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The Borgia Family

    General Tropes 

  • Affably Evil: Everyone except Juan (because he fails at affability), Vannozza (who's not evil), and Joffre (because he's an innocent child).
  • Anti-Villain: Lucrezia and Vannozza are Type IV, Rodrigo's a type III, Juan's a type II and Cesare is Type I (barely).
  • Badass Family: They're all Badass, in one way or another. Except for Juan.
  • Cain and Abel: Cesare and Juan. It doesn't end well.
  • Dysfunctional Family: They're the Borgias, after all.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Evil as they may be (which actually isn't all that much), they love each other and have no problems befriending others.
  • Heroic Bastard: Cesare, Lucrezia and Joffre are all illegitimate children.

    Rodrigo Borgia / Pope Alexander VI
"The vultures are circling our family, our Rome. We most protect ourself."
Played By: Jeremy Irons

A scheming, ambitious cardinal who, after the death of Pope Innocent, uses all the power at his disposal—including bribery, extortion, murder, and his children—to become the new Pope. Despite his willingness to use his family as pawns, he does care for them a great deal.


  • Amicable Exes: With Vannozza, though he'd clearly still like to be sleeping with her. And does, in "The Purge".
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: When he becomes pope.
  • Badass Preacher: Pope, thank you.
  • Big Bad: If you view him as the villain. It's certainly how his enemies (della Rovere and Savonarola in particular) see him.
  • The Chessmaster: Whatever Rodrigo's failures of judgment in regards to his family/personal life, when it comes to politics, he is always ten steps ahead of everyone else.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: It's unclear how much of his apparent goofiness is an act.
  • Contrasting Sequel Protagonist: He is this to the Tudors king Henry VIII. King Henry VIII allies with the Protestant Reformation solely to increase his own wealth and power, undermines the church while increasing the power of the state and is an all around unlikeable guy. Pope Alexander VI is the leader of the Catholic Church, is trying to fight both political and religious corruption, views the state/monarchy as an inferior instiution to the Catholic Church and is not really an unlikable guy despite his flaws.
  • Dashing Hispanic: Older example and less so than Cesare, but Rodrigo is dashing in his own way.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Played with. Although he's definitely a main character, some reviewers have pointed out that much of the character development and "journey" goes to his children.
  • Didn't Think This Through: He's not an idiot by any stretch of the imagination but he is somewhat naive and makes several bad decisions as a result of that. Most strikingly, he orders a grand festival in Rome despite the cardinals warning him of the enormous costs and the hostile French army parked in Naples. Rodrigo only orders preparations to defend the city when the French are already marching back north. Because of this, Cesare discovers that they don't have enough time nor enough bronze to build the cannons they need to repell the French. Luckily, Cesare and Vittoria are able to build fake ones.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Rodrigo is not Holier Than Thou like the other cardinals, nor a Knight Templar like Savonarola, nor a He-Man Woman Hater or elitist Smug Snake like Juan and other nobles, and all in all NOT a Politically Incorrect Villain. He is willing to try making peace with Moors and Jews both.
  • Heel Realization: His conversation with Cesare in "The Confession" has him admitting his sins as a father, after so much time of obliviousness.
  • Historical Beauty Upgrade: The real Rodrigo was an overweight Churchill-esque bulldog of a man. Jeremy Irons is really not. Irons himself has said that if they were aiming for authenticity in the looks department, they should have hired James Gandolfini.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Especially when it comes to his own children. While Cesare and Lucrezia deserve his trust, he puts way too much faith in Juan. Rodrigo hopes that he will become a great General, but in truth Juan is a spiteful Smug Snake and General Failure who completely botches the first Siege of Forli and does everything he can to turn his other family members against him.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: In season three, Rodrigo remembers who he is, the circumstances of his poisoning, and that della Rovere was probably behind it, but he doesn't remember that Cesare confessed to murdering Juan. This is likely due to his grief over Juan that still hasn't gone away.
  • May–December Romance: Rodrigo and Giulia, who's several decades his junior.
  • Nepotism: Rodrigo makes sure his oldest son has a high-ranking position in the church and puts his second son in charge of the Papal armies. Cesare's case can be excused because Cesare IS very competent and talented, far more than all other cardinals combined. Juan's... yeah, it's pure nepotism.
  • Noble Demon: He's undeniably corrupt and power-hungry, but he's also a wise and open-minded individual who doesn't discriminate against anyone (being an outsider himself, as he's a Spaniard), does have compassion for others and is committed to his family, in spite of the manipulations.
  • The Patriarch: Of the Borgia family.
  • Papa Wolf: Do not hurt any children around Rodrigo. If you do, God help you, especially if that child is one of Rodrigo's biological children.
  • Parents as People: Rodrigo genuinely loves each and every one of his children and tries to take care of them, but this love blinds him to each of his children's flaws (Cesare's ambition, Juan's incompetence and self-destructive tendencies, etc.). He also tries to put aside his children's desires for what he feels the family as a whole needs.
  • Parental Favoritism: So much so that he ends up unintentionally pitting his kids against each other. Tragedy ensues.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • He has several of these moments throughout the series, most notably when he risks his own life in the collapsing Vatican in an attempt to save the lives of the altar boys and a few other members of clergy left behind.
    • As a whole, he defies the historical Real Life claims about Alexander VI. While he is indeed corrupt and manipulative, he's far less rampant than the rest of the cardinals (who yet somehow think they have the right to judge him), and both he and his family actually make a point of making Rome a good, prosperous place to live, and not just because of Pragmatic Villainy.
  • Royal "We": It's rather telling to listen to when he chooses to use this, in how he keeps his personal and professional lives apart. As far as he is concerned, "I" am Rodrigo Borgia, and "We" are Pope Alexander VI.
  • Selective Obliviousness: One of his fatal flaws. He refuses to see that favorite son Juan is actually an incompetent idiot, and that dutiful son Cesare is a monster in the making.
  • Slouch of Villainy: Not necessarily a villain, but indeed a Magnificent Bastard.
  • Sinister Minister: At his most villainous, but it is a little downplayed.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Even as he does his papal duties, the snark never stops.
  • Visionary Villain: As of season 2, he declares he wants Rome to shine as it did under the Caesars. For the most part, he and his family are very against the economical and elitist corruption in the college of cardinals, mainly because it drives Rome into poverty and decadence. In the show finale, he also explained he wanted Cesare to stay a cardinal so they could have a perpetual Borgia-Pope dynasty, and would be willing to give Cesare and his descendants that divine right. That, alligned with Cesare's desire to unite Italy under papal control, is one hell of a vision.

    Cesare Borgia
"Only God forgives. We are Borgias, and we do not forgive."
Played By: François Arnaud

The oldest son of Rodrigo and Vannozza, and older brother of Juan, Lucrezia, and Gioffre. Cesare is as ambitious as his father, but while Rodrigo works through the church, Cesare wants political power. While he resents his father for refusing to allow him to leave the clergy, he is also Rodrigo's strongest ally.


