Giorgio Vasari (30 July 1511 – 27 June 1574)
Clemente VII incorona Carlo V in San Petronio a Bologna / Clement VII crowns Charles V in San Petronio in Bologna 1556 - 1562
270 x 640 cm
One does not usually get to see this impressive fresco on the ceiling of the Sala di Clemente VII, one of the finest and ornate rooms in the Palazzo Vecchio. It is used as the office of the Mayor of Florence
The fresco by Vasari commemorates the event on 24th February 1530 when Pope Clement VII and Emperor Charles V made their separate ways to Bologna and the Pope crowned the Emperor as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire
It was less than three years after the Sack of Rome in 1527 when Charles` army laid waste the city of Rome and imprisoned the Pope in Castel San Angelo for six months
An idea of the twists and turns in the diplomatic and military arenas of Western Europe from 1527 to 1530 can be seen in the English State Papers in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 4 - 1524-1530
In 1529-30, the Emperor was supreme in Italy and in Western Europe. The Pope became subservient to the Emperor. Italy was not to be an independent state until the 1870s.
The Medici and Clement VII in particular tried to put a spin on the encounter and coronation in Bologna. It was presented by the Medici as a diplomatic triumph when in reality it was one of the greatest defeats suffered by any ruler in the history of Western Europe.
The only explanation is that the carrot which Charles V put before Clement was the return of Florence by force and the aggrandisement of the Medici pope and his family.
Clement VII brought his Court with him to Bologna. One of those was the artist Sebastiano del Piombo (c. 1485 – June 21, 1547)
As well as an artist he was an officIal who had paid for the office as holder of the Papal Seal
In this drawing by Sebastiano del Piombo in The British Museum we see an informal drawing of the two great potentates meeting in Bologna in conference. The Pope is pointing his finger and the Emperor affects to be taken aback
The subject represented is presumably one of the meetings held in Bologna immediately before the Emperor's coronation in February 1530.
Sebastiano del Piombo (c. 1485 – June 21, 1547)
Pope Clement VII in Conference with the Emperor Charles V and Others
Black chalk & wash on blue paper with white
31 x 46 cm
The British Museum, London
Later the coronation was commemorated on the tomb of Clement VII. He died in 1534. He, like his cousin Leo X was not buried in St Peters but in the Basilica di Santa Maria sopra Minerva, the then church in Rome of the Florentines
Various architects and artists (Sangallo, Ludovico, Bandinelli, and Baccio Bigio)
The Tomb of Pope Clement VII
including The Coronation of Charles V in Bologna by Baccio Bandinelli
Apse of the High Altar, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome
One of the great events of the Coronation was the procession after the Coronation. The procession was commemorated by a number of artists but the most famous depiction is that by Nicolaus Hogenberg ca. 1500-1539
A facsimile in colour is in The Getty Collection
The prints show the continuous parade of nobility, representatives of the imperial provinces, military and clerical officials, with groups named in labels engraved underneath.
Mounted or on foot, dressed in armour or ceremonial garb, the figures proceed from right to left.
The Emperor and the Pope advance under a canopy decorated with the Imperial eagle followed by units of the imperial army and their captains in armour, ending with a bank of unmanned cannons.
The last three prints depict the distribution of food and drink to the people of Bologna.
The crowd gathers around a tall arch topped by the imperial eagle, flanked by two lions from whose mouths red and white wine flows.
Stewards turn the spit on which roasts an ox stuffed with birds and small animals
Other editions of the prints are in many museums including The British Museum, London
The series of prints is fascinating for its glimpse into life in Renaissance Europe
Here is the plate where Pope and Emperor and riding together under a canopy after the Coronation service:
Here is the front of the procession from the Cathedral:
The lightbearers who are immediately in front of the Eucharist in procession:
The Eucharist in procession:
Towards the rear some prelates, timpanists followed by trumpeters
Towards the rear were some of the German Lutheran knights (landsknechts) who wreaked such havoc and destruction in The Sack of Rome
The cannon of the Imperial army which again were used to devastating effect in The Sack of Rome
At the rear free wine and sweetmeats for the populace
Including roast ox
And lots of free bread, the staple of life for a populace starved and made poor by war
Of the solemn league and covenant between Pope and Emperor culminating in the Treaty and coronation of the Emperor by the Pope, Gregorovius explained all in his History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages:
"The still inextricable entanglement of theology in politics demanded the continued existence of this ecclesiastical State, and Clement VI recognised that he could only save it by forming a close alliance with the emperor.
After a devious route through the most terrible disasters, he bowed to the inevitable ; he renounced the one great idea of his life, the liberation of Italy, and submitted Clement to the dominion of Spain in his own country
From his crushing overthrow he wished to extract the greatest advantage for the Papacy, the State Emperor. of the Church, and Medicean government in Florence.
