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The very name Lucrezia Borgia conjures up everything that was sinister and corrupt about the Renaissance—incest, political assassination, papal sexual abuse, poisonous intrigue, unscrupulous power grabs. Yet as bestselling biographer Sarah Bradford reveals in this breathtaking new portrait, the truth is far more fascinating than the myth. Neither a vicious monster nor a seThe very name Lucrezia Borgia conjures up everything that was sinister and corrupt about the Renaissance—incest, political assassination, papal sexual abuse, poisonous intrigue, unscrupulous power grabs. Yet as bestselling biographer Sarah Bradford reveals in this breathtaking new portrait, the truth is far more fascinating than the myth. Neither a vicious monster nor a seductive pawn, Lucrezia Borgia was a shrewd, determined woman who used her beauty and intelligence to secure a key role in the political struggles of her day. Born the illegitimate daughter of Rodrigo Cardinal Borgia and his scheming mistress, Vannozza Cattanei, Lucrezia was twelve when her father became Pope Alexander VI and thirteen when she was forced into her first marriage. She would marry twice more, gaining increasing power with each match, until she came into her own as duchess of the city-state of Ferrara. Bradford argues that in her maturity Lucrezia was an enlightened ruler, kind and decisive in time of war, generous to the poets and artists of her court, passionate in love, and utterly indifferent to sexual morality. Drawing from a trove of contemporary documents and fascinating firsthand accounts, Bradford brings to life the art, the pageantry, and the dangerous politics of the Renaissance world Lucrezia Borgia helped to create. Bradford is an expert on the Borgia family and in Lucrezia she has found a subject ideally suited to her gift for narrative and psychological insight. Sex, gossip, murder, astonishing beauty, and ambition— this is the Renaissance at its most irresistible....

Title : Lucrezia Borgia. La storia vera
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9788804556275
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 384 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Lucrezia Borgia. La storia vera Reviews

  • Lindley
    2019-04-10 04:09

    I could not disagree more with the reviewers who are lambasting this book for its lack of purple prose and for not having the Antonia Frasier approach of “just make stuff up”. Meticulously referenced and using vast amounts of primary sources, as well as looking in a measured way at historical debates, this is exactly what a biography should be – and Lucrezia emerges from her own voice and those of the people around her, rather than as a trashy historical fiction heroine.What emerges is fascinating – a woman surrounded by violence and intrigue and incredibly able and politically adept; with the Borgia “resilience” that allowed her to quickly recover from the horrible fates of those she loved without losing any of her devotion to their murderers’ a woman of great and apparently sincere piety and complete sexual amorality; a woman who would condone her brother’s hideous miscarriages of justice and yet spent much of her time pleading for clemency for prisoners; a loving and happily married wife who carried on long-term adulterous affairs. Her contradictions are the most interesting part. Given great power and riches at a very young age, living a life of almost obscene self-indulgence, governing cities by seventeen, thrust into “temporary” marriages as stepping stones for her family, and loving excessively a father and brothers of stunning brutality, the Lucrezia depicted here is morally ambiguous but very definitely a strong and intelligent woman of unusual gifts and capabilities, neither the monster nor the passive innocent of fiction.Perhaps the most fascinating part of her life is the part most ignored by sensationalists who focus on her Borgia connection – her life in Ferrarra. That she could largely negotiate her own marriage into a family who were desperate to escape having to accept her marrying into them, and win the hearts, minds and trust of at least the male members of the family – though never her sister-in-law – is an incredible achievement. That the marriage wasn’t annulled when the Borgia connection became a disadvantage (and there were reasons enough for an annulment) and that in fact she was frequently trusted to rule Ferrarra for long periods of time, is even more impressive. Lucrezia’s delicate handling of her lover’s affection and trust to help save Ferrarra from a hostile Pope shows her great ability, and the fact that she managed to transform herself from the notorious bastard Lucrezia Borgia to the beloved and almost universally respected Duchess of Ferrarra – hailed on all sides as a beautiful, modest, wise and above all *good* princess - is an incredible story. I spent most of the book marvelling at, not just her canny intelligence, but the incredible charm she must have exerted to win so many hostile men – including her family’s implacable enemies – over to her side.This is an excellent telling of her life – scholarly but not dense, readable but not sensationalised, measured and fair, and using sources unique to this book. It relies on the authentic voices of the Renaissance to bring out the extraordinary impact this woman managed to have on her time.It’s probably sad, then, that the most striking fact that remains with me is that Lucrezia and her father-in-law shared a hobby of collecting nuns.

