And so the Borgias tried to kill him. Supposedly, anyway. In 1497 when he was visiting Rome he fled the city in disguise – supposedly because Cesare, Lucrezia’s brother, was trying to poison him. Lucrezia either warned him of it or he read a letter from Cesare to Lucrezia informing him of it in advance, and thus escaped.
When they failed to kill him the Borgias demanded that Giovanni’s marriage to Lucrezia be annulled. Giovanni was reluctant. He pointed out that his late wife – prior to Lucrezia – had died in childbirth, so he could not be impotent. Giovanni asked to be given the opportunity to prove that he was not impotent at trial with a group of women. The trial never went forward, either because Giovanni decided that was a terrible idea, or since Alexander never agreed.
Either way, standing up to the Borgia family on this point was probably the boldest thing Giovanni ever did, and it does make you realize how terrible it would be to be accused of impotence in the 15th century.
Giovanni then went on the offensive and publicly accused Lucrezia of sleeping with her brother Cesare and her father. Now, he may have just been angry, or he may have had a very legitimate, if fairly uncomfortable, point. I do think a lot of things happen between Lucrezia and her brother, in particular, that seem very unusual.
However, what’s super weird is that this is how Lucrezia came to be associated poisoning people.