were among the chief characters in the history of the Borgias developed
precisely the same frame of mind and experienced a similar need of
religious consolation. Cæsar's widow ended her life in a convent;
Gandia's did the same; Alexander's mistress became a fanatic; and if we
had any record of the adulteress Giulia Farnese we should certainly find
that she passed the closing years of her life either as a saint in a
convent or engaged in pious works."

[Illustration: LEO X.

From an engraving published in 1580.]

The year 1513, following the war in Ferarra, marked a decided change in
Lucretia's life, for from that time it took a special religious turn. It
did not, however, degenerate into bigotry or fanaticism; this was
prevented by the vigorous Alfonso and her children, and by her court
duties. The war had deprived Ferrara of much of its brilliancy, although
it was still one of the most attractive of the princely courts of Italy.
During the following years of peace Alfonso devoted himself to the
cultivation of the arts. The most famous masters of Ferrara--Dossi,
Garofalo, and Michele Costa--worked for him in the castle, in
Belriguardo, and Belfiore. Titian, who was frequently a guest in
Ferrara, executed some paintings for him, and the duke likewise gave
Raphael some commissions. He even founded a museum of antiquities. In
Lucretia's cabinet there was a Cupid by Michael Angelo. The predilection
of the duchess for the fine arts, however, was not very strong; in this
respect she was not to be compared with her sister-in-law, Isabella of
Mantua, who maintained constant relations with all the prominent artists
of the age and had her agents in all the large cities of Italy to keep
her informed regarding noteworthy productions in the domain of the arts.

From 1513 Ferrara's brilliancy was somewhat dimmed by the greater fame
of the court of Leo X. The passion of this member of the Medici family
for the arts attracted to Rome the most brilliant men of Italy, among
whom were the poets Tebaldeo, Sadoleto, and Bembo--the last became Leo's
secretary. Both the Strozzi were dead. Aldo, upon whose career as a
printer and scholar during his early years Lucretia had not been without
influence, was living in Venice, and from there he kept up a literary
correspondence with his patroness. Celio Calcagnini remained true to
Ferrara. The university continued to flourish. Lucretia was very
friendly with the noble Venetian, Trissino, Ariosto's not altogether
successful rival in epic poetry. There are in existence five letters
written by Trissino to Lucretia in her last years.[229] Ferrara's pride,
however, was Ariosto, and Lucretia knew him when he was at the zenith of
his fame. He, however, dedicated his poem neither to her nor to Alfonso,
but to the unworthy Cardinal Ippolito, in whose service a combination of
circumstances had placed him. No princely house was ever glorified more
highly than was the house of Este by Ariosto, for the _Orlando Furioso_
will cause it to be remembered for all time; so long as the Italian
language endures it will hold an immortal place in literature. Lucretia
too was given a position of honor in the poem; but however beautiful the
place which she there holds, Ariosto ought to have bestowed greater
praise on her if she was the inspiration which he required for his great

Lucretia's relations with her husband, which had never been based upon
love, and which were not of a passionate nature, apparently continued to
grow more favorable for her. In April, 1514, she had borne him a third
son, Alessandro, who died at the age of two years; July 4, 1515, she
bore a daughter, Leonora, and November 1, 1516, another son, Francesco.
With no little satisfaction Alfonso found himself the father of a number
of children--all his legitimate heirs. He was engrossed in his own
affairs, but, nevertheless, he was highly pleased with the esteem and
admiration now bestowed upon his wife. While the admiration she excited
in former years was due to her youthful beauty, it was now owing to her
virtues. She who was once the most execrated woman of her age had won a
place of the highest honor. Caviceo even ventured, when he wished to
praise the famous Isabella Gonzaga, to say that she approached the
perfection of Lucretia. Her past, apparently, was so completely
forgotten that even her name, Borgia, was always mentioned with respect.

About this time Lucretia was reminded of her life in Rome by a member of
her family who was very near to her, Giovanni Borgia, the mysterious
Infante of Rome, formerly Duke of Nepi and Camerino, and companion in
destiny of the little Rodrigo who died in Bari. He had disappeared from
the stage in 1508, and where he was during several succeeding years we
do not know; but in 1517, a young man of nineteen or twenty, he came
from Naples to Romagna, where he was shipwrecked. His baggage had been
saved by the commune of Pesaro, and was claimed by a representative of
Lucretia, December 2d; in the legal document Giovanni Borgia was
described as her "brother." Other instruments show that he remained at
his sister's court as late as December, 1517.[230] Her husband,
therefore, did not refuse to allow her to shelter her kinsman. In
December, 1518, Don Giovanni went to France, where the Duke Alfonso had
him presented to the king. Lucretia had given him presents to take to
the king and queen.[231]

He remained at the French court some time for the purpose of making his
fortune, in which, however, he did not succeed.

Thereupon the Infante of Rome again disappeared from view until the year
1530, when we find him in Rome, laying claim to the Duchy of Camerino.
The last Varano, Giammaria, had returned thither on Cæsar's overthrow,
and had been recognized by Julius II as a vassal of the Church. In
April, 1515, Leo X made him Duke of Camerino and married him to his own
niece, the beautiful Catarina Cibò. Giammaria died in August, 1527,
leaving as his sole heir his daughter Giulia, who was not yet of age. An
illegitimate son of the house of Varano laid claim to Camerino, and he
was ready to enforce his demands with arms, but he was frustrated in his
attempt by a suit brought by Giovanni Borgia, the first duke, who was
supported by Alfonso of Ferrara in his efforts. He furnished him with
several documents dating from the time of Alexander VI which referred to
his rights to Camerino, and which had been placed by Lucretia in the
chancellery of the house of Este. Don Giovanni had even gone to Charles
V, in Bologna, where the famous congress had been sitting since
December, 1529. The emperor had advised him to endeavor to secure his
rights by process of law in Rome, through the Pope. From that city, in
1530, the infante wrote a letter to Duke Alfonso, in which he informed
him of his affairs, and asked him to have further search made in the
archives of the Este for documents concerning himself.

Don Giovanni began suit. In a voluminous document dated June 29, 1530,
he describes himself not only as Domicellus Romanus Principalis, but
also as "orator of the Pope." From this it appears that he--one of the
illegitimate sons of Alexander VI--was a prominent gentleman in Rome,
and was even in the Pope's service. The Roman Ruota decided the suit
against Giovanni, who had to pay the costs. In a brief dated June 7,
1532, Clement VII commanded him to cease annoying Giulia Varano and her
mother with any further claims.[232] From that time we hear nothing more
of this Borgia except from a letter written in Rome, November 19, 1547,
apparently by a Ferrarese agent to Ercole II, then reigning duke. In it
he mentions the death of Don Giovanni. The letter is as follows:

     Don Giovanni Borgia has just died in Genoa; it is said he left many
     thousand ducats in Valencia. Here (in Rome) he had a little
     clothing, two horses, and a vineyard worth about three hundred
     ducats. As he left no will the property will be divided between
     your Excellency, your brothers, and among others the nobles of the
     Mattei family here, the Duke of Gandia, and the children of the
     Duke of Valentino, provided their rights are not prejudiced by the
     fact that they are natural children. I will not omit to inform
     myself regarding the money in Valencia, and will report to your


[229] Printed in the Italian edition of Roscoe's Life of Leo X, vii,

[230] Cittadella N 31. She endeavored to secure the Prebend of S. Jacopo
for him. In her record of household expenses there are entries of
purchases of clothing for him, beginning with December 23, 1517.

[231] Two golden bracelets--per donare alla Regina de Franza, 27 Aprile,
1518; other articles of personal adornment--mandati per lo Illmo D.
Joanne Borgia al Re de Franza (November 16, 1518). The ambassadors Carlo
da Correggio and Pistofilo Bonaventura informed Lucretia of his
favorable reception at the court of France, in letters dated December,
1518, and January to March, 1519. State archives of Modena.

[232] Documents in the State archives of Florence, among the papers
regarding Urbino. CI. I. Div. C. Fil. xiv. In 1534 Giulia Varano married
Guidobaldo II of Urbino and brought him Camerino, which, however, he was
compelled to relinquish in 1539 to Paul III, who gave it to his nephew
Octavio Farnese.

[233] Copia di una lettera da Roma di 19 Novembre, 1547. State archives
of Modena.