  • Sarah u
    2019-04-15 03:08

    4.5 starsThis is a good, thorough biography of Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of Pope Alexander VI, from her beginnings as a 'Borgia daughter' to her end as the Duchess of Ferrara. Bradford discusses Lucrezia's life, relationships, marriages, births, and affairs using plenty of primary sources and where necessary engages with and debates the work of other writers who work with this period. Lucrezia's life is discussed within its context- Bradford never fails to inform the reader about what is going on all around Lucrezia, and the actions of her relatives (especially her brother, Cesare, and her father), which may annoy some but for me helped me understand why Lucrezia did some of the things she did. I particularly enjoyed the last two thirds of the book when Lucrezia begins her life in Ferrara, as this is where novels of Lucrezia tend to stop or non fiction focuses more on the 'other Borgias'. I was interested to learn about Lucrezia's husband Alfonso d'Este too, and his diplomatic relationships- including those with the kings of France and England (Henry VIII is always popping up where you least expect him!). In short, the content of this book is excellent.Bradford's portrayal is sympathetic yet fair- the age old tales of Lucrezia poisoning and committing incest are discussed and debunked using good scholarship and Bradford generally uses the source material well. My only real problem here is Bradford's apparent refusal to consider that the famous Infans Romanus Giovanni Borgia could have been Lucrezia's child. Even where the evidence suggests he could be- for example, Cesare referring to Giovanni as his nephew- Bradford dismisses or ignores it. I don't necessarily disagree with Bradford when she states that Giovanni could be Pope Alexander's, more I think that no one can say for certain who he was and that dismissing evidence is rather misleading/dishonest (I noted this and more in a status update while reading, which is here: However, I have not let this affect my overall feelings about the book, because the rest of the book is so well done and besides, I like a book that makes me think. Overall, this was a great read and I recommend it to anyone interested in the life of Lucrezia and the times she lived in.

  • Rio (Lynne)
    2019-04-09 08:15

    I have been looking for a book about Lucrezia that told her complete life story, so many books only cover her childhood or her first or second marriage. This non-fiction book covered it all...The notorious Borgia family...all three husbands Giovanni Sforza, Alfonso of Aragon and Alfonso d' Este...The Italian Wars and an intimate look and detailed history about the city of Ferrara, where Lucrezia's life ended. I'm not a big non-fiction fan, but this book answered my questions. I just visited Ferrara and saw The Este Palace and the tomb's of The Este family at Corpus Domini. I wanted information about this quiet town and detailed information about who was in those dungeons and why. I found it interesting during the Italian wars how Isabella and Ferdinand of Aragon, King Henry VII and VIII and course King Louis XII and Francis I of France were involved. Bradford couldn't do a complete biography about Lucrezia without detailing all of these events and the people surrounding her. This book is very complete. I didn't find the author's style to be dry, maybe because I was interested? Bradford begins with Lucrezia's birth and debunks myths and raises facts about this family. She uses old documents to come to her conclusions. If you want to know about this family, this wonderful book will answer your questions. Lucrezia and Alfonso I's tomb at Corpus Domini. Not the best shot, but I had to be quick :) The nun was watching us. Leaving the Dungeon where Giulio d'Este was kept. The author goes into great detail about this event. Just look at how small the door is. Imagine being down there underground, no electricity, rats and etc?

  • MKat
    2019-04-11 05:30

    I'm still very interested in Lucrezia and the Borgias generally, but I just do not like Bradford's style. Very clinical and dry, which is NOT what you want from a biography of a Borgia! Bradford just sloughs along from one event to another in Lucrezia's life, interspersing lengthy (and often irrelevant and/or sycophantic) excerpts from her letters that, oftentimes, you're just happy to zip through. This book suffers the most common and worst fate of biographies - the subjects just do not feel like real people who lived and breathed. They all feel like vague shadows or monolithic statues of History. Very disappointing.(I made it through the majority of this book before the library cut off my renewals. It was that rough going.)

