The Borgias - Season 1

101. The Poisoned Chalice


Rome 1492
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.

...qui te custodiat ab hoste maligno, et perducat in vitam aeternam. Amen. Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.
You are afraid to enter, but you must.
...secundum multitudinem...
I am about to meet my maker. I have confessed. And I... confess... I am very afraid. Colonna. Sforza. Orsini. Borgia.
Your Holiness.
Della Rovere.
...Gloria Patri...
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?
It shall be cleansed, Your Holiness, with the tears we shed for you. I swear before the Living God.
You swear thus? A Spanish murrano? A white moor?
As Vice-Chancellor, I swear before the Living God.
And so do I, Your Holiness. And I, Your Holiness. And I.
Rest assured, Your Holiness. The glory of our Holy Mother, Church will be restored in my lifetime.
Please... God.

There's a door behind, leads to the street.
The back passage? You're a cleric?
Didn't you notice?
There was nothing ecclesiastical about you last night.
By night... By night I am who I want to be. By day, I am thus. Lucrezia! Sister!
I spied a lady, another one!
There's a punishment for spying.
What's that?
Oh, I think you know!
No! Can I come to your wedding?
I'll never have a wedding, you know that.
No. You are betrothed to God. Don't you love God, Cesare?
More than I love you?
Don't be sad, brother. Maybe Papa will become pope, and you can be who you want to be.
If he does become pope, I'll be what he wants me to be.
Can a pope have children, Cesare?
I've heard it rumoured that Pope Innocent has 12.
But I have also heard it rumoured that he is dying.
No news in that. He's been dying for weeks now.
If he does die, will our father wear his crown?
The new pope will be elected by the College of Cardinals, my love. And only God can predict the outcome.
Well, since you will have no wedding, I will pray for God to choose Papa. I want to wear a beautiful white veil crowned with pearls for his coronation.
God may need some help, then.

What have they heard?
Vatican Guard:
The pope breathes his last.
God rest his soul...

We must get you out of here before they lock the doors.
And so it begins.
You know what to do?
Yes, Father.
Keep our family safe. Until the new pope is elected, it will be anarchy in Rome— every faction fighting for its own candidate. And if—after the first vote— if the smoke is black—
As you said, Father, I know what to do.
I have waited a lifetime for this moment. We will go over it again. If we fail at the first vote, I will send word...
On the wings of a dove—
...names of those cardinals who need persuading.
With properties, benefices, and, if need be, gold. They call it simony, Father.
God will forgive us, my son. But I will not forgive failure... from you or your brother. Am I understood?
We will not fail you, Father.
Mm. Go now.

Roman noble: 
Back to Spain, Borgia! You've had your day in Rome. You can't wring any more favours from a dead pope.
I was born here, as far as I'm aware.
Roman noble: 
If a pig is born in a stable, does that make him a horse? Tsk, tsk, tsk! Rome is for Romans now. The new pope will see to that.
And if the new pope is Spanish?
Roman noble: 
And if my mother's the Virgin Mary?
Was the Virgin a Roman whore? That's news to me.
Excuse me.
Roman noble:
My brother speaks before he thinks. He begs your pardon. I should have let them do it.
Kill me? Your younger brother? Our father would never have forgiven you.

Have you heard?
Even Joffre has heard. Have you not?
The pope has died.
You know what that means?
I know there will be an election.
And the city will be bedlam until it's over.
Do you think our father can win, Juan?
Are we allowed to dream, Mother?
Your father found ways to love and care for us in this house, but I'm not sure as pope he can do the same.
As pope, he can do what he wants.
Are you sure? Kings and popes and emperors belong to their peoples, not to their families.
So, we allow the election to run its course, and he won't be pope.
What other course is there? It's in the hands of God.
It's in the hands of the College of Cardinals, Mother. It's not quite the same thing. This one.

Cardinal Borgia.
My Lord Cardinal.
Whoever wins this contest—
If you were a different man... I might vote for you. You've performed your duties as Vice-Chancellor admirably. The Church has need of your... organizational genius.
She has other needs as well.
And they would be?
Honesty. Probity. Goodness.
You find me lacking in those qualities?
Yes. And so I shall fight you. To the end, and beyond that, if need be, with any means at my disposal.
I do tend to win whatever battles I fight. But what talk we of fighting? It is all in God's hands. Good night, My Lord.

Deacon Cardinal: 
To Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, four votes. To Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, six votes. To Cardinal Guilliano Della Rovere, seven votes. To Cardinal Orsino Orsini, six votes. None has the require majority.

Dominus Deum...
Julius Versucci: 
After the death of Pope Sixtus, they holed us up here for a month.
Julius Versucci: 
The company was tolerable, but as for the food. I had to lead the revolt— insist our dishes could be brought in from outside.
How wise.
Julius Versucci: 
And now there's crystal in my soup.
Please, have mine, Your Grace.
Julius Versucci: 
Don't drink this. It's vinegar; I've tasted it. From my vineyards in Valencia.
Julius Versucci: 
How can I thank you?
Hmm. I wonder... Mmm!
...est a me...

The rules are clear. No outside contact is permitted under any circumstance.
But you must know that Cardinal Versucci's digestion is very delicate.
Which is why he has rabbit baked in milk.
Ah. Good. And... Cardinal Piccolomini...
Uh... Suckling pig with rosemary.
Indeed. The well-being of the curia... is of the greatest importance. As Vice-Chancellor, their health is my concern. Mens sana in corpore sano.
I think St. Augustine might disagree with you. He extolled the virtues of fasting.
St. Augustine... never had to vote in conclave.

My dear sons, the Cardinals Versucci, Piccolomini, and Sanso, grant some titles and benefices from the Borgia abbeys, monasteries, and bishoprics.
...Versucci, Piccolomini, and Sanso, grant some titles and benefices from the Borgia abbeys, monasteries, and bishoprics.
Julius... Versucci...
All rights to the Abbey of... St. Catherine of Siena. Cardinal Alessandro Piccolomini.
Vatican Cook:
Suckling pig for the cardinal, roasted.
Roasted and... stuffed.
Cardinal Julius Versucci.
Cook: Uh, rabbit.
Vatican Cook:
...baked in milk.

Deacon Cardinal: 
Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere... has garnered ten votes. Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, five. Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia has garnered eight votes. But none has the required majority.

My dear son, we are in sight of our goal, but now you must redouble our efforts. Send your brother round the Borgia churches to empty them of gold, ornamen, and precious stone.

I have emptied the churches of the Romagna. I have stripped altars bare. They were rotten with gold ornament.
Yes, you are a true reformer, brother.
These cardinals know no vows of poverty.

Why the dove, Cesare?
It has a dual purpose, my love. Like many things in life, it serves as both a symbol and a messenger.
A symbol of what?
Of the uncorrupted soul.
And a messenger of what?
Of corruption.
You mean to say it bears news of how many votes we must buy in the Papal election.
You are criminally well informed, sis. But I trust your soul is still of the purest white.
How many votes must we buy him, Cesare?
You know too much already, don't you?
You're wrong. I know too little...

Dear Father, nine mules laden down with gold and treasure are being distributed to the palaces of the following cardinals:
Deacon Cardinal: 
Cardinal Guiliano Della Rovere has garnered... Cardinal Ascana Sforza has garnered four... Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia has garnered ten votes. None has the required majority.

Of course, Cardinal Sforza, the entire conclave knows that I cannot be both Vice-Chancellor and pope of Rome.
Than you can no longer be a Vice-Chancellor.
You mean... I may yet be pope of Rome?
If you can find a suitable Vice-Chancellor.
And how would you describe the qualities necessary for a suitable Vice-Chancellor, Cardinal Sforza?
Loyalty. And a certain kind of wisdom.
Can you be more specific?
I would say the one who would be suitable as Vice-Chancellor would be wise to support the Vice-Chancellor who would be pope.
Hmm. And I would say... we have an understanding.

Deacon Cardinal: 
Cardinal Guiliano Della Rovere has garnered seven votes. Cardinal Alberto Colonna, two. Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia... fourteen. Cardinal Borgia has the required majority.
Correction: Cardinal Borgia has bought the required majority.
What is your implication?
His implication is that the throne of St. Peter's is for sale.
And has been bought by a Spaniard up to his elbows in simony.
I see. You would prefer it had been bought by an Italian?
By someone remotely worthy of the papacy at least—
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.
That was not my intention.
Nor was it mine.
I see. And the Spanish race is closest to your bosom. Can we proceed, then?
Deacon Cardinal: 
To conclude: Cardinal Borgia has the required majority. An examination, testes et pendentes, is required.
And Cardinal Borgia is happy to comply.

Can there be any doubt that the good cardinal is male?
Not if we count his children.
Let him without children cast the first stone.
I have heard rumours... of a rhinoceros horn.
Ooh, that small?
Boasting again?
Oh, go on. The suspense is killing them.
Habet duos testiculos... et bene pendentes.
So, he's got two testicles, well hung.
Julius Versucci: 
Deo gracias.

Deacon Cardinal: 
Habemus papam!
Pater, et lius, et Spiritus Sanctus. Amen.

...tu es et dominus eternum... et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
Your sins are all forgiven, sisters.
By the pope's bastard?
Son! His favourite son!

I ask to confess to you, Holy Father, because I have sinned.
How have you sinned, my son?
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.
And God will repay us tenfold.
But you must set my soul at ease, Father. Can a family such as ours survive such a prize? We are Spaniards. They hate us. The enemies we have at present will be multiplied tenfold.
God will protect his Vicar on Earth, Cesare, and those dearest to him.
And will you inform God as to His duties in this regard?
Why this blasphemous tone, my son?
Because I swear, if God does not protect us, I shall.
You are a bishop, Cesare. You have no need of such temporal thoughts.
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.
You are my eldest son, Cesare. You were always destined to be a prince of the Church.
I would be a prince of state, Father, and I think you know that.
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.

You think it fits me, brother?
You have broad shoulders.
As have you. Though it lacks an insignia. I thought a cape to cover the breastplate, with the Borgia Bull in bright yellow.
I favour black, myself.
Black for the cleric, but for the soldier, a prancing bull in yellow. Or red, perhaps? Black. It suits you.

Welcome, Papa.
Oh, I've missed you.
So, you have won.
Yes, I've won.

You've won what you always wanted. My congratulations.
And I have lost.
But what have you lost, my love?
You'll never lose me.
In spirit, maybe, but in the flesh, I may have to.
The pope cannot love?
The pope can love God. But to be seen to love anyone else would be... unthinkable.
So we'll find ways to accommodate our affections. Something like we've always done.
All of Rome knows you're the mother to my children. Not only must the pope be chaste; he must be seen to be chaste.
The children. You can be seen to love them, no?
Of course!
I always knew this day would come. As long as you are with me in spirit...
I always will be.
And with no one else.
That is equally impossible, Vannozza.
So we take vows of chastity along with your new status? Must we take vows of poverty too?
Poverty? God forbid!

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.

You look beautiful, Mother. But you must try to remember you're not in mourning.
But perhaps I am.
Like you are losing your family? The life we have lived.
What are we gaining?
The future.
Step! Step!

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.
That is so many titles, Cesare. What will his family call him now?
Holy Father.
Holy Father. That's easy. Even I can remember that.
Deacon Cardinal: 
...grants to all faithful here present a plenary indulgence...

And tell me, dear brother—
What, sis?
What must I call myself? Holy Daughter?
You are still Lucrezia Borgia, my love. You will only change your name when you marry.
And when will I marry?
Never, if I can help it.
But surely it is good to marry, Cesare?
As the pope's daughter, you will have every prince of Europe vying for your hand. They may care very little for your heart.
Perhaps I should do as you have done, brother— take Holy Orders. Give my heart to God.
That might be the safer option, my love.
Does Papa have so many enemies?
As our father, perhaps not. But as pope...

I am Rodrigo Borgia no longer. I am Alexander Sixtus.
But you know who you are. My father, still.
I am no longer "I". I am... "we". We felt so... alone out there. When the crown touched our head. Humbled, even. Even frightened.
You surprise me, Father.
You would surprise yourself if such destiny ever brushed against you. Quite alone... with just the... silence of God... as your witness.

But He must already be pleased, Holy Father.
Ahhh! Indeed? Why?
Because the earth has not yet swallowed us.
Here we are. You must help me, Cesare. You must help me interpret... the great silence of God.
Wait! Let me! Come.
Help me... do His will. We have been entrusted... with the keys to His kingdom.

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.

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.
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.
Simony! I charge you now in public with trading sacred offices like a market huckster!
May I remind the cardinal he is in consistory.
Perhaps we misheard him.
That office was promised to me.
Ah. Did you pay for it?
With my acceptance of your foul election.
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.
And I pray I may prove worthy of the honour.
And I pray so too. In fact, I fully approve of his new... broom. Kiss the ring, you fool.
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.

102. Assassin


Are you going to share it with me?
Share what, Holy Father?
Why you bring a monkey to a banquet?
Oh, I fear the other cardinals might not share your appetite for reformation.
And your monkey does?
Why, yes. He is an excellent judge of appetite.
Huh! Reform to our Holy Mother Church may happen slowly, but... God has spoken to me as he spoke to my predecessor, Pope Innocent.
Happen it must. Shall we dine on gruel tonight, then, Your Holiness? I could inform my cooks.
We are your guests tonight, My Lord Cardinal. We will dine according to your choosing.
Thank goodness. I can have the wine poured?
Let me taste that.
It is of an excellent vintage, My Lord.
I have no doubt.
And how is his palate?
Well, it's superb. He salutes your good taste.
Thank you.
A great wine, like the papacy itself— mature, rounded, its roots in the soil, its bouquet in the heavens, consumed by a monkey.
I suspect a metaphor is lurking there, My Lord Cardinal?
We are but animals blessed with an eternal soul. There go we, but for the grace of God.
It seems nature, not metaphor, calls. He begs Your Lordship's pardon. Excuse me. Excuse my monkey. Why such a hurry?

My God, you're fast.
For a cook. And you for a cleric.
On kitchen duty?
For tonight.
Who pays you?
Cardinal Orsini.
Whatever you're being paid, I'll double it.
I could use someone that fast. You could?
Oh, yeah. But not that stupid!
Far from stupidity, sire. I imagine from your offer that you have need of me, yes? So to kill the servant you have need of would indeed be stupid.
Call me stupid, then. Tell me, tell me why I shouldn't. Hmm?
Because of the sixth commandment, thou shalt not kill.
I'll be forgiven. The pope is my confessor.
Because you'll never meet another assassin like me.
Are you sure?
Yes. But we were talking terms, yes?
We were.
I would gladly work for the pope or the pope's son, for these cardinals can, as you know, prove fickle, and it seems someone as pitiless as you—
Needs someone as pitiless as me.
I have smothered infants in their beds. But only when their parents paid me.
And in the powder?
Eternal life.
For whom?
You. Your father.
It's not very subtle.
No subtlety needed tonight. They all want you dead.
Serve this... to Orsini.

Your Grace. You are bleeding.
Damned monkey bit me.
Animals will do that. They lack soul.
I propose a toast. To harmony, amongst us, servants of God.
To the communion of saints and the forgiveness of sins.
Amen. I'd like to propose a second toast. To metaphor.
Why metaphor?
Because she's so infinitely pliable. A prince one minute, a monkey the next. And what her hidden meaning is only God in His infinite wisdom knows.
I propose another toast. To monkeys.
They lick your hand one minute, bite your neck the next. And everyone knows what you do with the monkey that bites you.
And what do you do with the monkey that bites you?
Your Eminence, you're ill.
You wring its neck.
I accuse!
The cooks? Come, Father.
Send for help!

The poison was meant for us.
That's not possible.
We were saved by a monkey, Father.
You don't poison the pope!
Are you aware what the gossips call you? The mitred ape. Half of Rome was waiting to celebrate this outcome—
You poison a rat, you poison a rabid dog! Not the Vicar of Rome, not the heir to St. Peter!
Bring my carriage!
The idea offends you?
It offends me, it offends nature, it offends God Himself!
So, God will take His revenge, then.
Yes, He will. With our help.
Excellent service.
I fear it is not over yet.
What do you mean?
Well, there's more to your Borgia family than father and son.
What do you mean?
I mean we must hurry, My Lord. Your whole family's in danger.

Assassin 1:
Am I too late?
Assassin 2:
We were waiting for you.
Then you're too late!
Assassin 1:
What are you doing?! Ah!
Allow me, My Lord.

With me, quickly! Come on! Get out of my way! Pray somewhere else, Cardinals. Arrest this household.

You planned this massacre thoroughly.
If I had planned it, My Lord, believe me, we would not be having this conversation.
You're that meticulous?
And who planned it?
Cardinal Orsini.
And Della Rovere?
I know nothing of him. In this affair, I had but one master.
And now?
And now I am like a stray dog, masterless. Unless your kind offer still stands.
You could have... let things take their course... Betrayed me. Most of your kind do.
My kind? I do not have a kind. And I suspect neither do you.
Your name, sweet assassin.
You must prove yourself worthy of my trust, then.
This is not proof enough?
Perhaps. Perhaps not. Can you dispose of these corpses?
You would keep them secret?
More than that. I would keep you secret. Dump them in the Tiber. Meet me by the Vatican gates in two hours' time. We shall discuss your future service.

