Cesare Borgia/Lucrezia Borgia

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Pairing: Cesare Borgia/Lucrezia Borgia
Alternative name(s): Borgiacest, Lucesare
Gender category: Het, Incest
Fandom: Historical RPF
Canonical?: Historically rumored but unlikely;
in most adaptations at least somewhat canon
Prevalence: Popular
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Cesare Borgia/Lucrezia Borgia is the incestuous het pairing of Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia. They are first and foremost a Historical RPF pairing, although modern fandom tends to draw most heavily from various fictionalization adaptations.

Incestuous or not, there is no doubt that Cesare and Lucrezia loved each other above anyone else and remained loyal to each other to the end.

Lucrezia Borgia by Sarah Bradford (biography)


Cesare and Lucrezia, along with their brothers Giovanni "Juan" and Gioffre, were the children of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia (who later became Pope Alexander VI) and his long-time mistress Vannozza Cattanei. Born illegitimate, their father later legitimized them.

Rumors of incest were started by their enemies as slander. These rumors claimed an incestuous relationship between Lucrezia/Cesare, Lucrezia/Rodrigo, and sometimes Lucrezia/Juan as well. There is no historical evidence to back them up. However, Lucrezia and Cesare were very close, so "you could at least see where the rumormongers were coming from with Cesare and Lucrezia."[1]


Cesare was rumored to be behind the murder of both Lucrezia's lover, Perotto, and her second husband, Alfonso d'Aragon.


In September 7, 1502, when Lucrezia was sick after a stillbirth, Cesare came to see her, and this was written of them:

Today, at the twentieth hour, we bled Madama on the right foot. It was exceedingly difficult to accomplish it, and we could not have done it but for the Duke of Romagna, who held her foot. Her Majesty spent two hours with the duke, who made her laugh and cheered her greatly.

Castellus the secretary[2]

Lucrezia the younger

Cesare named one of his bastard daughters Lucrezia after his sister.

Fictionalized adaptations

There was a Borgia boom in 2011 when, aiming to capitalize on the commercial success of The Tudors, the television world realized there was one obvious way to up the ante.  Not one but two completely unrelated Borgia TV series were made in 2011.  Many have run across the American Showtime series The Borgias, but fewer people know about Borgia, also called Borgia: Faith and Fear, a French-German-Czech production released (in English) in the Anglophone world via Netflix.

Ada Palmer[3]

Title Date Creator Medium
The Borgias 2011–2013 Showtime, Neil Jordan TV series
Borgia 2011–2014 Canal+, Tom Fontana TV series
Los Borgia 2006 dir. Antonio Hernández Film
Blood and Beauty 2013 Sarah Dunant Novel
In the Name of the Family 2015
Sins of the House of Borgia 2008 Sarah Bower Novel
The Borgias 1981 Sarah Bradford and John Prebble Novel
The Family 2001 Mario Puzo Novel
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood 2010 Ubisoft Video game
Cesare il creatore che ha distrutto 2005–present Fuyumi Soryo Manga
Mirror, Mirror 2003 Gregory Maguire Novel

For some non-fiction recs, see here, Archived version


so every portrayal of Cesare and Lucrezia that I’ve seen, whatever the take on their relationship, involves that relationship falling apart in the end and the two of them turning on each other [...] like, you’d think this was some common element in the history they’re all drawing from, except

that never happened

[...] so where does this even come from?

(…actually, I think I know: it’s how tragic villain arcs are supposed to go–the power has its price, the villain finally trades love for power and is thus wholly corrupted. and once you conceive of the Borgias as "the villains" they start getting slotted into the tropes. it doesn’t really matter if they fit; hasn’t the Borgia story always been about assigning them places in a villainous narrative?)



Widely beloved and surprisingly non-controversial, Cesare/Lucrezia is sometimes considered the gold standard for incest ships.

The Borgias (Showtime)

Their depiction in The Borgias is very popular in modern fandom. It has a slow burn structure.

Elements from this depiction sometimes show up in other incest ship fanworks, such as recreating or reusing certain lines. "Only a Borgia can truly love Borgia," has become a staple, in the same vein as Wuthering Heights "Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same."

François Arnaud is a particular fan favorite due to his shipper's tendencies.

Well to be honest we thought it was going that way from the very start of the first season. Neil Jordan, the creator of the show, denied it from the beginning but we were like “it’s all over your writing man.” It’s in every single line, every single scene: these two are definitely in love with each other.

François Arnaud interview, March 2013[5]

When we first got to Budapest, my first rehearsal was with Holly. It was for our very first scene together. We were lying in the garden and Neil kept insisting that we had too many innuendos or it was too romantic or too sexual. And we both argued that it was already all over his writing.

François Arnaud interview, April 2013[6]

The show was canceled after 3 seasons, and did not get a proper ending. Neil Jordan wrote a screenplay for a movie to end it with, called The Borgia Apocalypse, which shippers were greatly displeased with, leading many to say that it was "for the best" that it ended where it did.[7][8]

Borgia (Canal+)

Borgia is less popular in fandom than The Borgias, but is still overall the second most popular Borgia series in fandom.






Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.



  1. ^ eleonoraditoledo. "based on everything you've read, do you think the real c/l relationship was incestous or just "emotionally" incestous?". Tumblr. Archived from the original on May 31, 2020.
  2. ^ Lucrezia Borgia, According to Original Documents and Correspondence of Her Day by Ferdinand Gregorovius, 1874.
  3. ^ Ada Palmer (July 26, 2013). ""The Borgias" vs. "Borgia: Faith and Fear" (accuracy in historical fiction)". Archived from the original on Sep 21, 2020.
  4. ^ anghraine (May 20, 2014). "so every portrayal of Cesare and Lucrezia that I've seen..." Tumblr. Archived from the original on June 6, 2021.
  5. ^ Morgan Glennon (Mar 27, 2013). "The Borgias' Francois Arnaud on Season Three and the New Relationship Between Cesare and Lucrezia". HuffPost. Archived from the original on July 20, 2020.
  6. ^ Curt Wagner (Apr 28, 2013). "Francois Arnaud talks sibling love in 'The Borgias'". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on May 31, 2020.
  7. ^ "Anonymous asked: Finished watching 3rd season of the borgias". Archived from the original on July 20, 2020.
  8. ^ "The travesty that is the Borgia Apocalypse". Archived from the original on July 20, 2020.
  9. ^ fanart based on the Showtime show featuring François Arnaud and Holliday Grainger as Cesare and Lucrezia
  10. ^ The image is based on the Showtime show featuring François Arnaud and Holliday Grainger as Cesare and Lucrezia.
  11. ^ the edit features Mark Ryder and Isolda Dychauk as Cesare and Lucrezia in the Canal+ show
  12. ^ the edit features Sergio Peris-Mencheta and María Valverde as Cesare and Lucrezia in Los Borgia