The latter, above all, he desired to re-establish.
He burned with impatience to be avenged on the Florentines. They had destroyed the coats of arms and the statues of the Medici ; they had even threatened to demolish the magnificent palace belonging to the family and to turn the site into a piazza for "mules," in derision of the three bastards, the Pope and his nephews Alessandro and Ippolito.
None of Charles V.'s promises had such weight with Clement as the promise of restoring the Medici to Florence.
The emperor, on his side, had need of the Pope not only to dissolve the league of the powers and to preserve Italy, but also to maintain possession of the empire, which the principle of the Reformation threatened to rend asunder.
The Empire was a Catholic institution; the Church held together its feudal organisation ; and had the Church fallen, the Empire would probably have broken up into territorial monarchies.
The emperor, moreover, was purposely cautious.
With icy coldness he let the Pope feel that his existence depended on the imperial favour. He took scarcely any measures to alleviate the distress in Rome, where a rubbio of corn was sold for twenty ducats. True that Cardinal Quifionez had arrived from Spain ; but he brought nothing but words and referred the Pope to Prince Philibert.
Ostia and Civita-vecchia were still occupied by the imperialists. Owing to the sufferings and excitement he had undergone, Clement fell seriously ill on January 6, 1529, and his illness produced such consternation in Rome, that dreading the return of the landsknechts and the ruin of the city, many contemplated flight.
The Pope recovered and was now ready to conclude peace with the emperor. In return for a sum of money he recovered Ostia and Civitavecchia on March 7, and obtained the release of Cardinals Pisani, Gaddi, and Trivulzio, who had been prisoners in Naples.
And when the victory of Leyva over S. Pol at Landriano on June 21, 1529, annihilated the French army and made Charles master of Lombardy, no choice remained to the powers of the league [of Cognac] but to make peace.
On June 29, through their plenipotentiaries Gattinara and Girolamo Schio Bishop of Vaison, Castiglione's successor in the nunciature, the Pope and emperor concluded peace at Barcelona. ...
By the terms of peace Charles promised to allow Sforza to return as Duke to Milan, to restore the State of the Church to the Pope, to induce the Venetians to surrender Ravenna and Cervia, and Alfonso to surrender Modena and Reggio ; to reinstate the Medici in Florence by force of arms, and as soon as she was grown up to give his natural daughter Margaret in marriage to Alessandro Medici, whom he had made Duke of Penna in the Abruzzi in 1522.
Finally, in accordance with the Edict of Worms, he undertook to suppress the German Reformation with all his might.
As soon as possible he was he was to journey to Italy to receive the imperial crown.
At the same time the representatives of the powers assembled at Cambray in a Congress of peace under the presidency of the emperor's aunt, Donna Margarita, and the Queen-mother Louise.
The Pope sent Schomberg ; the King of England, the Duke of Suffolk and the Bishop of London.
The Venetians, to whom Francis had sent Grammont, Bishop of Tarbes, with the assurance that he would continue the war, were furious, and vainly strove to prevent peace.
The conclusion of the treaty of Barcelona hastened that of Cambray, Peace of which was solemnly proclaimed on August 5.
Francis I. in consequence received back his captive sons, in return for a sum of two million ducats ; he pledged himself to surrender all such places as still belonged to him in Lombardy and the kingdom of Naples, and also to compel the Venetians to restore the cities of Apulia, still occupied by his troops.
He renounced all his claims on Italy, as well as on Flanders and Artois.
In this "Peace of ladies" at Cambray, Venice, Florence and Ferrara, the allies of France, were not taken into account, but were left by King Francis to their fate.
It was indeed a triumph for the emperor to acquire two such treaties of peace at one and the same time!
Holding these in his hands he stood the ruler of Europe. The majestic language of these documents breathes the consciousness of all-embracing power ; the Ghibelline dream of the imperial monarchy seems to approach realisation.
This was the Renascence of Caesarism based on the possession of half the world.
In accordance with the treaty of Barcelona, Philibert of Orange, the viceroy of Naples, was to restore the Medici in Florence. And the restoration was in harmony with the emperor's system.
Had the Florentines renounced the French alliance at the right moment and thrown themselves into his arms, he would have defended their constitution against the Medici, and only have permitted the family to hold a subordinate position.
He determined to keep Florence, over which the empire possessed ancient rights, in his hand.
In time the whole of Tuscany might become an imperial fief. He was also determined to prevent the Pope from making any treaty with the Florentines, as Clement ardently desired to do.
For what humiliation could be greater for the Pope than that the same imperial troops, which had just sacked Rome, and at whose hands he had suffered such terrible usage, should effect the subjugation of his ancestral city?
The ill-treatment had been received in the struggle for a great cause ; to the humiliation he subjected himself in his own petty egoism.
