Council of Mantua (1459)

Last updated
Pius II, convenor of the council. Pintoricchio 012.jpg
Pius II, convenor of the council.

The Council of Mantua of 1459, [1] or Congress of Mantua, was a religious meeting convoked by Pope Pius II, who had been elected to the Papacy in the previous year and was engaged in planning war against the Ottoman Turks, who had taken Constantinople in 1453. His call went out to the rulers of Europe, in an agonized plea to turn from internecine warfare [2] to face Christendom's common enemy.

Pope Pius II pope

Pope Pius II, born Enea Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini was Pope from 19 August 1458 to his death in 1464. He was born at Corsignano in the Sienese territory of a noble but impoverished family. His longest and most enduring work is the story of his life, the Commentaries, which is the only autobiography ever written by a reigning pope.

The Ottoman Turks were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who formed the base of the state's military and ruling classes. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı, from the house of Osman I, the founder of the dynasty that ruled the Ottoman Empire for its entire 624 years. After the expansion from its home in Bithynia, the Ottoman principality began incorporating other Turkish-speaking Muslims and non-Turkish Christians, becoming the Ottoman Turks and ultimately the Turks of the present. The Ottoman Turks blocked all land routes to Europe by conquering the city of Constantinople, the capital city of the Byzantine–East Roman Empire, and Europeans had to find other ways to trade with Eastern countries.

Constantinople capital city of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, the Latin and the Ottoman Empire

Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Byzantine Empire, and also of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261), until finally falling to the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). It was reinaugurated in 324 from ancient Byzantium as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great, after whom it was named, and dedicated on 11 May 330. The city was located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul.


Process of the Council of 1459

Ludovico Trevisan, participant in the war congress. Andrea Mantegna - Cardinal Lodovico Trevisan - WGA13953.jpg
Ludovico Trevisan, participant in the war congress.

Pius entered Mantua on 27 May; his long progress to the place of assembly resembled a triumphal procession. He opened the council on 1 June and waited in Mantua as the guest of Ludovico III Gonzaga until September for the various representatives to assemble. On 26 September he called for a new crusade against the Ottomans. The refugee Cardinal Bessarion and Cardinal Juan de Torquemada were in attendance. The Duke of Burgundy was represented at the Council by the duke of Clèves, who brought in his train the young Burgundian cleric Ferry de Clugny. The humanist Isotta Nogarola wrote and dispatched to Pope Pius an oration favoring a crusade.

Mantua Comune in Lombardy, Italy

Mantua is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy, and capital of the province of the same name.

Juan de Torquemada (cardinal) Catholic cardinal

Juan de Torquemada, O.P., , Spanish ecclesiastic, was born at Valladolid, and was educated in that city.

Philip the Good 15th-century Duke of Burgundy

Philip the Good was Duke of Burgundy as Philip III from 1419 until his death. He was a member of a cadet line of the Valois dynasty, to which all the 15th-century kings of France belonged. During his reign, Burgundy reached the apex of its prosperity and prestige and became a leading center of the arts. Philip is known in history for his administrative reforms, his patronage of Flemish artists such as Jan van Eyck and Franco-Flemish composers such as Gilles Binchois, and the capture of Joan of Arc. In political affairs, he alternated between alliances with the English and the French in an attempt to improve his dynasty's position. As ruler of Flanders, Brabant, Limburg, Artois, Hainaut, Holland, Zeeland, Friesland and Namur, he played an important role in the history of the Low Countries.

The painter Mantegna had been invited to Mantua by Ludovico in 1457; although remaining in Padua, he painted the Agony in the Garden that is in the National Gallery, London, for its Podestà; in Mantegna's picture, the disciples sleep in Gethsemane, while Jerusalem is envisaged as Constantinople, with the rising crescent moon signifying its capture by the Turk. [3] Long after the pope's death, the artist Pinturicchio painted the convocation of the council among the scene's from Pius' life on the walls of the Piccolomini Library in Siena Cathedral.

Andrea Mantegna Italian Renaissance painter

Andrea Mantegna was an Italian painter, a student of Roman archeology, and son-in-law of Jacopo Bellini. Like other artists of the time, Mantegna experimented with perspective, e.g. by lowering the horizon in order to create a sense of greater monumentality. His flinty, metallic landscapes and somewhat stony figures give evidence of a fundamentally sculptural approach to painting. He also led a workshop that was the leading producer of prints in Venice before 1500.

