clement vii


T H E  W E S T E R N  S C H I S M (1378-1417)

The Schism in the Western Roman Church resulted from the return of the papacy to Rome under Gregory XI on January 17, 1377, ending the Avignon Papacy, which had developed a reputation for corruption that estranged major parts of Western Christendom. This reputation can be attributed to perceptions of predominant French influence and to the papal curia’s efforts to extend its powers of patronage and increase its revenues.

After Pope Gregory XI died in 1378, the Romans rioted to ensure the election of a Roman for pope. On April 8, 1378 the cardinals elected a Neapolitan when no viable Roman candidates presented themselves. Urban VI, born Bartolomeo Prignano, the Archbishop of Bari, was elected. Urban had been a respected administrator in the papal chancery at Avignon, but as pope he proved suspicious, reformist, and prone to violent outbursts of temper. Many of the cardinals who had elected him soon regretted their decision: the majority removed themselves from Rome to Anagni, where, even though Urban was still reigning, they elected Robert of Geneva as a rival pope on September 20 of the same year. Robert took the name Clement VII and reestablished a papal court in Avignon. The second election threw the Church into turmoil. There had been antipopes—rival claimants to the papacy—before, but most of them had been appointed by various rival factions; in this case, a single group of leaders of the Church had created both the pope and the antipope. (x)

jude law as pope urban vi
elijah wood as antipope clement vii


get to know me meme (royalist edition): royals in general | | Katherine of Aragon

Katherine of Aragon (16 December 1485 – 7 January 1536) was Queen of England from June 1509 until May 1533 as the first wife of King Henry VIII. The youngest daughter of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, Catherine was three years old when she was betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the English throne. They married in 1501, but Arthur died five months later on 2 April 1502. In 1507, she held the position of ambassador of the Aragonese Crown in England, the first female ambassador in European history. Catherine married Arthur’s younger brother, Henry VIII, in 1509. For six months in 1513, she served as regent of England while Henry VIII was in France. During that time the English won the Battle of Flodden, an event in which Catherine played an important part with an emotional speech about English courage. By 1525, Henry VIII was infatuated with Anne Boleyn and dissatisfied that his marriage to Catherine had produced no surviving sons, leaving their daughter, Mary, as heir presumptive. When Pope Clement VII refused to annul the marriage, Henry defied him by assuming supremacy over religious matters. In 1533 their marriage was consequently declared invalid and Henry married Anne. Catherine refused to accept Henry as Supreme Head of the Church in England and considered herself the King’s rightful wife and queen. But she was acknowledged only as Dowager Princess of Wales by Henry. After being banished from court, she lived out the remainder of her life at Kimbolton Castle, and died there on 7 January 1536. English people held Catherine in high esteem, and her death set off tremendous mourning. The controversial book The Education of a Christian Woman by Juan Luis Vives, which claimed women have the right to an education, was commissioned by and dedicated to her. She successfully appealed for the lives of the rebels involved in the Evil May Day, for the sake of their families. Catherine also won widespread admiration by starting an extensive programme for the relief of the poor. She was a patron of Renaissance humanism, and a friend of the great scholars Erasmus of Rotterdam and Thomas More.

* Holliday Grainger as Katherine of Aragon

Picture this: Mean Girls except Philip IV of France is Regina, Clement V is Gretchen, Henry VII, Holy Roman Emperor is Karen, Edward II is Cady, and Janice Ian is the entire Knights Templar

the pope rap

so my wife (who was raised catholic) likes it when I get drunk and talk about popes. this is because 1) I am a delightful drunk and 2) i know a confusing amount about the history of the catholic church (especially considering that I am Jewish) and so since I am very tired, which is a bit like being drunk, I will share with you some of my favorite popes. with apologies to all devout catholics in the audience, what are you doing here, turn away now, abandon all hope ye who enter:

Pope Nope: Otherwise known as Pope Celestine V. Pope Nope was the founder of the Celestine Order. Pope Nope lived as a hermit in quiet seclusion and modesty.  Pope Nope absolutely did not want to be Pope.  After sending an angry letter to the Church saying they should pick a Pope ASAP (they’d been hedging on it for like two years), the Church said, ‘This is it. This is the guy.’ Pope Nope promptly tried to flee the country.  The Church sent people to physically drag him to Rome. One of his first edicts was to declare that the Pope was allowed to abdicate.  Surprisingly, he abdicated five months later.

Pope Douchebag:  Pope Boniface VIII.  Came on after Pope Nope. Declared first Catholic Party Times (jubilee) in Rome in 1300 (in an attempt to revitalize Rome in general, and yanno raise money, an ongoing theme in this story). This should’ve made him kinda cool, except he pissed of the King of France and the poet Dante Alighieri, who he sort of let get kicked out of Florence. This resulted in Dante Alighieri writing one of the most beautifully elaborate revenge fics in Western literature.  Now, Nope Douchebag (as a modern Dante would surely have called him)  wasn’t dead when The Divine Comedy was published, but Dante made sure that in Inferno, the chapter related to hell and all the lovely punishments waiting there, to have a character point to a flaming hole in the ground and say “AND THAT’S WHERE YOU’RE GOING, POPE DOUCHEBAG. THIS HOLE. IT WAS MADE FOR YOU,” so there’s that.

