While Cesare is the strategist of the family, Juan is much better at actual hands-on-warfare, sword fighting, and riding. He takes to hands-on skills naturally and efficiently, and is good at them, much to his brother’s frustration. Juan often mocks Cesare for being so poor at physical activities, because he finds them so easy to master. But he is no strategist himself; he is incompetent at military command, and gets his army decimated within days because of his inability to plan a battle tactic. Juan is also short-sighted in how his actions impact his family members, and will turn them against him; he murders Lucrezia’s lover and the father of her child by disguising it as suicide, without finding out that Paolo was illiterate and could not write his own suicide note. He also attacks his mother’s husband, because of his contempt for him being of the “peasant class” (and to cover up his insecurity about potentially not being a Borgia, but born of a peasant). Juan tends to over-indulgence in Se ways: drinking, fighting, womanizing (and contracting syphilis in the process), reacting without thinking, even assaulting women. He sleeps with his little brother’s beautiful wife on their wedding night, and also beds other women along the way, even though it could endanger their political alliances. When Catrina Sforza refuses to give up her castle, Juan tortures her captured son to get her to surrender (it doesn’t work). His lies, incompetence, and cowardice, combined with his threats toward his nephew, cause Cesare to murder him.

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Juan is a dangerous combination of reactive behaviors and rage. He doesn’t want the responsibility of leadership and makes excuses for anything he does wrong, lying and deceiving his father about his failures in battle, attacking whomever questions him, and generally falling into hedonism as an escape from his misery. He goes after whatever he wants, without thinking about the consequences – and when people tell him no, he turns on them. He uses torture to punish people’s family members for not capitulating to his demands, he gets drunk and threatens to drop his baby nephew off a balcony, he becomes angry when women reject him and sometimes forces them, and denies he did anything wrong.