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Database: Caterina Sforza

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Date of Birth: 1463.
Profession: Countess of Forlì, Noble.

A countess by marriage, Caterina was notorious far before she ever arrived in Forlì. Raised in the Court of Milan, she received a classical education while tutored in the art of war by her father, the Duke. At court, Caterina also acquired a passion for alchemy and hunting.

In 1473, when she was 10-years-old, Caterina became engaged to Girolamo Riario, the Pope's nephew. They consummated their marriage when she was 14.

Once in Rome, she was heralded as one of the most outgoing nobles at court, while her husband had a reputation for being one of the most ruthless. With the premature death of the Pope's brother, Girolamo gained even more power, securing the titles of Lord of Imola and Forlì.

When the Pope died, looters sacked Rome, destroying Caterina's residence. Unafraid, despite being 7 months pregnant, Caterina rode on horseback to the Castel Sant'Angelo and defended the Vatican with cannon fire and soldiers.

In 1484, she moved with her family to Forlì. Paid off by someone with a grievance against her husband, the Orsi Brothers killed Girolamo in 1488. As a result, Caterina became the ruler of Forlì and Imola.

She wasted no time, winning the favour of nearby rulers, revising the tax system and training the militia herself. Although she advocated peace, when those around her were hurt she dealt fierce vengeance, frequently killing enemies' wives and children in punishment. While Forlì was under attack by Cesare Borgia, the Pope's son, she sent the Pope a letter that had been rubbed with plague sores.

Ultimately, Forlì and Caterina fell to Cesare Borgia in 1499. Caterina was captured and sent to Rodrigo Borgia in Rome, who kept her imprisoned for a year and is rumoured to have raped her alongside his son. When she emerged from the Vatican, her hair had turned white.

Exiled to Florence, Caterina died of pneumonia in 1509.

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