The centre of the Christian world.
The seat of the Papacy.
The Pope had the power to crown and un-crown kings.
To change the course of empires.
The church was mired in corruption.
Pope Innocent VIII was dying, and the Papal throne was the prize desired by all.
Man: ...qui te custodiat ab hoste maligno, et perducat in vitam aeternam. Amen. Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.
Innocent VIII: You will fight like dogs over this corpse I leave for this throne of St. Peter's. But it was pure once. We have all sullied it with our greed and lechery. Which of you... will wash it clean?
Rodrigo Borgia: It shall be cleansed, Your Holiness, with the tears we shed for you. I swear before the Living God.
Rodrigo Borgia: His implication is that the throne of St. Peter's is for sale.
Orsino Orsini: And has been bought by a Spaniard up to his elbows in simony.
Rodrigo Borgia: I see. You would prefer it had been bought by an Italian?
Orsino Orsini: By someone remotely worthy of the papacy at least—
Rodrigo Borgia: Then my first act as pope will be to institute an enquiry into the elective process. My second, of course... will be to appoint a Vice-Chancellor— the greatest office, with the greatest income, in my gift. Now, there are two obvious choices: Cardinals Della Rovere and Orsini. But the pope could not possibly appoint one who questioned his right to be pope.
Cesare Borgia: I have corrupted my soul. I have pledged estates, castles, benefices to your brother cardinals. I have transferred the documents in the innards of roasted beasts and fowls. All to secure your election as pope.
Cesare Borgia: Because I swear, if God does not protect us, I shall.
Rodrigo Borgia: You are a bishop, Cesare. You have no need of such temporal thoughts.
Cesare Borgia: You placed this collar round my neck, Father. You made God my calling. But the sins I've committed for you must convince you, surely, that the Church is not my calling. I beg you now to release me of my vows. Let me live as a layman. As a soldier. I can then protect our family from the storm that surely must engulf it.
Rodrigo Borgia: You are my eldest son, Cesare. You were always destined to be a prince of the Church.
Cesare Borgia: I would be a prince of state, Father, and I think you know that.
Rodrigo Borgia: The papal army is small, Cesare. The battles I will fight will be within these sacred walls. This is where I will need your help. Juan can... bear arms for the Borgia family, and lead whatever army the pope has, and I will not have my authority questioned further on this. Ego te absolvo ab omnibus censuris, et peccatis, in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
Johannes Burchart: For the ceremonial procession, horses, arms and livery for 700 priests and 23 cardinas with their retinues, knights, and grandees. For Pope Alexander, a ceremonial throne constructed by Florentine master builders, gold and silver plated. For the Borgia family, a brocaded carriage, gold inlaid, refurbished in Venice.
Cesare Borgia: You look beautiful, Mother. But you must try to remember you're not in mourning.
Deacon Cardinal: Take the tiara... which is ornamented with three crowns... and be aware... that you are father of kings and monarchs, lord of the globe, earthly resident of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, who shall have the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen. His Holiness, Pope... Alexander Sixtus.
Lucrezia Borgia: That is so many titles, Cesare. What will his family call him now?
Alexander VI: Help me... do His will. We have been entrusted... with the keys to His kingdom.
Giuliano della Rovere: The King of France must be aware, Ambassador, that we have placed the papal mitre in the hands of an ape.
French Ambassador: He has hopes, Cardinal, that the office brings its own grace with it, and that the grace of God can transform the worst of men. And if it doesn't? We will observe with interest what harm a mitred ape can do.
Alexander VI: These offices we grant in the full expectation they will be used wisely for the restoration of the honour of our Holy Mother Church. Dominus vobiscum.
Cardinals: Dominus vobiscum.
Alexander VI: And, finally, the greatest office in our gift, the post of Vice-Chancellor, the office that stands a reed's width from our papacy. We grant... the most august, the most valued colleague, the brightest hope for the future of the Church, Cardinal... Ascanio Sforza.
Orsino Orsini: Simony! I charge you now in public with trading sacred offices like a market huckster!
Alexander VI: When the pope pledges to banish all suspicion of simony from the cardinalate, he keeps his word. God has chosen us as a new broom to sweep the Vatican clean of corruption, which is precisely why we choose one who has no expectation of advancement— Cardinal Sforza.
Giuliano della Rovere: And I pray so too. In fact, I fully approve of his new... broom. Kiss the ring, you fool.
Orsino Orsini: As do I. And I deeply regret my recent intemperance. In honour of his appointment, I invite Cardinal Sforza, and Your Holiness and the College of Cardinals to a banquet at my palace in two days' time.
Micheletto: To convince this cardinal, my back must tell its own story. And I have heard that he has an interest in the male torso. And even I cannot convincingly whip myself. So whip me, My Lord. Harder. Harder, My Lord.
Cesare Borgia: And... if you betray me... you will end your days on that rack.
