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Italia Renascimento RE2


Copyright © 2008 Michael Johnathan McDonald

Historical Writing?

Chronologies: Early to mid medieval period, History was recorded by the methodology of chronology, and the winner’s statistics or collected memories of the facts.

The Opinion Editorial:  (non-chronological, personal opinions, reflective and at times detailed in presenting historical facts,) – which most likely came from the Chronologies that were written by the winners, and or new studies that gathered local historical records and presented them in semi-scientific fashion. Not called the opinion editorial at all, this new social writing reflects a movement toward founding a need for social commentary that often relates the opinions of its presenter. Therefore, it is not a dispassionate record of history.

The reason why we use Burckhardt as a source for the Italian Renaissance  is because there are no other good sources, in general. He paints a picture of the Italian Renaissance by using names, places, dates, and personal opinions which described from his view what happened and possibly what were the causes. In Chronology, analysis does not take place.

The Socio-economic (& Political context) cannot be divorced from the artistic – Thomas Dandlet). Conclusions by Francesco Guicciardini, revealed in his work, Storie fiorentine (1508-1510) that fortuna played a suspect and/or vital part of explaining Florence’s historical precedence and many progressive aspects which contributed to the Italian Renaissance. While he provides many examples, one case which would prove a dominate role was the condensed locality and interlude – when and where so many geniuses came together in one time and one place  -- all inhabited Florence at roughly the same time in history. New money and artistic development does not explain these many geniuses being born all at the same time (reincarnation and predestination does, but this is not the topic of this page). Therefore artistic developments, so lauded as the great achievement of Florence and Italy during the renaissance suffices little while explaining a gamut and a scope by the influence that the Italian Renaissance geniuses who had shaped our modern world.  Legitimate Perspective, used in every day application of planning for architecture, web graphic-design, movie animation, to commercial advertizing, to name a few of the multiuse applications of it, to us seems common. To statistical economics of Venice’s contribution which today is a modern economic indicator which helps accounting, planning and economic strategizing;  republican political government and the idea of individual city-states, as autonomous and interunified polities; ideas that secularism and religious life can be achieved within a single domain. Understanding that a strong and lasting state needs to be militaristic and at the same time politically conscious of foreign diplomacy.

In Europe Populous cities in order: Paris, Milan Naples and Venice, then Florence  ( ~ 100,000, 14th century). Giovanni Villani: He gives a chronicle figure for the population’s consumption at 100,000, a figure that takes into account of the people including the immobile people, mothers and children.  He gives a consumption value at 2,300 bushels of grain consumed every day; 70,000 quarts of wine a day. In an age of no clean water, it was healthy to drink it at least at two meals.

Florence (The Center of the Renaissance)

Why? Knowledge of the Past. A powerful concept.  That is to say, Florence, unlike other Italian renaissance republican-city-states, they had recorded their lives in every detail.  This helped historical recordings, commentaries and archival access for modern day scholasticism.

Palazzo Publico: The centerpiece of the republican institution.

Florentine Governance 

Signoria: nine priors, each of these priors was elected for two months.

Buonuomini: (The twelve priors) they were elected for a three month term.

Gontalonieri: 16 other people made up this group, and they were elected by a four month term.

Judges: Under all of these were 15 judges.

Chancellor: Could hold power for a 10-15 years – they were not necessarily appointed with a set term, they get elected for their prior service.


Eligibility to Take Part in Electoral Politics.

Only 5% of the Florentine population could run for elected office.


21 guilds in late 14th century determined the vehicle into which one matriculated into a political office. Records report that all the governing classes came from them and everyone had to deal with them. Yet, there was always an aberration to the norm.



Conditions of Indo-European State formations


Florentine Guelphism[1] and

 “In the imagination of the Italians,” [2] they pictured Savonarola as ideal of wise, just and powerful savior and ruler ( he tried to restrain or turn back some paganistic and ‘extreme’ secularism movements that he believed damaged Florentine ethics.)


