1473 saw the birth of Nicolaus Copernicus. Born in Poland, Copernicus was educated in Kracow, Bologna, and Padua. He was appointed as a canon at the Cathedral of Frauenberg as a result of his uncle's influence. His interest in astronomy and science were his main passions, ones which he was aware could bring him trouble in his vocation.
Copernicus developed the idea that the Sun was the center of the universe. This ran contrary to the teachings of Ptolemy and Aristotle which had the Earth as the center of the universe. This was a view which also had been accepted and embraced by the Catholic Church. For Copernicus to endorse anything different than accepted Church orthodoxy could earn him the brand of being a heretic, a risk he wasn't willing to accept. That risk, coupled with his desire to be absolutely sure of his theories, caused him to delay announcing his ideas until shortly before his death.
The concept that the Sun was the center of the universe (heliocentric) had originally been espoused by Aristarchus of Samos dating from around 200 B. C. This idea was assaulted by Aristotle. Due to the influence enjoyed by Aristotle, Aristarchus' ideas were discredited. Copernicus, with observations of his unaided eyesight, redeveloped the idea and wrote the seminal work De Revolutionibus in 1530. He was careful to circulate the work among like-minded individuals to escape the ire of the Church. It was the influence of young German mathematics professor George Rheticus that finally helped Copernicus to take the plunge and publish his complete work On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Orbs in 1543, the year he was to die.
Too late to do anything of significance to Copernicus' body, the Church put his work on their list of proscribed texts. There it stayed from 1616 until it was removed in 1835 under the assault of overwhelming observable fact.
The year 1473 saw the demise of Oba Ewuare the Great of Benin. He ruled the state of Great Benin, an important entity in what is present day southern Nigeria.
Oba Ewuare was noted as a warrior king, conquering 201 villages, imprisoning the leaders and exacting tribute from the general populace.
Oba Ewuare was as politically astute as he was brave as a warrior. He centralized the government and instituted a layer of bureaucratic leadership loyal to himself. The former local leadership had been under a number of hereditary rulers called Palace Chiefs. Oba formed a cadre of leaders called Town Chiefs while maintaining the Palace Chiefs. This diluted the power of the former local leaders. Ewuare made one of his Town Chiefs head of the standing army, a move that further cemented his hold on power.
Oba Ewuare ruled from 1440-1473 AD, a reign that provided decades of stable and effective leadership. Under his capable hand Great Benin rose to be famed for its art as well as the opulence and comfort of the capital, Benin City. Great Benin flourished from the foundation given by Oba Ewuare until confronted by the technology of the British, who were to eventually conquer them in February 1897.
1473 saw Rodrigo Borgia take as mistress Vanozza Catenei, a woman of surpassing beauty and little funds. Rodrigo's affair with Vanozza spanned not only a decade but several of her marriages. Born of this alliance April 18, 1480 was Lucrezia Borgia, the 3rd child of 4 produced by this arrangement. Lucrezia was raised by her mother until age 3 when Cardinal Rodrigo had her installed into the care of his cousin Adriana de Mila. Adriana saw to her education in languages, manners, and all the arts required of a young lady of refinement. Adriana also saw to it that Lucrezia was exposed to the best of Roman nobility and society.
When Lucrezia was 9 she was joined by a lovely 15 year old named Giulia Farnese. Giulia had married Orsino Orsini, the son of Adriana. They became fast friends and spent many hours enjoying each other's company.
In 1492, when Lucrezia was 12, the family was placed on center stage when Cardinal Rodrigo ascended to the Papacy, becoming Pope Alexander VI. The new Pope had Lucrezia, Adriana, and Giulia installed in the new palace Maria del Portico which was constructed adjacent to St. Peter's in Rome. The palace was connected by a corridor to St. Peter's, which allowed the Pope to visit his daughter and his new mistress, the now 18 year old Giulia. This began the cycle of rumors and intrigue which were to stain the Borgia name forever.
The 3 women managed to live in harmony despite the bizarre circumstances. Young Lucrezia had already been engaged to 2 different Spanish nobles by the age of 11 due to Pope Alexander's machinations. Both engagements were voided and she finally wed at the ripe age of 13 to Giovanni Sforza, a man twice her age. The union was not a happy one for anyone involved. Lucrezia missed her old home in Rome and the Pope was disappointed to find the union brought fewer advantages than he had hoped. He sought to have the marriage annulled. The only grounds for annullment were non-consummation, a ground with little credence. Sforza had already had several illegitimate children as well as having lost his first wife in labor. He refused to comply with the Pope's desire for a statement of non-consummation and instead charged that the Pope wanted the marriage annulled so he could have Lucrezia for himself. This charge of incest inflamed the ears of Roman society and detractors of the Pope were quick to fasten on this charge as a means to undermine him.