Are you trying to frighten me?
I'm sorry, Mother.
Why are you here, Cesare?
I imagine things— murders, blood-spattered throats, poisoned chalices.
Perhaps you're not wrong. We have many enemies now.
And Lucrezia?
She's sleeping. You miss her that much?
Always. If anything happened to her, I'd... I'd die.
What could possibly happen?
I'm putting a guard on the house.
Is it so dangerous outside?
We are in a different city now.
Is it still called Rome?
I'm not sure it has a name.

Father. Father! Father, I've had to place a guard on the—
The good cardinal, my son, has been expressing his shock and dismay at this evening's outcome.
Poison, it seems, was the cause of Cardinal Orsini's demise.
One shudders at the thought.
As to who poisoned him, I have no idea. Perhaps we should ask ourselves, who benefits most from his death?
And what are you implying, Your Eminence?
I am implying nothing. I am merely offering His Holiness any help I can in unmasking the culprit. Our Holy Mother Church can afford no such scandals.
We have Orsini's household staff in irons, Your Holiness. Cardinal.
The good cardinal, my brother, has offered to help us unmask the culprit behind this plot.
We apprehended this wretch skulking outside by the gate.
A plot, by definition, needs more than one participant, does it not?
Do you recognize him?
Didn't he pour the wine?
Do you know this man, Cardinal Della Rovere?
I know he attended at the cardinal's table, but there were many of those. Beyond that, nothing.
If this creature is indeed the poisoner, some hours on the strappado should loosen his tongue.
See if he talks.

I have a dilemma: whether to flay you at night... or at dawn.
I pity you your dilemma, My Lord.
Pity yourself.
Brother. You have already exhausted yourself in our father's defence. Now I could spend a good hour questioning this man.
Is that really a task for a cleric?
Lock the door and go. Up. Up! Would you have talked?
Only to sing your praises, My Lord.
Still want to earn my trust?
Eternally, My Lord.
Lie low for a day, then. I can have word sent out that you couldn't be broken.
And then?
Then... get close to Cardinal Della Rovere. Tell me what he thinks. What he plans.
Then you must hurt me, My Lord.
Haven't I hurt you enough already?
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.
And... if you betray me... you will end your days on that rack.
Then it would not be in my interest to betray you, My Lord.
Again! Again.

Do you have something to tell me? About the night's events?
Only that... I will protect you. Protect our family. With my life if needs be.
Well, all of the others bought and sold. We merely proved ourselves better at the game. But we draw the line at murder, do we not?
Orsini drew no such line.
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.
No, Father.
Are you, my son, ready to spill your blood in defence of the Christian faith? I think you are!
For the defence of my family, perhaps.
That too.
Give me control of the papal armies and I will protect us all.
We will have one son in the cloth and one in armour. You know our wishes.
But a cardinal's red?
And Lucrezia must marry.
So soon?
She is 14 years old.
She is just a child.
We must bind our enemies to us. Make friends of them. And what better way is there than marriage You can perform the rite— as cardinal.
Am I a cardinal already?

And they tortured you for... how long?
A day and a night, Your Eminence.
And you revealed?
There was nothing to reveal, Your Eminence.
Ecce homo. "Behold the man." They scourged our saviour thus. Is it true, what's being rumoured? That the good cardinal inadvertently poisoned himself?
Who would have profited from his death?
Certainly not Cardinal Orsini.
Who takes possession of his properties?
Well, then.
These methods are not mine.
You think they are mine, Your Eminence?
What are your methods?
Discretion. Silence.
And you have suffered for your silence. Why?
Like you, I hate this Borgia. And if I can be of any use...
I need someone I can trust.
You can trust my hatred of this Borgia pope.
I can trust these wounds of yours.
They will last for a lifetime, Your Eminence.
Indeed. I need to assemble a gathering of every cardinal who shares your feelings. In absolute secrecy.

May I thank you, Holy Father, for bequeathing to me your precious time.
Go on, my child.
I have sinned mightily, Your Holiness, and know there are some sins that only the pope can forgive.
They are few, but the most grave. Tell me.
My husband, Your Holiness, has long been... distasteful to me.
I fear... you are not the first woman to share that fate.
His person I find repellent. His advances sicken me. His hand upon my body makes me retch with disgust.
Have you denied him... your duties as a wife?
No, Your Holiness. I performed them as the Church says I must.
So I... fail to discern the sin.
I found myself with child. The thought of this body of mine, marred by the presence of his offspring— inside— drove me to an act of transgression that...
Go on, my daughter.
I put an end to my pregnancy.
That is indeed most grave.
A sin... that only the pope... can forgive.
Only God may forgive. But we may intercede... on your behalf.
Then, please, Your Holiness, ...beg for me His mercy.
And... your husband? He knows of this?
He knows nothing. He has retired to his castle in Bassano. He satisfies his lust on me no longer.
And you are... now... chaste?
I have no one, Your Holiness.
Then perhaps that is to be your penitence— to follow your husband to Bassano, as is your duty.
I would prefer a life of destitution, Your Holiness.
Then love God. And find peace within the walls of a nunnery.
Can one find peace in such a love, Your Holiness?
It is what we must do, Giulia Farnese.
I fear I may lack Your Holiness's will. I am still young, Your Holiness, and my body, I am sure, could find, and give, much happiness if my soul could find peace.
Do you beg forgiveness from God for the enormity of your crime?
I do so daily. Your Holiness, my soul yearns for its punishment.
Then you must fast. From matins till evensong. And flagellate your naked body twice nightly.
With knotted cord, Your Holiness?
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.
Amen. Giulia Farnese.
Your Holiness?
One of your lineage... to be destitute— we cannot allow it. We must find you... some... temporary and... temporal refuge.

Keep the fire away from the straw!
It is!
Boy, keep the banners and colours all together.
Right, sir!

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.

The cardinal's demise was sudden.
So it seems.
But his palace is ideal as a... place of penitence... and... self-reflection.

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...

You must think of your sojourn here as a retreat.

A retreat?
The cardinal had this tunnel built. It leads inside the Vatican walls. If you ever find yourself in need of... spiritual comfort.. your loneliness...
Your Holiness.
You must not be afraid to avail of it. Day or night. We shall leave you now.
This passage goes both ways. Your Holiness must feel free to visit... if God's love were ever to leave him wanting.

The cardinal summons me in the dead of night. Is there a reason?
These are turbulent times, Father.
Dottore... You can leave us now. I need advice, dottore, on a delicate matter. The deposition of a pope.
Delicate indeed. And, if I may say so, dangerous.

Stop that. You have done penance enough.
Who then will forgive us, Your Holiness?
God will.

Huggucio of Pisa states: "Ecce publico fornicator, publico habet concubinem..."
The pope who publicly fornicates, publicly keeps a concubine—
Can indeed be deposed, because to scandalize the Church is in itself heresy. But one would need firm evidence of notorious and public lechery.

Whose bed is this?
Yours, of course.
Whose bed was this?
It belonged to a cardinal and a fool.
What kind of fool?
The kind of fool who doesn't understand that God's work can be done even by the most unlikely of his servants. And that Rome needs now is—
Power. You're so beautiful, Giulia Farnese. I would have you painted.

She is beautiful.
She is.
More beautiful than your painting.
I've just begun.
You must do better, then. Her hair curls, here. Who is she?
Giulia Farnese. At your service.
Why is he painting you, Giulia Farnese?
Your father, the pope, commissioned him.
Will he paint one of me?
I will commission him, now.
Why are you holding a baby goat?
It will become a unicorn.
Then I want a unicorn. Or even better, a sea horse. I want to lie on a bed of seashells and have a sea horse in my lap.
Like this one?
Yes. Just like this one.
You must have it, then.
I can?
It's a gift. From Giulia to Lucrezia.
Can I kiss you, then?
Only if we are to be friends.
We are friends already.

I am to have my portrait painted, Mama.
You are?

But I don't want a goat, or a unicorn. I told Giulia I want a sea horse like this one.
You told who?
Giulia Farnese.
Giulia Farnese is having her portrait painted?
By Pinturicchio. Papa commissioned him.
She gave me this pendant. I think a sea horse is better than a unicorn, don't you Mama?
I've heard she is beautiful, this Giulia Farnese.
Papa thinks so.
I am sure he does.
A different type of beauty to yours, Mama. Not Spanish. Italian. Her hair is light, and full of curls.
And where did you meet her, Lucrezia?
In Papa's rooms. In the Vatican.

Vatican Guard:
Please, My Lady!
Julius Versucci:
Your Holiness!
My dear.
You told me that the pope can love God, but to be seen to love anyone else would be impossible.
Your Holiness—
Now, now—
Shall we remove ourselves?
That the pope must be chaste, and he must be seen to be chaste. Don't you want them to hear? That you have a new whore?!
Get out!
That you've installed her in the Orsini Palace?
Julius Versucci:
We were—
Be gone!
I banished my husband for your sake!
You are the mother of my children! You will always have a special place in my life.
What about your promise?!
There is no one... no one, closer to me than you.
Why her?!
She was in need! I had to help her. You were destitute once!

Be gone! Out!
We were in consultation—
Your Grace, are leaving.

Don't lie to me. To me, you cannot lie.
Then don't challenge me. And never, ever within these sacred walls.
I've dreamed about this room and what it might do to you. We need a new understanding, then.
I'll keep my peace. But I won't be humiliated.
I would have peace.
You commissioned a portrait of her. I shall have a portrait too by the same new genius you found.
Pinturicchio. He is good, but he's... expensive.
All of Rome is yours for the taking. Make sure he does me justice. I was beautiful once, no?
You still are.
We agreed, did we not, that you would not lie?

He has placed his new whore in Orsini's palace, no?
I believe so, Your Eminence.
Question the staff, then, in secret, and in any way you see fit. We need evidence of lechery, fornication— publico habet concubinem.

Get these to the Deacon-Cardinal for signatures.
Yes, Your Eminence.
He has met in secret with those cardinals that hate your father. With Johannes Burchard, he is making a case for your father's deposition.
On what grounds?
Notorious and public lechery...
Lechery? My father? God forbid. Has he evidence?
He means to find it.
Then perhaps we should find it first, and silence it before it speaks.

Your mother was somewhat troubled yesterday. She finds the change in our life difficult.
So I noticed.
Do what you can to keep her out of here.
It would help, maybe, if you were more discreet in your affections.
But I—
You are aware, Holy Father, of the plots against you?
Oh, what would Rome be without a good plot?
The College of Cardinals is split down the middle.
What? Well, perhaps we need some more cardinals.
Johannes Burchard has been asked for an opinion...
Dear old Johannes. He does give excellent opinion.
On your deposition, Father.

There are certain things I could speak of... for a price.
Don't worry. You'll get paid.
I would need to be. I have seen things within these walls that would shock a brace of courtesans.
Well, now, there's no need to shock a courtesan, is there? A brace of cardinals, perhaps.

You were asked for a judgement, I believe, some nights ago?
Your Holiness, as an expert on canon law, when asked for a judgement, I must provide it.
Please sit. I would have your opinion, then, dear Johannes, on the expansion of the College of Cardinals.
It is the pope's prerogative to appoint whom he wishes, Your Holiness.
To whatever number he wishes?
Ah, well, how many cardinals did His Holiness have in mind?
How many would be needed to make it safe for our papacy?
Oh, dear.
Come, come, Johannes. You must be aware of the plots against us? You could even, if viewed with an unkind eye, be seen to be party to them.
When asked for an opinion, Your Holiness, you know that I must provide it.
Ah. So, your opinion, then. How many new cardinals to preserve our papacy?
Umm... A baker's dozen, I would say.
Mm! Thirteen! And we can appoint them all at once? Without the vote of conclave?
Such a great number would need a precedent.
Oh. Find one, then.
Your Holiness.

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.
There is a passage, connecting the palace to the Vatican. His Holiness makes use of it... nightly.
And then?
He enters her bedroom while she chastises herself. And I blush to even describe what happens next.
Spare us nothing.

I wanted seashells and a sea horse.
But you have a sea horse, my love.
No, I mean a real one. Like your goat.
But real sea horses are tiny, my love.
Am I your love?
I would dearly love you to be.
My mother hates you.
You will learn, my dear, as women, we control so little of our destiny. Men do.
The outcome is, we hate each other. But we should not.
Who should we hate, then? Men?
No, my love. It's in our nature to love them. But we should protect ourselves against them. Against our feelings towards them. We will all of us, one day, be replaced.
Are you giving me instruction?
Would you like me to?
I think I would. What weapons do I have with which to protect myself?
Your beauty.
Is that a weapon?
It can be deadly, when well used. But beauty doesn't last forever. Gone, like the snows of last year.
What else?
When beauty fades? Your wit.
Your intelligence. And I have those weapons?
Oh, in abundance. You should cultivate them. You will be married some day. You may need them— sooner than you think.

Is she pretty, this piece of evidence?
She has her charms, My Lord.
Perhaps you could see that she takes a vow of silence. Would God forgive us, Micheletto?
I know not the ways of God, My Lord.
But you know the ways of silence.

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.

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.
Too much, some might say. Such is the burden of great office. Until tomorrow, my friend.

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:
We have judged it wise to strengthen the College of Cardinals, given the enemies who have wormed their way within the Church of Rome.
This is against all precedence. His Holiness will fill the College with his favourites. I accuse His Holiness—
Ohhh! Of what are we now accused?
Of an offence against canon law. Against the Law of our Holy Mother Church.
Canon law? But we have taken advice from the most eminent of all of our canon lawyers.

Apple or peach?
Peach, I think. I like peach.
Eat it all.

The Council of Constance is most clear on this matter. I refer you to Statute 42, Paragraph 3—
In brief, I pray.
His Holiness, the pope, may expand the College to any number he deems appropriate, if the burden of work necessitates—
I challenge him to name them now!
Your Holiness.
Oh... Dottore, if you would be so kind.

And His Holiness comes behind the Lady Giulia thus!
With the force of a stallion.

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.
The pope would make his son a cardinal? I warn you, I have evidence that will bring this house crashing down around your ears.
Of lechery, transgressions, both public and notorious!
Why, then, Cardinal, you must present it.
I will!
The Bishop of Lyon...

Though whether the Holy Father is as virile as you...
Surely he is.
Only God can tell.

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!

Was the good cardinal known for lechery?
He was discreet in his affections, My Lord. So discreet, indeed, he asked me to clear the house of servants yesterday.
He must have had lecherous intentions, then. But I'm... shocked that they ended in murder.
And now he's fled, My Lord.
I would recommend discretion in this matter. The Church of Rome can ill afford another scandal.
Perhaps he desired her silence, My Lord.
He must have. Poor girl... Whom can one trust, in this Rome of ours?
I believe trust needs to be earned, My Lord.
Perhaps. And perhaps it has been.

103. The Moor


Neapolitan Courtier:
His Eminence, Cardinal Della Rovere, begs an introduction to His Royal Highness King Ferrante of Naples, and His Highness' son, Prince Alfonso.
Your Royal Highness, good Prince.
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.
Among them his son.
His son. Cesare Borgia! You remember him? See? He hears nothing.

It seems the good Cardinal Della Rovere has fled.
Where to, I wonder?
Wherever he can find an ally— Florence, Milan...
I would hazard Naples. Dear old King Ferrante; his hospitality is legendary. You've heard about his dining room?
I've heard the rumours. If Della Rovere thinks Rome is a charnel house...
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... whatever means necessary. You have someone who... ...can wield a good garrote, do you not?
Has it been rumoured that I do?
It has been whispered.
And if I did?
Maybe it is time for the good cardinal's collar to be replaced.
With what does one replace an ecclesiastical collar? My memory fails me.
I think I understand you, Father.
Good. Sometimes, one barely understands oneself.

Want, want, want. Everybody wants. France wants Naples. Spain wants Naples The whole of Christendom wants the New World. And you, dear Cardinal, what do you want?
I merely want Naples to join in alliance with me to rid the papacy—
Of the stench of Borgia. Mm-hmm. In return for?
A worthy inhabitant of the chair of St. Peter's would see the justice of the independent claims of Naples.
Naples is already independent, Cardinal.
Spain would beg to disagree.
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?
I am at a loss to say.
He remembers cruelty.

Have you commissioned your portrait yet, brother?
I see no need.
Ah, humility. As befits the cleric. But the public might demand such a display from a soldier.
Poor Pinturicchio's going to run out of paint. And we must pay for this extravagance!
Have the abbeys all been emptied?
There is never enough. Queen Isabella has rather precipitously expelled all the Jews from Spain— the Murranos, as they once dared to call us.
They still insult us thus.
Well, I can assure you, my dear son, there's not one drop of Jewish blood in you. But as a stranger in a foreign land myself, I... sympathize with their plight.