  • Affably Evil: Zigzagged. Though he is ruthless and calculating, he is also capable of great amounts of charm. He's also quite chivalrous and sweet to women and members of his family. Underneath it all, he's a narcissistic, unscrupulous schemer to rival his whole family. However, some of his positive qualities are genuine.
  • Anti-Hero: He's initially one of the more sympathetic members of the family and seems like he goes along with his father's schemes to ensure the safety and security of the family. While he certainly may have started out this way, it's clear by the end of it all that it's gone right out the window.
  • Ax-Crazy: Giovanni Sforza definitely got the worst of Cesare's occasional bouts with crazy.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: After Juan dangles baby Giovanni off a balcony, a furious Lucrezia asks Cesare about poison to kill him. Cesare talks her down, only to do the deed himself.
  • Badass Boast: "Aut Caesar, Aut Nihil"!
  • Badass Preacher: He's a terrible priest, but he does retain the title of Cardinal.
  • Big Brother Instinct: You harm a single hair on Lucrezia's head, you answer to Cesare.
  • Broken Ace: Those who start watching the show with zero knowledge of the real Cesare think that he's The Dutiful Son and/or The Ace. After a few episodes, it's quite clear that he's actually a walking storm of brilliance, charm, and crazy (much like the man himself was said to be). His remarkably tenuous grasp on sanity/occasional lack of social skills is basically a running joke in the fandom.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Kisses Lucrezia in "Siblings" and sleeps with her in the same episode. On her wedding night, no less.
  • Brother–Sister Team: With Lucrezia.
  • But I Would Really Enjoy It: Cesare knows that he shouldn't sleep with his little sister. Doesn't mean that it's easy for him to resist. And that resistance doesn't last long anyway.
  • Cain and Abel: His rivalry with Juan is escalating into something much more sinister. He ends up murdering Juan in "World of Wonders".
  • The Chessmaster: Evolves into probably the show's best.
  • Combat Pragmatist: He's actually very skilled, but anything is fair game against those with more skill.
  • Cool Uncle: To baby Giovanni. Well, you know. When he isn't killing people and stuff.
  • Dark Is Evil: The show very deliberately frames multiple shots wherein Rodrigo or Lucrezia is in the light, while Cesare is in the shadows/dark. (He likes lurking.) He also usually wears black to their white, when not in his cardinal robes.
  • Dashing Hispanic: Born in Spain.
  • Dating Catwoman: He engages in a sexual relationship with Caterina Sforza, an enemy of his family.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    Ludovico Sforza: Do you know what we all share?
    Cesare: Suspicion? Or is it hatred?
  • Death Glare: Is a big fan of this. It's usually directed at a relative.
  • Declaration of Protection: A lot of his less rational actions have to do with protecting/avenging Lucrezia, due to his incredible emotional dependency on her.
  • The Dragon: To Rodrigo.
  • Dress-Coded for Your Convenience: "I prefer black myself." He almost always wears black when not in the cardinal's red. Especially justified in that the real Cesare Borgia often wore black to intimidate his enemies.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Rolling around on the ground with Lucrezia. Literally minutes after having sex with some random lady. To whom he just admitted his position as a cleric. And then, while rolling on the grass, he discusses politics with Lucrezia. Yep, that's Cesare.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: And fathers, and sisters. But really, don't insult Cesare's mother.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • He's very reluctant to kill Prince Djem even for the money and takes his fate pretty harshly.
    • Cesare may be a Green-Eyed Monster, but he has shown the ability to sacrifice his own happiness for Lucrezia's sake, with her being one of the few people he unambiguously cares for.
    • He's against familicide and is genuinely guilt-ridden after he kills Juan (though of course he does get over it pretty quickly). He also finds Micholetto's praise of killing his own brother to be disgusting, especially since the latter killed his own father.
    • Unlike Juan or the Cardinals, he doesn't express any hatred towards the Spanish Jews in Rome.
  • Evil Genius: Sarah Bradford, a biographer of the real Cesare and Lucrezia, even specifically called him the evil genius of his sister's life.
  • Evil Gloating: To Juan after he returns from the defeat at Siege of Forli.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The jury is out on whether or not he was always this way, but the longer the show goes on, the more the cracks in Cesare's façade begin to show. He may not be consciously going through the motions, but watching him throw both of his parents' grief back in their faces makes things kind of clear. It's quite possible it's a Zigzagged Trope, as he's not a run-of-the-mill example and his charm does seem genuine at first, and there's his genuine protectiveness of his family.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: It's one of his defining traits. He wants Juan's position and job; he's explicitly envious of Paolo, Lucrezia's lover. Jealousy's kind of his thing.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Francois Arnaud has said that the things that people talk to him most about are the incest and the leather pants. Apparently, it's fine by him. He's talked about becoming annoyed with his cardinal robes, which he called "the red dress," so we're apparently going to see him in the leather even more now.
  • It's All About Me: Acquires this worldview at some points of season 3.
  • It's All My Fault: Though rarely guilty about anything, he takes complete blame for having sex with Lucrezia though she initiated it.
  • Jizzed in My Pants: Implied to do this while getting Lucrezia off with EYE CONTACT as she has sex with her husband. And Cesare's pants are leather. It's an intense experience.
  • Kick the Dog: This guy can pet a dog with his left hand, kick one with each foot and shoot a fourth with his right all at the same time (sometimes all to the same dog).
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: His murder of Giovanni Sforza, first stabs him in the hand with a fork, a blade to his throat, and multiple times in the stomach.
  • Lack of Empathy: Didn't even try to empathize with his parents' grief for Juan. He didn't feel any guilt, either.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Not only murders his brother, but brutally and matter-of-factly confesses his crime to his father and demands that Rodrigo see that he had been blind to Juan's faults. Rodrigo tells him that he had indeed been blind: he hadn't seen the monster Cesare was becoming until it was too late.
  • Like Father, Like Son: According to Rodrigo, this applies to Cesare. Indeed it does, if you take away virtually all of Rodrigo's redeeming qualities and add a good deal of ruthlessness.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Is pushed to the edge by Ursula's death. Murders Giovanni Sforza while avenging Lucrezia's honor. Partially murders Juan because of Lucrezia and his nephew as well.
  • Momma's Boy: Doesn't have any of the traditional weaknesses involved with the trope, but he's definitely Vannozza's favorite of her children.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits: Unless you're... him. Or someone she really likes.
  • Nay-Theist: By the end of the series, his views on God have been made pretty clear.
    Cesare: She chose God, Micheletto. And God repaid her with mutilation.
    Micheletto: I know little of God, Your Eminence.
    Cesare: God is deaf, God is blind, and pitiless.
    Cesare: There's no hell. No heaven either. This world is what we make of it.
    Cesare: I lost my faith.
    Cardinal: In God?
    Cesare: I woke up one morning and I realized He is not in His heaven. And the world will not change, if I do nothing to change it.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: With Lucrezia, obviously, and occasionally with Micheletto.
  • Papa Wolf: Towards his nephew and godson Giovanni. So much so that he kills Juan partially because of this.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: His inevitable fate. By the end of season two, his complete lack of remorse for Juan's murder confirms this. Rodrigo even lampshades it.
  • Really Gets Around: His opening scene has him having sex with a random lady (and Lucrezia's jab at him suggests she's caught him with many other girls in the past). Then there's the fact his own sister wanted him. The guy was clearly doing something right.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The French troops made a colossal mistake in burning down St. Cecilia convent - it tipped Cesare over the edge into sociopath.
  • Sanity Slippage: As of 2x04, it appears to be in gear. He's definitely not as cautious as he used to be. The Giovanni Sforza incident kind of sealed the deal.
  • Sexy Priest: Did we mention the leather?
  • Siblings in Crime: With Lucrezia again; also occasionally with Juan, however unwilling they both may be.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Unlike Juan, he's startlingly efficient and cunning; also unlike Juan, he's almost completely devoid of human warmth (unless you're his Morality Pet or someone he's obsessed with. Or both.).
  • The Sociopath: Confirmed as of "The Confession". This was all a Foregone Conclusion, based on the fact that the historical Cesare was famed for his sociopathic nature and lack of deep feeling for anyone but Lucrezia. Almost all of his "good" behavior in season 2 was based on vengeance, personal gain, or the necessity of maintaining his father's affection. Once he stopped caring all that went out the window.
  • Sociopathic Hero: He becomes less and less heroic with each episode, but he still has moments of this.
  • Son of a Whore: But don't you dare say that to his face!
  • Stalker with a Crush: Towards Ursula. Probably more so towards Lucrezia. It's all a part of his inevitable Sanity Slippage.
  • The Strategist: Maybe even better than his father.
  • The Unfettered: Becomes this with his murder of Juan and subsequent release from the cloth, which is, after all, what he's wanted all along.
  • Villain Protagonist: More so than the rest of his family, which is saying something.
  • With Us or Against Us: Believes this so much he made it his motto.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: After he kills Juan.
    Micheletto: I am in awe, Your Eminence.
    Cesare: But you killed your father.
    Micheletto: Still, I am in awe.

    Lucrezia Borgia
"I will not be beaten."

The naive, yet intelligent daughter of Rodrigo and Vannozza. She loves her family, particularly her brother Cesare. She is married to Giovanni Sforza, but falls in love with the stable boy, Paolo.