Micheletto: Then it would not be in my interest to betray you, My Lord.
Alexander VI: I see. So, we are one less cardinal this morning. I was your age when I became a cardinal. Seems like yesterday. This red... signifies that you are ready to spill your blood in defence of the Christian faith.
Alexander VI: Cord of silk will suffice. To destroy the beauty the Lord has granted you would be to compound your sin. E go te absolve... ab omnibus censuris, et peccatis, in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti.
Alexander VI: One of your lineage... to be destitute— we cannot allow it. We must find you... some... temporary and... temporal refuge.
Man: Keep the fire away from the straw!
Man: It is!
Man: Boy, keep the banners and colours all together.
Man: Right, sir!
Giuliano della Rovere: Some of you voted for him, for which unfortunate choice you are now forgiven. But most of you voted against. We have assembled the barest of majorities. But then, this Borgia pope was elected with just such a majority.
Alexander VI: But his palace is ideal as a... place of penitence... and... self-reflection.
Giuliano della Rovere: If it can be proven, what many of us suspect— corruption, simony, the blatant sale of the sacred offices, and worse, the utter degradation of the office of the papacy in the eyes of the Christian world...
Alexander VI: You must think of your sojourn here as a retreat.
Giuliano della Rovere: I have received advice from our most supreme expert in canon law, that a pope's election may be overturned if we can provide evidence of lechery, both notorious and public. That evidence I present to you now. Leave us, Micheletto. And now, my dear, tell us what you have witnessed.
Maria: There is a passage, connecting the palace to the Vatican. His Holiness makes use of it... nightly.
Alexander VI: And we decree bullfighting will be permitted within the walls of Rome on public festivals and the last Thursday of every month. And, finally, the main business to hand.
Micheletto: Cardinal Della Rovere needs no staff today, understand? For a day of meditation, he has requested peace and silence. You can tell the others. Have you not heard? His Eminence needs no staff today. It is a day of meditation.
Della Rovere's Cook: He has much on his mind.
Micheletto: Too much, some might say. Such is the burden of great office. Until tomorrow, my friend.
Alexander VI: We wish to announce our decision to expand the College of Cardinals, in view of the crippling workload placed upon it by our restructuring of the affairs of our Holy Mother Church. Thirteen new servants of God... will receive the cardinal's biretta.
Julius Versucci: Thirteen?!
Alexander VI: We have judged it wise to strengthen the College of Cardinals, given the enemies who have wormed their way within the Church of Rome.
Giuliano della Rovere: This is against all precedence. His Holiness will fill the College with his favourites. I accuse His Holiness—
Micheletto: And His Holiness comes behind the Lady Giulia thus!
Maria: With the force of a stallion.
Johannes Burchart: The Bishop of Lucca, His Grace Fiorentini, will be named Cardinal Fiorentini. The Bishop of Naples, His Grace Giovanni Mascoli, will be named Cardinal Mascoli. The Bishop of Valencia, His Grace Cesare Borgia, will be named Cardinal Borgia.
Giuliano della Rovere: The pope would make his son a cardinal? I warn you, I have evidence that will bring this house crashing down around your ears.
Giuliano della Rovere: A candle, if you please! Where is everyone? Is there nobody about? Dear Lord, I pray for your strength and guidance in the trials to come. Give us some sign that Rome will be purified, the Borgia stain will be banished forever— Guards! Guards! Somebody! Anybody! Help!
Alfonso of Naples: He can't hear you. He's deaf as a post. Has been for years. The cardinal has come to discuss the deposition of the Borgia pope, Father. You remember Borgia? The ambitious Spaniard. He has appointed a veritable cascade of cardinals— can one say a cascade of cardinals? Like a gaggle of geese? A clutter of cats? An army of ants? Why not? He has appointed a veritable cascade of cardinals.
Cesare Borgia: I've heard the rumours. If Della Rovere thinks Rome is a charnel house...
Alexander VI: The good cardinal imagines that he alone hears the word of God. But God saw what he was blind to. What the Holy Church needs at this juncture is someone who can ensure its survival... ...by whatever means necessary. You have someone who... ...can wield a good garrote, do you not?
Alfonso of Naples: Ah. An adversary. Shall we show him, Father, how it pleased you to deal with your adversaries? Hmm? When you were in your magnificent prime? You see, he does remember. What does he remember?
Alexander VI: Are you sure? I thought he was crucified by Romans.
Alfonso of Naples: My father had many adversaries, Cardinal. But all of them came to sing his praises. And when they could sing no more... ...he had them stuffed! You see, he liked to dine, when his health was still good, with those who considered displeasing him. He's yet to find his Judas. So, you think that a pope has earned a place at this table.
Alfonso of Naples: Perhaps then they deserve the papacy. I will discuss your proposals with my father's advisers. I'd be delighted if you'd accept our hospitality tomorrow. One of our sulphur baths. It might improve Your Eminence's temper. Hmm? Good for the skin. Tomorrow, Cardinal. Tomorrow.
