And the Borgia family was the most powerful family in Italy in one of Italy’s most glorious periods. Francesco Guicciardini, the 16th century historian who lived during the Borgia’s reign (which began around 1492) claimed that:
Italy had never enjoyed such prosperity, or known so favorable a situation as that in which it found itself so securely at rest in the yearo f our Christian Salvation 1490, and the years immediately before and after. The greatest peace and tranquility reigned everywhere… dominated by no power other than her own, not only did Italy abound in inhabitants, merchandise and riches, but she was also highly renowned for the magnificence of her princes.”
It’s worth knowing that during this era each major territory in Italy existed as a kind of city-state controlled by its own princes – for instance, the Medici family held sway over Florence, the Sforzas ruled the Duchy of Milan, etc.
But Rome. Rome was the greatest city of them all.
And the Pope ruled Rome, which made the position as much a governmental one as it was religious.
Lucrezia’s dad, Pope Alexander VI, bought the election. He had tons of money, and a good deal of influence, and he just straight up bought it, like some kind of 16th century Joe Kennedy. He paid for a landslide.
He also had a mistress, Vanozza dei Cattani, who gave birth to Lucrezia in 1480.