| Pesaro, the Sforza Castle – Lucrezia tends to her lord Sforza as he lies in bed, Francesca standing by. She kisses his hand and wants him to believe she is thankful his leg will be saved. He notes that a viper must have startled his horse “Diablo.” Giovanni studies Lucrezia and says that he sees now that her nobility is sprung from her soul – not her blood, of which she pretends to be sorry for the accident of her Borgia blood. |
Rome, the Vatican throne room – Ferrante’s ambassador presents blessings and hopes of betrothing her to Juan, the duke of Gandia. The portrait of Sancia is unveiled, Juan pauses entranced, but to no avail. Juan starts to scoff when the pope cuts him short with a warning glare and assures the ambassador that Ferrante’s suit will be considered shortly, as he does indeed support the independence of the Aragonese kings of Naples.
The woods near Pesaro castle – Lucrezia and Paolo the groom on horseback in the woods. Enjoying the pleasures of the summer day, everyone and every deer is happy that the Lord Sforza is abed, laughs Lucrezia.
Rome – in the pope’s private chambers Juan talks ill of the thought of marrying a second rate duchess of “Squillace. Juan, Cesare and their father discuss a union with Naples, who will it be? Juan or Cesare, the pope decides on Joffre.” Juan asks Cesare if he would go to Naples to accept the terms, Cesare declines, saying he has business in Rome and cannot leave. Juan taunts him playfully while lifting the hem of his robe saying indeed there must still be a man under these cardinal skirts.
Paolo and Lucrezia discover a spring, and speak of Narcissus and his love for his own reflection – Lucrezia kisses the surface of the pond, and notes how she has actually found sweetness in her new life, being with Paolo. Paolo takes her in an embrace and lovingly kisses her for the first time. Ursula and Cesare walk in the courtyard of Cesare’s palace. She compliments him on his spare tastes and he notes how only one ornament is needed in his home – implying herself. She resists, he pulls her near and she is utterly conflicted between desire and shame. Meanwhile back in the woods near Pesaro castle, Lucrezia and Paolo make love under the trees. Back in Cesare’s rooms, him and Ursula enjoy their first lovemaking by the light of the glowing hearth, in the dark shadowy bedchamber. Both lovers’ passion for each other is fully embraced in the moment, though she has her fears of her husbands’ long absence. Cesare reminds her he may be having an affair of his own.
Pope Alexander and Juan finalize the plan to wed Joffre to Sancia, and her 200,000 ducat dowry, sneers Juan – the pope tells him they need the alliance more than the riches, as “wolves are bearing down on the Papal States.”
Naples – the splendid royal city appears in the distance as Juan and his entourage ride on to meet the king and his illegitimate daughter, Sancia. At the banquet where Ferrante sits being spoon-fed by Alfonso, Juan talks of his prowess and that he leads the papal armies, Alfonso laughs wildly as his father spits out his food. Sancia tells Juan that her illegitimacy has always given her a sense of license to do whatever she likes, and she squeezes Juan’s thighs. Later, in the museum of embalmed enemy corpses, she asks what feelings her own widespread reputation inspires in others, and Juan tells her “lust.” She makes advances and Juan takes her in the heat of the moment, on the table among the dead.
The pope’s bed – Rodrigo and Giulia at leisure, she notices that politics, rather than love, occupies him. He makes a sensual descriptive metaphor of Italian politics by tracing the states along her pelvis and thighs, reaching the calf and foot that are Naples, the stability upon which all stands. He says playfully that he will now invade fair France, and begins caressing her.
France – army encampment. Della Rovere is brought before the king and his advisers. He begins with humility but the hardened Charles demands straight talk – will della Rovere, in return for deposing the pope, place the crown of Naples on his ugly head? The king asks his general, do I not have an ugly head The man replies to all, “I can hardly bear to gaze on it” The king knows he has all the graces of a carnival dwarf, and will stop at nothing to conquer Naples if he goes ahead with the invasion. They agree, and della Rovere stresses that his aim is to reform the papal office. King Charles says he will help della Rovere, but if only he places the crown of Naples on his ugly “noggin.”
