The Borgias (2011–2013)
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The Art of War 

Paolo helps Lucrezia and Guilia escape Sforza, but they are captured by advancing French forces as the Pope's cardinals flee Rome before King Charles' military juggernaut.


Jeremy Podeswa


Neil Jordan (creator), Neil Jordan

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Jeremy Irons ... Rodrigo Borgia
François Arnaud ... Cesare Borgia
Holliday Grainger ... Lucrezia Borgia
Lotte Verbeek ... Giulia Farnese
David Oakes ... Juan Borgia
Sean Harris ... Micheletto
Simon McBurney ... Johannes Burchart
Colm Feore ... Giuliano Della Rovere
Ruta Gedmintas ... Ursula Bonadeo
Michel Muller ... King Charles VIII
Luke Pasqualino ... Paolo
Peter Sullivan ... Cardinal Ascanio Sforza
Ronan Vibert ... Giovanni Sforza
Robert Reina Robert Reina ... Spanish Ambassador
Bosco Hogan ... Cardinal Piccolomini


Lucrezia and Giulia Farnese leave Sforza's castle for Rome but Paulo the groom pays a heavy price for helping them get away. The two women soon encounter a French patrol but Lucrezia manages to charm the French King. The Pope meets with the Spanish ambassador but doesn't get the help he was expecting. Despite the advice of his Cardinals that they decamp and leave Rome, he refuses to do so. Juan does come up with a plan to meet the French forces long before they reach Rome. They find themselves just a bit outnumbered however. It's Lucrezia who comes up with a solution. Written by garykmcd

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Canada | Ireland | Hungary

Release Date:

15 May 2011 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Korda Studios, Etyek, Hungary See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

16 : 9
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Did You Know?


Although it is mentioned more than once that Charles VIII's French army numbers 25,000 men, it also included 10,000 Swiss mercenaries. See more »


Juan refers to the college of cardinals as lemmings when they flee the Vatican in anticipation of an impending French invasion. He's several centuries too early to use this expression. The popular myth of mass lemming suicide began when the Walt Disney movie, 'Wild Wilderness' was released in 1958. Furthermore, lemmings only live in the Arctic tundra and would be unheard of in 15th century Italy. See more »


Cesare Borgia: [Observing the retreating Papal army] Will the Good Lord see the justice in our cause, Micheletto?
Micheletto: Where war is concerned, your eminence, our Good Lord will take a holiday.
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The Borgias Main Titles (Instrumental)
Written by Trevor Morris
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User Reviews

Defective penultimate but slightly poetic, highly intense and sculptural enough
24 June 2011 | by igoatabaseSee all my reviews

Lucrezia Borgia and Giulia Farnese escaping and the first charming the King of France. Now that's a plot that instantly seemed exciting and the intriguing war arc well developed in the past installment made it even more desirable. You really have to see them riding horses in the woods while crepuscular rays irradiate their natural beauty and colorful outfits. Moreover with the French army marching toward Rome I was wondering how they would encounter the King. So in a way it was almost like a Little Red Riding Hood adaptation, very short but definitely refreshing.

Once in the hands of the enemy the ladies met the cardinal in black, Giuliano della Rovere. Right before Colm Feore entered the stage, Holliday Grainger (Lucrezia) and Lotte Verbeek (Giulia) gently reminded us of some past sequence. Indeed in the premiere the second taught the first that women had weapons like beauty and wit to defend themselves. So it was quite interesting to see Lucrezia challenging the cardinal intellectually, asking the questions that disturb and doing the right move to settle her own pieces on the board. Sadly their inevitable mind game with the King wasn't as twisted and subtle as I hoped it would be. First Giulia was in Lucrezia's shadow when her skills are obviously superior. The second doesn't have enough experience yet and we still await the lessons she was supposed to received from the Pope's mistress. Second after all what the cardinal did, specially convincing the French to march over Rome, muting him was a dreadful mistake because it made Lucrezia even less believable as a puppet master. Otherwise I still enjoyed their childish Beauty and the Beast game, even if I wish more players had participated. After all how such an ugly man could resist such a pretty damsel ? I also appreciated a possible reference to Cyrano de Bergerac.

In Rome the Pope and Cesare Borgia had to convince the other cardinals in red not to flee the city. His speech was full of confidence and Jeremy Irons performance was good but for some reason it ended abruptly. The most interesting part was probably about the trial and the element was brought up again later and mentioned as a test. As for Juan Borgia you should really want to slap his face because David Oakes made him even more ridiculous. Dancing with the whores and a real drunk puppet enduring his bragging talk about war strategy and tactics was painful, the good way. The best part was probably when he compared himself to… Well I let you appreciate it because it should either make you throw up or want to struggle him even more ! As for the battle itself it was the perfect sequel to the Death on a Pale Horse brutal events. Moreover the presence of Lucrezia made things even more intense and I had no idea how it would end. You should be on the verge of your seat the whole time ! Last but not least the chain-cannonballs, also known as chain-shots (Boulets chaînés in French), were also back with a bloody vengeance. You have to understand that it's only at the end of the XVIII century that French explosive cannonballs were engineered.

As for the cardinals and other people revolving around the Pope they really acted like insects trapped in a spider web. A complain about the episode would be that it was a few minutes shorter than the others and I worry that they decided to censor the battle. An other disappointing element, almost annoying, was Cesare Borgia dealing with his former mistress again. He talks way too much and doesn't act. I have nicknamed him the "if" cardinal. However I understand how hard it is to be a good brother because you can't help wanting to protect your sisters from other men but when they're far away you feel just powerless. Anyway he's not the story bastard, playboy Juan is. As for the last scene featuring Jeremy Irons it was nearly in the same vein as the procession in the premiere, not as creative but definitely unexpected and fueled by the recurrent wicked confessions we had witnessed so far.

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