Padua Comune in Veneto, Italy

Padua is a city and comune in Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 214,000. The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area (PATREVE) which has a population of c. 2,600,000.

Podestà high officials in many Italian cities beginning in the later Middle Ages

Podestà is the name given to certain high officials in many Italian cities beginning in the later Middle Ages. Mainly it meant the chief magistrate of a city state, the counterpart to similar positions in other cities that went by other names, e.g. rettori ("rectors"), but it could also mean the local administrator, who was the representative of the Holy Roman Emperor. Currently, Podestà is the title of mayors in Italian-speaking municipalities of Graubünden in Switzerland.

Criticism and effects

Not all the leaders of the Church were in favor of a Crusade. The Venetian Cardinal Ludovico Trevisan, patriarch of Aquileia, met Pius in Siena, 16 March, and followed the pope to Mantua, although he opposed the aims of the Council. [4]

Ludovico Trevisan Catholic cardinal

Ludovico Trevisan was an Italian catholic prelate, who was the Chamberlain of the Apostolic Camera, Patriarch of Aquileia and Captain General of the Church. He succeeded his rival Giovanni Vitelleschi, a fellow cardinal of military talent and inclination, as bishop of Traù and metropolitan bishop of Florence. Trevisan was also known as the Cardinal of Aquileia and the Cardinal Camerlengo.

By the time the Council was disbanded in January 1460, an ineffectual call for a new crusade against the Infidel had been decided upon, and proclaimed by Pius on 14 January. One of the only European rulers to fully endorse the Crusade was Vlad III, though he was too preoccupied defending his native Wallachia to contribute troops. [5] The paper crusade was to last for three years and was to prove ineffectual. Pius would die in Ancona, making one last effort to launch this campaign by his own example.

Crusades Military campaigns of Western Christians in the Middle Ages against Muslims and others

The Crusades were a series of religious wars sanctioned by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The most commonly known Crusades are the campaigns in the Eastern Mediterranean aimed at recovering the Holy Land from Muslim rule, but the term "Crusades" is also applied to other church-sanctioned campaigns. These were fought for a variety of reasons including the suppression of paganism and heresy, the resolution of conflict among rival Roman Catholic groups, or for political and territorial advantage. At the time of the early Crusades the word did not exist, only becoming the leading descriptive term around 1760.

Infidel term used in certain religions for one who has no religious beliefs

Infidel is a term used in certain religions for those accused of unbelief in the central tenets of their own religion, for members of another religion, or for the irreligious.

Wallachia Historical and geographical region of Romania

Wallachia or Walachia is a historical and geographical region of Romania. It is situated north of the Lower Danube and south of the Southern Carpathians. Wallachia is traditionally divided into two sections, Muntenia and Oltenia. Wallachia as a whole is sometimes referred to as Muntenia through identification with the larger of the two traditional sections.

Historians of the Tarot like Heinrich Brockhaus [6] have asserted that the so-called Tarocchi di Mantegna were devised and made during the sitting of this council.

Tarot Cards used for games or for divination

The tarot is a pack of playing cards, used from the mid-15th century in various parts of Europe to play games such as Italian tarocchini, French tarot and Austrian Königrufen. Many of these tarot card games are still played today. In the late 18th century, some Tarot packs began to be used in parallel for divination in the form of tarotology and cartomancy and, later, specialist packs were developed for such occult purposes.

Notes and references

  1. There was a Council of Mantua in 1064 and a Council of Mantua in 1537.
  2. Though the Wars in Lombardy had been ended by the Peace of Lodi (1454), England was convulsed in the Wars of the Roses, and the Thirteen Years' War was pitting the Prussian cities and the local nobility against the Teutonic Knights, whose support would be crucial in any concerted action against the Turk.
  3. J. H. Whitfield, "Mantegna and Constantinople" The Burlington Magazine119 No. 886 (January 1977), p. 41.
  4. Salvador Miranda, "The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church": Ludovico Trevisano
  5. Treptow, Kurt W. (2000). Vlad III Dracula: the life and times of the historical Dracula. The Center for Romanian Studies. ISBN   973-98392-2-3
  6. Brockhaus, "Ein edles Geduldspiel: "Die Leitung der Welt oder die Himmelsleiter" die sogenannten Taroks Mantegnas. Vom Jahre 1459-60" Miscellanea di Storia dell'arte in onore di Igino Benvenuto Supino, (Florence) 1933,pp 397-416 (On-line text (German)). "Placed edge to edge, they form a symbolic ladder leading from Heaven to earth", wrote Jean Seznec (The Survival of the Pagan Gods, Princeton University Press, 1940:139).