  • Sara Poole
    2019-04-17 01:10

    Long vilified as a murderess, conspirator and partner to incest, Lucrezia Borgia was overdue for a reappraisal by a serious historian able to blast past the stereotypes. Sarah Bradford does exactly that by dint of meticulous research revealing the fascinating if turbulent life of the daughter of Pope Alexander VI. Used by her father to advance his political ambitions, Lucrezia endured an early marriage that was annulled under questionable circumstances, the brutal murder of her second husband, and the destruction of her own reputation at the hands of her family’s enemies. She emerged from all that as a woman of strength and grace, finding a degree of stability and even contentment in a third marriage that made her Duchess of Ferrera. Bradford brings Lucrezia and her world vividly to life, in the process raising provocative questions about the need to re-evaluate the role of women in general throughout history.

  • Madeline
    2019-03-26 01:24

    Like most historical figures that interest me, I was first introduced to Lucrezia Borgia and her awesome, psychotic family through historic fiction. In high school I read The Borgia Bride, which was told from the perspective of Lucrezia's sister-in-law, Sancha of Aragon. It was awesome (and, as I now know from reading this book, pretty accurate) for several reasons: first, lots of sex, which to a fifteen-year-old is a great recommendation in itself; second, it was full of poisonings, backstabbing both figurative and literal (I recall that Sancha carried a dagger in her gown and used it several times), political intrigue, and general skullduggery. Also the author decided that, yes, the rumors were true and Lucrezia was sleeping with both her father and her brother Cesare, so there was that additional bit of escandalo. It was an awesome read, is what I'm saying, and when I saw this in a bookstore I decided to buy it on a whim and find out more about the real Lucrezia Borgia. The first half, when her father is Pope and is gaining power (and then at the height of it), is fascinating. There are murders, wars, scheming, teenage mistresses, bastard children, and other classic Renaissance-style fun (and syphilis). What I learned from this segment of the book is that the Borgias' bad historical reputation is well-earned - Alexander basically bribed his way into the papacy and, despite being a religious person, had no problem keeping a mistress and being a power-hungry, murderous jackass in order to keep his power; his son Cesare wanted to take over Italy and came pretty damn close; and one of the Borgia children was murdered, probably by his own siblings, and found dead in a river. The only thing that's missing is the incest, which Bradford adamantly insists did not happen. I'm inclined to agree (after all, Cesare and Alexander could sleep with literally any women they wanted, so it's not like they were so desperate for tail they resorted to banging their sister/daughter), but in the interest of fairness and rumor-mongering, Bradford doesn't really offer up any compelling evidence that Lucrezia didn't sleep with her father or her brother. Just sayin'. In fact, there aren't many claims made in this book at all, which is one reason it loses a star. Bradford isn't really making any specific points with this book, aside from setting out to show us that Lucrezia was a) not sleeping with her family members and b) not nearly as villainous as she's portrayed, and was actually very intelligent and sympathetic. Many of the other characters are more interesting that she is, particularly her fascinating and totally evil brother Cesare, who deserves a book of his own (I'm sure there are several already, but at times it felt like he was the one Bradford really wanted to be writing about). Sancha also makes a few appearances (she's known as Sancia here) and the little bits of information that Bradford reveals about her actions are tantalizingly brief. She'll mention offhandedly "Sancia was now Cesare's mistress" and then a few chapters later, "Sancia was no longer with Cesare and was now the mistress of so-and-so" with nothing in between. This made me want to find a biography of Sancha, because she sounds cool as hell. Equally so is Lucrezia's other sister-in-law, Isabella d'Este (the sister of Lucrezia's third husband), who becomes an important character in the second half of the book. Unfortunately, that's where it gets boring. Once Lucrezia marries Alfonso d'Este and moves away from Rome, she's away from the center of the papal goings-on, which means the reader is too. Then Cesare and Alexander die, and there are no more cool characters doing batshit crazy things. Instead, it's just chapter after chapter of "Then Lucrezia got pregnant again and had another miscarriage. Then she wrote this letter to this person. Then Alfonso went to war and Lucrezia was in charge of Ferrara, and here's some stuff she did." Once the crazy Borgias are gone and it's just Lucrezia, the story stops being interesting. It doesn't help that Bradford's writing style is so dry and dull already, even when describing poisonings and ruinous affairs, and she makes Lucrezia's later life intolerably boring. Also Bradford's writing can be very confusing and oddly-structured, as evidenced in this bizarrely-constructed sentence that I had to read three times before I understood what it was trying to say: "That very day, alone in charge at Ferrara since Alfonso was away in camp and Ippolito also, Lucrezia, despite Sanudo's report of panic, kept her head, informing Alfonso of all she was doing to help, including sending a spy to Venice to find out whether the Venetians were arming forces and, if so, of what kind." What? There has got to be a better way to phrase all that.

