- "He is Rodrigo Borgia, one of the most powerful men in all of Europe, and leader of the Templar Order."
- ―Mario Auditore to his nephew, Ezio.[src]
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 Grand Master of the Roman Rite of the Templar Order in Italy.
Originally hailing from Spain, Rodrigo moved to Italy where he studied and joined the Catholic Church. Using the influence he gained from his clerical 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 bribes 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 adopted his mother's family name of Borja.
As a cardinal
Rodrigo moved to Italy at a young age and studied at the University of Rome; in 1456, he graduated in canonic law in Bologna. He was successively made bishop, cardinal, and vice-chancellor of the church through the influence of his uncle, the Pope, as nepotism was 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 of the Roman Rite 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 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, the only survivor, attended 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 insults and excuses, Rodrigo lectured his subordinate on his failure, then stabbed him in the abdomen with a stiletto, 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 Pazzi Conspiracy failed, Rodrigo returned his attention to 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 announcing that Marco Barbarigo would be the next Doge.
During this meeting, Marco questioned Rodrigo's presence in Venice, as Ezio was also there, and had already killed Emilio inside his own palazzo, but Rodrigo only replied that he felt the need to participate in his own schemes more directly, particularly after the failure of the Pazzi conspiracy. Warning the Barbarigos of the Assassin that haunted their city, he then made his departure for 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 discovered that a fellow Templar, the Ottoman prince, Cem, had found the Piece of Eden he sought – an Apple of Eden – and had hidden it 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 in the Cannaregio District.
However, prior to this, Ezio had intercepted the courier and impersonated him, 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 ultimately escaped 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 the location of each page of the Codex, thus he hired the men who had killed him, the Orsi brothers – Checco and Ludovico – to retrieve it from Riario's city of Forlì. The Orsi also discovered that Riario's widow, Caterina Sforza, had been entrusted the Apple for safekeeping by the Assassins, so they laid siege to the city and took the artifact by force, planning to present it to Rodrigo for extra payment.
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 manipulated 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 Christopher Columbus' 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 purpose, Rodrigo arranged a meeting with Columbus in Venice, and laid a trap for him there.
However, Columbus' friend, Luis de Santángel, was suspicious of the arrangement, and called for the aid of his fellow Assassin, Ezio Auditore. Ezio rushed to Columbus' aid, successfully rescuing him and thwarting 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 after Innocent VIII died 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 resided.
In 1494, with the death of Lorenzo de' Medici, the chaotic rule of his son and successor Piero, and with the power of the Apple he had obtained, Savonarola took control of Florence. Rodrigo repeatedly sent his men to Florence in the hopes of retrieving 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]
Broken by his defeat in the Vault, Rodrigo gave up on fighting the Assassin Order and instead chose to attempt to preserve the Templars' power in Rome. 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 the year, he was charged by a stag during a hunting trip.
In August 1503, at Juan Borgia's Pagan party, Rodrigo spoke to Cesare and reprimanded him, only to have his son brush aside his concerns and remind him of who was 'truly' in charge. Even though the Assassins uprooted many of the Templars plots and officials in Rome over the course of the year, Rodrigo did little to stop them.
Later that month, Rodrigo, already heavily displeased with Cesare's ambition and entitlement, believed his son to be out of control. Fearing Cesare would jeopardize everything he had worked to maintain, Rodrigo decided that his best option would be to remove Cesare.
To achieve this, he seized Lucrezia'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 theft 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".
Nonetheless, when Abstergo Industries, the main front of the Templars in the 21st century, commissioned a series of portraits of their most respected leaders, entitled "Great Minds of History", Rodrigo was among them. In a description accompanying his portrait, Rodrigo was described as a man of strong morals who greatly valued family, but attained a bad reputation due to the work of his enemy Ezio Auditore. Additionally, Abstergo Entertainment centered one of their Helix experiences around Rodrigo, titling it "Triumph of the Borgias".
A statue of Rodrigo was built outside of the Abstergo Entertainment building.
