Showing posts with label Pope Innocent X. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pope Innocent X. Show all posts

23 September 2018

Francesco Barberini – Cardinal

Patron of the arts sympathised with Galileo



Francesco Barberini knew Galileo from his days as a student at the University of Pisa
Francesco Barberini knew Galileo from his
days as a student at the University of Pisa
Francesco Barberini, a cardinal who as Grand Inquisitor of the Roman Inquisition refused to condemn the scientist Galileo Galilei as a heretic, was born on this day in 1597 in Florence.

As a cardinal working within the Vatican administration, Barberini also became an important patron of literature and the arts.

The son of Carlo Barberini and Costanza Magalotti, Francesco was assisted by Galileo during his studies at the University of Pisa. The scientist was also a family friend. Francesco graduated in canon and civil law at the age of 25 in 1623.

Later that year, his uncle, Maffeo Barberini, who had been recently elected as Pope Urban VIII, made him a cardinal and sent him to be papal legate to Avignon.

He was sent to Paris as a special legate to negotiate with Cardinal Richelieu and then to Spain as a papal legate, but both his missions were unsuccessful.

From 1628 onwards Barberini led the foreign diplomacy of the Papal States, always favouring France.

Galileo subscribed to the view that the Earth was not the centre of the universe
Galileo subscribed to the view that the Earth
was not the centre of the universe
From 1633 until his death more than 40 years later, Barberini was the Grand Inquisitor of the Roman Inquisition. He was part of the Inquisition tribunal investigating Galileo after the publication of writings supporting the arguments put forward by the German scientist Nicolaus Copernicus that the sun and not the earth was the centre of the universe.

He was one of three members of the tribunal who refused to condemn the scientist, although the majority verdict was that Galileo was "vehemently suspect of heresy" and he was sentenced him to indefinite imprisonment, later commuted to house arrest, where he remained until his death in 1642.

The Barberini family fortunes declined after hostilities between the papacy and the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza led to the First War of Castro in which the papacy did badly. Peace was concluded only a few months before the death of Urban VIII.

Once it became clear that the Barberini candidate for the papacy was not going to be elected. Francesco and his brother, Antonio, switched their support to Giovanni Battista Pamphili.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini's bust of  Barberini,  in the National Gallery of Art in Washington
Gian Lorenzo Bernini's bust of  Barberini,
 in the National Gallery of Art in Washington
But after Pamphili became Pope Innocent X, he launched an investigation into their handling of the finances during the War of Castro, forcing the Barberini brothers to flee to Paris.

Two years later, Francesco Barberini was pardoned, his properties were restored to him and he was able to continue as a patron of the arts.

He was a member of various literary associations and secured altarpiece commissions for St Peter’s from prominent artists, such as Pietro da Cortona and the French Baroque painter, Poussin.

Barberini bought several paintings by Poussin for himself during the artist’s early years living in Rome.

In 1625 he had acquired the former Sforza palace and, after buying further land, he engaged the architect, Carlo Maderno, to transform it into a much larger and grander building, which eventually became Palazzo Barberini.

Francesco Barberini died in Rome in 1679 at the age of 82.

The Palazzo alla Giornata on the Arno embankment is one of the main buildings of the University of Pisa
The Palazzo alla Giornata on the Arno embankment is
one of the main buildings of the University of Pisa
Travel tip:

The University of Pisa, where Galileo taught and Francesco Barberini studied, was founded in 1343 making it the 10th oldest in Italy and it houses Europe’s oldest academic botanical garden. The main University buildings are in and around Lungarno Antonio Pacinotti, overlooking the River Arno, a short walk from the city’s famous Leaning Tower.

The Palazzo Barberini was Barberini's home in the centre of Rome, just off Piazza Barberini
The Palazzo Barberini was Barberini's home in the
centre of Rome, just off Piazza Barberini
Travel tip:

Palazzo Barberini is just off Piazza Barberini in the centre of Rome. It was completed in 1633 as a home for Francesco Barberini and was the work of three great architects, Carlo Maderno, Francesco Borromini and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The palace now houses part of the collection of Italy’s National Gallery of Ancient Art.

More reading:

Galileo Galilei convicted of heresy

How Carlo Maderno created the facade of St Peter's  

Pope Innocent X and revenge for Castro

Also on this day:

1943: Mussolini proclaims the puppet republic of Salò

1956: The birth of World Cup hero Paolo Rossi


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17 September 2018

Ranuccio II Farnese – Duke of Parma

Feuding with the Popes led to the destruction of a city


A portrait of Ranuccio II Farnese by the Flemish Baroque painter Jacob Denys
A portrait of Ranuccio II Farnese by the Flemish
Baroque painter Jacob Denys
Ranuccio II Farnese, who angered Innocent X so much that the Pope had part of his territory razed to the ground, was born on this day in 1630 in Parma.