Man: And lift it!
Man: And the tapestries, you have to release them from the top.
Cesare Borgia: See they are installed in my mother's villa. Whatever one could say about the cardinal's politics, there is no questioning his good taste.
Alexander VI: You must never, ever despair. Embrace me, Cesare. Forgive my ambitions for you. But they have been such since the day you were born. Had I not embraced a career in the church, then perhaps things would have been different. You are my eldest son. It is your destiny to follow in my footsteps. Tell me you accept this calling.
Alfonso of Naples: The sensual delights of our Neapolitan Kingdom have attracted many invaders, Cardinal. When you have a paradise, you must use every means available to defend it. My father has grown feeble with the effort.
Alfonso of Naples: Yes. They will consider it. He will meet his maker soon, and he would confess, if he can manage the words, to a pope before he dies. And we would rather it be a Christian one. Enough! Immerse yourself, Cardinal. The sulphur waters renew the flesh, soothe the spirit. We will all of us be dead, soon enough.
Alexander VI: It is red, as a sign of the dignity of the order of cardinals, signifying that you are ready to act with fortitude. Red, as a sign that you are willing to spill your blood for the increase of the Christian faith, into which you have all been baptized. Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus.
Alfonso of Naples: You leave carnage in your wake, Cardinal! Absolute carnage! We have no need of carnage! We have no need of carnage! You should leave Naples forthwith unless you want a place at my father's table on a more permanent basis!
Alexander VI: Well, as foster. It would remove him as a threat to the Ottoman succession. Now, he would pay us 40,000 ducats every year for the privilege. God knows, we need the cash. I would have your advice, madame.
Ottoman Ambassador: The great Sultan Bayezid II presents his brother, Djem, to be Ambassador to the Court of the Pope of Rome. He hopes his presence and the great pope's protection will lead to concord between their peoples, to a mutual treaty of protection from their enemies.
Catherine Sforza: Sforza. Borgia. If our families were to unite, central Italy would be secure, and our cousin, Ludovico Sforza of Milan, has pledged to ally with our interests. Your Holiness has requested a meeting with Giovanni Sforza, Lord of Pesaro. He will understand how impossible that is, without an agreement on a dowry.
Djem: Because of the kindness you Christians have shown to me. I have found peace in this Rome of yours. I have been reading the gospels, the words of St Matthew. "See how these Christians love one another." I would gladly embrace a religion of such charity.
Djem: Cool me down, brother. Console me, brother. A pillow. A towel, dipped in cold water. You?
Cesare Borgia: So our sister's dowry is done? Here endeth the first lesson.
Johannes Burchart: For the hospitality provided to the Royal Highness Prince Djem, 400,000 ducats from the Sultan of Constantinople to the Holy See. A further 100,000 ducats for the most excellent medical care provided to His Majesty, and a further 40,000 ducats for funeral expenses.
Alexander VI: Father God Almighty, who wert, art, and shall be blessed world without end, I beseech Thee, watch over my daughter, Lucrezia. And grant me guidance and wisdom. I pray that I have made the right decision for her.
Girolamo Savonarola: Come hither! Oh, degenerate church! I gave you my house, saith the Lord, and you have defiled it with outrage! This pope is a lecherous abomination! Is there no crime for which he has not been accused? He is lower than the beast that crawls or the Red Whore of Babylon! Florence, you will pay for your greed and usury when he grinds you to perdition!
Vanozza dei Cattanei: Forgive me, then, my tone. But rest assured, I will nurse her back to the most excellent health, and we will both have the pleasure of seeing her walk up the aisle of St. Peter's.
Lucrezia Borgia: I will gladly marry whom you choose; what your politics demand. The Borgia family will be united with the Sforzas, but however noble their lineage, they cannot bar my mother from my wedding day.
Alexander VI: No, but these are issues, my dear daughter, that are beyond your care.
Lucrezia Borgia: But I am learning, Holy Father! She was once what they call a courtesan, and you are the pope of Rome. But you loved her once. As I do now. And I will have my mother at my wedding day.
Giuliano della Rovere: He may be wrong about the Medici bank, but he's right about the Borgia pope. Alexander's great game is the investiture of Naples. He knows France has claims upon it; he knows Spain has claims upon it. He will play them both against each other like a spider with two flies.
Giuliano della Rovere: Borgia has betrothed his daughter to a Sforza. He will marry his son to a Spaniard or a Venetian; his younger son to a Florentine or a Neapolitan. He will weave a web around this Italy that may not exist. He will swallow your Florence, your Venice, your Milan, and Italy then will exist, my liege, under him.