  1. What has happening in Europe that affected the Italian city states?

  2. How to understand Italians vying for intervention and alliances?

  3. Why would Italy want to accept foreign subjugation instead of rejecting it?



After the English-Franco wars, France developed an understanding for militarism and began to question expansion and dominance of southern Europe. The Capetian King(s) of France, had invoked symbolically the emperor-like mantle and considered conquest seen during Charles VIII’s expeditions. Burckhardt claims intervention began “when Charles was back again on the other side of the Alps.” [3] Burckhardt morally judges what he considered the two conquesting movements of this pre- and renaissance period: Spain and Italy. He says, “[M]isfortune now followed on misfortune.”[4] Spain rose from militarism in their long centuries of reconquista, and France by its wars with England. This created an era of misfortunate “alliances.” such as “formed with the Turks too.”[5] There were differing view points on doing business with the house of Osman and various Muslim areas in North Africa and around the Mediterranean. On one hand, the knowledge of the treatment of prisoners and a lust for blood on those who did not agree with an ideology or perspective or were typecast racially, and on the other hand, “we find instances,” Burckhardt explains, “of whole populations to whom it seemed no particular crime to go over bodily to the Turks.[6]  Italy learned international politics quickly by understanding that Mehmet II had further planned after the capture of Constantinople to include Italy as the Ottoman’s state future prime objective. When Istanbul became stable, it would be a launching ground into the northwest. By understanding this dilemma, “Francis I” and “Soliman II” made “the notorious alliance.”[7] As complex the narrative, Spain actually saved the Italian states by subjugating them under their rule. “ It was a poor but not wholly groundless consolation for the enslavement of Italy then begun by the Spaniards that the country was at least secured from the relapse into barbarism which would awaited it under Turkish rule. By itself, divided [alliances] as it was, it hardly could have escaped this fate.”[8] Burckhardt is correct that this was fate and not calculated. The Spanish had by its militaristic process which emerged from its reconquista period(s), developed the most advance military of western Europe at the same time in the mid-east the Ottomans (House of Osman) had done similar by their militaristic rise to power [ learnt from the Mongolian invasions centuries prior]. In fact, while political positioning and finance favorship to the elections of the Holy Roman Emperor secured Charles appointment instead of Francis, it is still fate by which Spain subjugated Italy and at the same time protected it – something that the French armies at that time probably could not have done with much success against a formidable Ottoman military. Alliance building was a natural “political expedient” way of securing one’s families future. The price for Spain defending Italy’s interests was knowledge transfer and cultural transfer as well as limited economic transfer. This was explain by Spanish soldier’s blood was exchanged for these listed things. Burckhardt intends that this “fate” saved Italy from another period of “barbarian invasions.”[9] A condition between identifying the Middle Ages and the change over of period, is marked by a standing army. The soldiers of the Middle Ages were part-time soldiers and part time landowners and local importants.


The Middle Ages was consistently individualistic (something that is misconstrued in academics in Burckhardt’s time, especially Germanic schools), whereas, now a large government collective military ideology pervaded the later early twentieth century concept of massman, and large military institutions. Spain fulfilled this role at this time. Yet, another key factor in military ages was the role of mercenaries. Burckhardt is probably not correct ( or his sources) in stating that “Italy, on the contrary, was the first country to adopt the system of mercenary troops, which demanded a wholly different organization;”. [10] The idea of mercenary militaries ( i.e. separate entities as a whole and for part-time employment by another large political-economic-social entity) had been used throughout history by most states and by regions I had studied. Burckhardt may be implying an articulation for the need and a renewed concept that Italy had to contend with in continuing rise of states in late medieval periods. He or his sources are solely in constructing a picture that Italy had ‘created’ instead of ‘rediscovered’ or ‘reneeded’ basic concepts of statecraft. In constructing this point of view, he believes that along with the introduction of firearms, and the use of foreign soldiers for hire, democracy could develop.


Social Epistemology


Jacob Burckhardt, in his book, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, is said to have change the format of historical writing. It is less chronicalish, more detailed and narrower. Yet, at the same time, insinuation and personal opinions create a limitation. For example, sentences like “A more childish method of reasoning cannot be imagined.”[11] Phraseology like this sentence is usually is preceded by phrases like “[w]w need not to inquire.” [12] Although, this new method of historical writing gave rise to later monographic narrowness, the historical opinion piece is born with Burckhardt’s construction. Historical books are still written in this manner, many current British history books can be included. Painting a picture of the Italian Renaissance only by social methodologies could be regarded as an attempt to fashion a grand narrative, where a larger body of work is needed due to breath of the subject. By not including a detailed analysis of political and economic structure for a state, it is quite recognizable why certain phrases such as “tyrannical police” or certain power structures needed to smoothly run a state are contended to liberalistic sentiments. [13]


Burckhardt, born the same year as Marx, can be classified in the same movements ( particularly pertinent to the academic currents in these times) for bottom up social commentary. Like the later French Annals [?] schools which fostered bottom up monographs, Burckhardt popularized the tendency to view social history from the common classes perspective – a sentiment that arrived with republicanism’s social commonality. Bishops were the leaders of towns and acted as the administrators prior to allowing more collective townspeople representation in their local politics. This is prior to the princes who invaded to take control of the republican-city-states. During this interlude, the common class became accustom with collective freedoms, a type of liberty and freedom associated with collective common government. Burckhardt rather views this as the rise of individualism of the common class against the Church authority. This is a generalization and weak point in historiography that had and still has a certain popularity for epistemic subjugation of knowledge. This type of subjectiveness tends to frame groups associated with leadership with a moralistic viewpoint in favor of what we might loosely call populous politics. It relies heavily on social and individual rights while dismissing the larger ramifications and complexities of statecraft. The benefits of this type of enquiry help sort out competitive factions, otherwise not represented in chronological recordings – an idea and/or strong conviction that the winner ‘always’ writes the history. While Burckhardt writes in a perspective that allows both sides to be historically represented, his viewpoints are considered his personal beliefs and myths that he had been constructed around him while a student and an individual of his time.


