Saturday, August 31, 2013

Romaunt of the Rose

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt (1833 - 1898)
Love and the Pilgrim 
Oil paint on canvas
1575 x 3048 mm 
Tate Britain, London

A pupil of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and a protégé of John Ruskin, Burne-Jones belonged to the second generation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

He is now again considered one of the greatest British painters of the nineteenth century—after only perhaps Turner and  Constable.

He was a medievalist

He thought that Italian art from 1470 to 1520 was simply "the Art of the Masters". He read Dante avidly but he seems to have preferred Chaucer

The work is loosely based on Chaucer`s The Romaunt of the Rose itself based on the French allegory Roman de la Rose

The work is part of a series of works on The Romaunt of the Rose which includes The Pilgrim at the Gate of Idleness and The Heart of the Rose

In this picture, the young pilgrim is entranced by Love depicted as an angel surrounded by a large retinue of nightingales. He is following Love and does not seem to realise the vicissitudes he is being led through, in this case the  thick bushes of thorns. He does not seem to feel the pain. 

The young pilgrim has been entranced by by the promise of the spirit of Love and the song of the nightingales in the night and in the darkness has become ensnared by the thorn bushes. He continues his pursuit of  Love

Burne-Jones dedicated the work to the poet Swinburne and in the catalogue quoted the following lines by the poet:
"Love that is first and last of all things made,
The light that moving has man`s life for shade."

Originally the pilgrim had a beard as it was based on an Italian model called Giacinto. The figure was to be made definitively masculine. But the beard was later removed.

From classical times the nightingale has been a favourite image for poets. For some the song of the nightingale was poetry, even the highest form of poetrry

The song of the nightingale has been described as one of the most beautiful sounds in nature. The bird is reputed to sing at night as well as during the day

The very word "nightingale" means "night songstress"

In Chaucer`s Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, the Knight`s son, the Squire is described as:
"So hoote he lovede, that by nyghtertale
He slepte namoore than dooth a nyghtyngale."

Unlike his father, the Squire is a novice warrior and lover with more enthusiasm than experience. He is not yet as his Father, the courtly Knight

Love is portrayed as an angel, a messenger of God and the spirit of Love

It is erotic Love that impels the young pilgrim on. 

Christianity did not poison or destroy eros notwithstanding what Friedrich Nietzsche, Freud and others thought

Chaucer`s work includes a debate between Love and Reason. This work shows the state of the young man before this debate or synthesis

For modern minds, the angel has become a utterly fantastic figure, a figure which invokes incredulity and disbelief. A sign that religion and reason are not reconciliable. 

Yet they occur in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. 

In the early Church and medieval times, they were regarded as real creatures. They were and are a sign of God`s intervention in human history and revelation.

As such they are now dismissed and rank along with Santa Claus, pixies and other fictional mythological creatures. In the same way for many does Scripture.

What therefore is an angel?

Benedict XVI in a lengthy homily on the three Archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael explained in a way more attuned to modern ideas and idiom:
" But what is an Angel? 
Sacred Scripture and the Church's tradition enable us to discern two aspects. 
On the one hand, the Angel is a creature who stands before God, oriented to God with his whole being. All three names of the Archangels end with the word "El", which means "God". God is inscribed in their names, in their nature. 
Their true nature is existing in his sight and for him. 
In this very way the second aspect that characterizes Angels is also explained: they are God's messengers. 
They bring God to men, they open heaven and thus open earth. Precisely because they are with God, they can also be very close to man. Indeed, God is closer to each one of us than we ourselves are. 
The Angels speak to man of what constitutes his true being, of what in his life is so often concealed and buried. They bring him back to himself, touching him on God's behalf. 
In this sense, we human beings must also always return to being angels to one another - angels who turn people away from erroneous ways and direct them always, ever anew, to God. 
If the ancient Church called Bishops "Angels" of their Church, she meant precisely this: Bishops themselves must be men of God, they must live oriented to God. "Multum orat pro populo" - "Let them say many prayers for the people", the Breviary of the Church says of holy Bishops. 
The Bishop must be a man of prayer, one who intercedes with God for human beings. The more he does so, the more he also understands the people who are entrusted to him and can become an angel for them - a messenger of God who helps them to find their true nature by themselves, and to live the idea that God has of them.