Pope Evil: Pope Alexander VI aka the Borgia Pope aka that guy you get into a slapfight with in Assassin’s Creed 2.  Alleged crimes include extreme amounts of nepotism, murder, rape, bribery, etc, etc.  He probably wasn’t actually necessarily as evil as everyone always says (most of the incest and murder stories were told by his political enemies) but bribery and nepotism was sort of just what you DID when you were Pope back in the day. He probably did not look like Jeremy Irons. He did, however, paint really tacky images of his favorite mistress all over the papal bed chambers which led to…

Pope Badass I:  aka Pope Julius II deciding ‘screw this I am NOT sleeping in a former Borgia love nest’ and so he decided to commission the building of Saint Peter’s Basilica aka one of the the biggest loudest holiest of holy ‘oh father in heaven how will we even do this?’ pieces of catholic architecture in the world.  Pope Badass did not believe in doing things half way. Pope Badass wanted to be remembered. He commissioned an assortment of remarkable artists at the time.  Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, like, a ton of ninja turtles. In the mean time, he also did little things like decide to retake the Papal states, the territory around the city of Rome, which the Church had lost over the last few centuries. How did he decide to do this? By ordering all the cardinals to suit up, get their armor on, go on a road trip, they were going to war.  If a local government didn’t do what he wanted fast enough? He excommunicated the whole city.  Pope Badass didn’t do anything half way.  He originally commissioned Michelangelo to build his future funeral tomb, but forever annoyed the grumpy artist because he kept pulling him away to work on new little side projects



the Sistine Chapel.


Party Pope: Pope Leo X, Medici Pope – yeah, from those Medici. Party Pope was not about to let being a member of the Catholic Church stop him from living the high life of Florentine nobility. Party Pope believed in huge banquets for all his friends and selling lots of indulgences to pay off that big basilica Pope Badass decided to build. Party Pope held a big banquet in which gold plates were thrown in the river. Party Pope had an actual real live pet elephant with red shoes. Party Pope kept conveniently putting off the letters written by a fellow by the name of Martin Luther, who kept writing him to be “uh, hey Party Pope, maybe you are partying a bit too hard, maybe you should like, cut down on that a little….” Party Pope did not stop partying.

Look, we’re not saying the Protestant Reformation was kind of his fault.


The Protestant Reformation was kind of his fault.

Pope Buzzkill: Pope Adrian VI. German. Didn’t change his name upon accepting the papacy. Arrived in the massive Roman hangover left by Party Pope. Decided “okay, yes, Catholics, we are partying too hard, let’s do something about that” and proceeded to try and pass a number of very strict laws and measures to try and curb the partying ways of the Church at that time. He was deeply unpopular for this. Because COME ON, Pope Buzzkill, it’s the RENAISSANCE.

He was so unpopular that, after his death, the Catholic Church did not elect another non-Italian Pope for some 500 years. Pope John Paul II. Yeah. As in the guy who was Pope 20 years ago.

They really didn’t like Pope Buzzkill.



France and The Holy Roman Empire are at war right now?

wait, why is Charles V coming over the scenic Italian countryside with all those really angry men

Yes, ladies and gentleman, through a general inability to manage the conflicting pressures from France and and the Holy Roman Empire, Pope Weenie wound up preciding 1527 over the Sack of Rome, in which the Holy Roman Emperor parked his expansive army in that big half constructed basilica that Pope Badass had decided to start building way back when.

Oh, and Pope Weenie didn’t grant Henry VIII that anullment he wanted. We’re not saying that the formation of the Anglican church was his fault. But it was kinda his fault.

Pope Badass II: Common lore says Pope Badass II aka Sixtus V got his start as an illiterate swineheard born to a peasant family in the Papal States. He rose his way up through the ranks through guile, beautiful oratory skills, and a will of iron. Pope Badass II was aware that as Pope, he did not have long on this earth, and he would get shit DONE.  When he looked at that unfinished basilica that Pope Badass I had started, Party Pope had sold indulgences to fund, and Pope Weenie had let troops run through, he said “You know what this needs? A finished dome.” He asked his architect how long this would take.

“Five years,” said his architect, trying to be optimistic. It would really take more like ten years, given all the work that still needed to go into and–

“Great,” said Pope Badass II, “Do it in two.”


Pope Badass II also is amazing for his response to the sinking of the Spanish Armada, in which Queen Elizabeth managed to blow up a ton of ships belonging to Spain, which was at that time only, you know, the most powerful catholic nation in Europe. Was Pope Badass II pissed at this defeat against protestant forces? Who knows, but HE ALSO SEEMED TO THINK THIS WAS THE FUNNIEST THING HE’D EVER HEARD AND PRETTY MUCH WENT AHAHAHA THIS WOMAN WHO OWNS HALF AN ISLAND JUST TOTALLY WIPED THE FLOOR WITH THE SPANISH THAT IS AMAZNG HE WOULD TOTALLY MARRY QUEEN ELIZABETH IF HE WEREN’T POPE.

