The Art of War

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"The Art of War"
Characters - The Borgias Fan Wiki

Episode Title: The Art of War
The Borgias Episode #: 8
The Borgias Season: 1
Original Air Date: 15 May 2011
Writer: Neil Jordan
Director(s): Jeremy Podeswa
Guest Star(s):Ruta Gedmintas as Sister Martha (formerly Ursula Bonadeo), Michel Muller as King Charles VIII, Luke Pasqualino as Paolo,Peter Sullivan as Cardinal Sforza

The invaders capture a fleeing and pregnant Lucrezia as they march on Rome, but she charms King Charles and is allowed to persuade her brother Juan to withdraw his hopelessly outmatched defensive troops; Pope Alexander VI awaits to learn of his fate as Charles enters the city and makes his way to the Vatican.

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Episode 1.8 - The Art of War

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The Art of War - THE  BORGIAS   wiki

Name: Pope Alexander VI
Played by: Jeremy Irons
Plot connections: Desperately searches for allies as the French army approaches Rome, but refuses to desert the Vatican.

Charles VIII

Name: King Charles VIII
Played by: Michel Muller
Plot connections: Leads his army through Italy, feasts with the captured Lucrezia and Giulia


Name: Lucrezia Borgia
Played by: Holliday Grainger
Plot connections:Captured by the French whilst escaping from Pesaro, but charms King Charles when she meets him


Name: Juan Borgia
Played by: David Oakes
Plot connections: Displays his lack of military experience when leading the Papal army against the French but is persuaded to retreat

Name: Cesare Borgia
Played by: Francois Arnaud
Plot connections:Retrieves Juan from a brothel but is rebuked by his father for publicly doubting his brother's capabilities, vows to stand by the Pope no matter what

Cardinal Della Rovere

Name: Cardinal della Rovere
Played by: Colm Feore
Plot connections:Accompanies the French army on its march through Italy whilst continually urging the King to depose the Pope

Name: Giulia Farnese
Played by: Lotte Verbeek
Plot connections:Persuades Lucrezia to leave Pesaro secretly but is captured with her by French troops

Name: Paolo
Played by: Luke Pasqualino
Plot connections:Helps Lucrezia and Giulia to flee from Pesaro but refuses to leave with them, is blamed and punished for the escape by Giovanni Sforza

Giovanni Sforza

Name: Giovanni Sforza
Played by: Ronan Vibert
Plot connections:Erupts in fury when he learns that his wife has left him to return to Rome, suspects Paulo of helping her and whips him cruelly
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Supporting Cast

  • French Captain - Edward Akrout
  • French General - Mark Noble
  • Friar Raphael - Edward Petherbridge
  • Gunner Captain - Arpad Csernik
  • Condottiere 1 - Danny Midwinter
  • Condottiere 2 - Zoltan Schmed
  • Spanish Ambassador (Juan de Fonseca) - Robert Reina

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Paolo helps Lucrezia and Giulia escape Giovanni's fief, but the women wind up as captives of the advancing French army. At the Vatican, Pope Alexander worries whether his few remaining troops will be able to stop the invaders' march on Rome. After charming the French king, Lucrezia is able to intercede and talk Juan, leader of the over-matched papal army, into retreating. Later, Della Rovere enjoins King Charles to continue his trek to Rome and the unprotected pope.
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Pesaro – Sforza castle, Giulia goes to Paolo to arrange horses for departure at dawn. She demands his silence as to their whereabouts and his relations with Lucrezia, he agrees to keep quiet not only in the face of her threats, but because he loves Lucrezia. Later that next morning, Lucrezia urges Paolo to come with them, failing to tell him she is pregnant by him. He refuses to go, saying he will be whipped but it will be worth it. He watches them gallop away.

Rome – Vatican Palace, the pope is being dressed by grooms, as Cesare comes into the chamber. The pope tells him of a dream he had. All of Italy deserted Rome, and that he the pope was wearing simple sandals of a Spanish peasant. He takes this as an omen to approach the Spanish for protection against the coming French invasion. He tells Cesare to summon the Spanish ambassador. The next scene shows the pope in his audience hall with the Spanish ambassador. He reiterates the papal bull that gave the sovereignty of the New World to Spain, the title “Most Catholic Majesties” given to Ferdinand and Isabella, and entreats him to urge Spain’s protection of Rome against the French. The ambassador says he cannot meet the pope’s full demands as it would be tantamount to a declaration of war on France. “Must we meet this French apocalypse alone?” Alexander asks the ambassador. He walks out of the chamber, alone. Later, the pope and Cesare are alone in his private rooms and Rodrigo asks his son to seek out and remove Juan from whatever wh*rehouse he is at. Cesare finds Juan in a brothel, filled with undressed prostitutes, one of whom is washing up next to a naked sleeping Juan. As Cesare drags Juan to his feet and Juan relates this is his brother, she offers that had she known his brother was a cardinal she would have charged him double. Cesare rouses Juan with water while reprimanding him for his wanton lechery and debauchery. Juan tells his brother that is why Juan is a soldier and Cesare a cardinal. Juan, being the Duke of Gandia, proudly states that lechery and debauchery are "the very marks of nobility".