Embroiled in controversy, Lucretia was soon charged with incest with her brothers Juan and Cesare as well. Juan and Cesare were bitter rivals in their own right. One incident had Lucrezia accompanying Cesare as he slew unarmed criminals with his bow, a scene which tainted her with a reputation as being as ruthless and bloodthirsty as her brother.
Under this assault young Lucrezia fled to a convent for sanctuary. At San Sisto Lucrezia found solace with her retinue. She had fled without the knowledge of her family and the Pope sought to oust her, but the Mother Superior would not be swayed.
From that point forward Lucrezia was in a whirlwind of intrigue. Her brother Juan was murdered and found floating in the Tiber River. Her divorce to Giovanni Sforza was granted and she was declared a virgin. She was almost immediately steered to the altar again, this time as wife of Alfonso, Duke of Bisceglie. Alfonso was useful in moving the Pope's son Cesare closer to a marriage to Carlotta, daughter to the King of Naples. Unforseen in these manipulations was the eventuality that Alfonso and Lucrezia were to fall deeply in love. Their marriage was a happy one and no scandal attached itself to Lucrezia during this period.
When Cesare's anticipated marriage to Carlotta died aborning, Alfonso was no longer required. He knew the Pope and the Borgias well enough to flee for his life. His resolve melted however at learning of Lucrezia's mourning his departure. He returned to Rome and his loving bride. Alfonso was attacked and almost killed on the steps of St. Peter's on July 15, 1500. His wife took him to the Borgia Tower at the Vatican, installed him there with a guard of trusted men and set about his healing. After a month Lucrezia fell victim to a ruse and her still recuperating husband was murdered by strangulation.
Lucrezia retired with her grief to the town of Nepi, removing her grief from the enraged sight of the Pope and Cesare. She, along with her son Rodrigo, born of the marriage with Alfonso rested and grieved their loss.
Returning to Rome, Lucrezia found her father the Pope busy again. He arranged her marriage to Alfonso d'Este. The family of the groom was horrified at the offer due to the reputation Lucrezia wore. The Pope persisted, and that persuasion along with a dowry of 200,000 ducats sealed the deal. The spies sent by the d'Este family to investigate whether Lucrezia was a horrible as rumored found rather a sensible and virtuous woman who desired her exit from life in Rome.
Lucrezia Borgia and Alfonso d'Este were wed by proxy and she set out with some trepidation to her new home in Ferrara. She soon won over her new family and all who came in contact with her. She became Duchess of Ferrara in 1505 with the death of Duke Ercole and set about aggrandizing the court. She was bestowed with the title The Good Duchess, becoming patroness to the artists and poets of the court.
Lucrezia saw the sudden death of her father the Pope and the ruination of her brother Cesare within 2 years of her marriage to Alfonso. Her once wealthy and powerful family was in ruins. Her new family could have thrown her away but instead supported and consoled her. She saved some members of the Borgia family from retribution as she was able.
She continued a life of goodness, charm, and piety until on June 24, 1514 she died in childbirth. Her passing was mourned by her family and the people she had helped to rule.
The reputation of Lucrezia Borgia was more the product of her father and brother Cesare's machinations than due to her own nature. The ugly rumors spun about her were embellished to help undermine the Borgias as well as empower their detractors. Lucrezia Borgia may well have one of the most terrible unearned reputations of any person in history.
1473 saw the death of James II, last Frankish king of Cyprus. He had wed Caterina Cornaro, a Venetian girl of noble lineage, a move which signaled the end of the Frankish lineage of kings. He died not long after his marriage and his son James III followed him in death soon after. His wife Caterina, who had been adopted by the Venetian State prior to her marriage, voluntarily abdicated the throne in 1489. This led to the Venetians assuming rule of Cyprus. The new rulers awarded the widow an estate at Asolo where she resided until her death in 1510.
Births of 1473
James IV, King of Scotland
Nicolaus Copernicus, in Poland
Margaret Pole, 8th Countess of Salisbury
Richard, Duke of York
Thomas Howard, 3rd Duke of Norfolk
Edward of Middleham, Prince of Wales
Conrad Paumann, German compaser
Arnold, Duke of Gelderland
Alessandro Sforza, condottiero
John Stafford, 1st Earl of Wiltshire
James II, King of Cyprus
John Cantius, Polish scholar/theologian
Nocolas I, Duke of Lorraine