Angels were not "abolished" by the Second Vatican Council. They are there in Lumen Gentium if you look hard enough

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Consecration of Saint Michael

On 5th July 2013 Pope Francis in the company of Pope Benedict XVI unveiled the statue of St Michael the Archangel (above) outside the Governorate, and consecrated the Vatican City State to St Joseph, as well as to the Archangel

It was also the day that he published to the world his first Encyclical Lumen Fidei (a work of both Francis and Benedict)

The unveiling and the consecration caught many by surprise even astonishment and disgust (see in particular, the comments)

Gianni Valente in Vatican Insider ably confounded them in a devastating article

He wrote:
"The unveiling of the bronze statue in the Vatican gardens turned into a consecration of the whole Vatican State to St Joseph and St Michael, the patron saints already chosen by the Governor. 
And so Francesco and Benedict have once again entrusted the capable care of the State to the foster father of Jesus and the Archangel, constantly fighting the devil along the way through poverty and generosity, devotion and opportunism, evangelical enthusiasm and corruption that live beyond the Leonine Walls. 
Including the skullduggery of those random trains of thought where resistance and nervousness can grow. These so-called "operations" are formed in the shadows and then brought out by way of "loyal" channels and agents according to the typical cliché of clerical power struggles that have recently plagued the Church: 
"Complaining and ranting is their forte. They grumble, moan and criticise . They are in a bad mood and, what is worse, they bear grudges "(Charles Peguy)."
The statue was commissioned by Pope Benedict during his pontificate 

The great work is by Giuseppe Antonio Lomuscio b.1955,  a very distinguished and gifted Italian artist who has been commissioned for many works of religious art.

Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, President emeritus of the Governorate explained the aesthetic criteria that guided the artist

He said that the work “reflects a conception of art as a reflection of the beauty with which God has filled creation, and in particular, the creature that he created in his image and likeness, the human creature, the closest in the scale of beings to the splendour of the angelic creatures”. 

This is why, he added, Michael the Archangel is “shown here with the heroic traits of the human figure, while Satan, whom he defeated, is represented with a figure of the same shape, but altered and disfigured, as a consequence of sin”. 

Perhaps Blessed Pope John Paul II explained it much better when he visited the Shrine of St Michael the Archangel on Monte Gargano on the coast of Apulia in 1987 

The Vatican website only gives the speech in Italian (when are they going to get it up to date ?)
"[H]ow much the figure of the Archangel Michael, the protagonist in many pages of the Old and New Testaments, is felt and invoked by the people and how much need the Church has of his heavenly protection: of him, who is presented in the Bible as the great warrior against the Dragon, the leader of the demons.  
We read in the Book of Revelation:  
“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him” (Rev 12:7-9). 
With this dramatic description, the sacred author presents us with the fall of the first angel, who was seduced by the ambition to become “like God”.  
Whence the reaction of the Archangel Michael, whose Hebrew name “Who is like God?”, affirms the uniqueness of God and his inviolability. 
As fragmentary as it is, the evidence of Revelation concerning the personality and the role of St Michael is very eloquent. He is the Archangel (cf. Jude 1:9) who affirms the inalienable rights of God.  
He is one of the princes of heaven (cf. Dan 12:1)—charged with guarding the Chosen People—from whom the Saviour will come.  
Now the new People of God is the Church. 
That is the reason she considers him her protector and support in all her struggles for the defence and expansion of the kingdom of God on earth.  
It is true that “the powers of death shall not prevail”, as the Lord assured (Mt 16:18), but this does not mean that we are exempt from trials and battles against the snares of the evil one. 
In this struggle the Archangel Michael stands alongside the Church to defend her against all the iniquities of the age, to help believers to resist the devil, who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour” (1 Petr 5:8)."

