Since my dear husband recently received his doctorate (hooray!) I couldn’t resist recognizing Venetian Elena Cornaro Piscopia, who became the first woman awarded a doctorate of philosophy on June 25, 1678. Elena was born in Venice to a noble family; her father was a Procurator of St. Mark’s, a high office in the Republic of Venice. She was well educated, studying Greek and Latin under … Continue reading Lady Doctor
Previously on The Borgias: King Charles of France slaughtered his way across Italy, and nobody, particularly not Juan, was able to stop him. Except Lucrezia, who brokered a deal on the fly that would allow Charles to make a bloodless entry into Rome. I’m expecting her to become fully awesome in season 2.
The French pack up and get on the road to Rome. Della Rovere immediately tells Charles he should demand a convocation of the College of Cardinals as soon as they arrive, so they can get on with deposing Alexander. He says this right in front of Giulia and Lucrezia too, which seems unwise, since he’s just witnessed how good these ladies are at wheeling and dealing. Giulia coolly points out that there probably won’t be too many cardinals hanging around in Rome when they get there.
Previously on The Borgias: The French rolled in and totally trashed Lucca, which made the rest of Italy basically wet itself. Giulia paid a visit to Lucrezia and found out dear Lu is pregnant, and the kid’s not Sforza’s.
In the middle of the night, Giulia steals out to the stables, where she gently wakes Paolo. She asks if he’s “the one” and he readily admits to it. She tells him he’s not to say the same to anyone else, or she’ll see him hanged. He understands. Giulia orders him to prepare two horses for the ladies, so they can leave at dawn.
Alexander’s getting dressed and telling Cesare that he had a nightmare that everyone had abandoned them, and he found himself dressed as a peasant as the French army swarmed through Rome. He tells Cesare to summon the Spanish ambassador, because he and Alexander need to have a talk.
Previously on The Borgias: Della Rovere went to France and asked King Charles to invade Italy. Charles agreed, as long as he got to conduct the fighting his way. Lucrezia’s affair with Paulo continued, while Cesare’s affair with Ursula fizzled. Jofre got married to a woman who started sleeping with his brother, Juan.
The French are packing up their cannons and getting ready to invade Italy. A French commander asks della Rovere what the Italian words for cannonfire, recoil, and gunpowder are. DR says there are no such words that he knows of. Frenchie seems glad to hear it.
Meanwhile, down south, Juan and Sancia are in bed together. Even though they’re having a pretty enthusiastic time of it, Sancia pauses to glance out the window at her little husband, who’s playing with the doves in the courtyard. She tells Juan that Jofre’s sweet, but lacks his older brother’s vigor. Give the poor kid a chance, lady, he’s only 13!
Previously on The Borgias: Lucrezia’s new crush messed with her husband’s saddle, so Sforza took a fall and has been laid up with a broken leg. Della Rovere continued to hop all over Italy, trying to ensure safe passage for a French army intent on taking over Naples. Cesare got a crush of his own, and obligingly killed the woman’s jerky husband. Alexander decided it was time for little Jofre to get married.
Pesaro Castle, home of Sforza and Lucrezia. Lucrezia’s attending her still bedridden husband, smearing a painful ointment on the wound on his leg, and being much sweeter about it than he deserves. Sforza realizes it too and thanks her, kind of, for taking such good care of him. He sort of apologizes for having been a dick too, and offers to overlook the “accident of [her] family name.” He also asks her to take his horse out for a ride, since he gets restless when he doesn’t get his exercise. She promises to do so.
Previously on The Borgias: Lucrezia was married off to Giovanni Sforza, who turned out to be, well, ungallant. Cesare met a beautiful woman at the reception who begged him to free her from her brutish husband.
Lucrezia lies dead, drowned in the bottom of a tub. Very Ophelia. Alexander reaches into the tub and pulls her out, begging for her forgiveness. Dead Lucrezia floats toward the ceiling, intoning: “God may forgive you, father, but I never will.” She takes a position in the roundel painted on the ceiling, and Alexander wakes himself from the nightmare, shouting her name.
Lucrezia, meanwhile, is not dead, but I’m guessing she wishes she were. She’s lying curled up in bed as her husband says she didn’t snore, but she cried all damn night, and that simply has to stop. She’ll probably stop crying when you stop raping her, jackass. Sforza rolls out of bed and tells her they won’t have to see each other much, so no worries. He leaves and she starts crying again.
Previously on The Borgias: Della Rovere ran around Italy, trying to drum up support for his deposition of Alexander. In Rome, the pope started interviewing prospective husbands for Lucrezia and secured her dowry by having his houseguest, the brother of the Sultan of Constantinople, killed by his sons.
Della Rovere arrives in Florence, where he goes to hear Savonarola speak hellfire and brimstone to a crowd in a church. He seems to like what he’s hearing.
Meanwhile, in Rome, Lucrezia’s in bed, sick with a fever, being tenderly attended by Cesare. She starts to talk about her dead crush, poor Djem, whom she’s heard died of a sudden fever. She’s also heard that his death paid for her dowry, which bothers her. Cesare manages to put off her questions and they chat a bit about her future husband, Giovanni Sforza. Cesare bathes her face and kisses her forehead, and it’s actually quite sweet and touching.
Those of you who read my Tudors recaps knows how I feel about the work Michael Hirst chooses to produce, so when I heard he was taking on the Borgia family, I was a bit wary, and the bodice ripping early previews didn’t help. Still, I tried to be optimistic. After all, The Borgias stars much-lauded actor Jeremy Irons. Now, Irons has made some pretty poor choices in the past when it came to his roles (he did, after all, voluntarily do both Eragorn and Dungeons and Dragons), but he’s still a fine actor, and as much as I’m sure I’ll get outraged comments about this, I think he’s a much better and stronger actor than Jonathan Rhys Myers, who in my opinion didn’t have what it took to carry The Tudors. The supporting cast looked good too—Derek Jacobi, Joanne Whalley, Colm Feore. So, like I said, I tried to be optimistic. And judging by the first episode, I was kind of right to be. If the show continues the way it started, it’s going to be a fun ride. Let’s get started, shall we?
Venice is a city built on the spice trade; its fantastical buildings pay homage to the eastern lands that provided the goods that made Venice rich and powerful. As such, it’s always had a certain exotic feeling to it. The buildings are very different from the ones you tend to find elsewhere in Italy, and the feel of the city is different from, say, Florence or Rome. There’s an aura of mystery to Venice, as well as excitement, and romance. When you think of Venice, you think of water, singing gondoliers, and a bacchanalian Carnivale. It’s a place you go to to have fun, or to woo someone.
But for all its association with pleasure, there’s a dark edge to Venice. The city itself is something of an illusion—it’s impermanent, built on wood pilings, and it’s sinking (or not, depending on whom you ask). It’s almost as if it wasn’t really meant to last. The brackish water encroaches on the city, sometimes submerging it entirely, and brings in a dank, moldering smell. The waterways and narrow sidewalks twist and turn bewilderingly. It’s very easy to lose your way. This is an important thing to remember when watching this particular movie.