Cardinal Sforza

SEE ALSO Borgias Home | Borgias Cast | Borgias Historical Profiles I Borgias Characters

Page symbolsCardinal Sforza
as played by Peter Sullivan
Characters - The Borgias Fan Wiki

Page Symbol
Characters - The Borgias Fan Wiki

Name: Ascanio Maria Sforza
Position: Vice-Chancellor of the Roman Curia
Personality type: Sarcastic, straight-forward, serious.
Endearing trait(s): Quiet stoicism marked with a sense of self-deprecating humor at times; nice smile when it does appear
Strength(s): Shrewed diplomat, practical, mostly loyal to the Borgia Family
Weakness(es): His family name, his cousins (in more ways than one, has trouble keeping Rodrigo's feet on the ground/understanding of the realities of the treasury
Quirks: Sometimes a little too serious

Want to meet the historical Cardinal Ascanio Sforza?
Visit Cardinal Sforza's Historical Profile
for an in-depth biography
Portrait of Cardinal Ascanio Maria Sforza (?)

"Holy Father, we should abandon Rome"

Page Symbol
Characters - The Borgias Fan Wiki
Season One
Season Two

Page Symbol
Characters - The Borgias Fan Wiki

The character of Cardinal Ascanio Maria Sforza on The Borgias is one of stoicism, but loyalty to the Vatican and to his pope proves that he is more a Borgia than a Sforza. He is Rodrigo's most trusted adviser in the consistory next to Cesare Borgia (before Cesare is released from his vows), and is privvy to a lot of the pope's affairs. A no-nonsense but sometimes very sarcastic man, he sometimes comes off as intimidating with his silent stare and well-chosen words. Only once did he seriously compromise the pope's trust--and life--by contemplating his murder, but as a whole he is a good man in spite of his family name.

We first learn of his shrewdness in the very first episode, "The Poisoned Chalice", where he makes a deal with Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia to exchange his vote for the Vice Chancellery of the Curia, the position with the highest prestige and income next to the pope. That, however, seems to be his only self-serving move until Rufio, a close family friend and master of the art of death, convinces him to murder Pope Alexander VI at the beginning of Season 3. Otherwise, throughout the series he serves as loyal associate and diplomat: He often goes on missions to relay the papal needs/mediate situations, like going to Milan to remind his cousin of where loyalty should be placed in the face of an impending French invasion and going to Florence to try to coax the Friar Savonarola into silence with an offer of a place in consistory. Sadly, the missions Pope Alexander sends him on are often far reaching and futile, due to the pope's in ability to look beyond his own needs/desires.

Page Symbol
Characters - The Borgias Fan Wiki
Family members:
  • Cousin - Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan
  • Cousin - Giovanni Sforza, Lord of Pesaro
  • Cousin - Caterina Sforza-Riaro, Lady of Imola/Countess of Forli
  • Cousin - Gabriella Visconti, twice removed lover (ha ha)
  • Cousin - Gian Galleazzo, the legitimate Duke of Milan
Romance(s): Gabriella Visconti

Friends: Rodrigo Borgia/Pope Alexander VI
Allies:Rodrigo Borgia/Pope Alexander VI, Cesare Borgia

Victim(s): Came close to murdering Pope Alexander VI with a blade hidden in a crucifix

Enemies: Ludovico Sforza, Rufio, Cardinal Giuliano Della Rovere

Page Symbol
Characters - The Borgias Fan Wiki
  • "I would say the one who would be suitable as by Chancellor, will be wise to support the Vice-Chancellor who would be Pope." -- Cardinal Sforza to a then-Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (Season 1/Episode 1, "The Posioned Chalice")
  • "This very office is a nightmare, Your Holiness." -- Cardinal Sforza to Pope Alexander VI (Season 1/Episode 5, "The Borgias in Love")
  • "Holy Father, we should abandon Rome." -- Cardinal Sforza to Pope Alexander VI (Season 1/Episode 8, "The Art of War")
  • "No, Holy is priceless." -- Cardinal Sforza in response to the Pope's question "Can one put a price on joy?" (Season 2/Episode 1, "The Borgia Bull")
  • "Do you know what that sound is? It is the sound of our salvation." -- Cardinal Sforza to the other cardinals (Season 2/Episode 4, "The Beautiful Deception")
  • "When I left he was asking for water. By now he's probably f***ing a servant girl with a wine jug in one hand and a swan's leg in the other." -- Cardinal Sforza to Rufio (Season 3/Episode 1, "The Face of Death")
  • "You shall report to Cardinal Grimani, who is in charge of the Treasury. We need a comprehensive account of all funds and outlays with each transaction recorded twice. I'm sure you're aware of the principle of double entry? Tithes and taxes are garnered in the Treasury and deposited here; these dockets record the amounts, the various funds, sub funds, and sub funds of sub funds to which the accounts are due. You will make two books, one of credit and one of debit. This is your desk." -- Cardinal Sforza to Freshman Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (Season 3/Episode 4, "The Banquet of Chestnuts")

Page Symbol
Characters - The Borgias Fan Wiki
  • The private discussion where Rodrigo offers him the Vice-Chancellorship in return for his vote. (Season 1 Episode 1)
  • Getting caught frolicking in bed with his own cousin, Gabriella Visconti. (Season 1 Episode 5)
  • Being manhandled by his cousin Ludovico/arguing of the Dukedom of Milan. (Season 1 Episode 5)
  • Appearing before the Pope in sack cloth and ash looking very humble and a bit miffed at the same time. (Season 1 Episode 9)
  • Appearing shell-shocked and trying to save the host wafers while the roof of St. Peter's collapses around him. (Season 2 Episode 5)
  • Almost murdering Pope Alexander with the hidden blade. (Season 3 Episode 1)
  • Rattling off instructions/job description to a very young/fresh-faced Alessandro Farnese (Season 3 Episode 4)

Page Symbol
Characters - The Borgias Fan Wiki
How does Cardinal Sforza in The Borgias compare to actual history? Compare the facts with the fiction below!
  • Had many cousins, Ludovico and Caterina included
  • Fled Rome upon the first French invasion, citing safety of all including the pope
  • Disavowed loyalty to his family and Milan/"was a Borgia by everything but name"
  • Was the brother of Ludovico Sforza and the uncle to Caterina Sforza
  • Aligned himself with Milan and called for the pope's deposition by the French King & Della Rovere
  • Very loyal to Milan and his family

More pages