“Imagine what progeny we would have!” <— pretty much the quote. yes, ladies and gentleman, this is the VICAR OF CHRIST declaring that he would totally do Queen Elizabeth I.

Sadly, Pope Badass I also did some things that were not so badass. He was responsible for a lot of the Catholic Church’s harsher stances on birth control and abortion, of which we still see many the effects of today, so perhaps this puts maybe a bit of a damper on the true badassery he could have otherwise attained.

But one cannot deny he had excellent taste in ladies.

And also he got them to finish that dang dome.

And that’s my Pope Rap. Please feel free to add to it if you are a giant nerd like me and have collected random trivia about medieval and renaissance artists and political figures.  Perhaps, now that I have written this, my wife will no longer have to hear me talk about this every time I have like, half an appletini.

Perhaps. Perhaps.

But probably not.

Detail of a miniature of a human-headed satanic dragon, representing the papacy of Urban VI whose election was contested and resulted in the appointment of the anti-pope Clement VII, from Joachim de Fiore’s Vaticinia de Pontificibus, Italy (Florence), 2nd quarter of the 15th century, Harley MS 1340, f. 8r


History meme - Catherine De Medici

Italian-born French queen, regent and mother of three kings of France. She was a powerful influence in 16th century France, particularly during the Wars of Religion.
Caterina Maria Romola di Lorenzo de Medici was born in Florence on 13 April 1519. Her father was Lorenzo de Medici, Duke of Urbino and ruler of Florence and her mother was Madeleine de la Tour d'Auvergne, cousin of Francis I, King of France.
Catherine’s mother died when she was two-weeks-old and her father soon afterwards. In 1533, at the age of 14, Catherine’s uncle Pope Clement VII arranged her marriage to the duke of Orléans, second son of the king of France.
A year after their marriage, the duke began a long affair with Diane de Poitiers. Diane remained a dominant force in his life for the next 25 years, leaving Catherine sidelined. It was not until ten years after their marriage that Catherine gave birth to their first child. This greatly improved the queen’s position and the couple eventually had seven surviving children.
In 1536, the duke of Orléans became heir to the throne. Eleven years later he was crowned Henry II of France. Unfortunately it was to be a short reign as Henry died in a jousting accident in 1559, thrusting Catherine onto the political stage. Their eldest son Francis was proclaimed king, but died after less than a year. Then in 1560, their second son Charles was crowned, aged just ten years old. Catherine acted as regent for the young king and as a result dominated Charles throughout his reign.
She at first adopted a conciliatory policy towards the Huguenots (French Protestants), but in 1562 civil war broke out in France, marking the beginning of the series of conflicts which became known as the French Wars of Religion.
In 1572, in an effort to bring reconciliation, Catherine arranged the marriage of her daughter Marguerite to the Protestant Henry, King of Navarre. During the wedding celebrations in Paris, the Huguenot leader, Coligny, was murdered, as were hundreds of other Protestants who had gathered for the wedding. This became known as the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, in which Catherine was probably involved.
Charles IX died in 1574 and Catherine’s favourite son Henry succeeded as Henry III of France. She continued to play a central role in government and made further fruitless attempts to reconcile the opposing sides in the ongoing civil war.
Catherine died on 5 January 1589 and was buried next to her husband in the church of St Denis in Paris.


This magnificent rock crystal vessel with portraits of Pope Clement VII (1478-1534) and Alessandro De’ Medici, Duke of Florence (1511-1537) Mannerist ornementation, compares with some of the finest hardstone carvings of the first half of the 16thcentury.  The body, lid and underside of this vessel were carved from a mineral, formed from silicon and oxygen, known as quartz.  Here, the mineral appears transparent and colourless, a type referred to as pure quartz or, more commonly, rock crystal.  The ornamental carvings, which covers the surface of the present vessel, is close to the work of Giovanni Bernardi (1494-1553), the celebrated gem-cutter and rock crystal engraver to the ducal Este and Medici courts, and to Pope Clement VII.

Research notes are based on Alain Truong’s extensive data.

Photo courtesy Sotheby’s

Pope Clement VII was once urged to ban coffee - those in favor of the ban called it “the devil’s drink.” After having a taste in order to make an informed decision, Pope Clement declared that it would be a sin to “let only misbelievers drink it.”


