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1492, and the old Pope is dying. The Vice-Chancellor of the Vatican, a Spanish Cardinal named Borgia (Jeremy Irons - Dungeons and Dragons ) is one of the fore-runners. He follows the age-old tradition of bribing his way into the Papacy.
Borgia has some deadly rivals among the other Cardinals. Cardinal Giuliano Della Rovere (Colm Feore - Revolution ) is the smartest of them, but Cardinal Orsini (Derek Jacobi - ) is the most vocal. Ironically, although Borgia is portrayed as being the only one to resort to bribery (in reality, he probably just gave bigger bribes than his rivals) he is portrayed as the intended VICTIM of an assassination attempt. Yes, the rivals may not be shown committing bribery, but they will not hesitate to kill their own Pope if it furthers their own position!
The Borgias agree to foster Djem, half-brother of the Ottoman Sultan. Unfortunately for poor Djem, his brother wants rid of this particular rival claimant to the throne. After all, the Ottomans had no wish to endure a dynastic dispute like the Wars of the Roses.
Lucrezia is offered a career as home-maker and wife to Lord Sforza.
Lucrezia's wedding to the straight-laced Sforza is due to take place. Her elder brother, the priest, wants to defy their father (the Pope) and bring their mother (ex-courtesan Joanne Whalley ) along. Her other brother decides to stage the bawdiest comedy he possibly can. What could possibly go wrong?
Cardinal Della Rovere (Colm Feore - Revolution ) journeys northward to Florence, where he meets historical figures like Machiavelli and Savonarola (Stephen Berkoff - ). They share his distrust of the Borgias, but will they help him facilitate a French invasion?
To counter the threat of French aggression, Pope Borgia strengthens his ties with Spain. They offer him the chance to convert all the heathen souls in the newly-discovered Americas.
Lucrezia's husband may be a stern piece of work, but her stable-boy is Dogtanian from The Musketeers . Presumably the plot will progress from there.
This continues a couple of plot-lines from the previous ep. Lucrezia flirts with Dogtanian a little, and plots a way of gaining the upper hand on her brutal husband.
The Pope tries to make a deal with the Duke of Milan. However, he is a stubborn SOB who is more than happy to let France invade.
Cardinal Borgia gets a refresher in fencing lessons, so he can face down the mercenary who insulted his mother. Also, the mercenary's wife is not unattractive ...
Leucrezia is getting a lot more sleep now her husband lies crippled in a sickbed. She also gets to sleep with Dogtanian, so when he becomes one of The Musketeers and beds Milady DeWinter he is actually taking a step down!
Cardinal Cesare enjoys the absence of his lover's husband. But while she did so much to commission her husband's death, when she suspects Cesare might have actually gone through with it she displays a bad case of buyer's remorse.
The Borgia Princeling dodges an arranged marriage to the daughter of the Duke of Naples by palming her off to his 13-year-old brother. But he goes to meet her, all the same. She is Hollywood starlet Emmanuelle Chiqui , and she is as friendly as any man could want!
Cardinal Della Rovere has made his way to France, where he is granted an audience with King Charles.
Leucrezia was getting a lot more sleep now her husband lies crippled in a sickbed. However, now his leg is almost healed, and he wants things back the way they used to be. He also wants to talk with Dogtanian. Worse, he and his cousin Caterina may not uphold their military alliance with Rome. The Pope sends Leucrezia's step-mother to check on her health, and the health of the alliance.
Cardinal Cesare visits his former lover, now a nun. He also keeps a close eye on Cardinal Sforza, who may prove to be a fair-weather friend. Unfortunately, as a Cardinal he is ill-disposed to lead the Vatican's army. Instead that honour will go to his elder brother, who is still enamoured with his sister-in-law Emmanuelle Chiqui !
Cardinal Della Rovere has invaded with King Charles of France. They sack the walled city of Lucca, and the Cardinal realises the dreadful fate he has brought upon Italy. He tries to mitigate the violence by negotiating a treaty with Florence. Will Machiavelli make a deal?
Things are crashing down around the Borgia Pope. The French are virtually unopposed, and his alliances in northern Italy are crumbling.
Lucrezia and her step-mother get away from the Sforza castle, leaving Dogtanian to get a whipping. He is too stupid to say what his master wants to hear, so he may not live very long. Unfortunately, the girls run into a French patrol.
The Borgia Prince marches his army out to meet the French in open battle. The plan is solid, on the face of it. After all, since the walled city of Lucca fell in the previous episode, Rome itself would be taken just as easily. However, there is a major problem with the plan - the execution!
The Borgia's have no clear intelligence on the French army. If they knew its path, they could take down the bridges in its path. If they knew its size (it vastly outnumbers their own) they could know not to attack it head-on. And if they targeted the Siege Train (as Irish Warlord Patrick Sarsfield did in the Williamite Wars) then they could render the French Cannon unusable.
King Charles of France meets with the Borgia Pope, who wins him over with cheap words and trickery. Also, by giving him everything he asks for. To start with, he is publically invested as King of France and Naples. What the Pope fails to say is that Naples is overcome by the plague!
Cesare is sent with King Charles, nominally as a Papal Legate but basically as a hostage. However, with the help of his manservant (the assassin) he will not be a hostage for long. And he has unfinished business with his treacherous brother-in-law, Sforza.
Lucrezia is interned in a convent to cover for her pregnancy. Luckily, Cesare's ex is still a nun.