I recently saw an extended preview for Showtime's The Borgias, which stars Jeremy Irons as Pope Alexander VI (1431-1503), an ancestor of Europe's Catholic royalty through his descendant Luisa de Guzmán (1613-1666) who married King João IV of Portugal. While there will probably be some dramatic departures from historical accuracy, it looks amazing, and I can't wait for the April 3 premiere. (What with The Borgias, HBO's Game of Thrones, and the royal wedding, April is shaping up to be quite the TV month for fans of royal spectacle.) With Irons likely to prove a more convincing lead than Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Henry VIII, this series promises to outshine The Tudors.
Say what you like about the much-maligned Renaissance popes, but at least they had style, and didn't care about appeasing the iconoclastic "simplicity" crowd (who were already around). Nor did they interfere with the liturgy and teachings of the Church as experienced by ordinary Catholics far from Rome. As I said last month, give me an Alexander VI over a Paul VI any day.