January 6th 1537: Alessandro de’Medici killed

On this day in 1537, Alessandro de’Medici, Duke of Florence, was murdered. Born in Florence in 1510, he was recognised as the illegitimate son of Florentine nobleman Lorenzo II de’Medici and an African slave named Simonetta da Collavechio. However, rumours suggested his father was actually Lorenzo’s cousin Giulio de’Medici, who went on to become Pope Clement VII. Alessandro’s mother was freed, thus, under Roman law, ensuring that her son was also classified as free. His dark complexion and African ancestry earned him the nickname ‘il Moro’, which translates as ‘the Moor’. In 1522, Alessandro became duke of Penna, and Giulio appointed a regent for Alessandro as leader of Florence. However, the Medici were forced to flee Florence when republican revolution broke out against their rule. In 1529, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V agreed to restore the Medici, nominating Alessandro as the first Duke of Florence. Alessandro was generally a popular leader for his concern for the poor and patronage of the arts, though his leadership style was also criticised as severe and repressive. He married the emperor’s illegitimate daughter Margeret, and his descendants married into eminent families throughout Europe. In January 1537, when he was twenty-six, Alessandro was murdered by his cousin and rival Lorenzino de’Medici, who was himself forced to flee Florence and was killed eleven years later. Alessandro de’Medici has received increased attention from historians in recent years, celebrating him as the first black head of state in European history.

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Giudizio Universale

1536-41, Cappella Sistina, Vaticano

affresco,13,7x12,2 m


Na ventina de anni dopo avè dipinto er soffitto Michelangelo torna in Cappella Sistina, chiamato da papa Clemente VII, e stavorta senza fà tante storie, je dipigne er Giudizzio Universale. E’ già su ‘a sessantina Michelangelo, ma nun se scompone, sale sull’imparcature e te fa sta paretina bella bella; e nun se scordamo che ner frattempo stava a sovrintenne ‘a costruzione de San Pietro, più antre cosette qui e là, ma se sa che lui era un genio e sapeva fà tutto, pittura, scurtura, architettura, poi quanno ciaveva dieci minuti libberi te scriveva un sonetto, e ce scommetto che era bono puro a fà ‘a ribboliita aa maniera toscana anche si li biografi me pare nun menzioneno er fatto.

Ad ogni modo, sto affresco è ‘a fine der monno: nun solo ner senso che è bello na cifra, ma che qui Michelangelo te fa vede er giorno der giudizzio: er monno è finito, er tempo s’è fermato, Dio ha chiuso i battenti e mo tocca vede gnuno come se posiziona. In arto Gesù, bello e giovane, che fa dii gesti tipo viggile urbano ma incazzato parecchio, che ogni murta sò cent’anni ner foco eterno, che decide chi va ndove: i boni se ponno accomodà su ‘e nuvolette, i cattivi cascheno giù all’inferno ndove li diavoli ‘i stanno a aspettà, Caronte co er remo in mano pronto a datte na botta sur culo si solo je provi a dì “lei nun sa chi sono io, riceverà na lettera dar mio avvocato!”. Sbàmmete!

Vicino a Gesù ce sta su madre, ‘a Madonna, che se strigne tutta che quasi quasi cià paura puro lei. Tutt’attorno li santi e in particolare li martiri, che ce fanno vede come quarmente fureno ammzzati in quanto cristiani. Tipo San Lorenzo caa graticola, che ‘o fecero arosto sur barbechiù; Santa Caterina caa ròta; e San Bartolomeo che ‘o scuioareno vivo poraccio, e che qua regge in mano popo ‘a pelle sua: e drento sta pelle, in quaa faccia stiracchiata, Michelangelo ce mise l’autoritratto suo, quasi a firmà er dipinto.

Ma ce sta puro un antro ritratto naa faccia de quer diavolaccio de Minosse che sta in fonno a destra, come spesso er cesso, e manna li peccatori alli vari piani d’iinferno arotolanno ‘a coda tante vorte quanto er numero der piano, e sta coda è un serpente che je sta a morde li cojoni; e cià puro l’orcchie de somaro che n’è popo un complimento: e ‘a faccia anfatti pare sia quella de Biaggio da Cesena che era er cerimoniere der papa e che se pensò de criticà er lavoro de Michelangelo: er quale immediatamente se vendicò dipignendolo all’Inferno. Subito Biaggio se annò a lamentà dar papa, je fece “Santità, ma anvedi che m’ha fatto Michelangelo, m’ha messo all’Inferno in mezzo alli diavoli, me faccia toje subito pe cortesia!”; ma er papa je rispose “Bè si fosse stato er Purgatorio, che è solo pe n’anticchia de tempo, tanto tanto: ma cioo sai che l’Inferno è pe sempre, quinni purtroppo taa pii in saccoccia e ce resti, me dispiace”.

Che poi ‘a critica der cerimoniere era perché dice Michelangelo aveva dipinto tutti gnudi e in bella vista, che nun era rispettoso. Ma Michelangelo volevà dì che de fronte ar giudizzio de Dio semo tutti uguali, come mamma cià fatto. Però, date le proteste, a na certa er papa fece mette ‘e braghe cioè ‘e mutanne ai gnudi più in vista, e er pittore Daniele da Vortera che eseguì sta censura fu anfatti detto “Er Braghettone”.

