The Borgias (2011–2013)
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Cesare unites the sons of the five Romagna families with his own army against Forli, and the Pope negotiates for a with Constantinople Jews for a holy relic.


Kari Skogland


Neil Jordan (creator), Guy Burt


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Jeremy Irons ... Rodrigo Borgia
François Arnaud ... Cesare Borgia
Holliday Grainger ... Lucrezia Borgia
Sean Harris ... Micheletto
Thure Lindhardt ... Rufio
Gina McKee ... Caterina Sforza
Peter Sullivan ... Cardinal Ascanio Sforza
Charlie Carrick ... Pascal
Sebastian De Souza ... Alfonso of Aragon
Edward Hogg ... Georges D'Amboise
Prometheus Aleifer ... Roberto Orsini
Pilou Asbæk ... Paolo Orsini
Leo Bill ... Cardinal Costanzo
Brendan Cowell ... Mattai the Hebrew
Cyron Melville ... Cardinal Farnese


With the King of Naples dead, Lucrezia sends for her son. The year 1500 is approaching and Pope Alexander has declared it to be a year of jubilation. Expecting large numbers of pilgrims in Rome, he wants the Church to provide the spectacle they will expect. He wants the cardinals to come up with money-making ideas. He also puts pressure on the representatives of the Constantinople Jews who came to seek permission to live in Rome, to contribute to the holy crusade against the Turks. Yet they have a different contribution in mind. The plague has returned and Caterina Sforza looks to use it as a weapon against the Pope. Cesare returns with his own army countering the Sforzas influence and intent on taking Milan. He quickly gains several allies. He is outsmarted however. Written by garykmcd

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Did You Know?


The Longinus of the spear is Gaius Cassius Longinus, a Roman centurion. He allegedly pierced Jesus' side to prove he was dead. If he was still alive, the Romans were prepared to break his feet. The rationale behind that is that it would hasten death, not allowing the prisoner to push up on his feet to breathe. According to traditional Christian belief, water and blood gushed out of Christ's side when it was pierced and came into contact with Longinus' eyes. Although the Roman soldier had failing eyesight, his vision was restored. Longinus left the army and joined the Apostles, becoming one of the earliest clerics in the First Church. See more »


In speaking of the Sword of Longinus, the Jewish cleric says he could "'gift" it to Alexander. The use of "gift" as a verb is a very recent neologism. The English used at the time, and until a few years ago, would have been to "give" the sword. See more »


Cesare Borgia: I've brought you an army, Father. Would you have me send it back?
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The Borgias Main Titles (Instrumental)
Written by Trevor Morris
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User Reviews

"Our church is driven by belief, and we choose to believe this is the Spear of Longinus"
20 September 2019 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Despite it not settling straight away, with it taking half a season or so for the writing and pacing to become more consistent (have never properly faulted the production values, music and acting and love a lot of individual scenes, chemistries and little things), for me 'The Borgias' is an incredibly well made show regardless of any historical inaccuracies and addictive show. Also have always felt that there isn't a bad episode though have liked a few of the earlier episodes less on re-watches.

Am personally surprised that "Relics" isn't rated more highly here, though still a good score, and that it's rated lower than the still very good and nearly great previous episode "The Wolf and the Lamb". Sure it may not have the same amount of tension, emotional impact or as many scenes not for the faint hearted that that episode had. It also doesn't have any subplots noticeably weaker than the others, Cesare's for me had some dull moments, or any frustrating character behaviours, especially Alfonso's naiivety. Found "Relics" however to be a great episode.

Cannot find an awful lot to fault "Relics", though (sorry if this sounds like a nit-pick) there is a very noticeable camera setup shot in the emissaries exit from the meeting with Rodrigo. This may be a non-issue for some but it was very distracting to me and jarred with how amazing every aspect of the production values were throughout the show's whole run.

It is a shame because the rest of "Relics" looks wonderful. Love the sumptuousness of it all, how beautifully it's shot and how the more intimate moments especially are like one has stepped into a painting. Some of the best directing of 'The Borgias', personal opinion of course, is in "Relics", especially in the silent scenes with Rufio (like with the plague trap). Up there with Juan's burial in "The Confession" and the beginning of "The Face of Death". Other standouts being the through a chandelier view and with the spinning fireworks. The silent Rufio scenes are also the standouts on the music front, some of the show's most haunting. Cannot get enough of the spine-chilling opening titles sequence and the main theme either.

The writing has been one of the most improved aspects of 'The Borgias' over-time, along with the pacing and the character writing for Lucrezia. It provokes thought and there is a good deal of tension here, whether very obvious or quieter, and intrigue in the negotiations and with the spear. "Relics" does a great job with the theme of the appearance of power, summed up brilliantly in the above line in the review summary by Rodrigo (although some of the best lines go to Cesare). The story, despite being very political intrigue-heavy, is compelling and has some nice moments like Rodrigo in a beekeeper outfit, Micheletto having increased screen time and everything to do with the French army. It is not just all about negotiations.

Found the acting to be great across the board, Cesare has really come into his own since Season 2 and the dark intensity is still there in Francois Arnaud's performance with some levity too when returning to Rome. Jeremy Irons is wholly believable in his authority, commanding every scene he's in and how he shows how increasingly livid he is but subtly. Also loved how beautifully Peter Sullivan underplays Sforza, telling a lot with as little as a glance (something that Irons also has always been brilliant at), especially true in his disgust in the honey scene.

Concluding, great. 9/10

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Canada | Hungary | Ireland



Release Date:

19 May 2013 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Korda Studios, Etyek, Hungary See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

16 : 9
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