“[T]he Italian statesmanship of this period deserve our praise, it is only on the ground of its practical and unprejudiced treatment of those questions which were not affected by fear, passion or malice. Here was no feudal system after the northern fashion, with its artificial scheme of rights [for people]; but the power which each possessed he held in practice as in theory [Human rights are usually existent in wealthy and prosperous states that can afford litigation, institutions for assessment and finances to run advanced and complex system of laws and regulations – yet in question of how that state achieves its financial loquacity is always in question and rarely addressed, as is evident in this work.]. Here was no attendant nobility to foster in the mind of the prince the medieval sense of honour, with all its strange consequences; but princes and councellors were agreed in acting according to the exigencies of the particular case and to the end they had in view. Towards the men whose services were used and toward allies, come from what quarter they might, no pride of caste was felt which could possibly estrange a supporter; and the class of the condottieri, in which birth was a matter of indifference, shows clearly enough in what sort of hands the real power lay; and lastly, the government, in the hands of an enlightened despot [a Platonic insinuation for the best leader for a society], had an incomparably more accurate acquaintance with its one country and that of its neighbors than was possessed by northern contemporaries.”[14]


Eastern Roman Empire Law in France

  1. What is the different in reviving Roman law in the north of Europe and the Roman law of the Italian Renaissance?

  2. Were there different Roman law(s)?

  3. What types of Laws did the Italian republican-city-states adopt?

  4. Which Roman types of Laws did the Italian republican-city-states disfavor?


“The geographic spread of Roman Law in southern France took place between about 1130 and 1220. It seems to have involved three parallel developments – the use of certain terms and concepts from Justinian’s Corpus; the Spread of institution of notary, and the rise of the consulate as a form of municipal government. The three developments exhibited similar patterns of territorial expansion. After 1220 they became more firmly entrenched in regions affected, rather than spreading to new geographical areas.[André] Gouron[15] has detected three phases of this expansion – one ending around 1150, another ending around 1195, and a third ending by 1220. During the first phase, consulates, sometime, appeared at Avignon and Arles on the lower Rhône; and at Nimes, Tarascon, Montpellier, St. Gilles, and as far west as Narbonne. An isolated consulate was noted at Nice in eastern Provence, perhaps a result of direct Italian influence, while elsewhere in the Midi the three developments mentioned above reflected more indirect Italian contact and radiated from centers on the Rhône.”[16]


French law was subject loosely to a division between north and south, and usually described as customary in the north, associated to family, business and community pressure,” but sometimes regions that were acquired through conquest, such as Languedoc, the French in the northern regions acquired Eastern Roman Law.


“A basic principle of northern French law was that no one should judge his own case. Thus the king had his lawsuits judged by great men in his court – a body that by the thirteenth century developed into the Parliament of Paris.”[17] At first there were no legal experts, just local lords sending representatives from their locations. By the end of the third century, the court saw a need for educating these representatives in legal matters, which would lead to the great law courts (the Parliament of Paris, the Exchequer of Normandy, the Grands Jours of Champagne).[18] By 1300, new population growth included land reclamation, which led to lawyers by a need for legislating private property rights in the north. Usually a charter was written which gave “the settlers some rights of self-government, some insurances against arbitrary exactions, and quite specific rules about land tenure, the competence of and procedure of the authority of the founder, or his representatives, in the town or village. Older [feudal] settlements naturally wanted similar rights, and thus town charters (often copied from an older and well-regarded charter) became common throughout the north. They were the basis for municipal law.”[19] Yet, these were uncommon conditions, the majority of the population lived under older feudal laws in the rural areas.


In France, the growth of the power of the king coincided with jurisdiction, learning, and the Parliament of Paris.  The ending of the feudal lord’s semi-autonomous power declines dramatically with the English-Franco wars and the later Frankish conquests and expansion which would reach its heights under Francis I in the late fifteenth century. After the collapse of the Carolingian political power, in the north, “courts lost their public character and became the private property rights of great lords. In the Midi, the fragmentation of political power in the hands of local lords came even earlier than in the north. Where a dozen great families wielded effective power around the year 900, more than 150 did so by 975, when much of the north of France was still being ruled effectively by counts. Yet in the south law and justice never lost their public character. While the stronger legal legacy of ancient Rome must have been a factor in preserving this conception of law, Ourliac had argued that the perceptions of the law that survived in the Midi were seen as a legacy of the Carolingian Empire.” [20] In guirpotio [a type of an ad hoc assembly], powerful men of a locality convened to make decisions on the common good. There appeared no feudal ties or established feudal relationships and private courts.[21]


“When the revival study of Justinian’s law began to affect southern France after 1100, it was a development of great importance. Scholars have argued at length about this “reception” and “diffusion” of Roman law. These seems little doubt that the ultimate source of this learned law was northern and central Italy, wich had maintained much more contact with the Byzantine Empire and had become deeply embroiled in the Investiture Controversy during the second half of the eleventh century. This conflict stimulated papalists and imperialists to study laws, both canon and civil. Law became the subject of debate, analysis, and systematic compilation. In the late eleventh century, there appeared in Provence a short manual of practical rules for administrating Roman law, known as Petri exceptiones. It was based upon Justinian’s compilation, not on the Theodosian Code [Spain adoption] and the Breviary of Alaric. The first vernacular treatise on Roman law, Lo Codi, was written in the Rhone region about 1160, perhaps at Valence or St. Gilles or Arles.” [22]



A Need to Protect the Wealth

  1. How does intervention play into creating a myth of social diversity and non-prejudice?

  2. Why would you think that the northern European states are different in social diversity in Burckhardt’s social construction of Italian republican-city-states?