Mo, se potrebbero dì antre mille cose su sto dipinto, ma dati li tempi medi truzzi de sopportazione chiudemo, ricordanno solo che qui drento è ndo li cardinali eleggheno er papa: e je auguriamo che sto Giudizzio bello e teribbile che ‘i sovrasta durante er conclave je sia di ispirazione pe fà sempre ‘a cosa giusta.


joannalannister  asked:

Could you please tell me about all of your favorite historical ladies who did all the things that people always say women didn't do "back then"?

Oh yes, yes I can. Sit down and buckle up because you’re in for one hell of a ride.

If there’s one thing that makes me mad as hell, it’s people misunderstanding the role of women in history. It’s an easy assumption to make that in the past “women didn’t have the power to control kingdoms” due to the confines of gender roles. But it doesn’t change the fact that that is an erroneous assumption which is harmful to our contemporary understanding of women in history.

Why am I referencing an interview about a fictional television show set in a fantasy world, you may ask? I’m not here to complain about the various problems I have with Game of Thrones as an adaptation or the fact that it’s still being touted as “feminist” television. But this interview is a prime example of how these assumptions influence us as a society and our interpretations of the past as well as the damage these confined expectations of women can have.

Obviously this isn’t going to cover every woman everywhere at every point in history, that would be impossible. Also specifically this will be about MY faves so if anyone else’s fave isn’t here, it’s just purely due to personal preference, not that they didn’t contribute to history. (Also I only chose a few of my faves because I just got out of hospital and I’m having complications, sorry) For the sake of brevity, let me state that I am specifically dealing with some women from history who achieved a great deal in their respective times by crossing the traditional boundaries imposed upon them by men. This is not to say women who achieved a great deal within traditional gender confines are not important or contribute nothing to modern understanding of women’s history. The focus of this is specifically women who may have done that which was/is seen as specifically male in its domain.

Now that is all said and done, let’s get to the best part aka the ladies.

Keep reading


Queens consort of England: Anne Boleyn

There is some dispute over the year in which Anne was born – most likely between 1501 and 1507. Anne’s father was the courtier and diplomat, Sir Thomas Boleyn and her mother, Elizabeth, was the daughter of the Duke of Norfolk.

Anne spent some of her childhood and teenage years in Europe she was a lady-in-waiting to Archduchess Margaret in the Netherlands. In 1514, Anne’s father arranged for her to be a lady-in-waiting at the French court to Queen Mary, King Henry VIII’s younger sister. She later served Queen Claude of France for almost seven years.

On her return to England in 1522, Anne was appointed as lady-in-waiting to Henry VIII’s wife Catherine of Aragon. Anne’s striking looks and sophisticated manners earned her many admirers at court and by 1523 she was betrothed to Lord Henry Percy. However this relationship was cut short by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.

Before pursuing Anne, Henry VIII had already had an affair with her sister, Mary. Henry showered Anne and her family with titles and gifts. Anne’s ambitious father was created Earl of Wiltshire and her brother, Lord George Rochford, was appointed to the Royal Privy Chamber.

Henry VIII had grown tired of his wife, as she had not produced a male heir. He appealed to Pope Clement VII for an annulment to his marriage so that he could marry Anne. The Pope refused to annul the marriage as he was afraid to go against the will of Catherine’s nephew Charles V, The Holy Roman Emperor.

Although she resisted Henry VIII’s advances, by 1533 Anne was pregnant with her first child. Henry was forced into action. In January 1533 Henry VIII and Anne were married in a secret ceremony and Henry broke with the Catholic Church. He passed the Act of Supremacy, declaring that he was the head of the English church. In June 1533 Anne was crowned Queen of England in a lavish ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

Henry and Anne’s daughter Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth I) was born in September 1533. Two more pregnancies ended in miscarriage, in the summer of 1534 and in January 1536. When Henry discovered the second baby had been a boy, he became convinced the marriage was cursed. Henry was still desperate for a male heir and he blamed Anne for this misfortune, so he looked for a way to end his marriage.

In April 1536, Sir Francis Weston, William Brereton, Mark Smeaton, Sir Henry Norris and Anne’s brother Lord Rochford were arrested on suspicion of having had relations with the Queen.

Anne was investigated by a secret commission which included her father, her uncle the Duke of Norfolk and Thomas Cromwell. On 2 May 1536 Anne was arrested on charges of adultery with five men including her own brother, Lord George Rochford. At the trial, presided over by the Duke of Norfolk, Anne was accused of adultery and witchcraft. She was convicted and imprisoned in the Tower of London.

On 19th May Anne was led from her quarters to Tower Green where, spared the axe, she was granted the ‘mercy’ of beheading by a French swordsman. Anne was the first English queen to be publicly executed. Rather than deny her guilt, she used her final moments to deliver a speech praising King Henry VIII, stating that, “a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord.”

13 April 1519 - birth of Catherine de' Medici

On this day, 497 years ago, Catherine de’ Medici was born.

