- Felice della Rovere
Felice della Rovere (c. 1483 – September 27, 1536), also known as Madonna Felice, was an illegitimate daughter of
Pope Julius IIand was one of the most powerful women of the Italian Renaissance. Through the influence of her father, including an arranged marriage to Gian Giordano Orsini, she wielded extraordinary wealth and influence both within and beyond the Roman Curia. In particular, she negotiated a peace between Julius II and the Queen of France.
Della Rovere's mother was Lucrezia Normanni, from an ancient Roman family, for whom Julius II had arranged a marriage to Bernardino de Cupis, a "
majordomo" in the della Rovere household. Giovanni Domenico de Cupis, the son of Normanni and de Cupis, was elevated to a cardinal by Leo X.Martin, Donna. 2005, October 7. " [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1141/is_43_41/ai_n15784081 A Renaissance Woman Rescued from Obscurity] ". "National Catholic Reporter".] There is limited documentary evidence that della Rovere was married at 14, and was widowed shortly afterward. According to Murphy, della Rovere "de facto" filled "the role that she knew would have been hers had she been born a boy, that of cardinal nipote".Boucher, Bruce. 2005, September 5. " [http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/09/04/news/booklun.php The Pope's Daughter] ". "International Herald Tribune".]
Julius II, who had apparently previously attempted to arrange strategic marriages for della Rovere, did not attend her nuptials when she finally consented to marry Giangiordano Orsini (more than twenty years her senior), at age 23. Subsequently, financial records, secondary sources, documents in the Orsini archives, and letters to and from della Rovere indicate that she exercised considerable influence over not only Julius II, but his Medici successors
Pope Leo Xand Pope Clement VII, although not the Dutch outsider Pope Adrian VI.
At some point after her marriage, della Rovere apparently reconciled with her father and received a gift of 9,000 ducats. With these funds, she purchased a castle, Palo, from which she exported wheat with great financial success, often to the Vatican itself.
After the death of Gian Giordano in 1517, della Rovere gained control of the extensive Orsini financial assets - the terms of della Rovere's marriage contract to Orsini had also provided for any future son of hers to take precedence over Napoleone and the other children from Orsini's previous marriage). Della Rovere begot two sons, Francesco and Girolamo, choosing the second as the heir to the Orsini fortune (and thus ensuring a rivalry with Napoleone), as well as two daughters—Giulia and Clarice—as well as a third who died during infancy. Following the
Sack of Rome (1527), the long-running rivalry between Girolamo Orsini, her son, and her step-son, Napoleone Orsini intensified.
Subsequently she was married to
Antonello di Sanseverino, the exiled Prince of Salermoand the nephew of Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino. [Julia Mary Cartwright Ady. 1908. " [http://books.google.com/books/pdf/Baldassare_Castiglione_the_Perfect_Court.pdf?id=AypMAAAAMAAJ&output=pdf&sig=ACfU3U0uLhA4Fma_cbLF6H_-XdpMBWr89A Baldassare Castiglione the Perfect Courtier: His Life and Letters, 1478-1529] ". p. 124.] Her descendants married into the Sforza, Borghese, and Boncampagni-Ludovisifamilies. [Williams, 2004, p. 154.]
*Murphy, Caroline P. 2005. "The Pope's Daughter: The Extraordinary Life of Felice Della Rovere". Oxford University Press. ISBN:0195182685.
*Williams, George L. 2004. "Papal Genealogy: The Families and Descendants of the Popes". McFarland. ISBN:0786420715.
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