Condottieri: Latin Condūcere, to lead together. Italian, from condotta, troop of mercenaries, feminine past participle of condurre, to conduct. def. A leader of mercenary soldiers between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries.[23] The condottiero (pl.) did not have to facilitate knowledge about their origins of birth or nationality. Neither had the codotta. This led to a myth that the Italian city-states promoted diversity as compared to the “others!” These mercenary armies were treated like contractors, in which the renaissance word shares its connotation. Condottieri is singular for a leader of mercenaries, and he administers the codotta. These mercenaries were sought by the republican-Italian-city-states in understanding that foreign entities became aware of the increasing wealth and prosperity of the upper-mid and northern Italian region(s). Italy was not a militaristic state, only fielding small armies, whereas the large states already predisposed to militarism threatened the lands of Italy. In part, this is why princes and local lords with self-attained large armies took over the rulership away from the people of Italian city-states after the common people rule period.  During an interlude between the later Italian middle ages and the proto-renaissance,  the northern city-states had little need for alliances to other powerful military states during their pre-prosperous periods.  Later, Alliances could address self defenses issues for the prosperous Italian renaissance period. Is it in not understanding this that Burckhardt in general sees the princes and the interventionists (even though some contradictory sentences appear) into the ruler ship of Italian political states as non-liberal consequences ( of something?). His view is constructed from the lack of economic perspective and the understanding of statecraft. A typical problems in states, is that once a state or bodies of individual states – such as Italy (c. 1350s-1600s) – attain great wealth, foreign bodies portend to want inclusion into the economy. If they are denied, they can, have, and will attack with military force. These codotta were necessities and did not, as Burckhardt’s claim, demonstrate social diversity as compared to the northern feudal systems and states.


Common Class Comes from Science of Death


Nobles = aristocracy rulers (They are challenged by science)

Introduction of muskets by Germany in part ( along with firearms, cannon) created a “new’ common class that could besiege a noble’s territory, and/or make effective bombardment of premodern fortified castles, etc.. fortresses...


Firearms in the hands of the common forced the aristocracy to create laws benefiting the common or face death by new-types of military soldiers that carried muskets, and small field cannon.




Papacy  Two Popes 14th century

The Avignon Papacy

The Italian Papacy ( both sides were too weak to take back Rome.


The House of Colonna

In history books and records of these times, the Papacy is sometimes referred too as the House of Colonna. “[...] the papacy was defined by great families of the Colonna, Orsini, Savelli and Anguilara.”[24]


Papal States

Why plural?

“[i]n Umbria, in the Marches and in Romagna, those civic republics had almost ceased to exist, for whose devotion the papacy had showed so little gratitude; their place had been taken by a crowd of princely dynasties, great or small, whose loyalty and obedience signified little. As self-dependant powers, standing on their own merits, they have an interest of their own; and from this point of view the most important of them have already been discusses.” [25]


Controlling Rome and Religion

  1. What does this say about modern historiography which claims the medieval age was the period when the Church ruled over every person’s life and is the only and/or main cause why the western European civilization remained living in primitiveness in comparison to modern prosperity.

  2. What modern day agenda would write a history book with this perspective?

  3. Do you think it is the correct perspective?

  4. Why do you think that the medieval ages is being carefully examined in the early twenty-first century in western civilization? Is this because a unconscious current of understanding tends to lead us to a conclusion that western civilization is about to return to primitiveness because of its guilt of the past “rise of western civilization?” Therefore, revising the negative view of the middle ages, more modern historiography tells us that is was not as bad morally or ethically as the modern age revealed. Therefore, if we are to return to medieval age mentality and lifestyle, we better present it as something desired.


15th century decisions to correct the feuding papacies.


Pope Sixtus IV: First pope to control Rome and outlying neighborhoods, and Burckhardt calls him ‘the terrible.’[26] He “successfully attacked the House of Colonna, and consequently, both in his Italian policy and in the internal affaire of the Church, he could venture to act with a defiant audacity, and to set at naught the complaints and threats to summon a Council which arose from all parts of Europe. [ i.e. the pressure on Rome of challenging economic and legalistic authority, became a reaction by a opportunist who sequestered the older families who had ruled the papacy and created the programs of the church that became a legend for the beginning of Protestantism and the breaking away. So how do we blame the church, when a usurper took it over and changed its policy to ‘hegemonic diplomacy?’] He supplied himself with the necessary funds of simony, which suddenly grew to unheard-of proportions, and which extended from the appointment of cardinals down to the granting of the smallest favours. Sixtus himself had not obtained the papal dignity without recourse to the same means.” [27]