  • Elizabeth Reuter
    2019-03-21 04:04

    Unfortunately, Lucrezia Borgia promises a lot it doesn't deliver on.The book is only half about Lucrezia. Bradford branches out to tell the stories of not only those close to her, but those who had barely anything to do with her.This could be excused as a way of teaching readers about Lucrezia's Italy. Except:a) Bradford drops so many names that only a historian could keep track of everyone, and b) Bradford tell us little of what Lucrezia herself did.For example, Bradford mentions that Lucrezia administered Ferrera while her husband was away...then talks about said husband, ignoring whatever Lucrezia did, including fascinating things like judging the innocence or guilt of Ferrera's citizens. Instead of building an interesting world in which Lucrezia had a part, Bradford built a world in which Lucrezia faded into the background to be forgotten.The result is confusing and, in parts, dull.As a history fan I found a lot of interesting bits. But anyone picking up this book for Lucrezia might be disappointed.-Elizabeth ReuterAuthor, The Demon of Renaissance Drive

  • Kajah
    2019-04-19 00:02

    While some people may find Bradford's meticulous approach to Lucrezia dull, the books reliance on primary sources, mostly correspondence between major players in Lucrezia's life, made for a satisfying listen (I listened to it on MP3). The book dodges the villainous reputation that various operas, plays, and histories have apparently given her and instead portrays her as woman caught in a powerful family that used deception and violence to grab land and power. She isn't portrayed as a victim,either, but rather a woman who did what she needed to do within the limitations of her circumstances as a Borgia and as an Italian noblewoman in the Renaissance age. There's a lot of comprehensive description of Italian Renaissance life for the upper classes, including long lists of items and people that give the reader a rich picture of the world of the Borgia s. Bradford indulges in relatively sober and careful interpretations of what motivated the people of this milieu , but more often she supplies the facts and allows the reader their own interpretations. Some people find this approach to history tedious and enjoy a more narrative structure to their history, but those who have imagination and enjoy exploring their own interpretations of history will find plenty of material to work with here.

  • Victoria
    2019-04-19 07:07

    I actually have to be honest and say I didn't enjoy reading this at all. I found it to be dull. I felt like we never got to read about Lucrezia and certainly never got to know her. The book is written in a way that all of the unfamiliar Italian names are confusing. It got to the point where I'd pick it up and not even know what the author was talking about. It took me forever to finish this book and I'd be put off reading anything else from this author.

