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Giulia Farnese
Biographical information



23 March 1524

Time period

Italian Renaissance

Political information

House of Borgia


Giulia Farnese also know as Giulia la bella (Julia the beautiful) or la bella Farnese (the beautiful Farnese) was one of the mistresses of Rodrigo Borgia. She meets the Pope in confession and start a sexual relationship soon after. This brings upon the wrath of Rodrigo's former mistress and mother to his four children Vanozza Dei Catteni. Lucrezia is on friendly terms with her, though deep down she has more love for her mother. When Cardinal della Rovere heard the rumours of the relationship, he used this so he could have the Pope deposed. But the witness was later found dead (having been murdered by Micheletto Corrella) in the cardinal's room. As of current, the relationship between the Pope and Giulia still continues.

Giulia was sent to check up on Lucrezia at her husband Giovanni's home in Romagne, only to discover her pregnant by someone who is not her husband. Giulia learned that the Sforza are planning to betray Rome, and schemes to remove Lucrezia before the French arrive. Giulia's timetable was slightly off, however, and she and Lucrezia accidentally find themselves in the midst of the French army. Giulia revealed their identites to prevent them for being mistaken for prostitutes, and the pair were entertained by the King of France himself. Giulia's quick thinking enabled Lucrezia to later rescue Juan Borgia's army from the French.

Giulia was away from Rome for several weeks following the birth of Lucrezia's child. Upon her return, she realized that Rodrigo's eyes were beginning to wander. Cautiously, Giulia, disguised as Minerva, approached Vanozza, then dressed as Juno, for advice. Vanozza advised Giulia to let Rodrigo (who was dressed as Janus) to turn one face to whoever he was interested in, but keep the other fixed on Giulia. Giulia took Vanozza's advice and orchestrated a tryst between Rodrigo, herself, and the young artist Vittoria. 

After a clandestine visit to the poorer parts of Rome with Vittoria, an incesnsed Rodrigo put Giulia in charge of reviewing the Curatorial records to ensure that the money earmarked for the poor actually got there. When the Cardinal in charge of this chapter of the Curia discovered her involvement, he protested profusely, but Giulia reminded him that women were quite capable of counting.

Giulia eventually resolved to use her discoveries outwit the Cardinals and do some good for Rome's poor. To this end, she took Lucrezia to visit a slum that had once been a bathhouse and convinced her to recruit Vanozza into their efforts. Vanozza advised them that the best way to gain leverage agains the Cardinals was to locate their courtesans. 

Giulia eventually realized that Rodrigo was beginning to tire of her for good. On Vanozza's advice, she secured a palace and pension for herself, but also convinced Rodrigo to make her brother a Cardinal. Giulia apparently hoped that Rodrigo would seize the opportunity to promote a young man beholden to no one and place him in charge of the delicate matters of the Curia's finances, matters which Giulia would be more than willing to assist her brother with. When Giulia's role in her brother's work was discovered, Rodrigo was furious, but softened when Giulia convinced him that the only point of her plan was to keep supporting him (and to give herself something to do). Giulia later orgainzed a voracious sex party under the guise of raising money for the Pope's new crusade, the records of which were later used to blackmail the Cardinals (minus her brother, whom she had pointedly forbidden from attending) into submission.

Shortly thereafter, Giulia met a poet whom she fancied and introduced him to Rodrigo so he might bless their impending marriage. The Pope grumbled about the whole affair, though it isn't clear if he was irritated beause he didn't want to let Giulia go or because he disliked poets. He ultimately approved the match, if only to reign in Vanozza, who observed the meeting with far too much amusement for Rodrigo's comfort.