The death of Pope Alexander VI? Too early. Lucrezia has not even started her second marriage, let alone her third. The new king of France, Louis XII, has not yet invaded. Cesare has not yet taken over the papal army, and conquered most of Italy.
The third season is in the works. Fear not. Jeremy Irons will return. He only took one sip of the poisoned cup, remember? The Borgias have a long way to go.
Did Pope Alexander bury his son with his bare hands? Certainly not. Did his enemies try to poison him? Undoubtedly–but the attempt dramatized in this episode never happened.
The Showtime writers took their time killing Juan Borgia, who was murdered in real life before baby Giovanni Borgia was even born. Most of the second season has been a fictional interlude, keeping time in the historical record while the Showtime writers prepared for Juan’s death. Lucrezia’s suitors from Genoa never existed, nor did Juan’s botched attempt to capture Caterina Sforza and her castle–much less his wounded leg and opium addiction.
About Savonarola: there was much truth to his portrayal in the Showtime series. But much falsehood, as well. His rule of terror in Florence was invoked nicely, though neither Cesare nor his father ever journeyed there to witness it, and Machiavelli was a young stripling, not yet in power. Savonarola was certainly tortured and burned at the stake. But it happened in Florence, on the very spot where he had twice ordered “bonfires of the vanities”—the incineration of paintings, jewels, rainments, books, furnishings, and other “vanities” gathered by his frightening army of fanatical juveniles.
Pope Alexander VI undoubtedly had a role in Savonarola’s trial for heresy, having finally lost patience when the self-righteous monk wrote to heads of state throughout Europe, demanding that they replace him. But the monk’s torture and trial was instigated by both church and state in Florence, who were not separate then, and not as closely controlled by Rome as we might assume. And the political will of Florence was behind it. During Savanarola’s rule, Florence was divided between “the weepers” (Savonarola’s followers) and “the angry ones” (Savonarola’s enemies). Before Savonarola was tried and burned—by the church hierarchy in Florence—the populace rebelled against him spontaneously, invading and dragging him from the Dominican monastery of San Marco. He was tortured, confessed, and pretty much dead before he was burned at the stake in Florence. The pope and his son Cesare were undoubtedly pleased, but from afar.
If you want to have fun finding out what really happened, when it happened, read my 99 cent e-mystery, A Borgia Daughter Dies. The murder mystery is fiction, but the history is real—and even more interesting than the story the Showtime writers have cooked up. You will find it on Amazon and Smashbooks.