The Pope's Daughter: The Extraordinary Life of Felice della Rovere

The Pope's Daughter: The Extraordinary Life of Felice della Rovere

by Caroline P. Murphy

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The Pope's Daughter: The Extraordinary Life of Felice della Rovere by Caroline P. Murphy

The illegitimate daughter of Pope Julius II, Felice della Rovere became one of the most powerful and accomplished women of the Italian Renaissance. Now, Caroline Murphy vividly captures the untold story of a rare woman who moved with confidence through a world of popes and princes.

Using a wide variety of sources, including Felice's personal correspondence, as well as diaries, account books, and chronicles of Renaissance Rome, Murphy skillfully weaves a compelling portrait of this remarkable woman. Felice della Rovere was to witness Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel, watch her father Pope Julius II lay the foundation stone for the new Saint Peter's, and saw herself immortalized by Raphael in his Vatican frescos. With her marriage to Gian Giordano Orsini—arranged, though not attended, by her father the Pope—she came to possess great wealth and power, assets which she used to her advantage. While her father lived, Felice exercised much influence in the affairs of Rome, even egotiating for peace with the Queen of France. After his death, Felice persevered, making allies of the cardinals and clerics of St. Peter's and maintaining her control of the Orsini land through tenacity, ingenuity, and carefully cultivated political savvy. She survived the Sack of Rome in 1527, but her greatest enemy proved to be her own stepson Napoleone, whose rivalry with his stepbrother Girolamo ended suddenly and violently, and brought her perilously close to losing everything she had spent her life acquiring.

With a marvelous cast of characters, The Pope's Daughter is a spellbinding biography set against the brilliant backdrop of Renaissance Rome.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195312010
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 11/04/2006
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 655,570
Product dimensions: 9.20(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Caroline P. Murphy is a cultural historian and biographer who lives in Cambridge, Mass. She is the author of Lavinia Fontana: A Painter and Her Patrons in Sixteenth-Century Bologna and Murder of a Medici Princess.

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The Pope's Daughter: The Extraordinary Life of Felice della Rovere 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was Rome, 1483. If ever a baby was doomed by birth, it was Felice Della Rovere. The odds were stacked against her. She was female and illegitimate. Nonetheless she rose above the liabilities of birth to become the most powerful woman in Rome. The story of her life, as related by Harvard art historian Caroline P. Murphy is fascinating, as her achievements rival those of any contemporary woman. It was one thing to be born illegitimate during the Renaissance, quite another to be the illegitimate daughter of Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere who would become Pope Julius II. Not a gentle leader, Julius was known as 'The Warrior Pope,' one who despised and reviled the rather hedonistic lifestyles of the Borgias. Nonetheless, he was in some ways a helpful father, seeing to the advantageous marriage of his daughter to a member of the wealthy Orsini family, which gave Felice access to the means necessary to amass a personal estate. Felice had been married once before but left a young widow. (The name of her first husband could not be traced). She was raised in her mother's home and learned much of intrigue and manipulation during her formative years. When her father was elected to the papacy she became quite useful to him as a runner of errands. She was witness to the painting of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo, and the laying of a foundation for a new St. Peter's. Felice may well have inherited her ambition from her father who sought greater Roman power. Upon the death of Julius II, Felice used the Orsini family influence to become a friend of cardinals. She understood politics well, and used this knowledge to great advantage. Even the sack of Rome in 1527 did not see her downfall, as she successfully arranged safe passage for herself and her offspring to Urbino. Murphy enriches Felice's story with myriad details regarding her daily life, whether it is the overseeing of servants, seeing to her gardens and wine cellars, cosseting the influential, bribing officials, or even arranging a murder, which we are told was commonplace in that day and time. Felice's story may have been lost to us for half a century, but after reading 'The Pope's Daughter' this incredible woman will not be forgotten again. - Gail Cooke
StrokeBoy on LibraryThing 1 days ago
A fascinating story of the papacy just before the reform of John of the Cross and Theresa of Avila. This book also gives great insight into life in rome in the 16th and 17 centuries
Meggo on LibraryThing 8 days ago
A fascinating look at a woman who lived through a pivotal (and turbulent) time in history, with grace, courage and strength. A thoroughly enjoyable read, however the scarcity of sources on the subject led to some speculation on the part of the author in places. Not bad speculation, however, as the story hangs together well. This book should be read alongside the biographies of Lucrezia Borgia (her rival) and Catherine de Medici (who lived with her while a child).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
well written
Anonymous More than 1 year ago