The statue has been placed on one of the highest points in the Vatican Gardens. The distinguished archaeologist Professor Rodolfo Amedeo Lanciani  in Pagan and Christian Rome Chapter 5 Papal Tombs (1892) explained why
"It was customary in the Middle Ages to consecrate the summits of hills and mountains to Michael, the archangel, from an association of ideas which needs no explanation. 
Similarly, in classical times, the Alpine passes had been placed under the protection of Jupiter the Thunderer, and lofty peaks crowned with his temples. 
Without citing the examples of Mont Saint Michel on the coast of Normandy, or of Monte Gargano on the coast of Apulia, we need only look around the neighborhood of Rome to find the figure of the angel wherever a solitary hill or a commanding ruin suggested the idea or the sensation of height. Deus in altis habitat
Here is the isolated cone of Castel Giubileo on the Via Salaria (a fortified outpost of Fidenae); there the mountain of S. Angelo above Nomentum, and the convent of S. Michele on the peak of Corniculum. The highest point within the walls of Rome, now occupied by the Villa Aurelia (Heyland) was covered likewise by a church named S. Angelo in Janiculo. The two principal ruins in the valley of the Tiber -- the Mausoleum of Augustus and that of Hadrian -- were also shaded by the angel's wings. 
The shrine over the vault of the Julian emperors was called S. Angelo de Augusto, while that built by Boniface IV. (608-615) above Hadrian's tomb was called inter nubes (among the clouds), or inter coelos (in the heavens). This shrine was replaced later by the figure of an angel. 
During the pestilence of 1348 the statue was reported by thirty witnesses to have bowed to the image of the Virgin which the panic-stricken people were carrying from the church of Ara Coeli to S. Peter's. In 1378 the ungrateful crowd destroyed it in their attempt to storm the castle. 
Nicholas V. (1447-1455) placed a new image on the top of the monument, which perished in the explosion of the powder-magazine in 1497. The shock was so violent that pieces of the statue were found beyond S. Maria Maggiore, a distance of a mile and a half. 
Alexander VI., Borgia, set up a statue for the third time, which was stolen by the hordes of Charles V. for the sake of its heavy gilding. The marble effigy by Raffaele di Montelupo was placed on the vacant base, and remained until Benedict XIV. (1740-1758) set up a fifth and last figure, which was cast in bronze by Wenschefeld."
As Lanciani and Blessed Pope John Paul II indicated the belief in the reality of angels and their work on earth has been a common article of faith for centuries, a lived reality for the Church. Indeed even further, 

They are mentioned in Scripture, the Old Testament as well as the New Testament

Blessed John Paul II pointed out in his homily at Gargano a list of the famous saints who came on pilgrimage to the shrine: 

St Bernard,  St William of Vercelli, St Thomas Aquinas, Saint Catherine of Siena, and not least st Francis of Assisi (who came for Lent in 1221)

Yet after the Second Vatican Council, if you believed in angels you were scoffed at.

"Medieval", "Popular", "Simple", "Crude and shallow faith" were some of the descriptions. In North America in particular in the `80s and `90s this fitted in with the dismissal of Blessed John Paul II as being "of a medieval mindset" and from "an embattled and backward looking Polish Church"

When one encountered it (and it was often), this attitude was of course arrogant, very unattractive to behold and hear and quite repellent

It made the listener wonder about the the bona fides of the person who made such claims, Indeed it usually turned out that they were not bona fide at all

In attempting to purify the faith by subtracting from the corpus of doctrine, they forgot that it is the entire corpus of doctrinal faith which has the "power to assimilate everything that it meets in the various settings in which it becomes present and in the diverse cultures which it encounters, purifying all things and bringing them to their finest expression."

Perhaps not surprisingly (although it was not the only reason by any means), attendances at Church dropped and vocations plummeted

It was a form of modern Gnosticism. In his Encyclical Lumen Fidei Pope Francis wrote:
"Faith is also one because it is directed to the one Lord, to the life of Jesus, to the concrete history which he shares with us. 
Saint Irenaeus of Lyons made this clear in his struggle against Gnosticism. 
The Gnostics held that there are two kinds of faith: a crude, imperfect faith suited to the masses, which remained at the level of Jesus’ flesh and the contemplation of his mysteries; and a deeper, perfect faith reserved to a small circle of initiates who were intellectually capable of rising above the flesh of Jesus towards the mysteries of the unknown divinity. 
In opposition to this claim, which even today exerts a certain attraction and has its followers, Saint Irenaeus insisted that there is but one faith, for it is grounded in the concrete event of the incarnation and can never transcend the flesh and history of Christ, inasmuch as God willed to reveal himself fully in that flesh. 
For this reason, he says, there is no difference in the faith of "those able to discourse of it at length" and "those who speak but little", between the greater and the less: the first cannot increase the faith, nor the second diminish it"

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Coronation of the Emperor in Bologna 1530

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

Behind the curtains in the background stands a monstrance between the Papal tiara and the Imperial crown.