Catherine was the daughter of Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici, Duke of Urbino, and Madeleine de La Tour d’Auvergne, a Bourbon princess related to many of the French nobility. Orphaned within days, Catherine was highly educated, trained, and disciplined by nuns in Florence and Rome and married in 1533 by her uncle, Pope Clement VII, to Henry, Duke of Orléans, who inherited the French crown from his father, Francis I, in April 1547. Artistic, energetic, and extraverted, as well as discreet, courageous, and gay, Catherine was greatly esteemed at the dazzling court of Francis I, from which she derived both her political attitudes and her passion for building. Of the chateaus she designed herself - including the Tuileries - Chenonceaux was her unfinished masterpiece.

In spite of Henry’s abiding attachment to his mistress Diane de Poitiers, Catherine’s marriage was not unsuccessful and, after 10 anxious years, she bore him 10 children, of whom 4 boys and 3 girls survived. She herself supervised their education. Thus occupied, Catherine lived privately though she was appointed regent in 1552 during Henry’s absence at the siege of Metz. Her ability and eloquence were acclaimed after the Spanish victory of Saint-Quentin in Picardy in 1557, possibly the origin of her perpetual fear of Spain, which remained, through changing circumstances, the touchstone of her judgments. It is essential to understand this in order to discern the coherence of her career.

Catherine’s first great political crisis came in July 1559 upon the accidental death of Henry II, a traumatic bereavement from which it is doubtful that she ever recovered. Under her son, Francis II, power was retained by the Guise brothers. Thus began her lifelong struggle - explicit in her correspondence - with these extremists who, supported by Spain and the papacy, sought to dominate the crown and extinguish its independence in the commingled interests of European Catholicism and personal aggrandizement. It is also necessary to understand this political struggle of the Catholic crown with its own ultramontane extremists and to perceive its fluctuations in changing circumstances, in order to realize the fundamental consistency of Catherine’s career. Her essentially moderate influence was first perceptible during the Conspiracy of Amboise (March 1560), an instance of tumultuous petitioning by the Huguenot gentry, primarily against Guisard persecution in the name of the King. Her merciful Edict of Amboise (March 1560) was followed in May by that of Romorantin, which distinguished heresy from sedition, thereby detaching faith from allegiance.

Catherine’s second great political crisis came with the premature death on December 5, 1560, of Francis II, whose royal authority the Guises had monopolized. Catherine succeeded in obtaining the regency for Charles IX, with Antoine de Bourbon, king of Navarre and first prince of the blood, as lieutenant general, to whom the Protestants vainly looked for leadership.

The 10 years from 1560 to 1570 were, politically, the most important of Catherine’s life. They witnessed the first three civil wars and her desperate struggle against the Catholic extremists for the independence of the crown, the maintenance of peace, and the enforcement of limited toleration. In 1561, with the support of the distinguished chancellor Michel de L’Hospital, she began by trying to propitiate the leaders of both religious factions, to effect reforms and economies by unassailably traditional methods, and to settle the religious conflict. Religious reconciliation was the conveners’ purpose of the Colloquy of Poissy (September–November 1561). Catherine appointed a mixed commission of moderates that devised two formulas of consummate ambiguity, by which they hoped to resolve the basic, Eucharist controversy. Possibly Catherine’s most concrete achievement was the Edict of January 1562, which followed the failure of reconciliation. This afforded the Calvinists licensed coexistence with specific safeguards. Unlike the proposals of Poissy, the edict was law, which the Protestants accepted and the Catholics rejected. This rejection was one basic element in the outbreak of civil war in 1562, in which - as she had predicted - Catherine fell, politically, into the clutches of the extremists, because the Catholic crown might protect its Protestant subjects in law but could not defend them in arms. Thenceforth the problem of religion was one of power, public order, and administration.

Catherine ended the first civil war in March 1563 by the Edict of Amboise, an attenuated version of the Edict of January. In August 1563 she declared the King of age in the Parlement of Rouen and, from April 1564 to January 1566, conducted him on a marathon itinerary round France. Its principal purpose was to execute the edict and, through a meeting at Bayonne in June 1565, to seek to strengthen peaceful relations between the crown and Spain and to negotiate for Charles’s marriage to Elizabeth of Austria. During the period 1564–68, Catherine was unable, for complex reasons, to withstand the cardinal Lorraine, statesman of the Guises, who largely provoked the second and third civil wars. She quickly terminated the second (September 1567–March 1568) with the Peace of Longjumeau, a renewal of Amboise. But she was unable to avert its revocation (August 1568), which heralded the third civil war. She was not primarily responsible for the more far-reaching Treaty of Saint-Germain (August 1570), but she succeeded in disgracing the Guises.

