Poisonous Women

LUCREZIA BORGIA, 1480 - 1519.

By Helen America


Lucrezia Borgia, as history will have it, was one of the most scandalous women ever. The fruit of a union between the future Pope Alexander VI and a courtesan, her existence at its most simple was already a crime against Christianity. She embodied nepotism at its worst. She was purported to have an incestual relationship with her brother, Cesare; she arranged to have her other brother, Juan, murdered; she humiliated her first husband by claiming that he was impotent, which granted her a divorce; she was a wanton seductress; and, perhaps most iconically of all, her trademark move was to poison enemies by spiking their drinks with the help of a poison ring. Her hair was so iconic that she inspired a chef to invent tagliatelle!

But, according to research that was done only recently, it looks like none of that was true. While her first marriage did end in annulment on the grounds of failure to consummate, it seems that it was done in a political move benefitting her brother and the Pope, rather than because she insisted on it. Rather shockingly, as it was a fact that literally nobody bothered to check until G. J. Meyer looked into it, Lucrezia, Cesare, and Juan weren’t Pope Alexander VI’s kids. While they did benefit from rampant, egregious nepotism, records show that Rodrigo Borgia wasn’t anywhere near Spain in the years that they were born. Instead, research shows that the Borgia Pope was probably their very doting uncle.

The history of the Borgias is complicated. Like many other historical women - poisonous historical women - it looks like Lucrezia Borgia’s reputation was a product of the virulent hatred that Alexander VI and Cesare Borgia’s political enemies harbored for them. While they absolutely did nothing to gain favor and goodwill, the Spanish Borgias in power were also the subject of intense, 15th-century style xenophobia. At the time, and in fact, to this day, there is a deep-seated belief that the Pope should be Italian - take into consideration the fact that Pope John Paul II (1920-2005) was the first non-Italian Pope to take the mantle since the short-lived Pope Adrian VI (1522-1523). Because she was certainly represented on the chessboard that her uncle and brother played across Europe, she became irrevocably a part of the Borgia legend. As Meyer found, once Lucrezia was married to her last husband, Alfonso d’Este, her contemporary reputation improved. They had 8 children together, and happily kept extramarital relationships - her lovers included Alfonso’s brother-in-law, a famous Renaissance poet, and a dashing French chevalier.

Lucrezia Borgia died in 1519, 39 years old, after giving birth to her 10th child. Having outlived her scandalous family members, she was mourned greatly by the people she knew and ruled over as the Duchess of Ferrara. But, like Cleopatra, she’s suffered from an ill-played game of historical telephone. Her uncle’s successor spread pamphlets disparaging her family almost as soon as he came to power, in a direct play to sully their legacy. And, because scandal will always be sexy, the Borgias have become iconic in their depravity, especially Lucrezia. Painters, poets, and even biographers have fallen in thrall with her legend - and the glamour that is her “evilness,” to the point that she embodies the bloody, beautiful, and dark side of the entire Renaissance period.

About the Model


What I do

Im a painter, 
A painter that talks to paintings, landscapes and colors are my facade..  

Who I Love

A woman that looks up to one grandma one sister and one mom.
And a woman that loves and believes in herself

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A woman that follows God


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