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Coat of Arms of the House of Borgia.

The Borgias or Borjas were a Spanish-Italian noble family who became prominent during the Renaissance. They are remembered today for their corrupt rule when one of them was Pope. The Borgias have been accused of many different crimes, generally on considerable evidence, including adultery, simony, theft, rape, bribery, incest, and murder (especially murder by poison).

Rodrigo, a cunning intriguer, was elected Pope in 1492, taking the name Alexander VI. He had several acknowledged children, of which Lucrezia and Cesare were best known.

Cesare, with his father's backing, tried to become the ruler of Italy. But in 1503, Pope Alexander died suddenly. (It was said that he and Cesare accidentally drank a bottle of their own poisoned wine.) Cesare's intrigues collapsed, and he went off to Spain.

Lucrezia was also rumored to be a notorious poisoner. Later historians have thought she was her family's tool and victim, though. She married three times, and after the fall of her father and brother, remained the respected consort of the Duke of Ferrara.

Saint Francis Borgia was a grandson of Rodrigo through another son, Giovanni. After a career in the service of the kings of Spain, he entered the priesthood and became a Jesuit. He eventually rose to be the third Father General of the order.

Contents

Members of the family

In popular culture

The Borgias were infamous in their time, and their lurid career has inspired numerous novels, plays, operas, and films. References to the Borgias in popular culture are numerous.

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Novels

Graphic Novels

Plays

  • Lucrezia Borgia, by Victor Hugo
  • The Tyrant: An Episode in the Career of Cesare Borgia, a Play in Four Acts (1925), by Raphael Sabatini
  • The Memory of Water, by Shelagh Stephenson

Operas

Films

Businesses

Video Games

Television

  • French premium-pay TV Canal Plus, Lagardère Entertainment, and EOS Entertainment are working on the production of a Mini-series about the rise of the Borgia dynasty since early 2009. Written by Tom Fontana (Oz, Homicide,...), "The Borgias" will follow the famous crime family through its reign of terror at the Vatican at the turn of the 16th century when Rodrigo Borgia was pope. The series will be shot in English from May to December of 2010 in either Italy or in Spain for a January 2011 delivery. The 12-episode, 50-minute series will be made on a budget of €30 million ($44 million).
  • The Walt Disney movies The Shaggy Dog and its sequel The Shaggy D.A.; have a ring once owned by Lucretia Borgia playing a significant role in their storylines.
  • In January 2010, American premium pay TV Showtime has announced the order of ten episodes of an historical drama based on the Borgia family. Oscar winner Jeremy Irons will play Rodrigo Borgia, and Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) will direct. The network plans a spring 2011 premiere.

References


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