Showing posts with label Pope Clement VII. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pope Clement VII. Show all posts

2 June 2024

Battle of Marino

Bloody fight that entrenched rival factions in Catholic Church

Robert of Geneva, rival pope to Urban VI
Robert of Geneva, rival
pope to Urban VI
Giacomo Orsini, a member of the Orsini family of Rome that produced five popes between the eighth and 18th centuries, stormed the Castle of Marino - in the area south of Rome known as the Castelli Romani - on this day in 1379, bringing a decisive conclusion to a military battle that would end any hopes that the 1378 split in the Catholic Church might be quickly resolved.

The Battle of Marino was fought between armies loyal to Pope Urban VI, the former Archbishop of Bari who had been elected as successor to Pope Gregory XI, and the antipope Clement VII, who had set up rival courts a year earlier following the split that became known as the Great Schism or Western Schism.

The papacy had only just been returned to Rome by Gregory XI from Avignon in France following a fragmentation that had occurred 70 years earlier but the election of Bartolomeo Prignano to rule as Urban VI reignited the division.

Urban VI was hostile toward the French cardinals who had gained significant power during the Avignon years and wanted the papal court to remain in the city in southeastern France.

Those cardinals, fearing that they would become marginalised, responded by declaring that Urban VI’s election was invalid due to having taken place in a climate of fear and instead elected Robert of Geneva to lead the church as Pope Clement VII.

The two rival factions assembled armies. The troops backing Urban VI were mainly Italian mercenaries under the command of Alberico da Barbiano, while the anti-papal army consisted of French mercenaries led by the Count of Montjoie.

The scene of the Battle of Marino, fought to the  south of Rome, as it looks in the present day
The site of the Battle of Marino, fought to the 
south of Rome, as it looks in the present day
They faced each other in the Battle of Marino, fought in the valley east of the town that is now known as the Valley of the Dead, perhaps on account of the bloody battle fought there.

Victory went to the Italians, the battle concluded when the Castle of Marino - on the site of  which the Palazzo Colonna now stands - was besieged by papal troops. The fact that the castle was commanded by Giordano Orsini, a supporter of the antipope, yet the papal soldiers who took it on June 2, 1379 were led by Giordano's son Giacomo, illustrates how the split in the church also divided families. 

Following the defeat of his army, Clement VII, who had based himself in Anagni, 72km (45 miles) southeast of Rome, felt vulnerable and fled Anagni first for Sperlonga, then Gaeta, finally landing in  Naples.

He was received well by Queen Joanna I of Naples, who afforded him great respect, but in the streets he found himself confronted by angry mobs declaring their support for “Papa Urbano". He returned to Gaeta, where he boarded a ship that would ultimately take him to Avignon.

The Western Schism, also known as the Great Schism, would last from 1378 to 1417, a tumultuous period in which there were two - later three - rival popes, each claiming to be the legitimate pontiff.

The division was finally ended by The Council of Constance, which met over a period of four years between 1414 and 1418, eventually finding a mutually acceptable pope in Oddone Colonna, a Roman, who was elected as Pope Martin V. 

Via Roma in Marino, looking  towards Palazzo Colonna
Via Roma in Marino, looking
 towards Palazzo Colonna
Travel tip:

Marino today is a town in Lazio, set among the Alban Hills, 21 km (13 miles) southeast of Rome, with a population of 37,684. It is bounded by the towns of Castel Gandolfo, Albano Laziale, Rocca di Papa, Grottaferrata, and Ciampino.  Marino is famous for its white wine, and for its Grape Festival, which has been celebrated since 1924.  Marino suffered extensive damage during World War Two. In 1944 it was heavily bombed by aircraft from the United States Air Force and in the spring of 1945 it was the scene of heavy fighting between troops of the British Indian Army and Axis troops which caused much of the city to be destroyed.  As well as the Palazzo Colonna, built on the site of the former castle, Marino's  main sights include the Basilica of San Barnaba, built in Baroque style, with an imposing façade dating to 1653. Among other works of art, it houses the Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew by Guercino and a bust of St. Anthony Abbot by Ercole Ferrata.

The former palace of Boniface VIII in the town of Anagni, which has produced four popes
The former palace of Boniface VIII in the
town of Anagni, which has produced four popes
Travel tip:

Anagni is an ancient town in the province of Frosinone in Lazio, built on a hillI above the Sacco Valley, southeast of Rome. It is in an area known as Ciociaria, named after the primitive footwear - ciocie - favoured for many years by people living in the area. It was a papal residence in the Middle Ages and the birthplace of no fewer than four popes: Innocent III, Gregory IX, Alexander IV, and Boniface VIII. With the death of Boniface VIII, the power of the town declined. The mediaeval Palace of Boniface VIII is near the Cathedral. Among sights worth seeking out is the majestic cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata, built with a mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles and completed in 1104, which stands out as a city’s symbol and seat of the local diocese, with a steeple about 30m (98ft) high. The crypt of San Magno is sometimes called the 'Sistine Chapel of the Middle Age', owing to its  fresco cycle with images telling about the genesis of the world, the creation of humans and their salvation, as well as the lives and miracles of the Saint and other martyrs.

Also on this day: 

1882: The death of unification hero Giuseppe Garibaldi

1957: The birth of cycle racer Roberto Visentini

Festa della Repubblica 


3 August 2021

Francesco Ferruccio - military leader

Florentine soldier celebrated in Italy’s national anthem 

Francesco Ferruccio's statue in the courtyard of the Uffizi in Florence
Francesco Ferruccio's statue in the
courtyard of the Uffizi in Florence
Francesco Ferruccio, the military leader whose heroic attempt to defend Florence against the powerful army of the Holy Roman Empire is recalled in Italy’s national anthem, died on the battlefield on this day in 1530.

A Florentine by birth, Ferruccio had been charged with leading the army of the Republic of Florence as the city came under attack during the War of the League of Cognac, when the Pope Clement VII connived with the emperor Charles V to overthrow the republic and restore power in Florence to his own family, the Medici.

Despite being outnumbered, Ferruccio’s soldiers engaged the Imperial forces at Gavinana, just outside Florence, killed their leader and drove them back, only for the enemy to be reinforced by the arrival of 2,000 German mercenaries under the leadership of the condottiero, Fabrizio Maramaldo.