In the same year that this her father's last son appeared at her court
Lucretia also learned of the death of her mother. Vannozza was already a
widow when Alexander VI died. During his last illness she had placed
herself under the protection of the troops of her son Cæsar. This she
was able to do as he himself was sick at the same time. There are
documents in existence which show that immediately after Alexander's
death, and while the papal throne was vacant, she was living in the
palace of the Cardinal of S. Clemente in the Borgo. As Cæsar was
compelled to betake himself to Nepi she accompanied him thither, and on
the election of Piccolomini she returned to the papal city.

She did not follow her sons to Naples, but remained in Rome, where
affairs became normal after the election of Rovere to the papacy. The
retainers of the Borgia feared that certain suits would be brought
against them. March 6, 1504, a chamberlain of Cardinal S. Angelo, who
had been poisoned, was condemned to death, and in a loud voice he
proclaimed that he had committed the murder on the explicit command of
Alexander and Cæsar.[234] Cardinals Romolini and Ludovico Borgia at once
fled to Naples. Don Micheletto, the man who executed Cæsar's bloody
orders, was a prisoner in the castle of S. Angelo. The Venetian
ambassador, Giustinian, informed his government in May, 1504, that
Micheletto was charged with having caused the death of a number of
persons, among them the Duke of Gandia, Varano of Camerino, Astorre and
Ottaviano Manfredi, the Duke of Biselli, the youthful Bernardino of
Sermoneta, and the Bishop of Cagli. Micheletto was brought before the
representatives of the Senate for examination. He was placed upon the
rack and confessed, among other things, that it was the Pope Alexander
himself who had given the command for the murder of the youthful Alfonso
of Biselli. This the magistrate immediately reported to Ferrara.[235]

As Cæsar was out of the way, Vannozza was still able to reckon on the
protection of certain powerful friends, especially the Farnese, the
Cesarini, and several cardinals. She feared her property would be
confiscated, for the title to much of it was questionable. Early in 1504
Ludovico Mattei charged her with having stolen, in March, 1503, through
her paid servants, eleven hundred and sixty sheep while Cæsar was
carrying on his war against the Orsini. These sheep had been sent by
Maria d'Aragona, wife of Giovanni Giordano Orsini, to Mattei's pastures
for safety. Vannozza was found guilty.[236]

She endeavored in every way to save her property. December 4, 1503, she
gave the Church of S. Maria del Popolo a deed of her house on the Piazza
Pizzo di Merlo and of her family chapel, reserving the use of it during
her life. The Augustinians on their part bound themselves to say a mass
for Carlo Canale March 24th, another October 13th for Giorgio di Croce,
and a third on the day of Vannozza's own death. In this instrument she
calls herself widow of Carlo Canale of Mantua, apostolic secretary of
the deceased Alexander VI, and she speaks of Giorgio di Croce as her
first husband. This deed was executed in the Borgo of St. Peter's in the
residence of Agapitus of Emelia.[237] From this it appears that at the
close of December Vannozza was still living in the Borgo, and under the
protection of her son's own chancellor, while Cæsar himself was a
prisoner in the Torre Borgia in the Vatican, and not until he left Rome
forever did she remove from the Borgo.

April 1, 1504, a dwelling on the Piazza of the Holy Apostles in the
Trevi quarter, which was situated in a district where the Colonna were
all-powerful, was specified as her residence. The Colonna had suffered
less than others from Cæsar, and by virtue of an agreement made with him
they were enabled to retain their property after the death of Alexander.
Vannozza had sold certain other houses which she owned to the Roman
Giuliano de Lenis, and April 1, 1504, he annulled the sale, declaring
that it was only through fear of force in consequence of the death of
Alexander that it had taken place.[238]

As she now had nothing more to fear, she again took up her abode in the
house on the Piazza Branca, as is shown by an instrument of November,
1502, in which she is described as "Donna Vannozza de Cataneis of the
Regola Quarter," where this house was situated. This document is
regarding a complaint which the goldsmith Nardo Antonazzi of this same
quarter had lodged against her.

The artist demanded payment for a silver cross which he had made for
Vannozza in the year 1500; he charged her with having appropriated this
work of art without paying for it, which, he stated, frequently happened
"at the time when the Duke of Valentino controlled the whole city and
nearly all of Italy." We have not all the documents bearing on the case,
but from the statements of witnesses for the accused it appears that she
had grounds for bringing a suit for libel.[239]

While Vannozza may not have been actually placed in possession of the
castle of Bleda near Viterbo by Alexander VI, some of its appanages were
allotted to her. July 6, 1513, she complained to the Cardinal-Vicar
Rafael Riario that the commune of the place was withholding certain sums
of money which, she claimed, belonged to her. This document, which is on
parchment, is couched in pompous phraseology and is addressed to all the
magistrates of the world by name and title.[240]

Vannozza lived to witness the changes in affairs in the Vatican under
three of Alexander's successors. There the Rovere and the Medici
occupied the place once held by her own all-powerful children. She saw
the Papacy changing into a secular power, and she must have known that
but for Alexander and Cæsar it could never have done this. If,
perchance, she saw from a distance the mighty Julius II, for example,
when he returned to Rome after seizing Bologna, entering the city with
the pomp of an emperor, this woman, lost in the multitude, must have
exclaimed with bitter irony that her own son Cæsar had a part in this
triumph, and that he had been instrumental in raising Julius II to the
Papacy. It must have been a source of no little satisfaction to her to
know that this pope recognized her son's importance when he wrote to the
Florentines in November, 1503, saying that "on account of the preeminent
virtues and great services of the Duke of Romagna" he loved him with a
father's love. She may also have been acquainted with Macchiavelli's
"Prince," in which the genial statesman describes Cæsar as the ideal

Although the power of the Borgias had passed away and their children
were either dead or scattered, their greatness was felt in the city as
long as Vannozza lived. Her past experiences caused her to be looked
upon as one of the most noteworthy personalities of Rome, where every
one was curious to make her acquaintance. If we may compare two persons
who differed in greatness, but whose destinies and positions were not
dissimilar, it might be said that Vannozza at that time occupied the
same position in Rome in which Letitia Bonaparte found herself after the
overthrow of her powerful offspring.

She looked with pride on her daughter, the Duchess of Ferrara, "la plus
triomphante princesse," as the biographer Bayard calls her. She never
saw her again, for she would scarcely have ventured to undertake a
journey to Ferrara, but she continued to correspond with her. In the
archives of the house of Este are nine letters written by Vannozza in
the years 1515, 1516, and 1517. Seven of them are addressed to Cardinal
Ippolito and two to Lucretia. These letters are not in her own
handwriting but are dictated. They disclose a powerful will, a cast of
mind that might be described as rude and egotistical, and an insinuating
character. They are devoted chiefly to practical matters and to
requests of various sorts. On one occasion she sent the cardinal a
present of two antique columns which had been exhumed in her vineyard.
She also kept up her intercourse with her son Giuffrè, Prince of
Squillace. In 1515 she had received his ten-year-old son into her house
in Rome apparently for the purpose of educating him.[241]

An expression which Vannozza used in signing her letters defines her
attitude and position,--"The fortunate and unfortunate Vannozza de
Cataneis," or "Your fortunate and unfortunate mother, Vannozza
Borgia,"--she used the family name in her private affairs, but not

Her last letter to Lucretia, written December 19, 1515, which refers to
her son Cæsar's former secretary, Agapitus of Emelia, is as follows:

     ILLUSTRIOUS LADY: My greeting and respects. Your
     Excellency will certainly remember favorably the services of Messer
     Agapitus of Emelia to his Excellency our duke, and the love which
     he has always shown us. It is, therefore, meet that his kinsmen be
     helped and advanced in every way possible. Shortly before his death
     he relinquished all his benefices in favor of his nephew
     Giambattista of Aquila; among them are some in the bishopric of
     Capua which are worth very little. If your Excellency wishes to do
     me a kindness I will ask you, for the reasons above mentioned, to
     interest yourself in behalf of these nephews to whom I have
     referred. Nicola, the bearer of this, who is himself a nephew of
     Agapitus, will explain to your Excellency at length what should be
     done. And now farewell to your Excellency, to whom I commend

  ROME, _December 19, 1515_.

     POSTSCRIPT: In this matter your Excellency will do as you
     think best, as I have written the above from a sense of
     obligation. Therefore you may do only what you know will please his
     Worthiness and, so far as the present is concerned, you may answer
     as you see fit.

  VANNOZZA, who prays for you constantly.

Vannozza clearly was an honor to the Borgia school of diplomacy.