  • Arranged Marriage: To Giovanni Sforza. She is afforded more choice in her second marriage, but it is clear that she will marry soon, or Rodrigo will choose again for her.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Kisses Cesare in "Siblings" and seduces him at the end of the episode. On her wedding night, no less.
  • Brother–Sister Team: With Cesare.
  • Character Development: She goes from an innocent and naive victim to a cunning and manipulative woman.
  • Coming of Age Story: Lucrezia goes from being a naive and idealistic teenage girl who has to grow up fast when she is used as a pawn in her father's political schemes and abused by her new husband.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: As she is broken, she slowly becomes more like Cesare and Rodrigo.
  • Cute and Psycho: Lucrezia Borgia is the most loving and adorable of all the Borgias, but piss her off and she will do everything she can to end you. Just ask her ex-husband with the broken leg or Juan, whom she tried to drop a chandelier on. She also seems perfectly aware that Cesare murdered Juan and is not only fine with this, but still wants him to marry her to Alfonso.
  • Daddy's Girl: Very clearly Rodrigo's favorite of his children.
  • Expy: Possibly an expy of Jane Seymore from the Tudors. Both are often potrayed in light settings, are fair haired and are desperately trying to the right thing in a decadent society.
  • Fille Fatale: At a an age even contemporaries would probably wince at, Lucrezia has little choice but to cultivate her powers of seduction.
  • Glamorous Single Mother: She wears the finest clothes, has a pretty good social life, and is a hands-on mom.
  • Good Is Not Soft: While she is primarily kind, she is more than willing to push back if someone mistreats her first husband learned the hard way.
  • Guile Hero: Lucrezia solves most of her problems through manipulation.
  • Her Heart Will Go On: In the second season, she must overcome the death of her lover.
  • Heroic Bastard: Out of her siblings, she's the most heroic, well-meaning one.
  • Heroic BSoD: After Paolo's death.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: She starts out as a happy and idealistic girl who happily acts as a pawn in her father's game and becomes becomes jaded and disillusioned.
  • Lady Macbeth: Is somewhat unintentionally this when Cesare decides to kill Juan. She doesn't verbally tell him to do it, but her eyes say it all.
  • Lie Back and Think of England: Tries do this while being forced to have public sex with her husband. Then she makes eye contact with Cesare...
  • Magnetic Hero: She will befriend anyone, regardless of social standing or ethnicity and most people that meet her become attached to her quite quickly (Djem, Paolo, Francesca) to the extent that they would willingly hurt anyone that poses a threat to her. Not even her brother, who is a budding sociopath, or the French King who invades Rome are immune to her charms. Giovanni Sforza is a double subversion. He was perhaps the first time her charisma failed her but even he began to warm up to her towards the end. All it took was a broken leg to show him the error of his ways.
  • Mama Bear: She is very protective of her son, enough so that she contemplates poisoning her brother who threatened him and a man who keeps her from him.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Manipulates Paolo into injuring her husband; the French King into sparing Juan's life; her father into giving Paolo a Christian burial; and Cesare into... whatever she wants, for the most part.
  • Mercy Kill: Reluctantly poisons Alfonso at his request to end his suffering after he's stabbed by Cesare in a fight.
  • Morality Pet: To Cesare.
  • Old Man Marrying a Child: Lucrezia and Giovanni Sforza.
  • The Ophelia: ''My mother said/ Now go to bed/ Or I'll have to lock you in, in, in.''
  • Siblings in Crime: With Cesare again.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: She never takes to battle or physical violence. But as Giovanni, Juan and everyone else who messes with her find out, that doesn't mean you're safe if you piss her off.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: She cheats on her first husband with a stable boy after he physically and verbally abuses her. Then, when her father wants her to marry again and she is more attracted to her would-be fiance's brother, Vannozza suggests she have both. She tries to, though it doesn't work out. As it's the dominant ship, most fans don't mind her bedding Cesare on her wedding night either.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Noblewomen were wed off at a young age in the time period, though she conceived the child with a commoner she fell in love with instead of her (much older) husband.
  • Token Good Teammate: Only in season 1. She quickly becomes just as corrupt and vice-ridden as the rest. According to Neil Jordan's screenplay for the finale movie that never was, she would have eventually regained this role, realizing how far she had fallen in her relationship with Cesare, fleeing him, and eventually becoming a beloved patroness of the arts remembered for her good works.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In "The Art of War", where she plays King Charles like a Stradivarius, keeping the French from invading Rome.
  • The Vamp: Played with. She's certainly using an innocent, helpless act to seduce Raffaelo, but her motives aren't exactly clear. She definitely doesn't love him, and is possibly going to marry his brother... It's probably a mixture of sticking it to her dad and having fun.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: Takes an interest in men noticeably gentler/kinder/stupider than herself and her family, though this could be because she wants the upper hand in her relationships.
  • You Are in Command Now: Lucrezia takes her father's place as pope in his absence.

    Vannozza dei Cattanei
"Don't you want them to hear that you have a new whore?"
Played By: Joanne Whalley

Rodrigo's former long-time mistress and mother to his children, actually married to a commoner named Theo. She is quite displeased when Rodrigo casts her aside and takes up with Giulia.


  • Amicable Exes: What she and Rodrigo settle into eventually. So amicable that they end up sleeping together in "The Purge".
  • Apron Matron: Surprisingly enough, Juan is the one to acknowledge this. Regardless, she is a fierce mother and counselor to her children.
  • Berserk Button: Don't lie to Vannozza, or she'll come charging into the Vatican itself to smack you around.
  • Brainy Brunette: She seems to be the one whom all the Borgias go to for advice; season two has Giulia asking her former rival's advice multiple times.
  • Ethical Slut: Advises her daughter point-blank to do as she likes regardless of any wedding vows; case in point - marry Rafaello Paloviccini, and sleep with Calvino Paloviccini.
  • Evil Matriarch: Rome sees her as such, even daring to call her a whore to her childrens' faces. She actually is one of the least "evil" of the Borgias.
  • High-Class Call Girl: The 15th/16th century version, anyway; Vannozza was a renowned courtesan in Spain.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: From what we can gleam from the letters of the real Vannozza, she was a rather sour, greedy woman, hungry for riches and honors, often pestering her daughter Lucrezia for money and trying to get out of paying her debts. She was far from the loving mother figure she is in the show, and her relationship with her children (except perhaps Cesare) was so cold that Lucrezia even noted how emotionless she felt when she died.
  • Insistent Terminology: Courtesan, not whore/streetwalker/prostitute. Truth in Television, as the distinction was an important one, and courtesans were afforded privileges and status above everyday prostitutes - it's discussed in "The Choice".
  • Mama Bear: She makes it clear that, had she been the one in Cesare's place in Forli, she would have gutted Giovanni herself.
  • The Mistress: She was Rodrigo's mistress for years before the series opens.
  • Only Sane Man: Rodrigo-related jealousy aside, she seems to be the peacemaker in the Borgia family; at the very least, she's accustomed to breaking up fistfights at the dinner table.
  • Where Did We Go Wrong?: In contrast to Rodrigo, Vanozza is all too aware that Juan is an idiotic coward, Cesare is a ruthless monster-in-the-making, and Lucrezia is as lustful as her father. She even seems suspicious of Cesare and Lucrezia's relationship, as seen in "The Confession".
  • Woman Scorned: Mostly in early season one; she's accepted it in season two.
  • Women Are Wiser: She is often schooling Cesare, Juan, and Rodrigo on how to handle situations.
  • Worthy Opponent: Eventually concedes that Giulia is this for her.

    Juan Borgia
"I am the gonfaloniere of the Papal Army, brother! Go back to the College of Cardinals."
Played By: David Oakes

The second Borgia brother, chosen by his father to follow the path of a soldier, a role envied by his older brother Cesare. He is sadistic, spoiled, jealous, and extremely quick-tempered. His inadequacies are obvious to everyone except Rodrigo.