His army almost annihilated, Ferruccio was taken prisoner and, despite being wounded, was stabbed in the throat by Maramaldo and bled to death, an act considered against the code of chivalrous conduct that honourable soldiers were expected to observe.

It was seen as so cowardly that the word maramaldo entered the Italian language as a noun with the same meaning as villain, while maramaldesco is an adjective used to describe someone as ruthless or villainous.

More than 300 years later, Goffredo Mameli, the poet and patriot, recalled Ferruccio in the lyrics of a song, Il Canto degli Italiani, that would later be adopted as the national anthem of the united Italy.

Also known as Inno di Mameli - Mameli's Hymn - and by its opening line Fratelli d'Italia - Brothers of Italy - the song cites a number of heroic figures and historical events that Mameli considered inspirational, particularly in the Italian fight for independence, Ferruccio’s defence of Florence being one of them. 

Goffredo Mameli's anthem made its debut in 1847
Goffredo Mameli's anthem
made its debut in 1847
The reference to Ferruccio occurs in the penultimate verse of the full version, in the lines

ogn'uom di Ferruccio
ha il core, ha la mano

which is translated as 

Every man hath the heart
and hand of Ferruccio

Scipio Africanus, the Roman general who defeated Hannibal at the final battle of the Second Punic War in 201BC, and Balilla, the nickname of a boy who started a revolt against the Habsburg forces in Genoa in 1746, are also part of Mameli’s narrative, along with the Battle of Legnano in 1176 and the uprising of 1282 known as the Sicilian Vespers.

Francesco Ferruccio began his working life as a merchant’s clerk and then a city official in Florence but was attracted by the idea of being a soldier and trained under Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, the Medici condottiero who would die in battle in 1526, ironically fighting on behalf of Pope Clement VII.

Appointed military commissioner by the Florentine Republic, which had been re-established in 1527, Ferruccio began the defence of Florence against Imperial ambitions by recapturing Volterra, which had been occupied by an Imperial garrison.

After Empoli fell to Imperial forces and Florence came under siege, Ferruccio proposed a march on Rome, threatening to sack the city if Clement VII did not agree to a peaceful settlement that would allow Florence to retain its independence.

But this plan was rejected as the Republican leaders opted for a more conservative approach. Ferruccio grouped his forces in Pisa only to be laid low with a fever for a month, finally engaging with the enemy at Gavinana, about 50km (31 miles) northwest of Florence.

His army was successful initially, driving the Imperial troops back and killing their leader, Philibert de Chalon, Prince of Orange, but was repelled when Maramaldo’s mercenaries arrived.  Nine days after Ferruccio himself was killed by his cowardly rival, Florence surrendered.

Pistoia's octagonal Battistero di San Giovanni in the Tuscan city's medieval centre
Pistoia's octagonal Battistero di San Giovanni
in the Tuscan city's medieval centre
Travel tip:

Gavinina is a village a short distance from Pistoia, a pretty medieval walled city in Tuscany, about 40km (25 miles) northwest of Florence. The city developed a reputation for intrigue in the 13th century and assassinations in the narrow alleyways were common, using a tiny dagger called the pistole, made by the city’s ironworkers, who also specialised in manufacturing surgical instruments. At the centre of the town is the Piazza del Duomo, where the Cathedral of San Zeno, which has a silver altar, adjoins the octagonal Battistero di San Giovanni in Corte baptistery. On the same square is the 11th century Palazzo dei Vescovi.

The historic walled town of Volterra southwest of Florence enjoys an elevated position
The historic walled town of Volterra southwest
of Florence enjoys an elevated position
Travel tip:

The walled hilltop town of Volterra, some 65km (40 miles) southeast of Pisa and 52km (32 miles) southwest of Florence, is an enchanting place to visit which still has traces of its Etruscan history, including the city’s walls and the remains of an Etruscan Acropolis, and is much quieter than nearby San Gimignano, yet is just as appealing for its narrow medieval streets and its beautiful central square, Piazza del Priori. The Palazzo dei Priori, the town hall that stands over the square, contains medieval frescoes, while its bell tower offers expansive views.  The Guarnacci Etruscan Museum has a substantial collection of artifacts.

Also on this day:

1486: The birth of famed Roman courtesan, Imperia Cognati

1546: The death of architect Antonio da Sangallo the Younger

1778: Milan’s opera house, Teatro alla Scala, is inaugurated


19 November 2020

Pope Clement VII

Calamitous papacy of a vacillating Medici

Pope Clement VII, captured by Sebastiano del Piombo, complete with beard
Pope Clement VII, captured by Sebastiano
del Piombo, complete with beard
Giulio di Giuliano de’ Medici, remembered as the unfortunate Pope who was imprisoned in Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome, was elected on this day in 1523 as Pope Clement VII.

Clement VII also went down in history for refusing to allow the King of England, Henry VIII, to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, causing England to break away from the Catholic Church forever.

One month before Giulio de Medici’s birth, his father was murdered in Florence Cathedral in what is referred to as the Pazzi conspiracy. His mother is believed to have been Fioretta Gorini, the daughter of a university professor, and Giulio was born illegitimately in May 1478 in Florence.

Giulio spent the first seven years of his life living with his godfather, the architect Antonio da Sangallo, the Elder. Then Lorenzo the Magnificent took over, raising him as one of his own sons, alongside Giovanni, the future Pope Leo X, Piero and Giuliano. Young Giulio received a humanist education at Palazzo Medici and became an accomplished musician. He studied canon law at the University of Pisa and accompanied his cousin, Giovanni, to the conclave of 1492 when Rodrigo Borgia was elected Pope Alexander VI.

Titian's portrait of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V
Titian's portrait of the Holy Roman
Emperor, Charles V
After Giovanni became Pope Leo X, Giulio was named Archbishop of Florence. A papal dispensation declared his birth legitimate and he was made a Cardinal. Giulio also governed Florence between 1519 and 1523 after the death of Lorenzo II de’ Medici.

Following the death of Pope Leo X in 1521, Cardinal Giulio was expected to succeed him, but the College of Cardinals elected Pope Adrian VI, who was from the Netherlands.

Cardinal Giulio was influential throughout Adrian’s 20-month reign, splitting his time between Palazzo Medici in Florence and Palazzo della Cancelleria in Rome.

