14. Caterina Sforza’s Ferocious Vengeance Upon Her Lover’s Assassins
Soon after she recaptured Forli, Caterina Sforza fell passionately in love with a younger man, Giacomo Feo, and secretly married him. In her passion, she removed her elder son Ottaviano from power, and awarded his positions to her new hubby. Ottaviano’s partisans disapproved of the new arrangement, and in 1495, they assassinated Giacomo Feo. Caterina’s vengeance was ferocious. She responded by having the assassins massacred, along with their entire families. Her next enemies would prove the toughest of all: the Borgia clan, perhaps the most corrupt papal family, ever.
When Pope Alexander VI Borgia set out to enlarge the Papal States, Caterina’s lands were on his list. She fortified herself in Forli and personally led a fierce defense against the Borgia forces, refusing all peace offers, even at the cost of her children’s lives. However, her enemies’ artillery finally breached the fortress’ walls, and the Borgia forces stormed in. Caterina continued her resistance, engaging in hand to hand fighting, until she was finally overcome and captured. She was taken to Rome, and after a stint of imprisonment, was finally exiled to live out her remaining days in Florence.