Giovanni Sforza Historical Profile




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GIOVANNI SFORZA Historical Profile
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GIOVANNI SFORZA STATS
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Name: Giovanni Sforza
Born: 5 July 1466
Home town: Pesaro
Died: 27 July 1510
Position: Lord of Pesaro & Gradara
House of: Sforza, son of Costanzo I Sforza and his mistress Fiora Boni
Famous for: Marriage and annulment - Lucrezia Borgia
Strength(s): Resilience.
Weakness(es): Limited value as an ally - as this became increasingly obvious to Alexander VI, he arranged a divorce for Lucrezia on the grounds of non-consummation.
Trivia/Quirks: Was accused of impotence as grounds for the annulment, though his former wife Maddalena Gonzaga died in childbirth (1490). It was suggested that he perform coitus with someone in the public square to prove it.



Giovanni Sforza Portrait Medal

"if I had forseen in what position I was to be placed I would sooner haven eaten the straw under my bodythan have entered into such an agreement."

- Letter from Giovanni to his uncle Ludovico Sforza

[in reference to his alliance by marriage with the pope who had recently allied with Milan's enemy Naples]


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GIOVANNI SFORZA BIO
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A member of the powerful House of Sforza, Giovanni was the illegitimate son of Costanzo I Sforza. He was an Italian Condottiero and Lord of Pesaro and Gradara from 1483 until the time of his death. He was the nephew of the powerful Cardinal Ascanio Sforza. He is mostly known for being the first husband of Lucrezia Borgia. A proxy marriage took place on the twelfth of June as the pre-contract stated that Lucrezia would remain in Rome and the marriage was not to be consummated for a year. Gionvanni and Lucrezia were officially married in the Vatican in 1493, the wedding was said to be an expensive lavish decadent affair.

After spending two years together in Pesaro, Giovanni's importance was starting to dwindle to the Borgia family, and then it came about that he was acting as a spy on the Borgias to Milan's advantage. At the same time other political advantages were formed and his marriage to Lucrezia was becoming useless. Lucrezia was unable to adjust to life in Pesaro and by Christmas 1495 they were back in Rome.

Giovanni Sforza now realised his position was in danger and left Rome to continue with a military campaign returning only briefly before fleeing the city in disguise. It is said he learned of a plot between Pope Alexander VI and Cesare to kill him.

Sforza was forced to agree to a divorce from Lucrezia on the humiliating grounds that he had been unable to consummate the marriage. He eventually complied under heavy pressure from his family and with the promise that he could keep Lucrezia's dowry, but took his revenge by spreading rumours that Lucrezia had committed incest with her father and brothers.

Sforza's hold on Pesaro was shaken by his excommunication in 1500 and he was ejected by Cesare Borgia in 1501. He returned in 1503 on Alexander's death and was confirmed in his lordship by Pope Julius II the following year. He married a third wife, Ginerva Tiepolo, by whom he had a son, Constanzo, who succeeded him as lord of Pesaro on his death in 1510.


page logo CONTEMPORARY VOICES
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FROM ADRIANA DE MILA TO POPE ALEXANDER:
Signor Johanni [Giovanni] is as kind to us, in every possible way, as could well be desired; yet I am filled with continual longing, and think of nothing, save to be near Your Holiness and live in Your Holiness's shadow; being here [Pesaro], far from Your Beatitude, i seem to stand at the world's end... - From The Borgias (Clemente Fusero, p. 170)

FROM ANTONIO COSTABILI (FERRARESE AMBASSADOR) TO ERCOLE D'ESTE, DUKE OF FERRARA:
And when His Excellency asked him [Giovanni Sforza] if this [his alleged impotence and inability to consummate his marriage to Lucrezia] were true, he answered no. Rather, he had known her an infinite number of times. But the Pope had her taken away from him only in order to have her to himself... (quoted by Sarah Bradford, Lucrezia Borgia, p. 50)




page logo GIOVANNI SFORZA QUOTES
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  • ...if I had forseen in what position I was to be placed I would sooner haven eaten the straw under my bodythan have entered into such an agreement. - Letter from Giovanni to his uncle Ludovico Sforza, in reference to his alliance by marriage with the pope who had recently allied with Milan's enemy Naples
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page logo GIOVANNI SFORZA TRIVIA
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  • Forced by his family to accept a divorce from Lucrezia on the humiliating grounds of his alleged impotence and the non-consummation of the the marriage when his political advantages as a connection for the Borgia family waned and his life was endangered by Rodrigo and Cesare who wanted to be rid of him making Lucrezia available as a prospective bride for another alliance.
  • His first wife was Maddalena Gonzaga (1467-1490), youngest daughter of Ludovico Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua. She died in October 1489 died after stillbirth.
  • His second wife was Lucrezia Borgia (1480-1519), daughter of Pope Alexander VI. They wed on on 12 June 1493; annulment of the marriage was finalized on on 20 December 1497 on grounds of non-consummation due to his impotence.
  • His third wife was Ginevra Casa Tiepolo, they wed in 1504.



page logo ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND MATERIALS
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BOOKS & PUBLICATIONS WEBSITES & MEDIA
  • Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love, and Death in Renaissance Italy (Sarah Bradford, pages 50-59 deal with their divorce)
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