Agapitus dei Gerardi, who wrote so many of Cæsar's letters and
documents, had remained true to the Borgias, as is shown by this letter,
until his death, which occurred in Rome, August 2, 1515. Vannozza, of a
truth, had seen many of the former friends, flatterers, and parasites of
her house desert it; but a number, among whom were several important
personages, remained true. She, as mother of the Duchess of Ferrara, was
still able to exert some influence; she was living a respectable life,
in comfortable circumstances, as a woman of position, and was described
as _la magnifica e nobile_ Madanna Vannozza. She also kept up her
relations with such of the cardinals as were Spaniards and relatives of
Alexander VI, or who were his creatures. She survived most of them. Of
the two cardinals Giovanni Borgia, one had passed away in 1500, the
other in 1503; Francesco and Ludovico died in 1511 and 1512
respectively. Cardinal Giuliano Cesarini passed away in 1510. Vannozza,
in fact, survived all the favorites and creatures of Alexander in the
College of Cardinals with the exception of Farnese, Adrian Castellesi,
and d'Albret,--Cæsar's brother-in-law.

By that sort of piety to which senescent female sinners everywhere and
at all times devote themselves she secured new friends. She was an
active fanatic and was constantly seen in the churches, at the
confessionals, and in intimate intercourse with the pious brothers and
hospitalers. In this way she made the acquaintance of Paul Jovius, who
describes her as an upright woman (donna dabbene). If she had lived
another decade she would probably have been canonized. She endowed a
number of religious foundations--the hospitals of S. Salvator in the
Lateran, of S. Maria in Porticu, the Consolazione for the Company of the
Annunziata in the Minerva, and the S. Lorenzo in Damaso, as is shown by
her will, which is dated January 15, 1517.[242]

For years there were inscriptions in the hospitals of the Lateran and of
the Consolazione which referred to her endowments and also to provisions
for masses on the anniversaries of her death and those of her two

Vannozza died in Rome, November 26, 1518. Her death did not pass
unnoticed, as the following letter, written by a Venetian, shows:

     The day before yesterday died Madonna Vannozza, once the mistress
     of Pope Alexander and mother of the Duchess of Ferrara and the Duke
     of Valentino. That night I happened to be at a place where I heard
     the death announced, according to the Roman custom, in the
     following formal words: 'Messer Paolo gives notice of the death of
     Madonna Vannozza, mother of the Duke of Gandia; she belonged to the
     Gonfalone Company.' She was buried yesterday in S. Maria del
     Popolo, with the greatest honors,--almost like a cardinal. She was
     sixty-six years of age. She left all her property,--which was not
     inconsiderable,--to S. Giovanni in Laterano. The Pope's chamberlain
     attended the obsequies, which was unusual.[243]

Marcantonio Altieri, one of the foremost men of Rome, who was guardian
of the Company of the Gonfalone _ad Sancta Sanctorum_, and as such made
an inventory of the property of the brotherhood in 1527, drew up a
memorial regarding her, the manuscript of which is still preserved in
the archives of the association, and is as follows:

     We must not forget the endowments made by the respected and honored
     lady, Madonna Vannozza of the house of Catanei, the happy mother of
     the illustrious gentlemen, the Duke of Gandia, the Duke of
     Valentino, the Prince of Squillace, and of Madonna Lucretia,
     Duchess of Ferrara. As she wished to endow the Company with her
     worldly goods she gave it her jewels, which were of no slight
     value, and so much more that the Company in a few years was able to
     discharge certain obligations, with the help also of the noble
     gentlemen, Messer Mariano Castellano, and my dear Messer Rafael
     Casale, who had recently been guardians. She made an agreement with
     the great and famous silversmith Caradosso by which she gave him
     two thousand ducats so that he with his magnificent work of art
     might gratify the wish of that noble and honorable woman. In
     addition she left us so much property that we shall be able to take
     care of the annual rent of four hundred ducats and also feed the
     poor and the sick, who, unfortunately, are very numerous. Out of
     gratitude for her piety and devout mind and for these endowments
     our honorable society unanimously and cheerfully decided not only
     to celebrate her obsequies with magnificent pomp, but also to honor
     the deceased with a proud and splendid monument. It was also
     decided from that time forth to have mass said on the anniversary
     of her death in the Church del Popolo, where she is buried, and to
     provide for other ceremonies, with an attendance of men bearing
     torches and tapers, in all devotion, for the purpose of commending
     her soul's salvation to God, and also to show the world that we
     hate and loathe ingratitude.

Thus this woman's vanity led her to provide for a ceremonious funeral;
she wanted all Rome to talk of her on that day as the mistress of
Alexander VI and the mother of so many famous children. Leo X bestowed
an official character upon her funeral by having his court attend it; by
doing this he recognized Vannozza either as the widow of Alexander VI
or as the mother of the Duchess of Ferrara. As the Company of the
Gonfalone was composed of the foremost burghers and nobles of Rome,
almost the entire city attended her funeral. Vannozza was buried in S.
Maria del Popolo in her family chapel, by the side of her unfortunate
son Giovanni, Duke of Gandia. We do not know whether a marble monument
was erected to her memory, but the following inscription was placed over
her grave by her executor: "To Vanotia Catanea, mother of the Duke Cæsar
of Valentino, Giovanni of Gandia, Giuffrè of Squillace, and Lucretia of
Ferrara, conspicuous for her uprightness, her piety, her discretion, and
her intelligence, and deserving much on account of what she did for the
Lateran Hospital. Erected by Hieronymus Picus, fiduciary-commissioner
and executor of her will. She lived seventy-seven years, four months,
and thirteen days. She died in the year 1518, November 26th."

Vannozza doubtless had passed away believing that she had expiated her
sins and purchased heaven with gold and silver and pious legacies. She
had even purchased the pomp of a ceremonious funeral and a lie which was
graven deep on her tombstone. For more than two hundred years the
priests in S. Maria del Popolo sang masses for the repose of her soul,
and when they ceased it was perhaps less owing to their conviction that
enough of them had been said for this woman than from a growing belief
in the trustworthiness of historical criticism. Later, owing either to
hate or a sense of shame, her very tombstone disappeared, not a trace of
it being left.


[234] Despatch of Beltrando Costabili to Ercole, Rome, March 7, 1504.

[235] Magnifico et prestanti viro maiori honorandmo D. Ludovico
Romanellio Ducali Secretario Ferrarie. Omissis. Il Papa mi ha mandato
Don Michiele il quale habiamo cominciato examinare cum turtura de queste
sue sceleranze fin qui [=e] sta saldo et nulla confessa non so m[=o] se
fara cussi in futurum. Omissis. Dixe che Papa Alexandro fù quello che
fece ammazzare Don Alfonso, marito che fù della Ducessa. Rome XX. Lulii,
1504. Thadeus Locumtenens Senatus. In the archives of Modena.

[236] The documents are in the archives of the Sancta Sanctorum.

[237] Act of December 4, 1503, in the same archives.

[238] Archives of the Sancta Sanctorum. The instrument is dated April 1,

[239] Archives of the Sancta Sanctorum.

[240] Ibid.

[241] This was reported to Cardinal Ippolito by Girolamo Sacrati from
Rome, November 2, 1515. Archives of Modena.

[242] Vannozza's will, in the archives of the Capitol, Cred. xiv, T. 72,
p. 305, among the instruments drawn by the notary Andrea Carosi.

[243] In the diary of Marino Sanuto, vol. xxvi, fol. 135.



The State of Ferrara again found itself in serious difficulties, for Leo
X, following the example of Alexander VI, was trying to build up a
kingdom for his nephew Lorenzo de' Medici. As early as 1516 Leo had made
him Duke of Urbino, having expelled Guidobaldo's legitimate heirs from
their city. Francesco Maria Rovere, his wife, and his adopted mother,
Elisabetta, were in Mantua,--the asylum of all exiled princes. Leo was
consuming with a desire also to drive the Este out of Ferrara, and it
was only the protection of France that saved Alfonso from a war with the
Pope. The duke, to whom the Pope refused to restore the cities of Modena
and Reggio, therefore went to the court of Louis XII in November, 1518,
for the purpose of interesting him in his affairs. In February, 1519, he
returned to Ferrara, where he learned of the death of his
brother-in-law, the Marchese Francesco Gonzaga, of Mantua, which
occurred February 20th. The last of March Lucretia wrote to his widow,
Isabella, as follows:

     The great loss by death of your Excellency's husband, of blessed
     memory, has caused me such profound grief, that instead of being
     able to offer consolation I myself am in need of it. I sympathize
     with your Excellency in this loss, and I cannot tell you how
     grieved and depressed I am, but, as it has occurred and it has
     pleased our Lord so to do, we must acquiesce in his will. Therefore
     I beg and urge your Majesty to bear up under this misfortune as
     befits your position, and I know that you will do so. I will at
     present merely add that I commend myself and offer my services to
     you at all times.

