Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

Marco wrote:
Phaeded and Mike, Corio's History should not be dismissed as irrelevant either. Who do you think ordered the burning of the followers of Guglielma? If you write I am wrong about something, you should also be so kind to correct me with a better documented alternative to what I proposed.
Gladly, but I’ve already pointed out the Dominicans were the responsible party as outlined in Newman. The specifics:
Two decades after Guglielma's death, the activities of her apostles came, inevitably, to the attention of a Dominican tribunal charged with conducting inquisitions in Milan. In a lengthy trial extending from July through December of 1300, the year of jubilee, these inquisitors interrogated at least thirty-three citizens, including Saramita and Maifreda, both of whom paid for their doctrine with their lives. (7) A second nun, Sister Giacoma dei Bassani da Nova, was also burned at the stake, while many others were sentenced to wear penitential crosses and pay hefty fines. Guglielma herself was posthumously condemned on the basis of a confession almost certainly extracted by torture from Saramita. The Dominicans were less interested in ascertaining her genuine beliefs than in expunging her cult, which they could do only by exhuming her body--a desecration that would have been unlawful were she not a proven heretic. Having created the evidence they required, the inquisitors proceeded to have Guglielma's tomb dismantled, her images destroyed, her disciples' writings consigned to the fire, her bones burned and their ashes scattered, her memory utterly damned.
Far from burning the “heretics” themselves, the Visconti themselves got caught up in the witch hunt as followers of Manfreda, per a later Dominican tribunal instigated on behalf of the Pope:
The restored Matteo Visconti embarked on a policy of territorial aggression so relentless that Pope John XXII, taking advantage of Henry's death in 1317, deprived Matteo of his imperial title, reassigned it to one of his Guelph allies, and summoned Matteo to the curia at Avignon to answer a series of charges. Matteo refused, incurring excommunication and giving further cause of war. But the Visconti armies defeated the papal troops, so John XXII resorted to new spiritual weapons. In February 1321 he summoned Matteo to Avignon once more, this time to be tried by an inquisitorial court on charges of sorcery and heresy. The outcome was of course a foregone conclusion. On February 23, 1322, the pope placed Milan under interdict and declared a "crusade" against Matteo Visconti and his sons, promising a plenary indulgence to all who would take up arms against them, and a month later, the Visconti were again found guilty of contumacious heresy. (68)…. In the midst of such accusations, we find detailed and plausible charges that both father and son were compromised by their involvement with "the heretic Maifreda" and her partisans. (69) Their association with the Guglielmites forms part of a larger pattern of anticlerical and anti-inquisitorial activities. Among other things, Matteo is accused of violently arresting and detaining clerics, interfering with the pope's messengers, "impeding the office of inquisition" in many places, (70) imprisoning the bishop of Vercelli, imposing unlawful taxes on churches, intruding unworthy persons as superiors of religious houses, disrupting a crusade sermon, and bribing Saracen kings to take arms against John XXII. Guilt by association figures prominently: Matteo's grandmother was allegedly defamed for heresy, as was his uncle Ottone, the late archbishop of Milan. Another witness claims that the heresiarch Fra Dolcino was on such intimate terms with Matteo Visconti that Dolcino raised an army at his command. As for his relationship with Sister Maifreda, an informant testifies that "during the trial against Maifreda and her heresy, many things would have been said and discovered against the faith if they had not been dismissed for fear of Matteo, who then ruled Milan; they were not disclosed because those who knew of them did not dare reveal them for fear of Matteo." (71) Another witness declares on the basis of hearsay that Matteo petitioned for the release of several persons defamed for heresy during this trial, including one Guido Stanfeo. According to another charge, he "petitioned for the liberation of the heretic Maifreda when she had already been arrested and handed over to secular judgment." Finally, during his lordship Matteo promoted and took as counselors men who were well known for heresy. Among these were "Francesco da Garbagnate, who belonged to the sect of Maifreda and was signed with the cross for this; ... also Andrea [Saramita], the burned heretic; Albertone da Novate, Ottorino da Garbagnate, Felicino Carentano, Franceschino Malconzato, all signed with the cross." (72) An Augustinian lay brother called Fra Pezzolo claimed that Galeazzo, who would have been quite young in the movement's heyday, "belonged to the sect of Maifreda the heretic" and served as her doorkeeper. On the testimony of another witness, Galeazzo would have been signed with the cross in 1300--that is, made to wear the yellow crosses of a heretic on his clothes as a badge of shame--"if his father Matteo had not made him go to the inquisitor's feet with laces around his neck so he would spare him." (73)
The only reason we know any of this is because of the DOMINICAN record, acting on behalf of the Pope. All of this was when the anti-papal Age of the Holy Ghost movement was at its peak.

