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Cantarella was a poison allegedly used by the Borgias during the papacy of Pope Alexander VI. It was probably a variation of arsenic or cantharidin powder (made from blister beetles). The use of this poison is not well documented in any of the papal records and it was most likely conceived after 1503 as part of Pope Julius II's effort to remove his name from the records.
In popular culture
Cantarella, a Japanese manga written and illustrated by You Higuri, is about Cesare Borgia, an Italian aristocrat during the Renaissance. The name of the manga derives from a poison supposedly used by the Borgia family to eliminate their political enemies.
Cantarella was also referenced in the anime Revolutionary Girl Utena in the infamous poison scene.
In Assassin's Creed II and Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, cantarella is extensively used. First, it is used to kill Doge Giovanni Mocenigo in Assassin's Creed II, as Ezio came too late to save the doge. Then, in Brotherhood, out of jealousy for Lucrezia Borgia, Cesare uses cantarella to kill the lover of Lucrezia, Pietro Rossi, during the Jesus Christ Passion Play. Finally, Rodrigo Borgia manages to poison Cesare with cantarella-laced apples, with Lucrezia arriving too late to warn Cesare. Angered, Cesare shoved the very apple he took a bite of into Rodrigo's mouth, choking him to death.
- Strathern, P. (2009). The Artist, the Philosopher, and the Warrior: The Intersecting Lives of Da Vinci, Machiavelli, and Borgia and the World They Shaped. Random House Publishing Group. p. 255. ISBN 978-0-553-90689-9. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
- Noel, G. (2016). The Renaissance Popes: Culture, Power, and the Making of the Borgia Myth. Little, Brown Book Group. p. 192. ISBN 978-1-4721-2507-1. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
- Bradford, S. (2005). Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love and Death in Renaissance Italy. Penguin Books Limited. p. 190. ISBN 978-0-14-190949-3. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
- Portigliotti, G.; Miall, B. (1928). The Borgias: Alexander VI, Caesar, Lucrezia. A. A. Knopf. p. 90. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
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