Rodrigo Borgia (1431 – 1503), born Roderic Llançol i de Borja, was the head of the Catholic Church from 11 August 1492 until his death, serving as Pope Alexander VI. From 1476, he reigned as the Grand Master of the Italian Rite of the Templar Order.
Originally hailing from Spain, Rodrigo moved to Italy where he studied and joined the Catholic Church. Using the influence he gained from his clergical position, Rodrigo conspired several plots to murder political leaders across the country to claim it under the Templar banner. As one of the wealthiest men in Europe, Rodrigo's power as Grand Master spread all over the continent.
In 1488, Rodrigo was responsible for shipping an Apple of Eden from Cyprus to Venice, before it was stolen by his arch enemy Ezio Auditore da Firenze and the Italian Brotherhood of Assassins. In 1492, via several briberies and power plays, Rodrigo won the Papal conclave, and became one of the most controversial Renaissance popes.
Under the leadership of the Borgia, the Templars focused primarily on establishing their power and control in Europe, losing sight of their true ideology. The Templars commonly refer to this era as the "Dark Age of the Order".
Roderic Llançol was born at Xàtiva in the Kingdom of Valencia, one of the component states of the Crown of Aragon, present-day Spain. His parents were Jofré Llançol i Escrivá, and his wife and relative Isabel de Borja. His family name was written Llançol in Valencian and Lanzol in Spanish. After the elevation of Roderic's maternal uncle Alonso de Borja to the Papacy as Callixtus III in 1455, Roderic was adopted into his mother's family name of Borja.
As a cardinal
Rodrigo de Borgia studied law at Bologna, and was successively made bishop, cardinal, and vice-chancellor of the church, all of which were nepotistic appointments characteristic of the age. He served in the Roman Curia under five Popes (his uncle, Callixtus III, Pius II, Paul II, Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII) and acquired much administrative experience, influence, and wealth, though not great power.
By the time Rodrigo served under Pope Sixtus IV, he had become a member of the Templar Order in 1458, and later became Grand Master in 1476. In this position, he aspired to unite all of Italy under the Templar banner. In order to achieve that goal, he made plans to take down the leaders of Italy's main cities, and place his own men in power.
Assassination of Galeazzo Maria Sforza
Rodrigo devised a plan to eliminate Galeazzo Maria Sforza, the Duke of Milan, in which Giovanni Andrea Lampugnani, Carlo Visconti and Gerolamo Olgiati would kill Sforza on the day of Santo Stefano.
One night in December of 1476, Rodrigo was on his way to leave Florence accompanied by several of his men. Suddenly, Giovanni Auditore da Firenze, a member of the Assassin Order, intercepted him. Rodrigo fled immediately as the Assassin battled his men.
Hidden behind a corner, Rodrigo witnessed Giovanni capture one of his men, who later revealed the planned assassination of Galeazzo Sforza, a powerful ally of Lorenzo de' Medici. Giovanni attempted to prevent the assassination, though he arrived too late to do so. Rodrigo's plan had succeeded, and so he began to devise his next scheme.
Giovanni Auditore learned that Rodrigo's plans would lead him to the city of Venice, after looting a Venetian ducat from Giovanni Lampugnani. Upon traveling there, he intercepted a message from Marco and Silvio Barbarigo to their master, Rodrigo.
After Uberto Alberti and Antonio Maffei "failed" to decode the intercepted letter, the Medici and Uberto sent Giovanni to carry a copied version of the message to Rome, in order to discover who was behind the plot. Arriving in the city, Giovanni handed the message to a man, and followed the letter as it passed through several hands before meeting its final destination: Rodrigo Borgia.
Rodrigo then left to see Pope Sixtus IV, hoping to obtain military support in order to conquer Florence. After gaining Sixtus' favor, Rodrigo headed out of the Vatican, and into the streets of Rome once more.
Giovanni was still on Rodrigo's trail, and followed him all the way into the St. Peter's Basilica. However, he fell into an ambush set by Rodrigo, who had known of the Assassin following him. Rodrigo tried to offer Giovanni a position among the Templars, but the Assassin refused, stating that Rodrigo would be dead before he could see the Templars' fantasy become reality.