Orange, who in January had been presented by the Pope with the consecrated hat and sword, after having sacked and burnt Aquila, came thence on Clement's invitation to Rome with 600 cavalry and bowmen It was intended that he should make his abode in the Villa Madama, but he went instead to the Palazzo Salviati in the Borgo ...
The plan of the campaign against Florence was discussed, as also the sums of money to be paid, and the Prince was even more astonished by the avarice of the Pope than by his pitiable position.
Only with contempt could he regard the Court, where he encountered nothing but hypocrisy, revenge, and insatiable thirst for temporal power....
Orange offered to march forthwith to Florence, in Rome, the conquest of which he represented as easy, and Clement was hypocritical enough to pretend to shrink from the idea. " Do you believe," he asked the imperial envoy, "that I will ruin my own native city ? Shall I commit an act of infamy and offence against God, and leave behind me the reputation of being guilty first of the sack of Rome and then that of Florence, my ancestral city?" ...
The Spaniards revelled in the thought of a second sack, that of the city of Florence.
Of Frundsberg's landsknechts 3000 still remained ; to these were added 4000 Italians under Pierluigi Farnese and the Count of S. Secondo. Del Vasto was to lead a few thousand Spaniards from Apulia.
With this army Philibert set forth from Aquila in August 1529, in order first to drive Malatesta Baglione from Perugia, and then to advance against Florence. He was accompanied by Girolamo Morone as commissary, who next to Muscettola was the moving spirit of the enterprise.
Charles meanwhile had sailed with Doria's fleet from Barcelona on July 27. In accordance with Leyva's advice he decided to land at Genoa, and proceed thence to Bologna, where he was to meet the Pope, to adjust the affairs of Italy and lastly to be crowned emperor. ...
On August 12 Charles V. landed at Genoa with a brilliant retinue of Spanish grandees.
Cold and calm, conscious of his greatness and displaying none of the pomp of insecure sovereigns, he entered the unhappy country, which received him without resistance as the arbiter of her fate.
He stood at the zenith of his power.
He had shattered to pieces the ancient European world, and, like Charles the Great, seemed to desire to give it a new system.
For the formidable power of Charles V. did not lie in his illimitable empire, but in the collapse of all European relations which this empire had produced. France, the Papacy, Italy, all the Guelf powers, before which the Hohenstaufens had formerly succumbed, had been overthrown andenfettered by Charles.
Of the Latin half of Europe, he, the German emperor, possessed the greater part. The heart of the Latin world, Rome and the Papacy, he held in his hand.
More deeply than any emperor before him he had humiliated the Papacy ; he had deposed the Pope from his European position, had hurled him from his Italian throne, and had forcibly shattered his alliance with France, the original protectress of the Guelf principles.
He had thus made himself the ally of the German Reformation, which destroyed the Papacy ecclesiastically, as the emperor destroyed it politically.
The new system which appeared in Europe with Charles V. was the absolute monarchy
The feudal as well as the civic autonomies were shattered. In Germany the Reformation, in Italy the Spanish despotism contributed to their fall.
The liberty of Italy with its Guelf civic constitutions had for ever perished.
It seemed as if one single hand had thrown the brand of destruction into those splendid cities, whose time had passed away.
This was shown by the terrible fate of Rome, the no less cruel fate of Milan, not to speak of other cities such as Lodi, Pavia, Cremona, Genoa and Naples ; and the turn of Florence was soon to follow.
Great was the consternation there when the news arrived of the peace of Cambray and of Charles's landing. Since France had betrayed its Italian ally, all Italy's hopes centred on Venice for this republic, to which the Duke of Ferrara also clung, continued the war in Lombardy under its general the Duke of Urbino.
But the last struggle of the Italians for independence was a hopeless one. Francis I., who had abandoned the Florentines, in secret exhorted them as well as the Venetians to resistance.
They resolved, however, since the party of the optimates had acquired supremacy, to send Florence envoys to the emperor, to whom the ambassadors the rulers and states of Italy hastened at Genoa.
This belated step was a mistake, resembling, as it did, a breach of the alliance with Venice. ...
Niccolo Capponi, Matteo Strozzi, Raffaello Girolami and Tommaso Soderini went to Genoa.
They apologised for the alliance of their city with France, promised obedience to the emperor, implored him to protect the liberty of the republic and forbear to sacrifice it to the vengeance of the Medici.
Charles dismissed the envoys ungraciously ; his chancellor Gattinara (whom Clement had made a cardinal the day after Charles's arrival) gave them the comfortless answer that Florence had forfeited her liberty and must come to terms with the Pope....
Meanwhile on October 7 the Pope left Rome and joumeyed by Foligno, Gualdo and Rimini to Bologna, whither the emperor had arrived by way of Parma on August 30. . ..
Clement as well as Charles could survey the cruel devastation of the country, and the misery of the formerly prosperous towns, whose inhabitants now stood weeping and begging in the principal streets, to receive with silent curses Caesar or Pope.