Since the Papacy division of two popes, Sixtus sought to change the democratically elected popes into a non-democratic hereditary papacy. The nipoti, Cardinal Pietro Riario bargained with the Duke Galeazzo Maria of Milan, to make him the king of Lombardi, in which the duke would supply military and regional influence to secure a ‘new’ ruling line of popes. After this revelation, Burckhardt argues that the Church would tend toward full secularization of the papal states if the “papacy hereditary” [28] plan was achieved. The Church which was not a single identify, at least in Rome, became secularized, which described the un-Catholic ‘symptoms’ that appeared that historiographers claim in general was the entire Catholic Church. Corruption, plans of Italian control of all the republics and plans of ambition to subjugate money making schemes, as well as life lives as party-goers. Yet, not all can be blamed on individuals. Another historiography of the common people of the Papal states intertwines in Burkhart’s picture of the Italian Renaissance. Rome was conditioned to popular “anti-papal radicalism”[29] in its history, often exhaling a pope to later allow them to return after attitudes calmed down.  Also, anti-religious revolts, or secularism uprising took place infrequently, but nevertheless something that the new popes had to recognize to counter politically. Anti-papacy radicalism was associated with sentiments to reform the middle lands of Italy into a mirror of the likes of the more liberal (or secular) northern republican-city-states. These conspiracies involved assassination of high-up church figures, and “complete overthrow of the papal  authority.” [30] Burckhardt speaks of “The Catilinaian gang, with which Pius II had to contend (1460), avowed with equal frankness their resolution to overthrow the government of the priests and its leader, Tiburzio, threw the blame on the soothsayers, who had fixed the accomplishment of his wishes for this very year.” [ often soothsayers were fomenting their fame, and opportunists took it upon their writings to act out wishful thought, framed as a prediction or prognostication, thus giving astrologers who practiced short term predictive astrology a dangerous position in society, due to the reactions of conspirators and the use for their interests of soothsaying material.]. Yet, as complex, a conspiracy usually had more than a single motive. The motive to overthrow the priests and speak of fostering secularism (i.e. materialism) was usually silently conceived between the conspirators, a wish to get rich from taking the extreme wealth and booty from the church itself. Under this examination, the motives for changing society were public discourse and contrasted the silent discourse of personal wealth claims of the individual conspirator. So by overthrowing the church, the conspirators would take their wealth and become extremely rich. This explains why so many conspiracies to overthrow the Church failed. Conspirators did not need to be citizen of one of the papal states. They could travel into the papal states, with already a hatched overthrow plan. The public would not weight in their support to greedy individuals who sought personal fortunes and fame from plots. The public would not support a movement that sought to harm them.  This also describes why popes built palaces outside of the city-limits of Rome. “Pius preferred to reside anywhere rather than in Rome, and even Paul II was exposed to no small anxiety thought a plot formed by some discharged abbreviators, who, under the command of Platina, besieged the Vatican for twelve days. The papacy must sooner or later have fallen a victim to such enterprises, if it had not stamped out the aristocratic factions under whose protection these bands of robbers grew to a head.”[31]


So Burckhardt paints a picture that popes destroyed aristocratic ruling bodies prior to Sixtus IV, because they were not in fear of ‘totally’ losing control and losing their wealth. They, in general, had no need for militaries, but a change happens when the north begins to secularize, and the church needs to protect its wealth after the sentiment that religion is not longer valid – only material possession identify a soul’s worth. In some sense, Sixtus IV, by consolidating regional power was conditioned by this trend. He needed to make alliances, shore up the authority of the papacy and protect its wealth and fame.


As the republican-city-states grew in international trade (a phrase not used then and in a modern concept, but this concept is bereft in verbiage and not solely inaccurate)  and wealth it threatened the power of the church by devolvement. Italian Renaissance individuals decried the Classical Periods and the Christian periods of the Roman Empire and champion the Roman Republican periods – in part for its antiquate antedating the Christian Era. Therefore, secular radicalism, and its affiliation to materialism challenged the essence of the spiritualism of the church by fomenting propaganda that the Church was no longer needed in this “new world.” Since the church had fragmented, and its liquidity almost solvent, some leaders of the Church during the proto-renaissance produced the projects that later Luther and Calvin will highlight as continual corruption of the Church.


So the Church is losing its influence to secularism and its reaction was to consolidate its power by changing its system. Burckhardt relates it was no longer valid for the church to invoke feudal rights over emancipating principalities, that could now afford radical new defenses and build up mercenary armies to protect their commerce and materialist interests. So indulgences, bribery, and conquest were some of the plans that a few church visionaries took into account to saving the Church’s control over the people’s minds and lives.  While during the early to mid thirteenth century, the Church brought back semi-secular education, understanding that it would lose control of its popularity with the periphery of Europe. Its only control was at the court level, where this would be challenged by the fifteenth century. Education brought an understanding to the common people, even thought most of the peasants could not read or write with competency, social gatherings of learned travelers would update the towns and villages of the new currents and fads in intellectualism. More knowledge, led to more speculation that the church was a suspicious entity toward the medieval age backwardness. Yet, this was not the case, it was the absence of a strong Roman-like military, and the general will of the people to live in peace and passivity.


