Giulia Farnese

SEE ALSO Borgias Home | Borgias Cast | Borgias Historical Profiles I Borgias Characters I Team Giulia Farnese / Lotte Verbeek

Page symbolsGiulia Farnese as played by Lotte Verbeek
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Name: Giulia Farnese
Position: Wife of an Orsini baron (unnamed in show as of yet), Mistress of Pope Alexander VI
Personality type: Kind, unaffected, beautiful
Endearing trait(s): sweet, gentle, friendly, calm
Strength(s): shrewd
Weakness(es): a woman

Want to meet the historical Giulia Farnese?
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Raphael's "Transfiguration" detail

"Beauty can be deadly, when well used"

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Season OneSeason Two

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*The ravishing temptress who comes to the Pope seeking redemption and ends up in his bed, Giulia quickly uses her new vaunted position to amass power and influence of her own. She befriends Lucrezia and shares her opinions with the Pope, thereby alienating Vanozza and driving a wedge straight through the heart of the Borgia family. *Source Showtime

She was born in 1472 in the Canino, (Lazio) Italy, but grew up in Capodimonte on Lake Bolsena near Viterbo. She married Orsino Orsini "monoculus" on May 20, 1489 in Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia's palace's "The Room of Stars". Soon after the marriage, Giulia became Rodrigo's mistress and remained so until perhaps his death or earlier.

In 1492 she gave birth to a daughter Laura after Rodrigo Borgia became Pope Alexander VI. Many noted that Laura looked like the Pope, but nevertheless Laura was an Orsini.

She was known as the 'Pope's wh*re", "the Bride of Christ" and as Giulia la bella meaning 'Julia the beautiful'. Her brother Alessandro became a cardinal during her affair with the pope. Many believed it was mainly because of her relationship with Alexander VI that he was elevated. Later Pope Paul III, young Alessandro Farnese was known as the "Petticoat Cardinal." In 1494 she angered the Pope when she with Adriana left Lucrezia in Pesaro to see her dying brother Angelo in Capodimonte. Orsino at the same time left his duty as a general and demanded that Giulia come to him. Alexander threatened excommunication if she obeyed her husband's request. Ultimately, Giulia did not listen to Orsino, but as she returned to Rome she and Adriana were captured by Yves d'Allegre, a French captain, and ransomed. D'Allegre boasted that he had captured the "heart and eyes of the Pope". She returned safely to Rome and spent the night with the Pope.
Orsino died in 1500 after falling off a roof. Giulia was said to have returned to court sometime after, but spent much time in Carbognano where she governed.

She had at least one, but perhaps two four children thought to be by Rodrigo Borgia. One of those is thought to be Rodrigo born in 1503. Her daughter Laura Orsini (never acknowledged as the pope's child, born 1492) married the nephew of Pope Julius II in 1505, for which Giulia returned to Rome. It is said that Pope Julius believed Laura not to be Alexander VI's daughter due to the hatred between the two men (Pope Julius changed the location of his bedchamber because the room had a portrait of Alexander VI). She died in 1524 in her brother Cardinal Alessandro's home.

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Family Members:
Related to Pope Boniface VIII
Brother Alessandro Farnese became Pope Paul III

She had 4 siblings: Alessandro, Angelo, Bartolomeo and Girolama

Romances: Mistress of Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo Borgia)

Friends: Lucrezia Borgia

Enemies: Vanozza

Allies: the pope, his children, her brother as cardinal

Orsino Orsini
Giovanni Capece da Bozzuto


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  • "Beauty can be deadly when well used" Giulia to Lucrezia
  • "My husband your holiness, has long been distasteful to me". Giulia to Rodrigo
  • "I fear I may like the holiness as well, I am still young your holiness, and my body am sure, could find and give much happiness as my soul could find peace". Giulia to Rodrigo
  • "Your mother is not coming to your wedding." Giulia to Lucrezia
  • “All things are permissible, in our dreams.” Giulia
  • “Where all roads lead to .. Rome. Your father needs us both, at this perilous juncture.” – Giulia to Lucrezia
  • “It’s in our nature to love them. But we should protect ourselves against them. Against our feelings toward them. We will all of us, one day, be replaced.”

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  • When she travels to Pesaro to see Lucrezia and determine if the Borgias still have the support of the Sforza family. Upon realizing that Lucrezia is pregnant she realizes that she must get Lucrezia out of Pesaro.
  • When she sets about going through the Vatican accounts for information as to misappropriated funds, missing from the funds for Charitable Works.
  • When she leads Lucrezia and Vanozza to the brothels to find information to use to blackmail cardinals into helping with their charity works.
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How does Giulia Farnese in The Borgias compare to actual history? Compare the facts with the fiction below!

  • Went to the pope to confess and be absolved of termination a pregnancy by her husband
  • Hates her husband and is repulsed by him
  • Has her portrait painted holding a unicorn, by Pinturicchio in 1492
  • Looks to be in her mid-to-late 20's when she meets Alexander VI.
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  • Met the pope through her mother-in-law to be, Adriana de Mila, who allowed her to become the pope's mistress even though she was married to her son Orsino
  • Benign towards him and promptly bore him a child, Laura Orsini in 1492 (may be the pope's daughter)
  • The portrait known as "Lady with a Unicorn" is thought to be Giulia - but was painted by Raphael in 1505
  • Was 15 when she was introduced to the then-cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, when he came to visit his daughter Lucrezia in her future mother-in-law's home, and not yet married to Orsino Orsini.
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