For the next two years Catherine’s policy was one of peace and general reconciliation. This she envisaged in terms of the marriage of her daughter Marguerite to the young Protestant leader, Henry of Navarre (later Henry IV of France), and alliance with England through the marriage of her son Henry, duc d’Anjou, or, failing him, his younger brother François, duc d’Alençon, to Queen Elizabeth. The complexity of Catherine’s position during these years cannot be briefly explained. To some extent she was eclipsed by Louis of Nassau and a group of Flemish exiles and youthful Protestants who surrounded the King and urged him to make war upon Spain in the Netherlands, which Catherine inevitably resisted.

The issue of war or peace in the Netherlands was closely linked with the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day in Paris on August 23–24, 1572. Upon this occasion, following an abortive attempt against the life of the admiral Gaspard de Coligny, he and a number of his principal lieutenants, together with several thousand Huguenots, were killed. Catherine traditionally has been blamed for these events, which have therefore fashioned the interpretation not only of her subsequent, but frequently also of her previous, career, resulting in the familiar myth of the wicked Italian queen. There are two principal reasons for this. First, after some hesitation and inconsistency, the King assumed the responsibility by a declaration of August 26 in the Parlement of Paris, and “the crown” has been taken to mean Catherine. The second reason for the traditional inculpation of Catherine is the work of the pamphleteers and the polemical nature of the historiography of the event. It is impossible to establish the origin of the assault upon Coligny, but, as a member of the court - the royal family and the council - Catherine was among those who appear to have authorized not the massacre itself but the death of the admiral and his principal followers. This and the subsequent royal declaration of August 26 are both explained by the danger of the situation - after the unsuccessful assault upon Coligny - in which the infuriated Huguenots allegedly threatened the court with extinction and the kingdom with war.

After the Massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day, Catherine was more concerned with the election of Anjou to the throne of Poland (May 1573) than the prosecution of the fourth civil war. Upon the death of Charles IX a year later, she assumed the regency with the support of the Parlement until the return from Poland of Henry III in August. Catherine placed high hopes in her favourite, Henry, for the regeneration of France, for which she longed, but not without simultaneous misgivings, knowing his weakness of character and his previous subjection to the Catholics. For these reasons Catherine neither sought to dominate Henry nor to rule in his place but rather suffered him to exploit her and strove with unremitting pains to supply his deficiencies. Until the death of Alençon in 1584, much of her attention was devoted to restraining his dangerous ambitions, which again threatened to involve France in hostilities with Spain. After the Treaty of Joinville (December 1584) between the Guises and Spain, at Henry’s bidding, Catherine, though gravely ill, returned to this dual threat. But after three months of continuous effort, in order to avert a public breach between the crown and the Guises, she was obliged, by the Treaty of Nemours (July 1585), to commit the King to making war against the Huguenots. Having failed with the Guises, the crown turned to Navarre, the Protestant leader who, as heir presumptive, had an interest in the preservation of the throne. In July 1586 Catherine undertook the arduous journey to see him at Saint-Brice near Cognac. But there was nothing to which Navarre could safely commit himself. Thus, despite the heroic efforts of Catherine’s old age, France was sinking into chaos when she died at Blois eight months before the murder of Henry III. Nevertheless, her ultimate achievement was to have saved the kingdom just long enough to ensure the succession of the Bourbon Henry IV, by whom the royal authority was restored.

Anne Boleyn (circa 1501-1536)

Art by Julia (tumblr)

Queen of England, Second wife of Henry VIII, Mother of Elizabeth I

Born to a prominent English family, Anne spent her formative years at the French court as a maid of honor to Mary Tudor and Claude of France.  When Anne returned to England in 1522, she was a stylish and cosmopolitan young woman with numerous suitors. 

In 1525, Anne caught the eye of Henry VIII who had previously been involved with her sister.  Anne refused to become his mistress and soon Henry attempted to have his marriage annulled by the Catholic Church.

By December 1532, Anne was pregnant by the still married Henry VIII.  Enamored with Anne and afraid to miss his chance at a legitimate male heir, Henry secretly married Anne in early 1533.  Within five months, the Archbishop of Canterbury annulled Henry’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon and formally validated Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn.  In response, Pope Clement VII excommunicated Henry VIII and Henry declared himself head of the Church of England.

Anne was crowned queen in July 1533 and gave birth to her daughter Elizabeth that September.  Aware that a daughter did not secure her position, Anne soon became pregnant again but her next three pregnancies ended in miscarriages or stillbirths.  Around the time Catherine of Aragon died in 1536, Henry began paying attention to another young woman at court, Jane Seymour.  As Anne and Henry’s relationship began to unraveled, enemies lined up against the unpopular queen. 

At Henry’s behest, Anne was investigated for the high treason of cuckolding a king in April 1536.  Tried before a jury that included her uncle, Anne was found guilty on May 15, 1536.  Four days later she was publicly beheaded.  Her last words were:

Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul.

The Pope Urges Henry VIII to abandon Anne Boleyn

On the 11th of July 1533, Pope Clement VII declared that Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon was still valid and legal. That meant that the King of England’s marriage to Anne Boleyn was null and void.