  • Adaptation Name Change: Giovanni Borgia becomes Juan, likely due to the large number of Giovannis already in the show.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Played for tragedy. With the exception of his father, none of his family truly mourn his death.
  • Bastard Bastard: He is the most openly venal of Rodrigo's illegitimate children, being a cowardly, arrogant, sniveling wretch deeply insecure about his status.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Feels insecure because of his illegitimacy and insists on defending his privileges as a "noble" from commoners and illegitimate children.
  • Break the Haughty: The combination of his sexually transmitted disease and his loss to the Sforza's really do a number on him.
  • The Brute: Shares the role with Micheletto to the Borgias as a whole.
  • Cain and Abel: Despite his own sadistic nature, Juan is probably the Abel to Cesare's Cain. In "World of Wonders" he is killed by Cesare.
  • Cassandra Truth: He's the only member of the family to suspect the depth of Cesare's dark side, and all but predicts his own murder at his brother's hands. He's also the only person to pick up on the developing incestuous romance between Cesare and Lucrezia.
  • Death Seeker: One interpretation of his actions on the night of his murder. He was quite possibly trying to provoke his siblings into killing him, as he was pretty much guaranteed to die from syphilis anyway.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Interestingly, he still seems somewhat surprised his brother is stabbing him, as he asks "Brother...what is this?" when he is knifed.
  • Evil Is Petty: Cesare and Rodrigo are pretty conniving, but often for higher purposes. Juan is just an asshole.
  • Evil Uncle: He attempts to drop his nephew off a balcony.
  • General Failure: Was groomed to wear "the armor" in the family and be the military leader, only to be constantly outfought by the French, the Sforza, and ultimately his brother.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Prone to violent outbursts at the drop of a hat.
  • Hypocrite: Painfully so.
    • He loudly complains about his family home being a "whorehouse" because of Lucrezia's romantic affair with a commoner in it, even though he is a reliable patron of actual whorehouses.
    • He derives his fortune from being the Pope's illegitimate son and brutally beats his mother's (common) husband at the thought he might be a legitimate child of his. Only to go to great lengths insisting he is "too good" to be married to a(nother) bastard of noble birth.
  • Kick the Dog: Several, most significantly when he beats the crap out of his mother's husband because of rumors that Theo was actually his father.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Averted realistically when he is shot in the thigh at Forli. The wound causes him considerable pain and incapacitates him to the point that his father forces him out of his position as head of the Papal army.
  • Opium Den: Frequents one on the advice of his physician to cope with his wounded leg and STD. This contributes to his falling sanity and eventual death due to irrational thinking and acting.
  • Pet the Dog: He does have a few moments of this throughout the series, mostly towards his family, especially his little brother Joffre... though he's having sex with Joffre's wife.
  • Properly Paranoid: In season two, he questions Cesare's love for him and in previews for episode 2x08, implies to his father that he thinks Cesare is out to get him. Needless to say, Rodrigo doesn't take Juan's concerns seriously enough. Needless to say, Juan was right.
  • Really Gets Around: Arguably moreso than Cesare. He did contract an STD, after all.
  • Royal Brat: He sees himself as above others because of his status as the son of the pope.
  • Sanity Slippage: In the second season, he contracts a sexually transmitted disease and must rely on drugs to temper the pain. The combination of this leads him to lose his grip on reality.
  • Siblings in Crime: Rodrigo sometimes forces him to be this with Cesare.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Unlike Cesare, he's irrational and sometimes idiotic; also unlike Cesare, he at least shows his emotion and wants to be accepted (albeit with terrible results).
  • The Sociopath: If anything proves to be a better example for most of his run than Cesare. A complete lack of empathy or morality, Hair-Trigger Temper, no impulse control, self-centered morality, and sadism all come more and more to the forefront.
  • Son of a Whore: Like his siblings, he is the son of a former courtesan, although he denies his lineage from anyone but his holy father.
  • The Strategist: That was supposed to be the plan - in reality, Juan sucks at long-term strategy.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Out of all Borgias, he's the one that fits the Real Life myths of them being Ax-Crazy and evil.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Right, Juan. Dangle Lucrezia's baby over a balcony in front of Cesare, who is not only extremely protective of said baby and its mother, but desperate to find a reason to kill you. And this is made worse by the fact that Juan believes that Cesare is the kid's father.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: According to Vannozza. She finds him contemptible now.
  • Would Hurt a Child: He abuses Caterina's son and threatens to drop his nephew off a balcony.

    Joffre Borgia 
Played By: Aidan Alexander

The youngest of the Borgia children and the only one still behaving like a child. Aside from having an Arranged Marriage, his political value is negligible.


  • Arranged Marriage: He was married to Sancia at the age of 13 for the political advancement of his family.
  • Children Are Innocent: Though surrounded by corruption, he remained naive and well-meaning.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Joffre disappeared along with Sancia by the time the second season rolled around and was only mentioned once in passing. But come season 3, the show is treating the character as though he never existed. The Showtime website even notes that his mother only has three children instead of four.
  • Constantly Curious: All the better for Rodrigo to Info Dump for the audience on.
  • Put on a Bus: Ever since season two. One presumes he's in Squillace with Sancia?
  • Token Good Teammate: The only Borgia to stay out of the assorted debauchery going on, probably due to his age.
  • The Watson: Other than acting as a political game piece during season one, Joffre's purpose seemed to be asking questions resulting in information the audience needed to know.
  • White Sheep: In all adaptations, he is never shown doing anything duplicitous or shady. In fact, Rodrigo questioned whether Joffre was even his biological son.

Allies of the Borgias

    Giulia Farnese
"Beauty can be deadly when well used."
Played By: Lotte Verbeek

A renowned Roman beauty who becomes Rodrigo's mistress and Lucrezia's mentor, having separated herself from her husband. We later learn she is quite skilled at diplomacy and finances.


  • Ambiguously Bi: In addition to the Les Yay subtext with Lucrezia, Giulia certainly doesn't shy away from touching Vittoria.
  • Cool Big Sis: She helps her brother get a cardinals hat and even assists him with his work. She also warns him to stay away from the Banquet of Chestnuts.
  • Demoted to Extra: Barely even appears in Season 3.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Kisses Vittoria to bring Rodrigo's attentions back to her.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Is quite concerned about Vittoria stealing away Rodrigo and taking away her power. She's perfectly fine with sharing him, as long as she's the dominant party.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: In season one, Rodrigo sure does.
  • Hidden Depths: In "Paolo", Rodrigo appoints her to the Consistatorial Council, in charge of Vatican finances. You'd think it was simply Rodrigo being his usual indulgent self, but then Giulia starts lecturing Piccolomini on Florentine bookkeeping.
  • In-Series Nickname: "La Bella Farnese".
  • May–December Romance: Giulia and Rodrigo, who's several decades her senior.
  • Mentors: She serves as Lucrezia's teacher.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Almost her role as Rodrigo's mistress, really.

"I think someone as pitiless as you, Cardinal, may have need of someone as pitiless as me."
Played By: Sean Harris

An extremely skilled and apparently emotionless assassin who is recruited by Cesare after failing to poison him and his father. Becomes The Dragon to Cesare.


