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Vannozza dei Cattanei

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Title: Vannozza dei Cattanei  
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Subject: Pope Alexander VI, Cesare Borgia, Giovanni Borgia, 2nd Duke of Gandia, Lucrezia Borgia, The Conclave
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Vannozza dei Cattanei

Vannozza dei Cattanei
Born Giovanna dei Cattanei
(1442-07-13)13 July 1442
Died 24 November 1518(1518-11-24) (aged 76)
Nationality Italian
Partner(s) Pope Alexander VI
Children Cesare Borgia
Giovanni Borgia
Lucrezia Borgia
Gioffre Borgia
Ottavio di Croce

Vannozza dei Cattanei (neé: Giovanna dei Cattanei, but nicknamed "Vannozza"; 13 July 1442–24 November 1518)[1] was an Italian woman who was one of the many mistresses of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, later to become Pope Alexander VI. Among them, she was the one whose relationship with him lasted the longest.[2]


  • Early life 1
  • Relationship with Rodrigo Borgia 2
  • Later life 3
  • In fiction 4

Early life

Born in 1442, most likely in Pope Julius II.

Relationship with Rodrigo Borgia

Vannozza's relationship with Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia began sometime between 1466 and 1472. She is believed to have married Domenico d'Arignano, an officer of the Church, perhaps in 1473, possibly at the arrangement of Borgia.[2][5]

She bore four children whom Borgia openly acknowledged as his:

  • Cesare (1475–1507)
  • Giovanni (1476–1497), 2nd Duke of Gandia
  • Lucrezia (1480–1519)
  • Gioffre (born 1481 or 1482; died 1518)[3][6]

Domenico died before Giovanni was born. In 1480 Borgia arranged Vannozza's marriage to Giorgio di Croce, for whom he had procured a position as apostolic secretary.[7] During the marriage to Giorgio, Vannozza had a son, Ottavio, who did not live long. In 1486 Giorgio died and Vannozza married Carlo Canale.[8]

Later life

Before his elevation to the papacy, Borgia's passion for Vannozza somewhat diminished, and she subsequently led a very retired life. However, Borgia's love for his children by Vannozza remained as strong as ever; it proved, indeed, the determining factor of his whole career. He lavished vast sums on them and lauded them with every honour.

Vannozza died in 1518 and was buried in the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome.[9]

Arnold Mathew wrote: "Vannozza breathed her last at Rome, November 26, 1518, at the age of seventy-six. She was buried with conspicuous honours 'almost like a Cardinal' in the Church of Santa Maria del Popolo, near her son, the Duke of Gandia. An official character was imparted to the ceremony by the presence of the papal Court. Pope Leo X in this way recognised Vannozza either as the widow of Alexander VI or as the mother of the Duchess of Ferrara."[10]

In fiction

In the 2006 film The Conclave, she is played by Nora Tschirner.

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