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All about Cecilia Gallerani

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Rome, Italy
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Biography :
It was not so long ago that the House of Borgia emerged from relative obscurity from its origins in the town of Xàtiva in Valencia. I am a Borgia several times over, but it is because of my family’s tidy habit of intermarrying – when noble matches could not be found to add to the splendour of our name, we would usually marry each other. The Borgia blood runs thicker in some than in others, and we are not all pure blue-blooded Visigoth. You will see it in the eyes that we have mixed with Moors, and compounded the taint by mixing only with each other. Every few generations, there is a Borgia born with not blue eyes but black, and a sallow complexion.

I was born in Rome in 1475. My father was an insignificant member of the Sienese bourgeoisie, a man whose value was worth even less than his name: Gallerani. My mother was of illegitimate birth; the daughter of a Cardinal, Rodrigo Borgia. It was not the fashion, at that time, to declare your bastards, and so my mother pretended that she was not a Borgia at all, but the eyes do not lie; they are dark and hungry, and as Borgia as the bull that emblazons its arms.

My grandfather’s rise was meteoric, and his career in the Vatican added a new touch of prestige to the Borgia name. Suddenly Borgias descended upon Rome in scores, looking to make the most of their illustrious relative’s generosity. I was summoned to Rome, to marry, my mother said, to make a marriage that the provincial chits of Siena could not dream of. I was drunk with luck, for I was to marry the Duke of Milan, the most powerful man in the Italian peninsula.

However, when I had met his uncles, Ludovico and Ascanio Sforza, I realised how wrong I was. Gian Galeazzo Sforza was twenty-three, and already a widower, when I married him; I was fifteen. My mother had said it was a good match in age, and that I would be well taken care of as the Duchess of Milan. Four years later, I was a widow, a victim of the machinations of my uncles-in-law, and carrying the next Duke of Milan in my belly.
Cecilia Gallerani
Cecilia Gallerani
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