It is during this crucial time that the position of the Holy Roman Emperor went to Charles I (V) of Spain. He had benefited from the election by offering a higher bribe (sold their votes) to the electorate than Francis I could afford. This was accomplished by “new world” conquest of gold and silver mines of Middle America. Nipoti, which traditionally had been replaced upon an election of a new pope, now usurped lands and became sovereign rulers. The need for compulsion to convert more people to the Church exacerbated the view that the Church was corrupt and looking solely for money.


“At the death of Sixtus, Girolamo was only to maintain himself in his usurped principality of Florì and Imola by the upmost excretions of his own, and by the aid of the House of Sforza, to which his wife belonged. In the conclave (1484) which followed the death of Sixtus – that which Innocent VIII was elected – an incident occurred which seemed to furnish the papacy with a new external guarantee. Tow cardinals, who, at the same time, were princes of ruling houses, Giovanni d’Aragona, son of King Ferrante, and Ascanio Sforza, brother of the Moor, sold their votes with the most shameless effrontery; so that, at any rate, the ruling houses of Naples and Milan became interested, by their participation in the booty, in the continuance of the papal system. Once again, in the following conclave, when all the cardinals [ College of Cardinals] but five sold themselves, Ascanio received enormous sums in bribes, but without cherishing the hope that at the next election he would himself be the favoured candidate.”[32]


At this time the Church played its politics closely to the roles of political secularism. Materialism was the issue of position in the church. The more money one could offer an a highly positioned church member the closer one came to power and influence in society. This is no different than political positioning in modern day politics – same systems but with un-threatening terminologies and discourse. “Lorenzo the Magnificent, for his part, was anxious that the House of Medici should not be sent away with empty hands. He married his daughter Maddalena to the son of the new pope – the first who publically acknowledged his children – Franceschetto Cibò , and expected not only favours of all kinds for his own son, Cardinal Giovanni, afterwards Leo X, but also the rapid promotion of his son-in-law. But with respect to the latter, he demanded impossibilities. Under Innocent VIII there was no opportunity for the audacious nepotism by which states had been founded, since Franceschetto himself was a poor creature, who, like his father the pope, sought power only for the lowest purpose of all – the acquisition and accumulation of money. The manner, however, in which father and son practised [typo, sic or British?] this occupation must have led sooner or later to a final catastrophe – the dissolution of the state. If Sixtus had filled his treasury by the sale of spiritual dignities and favours, Innocent and his son, for their part, established an office for the sale of secular favours, in which pardons for murder and manslaughter were sold for large sums of money. Out of every fine 150 ducats were paid into the papal exchequer, and what was over to Franceschetto. Rome, during the latter part of his pontificate, swarmed with licensed and unlicensed assassins; the factions, which Sixtus had begun to put down, were again active as ever; the pope died, he could escape with well-filled coffers.” [33]  



Pius III: (pontificate, 22 September 1503 to 18 October  February 1503), Regnal name, Papa Pius Tertius, Episcopus Romanus; Personal Name Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini; birth-place Siena Tuscany Italy; Nephew of Pius II.


Julius II: (pontificate 31 October 1503 to 21 February 1513), Regnal name, Papa Iulius Secundus, Episcopus Romanus; personal name, Guiliano della Rovere; birth-place Albisola, Savona, Italy. Nephew of Sixtus IV; Convened the Fifth Council of Lateran, 1512. The first consolidation of territory of the Papal States accomplished. Proposed plans for rebuilding of Saint Peter’s Basilica.


Leo X (pontificate, 9 March 1513 to 1 December 1521), Regnal name, Papa Leo Decimus, Episcopus Romanus; personal name, Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici, birth-place, Florence Italy. Son of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Excommunicated Martin Luther.


Adrain VI ( pontificate, 9 January 1522 to 14 September 1523) Regnal name, Papa Hadrianus, Sextus, Episcopus Romanus; personal name Adriaan Floriszoon Boeyens, birth-place, Utrecht, Holy Roman Empire ( presently the Netherlands). The only Dutch Pope. Last non Italian to be elected pope until John Paul II in 1978. The tutor of emperor Charles V.

Spain in Rome (legends of the Corruptions)

Ruin of the Papacy:

Complete Subjugation:

Objectives: Stop or Destroy the Italian Pontificate Traditions

Money Making Schemes: Indulgences.

Possibly Idealized by Despite Supporters like Machiavelli.

Sacred College: ‘simony,’ Money over merit.

Phases of Italian Civilization: The Spanish culture of the Papacy.

Commentary: Height of Roman Corruption.

Spain, France, and England carving up Europe.



Alexander VI: (pontificate: 11 August 1492 [1492 the Miraculous year in Spanish history] – 18 August 1503) personal name, Rodrigo de Lanzòl-Borgia, born at Xàtiva, València, Spain.


Catholic Histories paint a rather general good outlook for this pope, while at the same time some discouraging phraseology about the methods of making money. Burkhart frowns upon the Borgia period for the papal states, indicating an ethnic viewpoint rather than a international viewpoint of multi-state representation. Somewhere between will come the real picture of these times. The common two viewpoints of history reflect the fragmentation of this period.


