Duke Ercole was full of praise for the daughter-in-law he had been so reluctant to accept and seems to have become genuinely fond of Lucrezia … ‘Her virtues and good qualities have so pleased me,’ the duke wrote to Alexander VI about Lucrezia, ‘that she is the dearest thing I have in this world.’
Isabella d’Este and Elisabetta Gonzaga were less enthusiastic about their new sister-in-law. No longer in their prime, the Duchess of Urbino was thirty and Isabella just three years younger, while Lucrezia, despite her three husbands, was still only twenty-one years old. The two older women were clearly put out by the bride, who was undeniably younger and prettier than themselves and, moreover, took precedence over them at court.
The malicious Isabella did her utmost to make the unwelcome bride uncomfortable; ‘yesterday,’ she wrote grumpily to her husband in Mantua, ‘we all had to stay in our rooms until five o’clock because Lucrezia chooses to spend hours dressing so that she can put the Duchess of Urbino and myself into the shade in the eyes of the world.’ The Borgia girl, she complained, spent an unconscionable time dressing, washing her hair, and chattering in her rooms; she also declined to attend such festivities as did not appeal to her; and when a risqué comedy was performed, she was obviously amused by it, while Isabella made it clear that she, like all respectable ladies, found it most objectionable.
— Christopher Hibbert, The Borgias