Disappointed, Rodrigo had his men attack Giovanni, but the Assassin routed all of them. Rodrigo, who had been watching from the sidelines, threw a knife at Giovanni, which hit him in the chest – he then took the chance to flee the Basilica. Afterwards, Rodrigo discussed the next step in his plan with his Templar brothers, and all agreed that they had to dispose of Giovanni Auditore.
In order to get rid of Giovanni, Rodrigo conspired with Uberto Alberti and the Pazzi family. After careful planning, the Templars were able to frame Giovanni for the crimes of treason, and had him and two of his sons – Federico and Petruccio Auditore da Firenze – arrested.
The night before the trial of the Auditore family, Rodrigo resided at Uberto's house. Ezio Auditore da Firenze, Giovanni's remaining son, came by to give Uberto his father's letters that would prove him innocent. There, Ezio noticed Rodrigo behind Uberto but unaware of his importance, the young noble paid no further attention to Rodrigo; however, he refused to stay the night at Uberto's house all the same. The following morning, Rodrigo attended the judgment and execution of Giovanni, Federico and Petruccio Auditore.
- "Gentlemen. Tomorrow, a new sun rises over Firenze."
- ―Rodrigo encouraging the Pazzi conspirators.[src]
In 1478, Rodrigo conspired to take down the leader of Florence, Lorenzo de' Medici, and his brother Giuliano. With this, Rodrigo left for San Gimignano, where he held a meeting with Francesco, Jacopo, and Vieri de' Pazzi. Rodrigo left the town just before the mercenaries led by Mario Auditore and his nephew Ezio attacked. Their assault resulted in the death of Vieri de' Pazzi.
Not long after that, Rodrigo met with Francesco and Jacopo de'Pazzi, Antonio Maffei, Bernardo Baroncelli, Stefano da Bagnone and Francesco Salviati in a catacomb under the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella. As the Pazzi conspirators confirmed their plan to Rodrigo, he reminded them to beware of the Assassins, and stated that the next day would be "a new dawn" for Florence.
However, Ezio thwarted the Templars' attempted takeover in Florence and killed off the remaining conspirators that Rodrigo had arranged to meet with in San Gimignano, where the Pazzi originally intended to request asylum with Rodrigo in either Venice or Rome. Jacopo was the only one to arrive at the meeting and claimed that the blame for the failure rested with his nephew, for his impatience, and with Emilio Barbarigo, for supplying the Pazzi troops with sub-standard weaponry. Enraged by Jacopo's sniveling excuses, Rodrigo lectured his subordinate on his failure, then stabbed him in the abdomen, aided by an eager Emilio.
Ignoring Jacopo's pleas for mercy, Rodrigo stabbed him a second time in the neck with his sword, before he called out to Ezio who had tailed Jacopo to the meeting. Grabbed by Borgia guards, Ezio was brought into Rodrigo's sight. Sarcastically apologizing for killing Jacopo for him, Rodrigo mocked Ezio, saying that he had been doing this for far longer than the novice Assassin. He then ordered his men to kill him, and left without bothering to ensure the deed was done.
- "I feel the need to involve myself more directly. The Pazzi disappointed us in Firenze. I pray you will not do the same."
- ―Rodrigo, about personally attending the meeting.[src]
Soon after the Florentine attempt failed, Rodrigo returned his attention to conducting his plans for Venice. In 1485, he met with Carlo Grimaldi and the Barbarigo family to plan the murder of the current Doge, Giovanni Mocenigo, in order for them to seize control of Venice. During the meeting, Rodrigo chastised the Venetian Templars for making their own plans, rebuking them for their "inane prattle" as they argued over who would be the new Doge after they took Venice. He then silenced their debates by appointing Marco Barbarigo as the next Doge.
During this meeting, Marco questioned Rodrigo's presence in Venice, as Ezio was also there, but Rodrigo only replied that he felt he should see out their plans personally, particularly after the failure of the Pazzi conspiracy. Warning the Venetian tyrants of the Assassin that haunted their city, he then made his departure from Venice to Rome, allowing them to carry out his plans.
