- For others named Rodrigo Borgia, please see Rodrigo Borgia.
Pope Alexander VI, born Rodrigo Borgia was a Catalan Spanish male who was a central character in the 2011 Canal+ television series Borgia.
Born in Spain Borgia had originally come to Rome when his uncle Alfonso Borgia was elected Pope Calixtus III. He had remained in Rome following his uncle's death and continued serving in the Roman Curia all that time under several different successive Popes, becoming the Vice-Chancellor of the church by the time Innocent VIII was elected Pope.
During that time Borgia fathered several children with Vannozza dei Cattanei. By 1492 two of the children had died, leaving Cesare, Juan, Lucrezia, and Gioffre. Borgia publicly claimed these children were his niece and nephews. He would later acknowledge that these were actually his children. By the 1490s Borgia had grown tired of Vannozza and had started sleeping with Giulia Farnese, a young woman still in her teens at the time.
Despite being in Rome nearly three decades the Romans were not very accepting of either Borgia or his children, seeing them as Catalan outsiders.
In the summer of 1492 it was becoming obvious that Pope Innocent VIII was in declining health. Fearing that neither he or his family would fare well under the next Pope if he was an Italian Borgia began scheming to gather the support needed to achieve his ultimate goal, which was to become Pope himself. Meanwhile Borgia's bitter rival Giuliano della Rovere began making his own plans to be elected Pope. The two men hated each other, and came to blows in view of the Pope's deathbed after Borgia referred to Rovere as a "Genoan Sodomite."
Following the death of Innocent VIII the city of Rome descended into chaos as the Cardinals met in conclave to elect the next Pope. Borgia was able to gain the necessary votes to be elected Pope Alexander VI.
For the next 11 years Alexander worked to keep his throne and to keep the Papacy in the family by grooming Cesare to succeed him as Pope. He was able to keep the French King Charles VIII from sacking Rome and deposing him through the use of diplomacy. Alexander also arranged several marriages for his daughter Lucrezia in order to increase his power base within the Italian peninsula.
As Lucrezia grew into a very attractive woman Alexander to his horror began harboring a desire to sleep with her.
Alexander was known for his use of public punishments and executions. This included cutting off the hands of a thief and using a torture device on a homosexual man that the executioner shoved up the rectum of the man. When his secretary Francesc Gacet was accused of homosexual activity Alexander however hesitated, but his secretary Gacet told Alexander to arrest him before the crowd decided that Alexander was covering for his secretary. The Bishop who made the accusation later recanted and Gacet was freed. Gacet later confessed to Alexander that while he never acted on his desires he fantasized about being with men.
After a serious illness Alexander was given a pain killer by a monk, who had him dilute the painkiller by putting it in a glass of wine. Alexander was soon addicted to the pain killer, and would take the drug undiluted. It soon became obvious to the Cardinals that something was very wrong with Alexander, who seemed to be in another world at meetings. It was not until Alexander appeared in public completely naked that he realized he was addicted, and then swore off the painkiller.
In 1503 Alexander VI died after being poisoned. Before he died he had a vision in which he was met by his great-grandson Saint Francis Borgia. Borgia was quite pleased that a member of his family had become a Saint but was less than pleased that his time on Earth had come to an end.
Due to the heat of the Roman summer Alexander's body became a disgusting, stinking, bloated mass. Gacet tried to hold a funeral for him which was disrupted by Romans looting the Vatican following the Pope's death. Gacet decided they had to dispense with canon law, and proceeded to immediately drag Alexander's remains to the tomb. After managing to push the corpse into the tomb Gacet sealed it shut and left for Spain soon afterwards.
Borgia appeared in visions to his son Cesare, and warned him that in order to survive he would have to give up his dreams of returning in triumph to Italy. Several months after what appeared to be Cesare's death, Cesare arrived in the Americas.
Meanwhile Borgia's body was not safe from the vengeance of his successor Giuliano della Rovere, who by now was Pope Julius II. Julius decided that Borgia's tomb had to be destroyed, and that the name of Rodrigo Borgia had to be erased from history.