  • Dorothy
    2019-03-22 02:27

    You might ask why someone like me would continue to be a Catholic after reading this book. Add to this the number of pedophile scandals among the clergy in recent years, and you have a real point. However, incest, pedophilia, and assassination in the name of politics,power,position,and greed is nothing new to the realm of Popedom and the Church.My reason then for remaining a Catholic is based on the basic tenets of the Church and not on the people who run them.One of these is none other than Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia who sired the heroine in this historical tale of Lucretia her brother, Cesare, and her half brothers Juan, Giovanni, and Rodrigo.Right from the outset, the reader becomes privy to the insidious ways in which Rodrigo operates in order to rise to the power of the Pope and uses Lucretia and Cesare as pawns to spawn his influence throughout the known world during the 15th century. Our heroine was born in 1480. Right from the outset, Rodrigo knew that he had a winner. Bradford describes her as, "She was of middle height and graceful in form. Her face is rather long and the nose is well cut, hair golden, eyes of no special color...Her teeth were brilliantly white, ... the bust admirably preportioned, She is always gay and smiling."At twelve when Rodrigo would be anointed Pope Alexander VI, she was ripe for the first of her three marriages.1. On June 12th, 1493, she was wed to Giovanni Sforza, This union was admittedly based on a vendetta in retaliation to an affront to the Pope made by the King of Aragon in Naples. The marriage was later annulled on the pretext that it had never been consummated. ( History proved otherwise.)With Giovanni out of the way, Lucretia was then betrothed to 2. Alfonso d'Aragona, but he, too, fell into disfavor and was conveniently done away with by Cesare, Lucretia's arrogant and malevolent brother. Even motherhood did not stop Alexander from moving Lucretia forward on a mission to expand the empire and his influence for by this time she had proven that she was a skillful administrator and a person who could easily gain the love and the loyalty of her people. After the untimely demise of spouse number two, negotiations were readily in place for3. Alfonso d'Este the Duke of Ferrara. His fame as a military man was renown. He was particularly adept in the knowledge and use of ammunitions and artillery. This made him valuable to the Pope and to his people in their effort to expand the empire. Lucretia was of such great value to him during his wars away from home, because he knew that he could trust her with governing whilst he was away.On the other hand, when he was at home conjugal unions were frequent leaving Lucretia with a number of miscarriages and at least five living progeny. Her first born was dutifully named after her father, Rodrigo, the Pope who spawned her.The foregoing is only a glimpse into the intrigue, the debauchery, the politics, and the sexual innuendos that were an integral part of the Borgia's legacy. If you wish to get down to the nitty gritty details on your own, I dare you to attempt this historical documentary.I,myself, found it to be a rather difficult exercise. Ms. Bradford confused this reader by referring to her characters with different names, jumping from one episode in the adventure to another, and repeating various incidents ad infinatum . Believe me if I were not focused, or if I did not go back to check the references, I would have been left in the proverbial dark. Even at that, I cannot say that I fully understood the full impact of the strategies of war and the political machinations that were used to achieve their goals.This summary is but a brief description of interludes in the Borgia'sstory. One would have to read the book in order to delve further into the each move made on the chessboard of time during the reign of the Borgian dynasty.Good Luck!!Note: Bradford denies that Lucretia was a pawn in the Pope's power moves.

  • Caroline
    2019-04-05 01:16

    The great thing about anything by Sarah Bradford is that she adores her subjects, yet can look at them from an objective manner. The bad thing about Sarah Bradford is that she adores her subjects, and thus is meticulously detailed in her work. If you are not a hardcore fan of whatever she's writing about--in this case the Borgia family--you probably won't like her biographies. Lucrezia Borgia, in particular, is somewhat sparsely documented in some cases; we can't always know for sure where she was here or what she was doing there. Bradford is not going to make any intuitive leaps about Lucrezia. She is going to research as many sources vaguely connected to the woman as possible, and she is going to tell you about them.As such, many readers are left complaining about this person and that, people who aren't Lucrezia and yet nevertheless are closely tended to. Cesare Borgia--Lucrezia's brother--is often used as a device through which we learn about the biography's subject. Although this book is largely about Lucrezia, you will learn much about her family as well. She is a Borgia, after all.Though the book's apologist tone did irritate me at times, I ultimately came away pleased with "Lucrezia" and happy that one biographer at least seems to respect and admire this remarkable woman.

  • Bronwyn
    2019-04-17 06:27

    Made it about 1/3 of the way through, but just not my style. I had issues keeping track of who was who and what was going on. I would like to find a different bio of Lucrezia to try in the future, but at the same time I think it's just the time and place that I'm having issues with...

  • Morgan
    2019-04-02 05:01

    This has been sitting on my shelve I want to say more or less than ten years, so I finally decided to actually read it instead of just looking at it. Although I love the Borgia history and it's one of my top historical topics, this book didn't interest me as much as I thought it would. Towards the end of the book, I realized that yes I do like Lucrezia Borgia, but I like learning about the Borgia family as a whole. Reading them individually just doesn't cover what I'm interested about the Borgias enough.The other thing I didn't care for with this biography is the writing. Some parts Bradford made interesting enough, but most parts I skimmed read (reason I read it quicker then I thought). Not sure if this is a standard for most biographies (I read mostly fiction), but I really didn't like the fact she quote too much. I like it when authors write more in their own words rather than me reading what other people think in a non-fiction work.Overall, I'm glad I read this as well. Not only has it been collecting dust, it also showed a "lighter" side to the Borgias you don't really see. Then again, there dark side is far more interesting if you ask me. Main reason I like them is because they are a family of crime.

