- "The finer things in life make power so rewarding. I see an apple, I can pluck that apple. No one will stop me."
- ―Juan Borgia to a courtesan, 1503.[src]
Juan Borgia the Elder (1446 – 1503) was one of Cesare Borgia's three generals, who ruled over Rome during the reign of Pope Alexander VI. He was the first Cardinal-nephew appointed by Alexander, and also a member of the Roman Rite of the Templar Order.
Often referred to as "the Banker," he handled Cesare's military funds and aided the Borgia's campaigns to subdue Italy for the Templars. However, he also spent a considerable amount of money throwing lavish, and often sexually-oriented, public parties.
Juan was the first of ten nephews elected to the cardinalship by Rodrigo Borgia, and sought out a privileged position in the Borgia court. In 1499, he helped Cesare Borgia with negotiating an alliance with Octavian de Valois, and impressed the young Captain General with his knowledge of French taste. Due to Cesare's sour relationship with Rodrigo's banker, Agostino Chigi, and Juan's cruelty, Cesare gradually put Juan in charge of Rome's finances. Juan would use large amounts of the city's tax money to fund lavish parties.
On 2 January 1500, Juan accompanied his cousins, Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia, and his fellow Templars Octavian de Valois and Micheletto Corella, in order to lay siege to Monteriggioni and the Auditore family villa.
After the gates had been breached, the group entered the city, with Juan holding Caterina Sforza captive. The battle was won by the Borgia forces shortly afterwards, and Juan and the others returned to Rome with an Apple of Eden and Caterina Sforza as their prize.
In June 1501, Juan, Cesare, Octavian and Micheletto held a brief meeting in the stable courtyard of the Castel Sant'Angelo. There, just before he departed from Rome to besiege Urbino, Cesare ordered the three to play along with his father's "tired old men's club" for the moment, but to remember who they really served. Following this, Cesare left the city in the hands of his generals.
In 1503, the Assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze came to the conclusion that, in order for the Borgia's empire to be brought down, the Assassin Order would have to cut off Cesare's funds, requiring "the Banker" to be located and killed. Unfortunately, Juan's identity as the Banker remained a well-kept secret among the Borgia.
Luckily, Ezio found a lead on the Banker's whereabouts through his sister Claudia, who directed him towards Egidio Troche, a Roman senator who was indebted to the Banker. After gaining the aid of Egidio by saving him from an assault by Borgia guards and giving him the money to clear his debt, Ezio discovered that the Banker was throwing a Pagan party and would be present at the celebration.
- Juan: "...I gave the people what they wanted."
- Ezio: "And now you pay for it. Il piacere immeritato si consuma da sé. (Pleasure unearned consumes itself.)'"
- ―Juan Borgia and Ezio Auditore, as the former lay dying, 1503.[src]
On August 1, 1503, Ezio tailed Egidio as he delivered the payment for his debt to the Pantheon. There, the Banker's guards counted the money, then prepared to bring it to Juan at the party. However, Ezio was able to climb the landmark and assassinate the guards' captain, Luigi Torcelli.
Donning Luigi's uniform, Ezio made his way towards the Pagan party that the Banker was hosting with the chest of money. As he bypassed the guards at the party, Ezio tailed the courier of the chest until he was eventually led to the Banker himself, discovering Juan's name after the Cardinal introduced himself to a courtesan.
As Juan walked towards the main area of the party with the courtesan, he expressed to her his deep appreciation for power, stating that merely plucking an apple from a tree made him feel superior. Finally, they reached the center of the festivities, where Cesare gave a brief speech on a soon-to-be-united Italy, before officially commencing the party.
After a brief argument between the Pope and Captain General, and their subsequent departure, Ezio turned his attention to Juan. As a show of his power, Juan strangled the courtesan in his company and moved through the crowd, surrounded by a Seeker bodyguard. Although Juan was heavily protected, the Assassin moved through the busy crowd of guests and positioned himself on a nearby bench, waiting to strike.
As Juan passed by, Ezio swiftly assassinated him. With his dying breath, Juan claimed that he regretted none of the indulgences he had enjoyed. Ezio replied that a man of true strength and power should steer themselves away from mortal pleasures, to which Juan objected that he had given the people what they wanted, but Ezio stated that it was the reason for his downfall.
- Once the portrait of Juan was obtained in the Tiber Island headquarters, if examined, his name is spelled in its Catalan form, "Joan Borgia".
- If Italian subtitles were enabled, Juan would introduce himself to the courtesan as "Giovanni Borgia."
- In the Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood novel, an alternate version of Juan's death occurred, in which he was killed in a private room. There, Ezio cut off three of Juan's fingers as he attempted to raise the alarm, before assassinating him with his Hidden Blade.
- Some concept art depicted Juan holding the Papal Staff, though the reason for this is unknown, as Juan has never been known to have possessed it.
- In the non-canonical mobile adaptation of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Juan Borgia is hunted down by Ezio Auditore not in Rome, but in Florence. As well, although the event occurs after the Siege of Monteriggioni as in the main game, it is set in 1486 alongside the rest of the mobile version's missions, and the course of his assassination differs. While Juan is attempting to escape the area on horseback, Ezio hijacks the horse of the guard behind him and gives pursuit. When the Assassin loses his horse in the midst of the chase, he realizes he cannot catch up with the Banker and resorts to shooting him down with a ballista. In one shot, he kills Juan as he continues fleeing on his horse, with the bolt impaling both him and his horse.