Posts Tagged ‘renaissance’

Pope Julius II (1443-1513)


Giuliano was the son of the impoverished Rafaello della Rovere, Pope Sixtus IV’s only brother. In 1471 Sixtus IV made him a cardinal. In this office Giuliano displayed all of the attributes of cupidity and corruption of an unscrupulous Renaissance prince.
After the death of Sixtus IV, the Cardinal’s candidate, the weak Innocent VIII, was elected through bribery. When Rodrigo Borgia, elected pope as Alexander VI in 1492, plotted Giuliano’s assassination, Giuliano fled in 1494 to the court of Charles VIII of France. He accompanied the French king on his expedition against Naples in the hope that Charles would also depose Alexander VI. After accompanying Charles on his forced return to France, Giuliano took part in Louis XII’s invasion of Italy in 1502.
Following the death of the Borgia pope in 1503, Giuliano returned to Rome, having been 10 years in exile, and, after Pius III’s brief pontificate, was, with the liberal help of simony, elected Pope Julius II in October 1503.
Having become an exponent of Italian national consciousness, Julius II proposed to drive the French from Italy, but his second war, which lasted from September 1510 to May 1511, was unsuccessful.
The enduring impact of the life of Julius II stemmed from his gift for inspiring great artistic creations. His name is closely linked with those of such great artists as Bramante, Raphael, and Michelangelo. With his wealth of visionary ideas, he contributed to their creativity.(ack: Brittanica Ency.)



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Scholar, Diplomat

His life and work by a stroke of luck coincided with a time of crisis when the world order of Eastern Roman Empire was being occulted by Islam. His work laid the soil ready for a catastrophe,- the fall of Constantinople that came later. When it did come humanism and Greek thought from the wreckage of Eastern Roman Empire could put out roots deep and grow in Europe.
Manuel who had embraced the Catholic faith was in favor of Catholic and Orthodox Churches united in faith against the onslaught of an alien faith and culture. This union was first endorsed in Lyons in 1274 but it did not come to fruition. Many like Manuel Chrysoloras saw it as a political necessity.
Chrysoloras remained in Florence 1397-1400. The scholars saw it as a great new opportunity: there were many teachers of law, but no one had studied Greek in Italy for 700 years. While in Florence he began teaching Greek, starting with the rudiments. He moved on to teach in Bologna and later in Venice and Rome. Though he taught widely, a handful of his chosen students remained a close-knit group, among the first humanists of the Renaissance. Among his pupils were numbered some of the foremost figures of the revival of Greek studies in Renaissance Italy.
In 1408, he was sent to Paris on an important mission from the emperor Manuel Palaeologus. In 1413, he went to Germany on an embassy to the emperor Sigismund, the object of which was to fix a place for the church council that later assembled at Constance. Chrysoloras was on his way there, representing the Greek Church, when he died suddenly. His death gave rise to commemorative essays (Chrysolorina).

Chrysoloras translated the works of Homer and Plato’s Republic into Latin. His own works, which circulated in manuscript in his life time. His Erotemata Civas Questiones, which was the first basic Greek grammar in use in Western Europe, first published in 1484 and widely reprinted, and it enjoyed considerable success all over Europe. The Lives by Plutarch served as a catalyst to ideals of humanism and a bible for the nascent Renaissance humanist movement. His contribution to spread ideals of Hellenism and Greek scholarship to the West was of immense value.

