Forlì, 14th April 1488

On the evening of April 14, 1488, Count Riario was brutally assassinated by the Orsi and defenestrated.
While the palace was being sacked, the Rocca di Ravaldino remained firmly in the hands of Tommaso Feo, who only responded to Catherine’s orders and could have bombed the city at any moment. The Orsi were thus forced to let the countess in to the Rocca to have the surrender orders signed, but on entering, the Cobelli chronicles tell, that she walked triumphantly along the drawbridge and, having reached the door, turned back “indriè e fi’gli quatro figs”, that means she made the gesture equivalent of showing the middle finger.
The gesture was not given weight, the rioters felt calm since Caterina had left them her children as a pledge. Catherine, on the other hand, proved to be not only of noble blood, but also cold blood and once inside her, she arranged for the regaining of power regardless of threats to her children. And here the story becomes a legend, through perhaps the most narrated anecdote dedicated to this indomitable and proud woman: in response to the threat of killing her children, Caterina climbed the ramparts of the fortress, raised her clothes and showed them the shameful parts and she screamed that they could do whatever they want with her children, because she was left with the mold to make others.

The episode is absent in the chronicles of the time, but it is confirmed by Macchiavelli in the Speeches above the first decade: “… to show that she did not care about her children, she showed them the genitals, saying that she still had the opportunity to remake them”.