After Adrian’s death in 1523, Giulio finally succeeded in being elected Pope Clement VII in the conclave of 19 November.

During his reign there were many political, military and religious struggles that were to have far-reaching consequences for Christianity.

The protestant reformation was spreading, the Catholic Church was nearing bankruptcy and foreign armies were invading Italy. Clement VII started out by trying to unite Christendom and liberate Italy from foreign occupation.

Europe’s two most important rulers, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and King Francis I of France, both demanded that Clement VII should choose to take their side.

Michelangelo's extraordinary Last Judgement,
commissioned by Clement VII just before he died
After Clement VII made the serious error of signing a treaty with Francis I of France, Charles V sent his army into Italy, which led to the violent and damaging Sack of Rome.

Clement VII escaped through a covered passageway to Castel Sant Angelo, where he remained imprisoned for six months before he was able to escape in disguise and take shelter in Orvieto and Viterbo. While imprisoned, he had grown a full beard, which he kept for the rest of his life, setting a fashion that the next 25 popes who came after him were to follow.

After Clement VII returned to Rome, he agreed to crown Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor in Bologna. This was to be the last time a Holy Roman Emperor was crowned by a Pope.

When King Henry VIII asked Clement VII to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Clement refused because Catherine was the aunt of Charles V, who he daren’t offend. His refusal led to England becoming a protestant country.

A few days before his death in 1534, Clement VII, who had been a great patron of the arts, commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Last Judgment on a wall in the Sistine Chapel.

Clement VII died in September 1534, aged 56. His body was interred in St Peter’s Basilica and later transferred to a tomb in the Choir of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome.

Castel Sant'Angelo on the banks of the Tiber, illuminated at night
Castel Sant'Angelo on the banks of the Tiber,
illuminated at night
Travel tip:

Castel Sant’Angelo was originally built as a mausoleum for the Roman Emperor Hadrian and his family on the right bank of the Tiber between 134 and 139 AD. There is a legend that the Archangel Michael appeared on top of the mausoleum, sheathing his sword as a sign of the end of the plague of 590, which is how the castle acquired its present name. Pope Nicolas III commissioned a covered fortified corridor, the Passetto, to link it to the Vatican and Pope Clement VII was able to use it to escape from the Vatican during the siege of Rome by Charles V’s troops in 1527. Castel Sant’Angelo was used as the setting for the third act of Giacomo Puccini’s 1900 opera Tosca, during which the heroine leaps to her death from the ramparts.

The church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva,  where Pope Clement VII is buried
The church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, 
where Pope Clement VII is buried
Travel tip:

The Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, which houses Clement VII’s tomb, is on the opposite side of the Tiber from the Vatican in Piazza della Minerva off Via Minerva, south east of the Pantheon.  It is the only Gothic church in Rome. The first Christian church on the site was built directly above, (sopra), a temple dedicated to the goddess Minerva. The present structure was built in 1280 by the Dominicans. The tombs of both Leo X and Clement VII are in the church, both designed by the Renaissance sculptor Baccio Bandinelli in 1541.

Also on this day:

1877: The birth of Venice Film Festival founder Giuseppe Volpi

1893: The birth of boxer Giuseppe Curreri, aka Johnny Dundee

1907: The birth of Olympic champion Luigi Beccali

1926: The birth of neo-fascist politician Pino Rauti


20 April 2020

Pietro Aretino – writer

Satirist was both admired and feared by the nobility

Pietro Aretino, captured by his friend, the Venetian painter Titian in around 1545
Pietro Aretino, captured by his friend, the
Venetian painter Titian in around 1545
Poet, playwright and prose writer Pietro Aretino was born on this day in 1492 in Arezzo in Tuscany.

Aretino became famous for his satirical attacks on important figures in society and grew wealthy from the gifts he received from noblemen who feared being exposed by his powerful pen.

Although he was the son of an Arezzo shoemaker, he pretended to be the natural son of a nobleman and took his name from Arretium, the Roman name for Arezzo.

He moved to Perugia while still very young and lived the life of a painter, but in 1517 when he was in his early twenties, Aretino moved on to Rome, where he secured the patronage of the rich banker, Agostino Chigi.

When Pope Leo X's pet elephant, Hanno, died, Aretino wrote a satirical pamphlet, The Last Will and Testament of the Elephant Hanno, cleverly mocking the leading political and religious figures in Rome at the time. This established his fame as a satirist. He then wrote a series of viciously satirical lampoons supporting the candidacy of Giulio de’ Medici for the papacy. Giulio duly became Pope Clement VII in 1523.

Despite being supported by the Pope and his patron, Chigi, Aretino was finally forced to leave Rome because of writing a collection of ‘lewd sonnets’, sonetti lussuriosi, in 1524.

The painter Titian became a good friend
and supporter of Aretino
By 1527 Aretino had settled in Venice where he was admired but also feared by those in power and he received enough money to be able to live in a grand - albeit dissolute - style.

He became a close friend of the painter Titian and sold paintings on Titian’s behalf to Francis I, the King of France.

Titian’s portrait of Aretino, painted in around 1545, shows him wearing a gold chain that he had received as a gift from the King of France.

It is claimed Francis I of France and Charles V of Spain both paid him a pension at the same time, each hoping he would damage the reputation of the other.

Aretino wrote six volumes of letters that were published from 1537 onwards which reveal his cynicism and justify the name he gave to himself, ‘flagello dei principe’ - scourge of princes.

He was particularly vicious in his attack on Romans, not forgetting that they had forced him to move to Venice. In his Ragionamenti - Discussions - written between 1534 and 1536, Roman prostitutes reveal to each other the moral failings of many of the important men in the city and in his Dialogues, he examines the carnality and corruption among Romans at the time.

Aretino’s dramas present well observed pictures of lower-class life, free from the conventions that burdened other contemporary dramas. The best known is Cortigiana - The Courtesan - published in 1534, a lively and amusing insight into the life of the lower classes in Rome.

Aretino captured in another portrait  by Titian, painted in 1512
Aretino captured in another portrait
by Titian, painted in 1512
Aretino also wrote a tragedy, Orazia, published in 1546, which has been judged to be the best Italian tragedy written in the 16th century.

Pietro Aretino died in 1556 in Venice aged 64. It was claimed at the time that he either suffocated because he could not stop laughing, or fell backwards and hit his head while laughing.

