15. Caterina Sforza Crushed and Visited Vengeance Upon Her Husband’s Killers
Caterina Sforza and her husband Gioralmo Riarlo left Rome for their holdings in Forli, which became her base of operations. In 1488, Gioralmo was assassinated by a rival family, the Orsis, and Caterina and her children were captured. The killers’ conquest of Forli was incomplete, however, as a nearby fortress, the Rocca di Ravaldino, still held out. So the Orsis released Caterina to talk the fortress into surrender, while keeping her children hostage to ensure her compliance. Once free and in the unconquered fortress, however, Caterina turned on the Orsis, vowing vengeance upon them.
When the Orsis threatened to kill her kids, she stood atop the Rocca di Ravaldino’s walls, bared her privates, and pointing to her vagina told them: “Go ahead! Hang them in front of me if you want! Here, I have what is need to make others!” The shocked Orsis were intimidated and refrained from harming the captive children. Caterina gathered her forces, and with the help of her relatives, was eventually able to crush the Orsis, free her children, and regain control of Forli.