The Pope's Daughter: The Revolutionary Life Of Felice Della Rovere

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Catherine Murphy in The Pope’s Daughter: The Revolutionary Life of Felice della Rovere offers, that despite relative historical reticence, Felice’s story “waiting to be uncovered in an archive in Rome” (315) holds equal merit to Catherine de’ Medici and Elizabeth I for historians. Overlooked as the bastard of Pope Julius II, she finds little historical attention despite effecting de’ Medici and her contemporaries. Murphy argues Felice offers a lesson to these women on “self-belief, standing one’s ground, knowing when and when not to compromise, and about the value of decorum, bella figura, sprezzatura”. (315) While perhaps not as poignant as Murphy insists, Felice’s life diversifies models of Renaissance women. Her family’s rise to power from San Pietro in Vincoli quickly gained her father Giuliano della Rovere the enmity of Pope Alexander VI. However, Murphy argues he did not find his fame through excess, but through diplomacy and architecture – these same parallels likely…show more content…
(82) After childbirth, Felice enjoys a warmer relationship with Julius full of gifts, most notably a prized diamond cross and money. With personal funds, she purchased the Castello of Palo in 1509, under the name Felix Ruveris d’Ursini. (106) This alias follows her to the mediation of the Orsini and the Pope on arming Venice in the Pax Romana, cementing her diplomatic fame, alongside her French interactions. (116; 122) Even as her father passed, she enjoyed another new role as papal friend to Leo X. Relying on her grain supply and Palo’s charter as a papal villa, her life leaves a distinct rarity, recorded by Paolo Nomentano. (160) This friendship also gained papal absolution for future or past crime; a cardinal’s hat for her half-brother; and Palo’s renovation.

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