Girolamo Savonarola: You... You talk of purity. Step into the light. I feel something from you. I have had a vision, Cardinal, of a great army from the north, with cannon the like of which we have never witnessed, belching fire and destruction. Women lie dead in their beds. Suckling babes will be snatched from the breast and dashed against the city walls. This army... will march south like the mongrel hordes towards Rome, invited in by a cleric in red. Are you the one, Cardinal Della Rovere?
Girolamo Savonarola: I see castles of flame. I see blood running through the streets of cities. I see the bloated body of the Borgia pope, blackened by syphilis, lying dead in St. Peter's. Nobody dares approach it. Will you be the one, Cardinal, to bring forth this apocalypse? Are you the cleric in red?
Alexander VI: We understand the royal Spanish highnesses... wish us to view this savage?
Alexander VI: Hmm... Let me explain to you, little man. Italy. It's like a great big boot divided into kingdoms. To the north, we have the Duchy of Milan, ruled over by Ludovico Sforza. Then to the east, we have the Republic of Venice. Moving south, we have the great Republic of Florence, ruled over by the...?
Alexander VI: Mm-hmm. They're cousins, and thus have similar interests. But here is the tiny city of Rome, surrounded by the papal states. Now, its rule is small, but its power is great. Can you tell me why?
Alexander VI: Now, here, to the south, is the great kingdom of Naples— almost half the boot. But both France and Spain have traditional claims on Naples, and Naples wishes to assert his independence, so, I mean, phew! It's the pope who has to decide between these claims.
Giovanni Sforza: You didn't snore. But you wept... all night. That has to stop. And you bled, thank God. A virgin. You must be unique in your family. "A Borgia," they said. "Is that how little I am valued?" I said. "The pope's daughter," they said. "For shame," I said. Your dowry was worthy of a princessa. Lucrezia Borgia Sforza. Do you hunt? No? Well, that's good. Then we need hardly see each other. Except when marital duties call. And then I'll keep them brief and business-like.
Alexander VI: Oh, go away. Do nightmares ever plague the vice-chancellor?
Ascanio Sforza: Hm. The very office is a nightmare, Your Holiness. Of plots, petty intrigues and petitions, which I do my utmost to keep from your presence.
Alexander VI: I need your assurance... of the welfare of my daughter...in the castle of your cousin, Giovanni Sforza.
Ascanio Sforza: Hmm. Yes, well. Yes, that he did inherit. But intrigue is no match for Borgia intelligence as whole Rome has discovered.
Alexander VI: So, I need your further assurance that... he and another cousin, the Duke of Milan, will be constant in their support for our papacy. We have merged our fortunes with the Sforza name. The consequence of that trust being betrayed would be most severe.
Cesare Borgia: And I had to see you but couldn't you have chosen a more personable venue?
Ursula Bonadeo: There was an altercation at your sister's wedding. A promise of a reckoning. I would beg you to desist from pursuit of your mother's honour.
Cesare Borgia: You may know little of me, but those who know me know that I remember such things. You are concerned for your husband's safety?
Ursula Bonadeo: For yours. He is a brute, a condotiorre, the veteran of many battles. Your calling is the Church, not the sword. If you were harmed, I could not forgive myself. I could not, perhaps, live.
Ursula Bonadeo: If I can find the words. Your priestly collar makes me hope my heart is safe. Because I am not fully in command of it. So the fact that you are a cardinal pleases me as it distresses me.
Cesare Borgia: No, Father. Let us not talk in metaphors. My fear is... he would go to France, conspire with the French to invade us, arrange free passage of their armies through the Republic of Florence, through the Duchy of Milan.
Cesare Borgia: Depose you, march south to Naples. His armies are hardened by a 100 years of battle with England. There is nothing here to match them.
Juan Borgia: Duke Ludovico Sforza of Milan. He is cousin to our sister's husband, Giovanni Sforza.
Cesare Borgia: Lucrezia did not marry Ludovico Sforza, Brother. And they don't call him Il Moro for nothing.
Juan Borgia: I hear he keeps his own cousin caged beneath his castle floors.
Cesare Borgia: He would betray us in a moment if he thought his dukedom was in peril. What he fears is that his nephew will wear his crown.
Alexander VI: Well, perhaps we should threaten him with just that possibility. And you should go to Florence tease out their intentions. Those Medici bankers have a preacher, Savonarola, who accuses them of usury. Perhaps we should offer them an excommunication...public burning if they support our just cause.
Ludovico Sforza: Indeed. From the Duke of Milan. Well, Cardinal. I will consider it.
Woman: Fresh bread! Bread, bread!
Woman: Cabbages this way! More cabbages for your money!
Man: Over here!
Girolamo Savonarola: Florence, the time will come, when all your finery, goods, and chattels will profit you nothing. You have lived in usury, Florence, like pigs in heat. The riches of your banking may astound the world, but one day they will be your undoing! Owing to your avarice, neither you nor your children lead a good life. You have already discovered many devices of gaining money...
Lucrezia Borgia: Your shirt is torn, Paolo. Would you like me to stitch it?