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Francois Rabelais-(1495?-1553)
There is not a single reliable portrait of Rebalais extant. Not one of them is like another. One engraving produced towards the end of the 16th century seems more true to the real person. Here quoting from one of the introductory remarks attached to Gargantua and Pantagruel we read thus ‘his features are strong furrowed with deep wrinkles; his beard is short and scanty; his cheeks are thin and already worn-looking. On his head he wears the square cap of the doctors and the clerks, and his dominant expression, somewhat rigid and severe, is that of a physician and a scholar..’Details of his birth and date also seem rather vague. Making up for scant information of his life his references in his romances to names persons and places become more valuable. In his patrons and intercourse, friendships, his sojournings, and his travels we have a treasure trove of details.
Like Descartes and Balzac he was a native of the Touraine and by general opinion he was born in Chinon, whose praises he sang with which such heartiness and affection. Because he was the youngest his father destined him for the Church.While a novice his future patrons Brothers du Ballay were studying an the University of Angers. He entered the monastery of the Franciscan Cordeliers at Fontenay-le-Comte. It was here his powers were ripening and he began to study also think. The encyclopaediac movement of the Renaissance was in the air and Rabelais threw himself with all his energy into it. The Church position favored Latin and study in Greek was thought as dangerous. In their eyes it invited free thought, heresy. But Rabelais pursued it with vigor.
He was well versed in science, philology, and law, already becoming known and respected by the humanists of his era, including Budé. Harassed due to the directions of his studies, Rabelais petitioned Pope Clement VII and was granted permission to leave the Franciscans and enter the Benedictine order at Maillezais, where he was more warmly received.
In 1532, he moved to Lyon, one of the intellectual centres of France, and not only practiced medicine but edited Latin works for the printer Sebastian Gryphius. As a doctor, he used his spare time to write and publish humorous pamphlets, which were critical of established authority and stressed his own perception of individual liberty. His revolutionary works, although satirical, revealed an astute observer of the social and political events unfolding during the first half of the sixteenth century.
Using the pseudonym Alcofribas Nasier (an anagram of François Rabelais minus the cedille on the c), in 1532 he published his first book, Pantagruel, that would be the start of his Gargantua series. In this book, Rabelais sings the praises of the wines from his hometown of Chinon through vivid descriptions of the eat, drink and be merry lifestyle of the main character, the giant Pantagruel and his friends. Despite the great popularity of his book, both it and his prequel book on the life of Pantagruel’s father Gargantua were condemned by the academics at the Sorbonne for their unorthodox ideas and by the Roman Catholic Church for their derision of certain religious practices. Rabelais’s third book, published under his own name, was also banned.
With support from members of the prominent du Bellay family, Rabelais received the approval from King François I to continue to publish his collection. However, after the king’s death, Rabelais was frowned upon by the academic elite, and the French Parliament suspended the sale of his fourth book.
Rabelais traveled frequently to Rome with his friend Cardinal Jean du Bellay, and lived for a short time in Turin with du Bellay’s brother, Guillaume, during which François I was his patron. Rabelais probably spent some time in hiding, threatened by being labeled a heretic. Only the protection of du Bellay saved Rabelais after the condemnation of his novel by the Sorbonne. du Bellay would again help Rabelais in 1540 by seeking a papal authorization to legitimize two of his children (Auguste François, father of Jacques Rabelais, and Junie). Rabelais later taught medicine at Montpellier in 1534 and 1539.
Between 1545 and 1547, François Rabelais lived in Metz, then a free imperial city and a republic, to escape the condemnation by the University of Paris. In 1547, he became curate of Saint-Christophe-du-Jambet and of Meudon, from which he resigned before his death in Paris in 1553.
There are diverging accounts of Rabelais’ death and his last words. According to some, he wrote a famous one sentence will: “I have nothing, I owe a great deal, and the rest I leave to the poor”, and his last words were “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.”(ack:wikipedia)

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Michelangelo Buonarroti(1475 – 1564) Italian
Sculptor, painter, architect, poet.