He was buried in the Church of San Luca, which lies between St Mark’s Square and the Rialto bridge in Venice.

In 2007, the composer Michael Nyman set some of Aretino’s Sonetti lussoriosi to music under the title 8 Lust Songs. Aretino’s texts again caused controversy when the songs were performed in London in 2008 as the printed programmes containing extracts had to be withdrawn after there were allegations of obscenity.

The interior of the 13th century Basilica di San Francesco in Piazza San Francesco in the heart of Arezzo
The interior of the 13th century Basilica di San Francesco
in Piazza San Francesco in the heart of Arezzo
Travel tip:

Arezzo, where Pietro Aretino was born and acquired his surname, is an interesting old town in eastern Tuscany, which was used as the location for the 1997 film Life Is Beautiful. One of the scenes in the film took place in front of the Badia delle Sante Flora e Lucilla, a medieval abbey. Right in the centre of the town, the 13th century Basilica di San Francesco in Piazza San Francesco is the most famous sight in Arezzo and attracts many visitors as it contains Piero della Francesco’s cycle of frescoes, The Legend of the True Cross, painted between 1452 and 1466 and considered to be his finest work.

The church of San Luca in Venice, which can be found between Piazza San Marco and the Rialto bridge
The church of San Luca in Venice, which can be found
between Piazza San Marco and the Rialto bridge
Travel tip:

Pietro Aretino was buried in the Church of San Luca close to Salizzada San Luca in the St Mark’s sestiere of Venice. On his tombstone was the epitaph: ‘Here lies Aretino, poet Tosco, that everyone spoke poorly about, except Christ, who apologised saying: ‘I do not know him.’’ This inscription was later removed, either by the Inquisition, or during restoration work on the floor of the church in the 18th century. It is claimed many journalists, writers and non-believers used to visit the church looking for Aretino’s tomb. On either side of the altar there used to be paintings from the 16th century, in which Aretino was portrayed as part of the crowd. It has been claimed that the paintings were removed by one of the priests in the 19th century to discourage the interest and they have still not been put back.

Also on this day:

1317: The death of Sant’Agnese of Montepulciano

1949: The birth of Massimo D’Alema, Italy’s first Communist prime minister

1951: The death of anti-Fascist politician Ivanoe Bonomi


1 July 2019

Clara Gonzaga – noblewoman

Countess from Mantua founded European dynasties

Clara Gonzaga's marriage began a dynasty of European royalty
Clara Gonzaga's marriage began a dynasty
of European royalty
Clara (Chiara) Gonzaga, the eldest daughter of Federico I Gonzaga and Margaret of Bavaria, was born on this day in 1464 in Mantua.

One of her six children became Charles III, Duke of Bourbon and led the imperial army sent by Emperor Charles V against Pope Clement VII in what was to become the Sack of Rome in 1527.

Clara was also to feature as one of the characters in The Heptameron, a collection of 72 short stories written in French by the sister of King Francis I of France, Marguerite of Angouleme, who had been inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron.

Clara had five siblings, including Francesco II Gonzaga, who married Isabella d’Este.

She was married at the age of 17 to Gilbert of Bourbon Montpensier. Four years later he succeeded his father as Count of Montpensier and Dauphin of Auvergne.

Clara and Gilbert had six children, but when she was just 32, Gilbert, who had also become Viceroy of Naples and the Duke of Sessa, died of a fever while in Pozzuoli near Naples, leaving her a widow.

Cesare Borgia was a  threat to Mantua
Cesare Borgia was a
threat to Mantua
Three years later, Clara acted as a mediator on behalf of her brother Francesco, who was trying to form an alliance with King Louis XII of France in order to protect Mantua, which was being threatened by both Cesare Borgia and the Doge of Venice.

Clara died in 1503, just before her 39th birthday and was buried at the Chapelle Saint Louis in the Church of Aigueperse in Auvergne.

Among her many descendants are King Louis XIV of France, Queen Marie Antoinette of France and Franz Josef I of Austria, the longest reigning Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary. Through the Houses of Hanover, Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Windsor, Clara is also an ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II of England.

Mantua is an atmospheric city with a lakeside setting
Mantua is an atmospheric city with a lakeside setting
Travel tip:

Mantua is an atmospheric old city in Lombardy, 155km (96 miles) to the southeast of Milan, famous for its Renaissance Palazzo Ducale, the seat of the Gonzaga family between 1328 and 1707. The Camera degli Sposi is decorated with frescoes by Andrea Mantegna, depicting the life of Ludovico III Gonzaga, Clara’s grandfather, and members of his family. The beautiful backgrounds of imaginary cities and ruins reflect Mantegna’s love of classical architecture.

Sulphuric smoke rises from the ground at Solfatara
Sulphuric smoke rises from
the ground at Solfatara
Travel tip:

Pozzuoli, where Clara’s husband Gilbert died in 1496, a year after becoming Viceroy of Naples, is a municipality in the Metropolitan City of Naples in the region of Campania, lying in the centre of an area of volcanic activity known as the Campi Flegrei (Phlegraean Fields). Plumes of pungent sulphuric smoke can be seen emerging from the ground at nearby Solfatara. In the 1980s the city experienced hundreds of tremors and the sea bottom was raised by almost two metres, making the Bay of Pozzuoli too shallow for small craft. The volcanic sand found in the area provided the basis for the first example of concrete in construction.

More reading:

Isabella d'Este, 'first lady of the world'

Cesare Borgia: From Cardinal to military leader

Why the election of Pope Clement VII caused a split in the Catholic Church

Also on this day:

1586: The birth of composer Claudio Saracini

1878: The birth of romanticised career burglar Gino Meneghetti

1888: The birth of abstract painter Alberto Magnelli


6 February 2019

Girolamo Benivieni – poet

Follower of Plato, Dante and Savonarola

Girolamo Benivieni, pictured as an old man in a painting attributed to Ridolfo Ghirlandaio
Girolamo Benivieni, pictured as an old man in
a painting attributed to Ridolfo Ghirlandaio
The poet Girolamo Benivieni, who turned Marsilio Ficino’s translation of Plato’s Symposium into verse, was born on this day in 1453 in Florence.

His poem was to influence other writers during the Renaissance and some who came later.