Paolo: I could never ask, my lady.
Lucrezia Borgia: And stop this "my lady" nonsense. My name is Lucrezia. Say it.
Paolo: Lucrezia... my lady.
Navarrese Ambassador: ...in summation, Your Holiness, I would reiterate his Highness' pleasure at the possibility of an union between the Kingdom of Navarre and the Borgia family. Between the Gonfaloniere Juan Borgia and his beloved niece, the Princess Sylvia, whose portrait is now my pleasure to present to the Papal Court.
Alexander VI: We thank his Royal Highness. And if this depiction does justice to the Princess Sylvia, then her beauty is indeed without compare.
Alexander VI: To include executions? Sadly not. But you could inform your cousin, the Duke of Milan, that we could well see the justice of his nephew's cause, should the duke choose to act against our wishes.
Ludovico Sforza: Indeed. You are the Duke now, are you not? Have mine. And you, cousin cardinal, can tell that Borgia pope, that Catalan clown, that Spanish nonentity that marries his bastard daughter to my cousin and thinks he will buy my friendship! Tell him he will never have it! Tell him I will welcome French arms with open arms of my own!
Alexander VI: So it is rumoured. Gluttony, it is said. But the result's the same. If the French army moves, it will have free passage through Milan. And the only force to stop it will be Florence. And Florence can hardly stand alone. No, I think it might be time to give Naples what they want.
Neapolitan Ambassador: He nevertheless sends his every good wish. And in the face of all of the spurious claims upon his kingdom from Spain, from France, from the Duchy of Milan— he would remind Your Holiness of the justice of the independent claims of Naples. An independent Naples can only be to Rome's benefit. And I, as his ambassador, am proud to present the suit, for your consideration, of his last unmarried daughter, Sancia, Duchessa of Squillace.
Sancia of Naples: I am your bastard sister, Alfonso. I shall marry whomever I am told.
Alfonso of Naples: I am sure your brother should grow into your stature, Gonfaloniere. It comes with many benefits: the Borgia name, the Borgia prowess.
Sancia of Naples: I am told it is considerable, within and without the marital bed.
Alfonso of Naples: Most important of all, the protection of the Pope of Rome for our poor, beleaguered kingdom of Naples. We have enemies fast approaching, Gonfaloniere. My father's name was once enough to terrify them. Perhaps your father's name should do the same?
Juan Borgia: I have been entrusted with all of my father's battles.
Alexander VI: Let us take... your most elegant leg. A perfect metaphor for Italian politics. Here... we have France, the source of all disquiet. But traveling south across the Alps... we find the dukedom of Milan.
Alexander VI: Hmm? And below her, Florence. And here, this little mound... is Rome. But Naples is your elegant calf... your exquisite ankle... your heel... your sole... and your most delicious toe. Now lying here... it may not seem important. But try to stand, and you'll find that all your balance comes from here.
Charles VIII: Ha! He is learning to mean what he says! But as to war, see here. My new invention. If it works, it will be... truly grisly. It will usher in a whole new era of grisliness. Chained cannonballs. Both balls have to fire together. If they don't, we could be torn to shreds. You wish to give the signal?
Charles VIII: No war is just. War is chaos, brute force mustered against brute force, until one side is destroyed, utterly. I have read of your Italian battles. Hired mercenaries, on feathered horseback, prancing like peacocks one against the other until one side retires, with something called honor? Heh! But there is no honor in war. The French learned that against the English. There is blood, death, armor against armor, until one side surrenders, in death or domination. Be careful what you pray for Cardinal, if you pray for war. You will find yourself in a place beyond prayer itself.
Ursula Bonadeo: I asked to meet you here because... my husband has been found. Washed up on the shores of the Tiber, 3 weeks dead with stab wounds to his neck. For those 3 weeks I gave my body to you. I broke my marriage vows.
Cesare Borgia: I thought... perhaps I hoped you did so willingly.
Ursula Bonadeo: You bought those 3 weeks with murder! I told you he was riding on the road to Ostia that night. Admit it, Cardinal.
Ursula Bonadeo: I thought I knew a man. A man conflicted, perhaps, between the world and God. But not a murderer.
Cesare Borgia: Is it murder to defend your mother's honor? To procure the freedom of one you could love... even more than your mother's honor? If it is, I am a murderer born.
Ursula Bonadeo: Maybe God can forgive you because I'm not sure I can.
Cesare Borgia: Do you think I care for the forgiveness of God? I care for your happiness, your future. And I have now given it to you. Liberate me, you asked me.
Ursula Bonadeo: You have not given me a future. You have given me a lifelong penance. I am party to your crime. I feel for you still... but I know not this monster beside me.
Cesare Borgia: Well, let me tell you. I was born... with a stain. A mark. Like the mark of Cain. But it is the mark of my father, my family. The mark of Borgia. I have tried to be other than I am. And I have failed. And if I have failed you in the process, I am truly sorry.