A giant in an age of giants ‘the man with four souls’ who has crowned a lifetime of work with achievements of highest rank in architecture, sculpture, painting and poetry, was born at Caprese on March 6, 1475.
The Buonarroti were a Florentine family of ancient burgher nobility brought to straitened circumstances. With his father’s death the boy was put out to nurse with a stonecutter’s wife. “I drew the chisel and the mallet with which I carve statues in together with my nurse’s milk”. Later he was taught to read and write his native Italian, but art became his dominant passion.
In 1488 he was apprenticed to two leading artists of the day: He turned to nature and his works soon outshined those of his masters.
Next he turned to sculpture in the school formed under the patronage of the Great Lorenzo de Medici. Soon he came under the eye of the Great Lorenzo himself. Forthwith the boy was taken into his household where he remained until Lorenzo’s death in 1492.
(bronze bust by Volterra. done in charcoal, 1978)
A style was being developed on the classical Greek lines; Paganism gave way to Christian piety as he came under the spell of that fierce prophet Savanarola.
In poetry and philosophy Dante provided the inspiration; in his own realm of art, he was very familiar with the styles of Ghirlandais, his early tutors, Ghiberti, Grotto and Donatello.
In one of the scuffles with a fellow student, he got a blow on his nose which marked him for rest of his life. His deeper emotions – for he was in and out of love – he found expression in a series of exquisite sonnets, bulk of which was addressed to V.C…..
After his patron’s death he travelled about Venice, Bologna, Florence and Athens to Rome. The year 1499 marks his first real work of Christian sculpture ‘Pieta’. From then onwards he was prolific. In 1504 he carved out ‘David’ from a spoilt block of Carrara marble, nine cubits in height. In eighteen months he had carved out the masterpiece, a statue of amazing beauty.
Next year he was summoned to Rome by Pope Julius II who set him to work on the construction of his own tomb. This task dragged on for years, causing trouble and bitterness between the sculptor and the pope’s executers: It was never completed, but the famous ‘Moses and the Group of Slaves’ were part of the scheme.
Three years later Michelangelo accepted the commission to decorate the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. A work of more power and loftier conception is hard to find. His agony and the ecstasy is the quientessence of the artist in the throes of creation.
The next decade saw Michelangelo busy on the work for Julius’ tomb and on the colossal figures for the Medici Chapel. After a brief entry in Florentine politics, in 1534, he left Florence for Rome.
In his sixtieth year he was appointed as the chief architect, sculptor and painter to the Vatican by the order of Pope Paul IV.
In the same year he began his fresco in the Sistine chapel, ‘The last Judgement’ which took him seven years to complete. In 1547 he was made architect of St. Peters, whose cupola is his great contribution to architecture. The same year saw the passing of one oasis in his troubled life – the widowed poetess Vittorio Colonna, who was the only woman in his ascetic life and whose love was cerebral as well as spiritual. The bulk of his sonnets – statues in words, roughhewn and beautiful in their rugged vitality – are addressed to her.
Another seventeen years had to pass before he could join her. He had lived long years alone, wedded to his art, “a wife who was too much for him”. A generous man to others and a mean one to himself, he lived frugally. He was irritable, quick tempered and arrogant, but the creative fire in him made him lead an ascetic life only for art! He has enriched the world with what he could carve out of his tormented soul.

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BAYAZID I (1317-1403) Turkey
Sultan of the Ottoman Empire

Nicknamed Yildirim, the Thunderbolt, for the speed with which he marched and overran the countries reminiscent of blitzkrieg of Hitler, he was the sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1389 to 1402. He ascended to the throne following the assassination of his father Murad I and immediately had his younger brother strangled to prevent him from staging a coup.

In revenge for his father’s death by stealth in the Battle of Kosovo, Beyazid massacred his Serb prisoners. Nevertheless, he was able to conclude a treaty with the Serb leader, Stephen Bulcovic, and granted Serbia considerable autonomy. In 1391 he laid siege to Constantinople. The call of a Crusade by the Byzantine emperor John V Palaeologus did not succeed. In 1396, the Battle of Nicopolis went against the Christian allies, under the leadership of the Hungarian King and Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund. The siege of Constantinople lasted until 1398 and could end it only by paying heavy tribute to the sultan. However he was unable to take the city as the threat of Timurlane became very real.

In 1400, the Mongol warlord Timur Lenk had succeeded in rousing the local kingdoms that had been conquered by the Turks to join him in his attack on Beyazid. In the fateful Battle of Ankara, on July 20, 1402, Beyazid was captured by Timur and taken to Samarkhand. Contrary to popular belief he was treated with leniency. One year later, Beyazid died — some accounts claim that he committed suicide.
Postscript:Fall of Constantinople(1453)

After Timur’s death in 1405 in the ensuing confusion, the Ottoman Empire could quickly recover under Murad II’s son, Mehmed II, known as Fatih, or “the Conqueror.” He was determined not only to restore the Ottoman Empire to its pre-Timurid glory, but to build on it as well. Crucial to this was to conquer Constantinople, the Byzantine capital, once and for all. The siege of Constantinople began on April 6, 1453, with 50,000 Ottoman troops facing off against only 8,500 Byzantine troops. Since their introduction to firearms 30 years earlier, the Ottomans had drastically improved their artillery, and city walls, although the strongest of the Middle Ages, were no match for their cannons.

On May 29, 1453, after 54 days of battle, Sultan Mehmed II entered Constantinople and prayed at Hagia Sophia, which was built by the Emperor Constantine. He then ordered it turned into a mosque, and renamed the city Islambol – “Islam abounds” – or Istanbul. With the capital firmly in Ottoman hands, the rest of the Byzantine Empire quickly crumbled.

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