Ranuccio II was the eldest son of Odoardo Farnese, the fifth sovereign duke of Parma, and his wife, Margherita de’ Medici.

Odoardo died while Ranuccio was still a minor and, although he succeeded him as Duke of Parma, he had to rule for the first two years of his reign under the regency of both his uncle, Francesco Maria Farnese, and his mother.

The House of Farnese had been founded by Ranuccio’s paternal ancestor, Alessandro Farnese, who became Pope Paul III. The Farnese family had been ruling Parma and Piacenza ever since Paul III gave it to his illegitimate son, Pier Luigi Farnese. He also made Pier Luigi the Duke of Castro.

While Odoardo had been Duke of Parma he had become involved in a power struggle with Pope Urban VIII, who was a member of the Barberini family. The Barberini family were keen to acquire Castro, which was north of Rome in the Papal States.

When Odoardo found himself unable to pay his debts, Urban VIII responded to the creditors’ pleas for help, by sending troops to occupy Castro.

How Castro may have looked before it was destroyed by the army of Innocent X
How Castro may have looked before it was destroyed by
the army of Innocent X
One of the Pope’s Cardinals negotiated a truce, but then the Pope’s military leaders discovered that Odoardo was building up his own troops in case the discussions had come to nothing. What became known as the First War of Castro ensued and the Papal forces were defeated.

However, Ranuccio II refused to pay the debts incurred by his father, despite the fact Oduardo had signed a peace treaty agreeing to do so. He also refused to recognise the new Bishop of Castro, appointed by Urban VIII’s successor, Innocent X.

In 1649, the new bishop, Cardinal Cristoforo Giarda, was murdered on his way to Castro. Innocent X accused Ranuccio of ordering the murder and in retaliation sent troops to besiege Castro and then raze it to the ground.

Later the same year, Ranuccio’s troops were crushed in another battle, leaving him with no means of winning back his lost territory, but in 1672 he bought Bardi and Compiano, small towns near Parma, to increase the size of the Duchy.

Ranuccio II was married three times and had 14 children, of whom only six lived to become adults.

He died in Parma in 1694 at the age of 64 and was succeeded as Duke of Parma by his eldest surviving son, Francesco.

Ranuccio II is buried in the Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Steccata in Parma.

The Ducal Palace in modern Ischia di Castro
The Ducal Palace in modern Ischia di Castro
Travel tip:

Castro in Lazio was a fortified city on a cliff, near the border between Tuscany and Lazio. The city and surrounding area was created a Duchy in 1537 by Pope Paul III, who made his illegitimate son, Pier Luigi Farnese, its duke, to be followed by his first born male heirs. The Duchy stretched from the Tyrrhenian Sea to Lago di Bolsena. Ranuccio II Farnese, the last Duke of Castro, was forced to cede the land back to Pope Innocent X. The present day comune, Ischia di Castro, in the province of Viterbo, takes its name from the ancient city of Castro destroyed by papal forces. Ischia di Castro still has a Ducal Palace, where members of the Farnese family used to live.

The Renaissance church of Santa Maria della Steccata in the centre of Parma, where Ranuccio II was buried
The Renaissance church of Santa Maria della Steccata
in the centre of Parma, where Ranuccio II was buried
Travel tip:

The Shrine of Santa Maria della Steccata, where Ranuccio II was buried, is a Renaissance church in the centre of Parma. The name derives from the fence, or steccata, used to contain the many pilgrims who came to visit the image of a Nursing Madonna enshrined within the church. The crypt of the church contains the tombs of 26 members of the Farnese family, including that of Ranuccio II.

More reading:

How a war against Parma backfired on Pope Urban VIII

The legacy of the great Parma painter known as Parmigianino

Innocent X - a pope dominated by his sister-in-law

Also on this day:

1688: The birth of Maria Luisa of Savoy, who ruled Spain as a teenager

1944: The birth of climber Reinhold Messner


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7 January 2018

Pope Innocent X

Political pontiff dominated by sister-in-law


The portrait of Innocent X by the Spanish artist Diego Valesquez, notably for a terse facial expression
The portrait of Innocent X by the Spanish artist Diego
Velázquez, notable for a terse facial expression
A politically charged and controversial period in papal history ended on this day in 1655 with the death in Rome of Pope Innocent X.

