The Borgias (2011–2013)
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The Siege at Forli 

Juan returns from Spain with gifts after contracting a STD. He lays siege to Forli and takes Cathrina Sforza's son hostage.


Kari Skogland


Neil Jordan (creator), David Leland




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Jeremy Irons ... Rodrigo Borgia
François Arnaud ... Cesare Borgia
Holliday Grainger ... Lucrezia Borgia
Joanne Whalley ... Vanozza Cattaneo
David Oakes ... Juan Borgia
Sean Harris ... Micheletto
Steven Berkoff ... Girolamo Savonarola
Julian Bleach ... Niccolo Machiavelli
Peter Sullivan ... Cardinal Ascanio Sforza
Colm Feore ... Giuliano Della Rovere
Gina McKee ... Caterina Sforza
David Alpay ... Calvino
Tom Austen ... Raffaello
Jesse Bostick ... Antonello
Roger Lloyd Pack ... Friar


Juan returns from Spain with gifts: a panther from the New World for Lucrezia, which promptly bites her and something new for his father, a box of cigars. Juan is married but his pregnant wife has stayed behind in Spain. The Pope is pleased with the way his son's life has taken shape. Juan is suffering from syphilis however and seeks treatment from a doctor. The Pope puts Juan in command of the Papal army and sends him to lay siege to Forli Castle with authority to eliminate Catherina Sforza if she refuse to come to Rome. At Forli, Juan makes it clear what lies in store for Catherina should she refuse the Papal edict. Under a white flag, Juan takes her 15 year-old son hostage and tortures the boy in front of her. Ludovico Sforza of Milan comes to her assistance and surprises Juan's troops on the battlefield. Cesare is in Florence where Brother Savonarola is preaching in defiance of the Papal order. His young acolytes are going house to house collecting anything of value that can be ... Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Hungary | Ireland | Canada



Release Date:

20 May 2012 (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 HD
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Did You Know?


The historical character that Hernando de Caballos is loosely based on, Gonzalo Fernandéz de Córdoba, was never in the New World. However, many conquistadors had served under him in Spain and Italy and held him as a hero and role model. See more »


The incident of Caterina Sforza's eldest son being held hostage occurred in 1488 after the murder of her first husband, Giralomo Riario. Eye witness accounts differ as to whether or not she hiked her skirt, showing her genitals and saying she could always make more kids. See more »


Rodrigo Borgia: Wine?
Juan Borgia: No, I only drink water. The clarity of water gives clarity of mind.
See more »


The Borgias Main Titles
Written by Trevor Morris
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User Reviews

"If you don't have the stomach for this spectacle, you'll find that Spain lies that way"
17 July 2019 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Season 2 in my mind is more settled and more consistent than the patchy (with a little bit of a slow start) but very promising Season 1. Namely because the dialogue and pacing improved by quite some way in the second season, when they could be issues in the first. Up to this point, Season 2 hasn't had a bad episode (don't consider any episode in Season 1 bad either), actually loved all of them equally.

"The Siege at Forli" continues the continually high standard, with so many things that can't be faulted. It may not have the emotion of a couple of the previous Season 2 episodes, namely the climax of "The Choice" (and of the suceeding episodes "The Confession"), but the entertainment value and intensity is in full force. Likewise with the intrigue. It's an eventful episode, but doesn't in my mind feel rushed or overstuffed.

Did feel that despite the charming chemistry that everything with Lucrezia and Raffaello seemed on the underdeveloped side.

Also, although showing a degree of progression the Della Rovere subplot did generally feel rather dragged out in the second season, feel the same here although it doesn't feature too heavily.

Other than those, "The Siege at Forli's" strengths outshine them and they are nearly ignorable because the good things are so good. The return of Juan is hardly wasted, his role dominates the episode actually. The good news is that Juan is an interesting enough character to justify that, he is even more detestable than before, everything with Caterina is just brutal and David Oakes relishes that. The action scenes are tense and pretty graphic and one of the episode's clear highlights is Savonarola's "bonfire of the vanities" scene which has the ability to shock. There is also some welcome entertainment value too to balance all that out, on this front this is one of the funnier episodes. The opening scene is very amusing, and everything with the cigars equally amuses and doesn't get tired too early. The dialogue is thought provoking and doesn't sink into melodrama too much, this is an aspect that's come on a lot since 'The Borgias' first began. Lucrezia's wit shines most.

Caterina again lives up to her "Tigress of Forli" nickname, and Gina McKee is both radiant and cunning but also vulnerable in her chemistry with Oakes. Sean Harris shows the ability to be chilling but not overtly and remarkably subtle, namely through the eyes. Machiavelli is fun, Jeremy Irons' underused comic timing is put to good use and the writing for Lucrezia has thankfully, despite threatening to, not gone backwards, viewers will be relieved now that the character has since undergone a significant character growth. Other than Juan, the character that made the biggest impression on me was Savonarola, as well as being quite frightening an Uncle Fester-like Steven Berkoff has an absolute ball here and it is so much fun to watch.

Visually, "The Siege at Forli" is spot on. The costumes are just exquisite, especially those of Lucrezia and Giulia, and the scenery and interiors have the wow-factor, namely the interiors of the Sforza Castle. The photography captures those qualities beautifully. The music still has the beauty and intensity that were present in the previous episodes. Meanwhile the opening titles sequences and main theme still give me the chills. one of my favourite opening titles sequences of all time (film and television). The main theme is incredible, the sheer intensity, grandeur and drama (already sending chills down the spine and induces goosebumps before the episode's even begun) makes it one of my favourite main themes for any show.

In conclusion, incredibly well done. 9/10

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