The Tigress of Forlì

The Tigress of Forlì

Renaissance Italy's Most Courageous and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza De' Medici

eBook - 2011
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“In this insightful, fascinating portrayal, Elizabeth Lev brings Caterina Sforza and her times very much to life.”—Kathleen Turner, actress and author of Send Yourself Roses

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 Forlì. 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 Forlì 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 Forlì 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

A Rome-based American historian tells the extraordinary story of Caterina Sforza, perhaps the most prominent woman of Renaissance Italy, who was a wife, a mother, a leader, and a warrior with the courage to battle a Borgia pope, the charm to beguile a Medici husband, and the fierceness to make Machiavelli himself wince. 

Baker & Taylor
A revisionist examination of the vilified Renaissance Italy countess explores her marriage at the age of 10 into a corrupt pope's influential family, her fierce rule after the assassination of her husband and the inspiring resistance she led against the Borgia family. A first book. 20,000 first printing.

Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011
ISBN: 9780547608044
Characteristics: 1 online resource (341 p.) : ill


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Aug 27, 2015

What a fascinating woman that was! Married and bedded at ten, political and administrative mistress of a city-state at fourteen, notorious lover, implacable warrior, life-long scholar, avid hunter, amateur botanist, famous beauty who was a model for famous renaissance artists, mother of a flock of children, one of whom in turn fathered Cosimo de'Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and thence the Medici line that became synonymous with the glory days of Florence.
The author explores both the sacred and the profane of the time, making no bones of the brutality, corruption and viciousness that pervaded Renaissance Italy. Some of the most brilliant artistic achievements in human history were created on behalf of the most venal, unscrupulous people imaginable and in the midst of almost continual turmoil, replete with assassinations, treachery even within families and murderous vendettas where the losing parties were routinely massacred in the most painful and degrading manner possible. Perhaps most disturbing was the depth of corruption within the Church, culminating in the infamous Borgia clan, who brought about Caterina's final downfall.
Caterina's career and character were unfairly vilified by Machiavelli, so this is perhaps the first book ever to have examined her history in an even-handed manner. Although there is no doubt she could be vengeful upon those who had wronged her, she was a creature of her time and there's no doubt that she had to be extremely tough minded just to hold her own against the dozens of ambitious tyrants who sought to overthrow her; and on balance she certainly was a far better ruler than most of her peers.

cash12345 Jun 29, 2012

This book adds great historical facts to the SHO series The Borgias which strays into fiction on occasion. I enjoyed it immensely.

May 19, 2012

Marvelous book. This powerful woman refused to be reduced to the background in times fo turmoil. Great read

Dec 04, 2011

Great read, confident of the author's accuracy with culture, history and perspective. I have been following E. Lev art history commentary on for years and love her. Eye opening window on Italian Renaissance.


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