When POpe Innocent VIII
died in the summer of 1492, Cardinal de Borja was not regarded as a serious candidate.
But the popes who succeeded this astute and prescient pontiff, notably Sixtus IV, Innocent VIII
, and Alexander VI, were less interested in maintaining peace in the peninsula and more concerned with promoting the aggrandizement of their families.
The nepotism that launched him on his career led him to become trusted adviser of Innocent VIII
(1484-92), sworn enemy-in-exile to Alexander VI (1492-1503), and finally to his own election as Pope Julius 11 (1503).
 In 1477, the Sforza alliance strategy had Caterina, at the age of fourteen, marry Girolamo Riario, a nephew of the presiding Pope, Sixtus IV> Sforza joined her husband in Rome where they remained until the Pope's death in 1484 when Riario was reinvested as vicar of the Church for the Romagnole towns of Imola and Forli by the newly-elected Innocent VIII
. Sforza and Riario then moved to their territories in the Romagna, where Caterina Sforza would eventually earn the title with which Machiavelli transmitted her to posterity the Madonna di Furli.
Her knowledge of Renaissance Rome and of Italian banking enables her convincingly to portray Lorenzo as an active banker, who, at least by the 1480s, exercised closer supervision over his subordinates than has been argued; one who shrewdly positioned himself, by the strategic dynastic marriage of his daughter Maddalena to Pope Innocent VIII
's illegitimate son, to exploit papal patronage and revenues.
His intention was to connect the small Palace of Belvedere, which was constructed by his predecessor Innocent VIII
(1484-1492) and which stood to the north of the courtyard, with the cluster of medieval buildings to the south.
After Pope Innocent VIII
died of a fever that swept through Rome, Rodrigo Borgia, the patriarch of the family, is elected as Pope Alexander VI, despite the corruption and bribery which surrounded the decision.
Five popes later, Pope Innocent VIII
, in 1490 sent a letter known as the Butter-Letter to the prince which granted the use of butter without having to pay a fine, but only for the Prince Elector and his family and household.
It opens in 1492, as corrupt cardinal Rodrigo Borgia schemes to position himself as the successor to the ailing Pope Innocent VIII