Ursula Bonadeo: You... You have the devil's insight, Cardinal. You read what my heart wanted and you gave it to me. You gave me joy, through a crime I could not have conceived of. And now I must live my life in penance, praying for forgiveness.
Alexander VI: You will— You will not? Do you have any idea what lengths I've gone to to keep your mother's reputation intact? You were bred to be a soldier, a general, a leader of men. Is that any way for a Gonfaloniere to behave? Brawling like a common soldier, in your mother's home?
He... fell off his horse. Foolish man. He will go hunting. I find the more confined husbands become the more... tolerable. I could write a book about it. Perhaps I will. And you, Brother? What of your heart?
Nun: The cutting of your hair is a symbol... of the renunciation of your earthly beauty... which is now in the service of our Lord God... Jesus Christ. You will be a bride of Christ... a handmaiden of Christ. Christ will be your love, your bread... your wine... your water.
Ascanio Sforza: Most worthy Lord... do you agree, under the eyes of God, to accept the most gracious Sancia, Duchessa of Squillace, as your lawful spouse?
Ursula Bonadeo: I discovered, after I had taken my vows.
Cesare Borgia: Shall I resign my responsibilities? Assign the benefice to another cardinal?
Ursula Bonadeo: No. I shall never be free of you, Cardinal. I knew that. You cannot touch me, Cardinal. No man can touch me now. The one who touches me, who lives inside my heart, who visits me nightly, died on the cross many centuries ago.
Cesare Borgia: Ah! I have another rival then. And I can't kill Him.
Ursula Bonadeo: You blaspheme now! Would you put yourself beyond the grace of God entirely, Cardinal?
Cesare Borgia: No. I would manage my own destiny. You asked me for liberation.
Ursula Bonadeo: And you gave it to me. You delivered me to here. I spend my days in penance, and... oddly enough, in peace. You have a power, Cardinal Cesare Borgia, a strength, a destiny that even you don't recognize. You read my heart, with what may indeed have been the Devil's insight, and you delivered me to God. You can use that strength for good or for ill but I have no doubt it will be used, and the whole of Italy will be changed by it.
Lucrezia Borgia: No! Where is your imagination? It is God rehearsing his wrath. It is Jove flexing his muscles. It is my husband throwing off his splint. He will walk again soon. What will we do with our love then?
Paolo: We can love in secret.
Lucrezia Borgia: Hm. We already love in secret. And you knew this couldn't last forever, didn't you?
Charles VIII: Yes, you will dine with us! You will not retire! An army is like a beast, Cardinal. And that beast will be fed! You think these troops live on what I pay them? You think they march with me for the few sous I give them? No. They march for the spoils of war, of victory.
Man: Of course. Victory.
Charles VIII: This town will be picked clean by the time the sun comes up. And do you know why, Cardinal? Because they know that another assault like this will not be... necessary, that the news of it will spread like flames through a barn, that they might not get another chance.
French General: Ah! And they were so looking forward to Florence.
Giuliano della Rovere: That I be granted your gracious permission to ride before your armies to Florence. That I negotiate whatever terms are acceptable to Your Gracious Highness that might prevent a recurrence of such slaughter.
Charles VIII: He has no stomach for slaughter. General, what are our terms?
French General: Free passage of our troops through the Florentine Republic. 25,000 troops billeted on the Florentine population.
Charles VIII: A levy of 200,000 ducats for the cost of our armies to date.
Girolamo Savonarola: And I looked up... and before me was a pale horse and its rider was named Death. He had power over a quarter of the earth to kill with his sword, with famine, with plague, and with the wild beasts of the earth! And the moon, the full moon was red, and stars fell from the skies! And the sky, the sky receded, receded like a scroll, turning over and over, and mountains and islands were torn from the face of the earth! The sun turned black! Black as sackcloth!
Alfonso of Naples: I bring news, Father, of apocalypse. Hm. If you can still hear me. The French King has laid waste to Lucca. His armies head towards Florence. But their goal... is your fair Kingdom of Naples... which we may need to vacate. Father. Father, I need at least a sign.
Alexander VI: ...per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen. You have heard what happened in Lucca, my son?
Alexander VI: We will not tolerate this heresy! This sapostasy! This is the chair of St. Peter's! We are the voice of the Living God! We will occupy this chair until our death, and the fires of Hell shall rain down on those who would oppose us! We are, all of us... about to be sorely tested. And you... are either with us... or against us. We hereby impose an excommunication upon that... heretic apostate... Cardinal Guiliano Della Rovere. We ask for your support in this most solemn declaration. We demand your compliance, so... a show of hands, Your Eminences. If you please.
Giovanni Sforza: The French army has passed through Milan. My cousin Ludovico has given them free passage through his dukedom. If the Republic of Florence doesn't resist their advance, there will be nothing to stop their passage towards Rome.