"The chosen people."
Once more in search of a home. They clamour to get into our state. And they offer to pay—handsomely.
There will be objections.
Well, there always are. But I want my papacy to be like Joseph's coat of many colours. And Jesus Christ, our Saviour, was, after all, a Jew.
He was also killed by Jews, Father.
Are you sure? I thought he was crucified by Romans.

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.
My intentions were not quite so... severe, Your Highness.
Why not? They would happily seat you there. These Borgias are Murranos—Spanish Jews. They have no scruples.
You do them a disservice, if that's possible. Scruples, they may have none. Jewish blood, they have even less of.
You're sure?
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.

And lift it!
And the tapestries, you have to release them from the top.
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.
He has arrived in Naples, my lord.
Hold it up!
My father had a quaint turn of phrase: he expressed a wish that the cardinal's collar might be replaced.
If he was to see my face, he would flee the city.
Well, stay in the shadows, then. Isn't that where you are happiest? I am embarrassed to admit I've never seen a garrote.
It is just a cheese cutter, my lord.
You must show me.

One almost feels pity for the melon.

My father deems Leonardo too expensive.
And, my lord, he rarely finishes.
He would have finished for me. But we will show that Milanese mirror painter what true highlights should look like. Raise it. Till the armour glitters.


Guard: You're on.

My beloved son.
Crimson is a colour that suits you.
Thank you.
But you regard this elevation as a burden. You will be made cardinal tomorrow. And you must beware that sin St. Isidore calls the greatest of all, which only the pope can forgive.
I believe it is called despair, Father.
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.
I accept.

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.
King Ferrante.
Mmm. I spoke with his advisers of your request.
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.
I will, with your permission. Thank you.
Cover me fully.
As you wish.

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.

Guards! An assassin! That man there with the scarred back!
For God's sake, arrest him!
No, stop!

Arise, our brother cardinals.
Who is he?
Everyone out!
I can't see!
Stop him!
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!

So you failed. Is that a first?
Success in these matters is never a given, my lord.
Should I forfeit my trust in you, then?
It was a public baths, my lord.
I am Your Eminence now. Have you not noticed?
Your Eminence, it was a public baths. I disguised my face, but it was the wounds on my back that betrayed me.
Ah. Goodness and probity make worthy adversaries, do they not?
This cardinal seems immune to corruption.
We should have him followed, then. By someone other than you.
Everything can be arranged, Your Eminence.
But no more cheese cutting— for the time, at least. And no more scandal.

Juan requested Leonardo.
And you wisely declined.
We have not yet acquired the wealth of a Florentine bank.
Your Holiness.
No, stay awhile. Please. We would have... your advice on a matter.
Of state?
Perhaps. The Sultan of Constantinople... ...has requested that we welcome his half-brother, Djem, into our care.
As hostage?
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.
He's a heathen.
Well, he's a musselman. He prays to Allah.
You would invite heathens to Rome?
My father has invited the Spanish Jews to Rome.
He wants to amaze the Christian world. He sees his papacy as a coat of many colours.
Well, we are all human, are we not? Under the same God?
Well, there are many who would disagree with that thesis.
But the pope is not one of them.

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.

For 40,000 ducats per annum.
Ottoman Ambassador:
Mohammed and your Jesus Christ were brothers, after all. Why should we not be?
Why not, indeed?

A stag is easy pickings. Where I grew up on the Persian foothills, the white tiger was our prey.
Do tigers come in white?
In all colours, my lady— white, yellow, brown. Why, I have even heard of tigers striped.
Striped? Never.
I killed one with my bare hands.
Have you seen a unicorn?
I have spoken with them.
What language do they speak?
It is in a meter known only to Allah.

I almost feel at home here, my Christian brother. So many races, so many faiths— so many costumes. Where did they all come from?
They're Murranos— exiled Jews from Spain.
Ah, and they are welcome here?
My father the pope draws no distinction, at least not where commerce rears its pretty head.
You mean they pay for the privilege of being here?
No more than you do.
Ah... But I am your guest, surely. My brother contributes towards the expenses of my stay here, but the hospitality you have shown me— no one could pay for that.

She's growing, Rodrigo— may I still call you Rodrigo?
You may not, madame.
What am I to call you, then, father of my children?
You know very well, Vanozza.
She is growing, Your Holiness. And I imagine your presence here has something to do with that fact.
It does indeed.
We can both be proud of her.
We can, my dear.
I am still your dear, then?
Always. She must be married.
I know she must. But when?
Soon. The vultures are circling our family. Our Rome. We must protect ourselves.
Must we marry her to a vulture, then?
We must marry her.
Promise me one thing.
If I can.
She can meet her betrothed before she is bartered like a golden calf. We can give her that, at least.

Have you heard the news, Djem?
There is so much news, my little one. The news seems to change by the hour in Rome.
My news.
You have news?
I'm to be married.
Oh, my dear.
Have you been married?
I have taken four women to wife.
Where are they now?
In the seraglio of Topkaki Palace, Constantinople.
How many wives can you have?
As many as Allah sees fit to provide. As to concubines, an infinite number.
What is the difference, Djem, between wife and concubine?
No difference, really. Ah, you can beat a wife, but not kill her.
You can kill a concubine?
If she displeases you. You can kill a wife too, but the displeasure must be grave.
I will not be beaten, Djem.
No. You are the pope's daughter. You are the most beautiful treasure this Vatican contains. If a husband tries to beat you, I, Djem, will strangle him with my bare hands.

We are awash with suitors.
Is this good news?
Well, only four are remotely suitable.
So few?
Every prince in Christendom wants to make suit. But of the Italians— and I think you'll agree, only an Italian makes strategic sense...
Colonna. Sforza. Medici.
What of Alfonso of Naples?
Oh... He would be ideal. But both France and Spain lay claim to the Kingdom of Naples, and the might of each eclipses that of all of Italy. We must keep those options open— for now.

Come on, Djem.
It seems like Juan has found a brother.
Did he not already have one?
Oh, indeed, but— how should I put it? A brother in arms! Ah. Bravo!
Do not worry, my Christian brother. I would never do you harm. I love you.
More, come on!
Next time, Djem.
40,000 ducats.
If he lives.
If he dies, and his body is delivered to his brother, who hates and fears him, 400,000.
You would never.
No! It would be unthinkable. We swore to be his protection. I'm just telling you. The request was made.

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.
A dowry. But of course.
The Sforza family needs substantial funds to re-equip its armies for the coming storm.

My brother Meliaduse was Abbot of Pomposa. His mother was a Medici, you know. Yes, he died back in '52. But you'll remember my sister, Ginevra? She married Pandolfo Malatesta of Rimini. Or was that Luzia?
Union with my nephew might strengthen the boundless love between the families of Colonna and Borgia.
There is no barrier to his succession. The prince, his elder brother, is confined to a madhouse.
Perhaps it runs in the family.

Venetian Ambassador:
Our Venetian ships plow the oceans from here to the Orient. Rome could benefit from a navy off the coast of Ostia.
Yes, but... ...he is somewhat... ...young?
Venetian Ambassador:

I think he's deaf. Are you deaf?
Dance with me, then.

Do I have to marry, Cesare?
No. You can take the cloth like me. You can become a nun. We'll live in sanctity and prayer, like Abelard and Eloise.
Did they love each other?
With a love as pure and all-consuming as the love of God.
So, then. I shall become a nun. For I shall never love a husband as I love you, Cesare.
I am afraid, dear Sis, that the pope does not ask you to love your future husband; merely to marry him.
So, love and marriage... Are they incompatible?
No. But I have been told that one does not imply the other.
Is that not sad, Cesare?
Most things in life prove to be sad, Sis. Again, I have been told.
And if my husband proves ungallant?
I shall cut his heart out with a dinner knife and serve it to you.

Sforza's the one.
Your Holiness approves of him?
As you have informed us, Della Rovere has fled Naples, and is heading north.
Of course. So if Rome is united with the Sforza dynasty,
Milan will close its doors to him if he seeks help there.
That is the outcome we wish for. But these things are never certain, Cesare.
And what of Lucrezia?
Sforza is personable— not unlike your brother. And her mother approves.
Must I ask again, Your Holiness? What of Lucrezia? Her feelings?
You will not ask again. You know the nature of these arrangements. That heathen outstays his welcome.
You have seen him dancing with Lucrezia.
So? Send him home.
We can ill afford to. There is the matter of a dowry.

Your Eminence.
That manservant of yours, Cesare.
I'd borrow him awhile.
You need his services?
For a day or two.
Is our father that short of funds?
He must raise a dowry for our sister's betrothal.
Can he not borrow from Florence?
Four hundred thousand ducats is hard to come by.
So you need my Micheletto. But you shall not have him.
You have a soft spot for heathens?
Maybe. And our sister loves Djem. She would miss him at her wedding.
There are others of Micheletto's kind in Rome.
Find one, if you can. But spare me the details.

His food is prepared by his personal cook, a blackamoor. His meat must be bled, and wine is forbidden him.
Does he not drink water?
Mint tea, my lord, spiced and sugared. But cantarella and sugar do not always mix.
What is this? A cookery lesson?

A request was made for a private confession?
It is true I made the request, though I know little of the rite.
It is indeed me, Cardinal Borgia. And I have but one thing to confess.
And what would that be?
I wish to become a Christian.
Why, my dear brother?
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.
You might find, dear Djem, that... ...we are not always so kind.

White is so dull.
But surely a wedding dress should be white?
This dress... is for your betrothal, my love. And given the size of your dowry, it should be of solid gold.

I wanted, my dear Lucrezia, to give you a taste of my homeland. Before the Lord Sforza plucks you forever from my view. Please, brothers, sit. Moussa, thali! Food.
It's beautiful, Djem.
Syre ri.
How do I eat it?
With your fingers. Like this. I also wanted to thank the three of you for your kindness towards me.
Are you leaving us soon?
Oh, by the heavens, no. I dread the day I have to leave the bosom of your kindness. Our ways at the Courts of the Sultan can be... ...cruel beyond your imaginations.
I have a good imagination.
Oh. My brother's predecessor had the eyes of all of his male relatives plucked out and brought to him on a silver platter. Twenty-two of them.
That's 44 eyes. Why on earth?
Because one who is blind could never take his place.
Mm. So to be among Christian souls, among the bosom of a family such as yours, is fortune indeed.
I'll drink to that.
And to your future happiness, my dear Lucrezia. Bismillah.

Your air is, uh...
Forgive me, Cardinal. I have ruined your attire.

Allahu Akbar.
You hired an amateur!
You forbade me your professional.
You need lessons in killing?
Cesare! I have been poisoned, Cesare. My brother the Sultan has found a way. And it can only have been through this blackamoor here— he has poisoned me!
Are you sure?
I am certain, as Allah is my witness. Who else could have touched my food?
Come, my brother. We must speak with the professional.

Mixed in with his sugar, my lord.
Who recommended such a thing?
The blackamoor prepares his food. He mixes the sugar with his tea. There was no other way.
Then he will be in agony for weeks.
You know of a better way?
You spoke to no one of this?
I swear, my lord.
Take him out of here. Somewhere safe. And you, my dear brother. You must finish what you started. I will clear the corridor of the guards.

Leave us. You would kill our dear Moor?
I thought I had.
Take a breath.

You would not recommend cantarella, then?
Not with sugar, my friend, no.

Cool me down, brother. Console me, brother. A pillow. A towel, dipped in cold water. You?

So our sister's dowry is done? Here endeth the first lesson.

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.

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.
 Wikipedia - Coat of many colors
 Wikipedia - Seraglio

104. Lucrezia's Wedding


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!

Oh, what was the illness our dear Djem died of, brother?
Marsh fever.
That he caught from our own swamps? I fear I may have caught it too.

No, my love. I think perhaps you are sick with heartbreak.
I think I shall never have another friend like him.
You will always have me.
I have heard it whispered by the maid servants that his estate paid for my dowry.
I think you know, my love, that our father has funds enough.
But... if it were true, Cesare, I could never marry this Giovanni Sforza, however handsome he may be.
Who told you he was handsome?
He is ugly, then? What a fate.
He is far from ugly. He has his Sforza profile, the nobility of bearing.
And the Sforza armies. And the castles. And all those things we all might gain that will help our dear father's cause.

You are learning fast, Lucrezia.
Not fast enough. Tell me again what my dear Djem died of.
Swamp fever.
A mosquito... killed my Moor. You would not lie to me, brother?
I think you should sleep now, my love.
Perhaps it's a mosquito has bitten me.

Do not fret, Holy Father. I know my daughter. The illness is less in her body than in her heart.
Well, she is—
The changes of her state overwhelm her. She is to be married soon. She's lost her blackamoor. Her father communes only with God or with La Bella Farnese.
Your tone is hardly appropriate, madam.
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.
I'm afraid we will not.
Do not fret, my love. I will nurse her back to health. I promise.
No, you misunderstand me, madam.
I do?
We will not both have that pleasure.
Why not?
The Sforza lineage is a noble one. They have requested that there be no... hint of scandal.
You mean—
I mean... that you cannot attend.
Because of your past!
Oh... God!
Well, if the whole of Rome knows!
Do not do this.
Look, I—
Do not do this, Rodrigo!
A marriage such as this, with the attendance of the royalty of Christendom—
She is my only daughter!
For one who is rumoured to have been a courtesan to attend...
You're breaking my heart!
It is impossible.
Would you break hers too?
Shh, shh! I will make it up to you.

What is he, Micheletto? Benedictine, or Franciscan?

He belongs to a mendicant order, Your Eminence.
Well, where is his begging bowl, then?
He has yet to find one. But he will.
So with his begging bowl, he can travel to Florence. He can send you reports— what he sees, what he hears.
Then no killing?
The scandal of your Naples misadventure travelled wide. We must make do now with information— about whom Della Rovere meets, where he travels. Besides, monks do not kill.
No. They beg and they pray, Your Eminence.
Has he a name, this mendicant?
Giancarlo, at Your Eminence's service.
Your scars betray you. Keep yourself cowled.

You look pale, Bella Lucrezia.
Yes, I have been ill. My dusky friend inhabits my dreams.
Do not think so much of Djem, my dear.
He has a secret that he cannot speak of. His beautiful dark mouth opens, but no sounds come out.

In your dreams?
And I have to kiss those lips to comfort them.
Oh, dear.
Is it... permissible, Donna Giulia, to kiss a dead Moor in your dreams?
All things are permissible in our dreams. Look in the mirror, Lucrezia. You yourself are dream enough for anyone.
I could be happy in this dress. But I shall need lessons in kissing. I shall soon have to kiss the Lord Sforza.

The dowry contract is agreed. And Pesaro brings with it 5,000 horses and twice as many spears.

A valuable addition indeed to the papal armies.
Enough to see off any... paltry alliance of upstart dukes that Della Rovere cobbles together.
Perhaps. I wonder... Would he dare France?
Holy Father?
Hmm... The Spanish king asks for our blessing on their conquest of this new continent. Perhaps it is time for us to strengthen our ties with our ancestral homeland.

First, there's a chaste kiss, full of promise, like this one.
That's easy.
Then, there's the kiss of pleasure, which begins to promise.
You know them all?
All of them. There are many more. Any woman must.
Show. Did my mother kiss my father thus?
I would hazard she did.
And you, do you kiss him thus now?
Let us adjust your dress.
And your dress, Donna Giulia. What colour have you chosen?
I thought a gown of apricot.
My mother's favourite gown is apricot. You must take care not to outshine her.
I'm afraid there's no possibility of that.
What do you mean? You have advised her already?
You haven't heard?
Another secret. I'm tired of secrets.
It is no secret.
Tell me, then. What have I not heard?
Your mother... is not coming to your wedding.
Well, that is silly, Giulia Farnese. Of course she's coming.

I'm afraid your father has deemed it otherwise.
My... My father, he would never...
I'm afraid—
I must speak to him of this.

Ah, we're in here, Lucrezia. Oh! Ha-ha! Have you come to show us your dress? Oh! It's more beautiful than we could have imagined!
You are the pope of Rome. But surely not even the pope of Rome can bar my mother from my wedding day?
Oh, dear.
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.
No, but these are issues, my dear daughter, that are beyond your care.
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.
Come, sis. Let us talk of these things elsewhere.
Please, Holy Father! I need you both there! My mother and my father!

Alms, for the love of God.

Never was a woman more wretched than myself in such a marriage with such a husband.
Ah, Penelope, darling. I bid you good health. Uh, how are the good people of the countryside?
They do less mischief than those in town, it would seem.
Theatre Manager:
Would your choice be comedy or tragedy, my lord?
It is my sister's wedding. I would see her smile.

Theatre Manager:
Ah! One of the comedies, perhaps, of Terence or Plautus?
The difference between them?
Theatre Manager:
Um, the comedies of Terence have refinement.
Refinement. Refinement is good.
Theatre Manager:
Yes. Those of Plautus are known for their vulgarity.
Vulgarity is better.
Theatre Manager:
Ah! He wrote of bawds, pimps, courtesans.
Better still.
Who is she?!
She is... Do you want to know her name?
Do you even know her name?