  • Ambiguously Bi: Is usually seen with men, but he has slept with a woman onscreen. Nobody knows if that was just for the job or if he is attracted to females.
  • Ax-Crazy: Subverted: he's not actually unstable, but he's so paranoid and ruthless that he'll emotionlessly kill people for almost any remotely practical reason.
    Micheletto: I have murdered infants in their beds... but only when the parents paid me.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Micheletto is usually the guy who kills or offers to kill otherwise harmless and innocent people to protect the Borgias(i.e. the maid who was to testify on Rodrigo's lechery accusations, the prostitute spying on Lucrezia for Juan, offering to drown Benito and later kill him with an arrow to the heart).
  • Battle Butler: His relationship with Cesare sometimes veers into this.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Not at all a talkative one, he is sparse with words and uses silence as a weapon.
  • Birds of a Feather: To Cesare. They hit it off quite well despite meeting under rather unfortunate circumstances.
    Micheletto: I think someone as pitiless as you, Cardinal, might have need of someone as pitiless as me.
  • Bond One-Liner: He doesn't say much, but when it does it's often an excellent mic-drop moment. In season two, Cesare allows Benito Sforza to go home to his mother, and Micheletto warns "that dog will come back to bite," and his existence does indeed cause problems. A full season later, they finally kill him:
    Micheletto: That dog will bite no more.
  • Brutal Honesty: Micheletto gives it cold and true to everyone unless it's a target.
  • Don't Tell Mama: When Micheletto and Cesare visit the former's hometown Forli, Cesare discovers Micheletto not only has a mother, but she's rather doting and completely oblivious about what her son really is, believing he is studying to become a doctor. Cesare plays along with this lie by posing as his mentor, out of his own amusement. She also has no idea he killed his own father.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Reacts this way to Pascal's betrayal, which is really saying something for a man like Micheletto.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Micheletto doesn't emote much and won't shy from killing, but he has morals, even as he acts and tries being The Sociopath completely.
    • He stops Juan from raping a poor girl. Micheletto doesn't shy from killing women if need be, but he's not a rapist or a sadist.
    • Separating a child from its parent is the only act that Michelleto expressedly disgusts. In fact, this causes him to murder the King of Naples out of his own will, something uncharateristic for Micheletto.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Because of his role as The Sociopath, he never raises his tone and is always polite to his victims before he murders them in the most brutal of ways.
  • Foil: Plays the stoical, methodical professional to Cesare's dark, charismatic genius.
  • Lack of Empathy: At first, he's every emotionless and apathetic to what goes around him. He later does admit to Lucrezia he has a heart, because it is suffering for her parting with her son.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Perhaps not particularly strong, but so fast that Cesare, no slouch with a sword, is stunned by his quickness, and that he can stoically endure torture.
  • Morality Pet:
    • In the third season, he had a lover named Pascal that allowed him to connect with his more human side. It doesn't end well for either of them.
    • Likewise, Lucrezia and her son. He kills the freaking King of Naples so they'll be reunited.
  • Not So Stoic: His stoicism goes through the window When he discovers Pascal's betrayal, to the point he actually cries
  • Photographic Memory: Implied to have one. He cannot read, but is able to remember the shapes of the letters he sees and copy them perfectly.
  • Self-Made Orphan: He told Cesare he killed his father for very good reasons but still not clear what age he was when he killed him.
  • The Sociopath
    Micheletto: What is your name, boy?
    Paolo: Paolo.
    Micheletto: Tell me of love, Paolo. I know nothing of it.
  • The Stoic: Barely bats an eyelid to being whipped.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: His requests that Cesare whip him harder suggest that he might've been enjoying his beating a little more than intended.
  • Torture Technician: The French scouting party pays for Ursula's ear and life. Painfully.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Views himself this way.
  • Would Hit a Girl: He doesn't discriminate on gender, especially when it comes to killing. Just ask that maid and the prostitute.
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • Let's just say that if there's a type of person Micheletto won't kill, he hasn't met them and declined to kill them yet. Though it does perhaps make it somewhat more understandable that the child in question had helped him with a potential assassination.
    • He also claims to have killed babies in their cradles, but only when their parents paid him. So, yeah, he is ''willing" to kill children, but as part of his job, not for pleasure.

    Sancia of Aragon

The duchessa of Squillace, illegitimate daughter of the king of Naples, and the wife of Joffre Borgia. She carries on an affair with her husband's older brother, Juan.


  • Affably Evil: She's nice enough to Joffre ... even though she has sex with his brother right outside their bedroom before going to consummate their marriage.
  • Arranged Marriage: To Joffre
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: After being Put on a Bus during season 2, Sancia essentially stops existing come season 3, just like her husband, Joffre. Neither of them are mentioned even though Sancia's brother became engaged to Joffre's sister during season 2.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: On top of a table surrounded by dead people can uncontroversially count as a very wrong place.
  • Put on a Bus: In season 2 and season 3.
  • Sibling Triangle: During season 1 she is at the center of one with Joffre and Juan Borgia, though Joffre seems blissfully unaware of this.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: She cheats on Joffre repeatedly before and after they marry. But he's 12. And she's a grown woman. It's not that hard to sympathize with her attraction to his older brother, Juan.

    Apprentice/Master Vittorio/Vittoria
Played By: Jemima West

A youthful apprentice artisan whose cleverness and talent draws Rodrigo's attention, and is shortly thereafter promoted to master. In reality a young woman disguised as a boy because women, of course, can't become artisans. Rodrigo is taken with her, probably because he knows she is very capable of discretion.

  • Ambiguously Bi: She didn't seem at all unwilling or surprised when Giulia kissed her. She also didn't mind when Rodrigo joined them.
  • Living a Double Life: She is a woman disguised as a boy so she can become an artisan.
  • Put on a Bus: Hasn't been seen since mid-season 2.
  • Sexier Alter Ego: To the point Rodrigo is sincerely confused as to why she hides her beauty.
  • The Smart Guy: Painting, sculpture, history, medicine - can even design and build cannons.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Though Rodrigo and Cesare see through her disguise fairly quickly.

    Niccolò Machiavelli
"We let those French barbarians march through our principality and do nothing? Cardinal, that is a different kind of nothing. That will cost you something."
Played By: Julian Bleach


  • The Consigliere: To the Medici and, increasingly, to Cesare.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Borgias' equal in sarcasm and witty declarations.
  • Double Agent: He tips Cesare off on where to locate a cache of Medici gold owed to the Church.
  • Doublespeak: Does this with the word "nothing."
  • For Your Own Good: His likely justification for revealing the cache's whereabouts, as it’s in Piero de Medici’s best interest not to piss off Rome.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Despite officially being recognized as the Medici family banker, the way he handles Piero when the Pope comes to Florence makes him look more like a glorified babysitter. And as he puts it to Cesare; "Signor de Medici values my opinion; especially as he does not have one of his own."
  • Knowledge Broker: Machiavelli is Cesare’s go-to man for news on Florence and Savonarola.
  • Mentor Archetype: Something of one to Cesare, who puts his ruthless philosophy to practice.
  • Only Sane Man: In all of Florence, he's the only person to realize the idiocy of surrendering the city to the French King and the excesses of Savonarola's theocratic regime.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Machiavelli regularly imparts the merits of this to Cesare.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: So far his 'villainy' has amounted to advising/dealing with Cesare and, to the Florentines, serving the Medicis and opposing Savonarola. He treats his ruthless philosophy as theory and he’s one of the few characters on the show who has not performed, solicited, actively consented to or ordered an act of violence. Otherwise, he seems like a decent enough guy, if also very sardonic.
  • Shout-Out: As they watch a woman being burnt at the stake for witchcraft, Machiavelli educates Cesare on the use fear has as a tool. This is likely a nod to Machiavelli's (in)famous adage that it is "better to be feared than loved" from The Prince, which was inspired by his interactions with the real-life Cesare.
  • The Spock: He's all about logic and pragmatism, and never loses his cool.
  • The Stoic: Even watching his hometown fall under the control of a zealot who hates everything he and those he serves represent fails to elicit much, if any, visible reaction from him. He does lament the destruction of a Sandro Botticelli painting during the Bonfire of the Vanities, however.

    Alfonso d'Aragona 

Lucrezia's young, innocent suitor. He appears somewhat naive in the world of Italian politics thus far, and is instantly taken with Lucrezia though he at first has no idea that it's her. He soon becomes betrothed to Lucrezia, and will, according to history, be her second husband.

  • Accidental Murder: Played With. Cesare fully intended to kill Alfonso, but he wanted Rufio to kill Alfonso in the streets of Rome at night. Instead, Cesare killed Alfonso by accidentally impaling him in self-defense.
    Cesare(seeing Lucrezia watching this in shock):It's not what you think!
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Probably what induced him to provoke Cesare into a "sparring" contest. And ask him about his very dead brother. Not that he doesn't have good reason to be mad.
  • Betty and Veronica: Cesare, of all people, invokes this trope when talking about Alfonso. He's a sharp contrast to Lucrezia's first husband, and more specifically, Cesare himself. Lucrezia's sweet, chaste dance with Alfonso versus her close, intimate dance with her brother versus her strictly professional and mechanical dance with Giovanni Sforza illustrates their differences. Basically, he's the Betty to Lucrezia's very, very, Veronica brother. And he doesn't miss it.
  • Foreshadowing: Lucrezia's repeated declaration of "poor boy". This is specific to him because he is destined to be the victim of Cesare's jealousy, and will be murdered at his order. That is, if the show sticks to history, which it most likely will in this case. Confirmed in 3x10, albeit accidentally.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Well, first date betrothal.
  • Henpecked Husband: Comes off as this. He generally follows Lucrezia's lead, which makes sense as she is more experienced than him in every way.
  • Mercy Kill: Asks Lucrezia to end his life after he's slowly dying from being fatally stabbed by Cesare. She reluctantly complies and is found by Cesare numbly lying on top of Alfonso's body.
  • Sexless Marriage: Implies in "Tears of Blood" that aside from their consummation, he and Lucrezia have this.
  • Smarter Than You Look: He comes off as kind of ditzy for most of "The Confession." Yet, his suspicious expression as he watches Lucrezia and Cesare dance indicates that he's sharper than he looks, and is beginning to wonder what he got himself into. It's also pretty clear he's figured out Cesare killed Juan.
  • Their First Time: Well, not Lucrezia's, but his. And he gets to do it with his uncle watching and his wife getting off to eye contact with her brother. Good times for Alfonso.

