For others named Rodrigo Borgia, please see Rodrigo Borgia.

What would Rome be without a good plot?
~ Rodrigo Borgia

Pope Alexander VI, born Rodrigo de Borja and more commonly known as Rodrigo Borgia, is the central character of the Showtime series The Borgias. He is an ambitious, power-hungry patriarch who uses bribery and murder to secure his election to the papacy. Once placing himself and his family into power, he struggles to maintain his grip on Italy and hold off any threats against him. 

With Vannozza dei Cattanei, Rodrigo Borgia had 4 children: Cesare, Juan, Lucrezia, and Gioffre. Although he is a family man at heart, Borgia is not above using his children as pawns in his game of Renaissance politics. 

The Showtime series reversed the order of Cesare and Juan from the Canal+ series and generally accepted real world history, making Cesare the eldest child.


Season 1: 

Prior to becoming Pope, Borgia served as the Vice-Chancellor to Pope Innocent VIII - second in rank only to the Pope. By the summer of 1492 Innocent was a frail, sickly old man. After Innocent VIII received the Viaticum (last Communion) the Cardinals of the Church, including Borgia and his arch-rival Giuliano della Rovere gathered around Innocent. Innocent's last words were a regretful statement about the church being sullied by greed and lechery, and asked the Cardinals which of them would wash it clean, words that seemed to be directed at Borgia and della Rovere.

Before the Vatican was sealed for the conclave, Borgia gave his son Cesare some directions- namely find out what the Cardinals' favorite foods were so that they could be delivered, and to arrange for gold to be delivered to their homes. Borgia thus was able to bribe a large number of the Cardinals into electing him as Pope, and he took the papal name Alexander.

The night after his election, Cardinal Orsini tried to have Alexander poisioned. However, Cesare convinced Orsini's assassin Micheletto to switch sides, and so Orsini died to his own poision (but not before accusing Alexander of ordering his murder). Micheletto then becomes one of Alexander's most useful assets throughout the show. 

After becoming Pope, the affair between Alexander and Vannozza cooled off, as Alexander has his heart set on a new mistress, Giulia Farnese. Farnese is a much younger woman, in her late 20's whereas Alexander is in his early 60s. Alexander utilized a tunnel connecting a Cardinal's palace to the Vatican to meet up with Guila to have sex. Delle Rovere (now Alexander's archenemy) tries to expose this lechery to the College of Cardinals, but Alexander has Micheletto kill the only witness who knew the tunnel existed. 

Alexander spends the next several years as Pope plotting and scheming to cement his power. He arranges the marriages of his children to various members of noble families throughout Italy. These marriages were often loveless shams that existed solely to benefit Alexander. 

Season 2:

Coming soon 

Season 3: 

Thanks to Lucrezia's help, Alexander survived Antonello's assassination attempt. After he recovers, he orders a purge of the College of Cardinals to ensure loyalty. 

At the end of the third season Alexander had cornered the market on sulfur, restricting the ability of other city states such as Naples to manufacturer gunpowder. He was exploring making the Papacy a hereditary monarchy, with Cesare as his likely successor. 

Planned Season 4: 

The Borgias was originally going to have four seasons, but when Neil Jordan thought about doing the fourth season, he didn't have the energy or even story to do ten episodes. Instead of that, he proposed Showtime to wrap up everything with a two-hour television movie. He even wrote a rough screenplay, but the network refused, arguing it was too expensive and the season 3 ending worked as a series finale. Jordan would eventually published the screenplay as an e-book called The Borgia Apocalypse.

Reception to this book on sites like Amazon and Goodreads was somewhat positive to negative. Many reviewers argued that the book was a rushed attempt to make an ending, and that characterization was extremely altered. For more information, read the below section, In The Borgia Apocalypse

Physical Appearance

Rodrigo Borgia is an elegant, handsome man in his 60s. He is a "silver fox" who seduces women decades younger than him. 

Usually he is seen wearing a white silk papal coat/robe and a red stole with white fur lining. 

He is played by the famous British actor Jeremy Irons, who also voiced Scar. Oddly enough, Irons looks nothing like the historical Borgia (a heavyset Spaniard with darker skin and a beaky nose). 

In The Borgia Apocalypse

The Borgia Apocalypse happens right after the end of Alfonso was killed by Cesare. Rodrigo arrived at the murder scene. He was shocked and angry by what Cesare did. He argued with Cesare for murdering his future son-in-law, and Cesare tried to explain what he did. However, Rodrigo slapped his son and threatened him to throw Alfonso's body into Tiber River, and Cesare had to do so. He also said Cesare need assistance from Micheletto, who had already left the side of Cesare.

The Pope was later visted by Micheletto, who demanded the latter to pay a visit. Still being struck by his guilt riddance, Micheletto refused to serve the Pope or God, since he deemed himself to be utterly sinned. Rodrigo then encouraged him to return back to Cesare instead. Later, Rodrigo was visited by Cardinal D'Ambroise, who sent him a message about the French King Louis XII's arrival with his army.

Coming soon


  • The real Rodrigo Borgia is considered one of the most controversial and infamous Popes in history. Although many of the accusations against him were likely made up by his enemies, it is true that he took many mistresses, violated his celibacy vows, engaged in nepotism and bribery, and overall had villainous tendencies. These behaviors were hardly unusual for Popes during that time in history.
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