Personality and characteristics
- "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. However, he still cared for the principles of the Templar Order other than just power and he died trying to protect it from his son Cesare, whom he thought that he was corrupting their work for personal gain.
- 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.
- 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 Revelations novel, Giovanni Auditore mentioned Rodrigo indirectly, referring to "a man in Rome" that had taken command of their enemies.
- A statue of Rodrigo was built outside of the Abstergo Entertainment building.
- 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 differs from that shown in Assassin's Creed II. In the game, after Ezio defeats and spares him, Rodrigo is left alone to come to terms with his misery as Ezio enters the Vault. In the novel, however, when Ezio emerges from the Vault, Rodrigo commits suicide with poison. His last act is to ask Ezio what he saw in the Vault, to which Ezio replies "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 survives this suicide attempt, and Mario Auditore suggests 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, especially in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, the game in which he died.
- Mobile game
- In the non-canonical mobile adaptation of Assassin's Creed II, Rodrigo Borgia fights Ezio Auditore in Forlì in 1486 rather than in Rome in 1499. Unlike in the main game, he is portrayed as hunchbacked and perishes in the duel. The game implies that he only obtains the Apple of Eden during this expedition to Forlì, where he and Silvio Barbarigo—spelled "Sylvio Barbarigo"—searches for it at a tomb in the wetlands. After killing Sylvio, Ezio proceeds to confront Rodrigo in the game's final boss fight. Upon meeting him, Rodrigo's dialogue suggests that Ezio had not been aware that he was the mastermind behind the execution of Ezio's family until that moment. His Staff of Eden is shown with markedly different powers, and the fight is divided into three stages.
- In the first stage, Rodrigo casually strodes towards Ezio, during which the Assassin cannot harm him but can be harmed in turn by contact with his body. After a few rounds of this, Rodrigo then charges his staff to empower his speed, allowing him to charge furiously at Ezio in a technique that leaves afterimages behind. To inflict damage, Ezio must dodge this move whenever Rodrigo performs it then strike him when he is fatigued from its strain. After losing some amount of health, he uses the Staff to summon pillars of fire erupting from the ground, another technique that severely weakens him after each usage, providing more windows of opportunity for Ezio to injure him should he dodge them. Once he loses more than half his health, he teleports further away to the next stage of the fight.
- In the second stage, there are three rocky platforms floating in the air, under which Rodrigo stands with pillars of fire all around. Ezio can only remain safe while on the platforms but cannot reach his enemy, who meanwhile uses the Staff to summon boulders plummeting from the sky on two of three of the platforms at one time. Each time that Ezio evades these boulders, Rodrigo teleports himself to one of the platforms to directly attack Ezio. While the attack cannot be blocked by any means, Ezio can dodge them, at which point the exhausted Rodrigo is again left immobilized, allowing Ezio to strike him again. This cycle repeats until Rodrigo is left with only a quarter of his health, which then compels him to teleport even further away for the third and final stage of the fight.
- In the final stage, Rodrigo surrounds himself in a shield of black electricity and orbiting balls of energy. He charges at Ezio in this state several times before sitting back to hurl a volley of three fireballs with his Staff. Ezio deflects these fireballs back at him using his sword, prompting Rodrigo to do the same. The fireballs therefore cycle back and forth between them until Rodrigo fails due to fatigue and is struck, leaving him vulnerable to more attacks by the Assassin. Once he recovers, he regenerates his shield, and the pattern of the fight repeats until he at last loses all his health. At this point, he moves to the center of the stage, plants his staff on the ground, levitates, and begins charging his ultimate attack. Ezio interrupts him by striking a mechanism that plummets two spiked columns down on top of him, killing him. At his death, his body dissolves into a myriad of fleeing, wailing, dark spirits.
- Despite being killed by Ezio, in the mobile sequel of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, which is also entirely set in 1486 suggesting continuity with this game, Ezio explicitly retorts to Cesare Borgia that he regrets sparing his father's life.
- ↑ 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 6.5 Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Assassin's Creed Encyclopedia
- ↑ Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
- ↑ Assassin's Creed: Unity