rudolph ii


Cermonial saddle cloth

Unknown, made in Prague last quarter of the 16th century / Velvet, embroidered in golden thread with “bouillon” stitch; decorated with precious stones, silver mounts with enamel and silver-gilt motifs. / Researchers presume after its embroidered ornamentation that it is either of Spanish origin, or it was made in the Prague court of Emperor Rudolph II (1576–1612).

Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest

                                           CODEX GIGAS

It is the largest extant medieval manuscript. It is assumed to have been created in the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice in Bohemia (Czech Republic). It was probably written in the first third of the XIII century. In 1648 during the Thirty Years War, the work was taken and is preserved at the National Library in Stockholm, Sweden.

is also known as the “Devil’s Bible” for the great illustration of the devil contained inside and why according to a legend, the scribe was a monk who broke his monastic vows and was sentenced to be walled up alive. In order to avoid this penalthy he promised to create in one day a book to glorify the monastery (the story stems from the fact that it was the medieval belief that the copying of the texts was a privileged way for the atonement of their sins). Near midnight, he understood that his task was not possible, so he made a prayer to Lucifer asking him to help him finish the book in exchange of his soul. The devil completed the manuscript and the monk added the devil’s picture out of gratitude for his aid. In popular fiction, the 8 missing pages are rumored to contain an apocalyptic text called “ The Devil’s Prayer”.

It is contained in a skin covered with wooden cover, with metal decorations.

measures 92 centimeters long, 50 wide and 22 thick and weighs 75 kilograms. initially it contained 320 pages of vellum, but 8 of these were removed.

The code seems to have been created by a certain Herman the recluse of the Benedictine monastery Podlažice destroyed in the XV century. The code indicated 1229 as the year of completion. The book appeared later in the monastery of Sedlec and then purchased from that of Brenov. From 1477 to 1593 it was preserved in the library of a monastery in Broumov until it was not moved to Prague in 1594 became part of the collection of Rudolph II of Habsburg.

At the end of the Thirty Years War in 1648 the whole of Rudolf II collection was taken by the Swedish army.

It contains a full transcript of the Bible comes almost entirely from the “Vulgate”, except the Acts of the Apostles and the Revelation of St. John, taken from the Old Latin.

Also it includes:

1) Etymologiae of Isidore of Seville

2) Two of historical works of Josephus (Jewish Antiquities and the Jewish War)

3) a history of Bohemia Cosmas of Prague

4) various treaties

5) list of the monks of the monastery Podlazicama

6) spells

7) the greek alphabet, Cyrillic and Hebrew.

The book is written in Latin.

The manuscript includes thumbnails in red, blue, yellow, green and gold. The initial capital letters are illuminated and often occupy the entire page. writing is always the same from start to finish, the handwriting is the same and this did suggest that the manuscript was written in a short period and by the same person. Some scholars think that may be the work of one man who has worked for over 20 years.

 p. 577 or Folio 209 recto: contains an image of the Devil to the entire page. Some pages are written on blackened sheets different from the others. Directly opposite the devil is a full page depiction of the Kingdom of Heaven. Several pages before this are written on a blackened parchment with gloomy character, different from the rest. The reason for this is that the pages are made of vellum. Vellum tans when exposed to ultraviolet light.

Image: the Devil at page 577 in the Codex Gigas

Imperial Crown of Austria

This is the crown that was worn by the Holy Roman Emperors from its creation, in 1602, until the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in 1806, when the crown became the crown of the Austrian Empire. The circlet of the crown contains squares of diamonds and lines of large pearls. The mitre of the crown also contains depictions of the Emperor who had it made, Rudolph II, mostly showing scenes from his coronation. This was done in attempt to symbolise the divine right to rule. The arch of the crown contains more diamonds and it is topped with a blue-green emerald, which represents heaven. The crown is now displayed at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, along with other regalia. 

Born to be Wild

This young fellow’s name is Don Julius Caesar d'Austria, or Don Carlos. The Bastard. Really, his father Rudolph II was unmarried, and his mother, a beautiful Italian mistress by the name of Caterina de Strada, loved making little illegitimate imps. Don Julius had a special place in Rudolph’s heart, and the emperor made sure that his son received a noble education, complete with his own castle! Wow, sounds nice, right? Let it be known that these are historical Hapsburgs we’re talking about. Don Julius was a royal mess. Plagued with madness, alcoholism, and possible schizophrenia, not to mention increasing sadistic tendencies, he and a group of friends terrorized his homeland until Rudolph had to put him somewhere else. This licentious little twat enjoyed indulging in unrequited sexy time and continued to do so in Český Krumlov, a city in Southern Bohemia, where his father held the title of king. He had to be babysat by the community, and was held ‘prisoner’ in the Rosemburg castle. Everyone there hated him.

So here’s the drama. Don Julius began having the hots for a barber’s daughter, Marketa Pichlerova, and demanded that they spend time together. Well at this point his madness had increased tenfold and his attention very much spent so one day he just stabs her. Not only that, but he DEFENESTRATES her. No, this is not the Defenestration of Prague, but the Defenestration of Český Krumlov, only a few modern hours in length away from the center of the Czech Republic. Luckily by the fate of the gods she landed in a pile of rubbish outside the castle and lives. Where’s Rudolph II? Ignoring the complaints all the way in safe Vienna.

When Don Julius finds out she is alive things get a little dirtier, or should I say bloodier. Reconciliation came nearly by force because Don Julius is a bad boy who wants what he can’t have. This time he takes poor Marketa and cuts her head off, then continued to brutually dice her up. He experiences another short cirtcuit and turns himself into a filthy rabid creature. The town’s pretty much fed up and in the end, it was either his decreasing health or assassination that ended his horrible spell over the region.

Ana Dorotea, Daughter of Rudolph II, a Nun at the Convent of the Descalzas Reales, Madrid

by Peter Paul Rubens

Date painted: 1628

Oil on canvas, 73 x 65.4 cm

Collection: English Heritage, The Wellington Collection, Apsley House