Giulia Farnese: And I will miss you. But I will suffer your absence, if it sets your mind at ease.
Alexander VI: There was a confessor I had when I first took holy orders. A Franciscan friar, the most holy of men. I would emerge from his confessional... like a boy newly washed in the morning dew. Untroubled. Clear. We long for that clarity in this moment of time.
Niccolo Machiavelli: I bid his Royal Highness and the armies of France welcome to the fair city of Florence. But it would be politic, Your Highness, if you would ride through our gracious city with your lance at rest.
Alexander VI: I would be... a simple priest again, and unburden my soul to you. I have been... diverted from my calling... by the travails of this world.
Friar Raphael: That is indeed grave.
Alexander VI: But the pope is a ruler of men. Yes, he interprets God's will, but he must also rule the papal states, the city of Rome, he must mediate between all the kings of Christendom.
Friar Raphael: God makes himself manifest through the world. He does not ask us to change it, merely to lead good lives.
Alexander VI: A great trial... is to be visited on me. On Rome, on the chair of St. Peter's. The French King, a cardinal with him, would see me deposed. Now, if that is God's will, should I just allow it to happen? Walk free of my office... follow you to the Apennines, and live the life of St. Francis?
Friar Raphael: You were given this office for a reason, Your Holiness.
Friar Raphael: You were chosen. You have a duty to fulfill. You're a man. You have sinned, of course. You have failed, no doubt, in many things. But your office, the role for which God chose you, you cannot fail in that. And, have no doubt, God observes you. And if you open your heart to Him... He will guide you through it. Now, beg forgiveness for your sins, and have your soul washed clean.
Lucrezia Borgia: Djem is in my dreams again, Giulia. And he still cannot speak. Can one contract the marsh fever in these mountainous regions?
Giulia Farnese: I'm sure the mountains have fevers of their own, but I know them not. But you are ill, Lucrezia. Describe your illness.
Lucrezia Borgia: I wake up, nauseous. I expel the contents of whatever I ate the night before. I sweat. It comes and goes.
Alexander VI: I dreamed that all of Italy had deserted us— Sforzas, Colonnas. The French armies swarmed through Rome like a cloud of locusts. On my feet... were the simple sandals of a Spanish peasant. Summon the Spanish ambassador. He may be our last hope.
Giulia Farnese: When horses fly, as we must now. Before Lord Sforza awakes.
Alexander VI: We granted your King Ferdinand and your Queen Isabella the title of Most Catholic Majesties. We delivered a solemn papal bull, granting them everlasting rights over that vast new continent—
Juan de Fonseca: But, with respect, Holy Father, what you ask is impossible.
Alexander VI: The involvement of Spanish forces in the protection of St. Peter's and the head of Christendom—
Juan de Fonseca: Would amount to a declaration of war between France and Spain.
Alexander VI: I warn you, Ambassador, favors granted can be rescinded.
Juan de Fonseca: And I would beg Your Holiness's forgiveness that I cannot meet his full demands.
Alexander VI: Must we face this... French apocalypse alone? The populace is already fleeing Rome. Please thank Their Royal Catholic Highnesses. And tell them... our Savior was kissed thus by Judas Iscariot.
Alexander VI: We would review whatever forces we have at our disposal. Where's your brother?
Juan Borgia: Because lechery and debauchery are the very marks of nobility.
Cesare Borgia: Most of Italy has galloped to the French side. They have heard a sound that is new to their Italian ears: the sound of cannon. And the Gonfaloniere has other duties besides lechery and debauchery. There is the tedious business of war.
Giulia Farnese: Slow your horse, my love. You were ill, remember? And your condition needs nurturing.
Lucrezia Borgia: Once out of that gloomy castle, my health seems to improve.
Giulia Farnese: We did doubly well to flee, then, and your father needs us both at this perilous juncture. Now, you tell me about this Paolo.
Alexander VI: We have summoned an assembly of the College of Cardinals. Now, we are aware— painfully aware— how readily they would abandon our papacy in this hour of greatest need. But you, Cardinal, shall be our support in this crisis. You will express every confidence in the arms at our disposal, under the leadership of your beloved brother. They are like rats, my son, deserting a sinking ship. Thus our Savior was abandoned by his Apostles, in his hour of greatest need.
Ascanio Sforza: ...without protection, everyone moment we stay here is at our peril.
Cesare Borgia: The Holy Father has reviewed the papal forces. He has every confidence in their ability to defend the Holy City. As have I!
Alexander VI: Too often has this city been abandoned at a time of intimate threat. We have all of us been chosen by God... to represent his Holy Church. And who knows? Perhaps God in His infinite wisdom has sent us this trial, this... test of our faith in Him. The Pope of Rome shall stay in Rome, in the Vatican, in St. Peter's. And he has every confidence that the College of Cardinals shall do so too. Each one of you shall be called to account. Do not let the Most High God find you wanting. It is settled then. We shall stay in Rome.