As for the spurious history of Guglielma now dated earlier to 1492, the same motivation of court intrigue explains the production of that revisionist history in light of someone in power attached to the beliefs of Guglielma, its just that the players have changed:
[Gian Galeazzo was] born in Abbiategrasso, he was only seven years old when in 1476 his father, Galeazzo Maria Sforza, was assassinated and he became the Duke of Milan. His uncle, Ludovico Sforza, acted as regent to the young duke but quickly wrested all power from him and became the de facto ruler of Milan for some time … Concerning Gian Galeazzo's death in 1494 (Pavia), Italian historian Francesco Guicciardini had to say in his La Historia di Italia (The History of Italy):
The rumor was widespread that Giovan Galeazzo's death had been provoked by immoderate coitus; nevertheless, it was widely believed throughout Italy that he had died not through natural illness nor as a result of incontinence, but had been poisoned... one of the royal physicians...asserted that he had seen manifest signs of it. Nor was there anyone who doubted that if it had been poison, it had been administered through his uncle Ludovico Sforza's machinations...

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

Lorredan wrote: I think also you place too much reliance on the Black Veil in the 15th Century.
Uh, why? St. Clare is always depicted as such and if someone from her order were to be elevated as a stand-in for the Roman Catholic Faith (the Franciscan version) then why would it have been a lay person and not someone emulating their founding saint with her distinctive black veil shown in every painting ever done of her?

I don't see the relevance of those images you posted; my comments for each:
1. "Saint Catherine early 15th Century" - A b/w photo of a statue that does not appear to be painted (i.e., of "monochrome" stone). How would that show a black veil or not?
2. "A Nun from Venice 15th Century" Late 15th C? And a nun from which order? And she looks so different from known images of Clares and Umiliate (exposed shoulders???) that I don't see how this clarifies anything.
3. "A Humialti": a b/w image that shows the standard white veil/wimple with slighlty darker robe as depicted in the fresco I posted. How does it argue against my thesis?

If there is a privledged image of the Clares, and one that certainly predates the PMB, it is most certainly the Assisi chapel fresco (the Order's home base) showing Clare and her nuns. Look again at that image - the Clares wear a white underveil, but not the white wimple that is worn around the neck and chin and which usually covers the head, precisely as shown on the Umiliate and on the Papess. The Clares' necks are bare, no wimple, in this most canonical of all images of them.

Finally, I have provided the most historically relevant data point connecting any religious order to that of both the Visconti and Sforza: Andrea Visconti, Master General of the Umiliate Order, was Bianca's godfather who was her stand-in at the marriage contract (which was essentially a political tool) drawn up between Filippo and Sforza. Where are the Franciscans in a similarly important role in regard to Visconti and Sforza, 1440 through 1451? The only seemingly relevant connection is that the Fransciscans in Milan were aligned with the Umiliate against the Domincans, with both the Franciscans/Umilitate connected to the Age of the Holy Ghost movement, which can in turn be plausibly seen as reflected in the radiant/dove/a bon droyt stemma created for the Visconti and adopted by the Sforza.

