FAQAdd to FAQ
Like almost all historical drama, the Canal Plus Borgia series takes dramatic liberties with the historical record in the interest of a coherent, compelling narrative. These include compressing time, reducing the characters to a manageable number, and simplifying complex events. For example, the second season compresses events that played out over seven or eight years into a few months, and Cesare is depicted as participating in events at which the historical Cesare Borgia was not present, such as the execution of Savonarola and the death of Charles VIII.
That said, most of the events depicted in the the Borgia series have counterparts in the historical record or are based on informed speculation. Almost all of the characters are historical, and are depicted under their true names.
The 2008 book "The Borgias and Their Enemies 1431-1519" by Christopher Hibbert is a very readable recent account that covers many of the events depicted in the series. Edit
He is the papal Master of Ceremonies and a real historical character, a German by the name of Johannes Burchard. The Master of Ceremonies was a very important official who was responsible for organizing the many conclaves, investitures, and diplomatic events though which the Renaissance papacy manifested its power. Burchard seems to have been good at the job, since he held it for 23 years under four different popes.
Burchard is an important figure to modern historians because of the detailed diaries that he kept, which were later published and became primary source materials on the period. Many of the events depicted in the Borgia series are known to us mainly from Burchard's writings, which are quoted extensively in Christopher Hibbert's book mentioned above. For this reason, it is appropriate that the series producers chose Burchard, as portrayed by actor Victor Shefe, to speak the narration in the prologues to each episode. Edit