As a member of the Florentine Medici circle, Benivieni was a friend of the Renaissance humanists Ficino, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Angelo Poliziano, commonly known as Polician.

Ficino translated Plato’s Symposium in about 1474 and wrote his own commentary on the work.

Benivieni summarised Ficino’s work in the poem De lo amore celeste - Of Heavenly Love - These verses then became the subject of a commentary by Pico della Mirandola.

As a result of all these works, Platonism reached such writers as Pietro Bembo and Baldassare Castiglione and the English poet, Edmund Spencer.

Benivieni later fell under the spell of Girolamo Savonarola, the fiery religious reformer, and he rewrote some of his earlier sensual poetry as a result. He also translated a treatise by Savonarola into Italian, Della semplicità della vita cristiana - On the Simplicity of the Christian life - and he wrote some religious poetry of his own.

Benivieni's tombstone behind the statue of Savonarola in the Church of San Marco
Benivieni's tombstone behind the statue of
Savonarola in the Church of San Marco
He took part in Savonarola’s Bonfire of the Vanities and documented the destruction of art works worth ‘several thousand ducats’ at the time.

Lucrezia de’ Medici supported him in his writing and they shared an interest in the works of Dante Alighieri. In 1506 Benivieni published an edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy with maps by Antonio Manetti and commentaries by Benivieni and Manetti.

He drafted a letter for Lucrezia to send to her brother, Pope Leo X, seeking his assistance in bringing Dante’s body back to Florence from Ravenna where he was buried.

Benivieni also used his connection with Lucrezia to advance his ideas on church reform with her brother, and later with her cousin, Pope Clement VII.

In 1530 he wrote a letter to Pope Clement in defence of Savonarola, seeking to have his reputation restored within the Church.

He died in 1542, a few months before his 90th birthday and was buried in the Church of San Marco in Florence next to his friend, Pico della Mirandola.

The Church of San Marco in Florence is close to where the fiery priest Girolamo Savonarola lived
The Church of San Marco in Florence is close to where
the fiery priest Girolamo Savonarola lived
Travel tip:

The Church of San Marco, where Girolamo Benivieni and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola are buried together, is in Piazza di San Marco to the north of the Galleria dell’Accademia, which houses Michalangelo’s David. The original tombstone is in Latin. It says: ‘Here lies Giovannni Mirandola; known both at the Tagus and the Ganges and maybe even the antipodes. He died in 1494 and lived for thirty-two years. Girolamo Benivieni, to prevent separate places from disjointing after death the bones of those whose souls were joined by Love while living, provided for this grave where he too is buried. He died in 1542 and lived for eighty-nine years and six months.’ Next to the church is the convent of San Marco, now the Museo Nazionale di San Marco, where Savonarola and the painters, Fra Angelico and Fra Bartolomeo, once lived.

The tomb of Dante Alighieri adjoins the Basilica of San Francesco in Ravenna
The tomb of Dante Alighieri adjoins the
Basilica of San Francesco in Ravenna
Travel tip:

A tomb built for Dante in the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence still remains empty. Dante died while living in exile in Ravenna in about 1321. He was buried at the Church of San Pier Maggiore in Ravenna and a tomb was erected there for him in 1483. Florence has made repeated requests for the return of Dante’s remains to the city but Ravenna has always refused.

More reading:

The Bonfire of the Vanities - preacher Savonarola's war on Renaissance 'excesses'

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola – the philosopher who wrote the 'Manifesto of the Renaissance'

Pietro Bembo - the poet and scholar who became Lucrezia Borgia's lover

Also on this day:

1577: The birth of Roman heroine Beatrice Cenci

1778: The birth of the poet and revolutionary Ugo Foscolo

1908: The birth of six-times Italian prime minister Amintore Fanfani


17 December 2018

Pope Paul III excommunicates Henry VIII

The day a pontiff finally lost patience with the Tudor king

Pope Paul III was born Alessandro Farnese and became pope in 1534
Pope Paul III was born Alessandro
Farnese and became pope in 1534
Pope Paul III announced the excommunication of King Henry VIII of England from the Catholic Church on this day in 1538 in Rome.

Henry had been threatened with excommunication by the previous pope, Clement VII, in 1533 after he married Anne Boleyn. However, Clement did not act on his threat straight away, hoping Henry might come to his senses.

Henry had been awarded the title of Defender of the Faith by a previous pope because he had written a defence of the seven sacraments of the Catholic church against the protestant leader Martin Luther.

But Clement died the following year and a new pope had to be elected.

Pope Paul III, who was born Alessandro Farnese, became pontiff in 1534 and took on the job of organising the Counter Reformation as well as using nepotism to advance the power and fortunes of the Farnese family.

When it became clear Henry was intent on demolishing the Catholic Church in England, Paul III issued the original papal bull - edict - drawn up by Clement VII.

Henry VIII was punished  for his attack on the English Catholic Church
Henry VIII was punished  for his
attack on the English Catholic Church
He lost patience with Henry after he declared himself head of the Church of England and started ordering the execution of anyone who stood in his way.

In the bull, Paul III specifically referred to Henry’s actions in digging up and burning the bones of St Thomas of Canterbury, scattering his ashes to the winds and driving out the monks from St Augustine’s monastery in the same city, putting his deer in their place.

During the rest of his time as pontiff, Paul III used his diplomatic skills to avoid conflict with both Francis I of France and the Emperor Charles V and he reasserted papal control of central Italy.

He convened the Council of Trent in 1545, which met at Trento in northern Italy for nearly eight years to plan the Catholic resurgence in response to the Protestant Reformation.

The Sistine Hall of the Vatican Library in Rome
The Sistine Hall of the Vatican Library in Rome
Travel tip:

The Vatican Library in Rome is the official library of the Holy See. Established in 1475, it is one of the oldest libraries in the world and has more than one million books. In the 17th century, on the orders of Pope Paul V, the Vatican Archives, containing all the Acts promulgated by the Holy See and other important documents, were separated from the Vatican Library. They remained closed to outsiders until the late 19th century when Pope Leo XIII made them available to researchers again. In 2012, to mark the 400th anniversary of the Vatican Archives, a selection of the documents was put on display in the Capitoline Museums in Rome. They included a letter signed by 81 English noblemen, which had been sent in 1530 to Pope Clement V11 urging him to annul Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could marry Anne Boleyn.

