Giovanna dei Cattanei (called Vannozza), was born in Mantua in 1442 to Giaccomo, the Count of Mantua, and his wife, Mencia Pinctoris. Noted for her beauty, she moved to Rome where she ran a series of Inns; there she caught the eye of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, later to become Pope Alexander VI, and became his mistress around 1468, at 26 years old. Possibly at his direction, she married Domenico d'Arignano, an officer of the Church, around 1473.
Between 1475 and 1481 she bore Rodrigo Borgia four children that he openly acknowledged as his:
When Domenico died before Giovanni's birth, Cardinal Borgia had her married to Giorgio di Croce, for whom he had procured a position as apostolic secretary. In 1486 Giorgio died and Vannozza married Carlo Canale.
When Rodrigo Borgia's passion for her waned, Vannozza lived a very retired life but remained active in her children's affairs. As Pope Alexander VI, Rodrigo Borgia always sought to advance his children, financially, socially, and politically. He lavished vast sums on each of them and promoted them socially and politically whenever possible.
Giovanna dei Cattenei died in 1518 and was buried in the Basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome with an elaborate ceremony by the Papal court of Leo X that reaffirmed her high status in Roman and Renaissance Catholic society. Her tomb is next that of her son, Giovanni Borgia, the Duke of Gandia.
"Ancestry of John D. Newport," online: http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=john%5Fd%5Fnewport&id=I15846
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