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 and
enfettered 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)

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.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Vision of St. Bernard

Pietro Perugino [Pietro de Christoforo Vannucci](c. 1450–1523)
The Vision of St. Bernard 
Oil on wood 
170 x 173 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich

Perugino depicts the vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 - 1153) the founder of the Cistercian order 

The work was commissioned  for a family chapel of the Nasi in the then Cistercian church Santa Maria Maddalena di Cestello in Florence. It was one of the most important altars in the church. It was the chapel immediately to the right of the High Altar

Then the Church was known as  Santa Maria Maddalena delle Convertite. After the canonisation in 1669 of Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi, it was dedicated to the Florentine Carmelite saint whose order had by then taken over the running of the complex

Mary appears in ordinary clothes. There is a dream like quality to the work. Apart from St Bernard and the Virgin, the other figures represent angels and saints. All, apart from halos, appear to be ordinary people.

Behind Mary are two angels. One of the angels is staring out at the viewer, the classic example of how the viewer comes to be engaged into the image.

Behind St Bernard are Saints Bartholomew and Philip

On the right of the panel there would have been depicted three figures of the Nasi family. They would be looking also at the vision of Mary.

It is the interaction between the two the Virgin and St Bernard which is central to the work

The setting is a cloister, presumably Cistercian. The landscape is Umbrian, the homeland of Perugino.

The cloister is framed by Gothic arches and columns. Everything is in classical harmony

Despite the monumentality of the work, the image is not static. Mary is moving forward. She is pointing. St Bernard is off centre. He is obviously rather startled by the vision. And by the message of the Virgin. Is he really capable of taking it all in ?

The colours are luminous and bright but not loud.

There is an underplayed quality to the depiction which somehow makes it much more emphatic and memorable.

It is a completely different work to that of Filippino Lippi in the Badia in Florence, an impressive and popular work in its time which spawned many imitations

Filippino Lippi (ca. 1457 - 1504)
Apparition of The Virgin to St Bernard
Oil on panel
210 x 195 cm
Church of Badia, Florence

And of course it was meant to be different

In Lippi`s work we see St Bernard as the leader of a community of monastic scribes and St Bernard as an intercessor with the Virgin

The words being written by St Bernard have particular significance in the painting. He is writing a commentary on the words of St Luke: Super missus est (the passage on The Annunciation)

It is a complex image filled work steeped in learning and in the humanist tradition. 

Perugino`s painting shows no words only a vision, a meeting. For Perugino, words are superfluous and inadequate to describe the scene. There are no monks apart from St Bernard himself. This is a real and personal encounter between Mary and St Bernard. She is speaking directly to him.

Some have said that in Perugino`s work we have a "reverse Annunciation". Mary takes the place of the Angel. St Bernard takes the place of the Virgin. Mary as Queen of Heaven is the messenger of God.

St Bernard and we are invited to imitate Mary and accept the commission of God: to consent and accept what God wants of us in the same way that Mary did at the Annunciation. The emphatic and irrevocable "yes" to the call of the Word

The popularity of the image of the Blessed Virgin appearing to St Bernard in Florence at the time reflected a popular mood

Geoffrey of Auxerre, William of Saint Thierry, and Arnaud de Bonneval  all wrote portions of the Vita Prima, a book dedicated to Bernard’s devotion to monastic life in the church. The Vita Prima describes nine visions that  Saint Bernard experienced, including one in which the Virgin appeared to him while he was writing a sermon

For St Bernard the Virgin Mary  acted as the intercessor between man and God or Christ. Bernard was impressed by her acceptance of the Incarnation and felt her virtue made her worthy of emulation

St Bernard of Clairvaux  was and is associated with asceticism and reform. As well as founding an Order of Reform, he gave valuable directions for the reform of all levels of hierarchy in the Church.