Forget Manfreda if that is too much to swallow. Andrea Visconti, as the religious representative of the Church giving his blessing of the political union of Visconti and Sforza (Bianca and Francesco), is enough of a rationale for "Church" to be depicted as Umiliati. But you've still got to to explain the Franciscan knotted cord - the Franciscan strain of "Spirituals" adhering to the same Holy Ghost beliefs (especially in Milan where the Umiliati were particualrly well represented, even amongst the nobility) is the only idea that explains the inclusion of this detail (and its not like the Umiliati - those of humility - were against poverty, chastity, and obedience). But if you insist on Papess as Franciscan Clare without the black veil - why the appeal of "Church" as such to Bianca/Sforza in c. 1451?


Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

The reason I showed Saint Catherine is that she was under the Dominican Rule.
Traditionally refered as wearing a Black Veil. She did not. She wore a black Robe (possibly with a hood-like the Dominicans males did) and a white coif.
So when you read 'black and white' of the Dominicans- that does not mean Black veil or when looking to early frescoes of Nuns and Monks etc it is how it is thought a Nun looked.
When you look at third orders of a rule ie Franciscans- they were preachers- like the Humialti. That is where their problem lay with the Church. The Church did not consider them fit preachers and worried that they spoke heresy. They did not automatically wear Black veils if Nuns. Sometimes specific orders of a Rule (i.e some Humilati) wore black veils as well as their sister groups who wore white veils.
All you can say of the PMB Lady with the crown- is that she is a Nun who has taken four vows. She is of the Franciscan persuasion- most likely a Poor Clare, who probally preached.All the First 5 Cards had something to say publically. The Bateleur spoke gobblygook, The Papesse spoke Heresy, The Empress spoke, as did the Emperor and the Pope of Course......(if one would look at the sequence like that)
I am not aruguing with your main premise which is very interesting.
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

Marco wrote a very thought-provoking post. These are difficult questions.
My idea is that a theory is worth for the facts it explains. I will not try to give a complete definition of what a fact is, let us say loosely that a fact is something we can all more or less agree upon. For instance:
“the Visconti-Sforza deck includes a Popess card”
“the Visconti-Sforza Popess is dressed as a nun with papal attributes”
“Manfreda da Pirovano was burned as an heretic”.

If your hypothesis explains an “interpretation” or another “hypothesis” it still does not explain any fact. The hypothesis that Bianca Maria used the example of an heretic burned on the stake for the moral instruction of her children still is a pretty big one. Is there any fact that this hypothesis explain?
Thanks for your explanation. I think I see the problem. My theory is not a proposed explanation to account for any known facts. My theory is a proposal for how the Sfozas would have interpreted the Popess card. Interpretations of artworks and explanations of facts are not the same thing. Sometimes interpretations are also explanations, but not always. For example, if I know that a friend is struggling with a tyrannical father, and he goes to see a movie about a son struggling with a tyrannical father, I might hypothesize that he will interpret the movie personally. This is a hypothesis based on my knowledge of his situation, as well as on my own experience of going to movies and that of others. It is not a theory to account for any known facts. If I ask him about the movie afterwards, I might get confirmation of my hypothesis. If he denies it has anything to do with him, but I notice that his behavior toward his father starts being more like the son's resolution in the movie, I might think that he did in fact interpret the movie personally. At least it is evidence in that direction. I also might never get a chance to talk with him or any evidence one way or the other.

So what I was saying was that the Sforza, besides interpreting the cards in a generic way, the way anyone would, would also have had a personal interpretation for some of the cards. I see nothing objectionable here. However then I made a mistake. I assumed that the generic interpretation would have come first and the personal one later. But now I see the unlikeliness of that. What are the chances of one family having both a Popess and a Hanged Man in it? The vast majority of families, even in 15th century Italy, had neither. So I have a new fact to account for: why would the one family for whom early decks are known to have been made, the Visconti-Sforza, have relatives corresponding to two of the cards, a Popess and a Hanged Man, both of which are rare actual occurrences? Unless this fact can be accounted for in other ways, I must change my hypothesis. It is much more likely that the personal interpretation came first , and the generic followed. That is, I am indeed attempting to explain the existence of the Popess and Hanged Man cards by reference to the personal history of the Sforza family. And the symbols used to designate these family members give these cards generic meaning as well.

