CATERINA SFORZA by Ernst Breisach


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Caterina Sforza, beautiful and arrogant, played a man's game in the tempests of quattrocento politics. This excellent, scholarly biography of her, the first in English, portrays her life, her place in the dangerous, ever-shifting feuds of the late 15th century. Daughter of the Duke of Milan and a mistress, Caterina was married in 1477, at fourteen, to Girolamo Riario, right-hand man to Pope Sixtus IV. When the Pope died, the young couple's potential influence dropped to nothing more than the rule of two small cities, Imo and Forli. They never found popular sympathy there. When Girolamo was murdered by members of a prominent Forli family in 1488. Caterina managed, by sheer cunning and later with the threat of Milanese and Bolognese troops, to regain rule of Forli. She quickly disposed of conspirators and Orsi sympathizers with a blood thirsty vengeance. Her first lover was, oddly enough, the ""rightful"" heir to the city. Caterina herself ruled on, maintaining her interests in medicines and cosmetics, until 1500 when Cesare Borgia ousted her....This is but a bare outline of the intricate, violent entanglements of city, papal and French struggles for power. Breisach underlines the personal elements as well, so that his balanced treatment is a dynamic, dramatic synthesis of Caterina and her period.

Pub Date: Oct. 10th, 1967
Publisher: University of Chicago