A cardinal is a dignitary of the Roman Church, and councilor of the People (l. cardinalis). In the middle ages, Priests took on the roles of the cardinal. They would play an increasing role in the Sacred Council, and at times, played many roles for the popes.


Spain Rome and Culture

While Spain was carving up the New World, it made a play on annexing politically Rome and the Papacy with Alexander VI and his son. Alexander spoke Spanish in public with his son Cesare.[34] “Lucrezia, at her entrance to Ferrara, where she wore a Spanish costume, was sung to by Spanish buffoons; their confidential servants consisted of Spaniards, as did also the most illfamed company of the troops of Cesare in the war of 1500; and even his hangman, Don Micheletoo, and his poisoner , Sebastian Pinzon Cremonese, seem to have been of the same nation. Among his other achievements, Cesare, in true Spanish fashion, killed, according to the rules of the craft, six wild bulls in an enclosed court. But the Roman corruption, which seemed to culminate in this family, was already for advanced when they came to the city.”[35]


“What they were and what they did has been often and fully described. Their immediate purpose, which, in fact, they attained, was the complete subjugation of the pontifical state. All the petty despots, who were mostly more or less refractory vassals of the Church, were expelled or destroyed; and Rome itself the two great factions were annihilated, the so-called Guelph Orsini as well as the so-called Ghibelline Colonna. But the means employed were so frightful a character that they must certainly have needed in the ruin of the papacy.” [36] “As early as 1494, a Carlelite Adam of Genoa, who had preached at Rome against simony, was found murdered in his bed with twenty wounds. Hardly a single cardinal was appointed without the payment of enormous sums of money. But when the Pope in course of time fell under the influence of his son Cesare Borgia, his violent measures assumed a character of devilish wickedness which necessarily reacts upon the ends perused,” Burckhardt writes. [37]




Conclave of Pius III, died soon after his election. This led to another brief rule by elected without vote buying of Julius II, who became popular with the people.


Poison Politics: Djem had taken some in sweet draught, before Alexander surrendered him to Charles VIII (1495), and at the end of their career father and son poison themselves with the same powder by accidently tasting a sweetmeat intended for a wealthy cardinal.” [38] Official epitomizer of the history of the popes, Onofrio Panvinio, mentions three cardinals, Orsini, Ferrerio and Michiel, whom Alexander caused to be poisoned, and hints at the fourth, Giovanni Borgia, whom Cesare took into his own charge – though probably wealthy prelates seldom died in Rome at that time without giving rise to suspicions of this sort. Even some tranquil scholars who had withdrawn to some provincial town were not out of reach of the merciless poison.


  1. Possibly, Alexander and his son Cesare tasted a poisoned sweetmeat which was intended to kill a cardinal. White powder poison, methods to kill their enemies became commonplace. Machiavelli ideal prince was said to be Cesar, but this is in contention.

  2. Caesar Borgia, the son of Alexander III



Julius II in his constitution at his Lateran Council denounced simony of the papal elections and “after his death in 1513, the money loving cardinals tried to evade the prohibition by proposing the endowments and offices hitherto held by the chosen candidate should be equally divided among themselves, in which case they would have elected the best-endowed cardinal, the incompetent Raphael Riario.”[39]



Petrarchan sonnets: A style of poetry writing ascribed to the Italian Humanist F. Petrarch. Example, Sassi (Sasso De Sassi), Panfilo (*Modena ?1455; †Lonzano, Romanga 1527), Italian Poet, famous as an improviser, wrote occasionally Petrarchan sonnets.[40]


Leo X

Most famous for reviving art and grandeur of Rome’s chapels and buildings – a ploy to attract more people to Rome, and bring back its legitimacy. However, the credit goes to Julius II, the preiovous pope.


Cardinal Giovanni ( Medici) later becomes a Medici Pope, Leo X ( which helps do describe the artistic and secular pursuits which in his first two years is said to have an ambition of beginning a regional Medici hegemony.


“Under Innocent VIII there was no opportunity for the audacious nepotism by which the state had been founded, since Franceschetto himself was a poor creature who, like his father the pope, sought power only for the lowest purpose of all – the acquisition and accumulation of money.” [41]


Jacob Burckhardt: Social Arguments for Individualism

Republican-city-states Private Man

  1. What formed the private man, according to Jacob Burckhardt – what was going on all around the people that formed this self conscious ‘individual,’ as opposed to the communal public man? 

  2. Were money and the competition for it at a time of increasing opportunity and prosperity a decisive factor in Burckhardt’s mind as to the reality of the apperence of the private man?

  3. Was there ambivalence toward the perceived nepotism and these ambitious city-state rulers?


14th to 15th century nepotism: “the private man, indifferent to politics, and busied partly with serious pursuits, partly with the interests of a dilettante, seems to have been fist fully formed in these despotisms of the fourteenth century. Documentary evidence cannot, of course, be required on such a point. The novelists, from whom we might expect information, describe to us oddities in plenty, but only from one point of view in so far as the needs of the story demand.”[42] 

Individual Character

“The fifteenth century is, above all, that of the many-sided men,” Burckhardt intends. [43]
Dante, who, even in his lifetime, was called by some a poet, by others a philosopher, by others a theologian, pours forth in all his writings a stream of personal force by which the reader, apart from the interest of the subject, feels himself carried away.”
[44] I intend that new words came into use, and as identifying properties, people had little grasped of using them in a categorical way.