Rome – naked in bed, Cesare and Ursula discuss her husbands prolonged absence. She starts to feel like he is a different man, and she points out how blasphemous he is being such and a cardinal. She fears the worst and is pulling away from him in the shame of her deed.
France – The king and his advisers show della Rovere the new cannon and proceed to demonstrate the new technology that will alter warfare forever. The king tells della Rovere that war is ugly, and what he wants Charles to do is a far cry from the traditional “show of force” warfare that Italians are used to. The king says his war will ravage Italy and it will be a new era of grisliness. They continue their dialogue about the hell that war creates, impressing della Rovere with the terror he is about to invite into his motherland. Charles tells della Rovere that the French soldiers have been hardened by years of battle with the English, and will utterly crush these fancy feathered peacock condottieri of Italian warfare. War is unjust and pits armor against armor where one side ends in death or surrender.
Pesaro – the castle walls lighted by torch and candle, Paolo meets Lucrezia in her room. Francesca covers for them while Giovanni sleeps in his sick room elsewhere. They make love in a fit of passion, and later, Giovanni wakes to the sound of squeaking. He goes to investigate, and just before he ascends the stair to her bed chamber her looks into where Francesca and a maid are churning butter, making a squeaking noise. He passes it off and goes back to bed.
Rome – Vanozza and her boys at supper. Joffre asks about his betrothed, and Juan tells him dryly that Sancia has neither beauty nor is she kind. Joffre accepts his lot and goes quiet – then Juan scoops him up playfully and cheerfully tells him in truth, she is an angel, beautiful and sweet beyond measure. Juan says he would marry her himself if little Joffre does not. Vanozza and Cesare share a knowing look, Juan and his escapades are easily guessed. Meanwhile, in the streets, a body is discovered and found to be Baron Bonadeo. Later Theo pays Vanozza a visit and becomes the punching bag for Juan to vent his fears and anger at his own illegitimacy.
In St Peter’s Ursula seeks out Cesare and tells him he husband’s body has been found floating on the banks of the Tiber. She immediately knows he was killed by Cesare and she accuses him of murder. He tells her it was a fair fight and Bonadeo lost. She rails against Cesare and proclaims she will repent and retire to a nunnery, where he says he will find her. He broods – I have upon me the mark, not of Cain – but of my father. She calls him a monster and tells him that she will never be free of him. The anguish consumes Cesare as he stands in the vast basilica watching her run away from him.
Vatican hall – Rodrigo derides Juan for shedding Theo’s blood, and risking their mother’s reputation, which the pope has spent years trying to rehabilitate – for the good of the family. Juan must cease these antics or else the pope might decide to forget whose son he is.
Scenes rapidly flash - the pope lies asleep in his bed, he sees Lucrezia’s face and asks if he is in heaven or still dreaming, and she lays in his arms and gives him a kiss. Della Rovere informs the French king about the wedding of Sancia and Joffre, now is the time to move. Cesare and Lucrezia meet at the Vatican in the courtyard, sit down for a reunion and talks about their present lives. Lucrezia bears her sorrows well, and tells him at first it was not well, but has grown sweeter. Cesare tells her his heart has been broken by a nun, and Lucrezia jokes about poor Abelard and Heloise and forbidden love. Cesare will find his love. We find Ursula in the shadowy convent getting her hair shorn by the head nun. The nun tells her that she must renounce her earthly beauty. She is now a bride of Christ and she weeps in sadness and shame.
St Peter’s basilica - in state for the wedding of Joffre and Sancia. Lucrezia tells Cesare she hates Sancia because she is too beautiful. Vanozza sneaks a sidelong glance at Giulia, who does not deign to acknowledge her existence. Ascanio Sforza and Juan preside over the ceremony.
Later that evening, Sancia and Juan speak in her bedchambers about Squillace. The duchy was given to her as a dowry, though she has never been there. Juan and Sancia make hasty passionate love while talking about it. Her child-husband Joffre awaits his bride and drinks a glass of milk. She walks in, and says “good night pages, unless you would join us…no, that is a step too far, even for a duke and Duchesa of Squillace.” She asks if he is ready and he nods expectantly, she drops her gown.
French camp – king Charles tells della Rovere, “You will have your war, but it will be fought the French way.”