Hotels in Rome from TripAdvisor

Pope Paul III renewed Michelangelo's commission to  work on St Peter's Basilica during his time in office
Pope Paul III renewed Michelangelo's commission to
work on St Peter's Basilica during his time in office
Travel tip:

As well as leading the Counter Reformation, Paul III was a keen patron of the arts and during his reign as Pope he renewed Michelangelo’s commission to paint the Last Judgment on the wall of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Palace and oversaw the project until it was completed in 1541. He also appointed Michelangelo to take over the supervision of the building of St Peter’s Basilica after the death of the architect Antonio Sangallo the Younger. He commissioned the building of the Palazzo Farnese in the centre of Rome to reflect his wealth and status. The palace was initially designed by da Sangallo but was given some architectural refinements by Michelangelo.

More reading:

The death of Pope Julius II, the 'warrior pope'

The legacy of Michelangelo

Ranuccio II Farnese - the Duke of Parma who feuded with popes

Also on this day:

546: Rome falls to the Ostrogoths

1749: The birth of composer Domenico Cimarosa

1981: Red Brigades seize Nato boss


20 September 2018

Election of Pope Clement VII

Appointment that sparked split in Catholic Church

Pope Clement VII, a portrait by the 19th century French painter Henri Serrur
Pope Clement VII, a portrait by the 19th
century French painter Henri Serrur
The election of Robert of Geneva as Pope Clement VII by a group of disaffected French cardinals, prompting the split in the Roman Catholic Church that became known as the Western Schism or the Great Schism, took place on this day in 1378.

The extraordinary division in the hierarchy of the church, which saw two and ultimately three rival popes each claiming to be the rightful leader, each with his own court and following, was not resolved until 1417.

It was prompted by the election in Rome of Urban VI as the successor to Gregory XI, who had returned the papal court to Rome from Avignon, where it had been based for almost 70 years after an earlier dispute.

The election of Cardinal Bartolomeo Prignano as Urban VI followed rioting by angry Roman citizens demanding a Roman be made pope. Prignano, the former Archbishop of Bari was not a Roman - he was born in Itri, near Formia in southern Lazio - but was seen as the closest to it among those seen as suitable candidates.

His appointment was not well received, however, by some of the powerful French cardinals who had moved from Avignon to Rome, who claimed the election should be declared invalid because it was made under fear of civil unrest. They decided to leave Rome and set up a rival court at Anagni, the city 70km (43 miles) southeast of Rome famous for producing four popes during the 13th century and a popular summer residence for popes through several centuries.

Pope Urban VI was elected after Roman  citizens rioted in the streets
Pope Urban VI was elected after Roman
 citizens rioted in the streets 
They chose Robert of Geneva, who had been living in England as rector of Bishopwearmouth in County Durham, having previously been Archdeacon of Dorset.

He had acquired the unfortunate nickname of ‘butcher of Cesena’ following his decision to command troops lent to the papacy by the condottiero John Hawkwood to put down a rebellion there. Between 3,000 and 8,000 civilians were killed.

Yet he had the support of Queen Joanna of Naples and Charles V of France and set up his court in Avignon.

The double election was a disaster for the church. The followers of the two popes tended to be divided along national lines, and thus reinforced the political antagonisms of the time.  France, Aragon, Castile and León, for example, recognised Clement VII, but the German-dominated Holy Roman Empire sided with Urban VI.  England pledged its allegiance to Urban VI, but Scotland and Wales saw Clement VII as the legitimate pope.

The spectacle of rival popes denouncing each other in public was enormously damaging for the papacy but resolving the split took almost 40 years.

The election of Pope Martin V in 1417 ended the schism
The election of Pope Martin V
in 1417 ended the schism
Pope Boniface IX succeeded Urban VI in 1389 and Benedict XIII followed Clement VII in reigning from Avignon from 1394. A request from Rome on the death of Pope Boniface in 1404 that Benedict resign was rejected and the Roman faction elected Pope Innocent VII.

In 1409, after 15 sessions, a church council convened at Pisa attempted to solve the schism by deposing both Pope and antipope but added to the problem by electing a second antipope, Alexander V, who was succeeded by antipope John XXIII.

Finally, a council was convened by John XXIII in 1414 at Constance, which secured the resignations of John XXIII and Pope Gregory XII. Benedict XIII refused to step down but was excommunicated. The Council elected Pope Martin V in 1417, essentially ending the schism.

The line of Roman popes is now recognized as the legitimate line. Gregory XII's resignation was the last time a pope resigned until Benedict XVI, who stepped down in 2013, aged 86, on the grounds of advancing years.

The remains of Itri's castle are worth a visit
The remains of Itri's castle are worth a visit
Travel tip:

Itri is a small city in the province of Latina, Lazio, about 100km (62 miles) north of Naples and 150km (96 miles) south of Rome. It lies in a valley between the Monti Aurunci and the sea, not far from the Gulf of Gaeta.  Although the city suffered damage during the Second World War, the remains of its castle, which commands the valley, are worth visiting. On March 19 of each year, the people of Itri celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph, at which traditionally large bonfires are ignited, around which people dance and sing and eat the traditional “zeppole di San Giuseppe”, cakes formed from a dough made with sugar and eggs which is fried and coated with honey.

The Palazzo dei Papi in Agnani was the summer  residence of many popes
The Palazzo dei Papi in Agnani was the summer
residence of many popes
Travel tip:

Anagni is an ancient town in the province of Frosinone in Lazio. It is southeast of Rome in an area known as Ciociaria, named after the primitive footwear - ciocie - favoured for many years by people living in the area. Boniface VIII was the fourth Pope produced by Anagni but after his death the power of the town declined as the papal court was transferred to Avignon. The medieval Palace of Boniface VIII is near the Cathedral.

More reading:

Pope Gregory XI returns the papacy to Rome

The kidnapping in Anagni of Pope Boniface VIII

Baldus de Ubaldis - legal adviser to the popes

Also on this day:

1870: Soldiers storm the walls of Rome to complete Italian unification

1934: The birth of actress Sophia Loren


23 March 2018

Lorenzino de’ Medici - assassin

Mystery over motive for killing cousin

Alphonse Mucha's  1896 lithograph of Lorenzino
Alphonse Mucha's
1896 lithograph
of Lorenzino
Lorenzino de’ Medici, who became famous for the assassination of his cousin, the Florentine ruler Alessandro de’ Medici, was born on this day in 1514 in Florence.

