The Borgias – The Original Crime Family – is a nine-part television series airing on Showtime in the US, and Bravo in Canada. Set in 15th century Italy at the height of the Renaissance, The Borgias chronicles the corrupt rise of patriarch Rodrigo Borgia (played by Jeremy Irons) to the papacy, where he proceeds to commit every sin in the book to amass and retain power, influence and enormous wealth for himself and his family.
Described as a mix of Machiavelli’s The Prince and Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, the series was shot in Hungary and also stars François Arnaud, Holliday Grainger and Colm Feore.
The Characters of the Borgias – about Rodrigo and some of the other main characters in the series
It is 1492 and the Western world is experiencing profound change. An increasingly weak and dysfunctional Rome falls further into decay. Pope Innocent VIII lies dying. The struggle for succession will be a political chess match. Many established noble Italian families have expectations of obtaining the honor. But it is the Spaniard upstart, Rodrigo Borgia, with the able assistance of his son Cesare, who manages to bribe and cheat his way to the Papacy. He is now Pope Alexander VI.
While Pope Alexander installs his beloved new mistress Giulia in the late Cardinal Orsini’s palace, his enemies are gathering against him. The powerful College of Cardinals, on whose votes his power depends, is split so he plans to rig the deck by creating new posts for his own allies, including Cesare.
The Inquisition is occurring in Spain and Queen Isabella has expelled the Jews. Sensing an opportunity to line his depleted coffers, Pope Alexander decides to offer them admittance into Rome, for a price. He also wants to secure his power base in relation to rival states and intends to use Lucrezia for that purpose. She must marry for political reasons, but whom? The family spent all their money bribing their way to the Papacy, so how can they raise enough for a suitable dowry?
Lucrezia’s financially and politically motivated wedding to Milanese nobleman Giovanni Sforza is a disaster thanks to Juan’s inappropriately bawdy play in his sister’s honor, Cesare’s brazen flirting with a married baroness, and the arrival of the Borgia children’s illegitimate mother; Della Rovere seeks the aid of the illustrious Medici family and their counselor, Machiavelli.
Cesare pursues Baroness Ursula, while Lucrezia falls in love with the stable boy and plots against her brutish husband. Political plots thicken as Cardinal Della Rovere takes his cause to the Duke of Milan, Cesare courts Niccolo Machiavelli for an alliance and Rodrigo makes plans to marry off Juan and Gioffre.
Cesare falls deeply in love with Baroness Ursula, Lucrezia has a torrid affair with Paolo the stable boy, while her husband lies in bed with a broken leg. Cardinal Della Rovere meets with Charles VIII, King of France and procures the invasion of Italy, and Rodrigo gets his alliance when Gioffre is betrothed to the beautiful and licentious Sancia of Naples.
8. The Art of War
9. Nessuno (Nobody)
Showtime has renewed The Borgias – the story of intrigue and murder set in 15th century Italy – for a second season. David Nevins, President of Entertainment at Showtime Networks, announced that ten more one-hour episodes will be filmed this summer and will air in 2012. Click here to read more
Jeremy Irons looked up from the latest tiny cigarette he’d rolled and raised an eyebrow. It’s amazing how much meaning some people can convey with one bit of facial hair. We’d been talking about the licentiousness of Rodrigo Borgia, the character Irons plays in the new nine-part series The Borgias, who schemed his way into the Vatican as Pope Alexander VI in 1492. Click here to read more