  YOUR SISTER-IN-LAW LUCRETIA, Duchess of Ferrara.

  FERRARA, _the last of March, 1519_.

The Marchese was succeeded by his eldest son, Federico. In 1530 the
Emperor Charles V created him first Duke of Mantua. The following year
he married Margherita di Montferrat. This was the same Federico who had
formerly been selected to be the husband of Cæsar's daughter Luisa. His
famous mother lived, a widow, until February 13, 1539.

Alfonso again found his wife in a precarious condition. She was near her
confinement, and June 14, 1519, she bore a child which was still-born.
Eight days later, knowing that her end was near, she dictated an epistle
to Pope Leo. It is the last letter we have of Lucretia, and as it was
written while she was dying, it is of the deepest import, enabling us to
look into her soul, which for the last time was tormented by the
recollection of the terrors and errors of her past life of which she had
long since purged herself.

     kiss your Holiness's feet and commend myself in all humility to
     your holy mercy. Having suffered for more than two months, early on
     the morning of the 14th of the present, as it pleased God, I gave
     birth to a daughter, and hoped then to find relief from my
     sufferings, but I did not, and shall be compelled to pay my debt to
     nature. So great is the favor which our merciful Creator has shown
     me, that I approach the end of my life with pleasure, knowing that
     in a few hours, after receiving for the last time all the holy
     sacraments of the Church, I shall be released. Having arrived at
     this moment, I desire as a Christian, although I am a sinner, to
     ask your Holiness, in your mercy, to give me all possible spiritual
     consolation and your Holiness's blessing for my soul. Therefore I
     offer myself to you in all humility and commend my husband and my
     children, all of whom are your servants, to your Holiness's mercy.
     In Ferrara, June 22, 1519, at the fourteenth hour.

  Your Holiness's humble servant,


The letter is so calm and contained, so free from affectation, that one
is inclined to ask whether a dying woman could have written it if her
conscience had been burdened with the crimes with which Alexander's
unfortunate daughter had been charged.

She died in the presence of Alfonso on the night of June 24th, and the
duke immediately wrote his nephew Federico Gonzaga as follows:

     just pleased our Lord to summon unto Himself the soul of the
     illustrious lady, the duchess, my dearest wife. I hasten to inform
     you of the fact as our mutual love leads me to believe that the
     happiness or unhappiness of one is likewise the happiness or
     unhappiness of the other. I cannot write this without tears,
     knowing myself to be deprived of such a dear and sweet companion.
     For such her exemplary conduct and the tender love which existed
     between us made her to me. On this sad occasion I would indeed seek
     consolation from your Excellency, but I know that you will
     participate in my grief, and I prefer to have some one mingle his
     tears with mine rather than endeavor to console me. I commend
     myself to your Majesty. Ferrara, June 24, 1519, at the fifth hour
     of the night.

  ALFONSUS, Duke of Ferrara.[244]

The Marchese Federico sent his uncle Giovanni Gonzaga to Ferrara, who
wrote him from there as follows:

     Your Excellency must not be surprised when I tell you that I shall
     leave here to-morrow, for no obsequies will be celebrated, only
     the offices said in the parish church. His Excellency the Duke
     accompanied his illustrious consort's body to the grave. She is
     buried in the Convent of the Sisters of Corpus Christi in the same
     vault where repose the remains of his mother. Her death has caused
     the greatest grief throughout the entire city, and his ducal
     majesty displays the most profound sorrow. Great things are
     reported concerning her life, and it is said that she has worn the
     cilice for about ten years, and has gone to confession daily during
     the last two years, and has received the communion three or four
     times every month. Your Excellency's ever devoted servant,

  JOHANNES DE GONZAGA, Marquis.[245]

  FERRARA, _June 28, 1519_.

Among the numerous letters of condolence which the duke received was one
in Spanish from the mysterious Infante Don Giovanni Borgia, who was then
in Poissy, France. The duke himself had informed him of the death of his
consort, and Don Giovanni lamented the loss of his "sister," who had
also been his greatest patron.

The graves of Lucretia and Alfonso and numerous other members of the
house of Este in Ferrara have disappeared. No picture of the famous
woman exists either in that city or in Modena. Although many, doubtless,
were painted, none has been preserved. In Ferrara there were numerous
artists, Dossi, Garofalo, Cosma, and others. Titian may have painted the
beautiful duchess's portrait. His likeness of Isabella d'Este Gonzaga,
Lucretia's rival in beauty, is preserved in the Belvedere gallery in
Vienna; it shows a charming feminine face of oval contour, with regular
lines, brown eyes, and an expression of gentle womanliness. There is no
portrait of Lucretia from this master's hand, for the one in the Doria
Gallery in Rome, which some ascribe to him and others to Paul
Veronese,--although this artist was not born until 1528,--is one of the
many fictions we find in galleries. In the Doria Gallery there is a
life-sized figure of an Amazon with a helmet in her hand, ascribed to
Dosso Dossi, which is said to be a likeness of Vannozza.

Monsignor Antonelli, custodian of the numismatic collection of Ferrara,
has a portrait in oil which may be that of Lucretia Borgia,--not because
it has her name in somewhat archaic letters, but because the features
are not unlike those of her medals. This portrait, however (the eyes are
gray), is uncertain, as are also two portraits in majolica in the
possession of Rawdon Brown, in Venice, which he regards as the work of
Alfonso himself, who amused himself in making this ware. Even if there
were any ground for this belief, the portraits, as they are merely in
the decorative style of majolica, would resemble the original but

The portrait in the Dresden gallery which is catalogued as a likeness of
Lucretia Borgia is not authentic. There are no undoubted portraits of
her except those on the medals which were struck during her life in
Ferrara. One of these is reproduced as the frontispiece[246] of the
present volume; it is the finest of all and is one of the most
noteworthy medals of the Renaissance. It probably was engraved by
Filippino Lippi in 1502, on the occasion of Lucretia's marriage. On the
reverse is a design characteristic not only of the age but especially of
Lucretia. It is a Cupid with out-stretched wings bound to a laurel,
suspended from which are a violin and a roll of music. The quiver of the
god of love hangs broken on a branch of the laurel, and his bow, with
the cord snapped, lies on the ground. The inscription on the reverse is
as follows: "Virtuti Ac Formæ Pudicitia Præciosissimum." Perhaps the
artist by this symbolism wished to convey the idea that the time for
love's free play had passed and by the laurel tree intended to suggest
the famous house of Este. Although this interpretation might apply to
every bride, it is especially appropriate for Lucretia Borgia.

Whoever examines this girlish head with its long flowing tresses will be
surprised, for no contrast could be greater than that between this
portrait and the common conception of Lucretia Borgia. The likeness
shows a maidenly, almost childish face, of a peculiar expression,
without any classic lines. It could scarcely be described as beautiful.
The Marchesana of Cotrone spoke the truth when in writing to Francesco
she said that Lucretia was not especially beautiful, but that she had
what might be called a "dolce ciera,"--a sweet face. The face resembles
that of her father--as shown by the best medals which we have of
him--but slightly; the only likeness is in the strongly outlined nose.
Lucretia's forehead was arched, while Alexander's was flat; her chin was
somewhat retreating while his was in line with the lips.

Another medal shows Lucretia with the hair confined and the head covered
with a net, and has the so-called _lenza_, a sort of fillet set with
precious stones or pearls. The hair covers the ear and descends to the
neck, according to the fashion of the day, which we also see in a
beautiful medal of Elizabetta Gonzaga of Urbino.

The original sources from which the material for this book has been
derived would place the reader in a position to form his own opinion
regarding Lucretia Borgia, and his view would approximate a correct one,
or at least would be nearer correct than the common conception of
this woman. Men of past ages are merely problems which we endeavor to
solve. If we err in our conception of our contemporaries how much more
likely are we to be wrong when we endeavor to analyze men whose very
forms are shadowy. All the circumstances of their personal life, of
their nature, the times, and their environment,--of which they were the
product,--all the secrets of their being exist only as disconnected
fragments from which we are forced to frame our conception of their
characters. History is merely a world-judgment based upon the law of
causality. Many of the characters of history would regard their
portraits in books as wholly distorted and would smile at the opinion
formed of them.