Shipping the Apple of Eden
- "You claim not to be a believer. And yet, here you are... Don't you see him? The Prophet is already here... I AM the Prophet. Now give me the Apple."
- ―Rodrigo upon confronting Ezio.[src]
By 1486, Rodrigo had found out by his Templar comrade, Cem, that the Piece of Eden he sought – an Apple of Eden – was hidden on Cyprus, so he sent a battalion of his men to retrieve it. Two years later, the men returned to L'Arsenale with the artifact, and Rodrigo met with the courier who was to deliver it to him.
However, prior to this, Ezio had intercepted the delivery and had disguised himself as the carrier of the artifact, in order to find and kill Rodrigo. Rodrigo was not surprised, and readied himself to deal with Ezio personally. The two exchanged a brief conversation, in which Rodrigo claimed himself to be the Prophet, who was said to be the only one who could open the fabled Vault. The two then began an intense battle, in which Ezio ultimately emerged as the victor.
Realizing that he could not defeat Ezio on his own, Rodrigo called in a supply of guards to overwhelm him. Suddenly, many of Ezio's allies appeared, all of whom revealed themselves to be Assassins. They held off the guards to allow Ezio to re-challenge Rodrigo, who then escaped from them before Ezio could kill him, leaving the Apple in the hands of the Assassins.
That same year, Rodrigo found out that the late Girolamo Riario had created a map marking where all the Codex pages could be found, thus he hired the Orsi brothers – Checco and Ludovico – to retrieve it from Riario's city of Forlì. The Orsi pair then discovered that Riario's wife, Caterina Sforza, also had the Apple, and so they laid siege to the city and took the artifact by force, planning to present it to Rodrigo for an extra pay-off.
Unfortunately for Rodrigo, Ezio managed to kill both of the Orsi brothers, though the Apple eventually came into the hands of Girolamo Savonarola, who would later prove to be an arch-enemy of Rodrigo.
- Ezio: "Rodrigo Borgia is an unbeliever like me, and yet you lavish him with favors."
- Torquemada: "Borgia is one of three Papal candidates this year. And he is as devoted to God as I am."
- ―Ezio and Torquemada talking about Rodrigo.[src]
In 1491, Rodrigo fooled the Spanish Inquisitor General Tomás de Torquemada into capturing and killing Assassins in Spain. Tomás, who thought Rodrigo was as much as a believer of God as he was, blindly followed his orders.
At around this time, Rodrigo also found out about Christoffa Corombo's plans to sail west; however he, knowing of the presence of the Americas and the treasures that lay there, wished to stop anyone from finding it before he could. For this, Rodrigo arranged a meeting with Christoffa in Venice, and laid a trap for him there.
However, Christoffa's friend, Luis de Santángel, was suspicious of the arrangement, and called for the aid of his fellow Assassin, Ezio Auditore. Ezio rushed to Christoffa's aid, successfully rescuing him from an assassin and thwarted Rodrigo's plans.
- "The Spaniard, Rodrigo Borgia, has been elected Pope. He rules the Vatican and Rome as the Supreme Pontiff, Alexander VI! [...] The rumour is that Rodrigo simply bought most of the votes. Even Ascanio Sforza, who was the most likely candidate standing against him, voted for him!"
- ―Teodora Contanto talking about Rodrigo becoming Pope.[src]
Rodrigo was elected Pope in 1492, and established his power in Rome. His true intent, however, was simply to get into the Vault that lay underneath the Vatican, where he believed God rested.
In 1494, with the death of Lorenzo de' Medici, and with the power of the Apple he had obtained, Savonarola took control over Florence. Rodrigo repeatedly sent his men to Florence in the hopes of acquiring the Apple, though all of his attempts failed. In 1498, Savonarola was assassinated by Ezio, causing the Borgia family to fall into a state of chaos upon losing track of the Apple.