The killing took place on the evening of January 6, 1537.  The two young men - Alessandro was just four years older - were ostensibly friends and Lorenzino was easily able to lure Alessandro to his apartments in Florence on the promise of a night of passion with a woman who had agreed to meet him there.

Lorenzino, sometimes known as Lorenzaccio, left him alone, promising to return with the woman in question, at which point Alessandro dismissed his entourage and waited in the apartments.  When Lorenzino did return, however, it was not with a female companion but with his servant, Piero, and the two attacked Alessandro with swords and daggers. Although a struggle ensued, they killed him.

The motive has been debated for centuries. One theory was that it was an act of revenge following a legal controversy the previous year, when Alessandro sided against Lorenzino in a dispute over the inheritance of his great, great grandfather, Pierfrancesco the Elder. Civilities were maintained at the time, yet Lorenzino was disadvantaged financially.

Another is that Lorenzino, as a junior member of the family compared with his cousin, wanted to make his mark in history by any means possible. Murdering Alessandro, who had been installed as Duke of Florence by the Medici pope Clement VII, and thus extinguishing the main branch of the Medici family (descended from Cosimo the Elder, the founder of the dynasty), would give him immortality, albeit of a dark kind, in the family history.

His own explanation, which he set out in a remarkable defence of his crime, entitled Apology, which he wrote within days of Alessandro’s death, was that he committed the crime out of a love of liberty, ridding Florence of a leader generally acknowledged as a tyrant.

The murder of Alessandro by Lorenzino,
as imagined in an 1863 engraving
There were suggestions that Lorenzino wanted to see a revival of the Republic of Florence, which had been disestablished with Alessandro’s appointment, following an 11-month siege.  This theory seemed to be supported by Lorenzino fleeing Florence first to Bologna, where he met Silvestro Aldobrandini, a republican exile, and then on to Venice, where he was welcomed by another exile, the wealthy banker Filippo Strozzi.

His supporters hailed him as a latterday Brutus, who had slain Julius Caesar in the name of liberating Rome, but whatever the truth of the story, Lorenzino was to spend the rest of his life effectively on the run, constantly looking over his shoulder at who might be plotting to avenge his cousin’s death.

In the event, there was no re-establishment of the Florentine Republic. Alessandro’s father-in-law, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, appointed 17-year-old Cosimo I de’ Medici, from the so-called cadet line of the family, as Duke of Florence, which effectively meant Lorenzino could never return.

For the next few years he moved between Venice, Mirandola in the Duchy of Modena, Constantinople and France.  While he was in Constantinople, Strozzi was taken prisoner after his forces were beaten by the army of Cosimo I and he died in 1538.

While in France, where he enjoyed the hospitality of many Florentine exiles, Lorenzino acted as a go-between for the French king, Francis I, in trying to organise Florentine exiles to mount a new military attack on Cosimo I.

Titian's portrait of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V
Titian's portrait of Holy Roman
Emperor Charles V
He returned to Venice in 1544, by which time the city was crawling with spies working on behalf of the Emperor and of the Medici family. Lorenzino was sheltered by the papal legate Giovanni Della Casa, but as more and more exiled Florentines left for France, fearful for their lives if they stayed in Venice, he became increasingly isolated.

The inevitable happened on February 26, 1548, when Lorenzino was murdered. Two mercenary assassins were responsible, but the identity of who hired them has been disputed by historians over the centuries.  A early theory that the disgraced former Medici secretary Giovanni Francesco Lottini was responsible was eventually discounted, to be replaced by an acceptance that Cosimo I ordered the murder directly to avenge the death of his predecessor.

More recent research has established that the trail actually went back to Charles V himself, who was grief-stricken by the death of Alessandro, his daughter Margaret’s husband, and without the knowledge of Cosimo I instructed Juan Hurtado de Mendoza, his ambassador in Venice, to see that Lorenzino paid the ultimate price.

The Villa del Trebbio, the Medici villa in the Mugello area
The Villa del Trebbio, the Medici villa in the Mugello area
Travel tip:

In the early part of his life, Lorenzino lived in the Villa del Trebbio, near San Piero a Sieve in the Mugello area, about 30km (19 miles) north of Florence, the area from which the Medici family originated. The villa had belonged to Giovanni di Bicci de' Medici, the founder of the Medici bank, and was remodelled by his son, Cosimo de' Medici (Cosimo the Elder), whose architect, Michelozzo, restyled it as a fortified castle.

Palazzo Strozzi in Via de' Tornabuoni, the  high fashion centre of Florence
Palazzo Strozzi in Via de' Tornabuoni, the
high fashion centre of Florence
Travel tip:

The Strozzi family, who were great rivals of the Medici family in Florence in the late 15th century, left their mark on the city in the shape of the Palazzo Strozzi, which can be found right in the heart of the city in Via de’ Tornabuoni, where all the high fashion stores are now clustered (the Gucci shop is directly opposite). Many buildings were demolished to create a big enough space for the palace, a towering three-storey structure with a facade of rusticated stone, which was started in 1489 on the instructions of Filippo Strozzi the Elder, who died two years later long before it was finished. On completion, it was confiscated by the Medicis, who did not return it to the Strozzi family for 30 years.

More reading:

Cosimo de' Medici - the banker who founded the Medici dynasty

The despotic reign of Alessandro's successor, Cosimo I

How the forces of Charles V sacked Rome

Also on this day:

1919: Benito Mussolini and the founding of the Italian Fascists

1922: The birth of Commedia all'Italiana star Ugo Tognazzi


13 February 2018

Benvenuto Cellini – sculptor and goldsmith

Creator of the famous Perseus bronze had a dark history

Cellini's bronze of Perseus and the Head of Medusa in Piazza della Signoria in Florence
Cellini's bronze of Perseus with the Head of
in Piazza della Signoria in Florence
The colourful life of the Renaissance artist Benvenuto Cellini ended on this day in 1571 with his death in Florence at the age of 70.

A contemporary of Michelangelo, the Mannerist Cellini was most famous for his bronze sculpture of Perseus with the Head of Medusa, which still stands where it was erected in 1554 in the Loggia dei Lanzi of the Piazza della Signoria in Florence, and for the table sculpture in gold he created as a salieri - salt cellar - for Francis I of France.