  • Mark Kenneth
    2019-04-08 04:15

    Sorry to say, but this book is a total pile-on of confusing names, dates and setups that still have not delivered for me 1/3 of the way in. This one was a hard slog and I give up. This book needed a better editor, who should of told Ms. brdford to stop packing so much in .... I mean just read here acknowlegment page with out your eyes going cross. I think good history should put things into context and tell a compelling story, give possible insights and illuminate the past. Also a book on Lucezia Borgia should cast the main character center stage or at least partly, this book failed to do this for me. Can any one suggest another book on Lucrezia Borgia that is factual, coherent and keeps your interest?

  • Heidi
    2019-04-13 03:26

    How can a biography can ruined? By being nothing more than a chronology of events. There was little insight; the author attempted to cleanse Lucrezia of her awful reputation, which is laudable, I suppose. But for God's sake, she could have infused a little passion into her writing! Sadly, it was boring, boring, boring -- I couldn't finish it.

  • Natalie
    2019-04-09 03:11

    When I finished this book: Several years ago I was preparing to go to Europe for the first time. I was at Costco one day and I was finishing up my trip with the usual stop at the book table when I saw this book. With grandiose intentions I thought "Oh Natalie! Wouldn't you be so smart to read all about the European countries you're going to visit. And look! Here is a book about Lucrezia Borgia! Lucrezia = Borgias = Italy! Brilliant!" I started this book thinking it would be the first in a long line of history books that would sufficiently prepare me for my trip. I read about 30 pages and that was the end of that. All of my intentions flew out the window and I went to Europe and still had the time of my life with only my high school European History knowledge to guide me. This year I decided to clear off my to-read list. All those books at the top of the list have been mocking me. Especially the non-fiction and classic books that keep piling up. Not because I don't like reading those books, but because it's so much easier to grab some urban fantasy and lose myself in it. So as part of my new years resolution I set some goals to clear some of those puppies off the list and this book came up. At the beginning of February I began reading this book with enthusiasm. This was the Borgias! Love and Scandal! This was going to be good. As the pages droned on, my zeal slowly failed. Somehow Bradford managed to take one of the most intriguing families in the world and reduce them to boring lists and statistics. Did I learn a lot? Yes, I really did. I feel completely confident discussing medieval Italian politics with all interested parties. Was this book about Lucrezia? Not really. I was hoping to learn more about this, often infamous, lady, but this book wasn't about her. It was about the men that surrounded her. This book should have been entitled: "An Informative Dialogue on Italian Politics During the Reign of the Borgias" Now, doesn't that sound like a thriller? I usually just stop reading books that aren't that interesting. I am not afraid of filling that DNF shelf right up. Since I bought this stupid book and it was the second book on my yearly goal list, I think it became kind of a "MUST BEAT THE BOOK" situation. So I persevered. Every night when I read I would check how many pages I had left and see how many pages I'd have to read a day to finish before the end of February. Then I'd try to push myself to read just a few more pages so I could finish it faster. I feel kind of cheated. I wanted to learn about Lucrezia. Reading between the excessive paragraphs about her clothes and the food she served, I actually think she was one smart lady. She deserves to have an awesome bio written about her. I think Bradford was trying SO HARD to stick straight to the facts and not make ANY inferences that she made Lucrezia lifeless. She was totally flat. It was like we were always on the periphery, trying to get closer to Lucrezia, but never allowed in.I expect history writers to make inferences. I expect them to bring these ancient characters to life. That's what makes history so interesting. I know that no one can ever know EXACTLY what happened, but biographers spend so much time studying their subjects, I trust them. Even when I don't agree, I like to see way more life in my history books. Big let down on this one. Would not recommend to anyone.

  • Belinda
    2019-03-29 06:13

    This was a wonderful biography---and one of the few honest ones of Lucrezia Borgia out there. Most bios before a certain time are to be avoided--littered with inaccuracies and downright slander. Also usually far too filled with information on her illustrious if somewhat decadent family. This book truly focuses on Lucrezia herself. It starts with her beginnings and a nice overview of the warring families and duchys that made up Italy at the time and from which she sprung.The book pretty quickly debunks most myths about Lucrezia which is long overdue. Far from the poisoning, incestous creature she is described as in most books,or films and even history books or the simpering, slightly soft headed child of fate, controlled equally by her brother and father, Lucrezia evolves as a very human, and very interesting woman of her times. Starting with her strange childhood as the bastard child of a pope and ending with her days as the acclaimed and much loved Duchess of Ferrarra this book covers it all, using her existing letters as well as descriptions and histories by less biased folks of the time. What emerges is a portrait of a complicated, beautiful, wily, charming and religous woman who despite committing the same sins as any human might commit, is often colored as blackly as her sociopathic brother Cesare. She is even quite a feminist figure, ruling Ferrarra in her husband's absences (quite frequent) and deeply respected by poets, artists and writers of the times as a cultured, intelligent and kind woman.Having been fascinated by Lucrezia since I was a child (I read my first book about her at the age of 10) and always wondering what the truth was about her life, I was quite pleased to find a really detailed and in depth look at her life to add to my own opinion of the lady.

