Sunday, August 18, 2013

Charles V: The Sack of Rome

A pupil or follower of Giulio Clovio (Juraj Klovic) (b. Grizane, Croatia 1498, d. Rome, 3 January 1578).
Clement VII imprisoned in Castel Sant'Angelo treating for release, 1527.
A miniature of a scene from the Triumphs of Emperor Charles V
c. 1556 - c. 1575
200 x 290 mm
Additional 33733, f. 8
The British Library, London

The above work in The British Library is said to be part of those leaves to have been taken by a French officer from the royal library at the Escorial Palace, Madrid as part of the collection of King Philip II

It illustrates the infamous Sack of Rome in 1527 which so shocked and scandalised the whole of Europe at the time. 

It was a turning point in the history of the Papacy and Western Europe. It marked the end of the Renaissance Papacy. Its effects still reverberate today.

Two cannons are shown as aiming at the building between a gateway flanked with statues of St Peter and St Paul.

It was seen as one of the "triumphs" of the Habsburg Emperor Charles V

Only two other people have held sway over Europe to the same degree as Charles V: Charlemagne and Napoleon

Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement in 1556. 

As the heir of three of Europe's leading dynasties - the House of Habsburg, the House of Valois-Burgundy and the Crowns of Castile and Aragon - he ruled over extensive domains in Central, Western, and Southern Europe as well as the Spanish colonies in the Americas and Asia. 

While much of his reign was spent at war, fighting the French and Ottoman empires, and internally opposing the Protestant Reformation, he was known essentially as a lover of peace and in 1536 the Paduan ambassador, Marcantonio Contarini, wrote of him 'Not greedy of war, but most greedy of peace and quiet'.

In 1556, Charles abdicated all his titles and retired to the monastery of Yuste in Extremadura, where he died on 21 September 1558. 

He gave the Spanish Empire to his son, Philip, while his brother Ferdinand, already in possession of the dynastic Habsburg lands, succeeded as Holy Roman Emperor.

Charles's notions of dynastic and personal honour and glory clashed with ideals of Christian morality and the ruler's supreme duty to maintain peace. However he did not subscribe to the morality of the Renaissance prince as set out in the Florentine Machiavelli`s The Prince

There were however other princes and prelates in Europe who did

It was not a coincidence that The Prince was dedicated to one of the Medicis. The book addressed the Medicis directly. The Medici family's position of Papal power is openly named as something that should be used as a personal power base, as a tool of secular politics. 

At the Battle of Pavia (1525), Charles V decisively defeated the French under the personal command of Francis I, his great rival. Francis was captured and imprisoned in Spain until he signed the humiliating terms of the Treaty of Madrid

However his supremacy was challenged by the League of Cognac:  France, the Pope, Pope Clement VII, the Republic of Venice, England, the Duchy of Milan and Republic of Florence.

Charles V had his armies cross Northern Italy to Rome. The result was the Sack of Rome.

Full-page miniature of sack of the city of Rome, with a broken ship on a stormy sea in the background, and with Charles of Burgundy lying dead in the foreground.
From Breve trattato delle afflittioni d'Italia et del conflitto di Roma con pronosticatione.
Manuscript illuminated
176 x 120 mm
Spencer Collection Ms. 081, f. 3v

Here is one description:
""Murders, rapes and all kinds of vandalism brought catastrophe to Renaissance Rome, where numerous works of art were also destroyed. Many people interpreted this devastation as a punishment by God for the scandalous life led by the popes and the clerics at the center of Christianity. For the See of Peter it was a very bitter warning to return to the good principles of the Gospels, as the now widespread Lutheran reformation firmly requested. The pope's defenses in Castel Sant'Angelo collapsed on 5 June when an imperial garrison entered and held Clement prisoner for seven months" 
Claudio Rendina, The Popes, 2002, p. 451

Charles V dismissed it as his troops getting out of control as the result of the death of the army`s commander. The event takes up only a few lines in his Autobiography. The excuse is given in one line.

Alfonso de Valdes was imperial secretary to Charles V. In his  Diálogo de las cosas ocurridas en Roma used Apocalypse Chapter seventeen to argue that Rome, a whorish and Bablyonic city, was divinely chastised

But the humiliation of Clement VII was not complete. With the aid of Imperial forces, Florence threw off the Medici in Florence and expelled the Medici. It declared the Florentine Republic. Clement lost his family`s fiefdom.

Ferdinand Gregorovius wrote of the immediate aftermath:
"Emperor and Pope stood facing a crisis, such as history has but seldom witnessed.  
The relations between the temporal and spiritual powers might now suffer a radical change.  
Had not the time come utterly to abolish this papal immunity, which dated from Charles the Great, and which had been so fatal to Italy, the Empire and the Church itself? 
It seemed as if by an edict the emperor might make Rome again the capital of the Empire, conduct the Pope—as the Reformation desired— back to the Lateran as a mere bishop, and finally reform the Church by means of a Council.  
A revolution of incalculable extent must have followed owing to the secularisation of the Church property in Europe, and the fall of the papal dominion or of the ecclesiastical state would probably have entailed the ruin of the Church in patriarchates and national churches, which could only have obtained union in a federative constitution. 
Questions of this kind forced themselves on the mind of the emperor and his servants.  
An anonymous correspondent wrote to him from Rome on June 8. 
" We expect that your Majesty will give us accurate instructions, so that we may know how you intend governing Rome henceforward, and whether some form of apostolic chair is to remain or not. I will not conceal from your Majesty the view of some of your servants, who hold that the Sacred Chair in Rome should not be utterly and entirely abolished.  
For in such case the King of France could immediately instal a patriarch in his dominions, and refuse obedience to the Apostolic See, and England and every other monarchs might do likewise. It therefore appears advisable to your Majesty's servants that the Sacred Chair should be kept in such subjection that your Majesty could always dispose of and rule it." 
(Ferdinand Gregorovius,  History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages Volume VIII, Part II, 4th ed trans Annie Hamilton (1902) pp 220-221)

Because of the problems in his German lands, he decided to severely curtail Clement`s and the Papacy`s powers and bring it firmly under the jurisdiction of the Imperial forces. Clement VII had no option but to capitulate.

After France had come to terms with the Emperor, it was the turn of Charles V to treat with the Pope. To discuss peace.

They did not meet at Rome. They met at Bologna, the second city of the Papacy

The terms of the agreement had already been agreed beforehand by the Treaty of Barcelona.

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