Lucrezia Borgia had a lot of fun, on orders from her family. Whether she was the wickedest woman in the world or a perfect innocent in the matter depends on who’s talking. She was born in 1480, Italy and was the daughter of Pope Alexander VI somehow.
As Lucrezia grew up, she went from a useless child to an excellent tool for cementing political alliances. Annulling a previous, less advantageous engagement, the Pope gently decreed that she marry the more well-connected Giovanni Sforza. They were both illegitimate, so it seemed a perfect fit. Eventually, however, the Pope no longer needed the Sforzas, and there was a coincidental execution order.
Giovanni fled, accusing Lucrezia and her brother Cesare of loving each other a bit too much. That may have just been the attempted murder talking. She probably loved him just enough. Giovanni was in turn accused of not consummating the marriage, which raises several questions about where the baby came from. The child may have been the product of a union with a stable hand. Out of her many special friends, he was the only one found face-down in the Tiber. The Pope, however, declared it to be his by another affair, which was considered less scandalous, and Lucrezia kindly took it in as her half-brother.
Lucrezia’s second marriage to Alfonso of Aragon was briefly interrupted by his murder once Cesare had changed alliances once more. Her third wedding was to Alfonso d’Est, and this one finally took. That might be due to the Borgias’ fall from their former political heights. Lucrezia and Alfonso had a wonderfully open marriage, which left both parties living happily ever after.
Lucrezia Borgia was probably no better or worse than any other woman of her time and place. The men making her decisions for her were just meaner. Once the males of her family had fallen out of power, her husband and lovers were much safer.