In 1499, Rodrigo was followed into the Vatican by Ezio for yet another assassination attempt. Ezio infiltrated the Sistine Chapel, where Rodrigo was holding Mass, and attacked him from above. However, after turning to leave, Ezio witnessed Rodrigo rise from the ground and use his Piece of Eden – the Papal Staff – to strike him down, along with everyone else in the room.
Rodrigo was surprised to see that Ezio was able to resist the power of his Staff, as Ezio had brought his own Piece of Eden: the Apple that Rodrigo had relinquished. Ezio then summoned four illusionary clones of himself to assist in his battle against Rodrigo, eventually defeating him.
However, Rodrigo knocked Ezio aside with the Staff, and snatched the Apple from his hands. He then combined it with the Staff to open up the door to the Vault, and as Ezio tried to stop him, Rodrigo lifted him into the air with the power of the two combined Pieces of Eden.
As the Assassin hung helpless, Rodrigo stabbed Ezio with a dagger, and left him to die on the floor of the Sistine Chapel. Though injured, Ezio eventually followed Rodrigo to the Vault, and found the Pope furiously pounding upon the door to the inner chambers, which refused to open.
Ezio then dropped down into the pit where Rodrigo was, and challenged him to one last fist fight, with no more weapons, plots, or decoys. Rodrigo accepted, and the two had one last duel. During the battle, Rodrigo stated that he had never believed in the Bible or in God, and had only become Pope to gain access to the Staff and the Vault, and to unify Italy under Templar rule. Ezio defeated Rodrigo, holding the Pope at blade-point and telling him he was not the Prophet, and that he had never been.
Broken by this revelation and accepting defeat, Rodrigo told Ezio to kill him and put an end to it. However, Ezio refused, saying that killing him would not bring back his family. Additionally, the knowledge that he was not the Prophet, as he had believed, was an even sorer blow than anything else that Ezio could have thought of.
When Rodrigo's son Cesare learned of this, he led a siege on Monteriggioni, though without Rodrigo's approval, in order to reacquire the Apple of Eden and kill the last of the Assassins. By this time, Rodrigo was reduced to nothing but a figurehead, with Cesare ultimately taking over Rome.
Later life and death
- "You risk upsetting the delicate balance of control we have worked so hard to tighten."
- ―Rodrigo talking about the consequences of his son's actions.[src]
Following his defeat in the Vault, Rodrigo had given up on fighting the Assassin Order and instead chose to preserve the balance of power in Rome he had managed to obtain. However, Cesare was eager to take over all of Italy, a plan that Rodrigo did not approve of. As the Captain General of the Papal armies, however, Cesare held control over Rodrigo's military, and so he was able to carry out his plans without his father's consent.
A string of bad luck followed Rodrigo after the events in the Vault: in June 1500, an iron steeple from the roof of St. Peter's fell a few feet away from where he was walking. The next day, he was in a room in the Vatican that collapsed and killed everyone around him: only a piece of canopy wedged above him saved his life. A few weeks later, he grew ill from fever, and at the end of year, he was charged by a stag during a hunting trip.
Later that year, Rodrigo had grown heavily displeased with Cesare's ambition and entitlement, believing his son to be out of control. Fearing Cesare would jeopardize his own balance of power, Rodrigo decided that his best option would be to remove Cesare.
To achieve this, he seized the Castel's supply of cantarella – the same poison that had been used for Doge Mocenigo – and poisoned a few apples for Cesare to unwittingly eat. However, Rodrigo's daughter Lucrezia discovered the presence of the poison, and warned Cesare about it before he could ingest enough for the toxin to kill him. Enraged, Cesare promptly spat out what he had eaten, before shoving the remaining apple down Rodrigo's throat. Rodrigo perished before Ezio arrived to kill him, but Ezio nevertheless gave Rodrigo his final blessing.
During the 21st century, members of the Templar inner circle thought of Rodrigo Borgia as a debased tyrant instead of a respected Grand Master. Instead of spreading knowledge to enlighten his fellow man and break down the boundaries that keep men divided, Rodrigo used his power and position as Grand Master to corrupt the Templar purpose into gaining infinite power by any means.
