Poison In The Blood: The Memoirs of Lucrezia Borgia


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Carlo Canale was the cardinal's chamberlain. The Orfeo saw the light in As a confidant and dependent of the Gonzaga he retained his connection with this princely house. 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.


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Canale, on the other hand, could have acquiesced in the [Pg 22] 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, , by the notary of the Borgia house, Camillo Beneimbene, and was witnessed by Francesco Maffei, apostolic secretary and canon of S. 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 acknowledged? 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, , we learn that this new marriage of Vannozza's was not childless.

Poison In The Blood: The Memoirs of Lucrezia Borgia

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 [Pg 23] gives no further particulars, but it can mean nothing else. 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.

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 , it is evident that his mother must have entered into wedlock at least sixteen years before. Ludovico Orsini died in 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 [Pg 24] Boccaccio, Bishop of Modena, to the Duke Ercole in , in which he remarks of Madonna Adriana Ursina, "that she had educated Lucretia in her own house.

darxronloconlo.tk 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 [Pg 25] 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.

Lucrezia Borgia

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. 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 demeanor.

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 [Pg 26] 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 educa [Pg 27] tion 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.


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  • 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.

    Poison In The Blood: The Memoirs of Lucrezia Borgia Poison In The Blood: The Memoirs of Lucrezia Borgia
    Poison In The Blood: The Memoirs of Lucrezia Borgia Poison In The Blood: The Memoirs of Lucrezia Borgia
    Poison In The Blood: The Memoirs of Lucrezia Borgia Poison In The Blood: The Memoirs of Lucrezia Borgia
    Poison In The Blood: The Memoirs of Lucrezia Borgia Poison In The Blood: The Memoirs of Lucrezia Borgia
    Poison In The Blood: The Memoirs of Lucrezia Borgia Poison In The Blood: The Memoirs of Lucrezia Borgia
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