The show takes the expected swipes at the usual targets, celibacy, mortification and simony, with the usual broad strokes, reading more like a college freshman theology paper on Church history than the script for a multimillion-dollar television enterprise.
Yes, self flagellation was used and has been used as penance. Yes, the Pope during the 15th century was seen as head of state affairs. He no longer is and hasn’t been for years.
The visuals are beautiful. The costumes are elaborate and the actually reenactment of tradition was and is fascinating to watch. Watching last rights and first moments of papacy always serve to be fascinating. Surely there were things last night that were unsettling. Poisoning your enemy was very common at that time in history. There was no shock value there. Yes; I too am very “creeped” out by the whole incest implied thing. Sitting watching those two was just downright disturbing. It is easier to tell half truths than it is to tell the truth.
Okay now that we have that out the way.
Here are the real facts on the infamous Borgia family.
1- The papacy was purchased by Rodrigo Borgia, While a cardinal, he lived in an illicit relationship with Vanozza dei Cattanei, and they had four children: Cesare, Giovanni, Lucrezia, and Gioffre. He also had children by women other than Vannozza; Giulia Farnese was among his other mistresses. He was raised to the papal chair in 1492 and he chose the name of Alexander VI. It is said that he bought his pontificate with bribes, and that 17 out of 22 cardinals voted for him out of greed.
2- His uncle was Pope Callixtus III. His great grandson is St Francis.
3- Lucrezia was actually 13 not 14 when she was married off. She was known to be precocious.
4- There was no testicle chair. It is 100% myth. Nice ffilm insert though. The scene is just hysterical. It is referring to this long believed story that a woman once served as Pope. This is utter nonsense. It makes for good story though. Supposedly there is a film in the works about it.
5- It was within canon law, and still is, for priests to have once been married before receiving Holy Orders. In the Eastern Rite branches of the Catholic Church, it is within canon law to be a priest and married (but one may not marry after ordination).
The very indignation that the evil life of a great ecclesiastic rouses at all times is itself a tribute to the high spiritual ideal which for so long and on so broad a scale the Church has presented to the world in so many holy examples, and has therefore accustomed the latter to demand from priests. The Borgia Family is just one page of exceptions.