- "One should always have the freedom to choose."
- ―Caterina to Ezio Auditore, 1500.[src]
Caterina Sforza (1463 – 1509) was the Countess of Forlì and Imola, and the daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, the Duke of Milan. She was engaged to Pope Sixtus IV's nephew, Girolamo Riario, at only 10 years of age, and consummated the marriage at 14.
As countess of Forlì, she became a strong ally of the Italian Brotherhood of Assassins, meeting Ezio Auditore da Firenze after her husband Girolamo had her trapped on a small island in Romagna. Eight years later, Caterina had her husband killed by the Orsi brothers after finding out that he was working for the Templars, along with being a poor husband.
Offering to keep the ancient artifact, the Apple of Eden, safe in Forlì, Caterina and the Assassins Ezio and Niccolò Machiavelli found the city taken by the Orsi brothers, who were hired by the Templars. Retaking the city, Ezio saved Caterina's children from the Orsi and killed the two brothers, though the Apple was eventually taken from him by a mysterious monk.
Caterina later traveled to the Italian Assassins' headquarters in Monteriggioni, requesting for aid against Cesare Borgia's army. Unexpectedly, Monteriggioni was besieged by Cesare the next day, causing the town to be destroyed and Caterina to be captured.
The next year, Caterina was transported to the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome to be jailed. However, her imprisonment lasted not even a day, as Ezio Auditore infiltrated the Castel, with the primary aim of killing Cesare and Rodrigo Borgia. With the two away from the Castel, however, Ezio decided to free Caterina with a key taken from Lucrezia Borgia, and a few weeks later, Caterina returned to Florence to await the restoration of her lands.
Caterina was born in Milan, as the daughter of Galeazzo Maria Sforza and Lucrezia Landriani. Raised in the Milanese court, she received a classical education and was trained in the art of war by her father. At this time, she also acquired a passion for alchemy and hunting.
In 1473, at the age of 10, she was betrothed to Girolamo Riario, the nephew of Pope Sixtus IV. Four years later, they consummated the marriage, and Caterina gave birth to her first child, Bianca Riario, nine months later. In 1480, Girolamo became the Lord of Imola and Forlì.
Meeting Ezio Auditore
Close to the departure of Leonardo da Vinci from Forlì, Caterina was also in the town, and had been trapped on a small rock in the middle of a lake. Luckily for her, Ezio Auditore heard her screaming for help, and came to her aid with a gondola, delivering her safely back to land. For this assistance, Caterina thanked Ezio by telling the captain of the Venetian ship to grant Ezio passage to Venice.
While sailing away from Forlì, Ezio stated that Caterina was his "next conquest", before being reprimanded by Leonardo, who explained Caterina's importance to Ezio and remarked that seducing her would not be such a good idea. Leonardo described her to be "as powerful and dangerous as she is young and beautiful." Ezio simply replied that Caterina was his "kind of lady."
Battle of Forlì
- "Bastardi! (Bastards!) You think you can threaten me? I'll give you NOTHING! You want my children? Take them! I have the instrument to make more!"
- ―Caterina replying to the threats of the Orsi brothers, 1488.[src]
In 1484, Pope Sixtus died. Looters sacked Rome, and Caterina's residence was destroyed. Despite being seven months pregnant, she rode to the Castel Sant'Angelo and defended the Vatican with cannon fire and soldiers. Later that year, Caterina moved with her family to Forlì. In 1488, Girolamo was murdered, leaving Caterina as the ruler of Imola and Forlì. Not long after, she won the favor of nearby rulers, revised the tax system and began training the militia herself. Caterina was then contacted by her allies, the Assassin Order, who asked her if they could hide an "important artifact" inside the Rocca di Ravaldino in Forlì. Caterina agreed, and met with Niccolò Machiavelli and Ezio Auditore, who she previously had not known to be an Assassin, in the countryside of Romagna.
While walking towards Forlì, Caterina informed Niccolò and Ezio that she had hired the Orsi brothers to kill her husband, since he had been a Templar, as well as a "lousy father, boring in bed, and a pain in [her] ass."
As they drew closer to the city, they were met by a large crowd of Forlì's citizens fleeing. One of them informed Caterina and the Assassins that Forlì was being attacked by the Orsi brothers. Niccolò concluded that the two were working for Rodrigo Borgia, and were probably looking for the map that Girolamo had made of all the locations of the Codex pages.
Caterina took her soldiers to fight and reclaim her city, while Ezio served in the battle as both a soldier and protector to Caterina. By the time the group had reached the Rocca di Ravaldino, the Orsi brothers had taken two of Caterina's children hostage as a lure to steal the Apple of Eden, of which they had heard was in Ezio's possession.