Papal Territories – Giulia and Lucrezia on horseback travelling through the woods. Giulia tells her that the holy father needs them both close to him at this perilous time, and asks her about Paolo. The scene flashes to Giovanni whipping Paolo and questioning him. Paolo will not tell and bravely states that she is headed as far away from you as possible. He goes on, saying that Lucrezia cannot - nor can Paolo - stand the sight or smell of him.

Rome – The pope tells Cesare he must stop degrading his brother in public, and must exude confidence in order to persuade the cardinals to stay in Rome, to act as one in the face of the French. Later, the pope summons a council of the College of Cardinals to impress upon them the dire importance of their staying in Rome. Their departure to Ostia will prove to the world how disjointed divided Rome really is.

Giulia and Lucrezia are surprised by a unit of the French army in the woods, who tell them this is a dangerous road and they will be escorted to the king in safety. They are surrounded by French horsemen and are taken to the encampment.

Rome – The pope, Juan, Cesare, and their condottieri captains talk about the strength of the papal army, while they discuss the stratagems for avoiding siege warfare and cannon bombardment. Juan wants to face the French in an open field of battle, where their cannon can do less harm. Little does he know the new invention of the chained double cannonball and horse-drawn rapid-fire cannon will be unleashed. In open battle, where traditional cannon would do little harm being unwieldy and slow to arm, Juan thinks his army can out maneuver the cannon fire. The pope applauds him while Cesare looks confused and admits “I have little knowledge of the art of war.” Juan digs at him by saying at least one in the family knows it, and that is why it is he and not Cesare in battle. The rivalry of the Borgia brothers heats up, and Juan is at the top of his game when his father tells all that Juan will be the “saviour of Rome.” Later, the troops leave the city through throngs of cheering people and flower tossing damsels, to the sound of bells ringing. From the balcony overlooking the square Micheletto tells Cesare, when he expresses his doubt about Juan’s ability to defend Rome “where warfare is concerned your eminence, our good lord will take a holiday.”

French encampment – French captain asks the names of the captives and they tell him. The ladies request the pleasure of the French king’s company. He realizes his valuable prize and hastens to tell the king. The general tells the king they have the pope’s mistress and daughter, and Charles looks at his reflection in a tub of water and asks himself why he, the king, has no mistress! Giulia and Lucrezia realize their danger, yet also the opportunity to play some part in this event, and they will use their weapons “wit and beauty” to achieve what they can. Later, in the royal tent the ladies dine with the king and his men. Lucrezia displays her very excellent wit and uses her beauty to charm the king, with whom it appears she admires greatly for his gentlemanly manner. She portends in jest (by looking into the wine goblet) a meeting of two armies, but will not end in battle, with neither a winner or a loser…the king seems disappointed but is very much taken with her little game.

Field of Battle – Juan’s small papal army faces the large French hordes. Juan is uncertain of battle formation and sequence. His condottiere allows him to take the lead – Juan engages his troops only to see his men blown to bits by the rapid fire cannon, bodies sliced in two like butter, horses fallen, in the first volley. Lucrezia and Giulia are with the king behind the lines watching the face-off with Cardinal della Rovere, the captain (Yves d’Allegre?), and the General (Louis de Tremouille?). The king tells Lucrezia “I would cover your ears my dear.” Lucrezia brazenly asks the king to hold off, and she rides out to the center of the plain as if to parlay with the papal army itself. The French are impatient to continue, so as to not lose morale and momentum, but the king stays the fire. Lucrezia meets Juan and urges him for the sake of life to quit and turn back to Rome, allow the French safe passage through to Naples. It wouldn’t be defeat, it would only be allowance of passage in exchange for the promise of the French not to sack Rome. He agrees and the army falls back. Lucrezia rides back to the king and entreats him to accept the development and be the gentlemen that she knows he is. The ruse worked, and the king did not attack the papal forces. Lucrezia tells the king, “My brother, the Duke of Gandia, the gonfaloniere of the Papal Armies, bids you welcome to Rome.”

Rome – the pope and cardinals have their last discussion about fleeing the city. Cardinal Piccolomini urges him to escape to Ostia, he declines. The pope gravely states that it is God’s will to resist and not flee, he will be guided by God and the rest of the cardinals will see, when and if they return, the true power of God on earth through Christ’s vicar, the papacy. The cardinals begin their removal en masse from the Vatican. Burchart is busy taking books from the chancery when the pope comes in to ask him why. He states that he must save them for posterity, to which the pope replies to the effect, that this book on the Council of Constance must be save for the proceedings in the deposition of a pope, for you will use this against me soon will you not. The pope slowly walks out, leaving Burchart a bit shaken. Later, the papal army is led back to Rome by Juan, and as they file past the Vatican, looking dejected and worn out. Cesare says to Micheletto: “Rome is like an old wh*ore waiting once more for her ravishment.”