Related Research Articles

Mehmed the Conqueror Ottoman sultan

Mehmed II, commonly known as Mehmed the Conqueror, was an Ottoman Sultan who ruled from August 1444 to September 1446, and then later from February 1451 to May 1481. In Mehmed II's first reign, he defeated the crusade led by John Hunyadi after the Hungarian incursions into his country broke the conditions of the truce Peace of Szeged. When Mehmed II ascended the throne again in 1451 he strengthened the Ottoman navy and made preparations to attack Constantinople.

Pope Pius III 16th-century Catholic pope

Pope Pius III, born Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 22 September 1503 to his death. He had one of the shortest pontificates in papal history.

Ludovico III Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua second margrave of Mantua

Ludovico III Gonzaga of Mantua, also spelled Lodovico was the ruler of the Italian city of Mantua from 1444 to his death in 1478.

Vlad II Dracul Duke of Wallachia

Vlad II, also known as Vlad Dracul or Vlad the Dragon, was Voivode of Wallachia from 1436 to 1442, and again from 1443 to 1447. Born an illegitimate son of Mircea I of Wallachia, he spent his youth at the court of Sigismund of Luxembourg, who made him a member of the Order of the Dragon in 1431. Sigismund also recognized him as the lawful voivode of Wallachia, allowing him to settle in the nearby Transylvania. Vlad could not assert his claim during the life of his half-brother, Alexander I Aldea, who acknowledged the suzerainty of the Ottoman Sultan, Murad II.

Vlad the Impaler Prince of Wallachia (d. 1476 to 1477)

Vlad III, known as Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Dracula, was voivode of Wallachia three times between 1448 and his death.

Duchy of Mantua

The Duchy of Mantua was a duchy in Lombardy, Northern Italy, subject to the Holy Roman Empire.

Tolfa Comune in Lazio, Italy

Tolfa is a town and comune of the Metropolitan City of Rome, in the Lazio region of central Italy; it lies to the ENE of Civitavecchia by road.

Night Attack at Târgoviște battle fought between forces of Vlad III the Impaler of Wallachia and Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire

The Night Attack at Târgoviște was a battle fought between forces of Vlad III Basarab the Impaler Prince of Wallachia and Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire on Thursday, June 17, 1462.

Gregory of Heimburg was a German jurist, humanist and statesman.

Juan Carvajal (cardinal) Catholic cardinal

Juan Carvajal (Carvagial) was a Spanish Cardinal. Though he began his career as a lawyer and judge in the papal administration, he spent most of his active life travelling as a diplomat in Germany and eastern Europe, attempting to arrange a crusade against the Ottoman Turks. He was particularly active in Bohemia and Hungary, where he also employed his powers to fight the Hussites. He was a mainstay in trying to preserve the institution of the Papacy from the Conciliarism of the Council of Basel.

Ottoman–Hungarian wars war

The Ottoman–Hungarian Wars were a series of battles between the Ottoman Empire and the medieval Kingdom of Hungary. Following the Byzantine Civil War, the Ottoman capture of Gallipoli, and the decisive Battle of Kosovo, the Ottoman Empire was poised to conquer the entirety of the Balkans and also sought and expressed desire to expand further north into Central Europe beginning with the Hungarian lands.

Francesco Coppini or Francesco dei Coppini was an Italian prelate.

<i>Portrait of Cardinal Ludovico Trevisan</i> painting by Andrea Mantegna

The Portrait of Cardinal Ludovico Trevisan is a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna, dated to c. 1459-1460.

<i>Portrait of Francesco Gonzaga</i> painting by Andrea Mantegna

Portrait of Francesco Gonzaga is a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna. It is housed in the National Museum of Capodimonte, Naples, Italy.

Francesco Gonzaga (1444–1483) Catholic cardinal

Francesco Gonzaga was an Italian bishop and a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church during the reigns of Popes Pius II, Paul II and Sixtus IV.

Burkhard von Weisbriach was a German Roman Catholic cardinal and Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg from 1461 until his death.

San Francesco (Mantua) Roman Catholic church in Mantua, Italy

The Chiesa di San Francesco is a Roman Catholic church located in the historic center of Mantua, Italy, at Piazza San Francesco d'Assisi 5.

Francesco II Del Balzo was a southern Italian nobleman.