A portrait of the bloody dynasty that spawned a pope, Alexander VI, as well as the role model for Machiavelli's "The Prince," his son Cesare Borgia, and a legend of femme duplicity, daughter Lucrezia Borgia.
I hugely enjoyed this series when it was first shown in 1981, even watching the contemporary Sunday repeats which were buried away at 10.30pm on BBC2. The portrayals of all the leading figures were outstanding, especially Oliver Cotton as Cesare. He was mesmerising as the charismatic 'Duke Valentino' and it is a crying shame that his performance was lost amongst the grossly undeserved tirade of abuse the series attracted. The settings were authentic and the costuming was also superb. The series was accurate in it's depiction of a violent and bloody era and did not fall into the trap of making the Borgias raving, sex crazed psychopaths and tyrants. In truth they were responsible governors and were respected (if not loved) by their subjects. After he was deposed Cesare even had to go to a city in person to persuade the people to surrender to his enemies or they would be killed. They reluctantly did so but praised him for putting their welfare before his pride. Lucrezia was also well portrayed, she was loved by the citizens of Ferrara (home of her third husband) for her charitable works and they requested for her to be canonised but the Pope (unsurprisingly given her 'reputation') declined. I don't think any other person in history has been so unfairly maligned as Lucrezia (with the possible exception of General Custer). I have longed to see this series again and think 26 years is too long to have to wait ... the series now belongs to that era of classic video-taped programmes that we no longer see. The BBC release some excellent lesser known series on DVD so there must be a place for this. They may also make some of their money back!!!
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