Caterina Riaro Sforza de Medici was one of the most badass ladies of Renaissance Italy.
She was the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Milan, and got engaged to the nephew of the Pope when she was ten years old. After her father got assassinated like the DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS (thanks guys, merry Christmas to you too), she moved into the Vatican with her husband.
She ruled over Imola and Forli with her husband, but after realizing he wasn’t as ruthless as he needed to be, proceeded to take matters into her own hands. She helped train his soldiers, take care of their estates, and did things her husband wouldn’t.
When the Pope died, Caterina realized that things were going to get bad. She could conceivably lose all her land. So, she escaped Forli, and rode horseback seven months pregnant into Rome, and locked herself in Castle Sant’Angelo. When the enemies of her family came in and told her to surrender, she refused. She held the castle for eleven days, enough time for order to be restored in Rome. Her titles and positions were safe.
One time, her city tried to rebel against her. She affected the garrison by yelling horrible insults at the ringleader for three days, appointed a new garrison commander, and then went home and gave birth. She did this again a few months later when they tried to rebel again, and oversaw the torture and interrogation of the conspirators, and then had them publically executed.
Eventually, her husband was assassinated. They captured her and forced her into one of her castles, telling her to get the garrison to surrender. She told them she needed three hours alone with her garrison, and it would all be alright. The morons were stupid enough to allow it, and she immediately began plans of defending the city.
The Orsi family (who had killed her husband) dragged her kids outside the castle and told her if she didn’t surrender, they’d kill them. In response, she pulled up her skirt, showed the her crotch and replied that she “bears the instrument to make more”.
She held out for two weeks, and was able to stop the conspirators from taking over the city. She forced the main conspirator to watch as she burned his house down. Then she dragged him around town behind her horse and had him publically dismembered.
She later was married and widowed twice more. Her second husband was assassinated, and she burned the conspirator and killed his wife and children. Her second husband, a Medici, died of sickness.
When Caterina refused to allow her son to marry Lucrezia Borgia, the daughter of the Pope, the Pope was mad. He gave Caternia’s land to his son Cesare. Caterina was so furious that she sent the Pope a letter doused in poison in an attempt to kill him.
This plan didn’t work, so she raised an army and attempted to hold her own against Cesare’s army. She held for a whole month before being captured and imprisoned.
She eventually got out and after a few more attempts at getting power, died.
What a badass.