The wealth of Florence astounds me, Don de Medici.
Banking. The Medici family are bankers to the world. To the Vatican itself.
Ah, the Savonarola calls it usury.
And what do you call it?
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.
And you... What is your game?
I have no game. But, if I am forced to play, I will head to France, and ask the French king to invade our beautiful Italy.
Italy? Is there such an entity?
There is a land, Señor Machiavelli, made up of many principalities— the Duchy of Milan, the Republic of your wondrous Florence, the dukedoms of the Romania, the papal states—
And to their south, Naples.
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.
Prophetic words. Are you... cousin to Savonarola?
No. But I would meet with him. I've seen him preach.
Can you explain to me, Cardinal, why the king of France would muster an army and invade his neighbours?
Because he wants Naples.
So you give France Naples, France gives you... Rome?
I don't want Rome; I want to restore the glory of her holy church.

Hmm. As pope.
As her humble servant.
Indeed. And... what do you want of Florence?
Well, then we will charge you nothing.
You misunderstand. I ask that Florence do nothing.
Ah. We let those French barbarians march through our principality and do...
That's a different kind of nothing. That will cost you something.

Have we a visitor?
One who heard of your distress. One who loved you when you were younger. One who stepped aside when asked.
My God! Theo! And you've come as—
Not as a lover, God forbid; as one once a husband; as a friend, if I'm needed.
How many years has it been?

Oh, let us not talk of years.
The pope would bar me, Theo, from my own daughter's wedding.
As he barred me from your life.
But our love was finished. A mother's love for her daughter never dies.
If I can be of any comfort—
And yet he would have La Bella Farnese there— at his side, before all of Rome.
Can a pope make his mistress public?
This pope can, and will.
Well, she's noble; you're not. The nobility has its own laws, its own rules, and we... are commoners, my dear.
And we had common pleasures, did we not? Stay and dine with me, Theo. Tell me how your life has been. Old friends at times like this are what one needs.

King Ferrante of Naples?
He's too old to attend.
Well, his son, Alfonso? We must give him pride of place.
Um... Between the Salviatis and the Colonnas, perhaps?
And have them cut each other's throats?
An outcome to be fervently desired, surely.

Yes, but... not in St. Peter's, and not at our daughter's wedding. Where's the doge of Venice?
By the Florentine ambassador, Machiavelli.
And have them plot against us?
They do that already, Father.
No... Venice shall go by the... Spanish ambassador. Florence next to the ambassador from the Holy Roman Empire.
Wise, indeed. But there is one glaring omission, Father.
There is? Go over it again.
My mother.
So, at the front... the Sforzas. And behind them, Alfonso of Naples and Sancia of Naples.

I miss your company, Vanozza. Your Eminence.
Am I eminent to you? The husband of my mother.
I should—
Sounds like a riddle. If the husband of my mother is not my father, then who is? I'm sorry, you should what?
Back to that farm the pope bought for you? Oh, but he wasn't pope then, was he? No, no, no, sit, sit. We're all friends here.
I should hope so.
And, if not, family. To think you could have been my father...
I think not.
Would I have been different, mother? More at ease? Perhaps, dare one say it, happy? Do you have shepherds on your hills, Theo?
Indeed, Your... Eminence.
Do they play the pipes of Pan, as in Virgil's Georgics? Do they fall in love with shepherdesses?
They sleep on the bare hillsides. In summer they scorch; in winter they freeze. It is not a life to be envied.
Et in Arcadia ego.
You must translate for me, Your Eminence. I am a poor farmer.
Death also is in paradise.
I merely quote, Mother, from the great poet, Virgil. But speaking of paradise, how is the betrothed one?
She's better. She's sleeping soundly.
We must let her rest, then. You, Theo, you must tell me about sheep. Or goats.

Father Savonarola.
Who disturbs me at matins?
Cardinal Giuliano Della Rovere, Friar.
I know of you. From that cesspit they call Rome.

It was not always thus; it was pure once, and can be so again.
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?

And in this vision of yours, was the pope deposed?
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?

We understand the royal Spanish highnesses... wish us to view this savage?
Spanish Ambassador:
Yes, Your Holiness.
Brought back by Christopher Columbus from the new continent?
Spanish Ambassador:
Yes, Your Holiness.

I have heard rumours of cities of pure gold; of rivers running over beds of precious stone. Can this savage tell us of them?
We care little for silver and gold, Cardinal Sforza. Our thoughts... are with the souls of its primitive inhabitants. Their salvation.
Spanish Ambassador:
Indeed, Your Holiness. And we have here an example of how knowledge of the one true God can enter the most savage breast. Show us!
Native American:
Credo in Unum Deum.
What Eden have they torn you from?
Native American:
It was a paradise, Your Eminence.
Spanish Ambassador:
Queen Isabella requests the pope's blessing upon her American conquests. She would instruct these savage peoples in the one true God.
In return for?
Spanish Ambassador:
The support of Fernando and Isabella of Spain for his papacy.
The unreserved, unequivocal support?
Spanish Ambassador:
But of course.
And what of Naples?
Spanish Ambassador:
Their Catholic Majesties would expect Rome to support their traditional claims on Naples.

So, my Lord... I cannot invite such chaos to my land without a sign. So help me, God. Are you at liberty, Father, to hear one poor sinner's confession?
In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti.
I have... sinned in thought, Father, and am about to sin in deed.
Tell me.
I... Can one sin for the greater good?
I do not understand.
Can one spill blood to rid the world of a greater evil?
You must spell it out for me, my son.
I am about to invite an army to march south. An army that will unleash the chaos of war upon our fair lands.
You mean... an invasion?
Are you confessor, Father, or inquisitor?
I am a humble priest, Cardinal.
And how did you know I'm cardinal? What order are you?
I am a mendicant friar of the Order of St. Benedict.
You... are a Borgia spy!

My word, rather sweeter breath than my wife.
Your wife's breath isn't bad, is it?

I'd rather drink bilge water, if it came to that, than kiss her.
You promised me vulgar.
Theatre Manager:
It's Plautus, my lord. More lewd you cannot find!
Do you need lessons in lewdness? Let us first change breath to bosoms.
Yes. "Rather sweeter bosoms than my wife's."
My word, rather sweeter bosoms than my wife's.
Better already. Now let us glimpse... the said bosoms.
My word, rather sweeter bosoms than my wife's.

Must we all get married, then?
Perhaps. One day not too far off even you might get married, hmm?
But how does marriage help you, Father?
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...?
Medici family?
Yes. To the north and the east we have the Romania, ruled over by the great Roman families, one of which your sister is going to marry into.
Giovanni Sforza?
That's right.
That's the same name as the Duke of Milan.
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?
All the kings want to be crowned by the pope?
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.
That's a big responsibility.
Oh, I know, it is. Sometimes it even stops me sleeping at night.
I will marry anyone you like if it helps you to sleep.
Well, there's a boy. Hmm! There's a little chap.

The honourable Giovanni Sforza, we welcome you to the city of Rome. Our armies are yours. Our hospitality is yours. And our sister shall soon be yours.
The Sforza armies are at your service. May the union between our families bear every fruit.

Please, God.

Most worthy Lord, do you agree to take the illustrious Lucrezia Borgia, here present, to be your lawful spouse?
I do.
Most illustrious Lady, do you agree to take the most noble Lord Giovanni Sforza, here present, to be your lawful spouse?
I do.

Put on your best finery, Mother. Your most beautiful dress. You're coming with me.
The pope forbade your presence at your daughter's wedding; he made no mention of its aftermath.

I would fain hear your voice, my lord.
My voice?
Yes. The only words I have heard to date from you have been the words "I do".
I have many other words.
Have you heard the word "love"?
"Love." I have heard it.
Are you melancholy, my love?
I'm remembering, Your Holiness, a wedding of my own.
The outcome of today's nuptials... will be happier. Surely.
One dearly hopes so.
Mother, if I may have the pleasure, will you join me and the newly weds in a passamezzo?
No, Cesare, I think—
I am afraid I must insist. And I imagine His Holiness the Pope would insist too.
Think of Lucrezia, Your Holiness— her happiness.
My pleasure.
Lord Sforza.
The mother of your blushing bride, Donna Vanozza Cattaneo. Well, is your new husband to your liking?
He has a limited vocabulary.
Sforzas are not known for their conversational skills.
Perhaps I could teach him new words. Like "tendresse". "Amore." "Sprezzatura."
Sprezzatura? That is a big word.
I have heard it means "the effortless display of grace".
I see no evidence of sprezzatura.
Perhaps I can make do with kindness, then.
Do my eyes deceive me?
Ursula Bonadeo:
Can eyes deceive?
Perhaps not. Hearts can deceive, words can deceive, but eyes we can trust.
Ursula Bonadeo:
You're a cardinal, are you not?
Cardinal Cesare Borgia.
Ursula Bonadeo:
Ursula Bonadeo.
Your husband?
Ursula Bonadeo:
Is he blessed with sprezzatura?
Ursula Bonadeo:
Sprezzatura? Unfortunately not. He has the strength of an ox. And sadly the grace of an ox as well.
And yet you are tied to him.
Ursula Bonadeo:
Unless someone can deliver me.
If you had not been here, Mother, my future would have been grey forever.
You are entering womanhood blessed with many more things than I was blessed with.
But if I were to become a woman with half your grace and beauty, Mother... I would be proud and happy.

Baron Bonadeo:
You'd bring a whore to your sister's wedding?
Pardon me?
Baron Bonadeo:
Perhaps I should rephrase that. You'd bring a Spanish courtesan to your sister's wedding?
There is a response to such an insult. But it would not be appropriate here.
Baron Bonadeo:
Elsewhere, then?
I am afraid you can count upon it. And I think you should leave us. Now.
Baron Bonadeo:
Gladly. The air is noisome here. Unhealthy. Worse than a whorehouse. My lady.
Ursula Bonadeo:
Liberate me.

Rather sweeter bosoms than my wife's.
Tell me! There's a dear. Your wife's bosoms aren't bad, are they?
I'd rather kiss walnuts than kiss thee.
Oh, you would, would you? Good gracious, sir, that sling at me will cost you dear!
She's past her bedtime.
Look here, Father, do you love my mother?
I love her for not being me.
You're going to bed? Good night.
And when she is near?
I yearn for death in the family.

My word! Rather sweeter bosoms than my wife's.
I'm very well for bed. Good night!
Good night. More wine, my lord?
Your wife sleeps.
You should let her rest now. This day has been long for one so young. There is time enough for...
Ah! Ah!

I trust you slept well, madam?
Like a child, my lord.
Like a child... I have no doubt.

Bring water, quickly.
I'll take your master, lord.
My lord.
How are the dogs?
Eager to hunt.
Don't feed them. I want them hungry for tomorrow.
Take my lady's horse.
My lady.
My thanks.

That small vial. The red one. Poor it in the water. Softens the skin. Giulia told me.
Farnese. A great Roman beauty. You have heard of her? And my husband's hands... Will they be soft?
They are hard, my lady. What I have felt of them.
Hard? You have felt them?
When he beat me— hard, my lady.
There will be no more beatings now that I am your mistress.

You wanted words. I have words.
Words for what, my lord?
For that Borgia wedding. A farce. Travesty. A scandal. A public humiliation. Well, we're married now.
 Menuet - Passamezzo
 Wikipedia - Sprezzatura

105. The Borgias in Love

Lucrezia. What have I done? Will God ever forgive me?
God may forgive you father, but I never will.
Lucrezia! Lucrezia!


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.

Oh, go away. Do nightmares ever plague the vice-chancellor?
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.
I need your assurance... of the welfare of my the castle of your cousin, Giovanni Sforza.
You suspect she is ill used?
Our nightmares tell us so.
He will be putty in her soft hands, Your Holiness. Yes, he inherited the Sforza name, the Sforza wealth, but none of its vigour.
And the Sforza appetite for intrigue?
Hmm. Yes, well. Yes, that he did inherit. But intrigue is no match for Borgia intelligence as whole Rome has discovered.
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.
Do you speak to me as vice-chancellor, Your Holiness?
No. As a Sforza.

My eyes...
Ursula Bonadeo:
You can believe them, Cardinal. I asked to confess to you, in person. But I must confess, I have nothing to confess.
Then why?
Ursula Bonadeo:
Because I had to see.
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.
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.
You care so much for one you hardly know?
Ursula Bonadeo:
Yes. It is a puzzle. Or a mystery. Your visage is before my eyes when I'm asleep, when I wake, when I close them.
I thought my eyes deceived me. Now I think, mine ears.
Ursula Bonadeo:
Neither. Bring your lips close to mine, Cardinal. I would feel your breath.
And I would kiss you, but for this barrier between us.
Ursula Bonadeo:
God is watching.
As the Bible tells us, He is a jealous God.
Ursula Bonadeo:
There may always be a barrier between us. But if you promise me you will not put yourself in harm's way, then my heart's kiss will be yours.
I promise then. I will not put myself in harm's way. But you asked for deliverance, Ursula Bonadeo.
Ursula Bonadeo:
The Lord will decide my fate and it will be my fate to accept. But now I must leave before my soul flies from these lips.

You loved my father.
Fool that I am, my son, perhaps I love him still.
Can it be cured?
No. It can be endured, embraced and suffered. You are suffering, my son?
I have met a woman, Mother. Who is married.
And she makes you suffer. Perhaps she suffers too.
She does. But if I can rid her of her impediment...
She will be yours?
To endure a life like you did, Mother.
You could leave the Church. And displease your father. If you dare.
I fear nothing, Mother.

Ursula Bonadeo:
I hope you will enjoy them.
Thank you.
Dio ti Benedica.
God bless you, my lady.
Ursula Bonadeo:
Thank you.
Sister, we need your help in the infirmary.

Ursula Bonadeo:
How did you find me?
I have my spies.
Ursula Bonadeo:
And they told you...
There was a vision, on a white horse, that rides out every morning between prime and terce.
Ursula Bonadeo:
I am observed then.
As are we.
Ursula Bonadeo:
My husband does insist I am accompanied.
Can they be discreet?
Ursula Bonadeo:
I see no need for discretion.
No need.
Ursula Bonadeo:
Why do you have spies, Cardinal?
A cardinal must have spies. Does it displease you that I searched you out?
Ursula Bonadeo:
No. Far from it. There are many things that please me about you, Cardinal. Among them, the fact that you are a cardinal.
Can you explain?
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.
I thought I would not be cardinal for today.
Ursula Bonadeo:
Then my heart is in danger. Would you endanger it, Cardinal Borgia?
I would put it in fear of its life.
Ursula Bonadeo:
But I would never harm it.
Ursula Bonadeo:
That sounds like a riddle. Are you good at riddles, Cardinal Borgia?
Sadly, I must live in one.
Ursula Bonadeo:
As must I.

And your name is?
What do you know of marriage, Francesca?
I know, my lady, it should not be thus.

It was retrieved from a confessional in Florence.
And it was not used for opening letters?
No, Your Eminence. It was found impaled in the eye of a mendicant friar.
And who impaled him?
The one we commanded him to follow.
Can you do nothing right!? Blink once and you will be eyeless.
And I would still serve you without one eye, Your Eminence. Or without two.
So we lost him and you know not where?
You should wear a clown's hat.

Della Rovere has left Florence.
With or without satisfaction?
We have the papal armies, the Sforza armies, our allies in the Romagna all under my command. To hell with Florence!
My fear is the cardinal would invite apocalypse.
He would open the seven seals?
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.
And the French King would...
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.
Duke Ludovico Sforza of Milan. He is cousin to our sister's husband, Giovanni Sforza.
Lucrezia did not marry Ludovico Sforza, Brother. And they don't call him Il Moro for nothing.
I hear he keeps his own cousin caged beneath his castle floors.
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.
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.

They call me Il Moro, Cardinal. Can you imagine why?
Because of Your Highness' dark complexion?
Because of my cunning. Like the Moors of old, I outwit them all.
You will have given my proposal the grace of your cunning then?
Hmm... You... wish me to grant French arms safe passage through the Duchy of Milan. But why would the French King march south, hm?
Because, most honourable duke, of his claims on the Kingdom of Naples.
Ah! The great game of Naples. Everybody wants Naples. My nephew, GIAN GALEAZZO, thinks it part of his inheritance. But then... He thinks Milan is his.
You think it Christian to have him so caged?
Until he comes to his senses. WHO AM I?
You are Ludovico Sforza.
I am not the Duke of Milan?
That title is mine.
MINE! Admit it and you'll have wine to drink. Politics is a delicate game.
So I observe, my lord.
You, Cardinal? Have you come to liberate him?
I have come to ask for the safe passage of French arms.
Indeed. From the Duke of Milan. Well, Cardinal. I will consider it.

Fresh bread! Bread, bread!
Cabbages this way! More cabbages for your money!
Over here!

