Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Pope's Daughter: The Extraordinary Life of Felice Della Rovere” as Want to Read:
The Pope's Daughter: The Extraordinary Life of Felice Della Rovere
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Pope's Daughter: The Extraordinary Life of Felice Della Rovere

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  421 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
The illegitimate daughter of Pope Julius II, Felice della Rovere became one of the most powerful and accomplished women of the Italian Renaissance. Now, Caroline Murphy vividly captures the untold story of a rare woman who moved with confidence through a world of popes and princes.
Using a wide variety of sources, including Felice's personal correspondence, as well as diar
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published July 1st 2005 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 2004)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Pope's Daughter, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Pope's Daughter

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,400)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
The Pope's daughter in this instance is Felice della Rovere, the illegitimate daughter of Giuliano della Rovere, Pope Julius II.

Pope Julius was intent on not being seen in the same light as his infamous predecessor, Alexander VI, known as the Borgia Pope. What Julius did not want was to flaunt his illegitimate offspring, but preferred to have her brought up away from her parental home, and when she was eventually brought to Rome she lived separately from the Pope's household.

However, the rather
Grace Tjan
This book is about that other papal bastard, not the infamous Lucrezia Borgia, of whom numerous biographies --- some more salacious than others --- have been written in the last five hundred years. Apparently, this book is also the only biography of Felice della Rovere that has ever seen print. It’s easy to discern why --- compared to Lucrezia, who (among other things) is accused by some of having an incestuous relationship with her father, Pope Alexander VI, Felice lived the relatively dull, vi ...more
Harry Allagree
Oct 29, 2013 Harry Allagree rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If anyone should've been made a cardinal in the 16th century Catholic Church, it should've been Felice della Rovere, bastard daughter of Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, later Pope Julius II ! Caroline Murphy's portrait of this remarkable woman is well-written, well-documented & fascinating enough to keep me up until 2AM reading it! I would love to have known Felice, a truly "self-made" woman who defied the tremendous societal odds against her and rose to be the most powerful woman, or at lea ...more
3.5 stars

A lot has been written and said of Lucrezia Borgia, the most unfairly maligned daughter of Pope Alexander VI. Almost five centuries after her death, biographers and writers of fiction continue to revisit her story in an effort to pick apart or embroider upon the many rumours and legends surrounding her life. Far fewer talk about the daughter of Alexander's successor; many do not even know of her existence. But though Felice della Rovere did not attract the same scandal as Lucrezia, her
Erika Williams
There are many things I could say about this book. Unfortunately, not all of them are good. Let’s start with the goods things. She is obviously very passionate about her subject matter, in this case Felice della Rovere. Another impressive aspect about this book is Caroline Murphy strives to bring to life an important Renaissance figure who has faded into obscurity despite being fairly prominent during her day. While she was not as infamous as Caterina Sforza or the other pope’s daughter, Lucrezi ...more
May 05, 2013 Louise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, italy
This is the second book I've read by this author. I hope Caroline Murphy keeps researching Renaissance women and writing books.

In both this book and "Murder of a Medici Princess" the author assembles a lot of information and presents it in a way the lay reader can really enjoy. Chapters in both books are chronological which helps the lay reader understand the complexity of the historical setting. Some chapters describe the episodes of the subjects' lives, in others there are lifestyle descriptio
The Extraordinary Life of Felice Della Rovere ( pronounced feh-leee-chay). By Caroline P. Murphy. Very detailed and researched book about the illegitimate daughter of Pope Julius II. The title hints at a salacious story, but Felice's life is one of a business women who far surpasses the role allowed for most women of her day. She was a powerful women in her own right during the height of renaissance Italy.

She was raised by her mother Lucrezia and stepfather, Giuliano. She was often in the court
Connie Johnson
Aug 16, 2013 Connie Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a cross between a PhD dissertation and biography,but still a very enjoyable is very well documented with multiple citations. An amazing story of Felice Della Rovere, a popes daughter. Excellent historical perspective on a Renaissance Rome, which I particularly enjoyed having just returned from a visit there.
Harish Puvvula
I thought this book is a biography of Lucrezia Borgia. No! It is a portrait of Felice della Rovere, illegitimate daughter of Pope Julius II (The Pope is remembered for commissioning artists such as Michelangelo and Raphael).

