period makeups: Lucrezia Borgia

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Period makeups: Lucrezia Borgia

Lucrezia Borgia (1480–1519) was the daughter of Rodrigo Borgia, who became Pope Alexander VI, and Vannozza dei Cattanei. Her family, and particularly her brother Cesare Borgia, later – seen through the eyes of the Borgias’ enemies and the lens of the Reformation – came to epitomize the ruthless Machiavellian politics and sexual corruption characteristic of the Renaissance Papacy. Lucrezia herself has usually been portrayed as a femme fatale, but actually very little is known of Lucrezia or of the extent of her complicity in the political machinations of her brothers and father.

Her family certainly arranged several marriages for her to important or powerful men in order to advance their own political ambitions, and it is likely that Cesare had one of them murdered when his political value waned.

She married her third husband, Alfonso I d’Este Duke of Ferrara, in early 1502. She gave him a number of children and proved to be a respectable – though it should be noted that neither partner was faithful – and accomplished Renaissance duchess. She survived the fall of the Borgias following her father's death and died in Ferrara in June 1519 from complications following the birth of her eighth child.