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...
It was rumoured a cardinal had graced Florence with his presence.
...which you call just, and are most unjust.
You are?
Niccolo Machiavelli.
...likewise has...
Ambassador of the House of Medici.
...corrupted the magistrates and their functions.
This friar would burn your Florence to the ground.
Not quite.
Oh, no one can persuade you it is sinful to lend at usury.
He would reduce us to his own status.
...and make unjust bargains...
Which is?
...on the contrary...
A pile of straw on a monastery floor. defend yourselves.
He disapproves... your souls' damnation!
...of display, ornament, artistry.
Nor does any man...
Even comfort.
...take shame to himself...
Perhaps Cardinal Cesare Borgia can be of some help.
He would meet with my master, Piero de' Medici?
...fools who refrain from it.
No. He would meet with you, Ambassador.
Thus, thy fulfilled the saying of Isaiah—
Aha, a conspiracy then.
"They declare their sin as Sodom"
No. More like an inquisition.
...and of Jeremiah, "Thou hast a whore's forehead."
Perhaps you should follow me.
"...thou refusedst to be ashamed."

Another cardinal came through here some days ago. He left his mark, I believe, on a confessional door.
There was a friar found murdered. But that cardinal claimed to be a man of peace.
We all do, Signor Machiavelli.
You make the same claims?
For the moment. But I would hazard, if this cardinal passed through Florence, he did more than pinion a mendicant friar to a confessional door.
You would?
Yes, I would hazard he met with the Florentine ambassador and his master, de Medici.
And if he did?
I would hazard there was a purpose to that meeting.
The purpose being?
That Florence unite with his cause.
No. On the contrary. He asked for nothing.
Or, to be more specific, he asked that Florence... do... nothing.
He requested that Florence do nothing, in the event of a great something.
You are far too clever for a cardinal.
The times have made me so. He requested that Florence do nothing, and allow a great passage of arms through its republic.
And Florence promised him?
Why should I tell you what Florence told him?
I could perhaps ensure that instead of your beautiful Florence, Friar Savonarola himself burns.
Hmph! An impressive offer.
So, Florence offered the good cardinal?
What he offered Florence. Nothing.
So the arms of France cannot pass through your fair republic?
In a sentence. And if these times have made you clever, the coming months may thrust genius upon you.

My lord is...
My lady.
Forgive me for startling you. My lord is hunting.
Would my lady have me saddle her a horse so she can ride out after him?
There is nothing your lady would like less. He is a good huntsman, your lord?
No deer is safe from him.
Pity the poor deer then. But at least their agony ends.
Yes. He's a clean killer.
And your name is?
Your shirt is torn, Paolo. Would you like me to stitch it?
I could never ask, my lady.
And stop this "my lady" nonsense. My name is Lucrezia. Say it.
Lucrezia... my lady.

Navarrese Ambassador: 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.
We thank his Royal Highness. And if this depiction does justice to the Princess Sylvia, then her beauty is indeed without compare.
Her reputation... does precede her.
We will consider your gracious suit in the fullness of time.

And do the horses have names, Paolo?
Indeed they do, my lady.
My lady Lucrezia. This is Diablo.
The devil.
Yes. He was the devil for speed until he tumbled on a break and shattered his hoof.
And now?
His fire is gone entirely. He will end up pulling hay.
There are worse fates, Paolo. And this one?
An Arab mare... Fatima. One could not have them in the same stable when he was in his prime. But after his break...
He was chastened.
He is like a mare himself now, my lady.
Lucky Fatima. She can sleep well at night. Show me your hands, Paolo. Bring them here. I would touch them. Soft. Will they be hard some day?
I know not, my lady.
Lucrezia. I took a bow and aimed it low You know it?
Lucrezia Borgia & Paolo:
And caught you on the chin, chin, chin
My mother said Now go to bed I'll have to lock you in, in, in
My lady.
Lucrezia. Say it.

She is ugly, Father.
No more than all the others.
They are all ugly. I'll marry none of them. Second-rate royalty, cousins of half-brothers of princes. I'll marry a king's daughter or nothing.
Nothing, I'm afraid, is not an option, my dear son.
Let Joffre marry instead. King Ferrante of Naples has an illegitimate daughter.
And the pope does need some security in Naples.
A union between you and Sancia could have some benefits.
Are you deaf, father? She is the half-bred bastard of an ailing dotard. Let Joffre marry her. I will marry a true princess or I will take my pleasures where I find them.

Gabriella Visconti:
Your Holiness—
Forgive me, Cardinal, I had hoped to find you alone.
And, Your Holiness, my cousin was just, huh...
Your cousin?
Gabriella Visconti:
Gabriella Visconti, at your service.
A Sforza?
Twice removed.
Well, we would hope more than twice. Well, Cardinal, you are awash with cousins, which is why we wish to speak with you.
Gabriella Visconti:
At Your Holiness' pleasure.
We would discuss another cousin, in whose hands the survival of our papacy may lie.
Your Holiness refers to the Duke of Milan?
Indeed. Cardinal Della Rovere heads there as we speak.
Well, if I can be of any assistance...
Well, you could disembowel the dear cardinal.
Does the office of vice-chancellor extend so far?
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.

Is your betrothed old, Francesca?
Nine months older than me, my lady.
You are lucky then. The older male is like a boar. He bristles with hair. And when he doesn't beat, he thrusts.
Did he beat last night?
No, but he thrusted. I counted twenty seven of them. Thirty two the night before.
Already, more bearable. You must quicken his pleasure.
Is that possible?
Indeed. You can reduce it to single figures. And for the sake of one's own endurance, I find it helps to count.
To count?

Sancia of Naples.
What of her?
Is she beautiful?
In the Neapolitan way.
Ooh, what way is that, my love?
Dark. Sicilian. Almost Moorish. And I have heard her temper is Sicilian too.
Would she make a bride for—
Juan? A match made in...
Wherever such matches are made.
No, not Juan. Juan will do what Juan will do.
Cesare? Now that would be—
No, you know Cesare can never marry. No, for... for Joffre.
Good God. Will you never stop?
You are going to ensnare the whole of Europe in your progeny.
What else are families for, hm?

Ah! Four, five, six, seven, eight, nine.
What? What are you saying?
I am counting, my lord.
Sheep, my lord.
Could you count in silence?
Counting sheep.
Can she sleep now?
I truly hope so.

You disappoint me, Cardinal. We are family, after all.
If I am your cousin, my liege, I am also cousin to your cousin, Gian Galeazzo, who lays claim to your throne.
This Borgia pope threatens—
No, His Holiness does not threaten. His Holiness merely reminds the duke of where his best interests lie. And in the event of a French invasion—
He would pretend to see the justice of this pretender's cause—
As we would hope that you would see—
My lord, I would not be so precipitous—
No, but I insist! Release him! Have him dine with us tonight! What is it you hunger for most!?
Freedom. And pheasant.
So, Cardinal. Let us feed that hunger of his, hmm? Freedom and pheasant it is.

He wolfs his pheasant so. Mother never taught him manners.
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!
Spit it out! Poison!
Gluttony, more like. Duke for an hour. Undone by his table manners.

You have no servants?
Thank you, my lady.
Ursula Bonadeo:
Some tasks one must perform oneself.
Such as?
Ursula Bonadeo:
Distribution of alms. In the convent of St. Cecilia, there are many hungry souls.
I stand in awe, Ursula Bonadeo.
Ursula Bonadeo:
Of what? Of loaves of bread?
Of goodness.
Ursula Bonadeo:
Would that I were good.
Don't move so quickly. What is that mark under that veil?
Ursula Bonadeo:
I beg you, heed it not. It is in his nature.
So it seems.
Ursula Bonadeo:
And it is not in yours. So heed it not. Forget him and forget me.
You cannot stand for this.
Ursula Bonadeo:
The groom saw. The groom talked. My husband struck. It's what husbands do.
You must free yourself.
Ursula Bonadeo:
He rides to Ostia tomorrow night. For two days, I will be free.

You requested these, Your Eminence.
Yes. Since I have become eminent, I have grown indolent.
I believe one goes with the other, Your Eminence.
Call me Borgia this good morning. And I shall call you baron.
Yes. I made a promise to a favoured lady that I would not put myself in harm's way. So...put me in harm's way. Come on, Baron, I would see your best.
Now, my best would break your promise, Borgia.
Show me then.
One blade is never enough, Your Eminence.
Yes. And eminence has dulled my edge. Again.

Where does he hunt?
In the high mountain passes.
He is brave with those deer.
But they suffer less than me, do they not? He kills them quickly.
Do you suffer?
It must stop. It is a crime against...
Against what?
Against you. Your beauty. You are the pope's daughter. How can he stand it?
The pope doesn't know.
If I could write, I would send him a letter.
Am I beautiful, Paolo?
You are the most beautiful thing I have yet seen.
Lift me down.
I could adjust his saddle.
You could adjust my lord's saddle He would fall. He would break. He would return home, tamed.
What if he died?
From a fall? He would never.
What if I had you whipped for wickedness?
You would never.
Are you sure?
Yes. Of that I am sure.

The cardinal was shocked to the core. Apparently, he dropped dead right in front of him at the duke's table.
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.
An alliance?
Better than that. A wedding!
Who this time, Father? Me?

Ah! Five... Six... Seven... Eight... Nine... Eleven... Twelve.

Baron Bonadeo:
My wife is to receive no visitors in my absence.
Yes, my lord.
You should let me deal with him, Your Eminence.
Did he insult your mother?
Then we should both do it.
Where would the valour be in that? Or the pleasure? No. I shall do this... alone.

An accident, my lady. The Lord Sforza.

Baron Bonadeo:
You, Cardinal, have been nosing round my wife.
And you, Baron, slandered my mother.
Baron Bonadeo:
You mean the Spanish whore?
I mean my mother.
Baron Bonadeo:
From the whorehouse to the Vatican is quite a journey. But it ends here.
Your wife prayed for liberation. Libera me domine de morte aeterna.
You never forget your first. Lift!
I felt the life go from him.
Better him than you. But at least you are still breathing.
Was I in harm's way, Micheletto?
Not for a moment, Your Eminence.

Leave me alone!
It is a break, my lord, but you will survive it. Water, please. A muslin cloth and a splint, a piece of wood between his teeth.
My husband!
Forgive me, my lord. You will feel some pain.
Be brave, my husband.
On the count of three.
One, two, three.

You killed this man with grace, Your Eminence. You should be proud.
Will I be thanked for it?
In my experience, one rarely is.
A thankless task then.
The river will be grateful for him, Your Eminence. It loves a skewered corpse.
 Wikipedia - Seven seals

106. The French King


Pesaro Castle
The apothecary prepared this liniment, my lord. He mentioned it might hurt, but said the pain was worth enduring.
Count again?
Yes, my lord. Otherwise the wound might fester. One...
And we are done, my good Lord Sforza.
Damn horse. A viper must have startled him.
 But we must count our blessings, my lord. You may be some months in this little room. At least your leg has been saved.
You have been kind to me, Lucrezia Borgia. And it may be that... I was not, in the first instance... kind to you.
Please my lord, do not think—
I see now that nobility springs from the soul... not from the blood. I forgive you the accident of your family name.
 I must... accept your forgiveness, then, my lord, for the... accident of my Borgia blood.
And I would, as a mark of thanks for your care, these past few days, lend you my horse.
Your horse?
He is the very devil when he's not being ridden.
I will gladly ride him out, my lord.

Neapolitan Ambassador:
King Ferrante of Naples sends his humble regards.
King Ferrante of Naples can neither hear nor see, I believe?
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.
Where is Squillace?
Neapolitan Ambassador:
In the Kingdom of Naples.
My younger brother Joffre is all of 13 years old.
Neapolitan Ambassador: 
His Highness had understood the prospective groom to be the Gonfaloniere himself, the Duke of Gandia.
Me? Well, this is most irregular. I would never consider marrying the illegitimate daughter of the King of Naples—
Would you convey our thanks to our friend and ally, King Ferrante, whose claim to independence we fully understand, for his most generous offer? You will have our response shortly.

My husband cannot ride. He cannot rut. He cannot even hunt. Even the deer are happy.
Will I be punished for that? Will I be whipped?
For making the deer happy?
Are you happy, my lady?
Give the horse his heed.
But no whip?
No need for whip. Kick your heels.

You thought it appropriate? I, Juan Borgia, and the illegitimate daughter of the King of Naples? The Duchessa of Squillace?
Our alliance with Naples is now of the utmost importance.
I am the Duke of Gandia. The Gonfaloniere of the papal state. The son of the Pope of Rome.
Oh, Brother, we both are that.
Oh, you marry her then.
You know marriage for me is not an option.
Well, then, let it be Joffre!
Joffre still plays with his sister's dolls.
Here we have a life-size one.
Lucrezia still plays with dolls. She got married.
She did. Are we to send all of our loved ones off to Pesaro? To Squillace?
I will not marry the Duchessa of Squillace. But I will ride to Naples to present my young brother's suit.
One of us must ensure that she is a suitable bride. Or would you prefer the honour?
I cannot. I am occupied in Rome.
Yes, so I've heard.
What have you heard?
That beneath that cardinal's skirt, there may still be a man.
Uh, uh...

Look at you.
Like Narcissus. In the spring waters.
You don't know Narcissus?
I can neither read nor write, my Lady Lucrezia.
 Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection. In the waters of a spring. Do not move.
It is impossible.
To fall in love with a reflection?
To kiss it.
And I thought I would never know sweetness.

Ursula Bonadeo:
It's your residence, Cardinal?
For the moment.
Ursula Bonadeo:
You are spare in your tastes, Cardinal.
There is but one ornament I need here.
Ursula Bonadeo:
May I call you something other than Cardinal?
Call me Cesare.
Ursula Bonadeo:
Cesare. Remind me why I'm here, Cesare.
Because you want to be.
Ursula Bonadeo:
Your husband's absence makes it possible.
Ursula Bonadeo:
It is time to stop pretending.
Ursula Bonadeo:
Please. I do not trust my heart.
Oh, you must, to have come here with me.
Ursula Bonadeo:
Can you love me, Cesare Borgia? Or is it just desires of the flesh?
I am very much afraid that it is both. One or the other, I could deal with. Both, and I may be lost.

Can a good thing come from a bad thing, Paolo the groom?
Is this a good thing?
Yes. I think.
And what is the bad?
I think you know... Paolo the groom.
I have a second name.
And I don't want to know it. I would call you Narcissus.

Ursula Bonadeo:
Oh, my God. You make me hope. And I'm afraid of hope.
Hope for what?
Ursula Bonadeo:
For days like this. In the future, with you.
If you were given them?
Ursula Bonadeo:
I beg you, do not make me hope. He will be home in two days.
Perhaps his business will detain him.

Now, I desire a purely defensive union. The terms of which have already been outlined by our respective ambassadors. And I desire the happiness of our youngest son.
And 200,000 ducats, surely.
Perhaps. But we need this union more than we need riches. The wolves are bearing down on the Papal States. And we would have a wedding... if only to once again see our dear Lucrezia.


Forgive me, Gonfaloniere Borgia, if I feed my father as we converse. He has so few pleasures left. But he does like his chicken!
What a coincidence. Chicken is my brother Joffre's favorite.
Perhaps my sister can feed him thus.
He is all of 13 years old. Soon to be a man.
I am truly blessed then, in this union.
You are.
And your brother, Gonfaloniere, is he illegitimate, like me?
His father has drafted a papal bull to confer legitimacy on all his children.
And that has bearing on the matter of bastardy, does it?
We do not appreciate that term, Your Highness.
Why not? I never minded it. I found it gave one a certain licence.
Let me just say that his rights of inheritance are secure, under law.
If my betrothed has anything like the vigour of his brother...
You would marry this Borgia here, would you not, dear sis?
I am your bastard sister, Alfonso. I shall marry whomever I am told.
I am sure your brother should grow into your stature, Gonfaloniere. It comes with many benefits: the Borgia name, the Borgia prowess.
I am told it is considerable, within and without the marital bed.
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?
I have been entrusted with all of my father's battles.
Are you not scared, dear sis?
I fear... I fear, I fear.
Perhaps after our meal, Gonfaloniere, my sister can give you the royal tour? My father had a way of, uh, dealing with his enemies. It might prove instructive for the future.

Your father had them stuffed?
His reputation then preceded him.
As does your reputation precede you.
Does it? Should I be honored? In my father's case, it inspired terror. What do I inspire, Juan Borgia?
Then I must make do... with lust. You would sample your brother's betrothed the way you would a mare?
But one of such beauty.
Sample her, then.
I would know...
How she can be ridden.
Oh, she can. She can.

You find the art of politics more engrossing than... Than—
Than the art of love?
Did I say that?
They have more in common than you might think.
I would doubt that.
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.
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.
Hmm. Naples. But now... I'm going to invade fair France.

French Soldier: 
His Highness is testing a new cannon, Your Eminence. Perfected during a battle against those English barbarians.
Feu! Le feu aux canons!
Les boulets!

