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Yet Another War and the Problem with the Renaissance Popes

The Venetians look weak. The Ottomans have encroached on their trade routes and Venice made concessions with France during the Italian Wars. Then Pope Alexander the 6th and his son seized a number of territories south of Venice for their personal use and ambitions. When the Pope died of disease, Venice moved into those territories. Now Venice is willing to pay tribute to Pope Julius the 2nd but it's not good enough for him, so the Warrior Pope has organized the League of Cambrai with France, Spain and the Holy Roman Emperor to attack Venice. The League won't last long. Pope Julius and King Louis the 12th of France won't get along. When that happens the Pope will turn around and join with Venice to attack France... calling his new association "The Holy League". In 1516, when it is all over, the territories will look about the same as they did BEFORE the war. [1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Why do they do it? Some of it is short-sightedness but it is a time of personal ambition and power plays for the Renaissance Popes. Pope Alexander the 6th was from the Borgia family. He wangled himself this Pope job for the riches and lands it would bring him and his family... including all of his children! It is embarrassing for Christians, but the Reformation happened for a reason. Religious people don't split up a major institution like the Christian Church unless things get really, really bad. Well... it's bad. When Jesus turned over the change tables in the Temple, his complaints extended further than where they decided to locate the foreign-coin exchange center. Years later the Jews were scattered to the winds. People don't change until things get THAT messed up. And the Reformation itself will bring about a change so fundamental that it will be difficult to describe in a couple of paragraphs. I beg forgiveness in advance and I welcome corrections and clarifications. Really. No joshing.

The Sistine Chapel and the Creation of Adam

After the lessons of the Second Italian War, the Warrior Pope Julius the 2nd is having St. Peter's Basilica refurbished and fortified. He has also commissioned a number of architects to improve the design of the Sistine Chapel. One of those designers is Michelangelo. He has begun painting several exquisite frescoes on the ceiling, including one of the most recognizable images of the modern day: "The Creation of Adam." It shows the outstretched arm of God on the right and the outstretched arm of Adam on the left with their fingers almost touching. The ceiling frescoes won't be completed until 1512 so he will be spending a great deal of his time bending over backward to complete his task. Contrary to the myth (and a popular film starring Charlton Heston) Michelangelo is NOT painting these frescoes while on his back. He has designed a special scaffolding that allows him stand, bend backward and reach up to paint. He reports that it is miserable work. [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Michelangelo had to learn how to paint a fresco first. It is pretty good work for a first try. Eh? His first love was sculpting and the Pope promised to pay for several lucrative pieces but not until Michelangelo finished this ceiling. Aside from the miserable work, the whole project was often in doubt whenever the Pope was on death's door. If Julius died and a future Pope wanted something different then all of Michelangelo's hopes for the future would be lost. What a life.

Juan Ponce de León Takes Puerto Rico *

Ponce de León is best known for the discovery of Florida but that is a few years in his future. For now he is working his way up the command chain. After Christopher Columbus had left Hispaniola in chaos, bringing order to the island was left to several people including Ponce de León. Apparently he did a good job from the perspective of Spain. From the Indian's perspective, not so much. Nevertheless, his region at the eastern tip of Hispaniola is now orderly and bringing in food. He has heard of gold on the island of Puerto Rico so he leads an expedition where he establishes the first colony there, plants some crops and finds gold. By next year he will be appointed the first governor of Puerto Rico. [9] [10]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Our perspective on these events are biased due to who is reporting on these events. Thus, if a Spaniard makes a mistake you can feel reasonably assured that he made a mistake, but you don't really know how much of a mistake he made. It could be exaggerated either way depending on whose agenda is being serviced at the time. The Spaniards on Hispaniola have every incentive to trash Christopher Columbus to make their efforts to restore order look more effective. Granted... Columbus was not a good administrator and now that he is dead he cannot defend himself. His son, Diego Columbus, has existing claims to some of the local islands. Those claims will force Juan Ponce de León to search further out for lands to exploit and that why he will be searching for Florida in 1513.

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1508, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. War of the League of Cambrai. Timeline of World History (2013). Retrieved on 23 January 2015. “Pope Julius II, intending to curb Venetian influence in northern Italy, had created the League of Cambrai, an anti-Venetian alliance that included, besides himself, Louis XII of France, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and Ferdinand II of Aragon. Although the League was initially successful, friction between Julius and Louis caused it to collapse by 1510; Julius then allied himself with Venice against France.”
  2. War of the League of Cambrai - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 22 January 2015.
  3. The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965). IMDb (1965). Retrieved on 29 January 2015. “The biographical story of Michelangelo's troubles while painting the Sistine Chapel at the urging of Pope Julius II.”
  4. 7 Things You May Not Know About the Sistine Chapel — History in the Headlines. History.com (November 1, 2012). Retrieved on 29 January 2015. “When they picture Michelangelo creating his legendary frescoes, most people assume he was lying down. But in fact, the artist and his assistants used wooden scaffolds that allowed them to stand upright and reach above their heads.”
  5. Pope Julius II - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 22 January 2015.
  6. Michelangelo - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 22 January 2015.
  7. Musei Vaticani (PHOTO GALLERY). Retrieved on 29 January 2015.
  8. Sistine Chapel ceiling - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 29 January 2015. “The Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512, is a cornerstone work of High Renaissance art.”
  9. Historical Events on 12th August. HistoryOrb Timeline (2015). Retrieved on 13 January 2015. “1508 - Juan Ponce de Leon arrives in Puerto Rico”
  10. Juan Ponce de León - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 29 January 2015. “In 1508, Ferdinand II of Aragon gave permission to Ponce de León for the first official expedition to the island, which the Spanish then called San Juan Bautista.”

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