It is indeed pity that Felice doesn't deserve as much mention as Lucrezia Borgia, Catherine, Elizabeth, Isabella d'Este. She is an astute thinker, a shrewd politician, a hard task master, and a very benevolent regent. A survior to the core who kept wits about her to make a s
Mar 14, 2015 Joseph rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
If you're interested in the early 16th century history of the papacy, as it relates to the web of relationships formed around power and influence exerted by Pope Julius II and his successors, then this may be a good read for you. The interesting “twist” in this story is that Felice, as the daughter of a pope, is inserted into a male-dominated world as a pawn in a game of family alliances formed through marriage, in this case with the powerful Orsini family of Rome. Rather uncharacteristically, h ...more
Cristina Contilli
"Nel Cinquecento che un ecclesiastico avesse figli non destava scalpore. Così Felice, nata nel 1483 e figlia illegittima del cardinale Giuliano della Rovere e di Lucrezia Normanni, crebbe indisturbata non lontano dallo sguardo del padre."

"Si sposò a soli quattordici anni, ma presto rimase vedova. Quando il padre divenne pontefice come Giulio II, rifiutò ben cinque offerte di matrimonio e accettò di risposarsi solo con un uomo che politicamente ed economicamente le offriva le maggiori opportunità
Andrew Hansen
Jan 19, 2010 Andrew Hansen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have really enjoyed this book. Granted, I had to read it marathon mode for a history class. This was an amazing book to me, not so much because of Felice della Rovere, (although she is an amazing woman) but just all the background information it provided of many prominate people from the time period, and many that were recognizable. I didn’t realize so many Renaissance people had been alive at the same time of Fellice Della Rovere such as Micholangelo, and Leanardo—just some common ones. This ...more
Martyn Lovell
This history book tells the life story of a woman who grew from unusual origins to positions of power and influence in an era when that was tough for a woman.

The fundamental subject matter is interesting. It gives a view into life in the 1500s, into the relationship between religion and politics in the era, and into the role of women in society at that time. In addition, the character at the center of the novel is without doubt fascinating.

The style of writing is quite dry. This is more of a his
Oct 15, 2011 Terri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The life of Felice della Rovere is fascinating. She is a strong willed women who made her place in history although she was born the illegitimate daughter of Pope Julius II. She lives in the time of the Medicis, King Francis I (France) and King Henry VIII. Murphy details the life of Felice as it relates not only to her position in the Italian social structure but also how Italy and the papal politics interplay with all other countries.

I enjoyed the "story" but Murphy has intertwined so much deta
Jim Puskas
A remarkable story, providing wonderful insight into the complex and often chaotic workings of late renaissance Italy, at a time when cardinals and popes were as much temporal potentates as churchmen and internecine rivalries for power and wealth frequently erupted into vicious local wars. The central figure, Felice della Rovere is an extraordinary woman who despite the scandalous nature of her origin rises to a position of personal power and prestige as much through her own personality, intelli ...more
Heather Santiago
I really enjoyed this biography. I've read about the Borgia pope and his family, but I had not heard of Felice della Rovere. I love reading about Renaissance Italy. It's amazing that Felice survived the Sack of Rome and became an important part of the Orsini family.
Mar 11, 2016 Vicki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this was historical which I always enjoy and loved how strong and independent that Felice della Rovere was in a time when women were not expected to be that way. She definitely pulled herself to a position well beyond that of just being the Pope's illegitimate daughter.
Gibson Bush
The apostrophe in title should have been a warning. (The Pope Is Daughter?) The book reads more like a text book than a novel. I love reading historically based novels, the closer to the truth the better. But this work is filled to the brim with footnotes and most all new characters are introduced with an extensive family tree and the family connection to the clergy and ultimately to Felice. I didn't make it halfway through the book. The depth of the ancestry research written into the story was ...more
Kim Sullivan
Jan 24, 2016 Kim Sullivan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting history of a strong, independent woman in middle ages in Italy. Also provides lots of insight into the political affairs of the pope and the elite of Rome.
Sep 15, 2007 Mauri rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I don't have much in the way of time anymore (she says as she adds three more books to 'currently-reading') but I gave it the old 50-page try. Actually, in this case, the 69-page try.