Pope’s bedroom – Alexander sits alone on his bed. Cesare walks in, and the pope tells him not to blame Juan, as it was all his own fault for putting false hopes in his ability. Cesare informs his father that they have Lucrezia and Giulia, and the pope continues saying he was blinded by paternal fondness for Juan, and must face this dark night of the soul alone. At which point Cesare tells him, “I will not leave you father.” And they embrace. Juan comes in telling them they had no chance for survival, being outnumbered and outmaneuvered. The pope tells Juan to take Vanozza to safety in Ostia, despite Juan's protests for all to leave, at least to Castle SantAngelo. Meanwhile Cesare visits sister Martha and tells her to come with him, she refuses though allows him to place guards in front of the convent.

St Peter’s Basilica – The pope stands alone with Friar Raphael. They embrace and the pope tells him that one needs old friends at times like this. The pope tells him that he will remain in Rome to resist the French passage through Rome. This resistance speaks of fortitude in the face of threat, it speaks of courage, giving Rodrigo hope. The pope has an idea – he will take Father Raphael’s clothes and face the French king as a humble man of God, in a plain tunic and simple sandals. The pope will face this trial, without the trappings of his office – “with nothing but our faith in God to adorn us.” The episode closes with the solemn scene of the pope undressing, taking off the layers of his princely papal garb, he looks in the mirror dressed as a simple priest and says “Well.”

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page logo BEST QUOTES
  • Giovanni Sforza (about Lucrezia and Giulia): " Where are they headed?" Paolo: " She is headed as far from you as possible, my lord. She can no longer stand the sight of you... the smell of you... the thought of you... and nor, my lord can I."
  • Pope Alexander VI (to Cesare about the people leaving Rome): " They're like rats, my son, deserting a sinking ship. Thus, our savior was abandoned by his apostles in his hour of greatest need."

  • Cesare: " Will the good lord see the justice in our cause, Micheletto?"
  • Micheletto: " Where warfare is concerned your Eminence, our good lord will take a holiday."

  • Giulia: "Kings are of short supply."
  • King Charles: "I am of novelty value then."

  • King Charles: "This Pope has a mistress? For shame."
  • Cardinal Sforza: "Holy Father, we should abandon Rome."

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    Who died?
    How did they die?
    Juan's Captain - a condottiere of the Papal Army Cut in half by a chained double cannon blast
    several papal mounted horsemen cannon volley

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    • Best - Pope Alexander VI demanding the cardinals' loyalty and making open threats against them if they do not
    • Best - King Charles urinating in the canal as his troops file over a bridge
    • Best - Moment shared by Cesare and Rodrigo in the papal bedroom
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    • What is the name of the French General? Is he supposed to be Louis de Tremouille? How about the captain who captured Giulia and Lucrezia? Could this be a portrayal of the gallant Yves d'Allegre?
    • So, what did Friar Raphael wear when Pope Alexander took his clothes?
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    • Yves d'Allegre really did capture Giulia Farnese as she made their way back to Rome after visiting Giulia's dying brother at Capodimonte, near Viterbo. The pope had threatened her escort, Adriana de Mila with excommunication and eternal damnation if she did not bring Giulia back to Rome immediately, after he heard of the intentions of Giulia's husband to keep her from Rome. See the Giulia Farnese Historical Profile for an excerpt of a letter from the pope making this dire warning.
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    How did this episode differ from actual events? Compare the facts with the fiction below!
    • The Spanish ambassador (Juan de Fonseca) refuses the Pope's pleas for help on the basis that Spain is not willing to go to war against France

    • Juan Borgia is in command of the hopelessly outmaneuvered papal troops
    • Lucrezia flees Pesaro secretly with Giulia
    • Lucrezia and Giulia are captured by French troops as they attempt to reach Rome

    • Lucrezia and Giulia use their charms to dissuade King Charles from sacking Rome, and Lucrezia intervenes on the battlefield to persuade Juan to retreat

    • King Charles tells Giulia and Lucrezia that he doesn't have a mistress

    • Pope Alexander refuses to retreat to the port of Ostia but plans to send Vanozza there for safety
    • The Pope is left without hope of troops or allies
    • Although King Ferdinand did not immediately respond to Alexander pleas for help, he did not reject them - by December 1494, his ambassador to the French King had advised that Spain was the Pope's ally and that she was ready to go to war to defend the papacy
    • Juan Borgia was still in Spain and did not return to Rome until after the French had left Italy
    • Lucrezia remained safe in Pesaro during the invasion
    • Giulia was captured, along with her sister Girolama and the Pope's cousin Adriana de Mila, whilst returning to Rome from her family home at Capodimonte, although they had previously visited Lucrezia at Pesaro
    • Lucrezia never met the King and Giulia was never present on a battlefield. Although troops from Naples were sent to prevent Charles reaching Rome, his army bypassed them by taking a different route.
    • Despite his ungainly appearance, Charles was 'one of the most lascivious men in France and was very fond of copulation' (quoted by Sarah Bradford, 'Lucrezia Borgia'.
    • Ostia had already fallen to the Colonna and their French allies on 18th September 1494, seriously compromising Rome's defences and food supplies
    • An army from Naples under Prince Ferrante was already marching to defend Rome and Spain was on the point of intervention

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