Described by some historians as a scheming and bitter pontiff, Innocent X’s tenure was notable for his malicious attack on a rival family, his destruction of the ancient city of Castro, a squabble with France that almost ended in war, his interference in the English Civil War and his refusal to recognise the independence of Portugal.

It was also overshadowed by rumours of an immoral relationship with his sister-in-law, Olimpia Maidalchini, the widow of his late brother. Historians generally agree that these were unfounded, yet Innocent X was dominated by her to the extent that she became the most powerful figure in his court, her influence so strong that ambassadors, cardinals and bishops knew that the pope would defer to her before making any decision and consequently would address any issues directly to her.

Born in Rome in 1574 and baptised as Giovanni Battista Pamphili, he came from a wealthy and well-established family who originally came from Gubbio in Umbria.

His parents, Camillo Pamphili and Flaminia de Bubalis, groomed him from an early age with the ambition that he would one day become pope.

Innocent X's predecessor, Urban VIII, as  depicted by Caravaggio in 1598
Innocent X's predecessor, Urban VIII, as
depicted by Caravaggio in 1598
He studied jurisprudence at the Collegio Romano and succeeded his uncle, Girolamo Pamphili, as auditor (judge) of the Roman Rota, the most important court in the ecclesiastical legal system.

Under Pope Gregory XV, he became nuncio (ambassador) to the court of the Kingdom of Naples, and was sent by Urban VIII to accompany his nephew, Francesco Barberini, whom he had accredited as nuncio, first to France and then Spain.

In May 1626, he was made apostolic nuncio to the court of Philip IV of Spain, an appointment that led to a lifelong association with the Spaniards. He was made a cardinal in 1627 at the age of 53.

He was elected pope in 1644 after a long and stormy conclave to find a successor to Urban VIII, undermined by the difficult relations between the Spanish and the French.  Pamphili was put forward as a compromise candidate, despite his sympathies towards Spain.  Cardinal Jules Mazarin, the de facto ruler of France, travelled to Rome to veto the appointment but arrived too late.

Soon after his accession, having given himself the name of  Innocent X, he began a legal action against the Barberini family, long-time rivals of the Pamphili, for alleged misappropriation of public funds.

It led the brothers, Francesco, Antonio and Taddeo Barberini, to flee to Paris, where they found a powerful protector in Cardinal Mazarin.  Innocent X confiscated their property and issued a bull (decree) that all cardinals who might leave the Papal States for six months without express papal permission would be deprived of their benefices and eventually cease to be cardinals.

A painting by an unknown artist believed to show Olimpia Maidalchini
A painting by an unknown artist believed
to show Olimpia Maidalchini
France refused to recognise the papal ordinance but it was only when Mazarin prepared to send troops to Italy that Innocent X yielded. Papal policy towards France became softer and in time the Barberini brothers were rehabilitated.

Innocent X’s destruction of the ancient city of Castro in Lazio seems to have been an act of revenge against Odoardo Farnese, Duke of Parma, over a defeat suffered by Urban VIII and the humiliation that seemed to hasten his demise.

His intervention in the English Civil War was to send the archbishop of Fermo, Giovanni Battista Rinuccini, to Ireland as nuncio extraordinary, along with a large quantity of arms, gunpowder and money, to support the foundation of an independent Catholic-ruled Ireland, only for Oliver Cromwell to hold sway and restore Ireland to his side.

Innocent X's decision to side with Spain over Portugal’s bid for independence was consistent with his general policy of supporting Spanish ambitions and, as an extension of that position, opposing France.

Although his papacy was dominated by political matters, he did not entirely neglect ecclesiastical issues. The most important in his time concerned the condemnation of Jansenism, an interpretation of the teachings of St. Augustine about grace and free will that he decreed was heretical.

He was cautious financially, although he did commission the completion of the interior of St. Peter’s as well as the transformation of Piazza Navona into the artistic masterpiece we see today, and the restoration of Palazzo Pamphili, the home of Pope Urban VIII, which looks out on the piazza.

Innocent X was pope for 11 years until his death in Rome at the age of 80. Religious historians are divided on his legacy, some believing he weakened the papacy, others that he increased its power. He was succeeded by Alexander VII, from the Chigi family.

Bernini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi
Bernini's Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi
Travel tip:

Built on the site of the Roman Stadium of Domitian, Piazza Navona became a public open space in the 15th century, when Rome’s main market moved there from Campidoglio. It already contained the Fontana del Moro (Moors Foutain) and the Fontana del Nettuno (Fountain of Neptune), sculpted by Giacomo della Porta between 1574 and 1575, but Innocent X commissioned Gian Lorenzo Bernini to create its magnificent centrepiece, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) in 1651, which is topped by the Obelisk of Domitian, moved from the Circus of Maxentius.

