The Borgias (2011–2013)
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The French King 

In order to ensure a lasting alliance with Naples, the Pope betroths his 13 year old son to his bastard daughter while Della Rovere conspires in France.


John Maybury


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
Joanne Whalley ... Vanozza Cattaneo
Lotte Verbeek ... Giulia Farnese
David Oakes ... Juan Borgia
Aidan Alexander Aidan Alexander ... Gioffre Borgia
Colm Feore ... Giuliano Della Rovere
Emmanuelle Chriqui ... Sancia
Ruta Gedmintas ... Ursula Bonadeo
Michel Muller ... King Charles VIII
Luke Pasqualino ... Paolo
Augustus Prew ... Prince Alfonso
Mickey Sumner ... Francesca
Peter Sullivan ... Cardinal Ascanio Sforza


Lucrezia tends to her husband's injuries and with him unable to rise from his bed, spends more time with the stable boy Paulo, who becomes her lover. The King of Naples proposes a political between his daughter and Juan Borgia, who is not keen on the idea but suggests the younger Gioffre as a more suitable candidate. Upon seeing her he reconsiders but soon becomes he lover. Cesare meanwhile continues to pursue Ursula, whose husband has disappeared. When she learns of her husband's death, she knows Cesare is responsible and refuses to be with him. In France, Cardinal Della Rovere meets King Charles VIII who agrees to try and unseat the Borgia Pope, especially after he hears of the proposed union through marriage of Rome and Naples. Written by garykmcd

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Hungary | Ireland | Canada



Release Date:

1 May 2011 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Korda Studios, Etyek, Hungary See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

16 : 9
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Did You Know?


By inviting him to cross his borders with no resistance, it was the Duke of Milan, not Cardinal Della Rovere that encouraged King Charles to invade Italy to pursue his Neapolitan claims. See more »


Giulia Farnese: [Guilia finds Rodrigo unresponsive and quiet in bed] You find the art of politics more engrossing than...
Rodrigo Borgia: Than the art of love?
Giulia Farnese: Did I say that?
Rodrigo Borgia: Hmmm, they have more in common than you would think.
See more »


The Borgias Main Titles (Instrumental)
Written by Trevor Morris
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User Reviews

"You find the art of politics more engrossing than..."/the art of love?"
25 May 2019 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Season 1 of 'The Borgias' has a lot of great elements, if some short-comings too along the way. Despite being a slow-starter, which was more obvious on re-watch, it was not a bad season at all though to me the weakest of the three. A long way from it, as re-watching 'The Borgias' again has on the whole been one of my most addictive binge-watches. When one sees four episodes in one night, as was the case with me, that says a lot about the show's quality.

The first three episodes, again from personal opinion, were very well done though, though the writing and pacing were less than perfect, put it down to finding-its-feet syndrome. The subsequent two episodes before this were a step down, still very well made and entertaining but hurt namely by the Della Rovere subplot being dull in both episodes. Contrary to the previous reviewer, respectfully though do share a few of their issues with the episode, "The French King" to me saw the season and show back on track and in many aspects it is the best up to this point of the show. The problems are still there, but it does contain two of the best scenes not just of Season 1 but of 'The Borgias' in general.

Will start with what could have been much better. The two love subplots are really not very compelling at all, Lucrezia and Paolo's was cheesily written but it at least had passion and showed a progression in Lucrezia's character. The same cannot be said for that between Cesare and Ursula, very dull and very soapy and after not being sure of my stance on Ursula was in the previous episode found myself disliking her here, very frustratingly indecisive and hypocritical.

Michel Muller is more over the top than menacing, coming over as more a cartoon than a real character, and the military/war costumes and props do look under-budgeted and jar a little with the high quality of the rest of the production values, because when it comes to historical drama series, 'The Borgias' is up there with the best on a visual level.

Evident, coming onto the numerous good and even great things, in the exquisitely designed and richly coloured costumes and scenery and interiors that make one go wow. Perfectly captured by the photography, which rivals period dramas on film. The music still has the beauty and intensity that were present before. Meanwhile the opening titles sequences and main theme still give me the chills. one of my favourite opening titles sequences of all time (film and television). The main theme is incredible, the sheer intensity, grandeur and drama (already sending chills down the spine and induces goosebumps before the episode's even begun) makes it one of my favourite main themes for any show. Matched by splendidly and cleverly designed visuals.

Do think mostly that the writing and pacing has improved. The former is still soap-operatic and melodramatic in spots, namely between Cesare and Urula, but much of it entertains and provokes thought. Especially the very cleverly written "geopolitics" scene, a scene between Rodrigo and Giulia on Italian politics demonstrated by body parts. There is more going on here and more tension, it is with "The French King" where the storytelling and conflict started to properly progress. Even the Della Rovere subplot feels like it's progressing and things are made clearer. The painting/marriage parts didn't bother me at all. Will talk about the two best scenes. One, and for me it's the highlight, is the geopolitics scene, have always absolutely loved the charming chemistry between Rodrigo and Giulia (as ever ravishingly played by Lotte Verbeek). The other is Rodrigo's very intense dressing down to Juan, at this point at his most loathsome.

A major part as to why that is the case is the acting of Jeremy Irons, one can actually see the anger and hurt in his eyes alone and it is quite terrifying to watch. David Oakes, having no problem bringing out what was so loathsome about Juan, must have found it very intimidating working with Irons during this scene. Irons commands the screen effortlessly, the gravitas ane menace always present as is the line delivery, which was a mix of intense and tender. Both Francois Arnaud and Holliday Grainger have come on a lot since the show first started, though Arnaud has always been solid as the show's most interesting character while Lucrezia has started showing signs of what made her such a fascinating historical figure. Have no qualms with Verbeek and Joanne Whalley and Emmanuelle Chriqui makes the most of her screen time.

In conclusion, very well done and shows a progression despite a few stumbles along the way. 8/10

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