Lombardy resembled a desert; the English envoys journeying to Bologna found no labourers in the fields between Vercelli and Pavia ; in large villages scarcely five or six miserable creatures remained ; in formerly flourishing cities the inhabitants were crying for bread, the children dying of hunger.
As early as October 24 the Pope with sixteen cardinals arrived at Bologna, and Charles made his entry from the Certosa on November 5. For miles along the route he was awaited by the citizens cardinals, and the envoys of the Italian nobles.
Accompanied by knights, grandees and thousands of mail-clad soldiers, mounted on an Andalusian charger, he rode under a gold baldacchino, which was borne by fourteen noble Bolognese.
The cavalcade advanced through the festal city to S. Petronio, where it was awaited by the Pope.
After unparalleled calamities the two heads of Christendom met for the first time, each with sufficient cause for recriminating the other.
As in former days Barbarossa knelt in the cathedral of Venice before the great Alexander III., so Charles V. knelt in reverence before the miserable Clement VII., the secular majesty bowing before the spiritual power it had conquered.
He kissed the Pope's foot and hand, the Spanish grandees probably looking with smiles on this traditional act of homage...
On January 1st 1530, peace was solemnly proclaimed in the cathedral of S. Petronio. This congress and this peace sealed the political death warrant of Italy.
The imperial coronation now followed.
It had originally been intended that the solemnity should take place in Rome, and already arrangements to this end had been made, although the sacked city and the desecrated church of S. Peter's would have formed the most melancholy background for the great act.
Time pressed, however. Charles wished to receive the crown without delay, and then to journey to the Diet [of Augsburg]
Without the imperial coronation it would be impossible to carry out his intention of having his brother Ferdinand proclaimed King of the Romans. In accordance with his advice, Bologna was chosen, and this in itself was a humiliation for the Pope, a deposition of Rome from her ancient right.
The last German emperor, who took the crown of Charles the Great from the hands of a pope, received it in the Cathedral of S. Petronio.
Two days before, on February 22, in the chapel of the Palazzo Municipale he had been crowned with the Iron Coronation Crown of the Lombards, which he had sent from Monza ; on February 24, the day of his lucky star his birthday and the anniversary of the Feb. 24, victory of Pavia Clement crowned him with the golden crown of Empire.
This solemnity bore a Latin, and essentially Spanish character.
Spanish grandees, Astorga, Ponce de Leon, Manriquez de Aguilar, Pedro de Toledo, Mendoza, Herrera, Guzman and Italian princes surrounded the emperor, while Leyva's veterans occupied the Piazza of S. Petronio.
For the first time in the history of the German empire the imperial coronation took place without the participation of the German states : and they, who had not even been invited to it, protested, as a mere form, against all acts promulgated without their adhesion in regard to the imperial territories in Italy.
Of princes of the empire the Count Palatine Philip, who carried the orb, was alone present. The sceptre was borne by the Marchese Bonifazio of Montferrat ; the sword by the Duke of Urbino, as Prefect of the city the crown of Empire by Charles III, of Savoy ; the banner of Rome by the magnificent Giuliano Cesarini as Gonfaloniere of the Roman people.
The emperor walked between the cardinals Salviati and Ridolfi from the palace to the platform of the steps to the Cathedral, along a stage covered with purple, which collapsed after he had passed....
For even in 1530 the ancient ritual of imperial coronation was rigidly observed ;the emperor still tendered the customary oath as Defender of the Church and all its temporal rights.
So obstinately did the tradition of papal grandeur linger that, the coronation ceremony over, Charles V. even held the stirrup of Clement VII. Emperor and Pope then rode side by side in procession under a baldacchino through a part of the gorgeously decorated city.
The darkest night of Italy's suffering, the desolation left by the sack of Rome, the degradation of Milan, the death of Florence, and a hundred destroyed and depopulated cities, served as a foil to the imperial coronation of Charles V,, the mightiest of the emperors who had filled the throne since the days of Charles the Great.
It was only with suspicion and dread that the world could look on the two chief actors in the pompous scene.
For here the power of the Caesars was crowned by the spiritual despotism, its defeated ally.
The two powers renewed the mediaeval alliance, and were agreed in their common aims : to subjugate and to rule. Germany might veil the banner of freedom of thought, which she had raised, for well she knew that the emperor would lend his iron arm to the spiritual authority of Rome, and Italy, the most unfortunate of nations, lay at the feet of Caesar, wounded to death, sacked and naked, as though she were enslaved America.
The Pope, in placing the crown of empire on the head of Charles V., may have told himself that he now crowned that which he had fought against all his life, the dominion of Spain over Italy."Ferdinand Gregorovius, History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages Volume 8, Part II. translated by Annie Hamilton (1902)