French Soldier: 
Your Royal Highness, may I introduce you to Cardinal Giuliano Della Rovere. Cardinal Della Rovere, His Royal Highness, King Charles, of France.
Your Royal Highness.
We have heard of you.
And I of you, Your Highness. Your military renown has traveled far and wide—
Enough of the pleasantries! You are the one that would give us the crown of Naples?
The Kingdom of France has long had claims on the investiture of the Kingdom of Naples. I would—
I said, enough pleasantries, did I not? Just tell me, Cardinal, how you would place the crown of Naples... on this ugly head of mine? And it is exceedingly ugly, is it not?
Your Highness bears all the vigor of the French race in his person.
He is afraid to say it! Is my head not ugly, General?
French General:
I can hardly bear to gaze at it.
So admit it, Cardinal. I have all the graces of a carnival dwarf.
Those words would never pass my lips, Your Highness.
Well then, we may get nowhere. I appreciate only plain speech. Tell us then what you want of us, plainly.
My countrymen are accustomed to the show of war, not the reality. They could never muster the courage to sustain your French fury.
You want me to march to Rome, depose that Borgia, give you the papal crown, in the hope that you'll place the crown of Naples on this ugly head?
I want to restore the Universal Church to her former dignity.
Couldn't this Borgia do the same?
Restore the Church?
Place the Crown of Naples on this ugly noggin.
Either way, you must get to Rome, Your Highness.
Must I?
And my countrymen are accustomed to the show of war—
Oh lord!

Ursula Bonadeo:
My husband has been absent all of a week now.
You said he went to Ostia. Are there not women in Ostia?
Ursula Bonadeo:
You say that so bluntly, Cesare Borgia. It makes me fearful.
Of what?
Ursula Bonadeo:
Of the consequences of your affections.
Can you not give thanks for the time we have spent together?
Ursula Bonadeo:
Thanks to whom?
To the moon. To Venus. To, dare I say, the good Lord.
Ursula Bonadeo:
Does He not look down upon us this minute?
If He sees what I see, He sees that it is good.
Ursula Bonadeo:
You were ordained a priest, and yet you blaspheme thus.
If appreciation of your beauty is blasphemy, consider me a blasphemer indeed. A blasphemer and a heretic.
Ursula Bonadeo:
You frighten me, sometimes.

War is ugly, Cardinal. Far uglier than I could ever be. One should approach it with extreme circumspection.
As one should approach you, perhaps?
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?
It would be my privilege, Your Highness.
It could also be your end. Your most grisly end.
Yours too.
Proceed. Impressive.

Yes? Narcissus.
If Lord Sforza were to find us—
How could he... mount those stairs?

What? Hmm... The devil!
Butter, my Lord Sforza. For the morning.

You met my betrothed, Brother?
I did.
Your silence is alarming, Brother. Put little Joffre at ease.
Rest assured, Joffre, she does not have horns.
Is she pretty?
Is she kind?
I know not.
Does she have any qualities to recommend her?
She has two legs. The requisite number of eyes. Ten fingers.
So she is not pretty and she is not kind. She has two eyes, ten fingers, and two legs.
Not forgetting toes. Ten of them, I believe.
I will only marry once, Mother.
Oh, little Joffre! She is not only pretty.
She is beautiful!
And she's an angel, sprung up on the soils of Naples. In fact, if you will not marry her, I would marry her myself.
Yes. Really. Now, do I have your permission?
You may not, Juan. She is my betrothed.
Yes, she is. And who's a lucky boy?

He looks wealthy. Who is he, do you think? Nobleman?
I don't know. We all look the same when we're dead. Certainly dressed the part.

You would entice me to battle... but do you understand what that means?
It means a just war, in defense of Christendom.
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.

As St. Augustine said, Mother... Let me be married, Lord, but not yet!
My dear.
Your dear? I'd heard you made your reappearance.
Is the house my father bought you not to your liking? Too cold? Too lonely, perhaps?
Um, I would leave you, kind sir, and trouble you no further.
Yes, you will leave.
Yes, I am your son. Does this peasant's presence here mean that he thinks he's my father?
He must have heard the rumours that one of us was fathered by this goatherd.
Juan, stop!
We are the sons of the pope! And you entertain a goatherd? In my family home?
Juan! What has this papacy done to you?
It has removed me forever from the likes of him.
Go. Leave. This is your home no longer.
I will return, Mother, when I please. But I will not have him here!
I said... Go.

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.
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.
I admit nothing.
Ursula Bonadeo:
Yet the crime is written on your face.
There was no murder. He fought. He lost.
Ursula Bonadeo:
I begged you not to meet him.
You begged me not to place myself in harm's way.
Ursula Bonadeo:
I had no idea you had such capabilities.
And to think I thought you knew me.
Ursula Bonadeo: 
I thought I knew a man. A man conflicted, perhaps, between the world and God. But not a murderer.
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.
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.
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.
Ursula Bonadeo:
You will not know where.
You mean a nunnery?
Ursula Bonadeo:
I mean confinement.
I will search you out. Like Abelard and Eloise. You may find a nunnery cell, but you will never be free of me!
Ursula Bonadeo:
You are right. I will never be free of you.

Are you out of your mind? To spill the blood of your mother's husband? To beat him like a common pimp?
If that is what he is, Father—
If that is what he is, then what does that make you?
You've heard the rumor. That one of us was sired by him, and not by you, not by the Pope of Rome?
And you want to feed these rumors? What is all of Rome talking about now? Hmm?
I will not have him in her house!
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?
Forgive me, Father, if my honor demanded—
Your honor? Do you know what they say about you? What they whisper about you?
What, Father?
That your brother would be more suited to your estate. Would you have us consider those thoughts?
Promise me you won't, Father.
If you promise to restrain yourself.
I do. Then promise me that I am of your blood and of no one else's.
You are our son. No one else's. Do not make us regret that fact.
I will not. How can I make recompense?
You can beg forgiveness from your mother. And you can escort her to your brother Joffre's wedding.

Papa. Papa.
Ah... Oh, my love. I'm in heaven. Or am I still dreaming?
No, Father. It is I.

The Borgia pope has betrothed his son to King Ferrante's daughter.
How does that change matters?
The investiture of Naples must soon follow. Ferrante would have not agreed to the match without it.
He is old, this Ferrante, and uglier than me.
But his son is not, my liege. He would see his father invested before he dies, so he can claim the crown, and the kingdom. If there is a moment to move, it is now.

Excuse me, Cardinal.
So tell me, Lucrezia. Marriage is—
It... was hard, at first. But then it grew sweeter.
I need details.
You will not have them.
Your husband, Giovanni...
 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?
It was broken by a nun.
A nun? Like Eloise? Will you spend a lifetime writing to her?
I could if I knew where she was.
But you can find out, surely.
I intend to.
How wonderful. We can both write books.

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.

Most worthy Lord... do you agree, under the eyes of God, to accept the most gracious Sancia, Duchessa of Squillace, as your lawful spouse?
I do.
She is too beautiful. I hate her.
You have promised to marry the most gracious Sancia, here present...
If you hate beauty, dear sis, you must hate yourself.
All right. I will love her then. But deep down, somewhere, I still hate her.
One can hate and love, I have found.
There was a poem, wasn't there, that said just that.
Odi et amo.
Most gracious lady, do you agree, under the eyes of God, to accept the most noble Lord Joffre as your lawful spouse?
I do.
Poor Joffre. He deserved better than Naples.
Are you becoming expert in genealogy?
I have heard the rumours of her monstrous father.
And you believed them?
Why Naples?
Our father has a realm to protect.
And Sancia will protect it?
We must wait and see.
...worthy and ready to enter the marriage contract.

You are now Duke of Squillace, Joffre Borgia. How does that feel?
Where is Squillace?
I have no idea. But I am its duchess. There's a castle, I believe, just south of Naples. And a lake. An income. You see, they had to give me something, so... they gave me Squillace.
Be nice to him. Promise me?
How nice?
He is my younger brother.
Yes. But how nice?
That nice.
I can be that nice.
You will?
Yes. Good night, pages. Unless you would all join us? No. That is a step too far, even for the Duke and Duchessa of Squillace. Now, my husband, are you ready?

You will have your war, Cardinal. But I will only ask one thing of you.
Please, my liege.
No one will question the behavior of my troops, my captains, my generals, my arms. You will have your war... but it will be fought the French way.

107. Death, on a Pale Horse


French General:
Tell me, Cardinal, what is the Italian for cannon?<
We have no such word, General.
French General:
For gunpowder? Recoil? Battery? Cannonball? Ordnance?
I'm at a loss.
French General:
You will need a new language then. Your Italy will soon be deafened by the sound of cannon.

Be silent.
Are we observed?
No. But that goatherd waits inside for my loud... and public apology.
Did you abuse the goatherd?
As you abuse me?
The abuse was of a different kind, my dear.
Joffre? Joffre, are you in the garden?
Yes, Mother.
Would you join me, please?
One moment.
My husband plays with feathers.
Is he to your liking?
He is sweetness itself. But he lacks your vigor.
You must call on me then. When you have need of me.

I must return to my husband in the morning.
Because he is my husband. Because our father needs his allegiance.
I should keep you here in chains. I suspect you would be happier.
Why do you question my happiness?
Because something happened, I know it.
What do you know?
Your eyes. You no longer walk on air. Where is my young sister hiding?
I am the Lord Sforza's wife, Brother.
If he does ill by you I shall do ill by him.
He would be wise to be kind, then.
What are his pleasures?
Hunting. The marital bed.
I dislike him already.
But he had an accident, Brother. And now he can indulge in neither.
A happy accident?
Yes. God is good.
But he will recover?
Unfortunately, yes.
You are no longer a child, Sis. I won't forgive him for that.
There was a reason for my marriage, Brother. Remind me of it.

Abbess of St. Cecelia:
We are blessed by the Cardinal's presence here.
Sadly, Abbess, the business of a cardinal is overwhelmed by the management of men. Our spiritual duties are all too easily forgotten.
Abbess of St. Cecelia:
But your contribution to the abbey and its restoration is much appreciated. And our new novice, Sister Martha, has a most divine contralto voice.
Sister Martha?
Ursula Bonadeo:
Do I detect some levity in your tone, Cardinal?
Ursula Bonadeo:
It is inappropriate, surely. You are the cardinal benefactor of the Sisters of St. Cecilia. Although even I can see the humor in that.
You knew? When you chose this convent?
Ursula Bonadeo:
I discovered, after I had taken my vows.
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.
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?
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.
Are you clairvoyant, Sister Martha?
Ursula Bonadeo:
No, but I think I have been given some insight into what guides your heart. I will never love another man. And you should leave now, Cardinal. It is forbidden.
Abbess of St. Cecelia:
Sister Martha?

You asked to meet me alone, Father.
Yes, my son. We have had intelligence that 25,000 and more French troops are marching towards Milan.
My God.
Hm. Indeed. An apocalypse.
It is a long march from France to Rome. Anything could happen.
Well, Milan will grant safe passage. Il Moro has made his intentions abundantly clear.
And what about Florence?
Well, you tell me. You visited Florence.
Florence keeps its counsel.
And its counsel is called Niccolo Machiavelli.
I have his understanding that Florence will do nothing if its territories are not invaded.
And if they are?
It will do something.
Its something may not be enough for us. French arms may alter the whole equation!
Has the College of Cardinals heard?
No, but they will. And we can imagine the discord already, everyone dividing into factions. We are facing a battle for our very survival.

I'm scared of thunder, Paolo.
It often comes before summer showers.
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?
We can love in secret.
Hm. We already love in secret. And you knew this couldn't last forever, didn't you?
Why not?
Again, where is your imagination? Have you not read your Boccaccio, your Petrarch?
You know I can't read.
If you did, you'd know. Young lovers are always doomed.

Oh, my lady! What have you been doing? Come here.
You are... wet, my lady.
Uh... I am, my lord. Rain will do that.
I would have my wife dry before dinner.
Yes, my lord.
And I would not see her wet again. That young groom...
Paolo, my lord?
I would speak with him tomorrow.

Your cousin's Dukedom of Milan is now host to the arms of King Charles of France.Not for long, I would imagine.
Indeed. He is allowing free passage of the armies through his territories, south.Well, we must all pray for deliverance, then.
And how does he imagine the pope will regard this betrayal?Betrayal? I was told that the armies of France threaten Naples, not the Holy City of Rome.
So, they will pass through Rome, if they get this far, and leave the Holy City as it was.What other outcome could one wish for?
I think you know, Cardinal Sforza, that Cardinal Della Rovere has but one end in view: The deposition of our Holy Father, the Pope.Yes, a grave matter, indeed. And with few precedents.
And your attitude to this possibility?I myself voted for the Holy Father.
So he can count on your continued support, then?Yes, of course.
What else would you say to me, his son?Indeed. What else, Cardinal Borgia? What else?
You would be wise to be steadfast in this matter, Cardinal. You have another cousin married to my sister. He would be wise to remain steadfast too.Shall I tell him that, or should you? Or should we leave that responsibility to your sister, Lucrezia?

You would speak with the groom, my lord?
I would, my lady.
My lady.
What of, might I ask?
I'd have him ready my horses. I must return to the saddle.
My lord.
Are you sure that is wise, my lord?
My leg, thank God, is healing. As we may confirm tonight.
Tonight. I have slept alone too long.

My lady.
My lord.
You are a vision.
Even for a Borgia?
Your beauty was never in question. Merely your breeding. And speaking of breeding, the entire principality will be expecting an heir soon...
So soon?
And we mustn't disappoint them, must we?
My lord! Here, let me help you. Oh, I'm sorry, my lord.
No! So! So!

The French armies are headed for the walled city of Lucca.
And they must pass Lucca to get to Rome?
Hm. And Lucca will provide no contest. Perhaps the leg of our beloved Italy will provide some solace.
No, Rodrigo.
What? Are we forbidden Naples? And the hills of Rome? Not to speak of Florence and Milan?
It's that time of the month, Rodrigo.
Ah! We are denied entry, then. Hm.
So it seems. Most men consider it unclean.
But we are not most men, Giulia Farnese. Let us hope this blood is not a portent.

French Soldier:
They would open their gates to you, my liege. But they would first discuss terms.
Let us show them terms.
French Soldier:
French Soldier:
Fire the cannons!
Those are my terms. Captains!
French Soldier:
French Soldier:
A l'attaque!
French General:
Should I order restraint, my liege?
No, give them their head. Pillage the place.But what can justify such carnage?
It is war, Cardinal, plain and simple.They would have surrendered to you, readily.
As the whole of Italy will surrender to me now.
I see castles aflame. I see blood running through the streets of cities. Will you be the one, Cardinal Della Rovere, to bring forth this apocalypse? Are you... the cleric in red?

You are eating nothing, Cardinal?I find it hard, my liege, to muster an appetite. Perhaps I should retire.
No! I shall not allow it. You invited us to this carnage. You shall at the very least partake of it with us.But, my liege—
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.
Of course. Victory.
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.
You think Florence might resist us?
French General:
After tonight, I doubt it. But we live in hope, do we not, Cardinal?Can I make a request then, my liege?
We are... all ears, Cardinal.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.
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.
A levy of 200,000 ducats for the cost of our armies to date.You would have them pay for your invasion of their republic?
French General:
200,000 is still out of pocket, my liege. Your costs are double that, to date.
400,000 then.
French General:
And, my liege, I would demand, as a token of good faith, hostages from each of the major Florentine families.Those demands are unaccountably harsh, Your Highness. They may not accede to them.
Well, then, we look forward to battle.

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!

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.

...per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen. You have heard what happened in Lucca, my son?
The whole world has heard, Father. King Ferrante has died.
Indeed. And did he die repentant?
He has been dead for years, to sense and logic. But the throne of Naples is free at last. Alfonso will demand its investiture.
Well, the French King demands it too.
His army heads to Florence.
Well, we must muster what forces we can.
And what forces are they?
The armies of the papal states. Of the Sforzas. The great lords of the Romagna.
And you think they can resist French arms?
They are all the forces we have.
Under what leadership?
Of the Gonfaloniere, the Duke of Gandia, Juan Borgia.
You are blinded by affection, Father.
Can you suggest an alternative?
Father, Father... Give me control of them. I will do what is necessary.
You have no experience of battle, my son.
Does Juan?
Yes. He's been bred for this moment. His whole life has been spent in training for such an event.
He's played at games of war, Father. He has yet to experience reality.
Well, he'll have the condottieri to advise him. If Florence resists French arms, then we may yet have time.
And you think they will?

We will excommunicate Florence if the French armies are admitted.Excommunicate the entire city, Your Holiness?
The Medicis, the Pazzis, Machiavelli, the whole Signoria. And we will have that Savonarola burnt. We will bear no more opposition to our word.
Then you must excommunicate half of Christendom.
Because half of the world is against us.
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.Your Holiness, may the vice-chancellor speak?
Yes... Cardinal Sforza. He may.It would be unwise... to use the Church's most solemn sanction... to so little effect.
What does the vice-chancellor mean?Excommunication or not, this invasion will proceed. We may all have to adjust ourselves to new realities.