[Illustration: LUCRETIA BORGIA.

From a painting in the Musée de Nîmes.]

Lucretia Borgia might correspond with the one derived from the documents
of her time, which show her as an amiable, gentle, thoughtless, and
unfortunate woman. Her misfortunes, in life, were due in part to a fate
for which she was in no way responsible, and, after her death, in the
opinion which was formed regarding her character. The brand which had
been set upon her forehead was removed by herself when she became
Duchess of Ferrara, but on her death it reappeared. How soon this
happened is shown by what the Rovere in Urbino said of her. In the year
1532 it was arranged that Guidobaldo II, son of Francesco Maria and
Eleonora Gonzaga, should marry Giulia Varano, although he himself wished
to marry a certain Orsini. His father directed his attention to the
unequal alliances into which princes were prone to enter, and among
others to that of Alfonso of Ferrara, who, he said, had married Lucretia
Borgia, a woman "of the sort which everybody knows," and who had given
his son a monster (Renée) for wife. Guidobaldo acquiesced in this view
and replied that he knew he had a father who would never compel him to
take a wife like Lucretia Borgia, "one as bad as she and of so many
disreputable connections."[247] Thus the impression grew and Lucretia
Borgia became the type of all feminine depravity until finally Victor
Hugo in his drama, and Donizetti in his opera, placed her upon the stage
in that character.

       *       *       *       *       *

In conclusion a few words regarding the descendants of Lucretia and
Alfonso,--the Duke of Ferrara survived his wife fifteen stormy years.
He, however, succeeded in defending himself against the popes of the
Medici family, and he revenged himself on Clement VII by sacking Rome
with the aid of the emperor's troops. Charles V gave him Modena and
Reggio, and he was therefore able to leave his heir the estates of the
house of Este in their integrity. He never married again, but a
beautiful bourgeoise, Laura Eustochia Dianti, became his mistress. She
bore him two sons, Alfonso and Alfonsino. The duke died October 31,
1534, at the age of fifty-eight; his brothers, Cardinal Ippolito and Don
Sigismondo, having passed away before him, the former in 1520 and the
latter in 1524.

By Lucretia Borgia he had five children. Ercole succeeded him; Ippolito
became a cardinal, and died December 2, 1572, in Tivoli, where the Villa
d'Este remains as his monument; Elenora died, a nun, in the Convent of
Corpus Domini, July 15, 1575; Francesco finally became Marchese of
Massalombarda, and died February 22, 1578.

Lucretia's son Ercole reigned until October, 1559. In 1528 his father
had married him to Renée, the plain but intellectual daughter of Louis
XII. Lucretia had never seen her daughter-in-law nor had she ever had
any intimation that it was to be Renée. The life of this famous duchess
forms a noteworthy part of the history of Ferrara. She was an active
supporter of the Reformation, which was inaugurated to free the world
from a church which was governed by the Borgia, the Rovere, and the
Medici. Renée was therefore described as a monster by the Rovere. She
kept Calvin and Clement Marot in concealment at her court a long time.

By a curious coincidence, in the year 1550 a man appeared at the court
of Lucretia's son, who vividly recalled to the Borgias who were still
living their family history, which was already becoming legendary. This
man was Don Francesco Borgia, Duke of Gandia, now a Jesuit. His sudden
appearance in Ferrara gives us an opportunity briefly to describe the
fortunes of the house of Gandia.

Of all the progeny of Alexander VI the most fortunate were those who
were the descendants of the murdered Don Giovanni. His widow, Donna
Maria, lived for a long time highly respected at the court of Queen
Isabella of Castile, and subsequently she became an ascetic bigot and
entered a convent. Her daughter Isabella did the same, dying in 1537.
Her only son, Don Giovanni, while a child, had succeeded his unfortunate
father as Duke of Gandia and had managed to retain his Neapolitan
estates, which included an extensive domain in Terra di Lavoro, with the
cities of Suessa, Teano, Carinola, Montefuscolo, Fiume, and others. In
1506 the youthful Gandia relinquished these towns to the King of Spain
on payment of a sum of money. To the great Captain Gonsalvo was given
the Principality of Suessa.

Don Giovanni remained in Spain a highly respected grandee. He married
Giovanna d'Aragona, a princess of the deposed royal house of Naples; his
second wife was a daughter of the Viscount of Eval, Donna Francesca de
Castro y Pinos, whom he married in 1520. The marriages of the Borgias
were as a rule exceedingly fruitful. When this grandson of Alexander VI
died in 1543 he left no fewer than fifteen children. His daughters
married among the grandees of Spain and his sons were numbered among the
great nobles of the country, where they enjoyed the highest honors. The
eldest, Don Francesco Borgia, born in 1510, became Duke of Gandia and a
great lord in Spain and highly honored at the court of Charles V, who
made him Vice-Regent of Catalonia and Commander of San Iago. He
accompanied the emperor on his expedition against France and even to
Africa. In 1529 he married one of the ladies in waiting to the empress,
Eleonora de Castro, who bore him five sons and three daughters. When she
died, in 1546, the Duke of Gandia yielded to his long-standing desire to
enter the Society of Jesus and to relinquish his brilliant position
forever. It seemed as if a mysterious force was impelling him thus to
expiate the crimes of his house. It is not strange, however, to find a
descendant of Alexander VI in the garb of a Jesuit, for the diabolic
force of will which had characterized that Borgia lived again in the
person of his countryman, Loyola, in another form and directed to
another end. The maxims of Macchiavelli's "Prince" thus became part of
the political programme of the Jesuits.

In 1550 the Duke of Gandia went to Rome to cast himself at the feet of
the Pope and to become a member of the Order. Paul III, brother of
Giulia Farnese, had just died, and del Monte as Julius III had ascended
the papal throne. Ercole II, cousin of Don Francesco, still occupied the
ducal throne of Ferrara. He remembered the relationship and invited the
traveler to stop at his city on his way to Rome. Francesco spent three
days at the court of Lucretia's son, where he was received by Renée.
Whether Loyola's brilliant pupil had any knowledge of the religious
attitude of Calvin's friend is not known. The presence of this man in
Savonarola's native city and at Lucretia's former residence is, on
account of the contrast, remarkable. Francesco left for Rome almost
immediately, and then returned to Spain. On the death of Lainez, in
1565, he became general,--the third in order,--of the Society of Jesus.
He still held this position at the time of his death, which occurred in
Rome in the year 1572. The Church pronounced him holy, and thus a
descendant of Alexander VI became a saint.[248]

The descendants of this Borgia married into the greatest families of
Spain. His eldest son, Don Carlos, Duke of Gandia, married Donna
Maddalena, daughter of the Count of Oliva, of the house of Centelles,
and thus the family to which Lucretia's first suitor belonged, after the
lapse of fifty years, became connected with the Borgias. The Gandia
branch survived until the eighteenth century, when there were two
cardinals of the name of Borgia who were members of it.

Ercole II did not discover the heretical tendencies of his wife Renée
until 1554, when he placed her in a convent. The noble princess remained
true to the Reformation. As the Inquisition stamped out the reform
movement in Ferrara while her son was reigning duke, she returned to
France, where she lived with the Huguenots in her Castle of Montargis,
dying in 1575. It is worthy of note that the Duke of Guise was her

Renée had borne her husband several children,--the hereditary Prince
Alfonso Luigi, who subsequently became a cardinal; Donna Anna, who
married the Duke of Guise; Donna Lucretia, who became Duchess of Urbino;
and Donna Leonora, who remained single.

