Visioni di riforma: le élite milanesi e un cardinale spagnolo nella crisi religiosa di primo Cinquecento (1492-1521)

Rossetti, Edoardo (2017) Visioni di riforma: le élite milanesi e un cardinale spagnolo nella crisi religiosa di primo Cinquecento (1492-1521). PhD thesis, Università degli Studi di Padova, Università Ca' Foscari di Venezia.

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Visioni di riforma, or visions of reform, is my Ph.D. research project. Its focus are the religious discussions that took place during the period of the Italian political crises (1495-1535), and, in this context, the relationship between Milanese society and Bernardino López de Carvajal (1456-1523). Carvajal, a native of Plasencia, in Estremadura, became cardinal of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in 1495. He sojourned in Milan for the first time in 1496-97, as papal legate to the Sforza court. Subsequently, he returned to the Lombard capital for the schismatic council sponsored by the King of France, Luis XII, in 1510-11. Carvajal assumed a leading role in the organization that preceded the council itself. In both 1496-97 and 1510-11 the cardinal established a close relationship with some milanesi; especially with people that were deeply involved with the promotion of the Amadeites and Jesuati congregations. His two stays in Milan offered Carvajal also the opportunity to come into contact with with some local artists: the wood carvers de’ Donati, and the painters Bernardino de’ Conti and Bartolomeo Suardi, called Bramantino. In 1496, Carvajal probably met Bramante, and it is possible that was involved with architect's moving to Rome. As the protector of the Amadeites, the Spanish cardinal commissioned Bramante to work in their Roman church of San Pietro in Montorio on behalf of the king of Spain. My dissertation is structured into four sections. I will start with, an overview of the situation before the schismatic council. The first chapter will be dedicated to the cultural circle centered around Gaspare Ambrogio Visconti, poet and main patron of Bramante in Milan. Documents connect him to the trial for heresy of a Balkan friar that was preaching in Milan during the Lent of 1492. Anti-friars discussions, calls for reform of the Roman court, interest for the ancient languages of the Bible, appeals to translate of sacred texts in vernacular languages to facilitate the understanding of the lay, eschatological anxiety for an imminent end of the world, are all element of this cultural context. As some writings composed just after the death of Visconti reveal, between the discussion's topics was the discovery of the New World and the condition of its inhabitants in relation to the redemption bought by Christ. If Visconti and his circle are mostly known for their relationship with Bramante, and for the famous Uomini d’armi painted in the former's house, it is necessary to connect to this social word 'popular' religious imagines (for exemple of the Antichrist and of the Apocalypse) that were printed in the printing press sponsored by Visconti. Expanding the material discussed in the first section, the second will be aimed at reconstructing sacred spaces (often unfortunately destroyed) built by observant friars, and will focus on the social relationship between Milanese people and mendicant reformed friars. Most of this part is based on a new archival research on Lombard last wills and testaments from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. I will then move to the pre-council works and the actual counciliar sessions of the ecclesiastics that met with the support of King Louis XII of France and Emperor Maximilian I to reform the Church. The council originally assembled in Pisa, but was forced to relocate, first to Milan, then to Asti, and finally to Lyons, because of the reaction of Pope Julius II. The main protagonist of the third section of my dissertation will be of course Cardinal Bernardino Lopez de Carvajal. A large part of this chapter will be dedicated to his persona and the role he played during the council Pisa-Milan. His partecipation culminated in his election as Antipope Martin VI, the ideal successor of Martin V, the pope elected by the Council of Constance in 1417. Carvajal felt the need of reforming the church, an eschatological anxiety and was supportive of the reconquest of the Holy Land. All themes were discussed by some of Milanese that participated in meetings at home Visconti, by ex ducal secretaries, and Amadeites supporters. I will therefore discuss how these interest interlaced and overlapped. Carvajal patronage in Milan will be then taken into consideration. He was involved in decoration of the Amadeites and Jesuati churches in Milan and Pavia, and also in the renovation of the monastery of Chiaravalle. In particular Carvajal ordered a depiction of the Last Judgment in San Girolamo in Milan that probably completed by an altarpiece, the Crucifixion of Bramantino now in Brera. The same painter realized a Lamentation over the Dead Christ for the Hierusalem’s chapel in Santa Croce in Rome. Considering these works of art in an overview of Carvajal's patronage reveals the political intent and religious ideas of the cardinal. As a conclusion, I will examine post-counciliar events, and will focus on the second French domination of Milan (1515-21). I will argue that the experience of the council left a deep impression on Lombard society, especially on the Dominicans observant of Santa Maria delle Grazie, the Jesuati, the brotherhood of Santa Corona, and the Augustinian nuns of Santa Marta and San Lazzaro. The reading of the Apocalypsis Nova, probably left in Milan by Carvajal, characterizes this group that titled its meetings to the Divina Sapientia, and the personification of the godly wisdom that was an emblem of the Spanish cardinal. The deep mark left by the prospect of ecclesiastical reform promised in the council is visually revealed in some of work Bernardo Zenale, Bernardino Luini (who was especially connected with this group) and Bramantino. But also the later reuse of blocks for printing the images that decorated the acts of the council is a strong testimony of shared ideals and intent of this part of the Milan society with the councilar’s fathers. A review of the contemporary work of Isidoro Isolani and Matteo Bandello (that were published years later) allows to create a lively environment. The conclusive symbolic event of this period is the Milanese edition (the only Italian edition) of the Iulius exlusus e coelis by Erasmus that traces in the satiric tone of the council events. The leader of the publishing operation is Andrea Calvi, who was soon to be involved in the dissemination of Lutheran texts.

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