Education meant Power

Why did it mean that Florentine merchants and statesmen often read classical languages, and educated their young private education, read Ethics and Politics of Aristotle to their sons and sometimes even daughters and took education seriously?


What did elections mean to the republicans in relation to individual character? Why not elect a despot that was benevolent?


“The members of the defeated parties, on the other hand, often came into a position like that of the subjects and despotic states, with the difference that the freedom or power already enjoyed, and in some cases the hope or recovering them, gave a higher energy to their individuality.”[45]

Cosmopolitan led to the individual?

  1. Burckhardt has multi-ideas of how individual was formed, staking a claim that was the entire German school fad at that time a fad that defined individualism in time with modernity.

  2. Do you think his many different viewpoints reveal a questioning of himself of a concept he cannot quite resolve in his thesis? He describes hope, multiculturalism, ambivalence to current strongmen politics, as a few possibilities for the rise of individualism. 

  3. Dante introduced a ‘new language and culture.’ “my country is the whole world.”[46] Taken out of context by Edward Said, Dante and his family were exiled from Italy and he pursued a great part of his life as a wanderer. Burckhardt speaks of Florence, after Dante gains fame, of asking him under conditions to return. Dante wrote back: “Can I not everywhere behold the light of the sun and the stars; everywhere meditate on the noblest truths, without appearing ingloriously and shamefully before the city and the people.” [47] The spirit of the renaissance is defined in fluidity, where people began, once again, to explore and travel outside their birth places. The more they traveled, the more they became aware of themselves. This concept Burckhardt does not offer as a possible candidate to his multi-inquiry of the rise of the individual.


[1] Burckhardt, Jacob, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, trans. G.C. Middlemore, 2nd. ed. (London: Penguin Books, 2004), p. 75.

[2] Burckhardt, Jacob, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, trans. G.C. Middlemore, 2nd. ed. (London: Penguin Books, 2004), p. 75.

[3] Burckhardt, Jacob, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, trans. G.C. Middlemore, 2nd. ed. (London: Penguin Books, 2004), p. 75.

[4] Burckhardt, Jacob, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, trans. G.C. Middlemore, 2nd. ed. (London: Penguin Books, 2004), p. 75.

[5] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 76.

[6] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 77.

[7] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 77.

[8] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 77.

[9] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 75-78.

[10] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 79.

[11] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 304.

[12] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 304.

[13] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 304.

[14] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, pp. 77-78. Bold scripting is mine.

[15] Gouron, André, Les étapes de la pénétration du droit romain au XIIe siècle dans l’ancienne Septimanie,” in “Annales du Midi,” 69, (1957), “Diffusion des consulats méridionaux et expansion du droit romain aux XIIe et XIIIe siècles, in Bibliothèque de l’École des chartes, 121 (1963). in “Dictionary of the Middle Ages,” ed. Joseph R. Strayer, et. al., 2nd ed. vol. 7. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1986),  pp. 462, 468.

[16] Ibid., Gouron, in “Dictionary of the Middle Ages,” p. 462.

[17] Ibid., Dictionary of the Middle Ages, p. 457.

[18] Ibid., Dictionary of the Middle Ages, p. 457.

[19] Ibid., Dictionary of the Middle Ages, p. 458.

[20] Ourliac, Paul,  Études d’histoire du droit médiéval (1979); Paul Ourliac and J. de Malafosse, Driot romain et ancien droit, 2 vols.(1957-1961), in in “Dictionary of the Middle Ages,” ed. Joseph R. Strayer, et. al., 2nd ed. vol. 7. (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1986),  pp. 461- 462.

[21] [21] Ibid., Ourliac, in “Dictionary of the Middle Ages,” p. 462.

[22] Ibid., Dictionary of the Middle Ages, p. 462.

[23] American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed., Houston Mifflin Company, available from condottieri; Internet. [ accessed 09122008].

[24] Burckhardt, Jacob, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, trans. G.C. Middlemore, 2nd. ed. (London: Penguin Books, 2004), p. 81.

[25] Burckhardt, Jacob, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, trans. G.C. Middlemore, 2nd. ed. (London: Penguin Books, 2004), p. 81.

[26] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 83.

[27] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 83.

[28] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 84.

[29] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 82.

[30] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 83.

[31] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 83.

[32] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, pp. 84-85.

[33] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 85.

[34] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 86.

[35] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 86.

[36] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 86.

[37] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 87.

[38] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 90.

[39] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 92.

[40] Cassell’s Encyclopedia of World Literature, 2nd ed., ed. S. H. Stein berg, revised & general ed. J. Buchanan-Brown, vol. 3 L-Z (New York: WIlliam Morrow & Co, Inc.,  1973), p. 468., †, died; *, born.

[41] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 85.

[42] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, pp. 99-100.

[43] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 100.

[44] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 101.

[45] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 100.

[46] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 100.

[47] Ibid., The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, p. 100.



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