Her son Alfonso II succeeded to the throne of Ferrara in 1559. This was
the duke whom Tasso made immortal. Just as Ariosto, during the reign of
the first Alfonso and Lucretia, had celebrated the house of Este in a
monumental poem, so Torquato Tasso now continued to do at the home of
his descendant, Alfonso II. By a curious coincidence the two greatest
epic poets of Italy were in the service of the same family. Tasso's fate
is one of the darkest memories of the house of Este, and is also the
last of any special importance in the history of the court of Ferrara.
His poem may be regarded as the death song of this famous family, for
the legitimate line of the house of Este died out October 27, 1597, in
Alfonso II, Lucretia Borgia's grandson. Don Cæsar, a grandson of Alfonso
I, and son of that Alfonso whom Laura Dianti had borne him and of Donna
Giulia Rovere of Urbino, ascended the ducal throne of Ferrara on the
death of Alfonso II as his heir. The Pope, however, would not recognize
him. In vain he endeavored to prove that his grandfather, shortly before
his death, had legally married Laura Dianti, and that consequently he
was the legitimate heir to the throne. It availed nothing for the
contestants to appear before the tribunal of emperor and pope and
endeavor to make Don Cæsar's pretensions good, nor does it now avail for
the Ferrarese, who, following Muratori, still seek to substantiate these
claims. Don Cæsar was forced to yield to Clement VIII, January 13, 1598,
the grandson of Alfonso I renouncing the Duchy of Ferrara. Together with
his wife, Virginia Medici and his children, he left the old palace of
his ancestors and betook himself to Modena, the title of duke of that
city and the estates of Reggio and Carpi having been conferred upon him.

Don Cæsar continued the branch line of the Este. At the end of the
eighteenth century it passed into the Austrian Este house in the person
of Archduke Ferdinand, and in the nineteenth century this line also
became extinct.

No longer do the popes control Ferrara. Where the castle of Tedaldo
stood when Lucretia made her entry into the city in 1502, where Clement
VIII later erected the great castle which was razed in 1859, there is
now a wide field in the middle of which, lost and forgotten, is a
melancholy statue of Paul V, and all about is a waste. There is still
standing before the castle of Giovanni Sforza in Pesaro a column from
which the statue has been overturned, and on the base is the
inscription: "Statue of Urban VII--That is all that is left of it."


[244] This letter is quoted by Zucchetti.

[245] Printed in Zucchetti's work. Che da forse dieci anni in qua la
portava el silizio.... This is not, as Zucchetti supposes, the goat-hair

[246] In this translation it appears on the cover.

[247] Di quella mala sorte che fù quella, e con tante disoneste parti.
See Ugolino Storia dei Duchi d'Urbino, ii, 242.

[248] J. M. S. Daurignac, Histoire de S. François de Borgia, Duc de
Gandie, Troisième Général de la Compagnie de Jesus. Paris, 1863.


  Adriana de Mila, see Mila, Adriana de.

  Albret, Charlotte d', married to Cæsar Borgia, 115, 325.

  Aldo Manuzio, 132, 305, 327;
    in Venice, 340.

  Alexander VI, see Borgia, Rodrigo.

  Alfonso d'Este, see Este.

  Alfonso of Biselli, see Alfonso of Naples.

  Alfonso of Naples, 111, 113;
    flees from Rome, 116;
    attempt on his life, 147;
    murdered, 148.

  Allegre, Monsignor d', captures Alexander's mistress, 87, 143.

  Amboise, Cardinal George d', 115, 169, 296.

  Angelo, Michael, first appearance in Rome, 135; his _Pietà_, 136.

  Aragon, Eleonora of, wife of Ercole d'Este, 54.

  Aragona, Camilla Marzana d', wife of Costanza Sforza, 78, 82.

  Aragona, Isabella d', of Milan, 334;
    guardian of Rodrigo Borgia, 335.

  Aragonese of Naples, their fall, 172.

  Arignano, Domenico of, 11.

  Ariosto, 247, 254, 308-309, 311;
    his _Orlando_, 340.

  _Asolani_, i, 31.

  Baglione, Giampolo, his cowardice, 99.

  Ballet, the, 255.

  Bayard, the Chevalier, his opinion of Lucretia, 332.

  Behaim, Lorenz, humanist, 32.

  Bella, la, or Giulia Bella, 39;
    see also Farnese, Giulia.

  Bellingeri, Hector, 188.

  Bembo, Cardinal, 31;
    eulogizes Alexander VI, 100;
    condoles Lucretia on Alexander's death, 291;
    dedicates his _Asolani_ to Lucretia, 305, 306, 340.

  Beneimbeni, notary, 131.

  Bentivoglio, Ginevra, 101.

  Bisceglie or Biseglia, see Biselli.

  Biselli, 111;
    Lucretia duchess of, 113.

  Biselli, Alfonso of, see Alfonso of Naples.

  Borgia, Alfonso, founder of the family, 3.

  Borgia, Angela, married to Francesco Maria della Rovere, 115, 223, 310;
    wife of Alessandro Pio, 311.

  Borgia, Anna de, Princess of Squillace, 334.

  Borgia, Beatrice, sister of Alexander VI, 5.

  Borgia, Cæsar, his birth, 12;
    his moderation, 29;
    at the University of Pisa, 39;
    made bishop of Valencia, 48;
    his personality, 57-58;
    made cardinal, 65;
    crowns Federico, king of Naples, 108;
    renounces his cardinalate, 113;
    sails for France, 115;
    made duke of Valentinois, 115;
    marries Charlotte d'Albret, 115;
    campaigns in the Romagna, 122, 280;
    takes Forli, 139;
    correspondence with Ercole d'Este, 145;
    letter to Gonzaga, 146;
    power over his father, 149;
    enters Romagna, 159;
    takes Pesaro, 161;
    Faenza, 166;
    made duke of Romagna, 170;
    in Naples, 172;
    returns from Naples, 188;
    his age, 202;
    letter to Lucretia, 280;
    treachery of his captains, 283;
    letter to Isabella Gonzaga, 285;
    taken sick, 286;
    loses his estates, 293;
    in Nepi, 295, 298;
    goes to Naples, 299;
    to Spain, 299;
    confined in Castle of Seville, 300;
    escapes, 317-318;
    informs Gonzaga of his escape, 319;
    his death, 321-322;
    his character, 323.

  Borgia, Catarina, sister of Calixtus III, 4.

  Borgia, Francesco, duke of Gandia, enters the Society of Jesus, 364;
    general of the order, 365;
    dies in Rome and is canonized, 365.

  Borgia, Giovanni, duke of Gandia, son of Vannozza, 12, 93.

  Borgia, Giovanni, Cardinal, "the elder," made cardinal, 49.

  Borgia, Giovanni, Cardinal, "the younger," 116;
    death of, 137;
    his parentage, 138.

  Borgia, Giovanni, "Infante of Rome," his parentage, 192-194, 295, 335;
    at Lucretia's court, 341-342;
    his death, 343-344.

  Borgia, Girolama, daughter of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, 18.

  Borgia, Giuffrè, son of Vannozza, his birth, 20;
    made archdeacon of Valencia, 40;
    marries Donna Sancia, of Naples, 65;
    Prince of Squillace, 71;
    comes to Rome, 92, 295;
    goes to Naples, 299.

  Borgia, Isabella, daughter of Cardinal Rodrigo, 19.

  Borgia, Isabella, sister of Calixtus III, 4.

  Borgia, Juana, sister of Cardinal Rodrigo, 5.

  Borgia, Juan Luis, nephew of Calixtus III, 4.

  Borgia, Lucretia, daughter of Cardinal Rodrigo and Vannozza,
      birth, 12-13;
    her education, 23;
    her modesty, 28;
    her linguistic attainments, 31;
    letters to Bembo, 31;
    betrothed to Cherubino Juan de Centelles, 41;
    betrothed to Gasparo de Procida, 42;
    married to Giovanni Sforza of Pesaro, 58-60;
    returns to Rome, 86;
    goes to the Convent of S. Sisto, 107;
    rumors concerning, 109;
    divorced from Sforza, 109;
    betrothed to Alfonzo of Naples, 111;
    becomes duchess of Biselli, 113;
    regent of Spoleto, 117;
    invested with title to Nepi, 118;
    gives birth to a son, 121;
    her private life, 125;
    her weakness, 151;
    goes to Nepi, 151;
    letters from there, 155-157, 172;
    represents the pope in his absence, 173;
    charges against her, 175;
    objections to her marriage, 184;
    nuptials with Alfonso d'Este, 185-187;
    prepares to depart, 196;
    her age, 201;
    her dowry, 204-207;
    her character, 212;
    her marriage, 216;
    her retinue, 222;
    leaves Rome, 225;
    journey to Ferrara, 232-240;
    entrance into Ferrara, 240-244;
    her person, 247;
    fêtes in her honor, 250-263;
    letter to Isabella Gonzaga, 263;
    gives birth to a daughter, 282;
    duchess of Ferrara, 303;
    her library, 304;
    corresponds with Giulia Farnese, 313;
    bears a son, 326;
    another, 328;
    regent of Ferrara, 328;
    claims Rodrigo's property, 336;
    change in her character, 338;
    relations with her husband, 341;
    her son, Alessandro, 341;
    letter to Isabella Gonzaga, 355;
    letter to Leo X, 356;
    her death, 357;
    place of burial unknown, 358;
    portraits of, 358-359;
    medals of, 359;
    posthumous reputation, 361;
    her children by Alfonso, 362.

