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Borgia Showtime Series: Most is Fiction

Actor Luke Pasqualino, who played "Paolo" in the Showtime Borgia miniseries 

A post from 2012:


The Borgia series seems to be drifting further away from historic fact as it goes on.  The "Paolo" episode, Season two episode two, is the first in the series that is almost purely fictional.  The characters seem to be adrift from their historical moorings, too.  It's too bad, because the first season did a pretty good job of getting the essential characters right.


The elder statesman pope whom Jeremy Irons played so capably  seems to be gone, though it didn't happen in real life. Fact:  once Cesare escaped from the King of France,  Pope Alexander  formed a coalition of Italian states that chased the king of France out of Italy.  In the series, he's running around discovering poor people  and deciding to throw a party, to give the people "joy."  The party was actually  called a "Jubilee,"  which is biblical, and it was 1500 and time for one.  (The papacy throws them regularly. The last one was in 2000.)  As always, Alexander VI made the most out of this Jubilee,  amassing a huge fortune for the Church in exchange for "plenary indulgences" for  the pilgrims who came from around the world to confess their sins and enjoy themselves.


The female artist who disguises herself as a male and joins with the pope and "La Bella Giulia" Farnese in a threesome?  She is fictional, though "La Bella Giulia" isn't, and that kind of thing could have happened.  "Paolo, "  Lucrezia's lover?  Again,  pure fiction.  I've already blogged about who the father of Lucrezia's baby really was.   He was dead by the time Lucrezia gave birth,  so  the sex and touching family scene in Seasons two, episode two  never happened.


And it wasn't Juan who killed Lucrezia's lover.  It was Cesare.  Juan wasn't  around. (Eventually, the series is bound to show why.)   By the way:  Juan was already married.  He was married at eighteen, the year after Lucrezia's wedding to Giovanni Sforza.   His wife was in Spain, though, and he paid no attention to his marital vows.


Cesare's sex life would have made great theater but the Showtime writers seem committed to making him into a good cleric, which he wasn't.  He was sexually active from an early age and  already had acknowleged bastards and syphilis by the time  he escaped from the King of France.  Sancia (little Jofre's wife) was reportedly Cesare's  mistress, not Juan's. Seeing Cesare with  a Roman courtesan called "La Fiametta"  ("little flame"),  his favorite at the time according to her own tombstone,  would have been fun.  But that's not the way the series is going.


The real history of the Borgias is so colorful that fiction isn't necessary.  If you want the real story in a fun way, read my murder mystery, A Borgia Daughter Dies,  available at Amazon and Smashwords. 


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