Juan Borgia: And I propose our armies do precisely that. Meet them far from Rome in the open field, where the advantage of their cannon is like blowing thistles in the wind. Our cavalry can feint around their rear, our bowmen target their gunners. The Roman genius is for strategy and rapid movement; let us use it to the full. And annihilate those French barbarians with their lumbering metal cannon. See how fast they can turn them round. Do you agree, brother?
Juan Borgia: Well, thank God someone in this family does. We shall outwit them before they even get sight of our fair city, Rome. And like Julius Caesar, like Mark Anthony, we will chase those barbarian invaders back across the Alps, dragging their cannon with them. Am... I... correct, Father?
Alexander VI: Well, we can breathe again, my son. The air is almost sweet with relief. You... will be the savior of Rome.
Cesare Borgia: Will the good Lord see the justice in our cause, Micheletto?
Micheletto: Where warfare is concerned, Your Eminence, our good Lord will take a holiday.
Lucrezia Borgia: No, not at all like yours. The visage I saw in this cup was not yours, Your Highness. It has none of the grace, the valor, the openness. And now... Pah! It is gone. More wine for His Highness.
Charles VIII: And the winner that you saw in the cup, Lucrezia...
Lucrezia Borgia: Was not as handsome as you, Your Highness. Nor as gracious. Nor as kind.
Lucrezia Borgia: The Gonfaloniere of the papal armies. He thought you meant to sack Rome. Like the Goths and Vandal hordes. I told him you were a gentleman. You had no such idea. You had no such idea, had you?
Alexander VI: We have heard the sun rose as always this morning. We have heard a lark singing through the casement window. But the Sistine choir at matins was silent. Perhaps they have heard what you have heard.
Alexander VI: For the proceedings of our deposition. And if you are asked for an opinion, you will state— as I know you will— that a College of Cardinals which elected a pope deemed to be iniquitous can itself depose said iniquitous pope. Must you all desert me?
Alexander VI: Do not blame him, Cesare, for retreating before the French hordes.
Cesare Borgia: They have Lucrezia as hostage. Have you heard? If they harm her...
Juan Borgia: Cowards. Vermin! Rats deserting a sinking ship! You're like lemmings running to your doom! Do you think a golden chalice will save you?
Alexander VI: Your brother did not fail, Cesare. Your father did. Your father, who placed that responsibility upon his shoulders. Who was blinded... by paternal fondness. Your father, who has been abandoned by all that once supported him. Your father, who... faces his dark night of the soul. Alone.
Alexander VI: No, not at all. I would face this trial that approaches, against which the entirety of Rome has fled, without the trappings of Holy Office. I would face it as our Savior faced His great trial: in a simple robe, sandals on our bare feet, with nothing but our faith in God to adorn us.
Alexander VI: Does the Pope of Rome disappoint Your Highness? Had you hoped for gold and silver vestments? Display has its purpose. But simplicity must rule our hearts. We are all of us naked before God. Even the Pope of Rome. Even... the King of France.
Alexander VI: Just as we long to be free of the burden of the papacy. The papal robes are such a weight upon our shoulders. One longs to be relieved of the burden, to be a simple priest again, praying to the God of Abraham.
The Pope of Rome has kindly put the Castel Sant'Angelo at our disposal. We can billet the troops on the populace of The Eternal City. And you'll be please to know, Cardinal Della Rovere, the College of Cardinals will be convened.
Alexander VI: We discussed the investiture of the Kingdom of Naples. And I told him, there was no need for a great army. All he had to do was to ask. The College of Cardinals will be convened not to discuss our deposition but to consider their shameful abandonment of the Vatican in its hour of need.
Alexander VI: Well, please, continue. We have... convened the College of Cardinals. We find their abandonment of the Vatican in its hour of greatest peril truly shameful. As must you, surely, Burchard.
Alexander VI: We are not certain, but we suspect. You should take your manservant with you. For entertainment. For protection. And if you find the rumours of an outbreak of plague in Naples are true, I'm sure you can find your way home. Are we understood?
Alexander VI: Good. Because now another charade demands our attention.
Alexander VI: You may sit, cardinals. Now, before we begin the proceedings, we would consider the penitential intentions of each member of this college. We would start with the vice-chancellor, Cardinal Ascanio Sforza. You may kneel, Cardinal.
Ascanio Sforza: And in recompense, I offer all the benefices of the Sforza ecclesiastical estates to the Holy See of St. Peter's.
Alexander VI: That is kind, indeed. And we shall most graciously accept. Cardinal... Piccolomini. Unburden your soul.
Alexander VI: In our capacity as the Chosen of God, the Bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Jesus Christ, successor to the prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, we invest thee, Charles of France, with the crowns of France and the crown of Naples. And we confer our sacred blessing on thy reign in both those kingdoms.