  Borgia, Ludovico, governor of Spoleto, 121.

  Borgia, Luigi, 325.

  Borgia, Luisa, Cæsar's daughter, 325.

  Borgia, Pedro Luis, nephew of Calixtus III, 4, 5;
     his death, 6.

  Borgia, Rodrigo, nephew of Calixtus III, made cardinal, 4;
    vice-chancellor, 5;
    his sensuality, 7;
    his person, 9;
    his wealth, 17;
    and Adriana Orsini, 23;
    witness to marriage of Giulia Farnese and Orsino Orsini, 38;
    elected pope, 44;
    his coronation, 45;
    letter to his daughter, 74;
    his abstinence, 94;
    secures Lucretia's divorce, 108;
    determines to marry Lucretia into house of Naples, 110;
    demands hand of Carlotta of Naples for Cæsar, 110;
    letter to priors of Spoleto, 117;
    assumes control of Nepi, 120;
    his intellectual pleasures, 126;
    extols Ercole, 188;
    his Latin, 189;
    falls sick, 197;
    letter to the priors of Nepi, 224;
    sickness and death, 286;
    his immorality, 289-291.

  Borgia, Rodrigo, nephew of Alexander VI, captain of the papal guard, 49.

  Borgia, Rodrigo, son of Lucretia and Alfonso of Naples, his
      birth, 121, 194, 295-296;
    his death, 333.

  Borgia, Tecla, sister of Cardinal Rodrigo, 5.

  Borgias, their coat of arms, 45;
    their character, 93-94;
    family, 203.

  Brandolini, Aurelio, 126.

  Bull-fighting in Rome, 220.

  Burchard, 125;
    his diary, 129-131, 177, 289.

  Cagnolo of Parma, his description of Lucretia, 248.

  Calcagnini, Celio, bridal song, 246, 340.

  Calixtus III, 4;
    his death, 6.

  Calvin, 363.

  Cambray, League of, 327.

  Canale, Carlo, 21-22.

  Capello, Polo, account of Cæsar, 177, 180.

  Caracciolo, his _De Varietate Fortunæ_, 334.

  Caranza, Pedro, privy-chamberlain, 49.

  Carlotta of Naples, 110.

  Carlotta, Queen of Cyprus, 32.

  Castelli, Adriano, 132.

  Castiglione, 31, 250, 305.

  Castle Vecchio, description of, 270-272.

  Catanei, see Vannozza Catanei.

  Cavalliere, Bartolomeo, letter of, 182.

  Caviceo, Jacopo, dedicates his _Peregrino_ to Lucretia, 308.

  Centelles, Cherubino Juan de, betrothal to Lucretia, 41.

  Charles V, 4, 327.

  Charles VIII, 62;
    enters Italy, 87;
    retreats, 90.

  Chrysoleras, 32.

  Cieco, Francesco, his _Mambriano_, 277.

  Classic culture, 26.

  Collenuccio, Pandolfo, poet and orator, 85;
    letter to Ercole, 161, 293-294;
    his death, 295.

  Colonna, Vittoria, 30, 136, 142.

  Copernicus in Rome, 129.

  _Cortegiano, il_, 31.

  Cosenza, Cardinal of, 191;
    Rodrigo Borgia's guardian, 297.

  Costa, Michele, 339.

  Cotrone, Marchesana of, letter to Gonzaga, 253.

  Croce, Giorgio de, husband of Vannozza, 12, 20.

  Dance, the, during the Renaissance, 253.

  Decio, Philippo, jurisprudent, 40.

  Della Rovere, see Rovere.

  Dianti, Laura Eustochia, mistress of Alfonso d'Este, 362, 366.

  Diplovatazio, Giorgio, 84.

  Dossi, Dosso, 278, 339.

  Drama, the, 128.

  Eleonora of Aragon, wife of Ercole d'Este, 270.

  Enriquez, Maria, wife of Giovanni Borgia, duke of Gandia, 64.

  Este, palaces of the, 244;
    their history, 266-270;
    family expires in Alfonso II, 366.

  Este, Alfonso d', 54;
    projected marriage with Lucretia, 167, 182;
    greets his bride, 236;
    becomes duke of Ferrara, 303;
    conspiracy against, 315;
    suspected of the murder of Strozzi, 327;
    under ban of Julius II, 331;
    asks the pope's forgiveness, 333;
    attends coronation of Leo X, 338;
    cultivates the arts, 339;
    letter to his nephew on Lucretia's death, 357.

  Este, Alfonso II, d', succeeds to throne of Ferrara, 366.

  Este, Alfonso Luigi d', son of Renée, 365.

  Este, Anna d', wife of the duke of Guise, 366.

  Este, Beatrice d', wife of Ludovico il Moro, 54.

  Este, Ercole d', 54;
    letter to Alexander VI, 55;
    letter to Gonzaga, 186;
    to his envoys, 198;
    relations with Lucretia, 205;
    present to her, 217;
    letter to Alexander VI, 265;
    congratulates Cæsar, 284;
    letter to Seregni, 287;
    to Lucretia regarding her son Rodrigo, 297-298;
    his death, 303.

  Este, Ercole II, d', duke of Ferrara, 362, 364.

  Este, Ferrante d', his imprisonment and death, 316.

  Este, Giulio d', attack on, 310;
    its consequences, 315;
    his imprisonment and death, 316.

  Este, Ippolito d', 56;
    made cardinal, 65, 186, 310.

  Este, Isabella d', wife of Francesco Gonzaga of Montua, her
      learning, 30, 54;
    meets Lucretia, 239, 245;
    her beauty
    and vanity, 252;
    letter to Lucretia, 263;
    congratulates Cæsar on his successes, 284;
    predilection for the arts, 340.

  Estouteville, Cardinal, his children, 54.

  Farnese, Alessandro, 36-37;
    made cardinal, 65.

  Farnese, family, 36-37.

  Farnese, Girolama, 65, 312.

  Farnese, Giulia, 35;
    her betrothal, 37;
    marriage, 38, 39;
    "the pope's concubine," 63, 65;
    her daughter, Laura, 66;
    "Christ's bride," 66;
    her beauty, 69;
    captured by the French, 87, 123, 311;
    her death, 314.

  Fedeli, Cassandra, 28, 30.

  Federico of Naples, consents to betrothal of Alfonso and Lucretia, 110.

  Ferdinand of Naples, congratulates Sforza on his marriage, 62.

  Ferdinand of Spain, 299, 302.

  Ferno, Michele, describes Alexander's coronation, 46-48, 129.

  Ferrara, 191;
    Lucretia enters, 240-244;
    description of, 272-278.

  Ferrari, Cardinal, 185, 224.

  Filosseno, Marcello, sonnets to Lucretia, 308.

  Florence, her fear of Cæsar, 202.

  Foix, Gaston de, 332.

  Gaetani, family, 122;
    their property given Lucretia, 123;
    return to Sermoneta, 296.

  Gambara, Veronica, her learning, 30.

  Gandia (see also Giovanni Borgia), Duke of, gonfalonier, 103;
    murder of, 105-106;
    his heir, 106, 177.

  Garofalo, Benvenuto, 278, 339.

  Ghibbelines, 14.

  Gonsalvo, 299.

  Gonzaga, Elisabetta, her pilgrimage to Rome, 140;
    letter to her brother, Francesco Gonzaga, 140-142.

  Gonzaga, Isabella, see Este, Isabella d'.

  Gradara, Castle of, 83.

  Greek, study of, 32.

  Guelf III of Swabia, 267.

  Guelphs, 14.

  Guicciardini, Francesco, his charges against Lucretia, 176.

  Imola, attacked by Cæsar Borgia, 121.

  Infessura, 11, 24.

  Inghirami, Phædra, 128.

  Inquisition, the, 365.

  Jovius, Paul, his opinion of Lucretia, 338.

  Jubilee of 1500, 137, 140.

  Julius II (see also Rovere, Giuliano della), 298, 312;
    offends Lucretia, 313;
    takes Perugia and Bologna, 317;
    forms League of Cambray, 327;
    places Alfonso under his ban, 331;
    his death, 338.

