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The Tigress of Forlì: Renaissance Italy's Most Courageous and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de Medici - Elizabeth Lev

"Se io potessi scrivere tutto, farei stupire il mondo" (If I could write everything, I would shock the world). -- Caterina Sforza to a monk during the last decade of her life.

A superbly researched biography of an extraordinary woman we don't hear enough about except her connection to the Borgias. Her story is a lot more interesting than Lucrieza's. At ten she was married to Sixtus IV's nephew, the archenemy of the Medicis Girolamo Riario. After Riarlo's assassination by the Orsi, she became the regent for her son Ottaviano and immediately hunted down her husband's killers as well as anyone remotely connected to the conspiracy, including the Orsi women and the Pope's governor. She trained her city's militia herself and personally oversaw all manner of public policy. Caught up in the Italian Wars and betrayed by Naples, she earned the enmity of Venice until their ally, Caesare Borgia, eventually captured her. It's a wonder Hollywood hasn't come along to do a bang-up job in her life, something better than the schematic portrayal she gets on The Borgias.