Both ruthlessly ambitious and utterly devoted to his family, the head of the Borgia clan uses his position in the Catholic church to acquire and consolidate power, influence, and wealth. He is incredibly shrewd and manages to outmaneuver his rivals at every turn. He also enjoys the carnal pleasures of life, particularly the company of beautiful women. His undying devotion to his derelict favorite son Juan has been a chink in his otherwise impenetrable armor, and has wreaked havoc for him both personally and professionally. Juan's unfortunate fate has left Alexander reeling and untethered, and it may have provided his enemies the prime opportunity to destroy the Borgia family.
Forced into the priesthood by his father, Cesare is, in reality, violent, dashing, and cavalier. He serves as his father's consigliere, and carries out the most heinous atrocities to advance the family's cause. He proves his military and strategic prowess again and again, helping his father amass tremendous wealth and power. While devoted to his sister and mother, Cesare has a bitter rivalry with his brother Juan, causing him to commit the ultimate crime, thus threatening the very foundation of the Borgias' power.
A beautiful young woman who is also wise beyond her years, Lucrezia holds a special place in her father, Pope Alexander's heart. After a disastrous arranged marriage ended in annulment, scandal, and an illegitimate son fathered by a stable boy, Lucrezia is determined to have control over her own destiny, much to her father's dismay. She rejects suitor after suitor, but finally settles on Alfonzo of Aragon (with her father's approval).
The refined, aging former mistress of Alexander, Vanozza is also the mother of his children. Although she no longer shares the Pope's bed, she is still the matriarch of his household and a vital member of his family. She is the prime confidant and advisor to her three children, and continues to aid them in their affairs. When a younger woman unseats her for the Pope's affections, her initial fury turns into a grudging and collaborative truce with the new mistress.
The ravishing temptress who came to the Pope seeking redemption and ended up in his bed, Giulia quickly uses her new elevated position to amass power and influence of her own. She befriends Lucrezia and ultimately even Vanozza. She uses these alliances to help establish and strengthen the church's charitable works, a deed that will secure the Pope's legacy.
As the head of the papal armies, favored son Juan is filled with swagger and bravado, but he is really a hopeless coward. More interested in the brothels and taverns of Rome than in defending his family, Juan nonetheless resents his brother Cesare, the more apt warrior son. Juan's ineptitude on the battlefield and misplaced familial pride lead to his extreme alienation from his furious and disgusted siblings, and ultimately to an untimely fate.
Hired by Cesare to serve as the Borgias' enforcer, Micheletto is utterly cold and compassionless. He relishes danger and inflicting punishment on the Borgias' foes. He is completely devoted to Cesare and is assists whenever his boss needs a hand. A frightening lone wolf, Micheletto is personally tormented by a sexual orientation that has no place in Renaissance Italy.
The rich and powerful Cardinal Della Rovere is Rodrigo Borgia's chief rival for the papacy. When he is passed over for selection, Della Rovere devotes himself to unseating the Pope, whom he sees as lewd, blasphemous, and his vast moral inferior. But Della Rovere becomes so obsessed with his quest that lowers himself to the Borgias' level to achieve his goal. Della Rovere's scheming is not lost on Alexander and Cesare, who redouble their efforts to take him down permanently.
The cunning head of the powerful Sforza clan of Milan, Catherina is one of the Pope's chief rivals for power on the Italian peninsula. Known for her military prowess, she roundly defeated Juan Borgia and the papal armies in their siege at Forli, her fortified castle. Now bent on revenge, Catherina will stop at nothing in her desire to bring the Borgias down.
One of the Borgias' most trusted confidantes also happens to be a Sforza, Catherina's cousin. With the two families locked in a dangerous power struggle, the good cardinal just might be the key to its resolution, depending on which side he chooses to take.
Rufio is a ruthless assassin working under Cardinal Sforza, as a student of the art of death. He is sent to Rome by his patron to bring about the Borgias' downfall, and he tries to enlist Cardinal Sforza's help in doing so.