    Bianca Gonzaga 
Played By: Melia Kreiling

Bianca is introduced in season 2 as a mistress of Rodrigo Borgia's. He later discovers that she has married Francesco Gonzaga, an ally of Rodrigo's.


  • Bath Suicide: What Cardinal Sforza sets her death up to look like, instead of having slit her throat in the Pope's rooms.
  • Driven to Suicide: Realizing Rodrigo wants to send her to a convent rather than let her stay with him and have his "child".
  • Establishing Character Moment: When Rodrigo mentions that Giulia will be jealous if she found out about them, her response is "Why?" She does not care about monogamy and even seems to find it funny.
  • The Mistress: She is introduced as a secondary mistress to Rodrigo.
  • Sanity Slippage: In "The Wolf and the Lamb", her forced abortion by Francesco makes her believe she is still pregnant, carrying Rodrigo's child. She seems to be on her way to stealing baby Giovanni before things get worse.

    Charlotte d'Albret 
Played By: Ana Ularu

Charlotte d'Albret is introduced in season 3 as Cesare's wife and a key to his political alliance with France. Depending on how closely the show follows history, we may not see her much, as the historical Charlotte married Cesare, got pregnant by him, and never saw him again.

  • Deadpan Snarker: She matches Cesare's wit with her own. It's Ana Ularu. What do you expect?
  • Establishing Character Moment: In her first meeting with Cesare, she states that she wants a child, a hot husband who can ensure that the kid will be beautiful, and to be left in France with her own relative independence. She's exceedingly practical and witty.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: They not only became politically engaged, but quite intimate in a span of days. Justified, because Charlotte, as Cesare, mean for it to be a friendly political alliance.
  • Friends with Benefits: Seems to share this relationship with Cesare. They get along quite well both platonically and sexually, and she has no problem with the fact that he doesn't love her romantically.
  • Happily Married: Though he leaves after the wedding night and there's no deep love between them, Cesare and Charlotte easily have the most functional marriage on this show. At very least, they get along and are Birds of a Feather concerning cunning and sarcams.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: In terms of both parties getting what they want from each other.

    King Louis XII 

The successor of King Charles of France, but unlike his predecessor, an ally to the Borgias who seeks to have annulment for his marriage.

  • The Quiet One: In contrast to Charles, Louis doesn't speak all that much.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: He's seen leading his army alongside Cesare.
  • The Stoic: Unlike his predecessor, he is calm and stony all the time.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Cesare and Rodrigo don't exactly love King Louis [specially since he seeks to claim Milan for himself], nor does Louis, but they have a [rather uneasy] alliance over the Sforza Problem.

The Sforza Family

    General Tropes 

  • Dysfunctional Family: Oh, boy. While the Borgias are pretty bad at family relationships, the Sforza come across as even worse, mostly because of Giovanni and Ludovico.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • They might be pretty unscrupulous, but for the most part, they seem to care about each other. Ascanio might be the exception since he basically tells Rodrigo he has no problem with him going after Caterina because she is a woman who doesn't know her place.
    • Downplayed heavily, especially considering what we see of their interactions. Ascanio, Caterina and Ludovico don't hold Giovanni in high regard. Ascanio is a Wild Card towards everyone, and betrays Caterina by trying to sell her son out to Cesare. Ascanio leaves everyone to their fate after Ludovico kills one of their cousin Gian to remain Duke of Milan. Caterina loves her son, but is willing to let him be tortured and killed for the sole purpose of defying Rodrigo. They all see Ascanio as a convenient resource in the Vatican. They seem to have the same Thicker Than Blood philosophy Rodrigo tries installing in his own family, swearing to help one another, but they are far less sincere and affectionate in their bonds, their alliance being mostly political.
  • Evil Is Petty: Caterina, Ludovico and Giovanni hate the Borgias to a passion... because they're from Spain.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The Sforzas vs. the Borgias. Unlike what you see in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, they're just as bad as, if not worse than, the Borgias, especially because their sole motivation is greed and prejudice.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • Their whole reason for hating the Borgias is one: they're from Spain and Ambiguously Jewish. Also because Rodrigo's children are legitimized bastards.
    • Giovanni is cruel to Lucrezia because Cesare brought his mother, a former courtesan, to her own child's post-wedding party. Also, he didn't like the theater Juan put up.
  • Stupid Evil: They started the whole conflict out of petty prejudice and arrogance, and continued making matters worse out of pride and stubbornness, despite numerous attempts by Rodrigo and Cesare to try and make peace.

    Cardinal Ascanio Sforza
"I would say that the one who would be suitable to become vice-chancellor would be wise to support the vice-chancellor who would be pope."
Played By: Peter Sullivan

Part-time Dragon to Rodrigo, in the first two seasons, Ascanio's loyalties seem to lie with his family and the church in general. Things look to be changing in season three.

  • "Get Out of Jail Free" Card: In exchange for helping the Borgias purge the Vatican of many of the corrupt cardinals and turning his back on his family, Ascanio becomes an even more trusted Dragon to Rodrigo and Cesare and given more power.
  • Halfhearted Henchman: Not actually too evil; he was born into a Big, Screwed-Up Family and must serve a Manipulative Bastard of a Pope.
  • Heel–Face Turn: However begrudgingly he kept himself from murdering Rodrigo when he had the chance, he still warned Cesare about the plot against Lucrezia, Vannozza, and Giovanni, and has served the Borgias well ever since.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Seems to be growing into this, if his actions after Bianca's suicide in "The Wolf and the Lamb" are any indication.
  • Only Sane Employee: His bitchfaces during Rodrigo's Cloud Cuckoolander antics in consistory are hilarious.
  • Only Sane Man: Seems to be the sole Sforza who doesn't want to go for broke when it comes to killing the Borgias. Whether that's because he's nicer or because it's not politically expedient or whether Ascanio's only in it for himself is anyone's guess.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • He's not known for his warm, fuzzy feelings towards the Borgias, but in "The Confession", he handles the search for Juan's body with surprising sensitivity, even breaking the news to Rodrigo gently.
    • When the lightning bolt strikes the Sistine Chapel and kill the choir boys, Ascanio is so horrified he can't leave the church, and was implied to be one of the few who dared helping gather the bodies.
    • He is also horrified by what Francesco did to Bianca, and comforted the Pope as he cradled her body that he would deal with it.
  • Shed the Family Name: Only metaphorically, but as of "The Purge", Ascanio admits he's more of a Borgia now than a Sforza.
  • Sinister Minister: Downplayed. He is corrupt and self-interested like almost every cardinal, but he's far more benevolent and friendly.

    Giovanni Sforza
"Good, then we need hardly see each other except when marital duties call. Then I will keep them brief and businesslike."
Played By: Ronan Vibert

A noble from a formidable Roman family, married to Lucrezia for the benefit of political connections.


  • Age Lift: Giovanni Sforza was 28-years-old when he married Lucrezia, while Ronan Vibert was in his late forties when they filmed the series.
  • The Brute: It's hard to say who's worse, Giovanni or Ludovico.
  • Death by Adaptation: In real life he outlived both Rodrigo and Cesare.
  • Dumb Muscle: According to Ascanio. He inherited the Sforza name, but not the Sforza cunning.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The real Giovanni Sforza didn't touch his childlike wife for months.
  • Humiliation Conga: Rodrigo puts him through one in front of the entire College of Cardinals and later, the people of Rome, for abusing Lucrezia.
  • Pet the Dog: The part where, after his "accident" he accepts that he "was not kind" to Lucrezia and "forgives [her] for the accident of her birth" (ie. being lower-born than him) may be a combination of massive understatement and truly staggering arrogance, but it is at least some attempt by him to be nice to his wife.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Taunting Cesare, insulting his sister and father, after Cesare and Micheletto kidnapped him in his very home and brought him all the way to Rome. While they're alone and Cesare's holding a knife. Being aware of the Incest Subtext between him and Lucrezia. At this point, Giovanni should have realized by now Cesare is The Unfettered Yandere. Plus, there's the whole sending French scouts to destroy one of Cesare's monasteries and ended up killing Ursula...

