The queen of England, Elizabeth II may have the greatest private art collection in the world. It’s a collection that reflects the taste of English monarchs through the centuries.But in the beginning, it could be called humble origins, even for royalty…
The earliest inventories of royal pictures were drawn up late in he reign of Henry VIII and in the reign of his son, Edward VI. They reveal that the Crown already owned many mythological scenes and religious canvases, although almost the only subject picture identifiable from the lists is the little anti-papal allegory attributed to Girolamo da Treviso, in which the Evangelists stone the prostrate figure of the Pope. The nucleus of the collection was the set of little portraits of the late Plantagenets and the early Tudors. The portraits of Henty V, Henry VI, Edward IV, and Richard III seem to perpetuate some ad vivum impression of the sitters’ appearance.
Interestingly, no artists are named in the inventories of the Tudor collection; in fact, although Holbein has beenassociated for so long with Henry VIII, there is no evidence that the King owned any single portrait by him apart from the famous Duchess of Milan. Holbein’s principal work for the Crown was the legendary wall-painting in the Privy Chamber at Whitehall, executed in 1537 as a demonstration of the achievement and the power of the new dynasty. It was destroyed in the fire at Whitehall in 1698, but from the famous “Chatsworth” cartoon for part of it and from the little copy of the whole, commissioned from Remiqius van Leemput by Charles II in 1667, it is possible to catch something of the awe inspiring effect this demonstration of royal terribilita must have had on visitors to the palace.
Apart from the well known pageant pictures at Hampton Court, the most important portraits to survive from the early Tudor collection are of Edward VI and Elizabeth I at Windsor, probably by the same artist. They combine in a most delicate manner and understanding of the sitter’s nature with a demonstration of the royal bearing- and something of the strains implied therein- in these young monarchs. Everything before Charles I was on a limited scale; there was little evidence that Elizabeth I added anything of great artistic merit, and there does not appear to have been any direct links between the Crown and the leading European painters of the period.
The Duke of Urbino had sent Henry VII the little Raphael of Saint George and the Dragon, and in 1553 the Queen of Hungary had lent Mary I a portrait by Titian of her husband Philip II. The impression one gains of the collection in the time of James I is of a mass of historical pictures, maps, and dignified royal portrait gallery. There was no linking of the art treasures to national prestige or the cultivation and taste of the English Royalty.
Was there some connection between collecting and patronizing the arts and Catholicism that rankled English royalty. …
( see link at end) …but as far as many Anglicans were concerned, the real trouble began in January 1077 at Canossa, a castle in Tuscany. —
Inside the castle, as freezing winds blew, Pope Gregory VII took refuge. Gregory never wanted to be pope, and he certainly never wanted to spend his waning years running around Europe, attempting to stay ahead of hostile princes. Unfortunately, his commitment to reform put him on a collision course with the secular powers of the day.
Outside the castle, Gregory’s bitterest opponent, Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV, knelt in the snow. On this occasion Henry did not want Gregory’s head, but his blessing. Dressed as a penitent, weeping, for three cold days, Henry got what he was after—but the peace between the two men could not last. The stakes of their epic battle, known as the Investiture Controversy, were simply too high….
In theory, the church has always held the power to appoint its own leaders. In medieval practice, however, secular authorities handed out clerical offices as patronage. Following the pattern known as investiture, abbots and bishops received their positions, and the properties that went with them, from local princes. The emperor picked the pope.
Gregory believed that the corruption and immorality of the 11th-century church stemmed from this practice. Before he could fight it at lower ecclesial levels, though, he had to free the papacy from imperial control. In 1059, when Gregory was still cardinal-subdeacon Hildebrand, he engineered the creation of the College of Cardinals as the body solely responsible for electing the pope. The new system did not take hold right away, but by 1073, when it was time to choose a successor for the deceased Alexander II, the cardinals spoke with one loud voice: “Let Hildebrand be pope!” The man who had put the cardinals in charge reluctantly accepted their mandate.
The empowerment of the College of Cardinals happened early in Henry’s reign, when, as a 9-year-old boy, he occupied the throne recently vacated by his powerful and pious father. Hildebrand took advantage of Henry’s minority, and the young German king resented him for it. Not long after Henry took charge of his own affairs, in 1070, he found an opportunity to strike back.
Soon after his election as pope, Gregory pressed his program of reform by forbidding investiture and threatening to excommunicate any layperson who dared to appoint clergy. Henry responded in 1076 by calling for Gregory’s removal from office in a letter that ended, “I, Henry, king by the grace of God, with all of my Bishops, say to you, come down, come down, and be damned throughout the ages.” Gregory, naturally, deposed and excommunicated Henry.
Neither combatant could enforce his order alone, and it turned out that Henry had considerably less support than he expected. His father, Henry III, had waged a largely successful campaign to consolidate imperial power for himself—at the expense of other German nobles, who were only too happy to see young Henry IV cut down. Faced with the prospect of aristocratic rebellion, Henry had no choice but to humble himself before the pope.
Gregory described the scene at Canossa in a letter to the German princes: “[W]e learned for certain that the king was approaching. He also, before entering Italy, sent on to us suppliant legates, offering in all things to render satisfaction to God, to St. Peter and to us. And he renewed his promise that, besides amending his life, he would observe all obedience if only he might merit to obtain from us the favor of absolution and the apostolic benediction.
“When, after long deferring this and holding frequent consultations, we had, through all the envoys who passed, severely taken him to task for his excesses, he came at length of his own accord, with a few followers, showing nothing of hostility or boldness, to the town of Canossa where we were tarrying. And there, having laid aside all the belongings of royalty, wretchedly, with bare feet and clad in wool, he continued for three days to stand before the gate of the castle. Nor did he desist from imploring with many tears the aid and consolation of the apostolic mercy until he had moved all of those who were present there.”
The battle continues
Out of pastoral concern, Gregory lifted his excommunication of Henry, but he withheld his pledge of political fealty until Henry might prove himself worthy. Henry never passed that test. After Canossa, Henry continued to support clerics and nobles who opposed Gregory’s reforms. Meanwhile, Henry’s political enemies sought to press their apparent advantage.
Soon the empire descended into civil war. Pro-reform leaders in Germany elected their own king, Rudolf. Henry defeated Rudolf, stormed Rome, and elected his own pope, Clement III. Gregory excommunicated Henry a second time in 1080, imploring God to “exercise such swift judgment that all may know him to fall not by chance but by your power.” Hedging his bets, Gregory also called upon his Norman allies in southern Italy. The Normans rescued Gregory, but they also sacked Rome, which did not please the locals. The Romans chased Gregory out of town, and he died in exile.
The Investiture Controversy continued for decades, and even after the 1122 Concordat of Worms formally ended investiture, popes and emperors crossed swords constantly. Read More:http://www.ctlibrary.com/ch/2005/issue86/15.46.html