The fact I am attempting to explain are the existence of Popess and Hanged Man cards of the PMB. I explain them in terms of what they are for. It is like explaining the fact of a fork. A fork exists to get food from the plate to your mouth without having the food touch your hands. For that it is not important what the fork looks like, or what it is made of. Forks can have other functions. Unless it has other functions, too. What I get out of the explanation is a very particular and personal meaning which can also serve as a generic meaning for users who don't know the personal meaning.

My hypothesis is that the two cards were to remind the next generation of important family members and teach moral lessons. The Popess was used explain to the Sforza children the need to resist the Dominican Inquisition in so far as they overstep the bounds of common justice and Christian charity, as they have shown by their history that they inevitably do. For this family, what is important about the card is that the lady have on a particular kind of hat that is associated with the Pope, and that she be dressed in Christian religious garb connoting humility, poverty, simplicity, chastity, and so on. But the image can also represent, generically, either Pope Joan, as a deceptive if learned pretender, or the Church, either as whore or bride of the Pope.

The lesson of the Hanged Man is similar: not all who are labeled traitors by authorities are so. The image of the Hanged Man was used of Muzio to declare him a traitor to the Pope, yet history vindicated him. It was the same with Christ, called traitor and heretic by the Sanhedrin; yet he is the Savior of humanity. The PMB Hanged Man has two symbols of rebirth: the green leggings and the hole bneath his head, similar to a furrow for planting grain. But the image can also be seen to represent Judas, as we see in the Charles VI card.

The argument for this type of explanation, both personal and allegorical, is mostly the history of the art and manuscripts done for that particular family, in terms fo what they were for, just as Kirsch explains for manuscripts and frescoes that show biblical personages but also Visconti family members. There is also a component that is in principle verifiable or falsifiable in terms of what can be known about the family in that period, and about comparable families in the period in comparable places.

For example, in my interpretation/explanation on the familial level (as opposed to the allegorical level), I would expect that Bianca Maria would not invite the Dominican Inquisition to Cremona of her own free will, as opposed to bowing to political necessity. If she did, I would have to say something else. I would also expect to find some statements by nobles in Northern Italy opposing the Dominican Inquisitors on similar grounds. I'm not sure what else. To that extent it is a matter of looking at the facts. And if I can't find facts one way or the other, that's the way it is.

Marco wrote,
mikeh wrote:Whatever Manfreda was, she didn't deserve to be burned at the stake.
Here we are moving on a tricky ground. Of course I agree with you: we both belong to 21th Century Western culture. From Corio's passage, I get the impression that he did not share our point of view. Is it more reasonable to assume that Bianca Maria Visconti shared our 2013 opinion or Corio's 1503 opinion?
Good question, a priori, I don't know the answer. A priori, I assume that people were much the same then as now. We are not so enlightened; we still have our witch-hunts, in slightly different form. (And not very different; a man in Spokane, Washington, was accused by his daughter, jailed on charges, and falsely confessed to killing babies and sexually abusing children as part of a secret cult only twenty years ago. The New Yorker did an article on it. It was widely believed that these cults were common. As a mental health intern at a church-sponsored site, I even had a training on how to recognize signs of such abuse in clients, taught by a sincere but mistaken victim.) But it's always best to look for facts from the time and place in question. I gave quotations from near the same time and place, by people in similar positions (except weaker) to Bianca expressing the same thing that we would say in 2013, about women with addled brains who confessed ridiculous things under torture. We can also look at what people in general thought about the Dominicans' activities. It is a matter of looking for facts, such as are there. I will continue to look for evidence closer to 1451-1462 and Milan/Cremona. If I find facts that fit a different view, I'll let you know. If I find books in Italian that I can't get, I'll let you know.