    Caterina Sforza
"I will never, NEVER bend my knee to the whoremaster of Rome!"
Played By: Gina McKee

Cousin of Giovanni, Lodovico, and Ascanio; she emerges as a force to be reckoned with.

  • Badass Boast: In "The Siege of Forlì":
    Caterina: This is my answer. You can take my son, but do you see? Here! I have the means to produce ten more sons, and they will hunt you down, and send you to your grave!
  • Big Bad: Is the main antagonist to the Borgias after King Charles and Cardinal Della Rovere are out of the picture.
  • The Chessmaster: Caterina is the brains behind the entire Sforza family, and much of the money too.
  • Dating Catwoman: She manages to seduce Cesare.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: At least in her conception. She wanted to go out in a blaze of glory in a legendary way, instead she was stripped of all her lands, titles, riches and carried in chains towards her worst enemy, completely humiliated.
  • Hypocrite:
    • She calls Cesare a murderer for killing Giovanni. That after she tried murdering his whole family indirectly through helping the French TWICE.
    • While she hates the Borgias for being Spaniards, she clearly has no problem fucking with Cesare.
  • Lady of War:
    Charles: You think the blood of the Borgia pope could cure us, Catherina Sforza?
    Caterina: We could bathe in it together, Your Majesty.
  • Last of His Kind: By the end of the third season, she's the last survivng Sforza (with the exception of Ascanio, who Shed the Family Name).
  • Mama Bear: As Juan finds out, it's not a good idea to fuck with her son.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: The Sforza men tend to be overblown, blustering physically-imposing lugs; Caterina runs rings around them and is acknowledged by the Borgias to be the most dangerous of the lot.
  • Out-Gambitted: Twice by Cesare. The first time, Cesare manages to sneak through the entire French army without her realizing, leaving her unable to prepare for a siege. The second time, Cesare repeatedly fires at the ground in front of the gate, with her failing to realize that he's trying to make the ground collapse until it's too late.
  • Red Baron: The Tigress Of Forli.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Several. From simpering before Charles to taunting Juan from the battlements of Forli to masterminding two plots on the lives of the Borgia family. She's definitely not done yet.
  • Villainous BSoD: When Cesare reaches the gates of Forli in a surprise attack, Catarina is practically catatonic. She does manage to recover briefly, but she never quite returns to her normal mood ever again, spending the entire episode with a empty gaze.

    Ludovico Sforza 
Played By: Ivan Kaye

Cousin of Caterina, Ascanio, and Giovanni, Ludovico is the Duke of Milan.


  • Ax-Crazy: You thought Charles was slightly off his rocker? Ludovico beats him by miles. You know how Charles had some Sanity Slippage because of the Naples plague? That's Ludovico, 24/7. And he is disappointed and annoyed if he CAN'T act like that all the time.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Courtesy of Cesare and his new gun.
  • Death by Adaptation: Type II. In the show's canon, he dies in 1498 in an open field at the very start of the Italian Wars, but in real life Ludovico was merely captured along the same period, and only died, still incarcerated by the French, in 1508.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He seems pretty enraged that Cesare killed Benito when he just promised to arrest him, this might be a case of Pragmatic Villainy, however, and he doesn't seem overly pissed off by it.
  • Evil Uncle: To Benito, selling him out to the Borgias. On his defense, he was told Benito would be incarcerated, not killed.
    • Before that, he was pressured into giving up his duchy to his nephew the rightful Duke of Milan. This lasts for all of a minute before Ludovico poisons the nephew, settling the issue.

    Benito Riario 
Played By: Noah Silver

The son of Caterina Sforza who accompanies her mother during some of her dealings with the Borgias in order to learn how to become a leader.


  • Et Tu, Brute?: "I entrusted you...your barbarian.."
  • Follow in My Footsteps: Caterina is training Benito to become a leader like her, though she knows he will not be a warrior.
  • I Have Your Wife: Juan kidnaps Caterina's son Benito to force her to surrender Forli.
  • Overlord Jr.: Though, both Cesare and Caterina admit, he's no soldier material.

Played By: Thure Lindhardt

An assassin in the employ of the Sforza family.


  • The Dragon: To Caterina Sforza, sent to Rome to kill the Borgias.
  • Evil Counterpart: To Micheletto, even similar in looks. He lampshades this.
  • Genius Bruiser: Any man who can use chemical warfare in the middle of the renaissance qualifies.
  • The Spymaster: Controls and coordinates all of Caterina's [many] spies.

Enemies of the Borgias

    Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere
"Sometimes goodness is in need of a little badness."
Played By: Colm Feore

Rodrigo's most persistent opponent among the college of cardinals, and the man who will eventually become Pope Julius II.


  • Determinator
    [to Rodrigo] "I will fight you, with all the resources at my disposal. I will fight you to the end...and beyond, if need be."
  • Evil Mentor: To Antonello.
  • Foregone Conclusion: della Rovere will become Pope Julius II.
  • Guile Hero: While he is frequently Out-Gambitted by the Borgias, he is quite clever.
  • Hero Antagonist: Though calling him "hero" might be pushing it.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Slowly becomes more and more ruthless in his quest to destroy The Borgias.
  • Historical In-Joke: della Rovere names his capuchin monkey Julius, the name he historically takes when he himself becomes pope.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: He is sure inviting the French army to invade Italy is a good thing, until he sees the results of his actions. Cue this trope.
  • Properly Paranoid: At the beginning of season 2, the Borgias poison his communion wine. From that point on he refuses to eat or drink anything that has not been tested by a Capuchin monkey he acquires. Which is a Call-Back to Cesare's monkey from "The Assassin" that drinks the poisoned wine.
  • Religious Bruiser: della Rovere is pretty handy with a knife, for a priest.

    King Charles VIII 
Played By: Michel Muller

The arrogant, warmongering King of France. He believes Naples is his by birthright, and the Borgias are standing in his way.


  • A Father to His Men: Part of reason he attacks Lucca: his men won't fight for him unless they can get some spoils of war, and whatever he pays them is not enough to make them march all the way to Naples.
  • Affably Evil: He's extremely blunt but he also shows that he's willing to Pet the Dog at times. Fittingly, in real life he was known as "the Affable."
  • Age Lift: The real Charles VII of France was only in his mid to late 20s during the events of the series and only 27 when he died. In the series, he is portrayed by the older Michel Muller and seems to be a veteran military leader and commander.
  • Anti-Villain: Like the Borgias themselves, he comes off as this because he's merely ruthless and Affably Evil in a series full of Ax-Crazy Jerkasses.
  • Big Eater: His first scenes are of eating rather voraciously.
  • Birds of a Feather:
  • Blood Knight: He even warns Della Rovere about this when the latter wants to sic him on Italy. Later on, he sacks Lucca without provocation (apparently not Truth in Television) and then berates the horrified cardinal when the latter gets cold feet.
  • Brutal Honesty: Expects this from everyone.
  • Butt-Monkey: He really is unattractive, but people take great pains to point out his shortcomings. However, he insists on Brutal Honesty from everyone around him. He has no interest in polite lies, and refuses to talk to della Rovere until he acknowledges his ugliness.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Rodrigo correctly calculates that behind his image of a powerful king, Charles is a man who very much feels burdened by the enormous task that God put on his shoulders and is in need of spiritual guidance.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Brutal Honesty is his shtick, after all.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: In-universe, his death is considered so ignominious (bashing his head on a door frame, which he somehow managed despite being very short), that the cardinals can't help but chuckle.
  • Noble Demon: Not a very nice person, but he is nowhere near Ludovico and Giovanni Sforza's levels of cruelty and brutality.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: He believes Alfonso of Naples set the plague on his own city. In return he hunts him down, forces him to give him a tour through his father's torture chambers, and then subjects him to them.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Willing to use whomever comes his way, whether it be della Rovere, Giulia Farnese, or Lucrezia.
  • Self-Deprecation: Considers his head ugly, and actually admits he's not a good person, being a Blood Knight and all.
  • Undignified Death: Hitting his head on a door frame. Rodrigo is NOT pleased by it, nor by the cardinals' jesting.
  • Villainous Crush: He's pretty smitten by Lucrezia, and will not harm her.
  • War Is Hell: Firmly believes in and embodies the concept, and is contemptuous of the Italians for the supposed "honor" in their wars.
  • Worthy Opponent: Rodrigo clearly considers him this. The fact that he doesn't see anything remotely amusing about his rather pathetic end, and tells the chuckling cardinals that Charles had more steel in him than both the cardinals put together, almost brings him into Antagonist in Mourning territory.