  • Chloe
    2019-03-29 03:19

    While this is clearly a thoroughly well researched book it somehow still leaves me knowing very little about Lucrezia Borgia, maybe this is because so much of the detail of her life is known only through the letters of the other people in her world. Unfortunately for Sarah Bradford it seems that there just isn't enough evidence to support or refute any claims about Lucrezia, and she remains a largely shadowy figure. This book seems to not quite know what it is trying to be, it's not informative enough to be a purely academic text but also not entertaining enough to be a 'light read'.The detail Bradford lavishes on some aspects of Lucrezia's life is in places absorbing however it is strikingly out of place when compared with the vast gaps she leaves in others areas of the contemporary society or culture. For instance numerous chunks of text are given over to describing the various cloths Lucrezia used for her dresses but not once is there any explanation of the seeming custom of adultery prevalent amongst aristocratic society at this time.All in all I felt I was left rather cold by this work, although I did gain insight into a few details of Lucrezia's life, such as her grooming regime, there seems very little evidence of a real person on the pages of this book. The bold claim that this work will in some way expose new thinking or diminish previous assumptions about a much maligned figure in history is simply unsupportable, Lucrezia remains a mystery but I feel very much that it is not because she is an enigmatic, chameleon-like personality with an almost mystical or legendary presence but much more because she was simply an aristocratic lady who like many others mentioned in this book did what was customary - that is necessary, to get by.

  • Jae
    2019-04-01 05:19

    In a lot of ways this book was very interesting yet a little frustrating. For a woman about whom so much has been written, and so many incredibly scandalous things, there really isn't very much known about her. Compared to other women of her time, there's a lot, but still there are a lot of empty spaces especially in terms of how she felt about the many amazing things that happened in her life. But even given that, her life was fascinating, and certainly the time period was fascinating. There did come times when I was a little tired of the seemingly endless lists of clothing or furniture or other luxuries she took with her to one of her many marriages (I felt like saying at various points, yes, I understand all this display is how you showed power then, but I'm convinced already), but that was more than offset by the considerable strangeness and craziness of daily life at this time. She's the daughter of the pope! She's the sister of the almost satanically clever and feared Cesare Borgia! She wins one of her fathers-in law's love by helping him add to his collection of nuns with stigmata! The descriptions of daily life in Rome, and of Lucrezia's own political machinations, were my favorite parts.

  • Adrian Stumpp
    2019-03-26 04:25

    Bradford achieved fame for an apparently first rate retelling of the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. I have not read that book but I hope it is better than the current one. A deplorable trend is building steam among historians, and hence, biographers, that literary license makes for bad history. Therefore, we get a chronological detail of the events of the Borgia dynasty, heavy on factual information that is well researched from the vaults of the Vatican and quick paced in narrative, but light on interpretation and psychological analysis or character speculation. These biographers seem to misunderstand that history is the art of interpretation, not the gathering of static facts. The point of this particular biography seems to be to salvage the reputation of Alexander Borgia's only daughter. Maligned throughout history as a witch, whore, and murderess, Ms. Bradford felt the need to point out that most history has been mysogynist and sexist and Lucrezia might not have deserved the bleak reputation history has stuck to her. Duh. The descriminating reader would do well to read an older, more mysogynistic, but better written and braver biography while at the same time keeping in mind that women are people too.