Bottom line, Felice della Rovere was most likely a very interesting woman of her times, but not enough of her remains on record for her to be 350-page book interesting. In some cases, it felt like the author was stretching and conjecturing a little too much. Also, the short chapters, which at first made this book g
The Pope's daughter not as well known as the Borgia variety. It's a difficult read and will not be for everyone. But it is a creditable non-fiction survey of her life and influences. No easy path to tread, IMHO.
Olga Vannucci
Aug 01, 2016 Olga Vannucci rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a big fan of Savona,
She would rather be a Roman.
Jo Walton
Felice Della Rovere suffers from being inherently less interesting than the other women of the period whose biographies I've read -- Lucretia Borgia, Caterina Sforza, Isabella d'Este. But she is interesting, and her time is interesting. This is strong on detail and flavour, but Murphy underestimates her readers intelligence and ability to remember things from one chapter to another -- the amount of foreshadowing and repetition made the book slower and more tedious than it should have been.
Margaret Sankey
Meticulous reconstruction by an Art Historian of the life, properties and political machinations of Felice della Rovere, daughter of Pope Julius II. Unlike the better-known but largely passive papal daughter Lucrezia Borgia, Felice was a take-charge chatelaine of strategic property, friend of Castiglione, patron of Michelangelo, ally of the Medici popes and survivor of the Sack of Rome in 1527. This book rescues a major but undeservedly obscure female figure of the 16th century Italian Renaissan ...more
May 16, 2016 Kaydon_the_dino rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dang, the chapters were super short. To the point of being very distracting. But the narrative was enthralling.
Mark Zodda
Interesting, but mostly academic in tone.
Anne Broyles
Another incredible Italian woman, Felice della Rovere was a force to be reckoned with. She was the illegitimate daughter of Pope Julius II (not so surprising in that time), watched Michelangelo paint the Sistine Chapel, was immortalized by Raphael’s frescoes and lived at the time Saint Peter’s was built. This is a somewhat scholarly book filled with a huge cast of characters, but made for good reading while I recently visited Rome.
Kari Twitchell
I learned a lot about Italy in the 1500's and the catholic church during that period. She was a remarkable woman who succeeded in a time when women had very little chance of making anything of themselves. However, it was a real chore to get through each chapter and I skimmed through the final 75 pages.
Jul 05, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fabulous book written in nice size chapters.

Felice de rovere deserves to be much better known she lived through the sacking of rome was intertwined with the medici, was a pioneer independent business woman and who would fight to give her children everything. Inspirational! A fantastic read well written
Jul 31, 2013 Milli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
This book was fascinating. I bought it on my Kindle either for free or one of those "less than $2" deals, so I guess my expectations weren't too high. An easy-to-read and thorough narrative. Felice deserves more recognition as strong, powerful woman of her time. She's, well, pretty badass.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 46 47 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Tigress of Forlì: Renaissance Italy's Most Courageous and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de Medici
  • Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon
  • Mistress of the Vatican: The True Story of Olimpia Maidalchini: The Secret Female Pope
  • The Lady Penelope: The Lost Tale of Love and Politics in the Court of Elizabeth I
  • The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I, Queen of Naples, Jerusalem, and Sicily
  • Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love, and Death in Renaissance Italy
  • The Kings' Mistresses: The Liberated Lives of Marie Mancini, Princess Colonna, and Her Sister Hortense, Duchess Mazarin
  • The Montefeltro Conspiracy: A Renaissance Mystery Decoded
  • Madame de Pompadour: A Life
  • Athenais: The Life of Louis XIV's Mistress, the Real Queen  Of France
  • Fire in the City: Savonarola and the Struggle for Renaissance Florence
  • A Scandalous Life: The Biography of Jane Digby
  • Madame de Pompadour: Mistress of France
  • The Unruly Queen: The Life of Queen Caroline
  • Madame du Barry: The Wages of Beauty
  • Nell Gwyn: Mistress to a King
  • Quarrel with the King: The Story of an English Family on the High Road to Civil War
  • Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion

Share This Book