  Lanzol family, 4.

  Leo X, 338;
    his court, 340.

  Literature during the Renaissance, 96.

  Lopez, Juan, made chancellor, 49.

  Louis XII, 116;
    takes Milan, 121;
    opposes marriage of Lucretia and Alfonso d'Este, 169;
  congratulates Alexander VI, 198.

  Loyola, Ignatius, 4, 364.

  Lucia of Viterbo, Sister, 257.

  Ludovico il Moro, 45; hatred of the pope, 89.

  Macchiavelli, his theory of the ruler, 98-99;
    his "Prince," 100.

  Majolica, 83.

  Malatesta, the, of Rimini, 77.

  Malatesta, Sigismondo, 25.

  Malipiero, letter of, 180.

  Manfredi, Astorre, surrenders to Cæsar, 166.

  Mantua, Isabella of, see Este, Isabella d'.

  Mantua, Marquis of, his letter on Alexander's death, 288.

  Manuzio, Aldo, see Aldo Manuzio.

  Marades, Juan, made privy-chancellor, 49.

  Marot, Clement, at court of Renée, 363.

  Matarazza of Perugia, 178-179.

  Matilda, Countess, 267.

  Maximilian, Emperor, opposition to Lucretia's marriage, 184, 329.

  Melini, the brothers, 127.

  Micheletto, confesses that Alfonso of Biselli was murdered by Alexander's
      orders, 346.

  Mila or Mella family, 4.

  Mila, Adriana, 5;
    married to Ludovico Orsini, 23.

  Montefeltre, the, 232.

  Montefeltre, Agnesina di, 142.

  Nepi, 119;
    given to Ascanio Sforza, 120;
    description of, 152-155;
    unhealthful climate of 158.

  Nepotism, 14.

  Novel, the, during the Renaissance, 26.

  Nugarolla, Isotta, her learning, 30.

  Orsini, Adriana (see also Mila, Adriana de), captured by the
      French, 87, 223.

  Orsini, Laura, daughter of the pope, 66;
    betrothed to Federico Farnese, 114;
    betrothed to Raimondo Farnese, 312.

  Orsini, Orsino, 23;
    betrothed to Giulia Farnese, 37;
    the marriage, 38.

  Paniciatus, N. Marius, his poems in honor of Lucretia, 245.

  Paul III, 36.

  Pazzi conspiracy, the, 14.

  Perotto, 177.

  Perugino, 100, 133.

  Pesaro, history of, 76-79;
    description of, 79-86;
    captured by Cæsar Borgia, 161.

  Pesaro, Giovanni of, see Sforza, Giovanni.

  Philosophy, study of, during the Renaissance, 29.

  Piccolomini, Cardinal, his children, 34;
    elected pope, 296.

  _Pietà_ of Michael Angelo, 136.

  Pinturicchio, 100;
    his portrait of Giulia Farnese, 133;
    portraits of the Borgias, 134.

  Pius II, admonitory letter to Cardinal Borgia, 7.

  Pius III, 296.

  Poliziano, Angelo, 21.

  Pollajuolo, Antonio, sculptor, 134.

  Pompilio, Paolo, dedicates his _Syllabica_ to Cæsar Borgia, 39, 129.

  Pontanus, 125;
    his epigrams, 176.

  Porcaro, the, adherents of the Borgias, 46;
    the brothers, 127.

  Posthumus, Guido, see Silvester, Guido Posthumus.

  Pozzi, Gianlucca, 185;
    description of Lucretia, 213;
    letter to Ercole d'Este, 220, 229-232.

  Prete, el, his account of Lucretia's wedding, 214-215, 218.

  _Principe il_, 100.

  Procida, Gasparo de, betrothed to Lucretia, 42;
    the contract dissolved, 51, 111.

  Pucci, Lorenzo, 66;
    letter to his brother, 67.

  Pucci, Puccio, 37, 65.

  Ravenna, battle of, 332.

  Reformation, the, 363.

  Renaissance, the, education of women during, 24-33;
    immorality during, 96-101, 135;
    the theater, 97, 251;
    traveling, 208;
    the dance, 253;
    dress, 260.

  Renée of France, wife of Ercole II, 362-363;
    placed in convent, 365;
    dies in France, 365.

  Requesenz, 300, 319, 321.

  Reuchlin, in Rome, 131.

  Romagna, Duke of, see Borgia, Cæsar.

  Rome, society of, 133;
    sack of, 362.

  Romolini, Francesco, 40.

  Romolini, Raimondo, goes to Rome, 182.

  Rovere, Francesco Maria della, secures Pesaro, 331.

  Rovere, Giuliano della (see also Julius II), his children, 34;
    goes to France to urge Charles VIII to invade Italy, 73, 115, 196;
    becomes pope, 298, 314.

  Sadoleto, 340.

  Sancia of Naples, Donna, gossip concerning, 95;
    banished from Rome, 134;
    her death, 334.

  Sangallo, Antonio di, Alexander's architect, 134.

  Sannazzaro, his epigrams, 125, 176.

  Sanuto, Marino, his diary, 178, 289.

  Saraceni, 188; letter regarding the bridal escort, 199-201;
    letter to Ercole d'Este, 220, 222-232.

  Savonarola, 95, 276.

  Serafina of Aquila, 126.

  Sermoneta, 122.

  Sessa, see Suessa.

  Sforza, the palace of, 81;
    tragedies among, 334.

  Sforza, Ascanio, made vice-chancellor, 44;
    joins the Colonna, 73;
    leaves Rome, 116, 143.

  Sforza, Battista, her learning, 30.

  Sforza, Blanca, 183, 185.

  Sforza, Cattarina, 101;
    surrenders to Cæsar, 139;
    her life, 139;
    released, 143;
    her death, 144.

  Sforza, Galeazzo, succeeds Giovanni, 331.

  Sforza, Ginevra, 28.

  Sforza, Giovanni, of Pesaro, offered Lucretia's hand, 50;
    betrothed to her, 52;
    marriage, 58;
    his person, 59;
    his relations with the pope uncertain, 71;
    letter to his uncle, Ludovico il Moro, 71;
    leaves Rome, 73;
    returns, 102;
    flees from Rome, 104;
    protests against divorce, 108;
    divorced from Lucretia, 109;
    appeals to Gonzaga for help, 159-160;
    leaves Pesaro, 160, 179;
    returns to Pesaro, 294;
    his death, 330.

  Sforza, Ippolita, 28.

  Sforza, Ludovico, captured by king of France, 143.

  Silvester, Guido Posthumus, poet, 85, 179.

  Sixtus IV, 14.

  Soriano, defeat of the pope at, 104.

  Sperulo, Francesco, Cæsar's court poet, 126.

  Spoleto, the castle of, 119.

  Squillace, Prince of, see Borgia, Giuffrè.

  Stage, the, during the Renaissance, 97.

  Strozzi, Ercole, eulogizes Cæsar Borgia, 100;
    poem on death of Cæsar, 324;
    murder of, 326.

  Strozzi, father and son, 277, 307.

  Suessa, Giovanni Borgia, duke of, 71.

  Taro, battle of the, 91.

  Tasso, Torquato, his _Aminta_, 83, 366.

  Tebaldeo, Antonio, 277, 308, 340.

  Theology, study of, during the Renaissance, 29.

  Tiepoli, Ginevra, wife of Giovanni Sforza, 330.

  Tisio, Benvenuto, see Garofalo.

  Titian, 327.

  Torelli, Barbara, 327.

  Trivulzia of Milan, 29.

  Troche, Cæsar's confidant, 191.

  Urbino, Elisabetta of, her learning, 30;
    her beauty, 252.

  Urbino, Guidobaldo of, in command of papal troops, 102.

  Valentino or Valentinois, see Borgia, Cæsar.

  Vannozza Catanei, mistress of Rodrigo Borgia, 10;
    her children, 12;
    her home, 15;
    marriage to Carlo Canale, 22, 295;
    charged with theft, 346;
    gives her house to Church of S. Maria del Popolo, 346;
    her last years, 347-351;
    her bequests, 351;
    her death, 351;
    her obsequies, 353.

  Vasari, his account of Pinturicchio's work, 133.

  Vatican, the orgy in, 178;
    life in, 189.

  Villa Imperiale, 83.

  Vinci, Leonardo da, 100.

  Virago, meaning of the term, 28, 101.

  Zambotto, Bernardino, his description of Lucretia, 247.

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