A typical staircase in medieval Gubbio
A typical staircase in medieval Gubbio
Travel tip:

Gubbio, the town in Umbria from which Innocent X’s family originated, is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Italy, partly because, perched on the side of Monte Ingino, it is not accessible easily enough to attract hordes of visitors.  Full of narrow streets, alleyways and staircases, most of them dramatically steep, it has been dubbed La Città del Silenzio – the City of Silence – for its sometimes eerie serenity and calm. 

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31 July 2017

Alessandro Algardi – sculptor

Baroque works of art were designed to illustrate papal power


Algardi's extraordinary marble relief, Fuga d'Attila, which he created for St Peter's Basilica in Rome
Algardi's extraordinary marble relief, Fuga d'Attila,
which he created for St Peter's Basilica in Rome
Alessandro Algardi, whose Baroque sculptures grace many churches in Rome, was born on this day in 1598 in Bologna.

Algardi emerged as the principal rival of Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the field of portrait sculpture and although Bernini’s creations were known for their dynamic vitality and penetrating characterisation, Algardi’s works were appreciated for their sobriety and surface realism. Many of his smaller works of arts, such as marble busts and terracotta figures are now in collections and museums all over the world.

Algardi was born in Bologna, where he was apprenticed in the studio of Agostino Carracci from a young age.

He soon showed an aptitude for sculpture and his earliest known works, two statues of saints, were created for the Oratory of Santa Maria della Vita in Bologna.

After a short stay in Venice, he went to Rome in 1625 with an introduction from the Duke of Mantua to the late pope’s nephew, Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, who employed him to restore ancient statues.

This portrait by Carlo Maratta  is thought to be of Algardi
This portrait by Carlo Maratta
 is thought to be of Algardi
Although it was a time for great architectural initiatives in Rome, Algardi struggled for recognition at the start as Bernini was given most of the major sculptural commissions.

Algardi was commissioned to produce some terracotta and marble portrait busts and also worked on the tombs of the Mellini family in the Mellini Chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo.

He received his first major commission in about 1634 to sculpt a funeral monument for Pope Leo XI, who had reigned for less than a month in 1605.

Then he was asked to create a colossal statue of Filippo Neri for Santa Maria in Vallicella and after this Algardi produced a sculptural group to represent the beheading of St Paul for the Church of San Paolo in Bologna. These works firmly established his reputation.

In 1644 the new pope, Innocent X, and his nephew, Camillo Pamphili, favoured Algardi over Bernini.

A large bronze of Innocent X by Algardi is now in the Capitoline Museums. In the grounds of Villa Pamphili, Algardi and members of his studio executed fountains adorned with sculptures and created other garden features.

Algardi's funeral monument for Pope Leo XI
Algardi's funeral monument for Pope Leo XI
In 1650 Algardi received commissions from Spain and there are four chimney pieces by him in the Royal Palace of Aranjuez and figures by him on the fountain of Neptune in the gardens. A tomb in the Augustinian monastery at Salamanca is also by him.

The Fuga d’Attila relief, Algardi’s large marble panel of Pope Leo XI and Attila for St Peter’s Basilica, reinvigorated the fashion for marble reliefs. It depicted the historical legend of the Pope stopping the Huns from looting Rome, illustrating papal power.

Algardi died in 1654 within a year of completing this work, which was much admired by his contemporaries.

The 17th century Villa Doria Pamphili is situated in Rome's largest landscaped public park
The 17th century Villa Doria Pamphili is situated in
Rome's largest landscaped public park
Travel tip:

The Villa Doria Pamphili is a 17th century villa in Rome with, what is today, the largest, landscaped public park in the city. The villa is situated just outside Porta San Pancrazio in the ancient walls of Rome. It began as a villa for the Pamphili family and when the line died out in the 18th century it passed to Prince Andrea IV Doria, from which time it has been known as the Villa Doria Pamphili. In 1644 Cardinal Giambattista Pamphili was elected to the papacy and took the name of Innocent X. He aspired to a grand villa and brought in Algardi to help with the design and create the sculptures in the garden.

Travel tip:

The huge marble Fuga d’Attila relief, showing Pope Leo XI restraining Attila from marching on Rome, was the largest high relief sculpture in the world when it was created by Algardi between 1646 and 1653 for St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The Basilica had been completed and consecrated in 1626. It was believed to be the largest church in the world and was built to replace the original fourth century Basilica that had been constructed on what was believed to be the burial site of Saint Peter.