You should consider it fortunate, my lady, that you're a Borgia no longer.
What does my lord mean?
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.
I know little of politics.
You know enough, surely, to know that your father's days may be numbered.
I will always be my father's daughter, sire. And unless I am very much mistaken, I do believe the Sforza armies, yours and your cousin Catherina's were pledged to his cause.
That promise did form part of the betrothal arrangement.
And my lord would never renege on a promise.
My cousin Catherina already has.
But you, my lord, would never be so... dishonorable.
Is it dishonorable to assist in the deposition of a Borgia pope? As dishonorable, perhaps, as removing a litter of swine from the Vatican walls. You are ill, my lady?
Perhaps your words offend me.
Forgive me, then, for speaking so plainly. But understand that if Florence admits the French armies, then the Sforza arms may march with France.
It is unwise, my lord, to upset me thus. Ah...
My lady! Come. Straight away...

Who can we trust... in this charnel house called Rome?
You can trust me.
The Sforzas of Milan... have deserted us. I wonder, will the Sforzas of Pesaro do the same?
Your daughter, who married one, would know.
But I hear nothing from her. I wonder, would you travel to Pesaro, find out what she knows?
We will miss you, in our hour of need.
And I will miss you. But I will suffer your absence, if it sets your mind at ease.
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.
Summon him to Rome, then. While I ride to Pesaro.

The French King demands that Florence be opened to the passage of his armies.
But of course.25,000 troops be billeted on its populace.
That will need to be voted by the Signoria.
You heard what happened in Lucca.Is that a yes?
Yes.He demands a levy of 400,000 ducats for the cost of his invasion so far.
My God! What effrontery.
The answer is yes.
Yes? We must pay for the privilege of being invaded?
You heard what happened in Lucca.
What happened in Lucca sounds increasingly like genius.He demands hostages from the following families as a token of goodwill. Medici.
And now, my Lord Medici, that you've surrendered the Republic of Florence, can we at least pour the wine? There is genius afoot here, Cardinal. Is it yours?Have you ever witnessed carnage, Ambassador?
Let's drink then. To the great God, carnage.

I have heard a whisper of your excommunication, Cardinal.Indeed. I have heard the same of yours.
Mine?I've heard rumors that the whole of Florence could be excommunicated if this city is surrendered to French arms.
Well, then, perhaps that depends on one's definition of surrender.
French Soldier:
Regiment, halt!
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.
At rest?
Your lance at point is a symbol of conquest, and our gracious Florence has not been conquered. To the contrary. We welcome you with open arms.
Signor Machiavelli.
Your Highness?
Our lance at rest prevents our entry to your fair city.
Perhaps, Your Highness, if it were to be angled backwards.
And of what would that be a symbol?
Of Your Highness' infinite resourcefulness.
French Soldier:
Onward, forward!
French Soldier:
Onward, forward!
French Soldier:
Company march!

My lady.
Am I in the right place? Residence of Lucrezia Borgia?

The Lady Giulia Farnese, my lord.
La Bella Farnese. May I introduce my cousin, Catherina Sforza.
Your reputation precedes you. And the tales of your military prowess.
These are troubled times.
Indeed they are. And the one I came to see? Your dear wife, Lucrezia?
She is indisposed.
Nothing serious, I hope.
The politics of our Italy have unnerved her.
They have unnerved us all. You... have the pope's ear, Giulia Farnese.
At certain times.
So, enlighten us. Will he resist this French invasion? Will he bring bloodshed and carnage upon all our heads?
You are no stranger to bloodshed, are you, Lady Sforza?
I would save my arms for battles I can win.
If you're asking me, will he accept his deposition as the Pope of Rome... the answer is never.
With what armies will he confront the French?
With the armies of the papal states. Of the lords of the Romagna. The Colonna. The Salviati. The Sforza.
Oh, we're all doomed then.
No. No, the House of Borgia is doomed. The arms of the House of Sforza will remain where they belong: In the Romagna.
But what of my lord's marriage... with the House of Borgia?
What of it?
You will let these French armies march to Rome, and do...
What everyone else in Italy is doing. Nothing.
Ah. Have you shared this intelligence with your dear wife, Lucrezia?
She's too young to understand such matters.

Do you recognize us, Brother Raphael?
Friar Raphael:
Oh... I hardly do, Your Holiness.
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.
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.
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.
Are you sure of that, Friar?
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.

Djem is in my dreams again, Giulia. And he still cannot speak. Can one contract the marsh fever in these mountainous regions?
I'm sure the mountains have fevers of their own, but I know them not. But you are ill, Lucrezia. Describe your illness.
I wake up, nauseous. I expel the contents of whatever I ate the night before. I sweat. It comes and goes.
When does it come and go?
Mornings are the worst.
Your husband... does he visit your bed nightly?
He had a hunting accident, Giulia. He has slept alone since his fall.
How strange. We must leave this castle at first light, before the Lord Sforza awakes. Have you any friends you can confide in here?
There is a maidservant.
Francesca. There is a groom. Paolo.
You can trust this groom?
With my life.
Hmm... He was kind to you, hmm?
He was my only solace here.
He can provide us with horses then.
You said it was strange. Why is it strange, Giulia Farnese?
Because, Lucrezia, my love... I recognize the symptoms of your illness. And it's not called marsh fever. You're with child.

108. The Art of War


Are you the one?
Yes, my lady. I knew I would be whipped.
If you speak of your affections, Paolo, I will see you hanged after you are whipped. Do you understand?
Yes, my lady.
And it would be a shame to maim that body of yours. For all the pleasure it has given her. You will prepare us two horses at dawn, already saddled.

I had a dream, my son. Or a nightmare.
Of Lucrezia?
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.

You must come with us. My lord will kill you.
No. He will whip me. But it will have been worth it.
When will I see you again?
When you return from Rome, perhaps.
When horses fly, as we must now. Before Lord Sforza awakes.

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—
But, with respect, Holy Father, what you ask is impossible.
The involvement of Spanish forces in the protection of St. Peter's and the head of Christendom—
Would amount to a declaration of war between France and Spain.
I warn you, Ambassador, favors granted can be rescinded.
And I would beg Your Holiness's forgiveness that I cannot meet his full demands.
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.

We would review whatever forces we have at our disposal. Where's your brother?
I know not, Holy Father, but... I suspect.
Well, then, seek out the Gonfaloniere of the papal forces from whatever whorehouse he's seen fit to rest his head!

You know this man?
No, Father. He had no name last night.
You have a priest for a brother?
A cardinal.
A cardinal? I should have charged you double.
I imagine you did. Ah!
Your father would review the forces at his command, Gonfaloniere.
I am out of sorts this morning, brother.
This afternoon.
Ah! Ah!
You know me, brother. I disapprove of lechery, debauchery, drunkenness.
Which is why our father made you the cardinal.
Why, then, did he make you a duke?
Because lechery and debauchery are the very marks of nobility.
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.

Slow your horse, my love. You were ill, remember? And your condition needs nurturing.
Once out of that gloomy castle, my health seems to improve.
We did doubly well to flee, then, and your father needs us both at this perilous juncture. Now, you tell me about this Paolo.
You mean Narcissus? What would you know?

Where are they heading?
The horses were gone, my lord, at dawn. I know not where.
You mean they saddled them without you stirring?
They must have, my lord.
You sleep very soundly.
Like a babe in arms, my lord.
You lie.
Would it be in my interest to lie, my lord, when my back is at your mercy?
Your entire being is at my mercy. The truth, peasant! Where are they heading?
She is headed as far from you as possible, my lord. She can no longer stand the sight of you. The smell of you. The thought of you. And nor, my lord, can I.

Condottiere 1:
We have pikes for 2,000 footmen, lances for 1,000 horse, bows for 1,500 bowmen— if we can find the soldiers to wield them.
What about cannon?
Condottiere 1:
Nobody worthy in the art of war ever uses cannons.
I have heard it rumored that the French do.
Condottiere 1:
And I have heard that they are vulgarians, my lord.
Their cannon was vulgar, indeed, when they brought Lucca to its knees.
I have a stratagem, Holy Father, to outwit their cannon.
Would you be so good as to... share it with us?
Indeed. Just give me some time with my condottieri.
Time is what we do not have! The barbarians are approaching. Rome has been sacked twice in her past. We would spare her a third such indignity. Cardinal.

There are precedents, of course, Your Highness, for the deposition of the Pope of Rome. The Council of Constance, for example. There were three popes with claims upon the papacy.
Three?It was a schism, Your Highness, a state to be avoided at all costs. Pope John XXIII, Pope Benedict XIII, and Pope Gregory XII.
One of them held court in Avignon.Yes, Your Highness. Commonly referred to as the Avignon Captivity.
And what was the outcome of the Council of Constance?Well, Pope John XXIII was accused of various indiscretions.
And of what do you accuse this Borgia pope?Simony, usury, public lechery, and poisoning, perhaps.

So, your brother has a stratagem.
Dreamed up in last night's whorehouse.
You will cease, Cardinal Borgia, in this constant denigration of your brother, the Gonfaloniere. His leadership of the papal forces is at present our only hope!
Which is the source of my concern, Father.
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.

...without protection, everyone moment we stay here is at our peril.
Holy Father, it is rumored that the Colonna arms are rushing to join the French side.
Cardinal Colonna could perhaps answer that.
They are in danger of being beaten to the race by the armies of the Sforza.
Cardinal Sforza?Holy Father, we should abandon Rome. Half the populace already has.
The Holy Father forbids any talk of abandonment. We have all of us taken our vows as cardinals to spill our blood in defense of our Holy Mother Church.
We wait like lambs to be slaughtered?
The Holy Father has reviewed the papal forces. He has every confidence in their ability to defend the Holy City. As have I!
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.

See, up ahead.
French Captain:
Who is it?
We must turn back.
They are French, are they not?
French Captain:
These are dangerous roads, fair ladies.
So it seems.
French Captain:
And you are heading?
To Rome.
French Captain:
Well, then. You have an escort of French arms. Bring them!
French Soldier:
Yes, Captain!
French Soldier:
En allez!
French Soldier:
On the way!

What is cannon for, Holy Father?
For destroying fortification, surely.
Exactly. The French cannon may be useful to batter the gates of Rome, or to blow the walls of Lucca to the heavens, but meet them in the open field, and what use are their cannon there?
My son.
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?
I know little of the art of war.
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?
Well, we can breathe again, my son. The air is almost sweet with relief. You... will be the savior of Rome.

Will the good Lord see the justice in our cause, Micheletto?
Where warfare is concerned, Your Eminence, our good Lord will take a holiday.

Have you ever seen such an army?
French Captain:
Not since Hannibal crossed the Alps, my lady.
That is what my brother faces.
French Captain:
Your brother is a Roman soldier? He is to be pitied, then.
You must introduce us to your Hannibal, Captain.
French Captain:
And your names are?
Tell him that Lucrezia Borgia, daughter to the Pope of Rome, and Giulia Farnese request the pleasure of his company.

French Soldier:
How many times have I had to tell you...
French General:
We have a captive, my liege.
What kind of captive?
French General:
Quite a prize, I am told. A Borgia.
A Borgia?
French General:
The pope's bastard daughter, fleeing her husband, Giovanni Sforza. Ran into our hands.
A hostage, then?
French General:
If it pleases you. And the pope's own mistress, Giulia Farnese.
This pope has a mistress? For shame. Then he must surely be done away with. Why have I no mistress, General?

We need a stratagem, Giulia Farnese.
How to achieve our freedom.
We are quite uniquely situated to use what... weapons we have in our father's cause.
And what weapons are those, my love?
As you told me when I first met you: our beauty.Lucrezia Borgia & Giulia Farnese: Our wit.
Cardinal.La bella. I trust the French soldiery caused you both no disquiet?
Are we hostages, Cardinal?On the contrary, Madame, you are being detained for your own protection.
I would not like to be imprisoned. It would so displease my father, the pope. As, I am afraid, would your presence here. No longer a man of God? A soldier now?I serve still God, my lady.
That would please my father. He would not like to see blood on a cardinal's hands. So why are you here with the French armies?I am in your presence to invite you both to dine with His Royal Highness, King Charles of France.
Which invitation we graciously accept, do we not, Lucrezia?
But you have not yet told us, Cardinal, why you are here with the French armies?I am traveling with the French king to institute the deposition of your father as Pope of Rome.
Oh, dear. That is certainly a reason. On what grounds?Simony, bribery, and if you will both forgive my mention of such indelicacies, fair ladies, public lechery.
Public lecher? With whom?With your good self, my lady.
So a pope cannot be lecherous, Cardinal, in public or in private?He cannot, my lady.
But is a pope's daughter allowed to be hungry? If so, I would gladly accept the king's invitation. Because this pope's daughter... could eat a horse.

We are unused to kings in Italy, Your Highness. We do have dukes, duchesses, principes, cardinals. We even have, as you must know, a pope. But kings are in short supply.
I have novelty value, then.
No more wine for the moment.
Why not?
I would tell Your Highness's fortune.His fortune?
Yes. In the cup. My mother taught me. She was a courtesan, Your Highness.
The prettiest in Rome. And she knew her runes. I see... one great army... meet another.
Is there a winner?
There. And I see his face.
Is it handsome, this face?
No, I would not call it handsome.
Is it... ugly, then?
But there is a great... blemish upon it.
What is this blemish?
Come closer, my liege. I would have you see it too. It looks alarmingly like a nose.
A nose! Is it ugly, this nose?
It is exceedingly ugly, Your Highness.
Like mine?
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.
And the winner that you saw in the cup, Lucrezia...
Was not as handsome as you, Your Highness. Nor as gracious. Nor as kind.
Has he a name?
There was no winner. No loser either.
And no battle? What a pity.
Your Highness likes battle?
Mmm. Longs for it. Let me show you, fair Lucrezia, our ways of battle tomorrow.

My God.
Condottiere 1:
So our stratagem was, Gonfaloniere, a feint to their left. But I can see no left.
Or right. Their army fills the whole horizon.
The pikes of our infantry are 12 feet long. Can you see them there, my dear?
Why are the blades hooked so, my lord?
So they can tear out the guts of their opponents. But we begin battle with the cannon.
The cannon?
Yes. Never risk a man until you've used your artillery. Learned that against the English.
I thought cannon were for purposes of siege, to break down walls, and such.
Ah, but in the open field, we have our own invention. Chained cannonballs.
Chained cannonballs?
Cuts through a front line like a scythe through butter.
French Soldier:
Cannons! Man the cannons!
French Soldier:
French Soldier:
Soldiers! At the ready.
French Soldier:
Man the cannons!
French Soldier:
Prepare to load!
French Soldier:
Cannoneers to your guns!
Who gives the command to charge?
Condottiere 1:
You do, my lord.
French Soldier:
Load the cannons!
French Soldier:
Load powder!
Is the cannon loud, Your Highness?
Exceedingly. I would cover your ears, my dear.
French Soldier:
Back in positions!
French Soldier:
Target ready!
French Soldier:
Cannon ready, Captain.
French Soldier:
Central cannons, fire!
French Soldier:
Papal Soldier:
French Soldier:
Papal Soldier:
Fall back!
Papal Soldier:
Fall back!
Papal Soldier:
Stay in line, men!
Papal Soldier:
Back to the front!
Papal Soldier:
Back, men, to the front!!
Stand fast, men!
Papal Soldier:
Stand fast!
French Soldier:
Central cannons reload!
French Soldier:
French Soldier:
Check the distance!
Your Highness?
Yes, my dear?
Could you halt the cannon for a moment?
Could you halt the cannon for a moment?
But why?
French Soldier:
In position!
You were right. They are exceedingly loud.
French Soldier:
Take aim!
French Soldier:
Ready, Captain!
French Captain:
Your Highness?
Stand fast, men!
Papal Soldier:
Stand fast.
Condottiere 2:
Is it the white flag? A parlay?
It's my sister.
Papal Soldier:
Hold the line!
Papal Soldier:
Form up!
French General:
We are in danger of losing the initiative, Your Highness—
French General:
Your Highness, I strongly urge you to take—
You will wait. I will not harm her.
Lucrezia. My God.
They hold us hostage, brother.
Giulia Farnese and I. We were riding to Rome.
Ride on then.
Would you survive this day, dear Juan?
We have a battle to fight.
Believe me, you have lost it already.
It has hardly begun.
I have heard one roar of cannon. A hundred more and your whole army will be dead and bleeding. And you have yet to see their pikes.
I will not accept defeat!
Then do not call it that.
French Soldier:
Call it common sense. Say the French King got asked for terms. You offered...
What did I offer?
His safe passage to Naples in exchange for... his bloodless entry into Rome.
Lucrezia, he will pillage the place; depose our father!
Leave that to me.
French Soldier:
French Soldier:
Target ready!
French Soldier:
Target ready!
It was my brother, Your Highness!
Your brother?
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?
No such idea.
Your goal is Naples.
Naples. Of course.
So, my brother, the Duke of Gandia, the Gonfaloniere of the papal armies, bids you welcome to Rome.
Papal Soldier:

Why the hurry, Cardinal?
You have heard?
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.
Your son's army is in retreat. The French plague is almost upon us.
Did you not swear a solemn oath, when you first donned that cardinal's red, to spill your blood in defense of the Christian faith?
My cardinal's oath is not the issue here.
Then what is?
You, Holy Father! The French King has but one intent: your deposition.
I understand. You would protect yourselves and not us.
You could ride with us, Holy Father, to the safety of Ostia.
Our place is here. As is yours, Cardinal Sforza.You should leave, Holy Father.
We will stay here. And we shall be here when you return. IF you return.

