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About Lucrezia

Of all of the princely houses of Renaissance Italy, few were more prominent than the Borgia family. Born in Rome, Lucrezia was the illegitimate daughter of Vanozza and Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, who later became Pope Alexander VI. Her father used the beautiful Lucrezia to further his political ambitions by arranging three marriages for her.


Lucrezia of Chesterton

The first marriage to a man she didn’t love had been annulled and after finally falling in love with her second husband, he was murdered on orders from her brother, Cesare. The murder freed her to marry another powerful man so her family could gain higher standing. The third marriage was in 1501 to Alfonso, son of the Duke of Este, who inherited the Duchy of Ferrara.

When she became first lady of Ferrara, Lucrezia acquired more wealth and a higher social position than ever before. She also had a good deal of freedom. Alfonso pursued his interests in the military and left his wife to follow her own enthusiasms -- poetry, music and dancing. She became a prominent patron of the arts, attracting the flattery of poets and scholars from all over Italy.

But what of her reputation for wantoness and crime? Lucrezia has been called the most depraved woman in history.

Did she keep bottles on her boudoir with perfume to seduce and poison to kill?

Was she pricking enemies with an arsenic - drenching ring...her favorite method of disposing of men?

Or was Lucrezia a victim of her family’s ruthless quest for power, exploited for her beauty and kindness?

Throughout history, women labeled as evil have made their mark. Many historians believe that Lucrezia was definitely a misunderstood femme fatale.

In the year 1833, Donizetti published his opera, Lucrezia Borgia, where he pronounced Lucrezia as a cruel murderess who poisoned her family’s enemies. Although she never actually poisoned anyone, that unfortunate association with her name has continued to this day.

In fact, a Chicago Sun-Times article from October 2, 2002, quoted Learco Andalo, “one of the world’s leading experts on the Borgias,” about her family’s infamous reputation: “The Borgias are the victims of biased historical accounts, based on malicious rumor,” according to Andalo. The Tribune explained that “Lucrezia Borgia did not poison anyone and probably did not have an incestuous affair with her father.” Hopefully we can help dispel these rumors and clear her name in the annals of history.