Florence had a particular devotion to St Bernard

Dante chose Bernard as the last guide to the heavenly vision of Mary in The Divine Comedy: Paradiso

Petrarch dedicated a chapter of De Vita Solitaria to Bernard

Between c.1471-1500 there were 38 editions of Bernard’s works printed in Italy

Copyright 1981, University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, MI, there is a fascinatig and detailed study of the theme of the Vision of Mary to St Bernard in Renaissance art

The vision of Saint Bernard is a theme almost unique to Florence and rarely seen outside Tuscany during the Renaissance. 

Lesher’s research documents the  theme’s popularity from 1490-1530 in Florence, but she found no examples of the theme painted in Florence from the 1530s until the seventeenth century

Lippi`s and Perugino`s work can be seen as a reflection of a reform movement in the Church

It is surely no coincidence that one year after Perugino painted his work a certain Fra Savonarola became the Prior of San Marco and his sermons tapped a vein in the religious psyche of Renaissance Florence. 

This was no ordinary vein. It was a lodestone. As in all reform movements, Savonarola was merely the catalyst for a movement which took hold of the city like a  whirlwind

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Assumpta est Maria

The other parts of the full Mass by Palestrina can be heard by following the links on the YouTube page

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Odoard de Bersaques: The Assumption

The workshop of Simon Bening (1483–1561)
From The Office of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in The Missal of Odoard de Bersaques
c, 1530
Illuminated manuscript
Ms 60 Folio 58v
Bibliothèque d’agglomération de Saint-Omer, France

Simon Bening  was described as "the greatest master of illumination in all of Europe" in his own time. His clients were the most powerful and the richest people in Europe.

This Missal was commissioned by Odoard de Bersaques, the Provost of the Collégiale of Saint-Omer (which later became the cathédrale Notre-Dame in Saint-Omer) as well as chaplain and then Grand Almoner (clericus elimosinarius) to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V

In medieval times Saint-Omer was one of those important towns and flash points which powerful men and their armies attempt to conquer and control

It was situated on the borders of territories frequently disputed by French, Flemish, English and Spaniards,

In 1493 the town became part of the Low Countries and under Spanish dominion for more than 170 years. 

The French made futile attempts against it between 1551 and 1596. During the Thirty Years War, the French attacked in 1638 (under Cardinal Richelieu) and 1647.

Odoard de Bersaques was an official in one of the greatest and most powerful Courts of Europe: that of Charles V (1500 - 1558), the Holy Roman Emperor

At its zenith Charles`s empire  spanned nearly four million square kilometres across Europe, the Far East, and the Americas

As chaplain then Grand Almoner to Charles V, the responsability of Odoard de Bersaques would have been, in the Emperor`s name, to distribute money to the deserving poor. He was responsible for the Emperor`s charitable duties. He would also have had important administrative duties at the Court. In England at the time the Almoner to the King would have been a Bishop

Charles V had a large number of almoners presumably because of the large number of his  territories, their respective Courts and the greatness of his wealth. Another of his almoners was Francis Louis of Blois 1506 - 1566, Abbot of Liesse.who refused on an number of occasions  both the Archbishopric of Cambrai and the Abbey of Tournai

Another was Augustino Cazalla who was not quite as fortunate in those turbulent times

The office of Almoner still exists in some courts and countries as it does in the Papal  Household

We do not know terribly much about Odoard de Bersaques. A plaque was put up in his memory in the cathedral which indicated that he was the last Provost of the Collégiale. We know that he died in 1557

We know what he looked like from the image of one of the pages in his Missal:

The workshop of Simon Bening (1483–1561)
Odoard de Bersaques in prayer before the saints in The Missal of Odoard de Bersaques
c. 1530
Illuminated manuscript
Ms 60 Folio 2v
Bibliothèque d’agglomération de Saint-Omer, France

It is likely that Odoard set the text and after the text was written the Missal was sent to Bening`s workshop for the final paintings to be done and the final illumination

What we see is what Odoard saw and read nearly 600 years ago on the Feast of the Assumption

The image of Our Lady is that of Our Lady of the Apocalypse. She stands on a crescent moon barely hidden

It was a turbulent time. In nearby Germany the Lutheran reformation was in full swing and was spreading throughout Europe.