The Cellini Salt Cellar, as it is generally known, measuring 26cm (10ins) by 33.5cm (13.2ins), is now kept at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, with an insurance value of $60 million.

His works apart, Cellini was also known for an eventful personal life, in which his violent behaviour frequently landed him in trouble. He killed at least two people while working in Rome as a young man and claimed also to have shot dead Charles III, Duke of Bourbon, during the 1527 Siege of Rome by mutinous soldiers of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V.

Cellini was also imprisoned for alleged embezzlement of the gems from the tiara of Pope Clement VII, famously escaping from jail at the Castel Sant’Angelo by climbing down a rope of knotted bedsheets, and for immorality.

He was a self-confessed bisexual, being found guilty of sodomy on a number of occasions.  One such charge, brought following accusations made by a male apprentice in his Florence workshop, led to a prison sentence of four years, commuted to house arrest following the intervention of the Medici family.

Cellini's extraordinary salt cellar in gold is insured for a value of $60 million
Cellini's extraordinary salt cellar in gold is insured
for a value of $60 million
Much of this is known because Cellini documented his life in an autobiography, the first by a significant Renaissance figure, in which he shared the details of his racy exploits. 

Cellini was apprenticed as a metalworker in the studio of the Florentine goldsmith Andrea di Sandro Marcone. He might have stayed in Florence had he not twice had to leave to escape the consequences of his violent behaviour.

After fleeing to Rome, he worked for the bishop of Salamanca, Sigismondo Chigi, and Pope Clement VII, which is how he came to participate on the side of the pontiff in defending Rome against the imperial forces in 1527, where he claimed not only to have killed Charles III of Bourbon but also to have shot, possibly fatally, the Prince of Orange, Philibert of Chalon.

Having survived the sack of Rome, he returned to Florence and in 1528 worked in Mantua, making a seal for Cardinal Gonzaga, which is now the property of the city’s Episcopal Archives.  Back in Rome, he then executed several works in gold for Clement VII, although apart from two medals made in 1534, which can be seen at the Uffizi in Florence, none survive.

His violent ways continued. After his brother, Cecchino, had killed a corporal of the Roman Watch and in turn received fatal wounds from the gun of another soldier, Cellini meted out his own justice by murdering his brother’s killer. He later murdered another man, this time a rival goldsmith.

A portrait bust of Cellini by Raffaello Romanelli  can be found on Florence's Ponte Vecchio
A portrait bust of Cellini by Raffaello Romanelli
 can be found on Florence's Ponte Vecchio
Amazingly, he was absolved by Clement VII’s successor, Pope Paul III, but the following year, having wounded a notary, he fled from Rome and settled back in Florence.

He made his first visit to France as a guest of Francis I in 1538. It was two years later that he arrived at Fontainebleau, carrying with him an unfinished salieri, which he had originally offered to Cardinal Ippolito d’Este of Ferrara, and which he now completed in gold for the French king. The piece, which has the figures of a man and a women symbolising the sea and the Earth, and in which tiny models of a ship and a temple were intended to be receptacles for the condiments, is the only surviving fully authenticated Cellini work in precious metal. Modelled by hand rather than cast, it has been dubbed the Mona Lisa of small sculptures.

While in France, Cellini modelled and cast his first large-scale work, a large bronze lunette of the Nymph of Fontainebleau for the entrance to the Louvre.

He left Paris to return to Florence in 1545, at which point he was welcomed by Cosimo de’ Medici and entrusted with the commissions for the bronze Perseus in the Loggia dei Lanzi, and for a colossal bust of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, now at the Bargello museum, a short distance away.

Cellini’s other late works include his marble figures of Apollo and Hyacinth (1546) and of Narcissus (1546–47), which are also in the Bargello, as is a small relief of a greyhound made as a trial cast for the Perseus (1545).

There is a statue of Cellini in the  Piazzale degli Uffizi
There is a statue of Cellini in the
Piazzale degli Uffizi
After the unveiling of the Perseus, he began work on a marble crucifix originally intended for his own tomb in the Florence church of Santissima Annunziata, but now in the church of the royal monastery of the Escorial in Spain.

He began to write his autobiography in 1558 and completed it in 1562, dictating the text to an assistant in his workshop.

First printed in Italy in 1728, the book was translated into English in 1771. Composed in colloquial language, it is enormously valuable in providing a first-hand account of life in Clement VII’s Rome, the Paris of Francis I, and the Florence of Cosimo de’ Medici.

Michelangelo's David (left) and Bartolommeo Bandinelli's Hercules and Cacus in Florence's Piazza della Signoria
Michelangelo's David (left) and Bartolommeo Bandinelli's
Hercules and Cacus in Florence's Piazza della Signoria
Travel tip:

Florence’s Piazza della Signoria, situated right in the heart of the city, close to the Duomo and the Uffizi Gallery, is home to a series of important sculptures, including Giambologna’s The Rape of the Sabine Women and his Equestrian Monument of Cosimo I, Baccio Bandinelli’s Hercules and Cacus, the Medici Lions by Fancelli and Vacca, The Fountain of Neptune by Bartolemeo Ammannati, copies of Donatello’s Judith and Holofernes and Il Marzocco (the Lion), and the copy of Michelangelo’s David, at the entrance to the Palazzo Vecchio.

The Palazzo del Bargello in Via del Proconsolo is home to many masterpieces
The Palazzo del Bargello in Via del Proconsolo
is home to many masterpieces
Travel tip:

As well as works by Cellini, other great Renaissance sculptures can be appreciated in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello - the Bargello National Museum - situated just a short distance from Piazza della Signoria in Via del Proconsolo. The museum houses masterpieces by Michelangelo, Donatello, Giambologna, Vincenzo Gemito, Jacopo Sansovino, Gianlorenzo Bernini and many works by the Della Robbia family.

More reading:

Also on this day:

(Picture credits: Perseus statue by Denise Zavala; Cellini Salt Cellar by Jerzy Strzelecki; Romanelli bust by Grzegorz Gołębiowski; Uffizi statue by Jebulon; Piazza della Signoria statues by Richard White; Palazzo Bargello by Kandi; all via Wikimedia Commons)