You may need those tomes, Burchart, in whatever haven you are fleeing to.
I would preserve these books for posterity, Your Holiness.
For posterity?
They have survived many invasions. I will do my best to ensure they survive this one.
Take care, then, you preserve this book on the Council of Constance. You may need it in the near future.
Why, Your Holiness?
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?
I would preserve these books, Your Holiness.
I know, I know. For posterity.

Do they look victorious, Micheletto?
No, Your Eminence. They are merely tired and exhausted.
The exhaustion of battle, surely.
The exhaustion of retreat.
Is that why I see no prisoners?
You see no prisoners because there are none.
Where are the French? Are they coming?
And Rome is like an old whore, waiting once more for her ravishment.
What will happen to Rome?

Do not blame him, Cesare, for retreating before the French hordes.
They have Lucrezia as hostage. Have you heard? If they harm her...

Cowards. Vermin! Rats deserting a sinking ship! You're like lemmings running to your doom! Do you think a golden chalice will save you?

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.
I will not leave you, Father.
My son.
We had no choice but retreat. There's not a moment to lose.
So we believe.
The guards will take you to safety in Ostia.
No, we will stay here in Rome, my son.
The Castell St. Angelo then.
We will stay here in this Vatican. The papal guard and yourself will take your mother to safety in Ostia.
But Father...
Would you see her defenseless before the French invasion? Go. GO!

At times such as these, Brother Raphael... one needs old friends. We have been called to trial. We hope we will not be found wanting.
Friar Raphael:
Your very presence here, Your Holiness, attests that you have not.
Attests. I like that word, good friar. It speaks of fortitude in the face of threat. It speaks of bearing witness in the face of falsity. It speaks of... courage. Your clothes.
Friar Raphael:
My clothes?
Your humble tunic. The cowl you wear. Those unadorned sandals.
Friar Raphael:
But why do you need my clothes, Holy Father?
We would wear them.
Friar Raphael:
You would disguise yourself?
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.

Ursula Bonadeo:
Why are you here?
I want you to leave.
Ursula Bonadeo:
I cannot. I have taken vows.
You will be defenseless when the French army arrives.
Ursula Bonadeo:
I must put my trust in Jesus, then.
No. You will put your trust in me. I will not have you without protection.
Ursula Bonadeo:
Do you not understand? I cannot have you near me, Cesare. I would betray our Savior in a moment.
You said my name.
Ursula Bonadeo:
I have... made a promise. A sacred vow. I am sorry.
Will you allow me to at least afford the abbey protection? Place guards on the gates?
Ursula Bonadeo:
You are our benefactor, Cardinal.


109. Nessuno (Nobody)


French Soldier:
French Soldier:
French Soldier:
Oui, mon Capitaine!
French Soldier:
Ready, my general!
When we enter Rome, Your Highness, we should demand an immediate convocation of the sacred College of Cardinals.
 For what purpose?
Only the College of Cardinals... can depose a pope.
I think you may find Rome empty of cardinals, Your Highness, except for His Eminence Cardinal Della Rovere.
French Soldier:
French Soldier:
Canon abord!
French Soldier:
French Soldier:
Tight file!

French Soldier:
French Soldier:
French Soldier:
French Soldier:
Gate sentry, get ready!
 Where are the cheering crowds? The welcoming populace?
French General:
I would hazard they have fled, my liege.
 Did you not promise us, Cardinal, that the city of Rome would welcome us with open arms?
They have heard of your military prowess, my liege.
 We smell politics. We dislike politics.
There will be no argument and no politics, sire. The battle has been won.
 And who won the battle?
You did, sire.
 You truly are a clown, Cardinal.
French Soldier:
Tight file!
 You are a true clairvoyance, Lucrezia Borgia.
Why, thank you, Your Highness.
 And if we could impose on your diplomatic graces once more, we would request an audience with your father, His Holiness the Pope of Rome. There are matters of importance I would discuss with him.
A private audience?
 Yes, of course.
I think I know, at this hour, where he may be found.
French Soldier:
Company halt!
French Soldier:
Men at arms, halt!
Come, sire. His Holiness breaks his prayers between prime and terce.

Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam miseri...
 Your Holiness!
Miserere mei...
 Your Holiness!
...secundum magnam misericordiam tuam. Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam...
 Forgive me, Friar. I am seeking an audience with the pope. You have been interrupted at prayer.
Our prayers are ended. And perhaps they will be answered.
 Can this really be the Pope of Rome? Pope Alexander—
Sextus. At your service, my lord. And you, my lord, are?
 King Charles of France. It is not as we expected.
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.

Who's there? I have missed those hands.
And I have missed that face.
I have brought a king to Rome, Cesare, from a far-off land.
I have heard. My little sister has achieved what the papal arms could not.
He seeks guidance from the head of Christendom.
Of course.

I am sure you too, Your Highness, sometime long to be free of the burden of kingship.
 To walk as a man among men.
 It would be sweet relief, Your Holiness.
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.
 We understand, Your Holiness.
Then perhaps Your Highness knows one who would relieve us of this burden?
 The very thought appals me, Your Holiness.
Really? Why?
 We do not choose our calling, Your Holiness. It is chosen for us. When called to serve, as King of France, and, I am sure, as Pope of Rome, we can only have one response: serviam.
I will serve.
 However imperfect my service, however human my failings, when called to serve...
Your Highness is troubled.
 I have exulted in the thrill of battle. I have turned streets into rivers of blood. I have played the part of God, and in my arrogance, I assumed that I served His cause.
Then perhaps what is needed... is a renewal of one's vows.
 One's vows?
A renewal of your vows of kingship before the Pope of Rome. The papal investiture of the Kingdom of France.
 France, as you must know, Your Holiness, has traditional claims upon the Kingdom of Naples.
But of course! Even better. The papal investiture of the kingdoms of France and Naples. And your solemn oath, before God... to rule them in His holy name.

You must tell me everything, sis.
There are some things, brother, it would be best not to speak of.
Your husband, Giovanni Sforza, he proved ungallant?
More than that. He betrayed our father, the pope.
I know of his betrayal, sis, and he shall pay the price. But if he misused you he shall pay a different kind of price.
It has been a long journey, Cesare, and I... And I have kept my spirits intact thus far, but... I...
Lucrezia... you need a medic.
No, no, no, brother.
But you are ill. You are faint.
It is a common illness, brother. I am with child.
My God. Does... does anybody know?
Only one: Giulia Farnese. And I would keep it that way.
Because the child, thank God... is not my husband's.

 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.
French Soldier:
Gate sentry, ready!

Holy Father.
Um... The French king—
Proved to be a man of God in search of guidance and spiritual solace, like any man. There may be kings more handsome, but hardly more devout.
And, uh, what of Naples?
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.

You have returned the books, Burchard.
Of course, Your Holiness.
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.
It is indeed most shameful, Your Holiness.
Your own absence has been noted. But we believe that your concern was with the most sacred volumes of our library.
I did my best to protect them from harm, Your Holiness.
Well. Well, now you must study them carefully and find a precedent for us. We think that a period of penitence is in order for the curia who so selfishly abandoned us.
What kind of penitence did His Holiness have in mind?
We think they should present themselves in sackcloth and ashes at the next convention.
Sackcloth and ashes?
Yes. Can you find such a precedent for us?
I will do my utmost, Your Holiness.

I am the convent's benefactor. You'll be safe.
Must I take the cloth?
No. But you may rest here while you are still with child.
Must I hide myself, then?
Perhaps, until the child is born. There is the annulment of your marriage to consider.
Can my marriage be annulled?
Only if it was never consummated.
But I am with child, Cesare.
Indeed. The child is not his.
But my marriage was consummated. In... the harshest possible manner.
I beg you not to worry about it, sis. I will find a solution, I swear. And I have a dear friend here who promised to take the very best of care of you.
Her name?
Sister Martha. She was once known as Ursula Bonadeo.
I remember.
Sister Martha.
Ursula Bonadeo: 
My sister, Lucrezia Borgia.
Ursula Bonadeo: 
I remember. I was at her wedding.
Sister. You still look beautiful. But you have lost your wonderful hair.
Ursula Bonadeo: 
A woman's beauty can be a great distraction. As you yourself must already know. You will find it peaceful here. And maybe peace is what you need at this juncture.
I must warn you, Sister, I shall visit at every available opportunity.
Ursula Bonadeo: 
You must.
I will. Goodbye, sister.

 There are beauteous women in Naples, I have been told.
 Even for this ugly snout of mine.
They will swear it is divine, Your Highness.
 They can lie in Naples?
Exceedingly well. They hardly know what truth is.
 Hah! A most excellent pontiff, your father, is he not?
I have... no other to compare him with.
 Well, he has suited our purpose. We could be said to have an understanding.
We could, indeed.
 But in case— just in case— we would make a request of Your Holiness.
We will respectfully hear it.
 We would have you nominate a papal legate to accompany our armies to the Kingdom of Naples. To remain with us for the duration of our visit.
Very well. We will nominate a legate of our choice—
 Oh, no! Not of your choice, Holy Father. Of ours.
Who would you choose?
 Your son. Cardinal Cesare Borgia.
You would have me accompany your army as... a hostage?
 No. God forbid. A hostage implies enmity.
And what does legate imply?
 Friendship, surely. And a guarantee that such friendship will continue.

What is the difference, Holy Father, between hostage and legate?
As the king said, one implies enmity, the other friendship.
And you will insist on this charade?
King Charles will not remain in Naples for long.
How can you be certain?
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?
Good. Because now another charade demands our attention.

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.
My shame, I hope, is obvious to all, Your Holiness.
And of what are you ashamed?
Of my abandonment of Rome— of St. Peter's, of your... sacred presence.
In our hour of need.
And in recompense, I offer all the benefices of the Sforza ecclesiastical estates to the Holy See of St. Peter's.
That is kind, indeed. And we shall most graciously accept. Cardinal... Piccolomini. Unburden your soul.

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.
It is an august sight, is it not?
St. Peter's in its full glory; the Pope of Rome in cathedra; the Sistine Chapel Choir singing; it would bring tears to one's eyes, Cardinal Borgia.
I want to compliment you, Cardinal, on your steadfastness, your probity, your survival, indeed.
It did prove hard at times.
In fact, you proved such a worthy opponent that I would gladly have you back in Rome.
I have my father's ear, as you must understand. And he needs someone with the steel that your soul has.
He has you, does he not?
I will not be cardinal forever. Surely you must know that.
And the other cardinals?
The Holy Father's problem is, he surrounds himself with weakness. And with your strength, Cardinal...
I serve God, and can only pray the papacy survives its current occupant.
I could have killed you— twice.
Perhaps, then, you should kill me now, because my opposition to the Borgia papacy will only die with me.

Road to Naples
Micheletto, how do you think my escort becomes me?
Seems to be an escort worthy of your stature, Your Eminence.
What is my stature, Micheletto?
Papal legate to our new friend, the French king, is it not?
And as papal legate, I should be free to ride where I choose, should I not?
Indeed you should, Your Eminence.
Well, then... I shall ride!
French Soldier:
Halt! Halt!
French Soldier:
Micheletto. It seems I am not papal legate after all.
Then what are you, Your Eminence?
It seems I am nobody, Micheletto.
Either that or a hostage.
Is this why we ride without weapons?
We ride without weapons because they were forbidden us.
Then I am now servant to a hostage, Your Eminence.

There are many ways to kill a man.
But for absolute silence, he prefers, um— tell them, Micheletto.
The garrote.
French Soldier:
And what is the garrote, pray?
Ah, it's... it's just a cheese cutter, my friend.
French Soldier:
You can kill with a cheese cutter?
Most efficiently, yes.
French Soldier:
Show me.
You wish to see?
French Soldier:
Certainly. How does it work?
Like this.
French Soldier:

Where are we heading, Your Eminence?
To Pesaro. And Giovanni Sforza. Come on!

We are as shocked as you are, Monsieur Ambassador, by the cardinal's disappearance.
French Ambassador: 
But as to his whereabouts, Your Holiness?
Oh, his whereabouts, well... We have no idea. Would you inform His Royal Highness that we will dispatch whatever cardinal he wishes to replace him— Cardinal... Sforza, perhaps?
French Ambassador: 
I will inform His Royal Highness thus, Your Holiness.
And please convey to him our wholehearted support for his Neapolitan adventure.
French Ambassador: 
We do not regard the conquest of Naples as an aventure, Your Holiness.
Oh, no, no. But maybe Naples does. And now, if you will excuse us, we have another audience to attend to.

Come on. Walk on.
I'll take your mount, my lord.
Killing would be easier, Your Eminence.
But some things should not be easy, Micheletto. Hah! Yah!

Where am I?
Where all roads lead to: Rome.

In there.
I must protest against this outrage! Beaten, bound, taken here against my will.
Could this be true?
Um, he did prove somewhat unwilling, Your Holiness.
Well, you're here now, and you're safe. That's the main thing, is it not?
And, why, may I ask, am I here?
Why, to discuss the annulment of your marriage, of course.
Annulment of my marriage?
You must admit, it did prove a disappointment. The promised help of the Sforza family to the papal states simply never arrived. And the marriage bed, we are told, was far from happy.
You'll never get away with this.
On the contrary, canon law is admirably clear on these matters. Dear Burchard will elaborate.
It is written as if in stone. There can be only one ground for the annulment of a marriage.
And that is?
Non-consummation? You'll never be able to prove it.
Let me finish. If the marriage can be proved never to have been consummated, why, then, Your Holiness, it never existed as a marriage.

Lady Lucrezia, you have intimated some grave disappointment on your wedding night.
It was disturbing, Your Honour, in the extreme.
Would you be so kind as to elaborate?
I blush with shame to speak of such matters before this august company, but, sadly... tragically, my husband revealed himself to be...
You may speak frankly, Lady Lucrezia. These are grave matters.
My husband... turned out...
Please proceed.
Turned out... to be impotent.
Monstrous. This is monstrous! I can prove it! On the wedding night—
You said, on the wedding night...
I say she lies.
Indeed. But you just mentioned... proof.
She lies.
Ah. There are precedents, Your Holiness, for a demonstration of proof of... potency.
The Lord Sforza could demonstrate the truth of his claims to full potency with the Lady Lucrezia before a gathering of canon lawyers.
No, no, no. That would surely be distasteful to the lady herself— indeed, as would the lord. Hmm?
The very thought is an outrage.
Well, then, there remains one more possibility. A public demonstration of the Lord Sforza's prowess, with one or two willing maidens would also constitute proof of potency.
Indeed. In a place of the college's choosing before a gathering of canon lawyers and a selection of the Roman public.
You mean courtesans?
We will spare the Lord Sforza such public humiliation. A demonstration here, before our brother cardinals would suffice.

Would His Holiness see the Lord Sforza with one or both of us?
One demonstration will suffice.
Me first, then. Do these thighs not please you?
Enough! Give me a divorce.
But on what grounds?
We must hear it from the Lord Sforza's own lips. For the record, on the wedding night...
On the wedding night I did not consummate my marriage.
Did not, or could not?
Did not. And could not.
You were on that night and remain...
We declare the marriage between the Lady Lucrezia Borgia and the Lord Giovanni Sforza... to be invalid, as if it never existed.

Farewell, my lady!

 Is there a room in this kingdom that doesn't stink of death? What is this pestilence?
French Soldier:
I know not, my liege.

Noooooo! I will die on this bed.
Ursula Bonadeo: 
No, you will not!
Do not let my child die!
Ursula Bonadeo: 
Nobody will die!
You must push, my lady.

How is she?
Alive still, at least.
I came as quickly as I could.

French Soldier:
Stay back.
French General:
Plague. Did the Borgia Pope know of this?

More effort, my lady. Water. Water!
Ursula Bonadeo: 
God is with you.

Hello, Mother.
How are you, Cesare?
Has she had it yet?
A boy, I hope.
I tried, but I could not keep him away. He insisted.
He loves each new arrival. But try to tell him of the birthing pains.
No, no, no, no, no. Not now, Vanozza.
With Juan I was in agony for days. Do you remember?
Mmm. I remember... the joy of holding him in my arms. A brother for little Cesare at last. We did love our children, did we not, my dear?
To a fault. My God.

Lucrezia! My darling.
May I... hold? A boy.
Ursula Bonadeo: 
Yes. Your Holiness. We should give thanks.
Whom should we thank?
God. We should thank God for all the blessings He has visited upon this, our family.
He's beautiful.