Gioffre Borgia

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Joffre Borgia

Gioffre de Candia Borgia, in Italian, or Jofré Borja in Catalan, (1482–1518) was the youngest son of Pope Alexander VI and Vannozza dei Cattanei, and the youngest brother of Cesare Borgia, Giovanni Borgia, and Lucrezia Borgia.

Gioffre married Sancia (Sancha) of Aragon, daughter of Alfonso II of Naples, obtaining as dowry both the Principality of Squillace (1494) and after a period of political turmoil in the Kingdom of Naples, the County of Alvito (1497).

Gioffre and Sancia, who were 12 and 16 at the time of the marriage, are generally thought to have been the models for the boy and girl in the artist Pinturicchio's 'Disputation of St Catherine', where they are shown as a young couple in love.

In fact, the marriage was a political one. Alfonso had married his daughter to Gioffre and given the overlarge dowry in return for Pope Alexander's recognition of Alfonso's claim to the throne of Naples. Almost as soon as the wedding ceremony was over, the political situation changed with the invasion of Italy by King Charles VIII of France who claimed Naples as his own. Alfonso fled leaving the throne to his short lived son and a long war between Spain, France and their Italian adherents.

During this time, the young couple lived mostly at Rome where the older Sancia reputedly had affairs with both of her husband's elder brothers, Giovanni and Cesare. This soured their relationship and they had no children.

Gioffre's relationship with his father was also poor. Pope Alexander VI considered him a weakling because of his lack of interest in politics and once publicly questioned his parentage. In 1497 the Pope publicly exonerated Gioffre of the murder of his brother Giovanni Borgia because of the many rumours that Cesare was in fact the killer, due to public antagonism between the two over Sancia.

During the War of 1499–1504, when Louis XII of France tried to conquer Naples, Gioffre sided with the French, but when he was captured by Prospero Colonna he changed sides to join the Spanish, which caused a rebellion in Alvito. In 1504 he sent the condottiero Fabrizio Colonna to stabilise his lands, partly paid for with money he had appropriated from the papal treasury after the death of his father the year before. With the rebellion crushed, Gioffre finally moved to his estates in Alvito and Squillace in 1504.

But only two years later Sancha died and Gioffre lost the rights to Alvito, which was seized by the then-Spanish King of Naples, Ferdinand II of Aragon. However, Gioffre was able to retain Squillace, which he ruled as a feudal vassal of Naples.

Gioffre's second marriage was to Maria de Mila. They had four children; the eldest, Francesco Borgia, inherited his father's lands and the title of Prince of Squillace.

Gioffre's descendants were to rule the tiny city of Squillace, on the Calabrian coast, until 1735. They generally ruled through governors since they resided at either Naples or the Spanish court.

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