When the brothers threatened to kill her children if she did not relinquish the Apple, Caterina lifted her skirt and cried that she had "the instrument to make more." Caterina did not wish the brothers to think that they were victorious, but she was desperate to get her children back, and requested Ezio to retrieve them for her. Ezio left the city immediately, found the children, and managed to kill Ludovico Orsi. Meanwhile, the Templars attacked the citadel again and took the Apple, which Ezio had placed in Caterina's hands.
After Ezio returned with Caterina's children and found out about the attack, he left Forlì and followed Checco Orsi into the countryside, where he assassinated him and retrieved the Apple. Checco managed to stab Ezio right before dying, and Ezio lost consciousness because of his wound; though not before seeing the Apple being stolen from him by a black robed monk with a missing finger.
Caterina's soldiers found Ezio's unconscious body next to Checco's, and took him to the Palazzo Comunale, where Caterina nursed him until he regained consciousness. Ezio then set off to find the monk, after Caterina had given him the map that her husband had made of the Codex pages.
Siege of Monteriggioni
In 1499, Cesare Borgia marched towards Forlì with the intent of taking it for the Papacy. During this time, Caterina sent a letter to the Pope that had been rubbed with the sores of plague victims. Knowing that an attack was inevitable, Caterina and a small company of soldiers snuck out of Forlí on Christmas Day, 1499.
Seeking an alliance with the mercenaries there, Caterina journeyed to Monteriggioni, arriving sometime around New Year. Though she spoke with Ezio about the alliance, he said that they would discuss it later, after he had told the others about what he had discovered during his travel to the Vatican.
When Ezio was relaxing in his bathtub after the meeting, Caterina entered his room and took her dress off, before the two kissed and spent the night together. However, the next morning, they were interrupted as the town was besieged by the Papal army, under the command of Cesare Borgia.
Caterina joined her troops in the defense outside the city, but was captured by some of Cesare's soldiers. Following this, she was held by Juan Borgia, and forced to witness the execution of Mario Auditore at Cesare's hands.
Imprisonment in the Castel Sant'Angelo
In 1501, Caterina was brought to Rome in a carriage, and was seen being taken out of it just outside the Castel Sant'Angelo. Lucrezia Borgia "welcomed" her to Rome, and warned the nearby citizens that the same would happen to any of those who opposed Cesare. After a heated argument between the two, Caterina was taken away by the guards and imprisoned within the Castello.
Shortly after this, Ezio infiltrated the Castel Sant'Angelo in order to assassinate Rodrigo and Cesare Borgia. Unfortunately, Cesare left before Ezio could face him, and evidently, Rodrigo had not been at the Castello for some time. Nevertheless, Ezio eventually found Caterina locked up in a cell, and witnessed her being beaten by Lucrezia from outside of the window. Ezio then pursued Lucrezia, as she had taken the key to Caterina's cell.
After killing a few guards, Ezio carried Lucrezia back to Caterina's prison, ignoring the woman's protests. When he arrived at Caterina's cell, Caterina slipped her hand into Lucrezia's dress and took the key to unlock the door. As the Assassin and Caterina both forced Lucrezia into Sforza's old cell, Lucrezia called for guards, but Caterina banged Lucrezia's head against the door to knock her unconscious.
As she was unable to walk due to her injury, Ezio carried Caterina out of the Castello, making sure that the way was clear. Upon reaching the walls, the two rode on horseback, and Ezio ordered her to go to Tiber Island while he stayed behind to distract the guards. Once there, La Volpe found Caterina and brought her safely to the Roman Assassin headquarters, where she was tended to by a doctor.
Later life and death
- "I am of no use to anyone without Forlì. I leave to be with my children and await the restoration of my lands."
- ―Caterina, before leaving Rome, 1503.[src]
Caterina, knowing she was of little use to anyone without Forlì, decided to leave Rome in order to care for her children and await the restoration of her lands.
She intended to leave unannounced on horseback, though Ezio caught her just before she left. She then encouraged Ezio to unite the Assassins as their leader and take back Rome. Her last words before galloping out of Ezio's sight were "Vittoria agli Assassini!" (Victory to the Assassins!).
Having returned to Florence, she issued a petition to Pope Julius II for the return of her lands in Forlì. As a relative of her late husband's, Julius was in favor of Caterina's request, but eventually denied her due to the objections of the people of Forlì. Caterina remained in Florence, where she eventually died of pneumonia on 28 May 1509.
Personality and characteristics
- "That woman is as powerful and dangerous as she is young and beautiful."