True Templar motives were questionable, but they intended to serve the greater good; Rodrigo however wanted power for the sake of it, and saw total domination over all as his prize. The Borgia's leadership over the Order would later be known as the "Dark Age of the Order".
- "It's not approval I'm after. Just power."
- ―Rodrigo, while dueling with Ezio.[src]
Initially an ambitious middle-aged man, Rodrigo was intent, as Cesare later would be, on taking Italy in the name of the Templar Order and exterminating the Assassins. After becoming Pope, his obsession of not only conquering Italy but also of realizing what he believed to be his true calling as the Prophet intensified. He actively sought to take the Apple of Eden from Savonarola, as demonstrated when he sent battalions of his family's soldiers to Florence to retrieve it.
After his duel with Ezio in the Vault, and the shattering revelation that he was not the Prophet, Rodrigo was reduced to being an empty shell, and instead of continuing to pursue his dreams of infinite power and the extermination of the Assassin Order, he focused on maintaining his monopoly over Rome.
- Rodrigo was called "the Spaniard" by the Assassins, due to his Spanish origins.
- During some of Rodrigo's appearances, a dim red lighting effect could be seen on Rodrigo's hood and upper body, even though there was no source for this light.
- Historically, Pope Alexander VI ordered the execution of Savonarola, the mad monk of Florence.
- In the simulated training map of Castel Gandolfo in the Animi Training Program, portraits of Rodrigo could be seen on the walls of the location's interior.
- In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, while Ezio was disguised as a minstrel, he sang a song about Rodrigo before and after he became Pope.
- In the Assassin's Creed: Revelations novel, Giovanni Auditore mentioned Rodrigo indirectly, implying him as the new Grand Master, "A man in Rome has taken command of our enemies who is perhaps the greatest power you and I will ever know."
- When Ezio entered the Sistine Chapel to assassinate Rodrigo, he was proclaiming the Nicene Creed in Latin to the congregation. Ironically, Rodrigo later stated that he did not believe the concept of the Nicene Creed, which confesses the wholeness of the Roman Catholic doctrine.
- It is possible to kill Rodrigo while in the Sistine Chapel, if Ezio poisoned him. After this, the Assassin could wield the Staff of Eden, although he could not use any of its powers.
- Occasionally, during the fight with Rodrigo in the Sistine Chapel, he could be seen as wielding a spear instead of the Staff.
- Although Ezio did not kill Rodrigo, he was listed as dead in the Animus' Conspirator Web after Desmond Miles completed the main memories of Assassin's Creed II and re-entered the virtual machine.
- Rodrigo was the first Pope to be elected from a conclave in the Sistine Chapel.
- In Rodrigo's assassination target video, there was a scene with Rodrigo in his Papal robes standing next to his fellow Templars, who were seated at a table. This was impossible, because by the time Rodrigo became Pope, Ezio had killed all the other Templars present. The Pazzi, the Barbarigo, and Carlo Grimaldi, for example, were shown at the table.
- In the assassination target video for the Orsi brothers set in 1488, in the Battle of Forlì DLC, Rodrigo was again shown in his Papal robes, even though he was elected Pope in 1492.
- Rodrigo's fate in Assassin's Creed: Renaissance differed from that shown in Assassin's Creed II. In the game, after Ezio defeated and spared him, Rodrigo was left alone to come to terms with his misery as Ezio entered the Vault. In the novel, however, when Ezio emerged from the Vault, Rodrigo committed suicide with poison. His last act was to ask Ezio what he saw in the Vault, to which Ezio replied "Nothing. No one," leading him to die believing everything he had done in life was for nothing.
- In the novelization of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, however, Rodrigo evidently survived this suicide attempt, and Mario Auditore suggested that he had not taken enough poison, or that he had been faking.
- Rodrigo died at the age of 72, a recurring factor in the Assassin's Creed series.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Assassin's Creed: Lineage
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 Assassin's Creed II
- ↑ Assassin's Creed: Recollection
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 Assassin's Creed II: Discovery
- ↑ Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Assassin's Creed Encyclopedia