The Tigress of Forli
The Tigress of Forli
Renaissance Italy's Most Courageous and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de' Medici
Mariner Books, Paperback, 9780547844169, 316pp.
Publication Date: October 16, 2012
A strategist to match Machiavelli; a warrior who stood toe to toe with the Borgias; a wife whose three marriages would end in bloodshed and heartbreak; and a mother determined to maintain her family's honor, Caterina Riario Sforza de Medici was a true Renaissance celebrity, beloved and vilified in equal measure. In this dazzling biography, Elizabeth Lev illuminates her extraordinary life and accomplishments.
Raised in the court of Milan and wed at age ten to the pope's corrupt nephew, Caterina was ensnared in Italy's political intrigues early in life. After turbulent years in Rome's papal court, she moved to the Romagnol province of Forli. Following her husband's assassination, she ruled Italy's crossroads with iron will, martial strength, political savvy, and an icon's fashion sense. In finally losing her lands to the Borgia family, she put up a resistance that inspired all of Europe and set the stage for her progeny including Cosimo de Medici to follow her example to greatness.
A rich evocation of Renaissance life, The Tigress of Forli reveals Caterina Riario Sforza as a brilliant and fearless ruler, and a tragic but unbowed figure.
A rich, nuanced portrait of a highly controversial beauty and military leader, and her violent, albeit glittering, Italian Renaissance milieu. Publishers Weekly
Well-written and meticulously researched, The Tigress of Forli recreates the world of Renaissance Italy in all its grandeur and violence. At the center stands a remarkable woman, Caterina Riario Sforza. Mother, warrior, and icon, Caterina is unforgettable, and so is the exciting story that Elizabeth Lev tells here. Barry Strauss, author of Masters of Command: Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, and the Genius of Leadership
An engrossing biography of one of Renaissance Italy’s most accomplished powerbrokers. Few people were better able to navigate the sea of shifting alliances and internecine squabbles that characterized 15th-century Italy than Caterina Sforza (1463–1509). All the more remarkable is that she was able to do it in an era when all of her rivals were men. Widowed by three husbands—two of them assassinated before her eyes—Sforza ruled over the province of Forlì as regent for her young son Ottaviano, and was reviled, admired and feared in equal measure by popes, foreign powers and her own subjects alike. Lev (Art History/Duquesne Univ.) deftly explores the psychological strains endured by the Countess, from her first marriage to a diffident and cowardly nephew of Pope Sixtus IV, to the murder of her beloved second husband and the merciless vengeance she took upon the conspirators, to her heroic and single-handed defense of her city from the Venetians and her ultimate imprisonment in the dungeons of Cesare Borgia. The author writes with a light touch and an eye for the pageantry and drama of the time—her subject was known as one of the best-dressed women in Italy—while colorfully recounting weighty affairs of state. In one memorable scene, Sforza gains the upper hand negotiating a military alliance with a young Machiavelli: "While Machiavelli had thought the seduction of Catarina was complete, she made it clear that the courtship was only beginning. Stung by his misreading of the situation, he showed his shock and hurt through both his words and gestures, betraying his inexperience. Only later would Machiavelli learn to conceal his true thoughts behind a mask of wit and irony."An inspiring tale of the courage and fortitude of an enigmatic and indomitable woman."--Kirkus Reviews