Marco cited Macchiavelli:
...Therefore it is necessary for him to have a mind ready to turn itself accordingly as the winds and variations of fortune force it, yet, as I have said above, not to diverge from the good if he can avoid doing so, but, if compelled, then to know how to enter evil”.
Yes, precisely. Not to diverge from the good if he can avoid doing so. But how do we know what his idea of the good was, that he diverged from? One way: looking at what the situation was before he diverged, what the pressures were, and whether it was a necessity for him to do so. If it wasn't, then we know he probably didn't diverge from his idea of the good. I don't know what else can be concluded. It is a matter of looking for facts.

I am currently reading about what the situation was in the Visconti and Sforza domains as of the 15th century, and how the Visconti and the Sforza acted in relation to the Inquisitors. As it happens, I learn that they had been there since the time of Peter Martyr and never really left. So it was not a question of keeping them out. It was a question of limiting their activity or not, and how to respond to the Dominican challenge--something that stepped up mightily around 1460. I will give a report, with references. It is difficult, because my main source is something I can't seem to just copy and paste, or scan and type. It is electronic with tricky protections--including timing me out every 20 minutes, so that I have to log in and find my place again.

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

Phaeded wrote:Marco wrote:
Phaeded and Mike, Corio's History should not be dismissed as irrelevant either. Who do you think ordered the burning of the followers of Guglielma? If you write I am wrong about something, you should also be so kind to correct me with a better documented alternative to what I proposed.
Gladly, but I’ve already pointed out the Dominicans were the responsible party as outlined in Newman.
Hello Phaeded,
I think that the inquisitors, when they found some people guilty of heresy, handed them over "to the secular arm", which in this case would have been the soldiers of the Visconti. I don't think the inquisitors could have killed Milanese citizens in Milan without some kind of approval from the Duke. It seems that Matteo did not think it was the case of risking an excommunication to save the followers of Guglielma. Possibly he thought their elimination useful, if Guglielma's cult had really become weird.

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

Perhaps he just wanted them out of his city, didn't want their investigation to continue further, and bowed to political necessity. If he'd resisted, they might not only have excommunicated him, but have started investigating him as well. After all, he was a Ghibelline. You never know what confessions torture might produce.

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

HI MikeH!
The thread has gone along way away from it's intent...but seen as the way it's going I thought I would post this for you (you may well have seen it of course)
The Fourth Lateran Council put out it's Bulls on Faith and Heresy in 1215, and this is the basis for action on Heresy.
It was referred to when The Lateran Council moved the Council from Basel to finally Florence and the Pope declared anyone who went to Ferrara and Florence a heretic. So for over 300 years this was the basis of dealing with Heretics. Of course there was a dispute between the Popes and the Council for in the 15th Century Pope Pius 11, declared the Lateran Council had power over the even the Pope. So back and forth it went. Nearly everyone that is mentioned as related to Tarot, has been excommunicated at some time or another. Sigismund was- Federick 11 was
etc. The Popes could use this Bull as Papal authority for all sorts of things- like a soldier changing sides i.e Sforza.
My personal opinion is that the reasons for obeying edicts on Heresy- was a pragmatic reason of money and territory. If a person or sect was declared heretical- they lost all their property rights- like the Church against the Cathars years before.
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

Yes, but excommunication is not the same as being declared a heretic. And there were heretics and heretics. Some were burned, especially women; others (especially if they were themselves Dominicans) merely expelled from their order, for the same crime, e.g. summoning demons to do one's bidding. It varied tremendously. In other cases, in secession disputes, it was merely quid pro quo, a bargaining chip, nothing else. Acquisition of property was often a motive; the person who made the accusation, if successful, would sometimes get the property (hence many accusations against neighbors). Other times, it would go to the Order. etc.