- ―Leonardo da Vinci regarding Caterina, 1481.[src]
Caterina Sforza was a strong and fierce woman, ready to take on any threat she encountered. She was capable of leading an army into battle, and was both bold and a skilled strategist. Her aggressive attitude, especially her colorful vocabulary, gained her both the respect and the fear of the men she commanded.
Caterina was extremely ruthless in her suppression of revolts, which Ezio himself said far surpassed that of Lorenzo de' Medici's retaliation against the Pazzi conspiracy. She dealt an equally ruthless and oftentimes cruel hand to her enemies, and was said to have murdered their entire families, including innocent people and newborn children, in retaliation. She was also not above exploiting and manipulating others to further her own cause, having infatuated various men, particularly Ezio Auditore, in order to procure political and military alliances. Although Caterina was respected and feared by her men, she eventually alienated the sympathies of the people of Forli, and their protests would prevent her from ever regaining control of her territories.
However, Caterina was also a very maternal and caring person when it came to her loved ones. During the Battle of Forlì, when the Orsi brothers took two of her children, Caterina became extremely worried and implored Ezio to safely return her children for her, while she and Machiavelli safeguarded the Rocca di Ravaldino.
- Assassin's Creed II
- In the novel Assassin's Creed: Renaissance, the scene where Ezio first met Caterina slightly differed from that of the game. As she walked on the port, she was seen arguing with her husband. Tired of her, Girolamo told Caterina to sit in the nearest gondola, and as she did, he then gave it a powerful shove to the prow and walked away. As the gondola drifted further from land, she began to shout, and Ezio, who watched the scene unfold, came to her assistance.
- Caterina lifting her skirt in front of the Orsi brothers had been a legend during the Rennaisance when the brothers kidnapped Caterina's children.
- Caterina, like every other character in Assassin's Creed II besides Ezio, could not swim. When she was trapped on the small rock, she would shout for help, swear, and would sometimes yell out her inability to swim.
- During the Battle of Forlì memory sequence, she used the Butcher Knife as her weapon.
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
- After rescuing her from the Castel Sant'Angelo, Ezio asked, "Caterina, did they-? Did Cesare—?", to which Caterina replied "No. My name must still have some value. I was left... unspoiled." Historically, rumors claimed she was Cesare's lover during the time she spent in captivity, although there was no proof of any of the rumors having any basis, consensual or not. In the game, Cesare expressed sexual interest in Caterina, much to Lucrezia's chagrin.
- However, her database entry in Assassin's Creed II states that she was raped by both Cesare and Rodrigo while in captivity, and goes on to state that her hair had turned white after she emerged from the Vatican, despite her hair color remaining unchanged in Brotherhood.
- Caterina is significantly less foul-mouthed in Brotherhood than she was in Assassin's Creed II.
- The Elegant Gown item in Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy matched Caterina's dress in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.
- According to the Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood novel, her hair smelled of vanilla and roses.
- Again, in the novel, Caterina suffered much more abuse from Lucrezia than in the game.
- Assassin's Creed: Identity
- In Assassin's Creed: Identity, Caterina Sforza features only at the Battle of Forlì. The battle is set after the fall of the Crows, a Templar splinter faction specialized in countering the Assassins, despite that event being set in 1506. As in Assassin's Creed II, Ezio Auditore and Niccolò Machiavelli journey to Forlì give the Apple of Eden over to Caterina Sforza for safekeeping. However, unlike the main game, Machiavelli and another Assassin Lo Sparviero are also there to hunt down the remnants of the Crows who, unbeknownst to Caterina, are terrorizing the city. When the Orsi brothers attack, Lo Sparviero is responsible for alerting Caterina through her handmaiden. Since the Battle of Forlì actually occurs in 1488, not around 1506 after Ezio's operations in Rome, it can be concluded that this game's depiction of the battle and Caterina Sforza is non-canon.
- Assassin's Creed II (first appearance)
- Assassin's Creed: Renaissance
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood novel
- Assassin's Creed: Recollection
- Assassin's Creed: Identity (non-canonical appearance)
- Assassin's Creed II – Database: Caterina Sforza
- Assassin's Creed II
- Assassin's Creed II – Tutti a Bordo
- Assassin's Creed II – Battle of Forlì – A Warm Welcome
- Assassin's Creed II – Battle of Forlì – Bodyguard
- Assassin's Creed II – Battle of Forlì – Godfather
- Assassin's Creed II – Battle of Forlì – Checcomate
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood – Database: Caterina Sforza
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood – Reunion
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood – Vilified
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood – Castello Crasher
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood – Femme Fatale
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood – The Burdens We Carry
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood – Guardian of Forlì
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood – Man of the People
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood – The Plan
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood novel