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Main page » Non-Fiction » Lucrezia Borgia - Life, Love and Death in Renaissance Italy

Lucrezia Borgia - Life, Love and Death in Renaissance Italy


Lucrezia Borgia is legendary as the archetypal villainess who carried out the poisoning plotted by her scheming father—Pope Alexander VI, aka Rodrigo Borgia—and by her ruthlessly ambitious brother Cesare. The facts of Lucrezia's case are sorted out from fiction by Bradford's humanizing biography, which presents Lucrezia as an intelligent noblewoman, powerless to defy her family's patriarchal order, yet an enlightened ruler in her own right as Duchess of Ferrara. Drawing on extensive archival evidence, Bradford (Disraeli; Princess Grace) explains how Lucrezia's first husband, after their marriage was annulled, vengefully tarnished her name with accusations of incest. Bradford discredits the popular belief that Lucrezia helped Cesare assassinate her second husband. Lucrezia emerges as a political realist who participated with her father and brother in a campaign to marry into the powerful Este family, winning the affections of her new husband, Alfonso d'Este, later Duke of Ferrara. Bradford portrays Lucrezia's extramarital affairs as daring and passionate romances of the heart and describes her cultivated court life and her kindness to artists and poets. Although Bradford's portrait is not immune to a fictionalizing style, especially when ascribing emotional states to its subject, as a project designed to distinguish the historical Lucrezia Borgia from the legend, Bradford's readable biography resoundingly succeeds.

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Tags: Lucrezia, Borgia, powerless, noblewoman, family, Italy, Renaissance, Death