  • Annie
    2019-04-11 04:06

    I loved this book and enjoyed the subject too much to find it tedious, although I can see how others might. It's an illuminating biography on one of history's most (in)famous women, and although much of the rumor and glamour of the Borgia legacy has been stripped by the truth (or the closest we'll ever come to the truth, anyway), it is still a fascinating read. Indeed, Lucrezia shines the brightest not as the daughter of the pope, but when she was the Duchess of Ferrara; being no longer subject to her family's manipulations, she became a powerful woman in her own right. Criticisms of the author dwelling too much on various members of Lucrezia's family and entourage rather than the woman herself are perfectly valid, though I rather suspect they are due to a lack in source material concerning Lucrezia more than anything else. None-the-less, I found it did paint a broader picture of the times she lived in and the people she knew. Those who come into this biography looking for the villainous poisoner from legend will go away disappointed, but as for me, I'm quite content with the picture Sarah Bardford has painted of her.

  • Sarai
    2019-04-14 01:29

    This is a true story covering the life of Lucrezia Borgia, the illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander VI, who lived in what is now Italy in the late 1400s. Lucrezia has been charged with incest and murder, but Bradford paints a different portrait of a young woman who spent much of her life under the rule of her father and brother and was used as a pawn in their machinations toward gaining more power.This is not a book for people who enjoy light, fast reading. There is a lot of detail presented and there are a LOT of people discussed. I often found myself trying to recall, "Now, who is that?" However, the book is interesting if one is prepared for slower-paced, densely-packed material.

  • Rachel
    2019-04-14 03:26

    This book was clearly very well researched and quite well written. The author offers some interesting perspectives on Lucrezia's life. It's hard to get a good perspective on who exactly Lucrezia was, largely because most of what is known of her has to be gathered from third party sources. In spite of a few too many details about clothing, jewels and furniture (there may be no heart-felt record of Lucrezia's true emotions in existence but there sure is a lot of documentation concerning her wardrobe) the book did a good job depicting the challanges facing Lucrezia and her amazing ruling abilities as Duchess of Ferrera. A worthwhile read.

  • Sarah -
    2019-03-21 05:07

    I thought the Borgias were supposed to be interesting. Perhaps it is Bradford's writing style that made it less so.I know as much about Lucrezia as I did before - which is almost nothing. She never feels like a real person and two of the three most important relationships in her life are hardly given much attention.I know Bradford did a lot of research and she certainly knows her subject well, but it doesn't translate into helping her readers know Lucrezia better. Highly disappointed in this one.

  • Kelly Korby
    2019-04-13 06:24

    Not a bad book,Braford's prose is a little dry,and I feel she highlights Lucrezia's seedier side with a little too much emphasis.But she also focuses on her compassionate side also,pleading the case for many people during her life.Bradford does manage to introduce many different people into the story,including a couple references to King Henry VIII of England.Several characters to keep track of throughout the book and you really have to focus on the story and what the timeline is or it can be a bit disconcerting.Three stars.

  • Juliette
    2019-04-16 04:29

    Having just finished a book on Henry VII that was all over the place chronologically, and this book while not as bad, but did jump around a bit, I did have a difficult time piecing together some of the concurring events. However, this is the first Borgia book that really got into Lurcrezia's life after the death of her father and brother, which is what I always felt was missing and wanted to know more about.

  • Jennifer
    2019-03-31 02:20

    A little conflicted about this book...I learned quite a bit more about Italian history, which I enjoyed. But this book managed to make Lucrezia Borgia into a dull, uninteresting subject. Obviously all the poisoning, incest, etc., is mainly myth, but this swings so far in the other direction. Spends so much time telling the reader how devout Lucrezia was, how much time she spent in convents, which is fine, but don't strip her of all her glamour.

  • Kim
    2019-04-11 05:14

    Informative, but it became a chore to read over time. The writer became distracted several times delving into what other people were doing, when a summary of their doings and how they tied to Lucrezia's life would have sufficed. Also, the excessive use of quoting letters also added to the difficulty of reading it. Paraphrasing would have worked in some cases just as well.

  •  Bunny Christine
    2019-04-10 05:16

    If I were ever to write an historical fiction novel based upon Lucrezia's life and loves, I would utilize this biography's in-depth historical information. I only wish the information was organized in a readable format. Bradford includes so much background information that she loses sight of the books main character, Lucrezia Borgia.

  • Elizabeth Sulzby
    2019-03-26 06:19

    I have written a lot about Sarah Bradford's Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love, and Death in Renaissance Italy but just discovered I had not written anything about it in Goodreads. This is perhaps the best history of Lucrezia herself and also of the Borgia family in relation to Lucrezia.