Maria Enriquez de Luna Historical Profile

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Maria Enriquez de Luna
Historical Profile
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MARIA ENRIQUEZ DE LUNA STATS
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Name: Maria Enriquez de Luna y Borgia
Born: 1474 or 1475
Home town: Baza/Valencia
Died: 1539
Position: Duchess of Gandia
House of: Enriquez
Relationship to Borgias: Wife of Juan Borgia, Duke of Gandia
Personality type: Determined; intelligent; devout; a very capable businesswoman and estate manager
Famous for: Grandmother of Saint Francis Borgia
Strength(s): Strong-willed; clever; devoted to Juan and the interests of her children
Weakness(es): Probably too pious and serious to appeal to Juan as a wife, although he no doubt appreciated her skill in managing his estates; too easily convinced that Cesare was her husband's murderer
Famous for: administered duchy of Gandia wisely; piety and charitable works

Virgen de los Caballeros
Virgen de Los Caballeros, Valencia Cathedral, commissioned by Maria Enriquez de Luna, wife of Juan Borgia c. 1500

Maria Enriquez De Luna
Statue of Maria Enriquez de Luna, location unconfirmed but possibly at the Ducal Palace of Gandia

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MARIA ENRIQUEZ DE LUNA BIO
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Maria Enriquez de Luna was born in 1474 or 1475, the daughter of Enrique (Henry) Enriquez and his wife Maria de Luna.

Enrique Enriquez (c. 1440 - 1504) was the second son of Frederick Enriquez, hereditary Admiral of Castile and one of the most powerful nobles in the kingdom. Frederick was descended from an illegitimate son of King Alfonso XI and also had Jewish blood through his grandmother Paloma of Toledo. He had seven beautiful and intelligent daughters who married into the most aristocratic families in Castile and Aragon; the eldest of these, Joanna, was the second wife of King John of Aragon and mother of Ferdinand of Aragon, who would unite the Spanish kingdoms through his marriage to Isabella of Castile, and Joanna, wife of King Ferrante of Naples. Enrique fought in the wars to conquer the Moorish kingdom of Granada and was granted lands around the city of Baza, where he and his wife Maria de Luna (c. 1450 - 1530) built a palace which still survives today. He also served as Major Domo to the royal household.

Wealthy, well-connected, the eldest of four daughters and the first cousin of the King, Maria was an excellent 'catch' for the Borgia family. Rodrigo Borgia had a longstanding alliance with his fellow countryman King Ferdinand and had been allowed to purchase the Duchy of Gandia, near the Borgias' home town of Valencia, from the Crown in 1483. His eldest son, Pedro Luis, became Duke in 1485 and was betrothed to Maria in 1487. However, he died in 1488, before the marriage could be performed, leaving both his Duchy and his fiancee to his younger brother Juan.

Juan left Rome in June 1493 with an enormous quantity of goods and furniture for his new palace and with his father's warning to refrain from gambling and womanising; he married Maria at Barcelona in September. The Pope's warnings seem to have had little effect as reports filtered back to Rome about Juan's bad behaviour: he was said to have spent his time drinking, gambling and frequenting brothels in Barcelona and Valencia, and was also rumoured not to have consummated his marriage. Both the Pope and Cesare wrote angry letters telling Juan to mend his ways, but Juan replied that his marriage had been consummated 'many times'. To prevent further damage to Papal/Spanish relations, Juan was recalled to Rome in 1496. Maria, who had given birth to a son, named Juan after his father, in the previous year, stayed behind at Gandia. She was pregnant again, and gave birth to a daughter, Isabella, the following year.

Maria would never see Juan again: he was murdered in Rome by unknown killers in June 1497. Later gossip named his brother Cesare as his killer and Maria became convinced that this was true. She commissioned a painting, the Virgen de Los Cabelleros (above), which showed Cesare raising his dagger to stab the kneeling Juan. Whatever her personal feelings towards Juan (and he cannot have been an ideal husband), she remained loyal to his memory and was determined to avenge his murder. She petitioned the King to have Cesare tried for his brother's murder. Maria also resisted the Pope's attempts to have any say in the raising of the children of his favourite son: Alexander complained that they were 'closer to the King of Spain than to him'. Her attitude is understandable: given the the Pope's evil reputation and her husband's fate, she was probably wise to keep them safe at Gandia.

Maria was no doubt delighted when Cesare was captured by Gonsalve de Cordoba and sent as a prisoner to Valencia in 1504. There were rumours that Cesare would be tried for the murders of his brother and of Lucrezia's second husband Alfonso of Naples (of which he was almost certainly guilty) but Ferdinand preferred to keep him as an untried prisoner, first at Chinchilla near Valencia then at Medina del Campo as a bargaining chip in his negotiations with the new Pope, Julius II. Maria was left to concentrate on raising her children and improving his estates: 'she managed her stony, sun-baked acres so well that her son Juan became a rich man' (Marion Johnson, 'The Borgias'). She also found the time and money to improve local churches and religious foundations, including the Monastery of St. Jerome and the Convent of St. Clare. She had sold Juan's dukedom of Sessa to Ferdinand in 1506, effectively cutting any remaining ties between the Gandia Borgias and Italy.

Maria arranged a highly advantageous match for her son: he married Joanna of Aragon, illegitimate daughter of the Archbishop of Saragossa, himself the illegitimate son of King Ferdinand, in 1509. The following year, Joanna gave birth to Francis Borgia, future Duke and Saint. In 1511, satisfied that her son was settled and able to manage his own affairs, she retired to the Convent of St. Clare and became a nun under the name Sister Gabriela. Her daughter Isabella joined her, the first of a long line of Borgia nuns that would continue for the next two hundred years. Maria's administrative abilities were further recognised when she became Abbess of the Convent in 1530. She died there in 1539, aged about 63.




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CONTEMPORARY VOICES
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MARIA ENRIQUEZ DE LUNA QUOTES
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MARIA ENRIQUEZ DE LUNA TRIVIA
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  • Marion Johnson writes in her biography of the Borgias that Maria commissioned the above panel painting of Jesus and saints which actually depicts Cesare stabbing Juan, kneeling as Jesus Christ near his brother Jofre.
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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND MATERIALS
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BOOKS & PUBLICATIONS WEBSITES & MEDIA
  • The Borgias by Marion Johnson
  • Cesare Borgia by Sarah Bradford
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