Good Queen Bess

Happy coronation day, Elizabeth! That’s right: on January 15, 1559, Elizabeth I, last monarch of the House of Tudor, was crowned Queen of England in Westminster Abbey, following her accession on November 17, 1558. After a highly unstable childhood, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn somehow managed to weather the reign of her devoutly Catholic half-sister, Mary, who was a little too fond … Continue reading Good Queen Bess

The Borgias: A Professional

borgias3-1013Previously on The Borgias: Lucrezia and her husband escaped from Naples, only to find themselves essentially prisoners again in Rome. Cesare and Alexander finally buried the hatchet, with a serious assist from Mattai, and Cesare was given command of the papal armies.

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The Borgias: Check

Lucrezia's Gambit stillPreviously on The Borgias: Caterina Sforza mailed plague to Rome, catching one of the cardinals stupid enough to ignore Cesare’s orders to burn her letter; Lucrezia got rid of the King of Naples, but found there are two others in line before her husband; Cesare and the French army marched into Milan, only to find Ludovico Sforza gone and the place empty.

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Better Luck Next Time

The fourth time was not a charm for Henry VIII, who annulled his marriage to Anne of Cleves on July 9, 1540 on the grounds of non-consummation. Even as royal arranged marriages go, this one is famous for being a disaster. Henry agreed to the marriage before even meeting Anne face-to-face, instead relying on a portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger. Although popularly thought to … Continue reading Better Luck Next Time

The Borgias: New Beginnings

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.

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The Borgias: War is Hell

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.

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The Borgias: Apocalypse Now

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!

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The Borgias: Sexy Time!

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.

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The Borgias: Family Ties

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.

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The Borgias: Nice Day for a Spite Wedding

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.

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