This is an excerpt from Letters and Papers (the source is Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 6, 1533):

Sentence of Clement VII against Henry VIII, declaring his divorce from Katharine and marriage with Anne Boleyn null; and pronouncing the King to have incurred the greater excommunication, but suspending the declaration of the same till the end of September.”

Later, in Letters and Papers, we find:

“On the 11th of this July, the Pope in Consistory pronounced a sentence restoring the Queen to her royal state, annulling the King’s marriage with Ana, whose children are declared illegitimate, and declaring that the King is excommunicate, and has incurred the penalties contained in the briefs.

The Queen’s agents, seeing that the principal cause was not despatched in the last Consistory, presented the other remisorias, that matters might be arranged during the vacation, and the expedition insisted on at the next audiences. It is thought it will be shortly obtained.

A term was assigned to the King, until 1 Oct., for him to present any processes or writings of which he intends to make use.”

After checking the validity of Henry’s marriage, the Roman Curia – the central body that assists the pope in the exercise of his supreme pastoral office – stated that Henry’s marriage to Catherine was legal. 

And so the pope was able to make the final decision and begin to threat the King of England with excommunication. In Clement’s opinion and in the eyes of the whole Catholic Europe, Henry was still married to Catherine of Aragon. For that reason, the pope urged the King of England to abandon his pregnant Anne Boleyn and return to his true wife, Catherine of Aragon until September 1533.

Upon learning that a sentence of excommunication hung over him, Henry behaved defiantly and showed that he didn’t care about all these warnings and threats. Henry VIII wasn’t going to abandon Anne Boleyn who was expected to deliver a long-awaited son for the king. He would never bow to the pope’s authority again, and the religious reforms in England would continue. Henry would be eventually excommunicated in the 17th of December 1538.

I dedicate this to the unlucky princess of the Alhambra, who loved Granada so much.

Catherine of Aragon (Castilian: Catalina) was Queen of England from 1509 until 1533 as the first wife of King Henry VIII; she was previously Princess of Wales as the wife of Prince Arthur, Henry’s brother.

Catherine was born at the Archbishop’s Palace in Alcalá de Henares near Madrid, on the night of 16 December 1485, the youngest surviving child of King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabel I of Castile. She was descended, on her maternal side, from the English royal house; her great-grandmother Catherine of Lancaster, after whom she was named.

Catherine was three years old when she was betrothed to Prince Arthur, heir apparent to the English throne. They married in 1501, and Arthur died five months later. In 1507, she held the position of ambassador for the Spanish Court in England, becoming the first female ambassador in European history. Catherine subsequently married Arthur’s younger brother, the recently succeeded Henry VIII, in 1509. For six months in 1513, she served as regent of England while Henry VIII was in France. During that time the English won the Battle of Flodden, an event in which Catherine played an important part. 

By 1525, Henry VIII was infatuated with his mistress, Anne Boleyn, and dissatisfied that his marriage to Catherine had produced no surviving sons, leaving their daughter, the future Mary I of England, as heiress presumptive at a time when there was no established precedent for a woman on the throne. He sought to have their marriage annulled, setting in motion a chain of events that led to England’s schism with the Catholic Church. When Pope Clement VII refused to annul the marriage, Henry defied him by assuming supremacy over religious matters. In 1533 their marriage was declared invalid and Henry married Anne on the judgement of clergy in England, without reference to the Pope. Catherine refused to accept Henry as Supreme Head of the Church of England and considered herself the King’s rightful wife and queen, attracting much popular sympathy. Despite this, she was acknowledged only as Dowager Princess of Wales by Henry. After being banished from court, she lived out the remainder of her life at Kimbolton Castle, and died there on 7 January 1536. Catherine’s English subjects held her in high esteem, and her death set off tremendous mourning among the English people. 

Catherine was a patron of Renaissance humanism, and a friend of the great scholars Erasmus of Rotterdam and Thomas More. Catherine was educated by a tutor, Alessandro Geraldini, who was a clerk in Holy Orders. As a child she studied religion, the classics, Latin histories, canon and civil law, heraldry, and genealogy. She had a strong religious upbringing and developed a faith that would play a major role in later life. She learned to speak, read and write in Spanish and Latin, and spoke French and Greek. She was also taught domestic skills, such as needlepoint, lace-making, embroidery, music and dancing. Catherine also won widespread admiration by starting an extensive programme for the relief of the poor.

Catherine’s religious dedication increased as she aged, as did her interest in academics. She continued to broaden her knowledge and provide training for her daughter. Education among women became fashionable, partly because of Catherine’s influence. 

A note: Catherine was of a very fair complexion, had blue eyes, and had a hair colour that was between reddish-blonde and auburn like her mother Isabel and her sisters (with exception of Joanna who was a brunette). However she’s sometimes always portrayed in movies with stereotypical Spanish traits of dark hair and eyes as well an olive complexion. Dear producers, please stop this. You just have to look at her pictures.

Isolda Dychauk would be perfect to play her.