The Borgia viewing marathon is coming to an end, so a few observations.
First, after this I have to say that, overall, I liked the Neil Jordan (Showtime) version better than the Tom Fontana version. Still, Caterina Sforza got a bit of a whitewash here – she was fascinating and powerful, but the show skipped over her purges and massacres (no worse than those of her male contemporaries – but no better either). The Fontana version started off stronger and did a better job of demonstrating the political complexities of the time, but it also went even further over the top with the Borgia decadence stories, which leads me to my second point.
Second, all of the stuff the screen-writers (and others over history) love so much about this is the product of propaganda by the Borgia family’s worst enemies and probably the worst of it is untrue. In all likelihood, the only sin Alexander VI committed that other Renaissance-era popes didn’t was to be Spanish rather than Roman or Italian. Cesare probably didn’t kill his brother Giovanni (Juan). He and Lucrezia almost certainly didn’t commit incest (ditto her and her father). She probably never killed anyone, despite her somewhat lurid rep. Alexander was certainly ambitious and Cesare was as well, and both were ruthless – but no more so than most of the noble scum around them.
Third, this is not a new insight for me but I really despise the European nobility (others too, but I know these guys better). They were murdering, robbing and raping scum with a sense of entitlement and the exceptions to that do not really alleviate my overall dislike of them.
Finally, the Humble Bundle sale that allowed me to pick up Crusader Kings II and Europa Universalis IV for cheap yesterday was well-timed. I’m in the mood for some Machiavellian political domination.