    Girolamo Savonarola 
Played By: Steven Berkoff


  • Badass Preacher: "World of Wonders" shows him walking through a pathway of fire, and even when he fails and is brought to Rome in chains, he still retains his badassitude.
  • Cult: The people of Florence are still Catholics, but they are so devoted to Savonarola they probably count.
  • Dark Shepherd: Out of all clerics in this story, he's the scariest, most sinister and easily the most cruel.
  • The Day of Reckoning: Preaches it early and often.
  • Defiant to the End: Rodrigo offers him one last chance of redemption. Savanarola spits at him.
  • Easy Evangelism: Some of his converts are obviously intimidated, but the vast majority seem to truly believe. It helps that Berkoff, as a veteran actor, is quite charismatic.
  • The Heretic: See also Cult; because of his disobedience and preaching against the Pope, this is Alexander's plan to get rid of him.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: The real Savanarola broke under torture.
  • Holier Than Thou: Noteworthy in that Savonarola turned down a cardinalship, which has apparently never been done.
  • Karmic Death: Burned at the stake, with the flame lit by a sodomite.
  • Knight Templar: While della Rovere has moments where he shows regret for his actions, Savonarola thinks he's 100% right.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The Friar who used his tongue to cause great trouble...having his tongue cut out.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Burns women as witches, and has hunted down homossexuals before, as he boasts to Micheletto.
  • Sinister Minister: Not violent yet, though his preaching has inspired much violence, some self-inflicted, some...not. Still utterly devoted to God and utterly unafraid of the Borgias.

    Cardinal Julius Versucci
Played By: Vernon Dobtcheff

A cardinal during the first three seasons of the show.


  • Bath Suicide: Rather than allow the pope's assassin to kill him, he took his own life.
  • Canon Foreigner: Versucci is not based on any historical cardinals.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Rodrigo laughs when he finds out that Julius didn't just take his dismissal from the college of cardinals well and had a fiery response.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: The two times he speaks in season 2, it's to complain about having his position as accountant taken from him (rightfully so, given his corruption and embezzlement of Papal finances) and given to Julia Farnese, and then later complain about letting Lucrezia sit on the pope chair while Rodrigo is away. He is polite to the nuns he gives money to in season three, but seeing how he's doing that to get back at Rodrigo... Or because they're nuns. You know, those women who are convinced or forced into becoming servants of the church, which is controlled by males? They count as "acceptable female servants" for him.
  • Sinister Minister: He uses his position in the church to make a profit while the Roman poor go hungry. After Rodrigo is poisoned, he is among the cardinals who tries to position himself to benefit.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Crossing Rodrigo Borgia, or those he loves, is a good way to get yourself screwed. He fails at understanding that reality constantly.
  • Undignified Death: Thought he would cripple Rodrigo and rob him of his chance of revenge by committing suicide. As Micheletto informs him right before his death, Rodrigo merely laughed. Julius' face goes from amused to disappointed right before he dies pathetically from bloodloss.


    Johannes Burchard 
Played By: Simon Mc Burney

Burchard is an expert in canon law who is brought in frequently throughout season one to interpret canon law in the Vatican and keep records of all the happenings.


  • The Bus Came Back: Come season three, he returned for an episode where he narrated and took records of the Banquet of the Chestnuts.
  • Captain's Log: He often narrated during season one, having a voice over that told the story through his record keeping.
  • Put on a Bus: Burchard disappeared without any mentions during season two, despite how involved he was in the previous season's plot and storytelling format. Justified, as he simply wasn't needed for any scheme or investigation.
  • The Short Guy with Glasses: Describes his physical characteristics to a tee.
  • The Smart Guy: As an expert on canon law and precedent, he is the one with the answers to all the questions either Rodrigo and Della Rovere have during their powerplay.

    Prince Djem 
Played By: Elyes Gabel

An Ottoman prince who stays with the Borgia family as a hostage so his brother no longer has to worry about him taking his throne. He develops close relationships with the family, but his brother pays Rodrigo to murder him.


  • Dance of Romance: With Lucrezia. This makes Rodrigo decide to kill him, plus the need for money.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Juan - at least before things got ugly.
  • Implied Love Interest: To Lucrezia. Though their romantic inclinations toward each other are never stated, they develop a close relationship where they share each other's cultures and Djem promises to avenge her should her husband harm her. The dance they share also heavily implies romance, scaring Rodrigo to the point where he agrees to have Djem killed, and after his death Lucrezia tells Giulia she dreamed about kissing him.
  • Morality Pet: For Cesare, for a little while. Cesare at least liked him, and didn't want him killed, even though he was so close to Lucrezia (and probably because of it).
  • Sacrificial Lamb: After forming positive relationships with most of the Borgia family members, Rodrigo has Juan kill him for the money Djem's brother will pay them.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: He thinks Catholics and Christians are all great and friendly compared to his family and religion back home. Only at the end does he realize it was them (or at least Juan) who poisoned him.

Played By: Luke Pasqualino

A young stable boy in the employ of Giovanni Sforza. Falls in love with Lucrezia and is the father of her child. Killed by Juan when his affair with Lucrezia is discovered.


    Ursula Bonadeo 
Played By: Ruta Gedmintas

A beautiful woman who caught Cesare's eye at Lucrezia's wedding, she was married to an abusive husband. Cesare takes care of that, but it drives Ursula to a convent. Even though she is a nun, she cannot escape Cesare's influence.


  • Collateral Angst: Ursula's death is purely meant as a means to get to Cesare and cause him pain. This is all but lampshaded in-universe, with Cesare actually stating "[her death] has released my heart of all emotions but one: vengeance".
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: She did become a nun.
  • Morality Pet: For Cesare; he certainly goes off the rails when she is murdered.
  • Naughty Nuns: Subverted. Ursula takes vows to escape Cesare's possessiveness, and she makes it clear she no longer returns his affections.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Let's see - blonde, mostly innocent, married to an abusive husband, in need of rescue, attracted to Cesare . . . who else does she remind you of?

    Raffaello di Pallivinci
Played By: Tom Austen

A season two recurring character who is the brother of Lucrezia's suitor, Calvino di Pallivinci. Though Calvino is the older brother and therefore the better catch, Lucrezia is more attracted to Raffaello.


  • Eating the Eye Candy: Lucrezia is so enchanted the first two times she sees him, she can't hear her mother speaking directly in her ear and his brother doesn't seem to exist for her.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: He's the quiet, sensitive type who wants to do the right thing.
  • Nice Guys Finish Last: He does the right thing and tells his brother about his relationship with Lucrezia before they marry instead of carrying on an affair with her behind his brother's back. Both brothers go home alone.
  • Sibling Triangle: Raffaello/Lucrezia/Calvino — though Calvino is oblivious to it at first.
  • Starving Artist: He isn't exactly starving, but he is not as well off as his brother and is completely dependent on his family.

    Calvino di Pallivinci

Played By: David Alpay

A season two recurring character who is Lucrezia's suitor and the brother of Raffaello. Though Lucrezia accepts his proposal, he withdraws his off when he finds out she slept with his brother.


  • Nice Guy: He was, for all intents and purposes, a nice person. You can't fault him for not being happy about his brother sleeping with his intended bride.

     Frederigo Of Naples 

Played By: Matias Varela

One of the men in line for the throne of Naples, but with no desire for power or ambition of his own, despite being kind.


  • The Chessmaster: He was able to outwit Lucrezia and would have out-played freaking Cesare had Micheletto not caught Pascal's letter.
  • Faux Affably Evil: He can put on the smile and the chivalry, but it's just an act to hide his much more sinister personality.
  • Good Is Dumb: Good as he is, he can't match his brother's Machiavellian wit. Except not really.
  • The Good King: After he receives the crown of Naples.
  • Nice Guy: He comes around as possibly the only royal in the entire show who isn't a scheming bastard. Subverted.
  • The Sociopath: Nothing will stand in the way of the throne.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Noted by Lucrezia. Subverted, he is just pretending.