And I don't see that it is currently off topic at all. This is precisely the place to discuss the PMB Popess. I am finding out very interesting things about witch-burning in Lombardy during Francesco Sforza's tenure and his role in it, from this book Renaissance Inquisitors, relating precisely to Newman's article (which the author never discusses), things I never knew or anticipated. Maybe others know them, but not me. I'll get there.

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

marco wrote: Hello Phaeded,
I think that the inquisitors, when they found some people guilty of heresy, handed them over "to the secular arm", which in this case would have been the soldiers of the Visconti. I don't think the inquisitors could have killed Milanese citizens in Milan without some kind of approval from the Duke. It seems that Matteo did not think it was the case of risking an excommunication to save the followers of Guglielma. Possibly he thought their elimination useful, if Guglielma's cult had really become weird.
A fair point and I can see that in light of your primary objection - why show a condemned heretic in the PMB deck (as "Church" no less)?

But Manfreda's own inspiration for her movement, St. Gugielma, had been "absolved" of heresy in the c. 1425 vita by the Franciscan, Bonfadini (detailed in Newman). And given the lack of any attribute of a marty's death in the Papess (Catherine's wheel, Sebastian's arrows, etc.) or the generic palm frond indicating the same, no one can claim the Papess-as-Manfreda was being commemorated as a wrongly condemned or somehow martyed by the Dominicans (which is the best spin one could put on it....if one still held to all of the the historical facts). But to say it again, by 1450 Manfreda could have simply stood for devotion to the Age of the Holy Ghost, the Visconti being associated with that via their stemma of the radiant dove. Circumstantial for sure, but why else entrust his only descendent, bastard or not, to the master of the Umiliate order unless Filippo closely supported that order? In fact that master of the order was a Visconti himself.

Back to what the card explicitly represents: a nun wearing the white wimple of the Umiliate and knotted cord of the Franciscans (both wore a light brown robe per the frescoes I posted), crowned with the authority of the papal crown. The papal crown, as Ross pointed out in a counter to my initial arguments, was sometimes used to depict the Doctrine or the Church itself. But the Visconti don't emphasize those themes in their own religious commissions, although abundantly illuminated. They do show a marked emphasis, especially Filippo in the portion of the Visconti Hours he commissioned, on the Holy Ghost as radiant dove. The "Roman Catholic Church" was not so Catholic, especially during and right after the Great Schism when the papacy was heaped with scorn by a variety of principalities, some of which adopted the Holy Ghost movement as their own cause (the Angevins in Sicility, Cola Rienza in Rome and the Dominican trial record pointing the Visconti to the same via Manfreda) so "Church" could have a particular emphasis: the final age of the Holy Ghost preceding the End Times, partially brought about by the "grace" (radiant dove) shed on those rulers who adopted this belief. You could not be considered heretical for believing in the Last Judgement, and the papess must be considered in the context of that card in the PMB (along with the richly robed Pope, who shows a connection to the flux of temporal powers by sharing attributes with the Fortune card and the coin suit).

The papess is not shown as a heretic or as a halo'd saint, but as nun-as-Church/Faith. But which aspect of the Church/Faith is the key question? The attributes of certain religious orders worn by the Papess point to a more specific definition of "Church" in Milan under Filippo Visconti. The common ground between Franciscans and Umiliati, besides their poverty, was a shared belief in the final age of the Holy Ghost per the teachings of Joachim of Fiore.


Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

Phaeded- well done!
All the way down 500 years or so from Bembo's Lancelot to Waite's Holy Grail depictions.
I now understand Sister Joachim's (of my youth schooling) recounting Graal legends and the Holy Spirit, Saint Catherines Mystical Marriage and her least understood preachings, The' Just 'of the Franciscans etc etc.
I wonder if Sforza, was influenced in his searching for Peace- i.e Lodi -was some sort of Joachimite. I just thought it was him sick of War. The Church never ever castigated Joachim himself- just the followers,or at least the idea that the Pope would become redundant. Pope Pius certainly got his knickers in a knot at the time of reading Joachim's treatise.
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

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