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Re: Bembo Workshop and Marriage Depictions

Posted: 10 Feb 2013, 06:21
by Lorredan
Hi Mikeh!
How do you see this 'il Privilegio del Consorzio di Sant’Omobono di Cremona' ? Or what it means?
That is what they think this picture is possibly depicting.

Re: Bembo Workshop and Marriage Depictions

Posted: 11 Feb 2013, 04:14
by mikeh
No, I don't understand what the "Privilege" is. Here's Tolfo, with my translation:
A causa dei torbidi seguiti alla morte di Filippo Maria Visconti, nel 1447 i Bembo lasciarono Cremona e si unirono al padre Giovanni e al fratello Gerolamo che lavoravano a Brescia. Tornarono a Cremona con la caduta della Repubblica Ambrosiana e l’assunzione del governo da parte di Francesco Sforza. Nel 1450 si incaricarono di eseguire il Privilegio del Consorzio di Sant’Omobono di Cremona, al quale i Bembo appartenevano. Questo Privilegio è servito recentemente per portare un po’ d’ordine fra le mani dei vari fratelli Bembo: un bozzetto a penna del Privilegio è finito sul Libro mastro del Consorzio, che alla data 1450 segnala il pagamento al “magistro Ambroxo de Bembi” per aver dipinto Sant’Omobono sul Privilegio del Consorzio stesso. Il bozzetto era in funzione del Privilegio? Si pensa di sì, e allora ecco che Ambrogio Bembo per perizia “calligrafica” diventa l’autore dell’Historia di Lancillotto e quindi dei Tarocchi che erano assegnati allo stesso maestro dell’Historia. Ma la chiarezza è durata poco, perché dopo il ritrovamento di altre “prove” il povero Ambrogio è già scalzato a favore del fratello Lazzaro.

(Because of the troubles that followed the death of Filippo Maria Visconti, the Bembo left Cremona in 1447 and in union with their father Giovanni and brother Geralomo worked in Brescia. They returned to Cremona with the fall of the Ambrosian Republic and the assumption of the government by Francesco Sforza. In 1450, they undertook running the Privilege of the Consortium for Sant'Omobono of Cremona, to which the Bembo belonged. This privilege was used recently to bring a little order in the hands of the several brothers Bembo: a pen sketch of the Privilege is completed on the ledger of the Consortium, which indicates, dated 1450, payment to "magistro Ambroxo de Bembi" for having painted Saint Omobono on the Privilege of the Consortium. The sketch was based on the Privilege? It is thought so, and then this Ambrogio Bembo, for his "calligraphic" expertise, becomes the author of 'History of Lancelot' and then the Tarot which was assigned to the same master of the 'History.' But the clarity did not last long, because after the discovery of other "evidence," poor Ambrogio has already been ousted in favor of his brother Lazarus.)
So now for Saint Omobono. I learn at
In addition to being the patron saint of Cremona, Omobono Tucenghi is the protector of merchants, weavers and tailors. He himself, in fact, was a textile merchant esteemed in the city. He was good in business and rich. But money - in his conception of wealth, seen not as an end in itself - was for the poor. His action led him to be an authoritative witness in times of conflict between municipalities and the Empire (Cremona was with the emperor). When he died suddenly on 13 November 1197, during Mass, the fame of his holiness quickly spread. I Innocent III elevated him to the altar two years later. Buried in the cathedral of Cremona. (Future)

Patronage: Cremona, merchants, textile workers, Tailors

Roman Martyrology: In Cremona, St. Omobono, a merchant moved by charity for the poor, who has shone in collecting and educating abandoned children and restore peace in families.

Re: Bembo Workshop and Marriage Depictions

Posted: 11 Feb 2013, 08:51
by Lorredan
Well I found out what the Privlege of the Consortium was and is.
It is a Confraternity.
It was started in 1334 to promote Charity and combat Heresy. The Heresy in the 15th century was apparently something called the 'cult of the free Spirit.' Earlier 14th Century it was apparently Waldensian (sp?) heresy.
What I also found was interesting was that Cremona was second most important port on the Po and the main port for importing Cotton from Mamluk Cairo for Cremona's Fustian(fabric) textile industry.
The patrons of the Confraternity in the 15th Century were apparently Bianca and Francesco Sforza, from about the time of their marriage.
The English name of the Saint is Homobonus or 'Good Man' a play on his formal name Omobono.

Re: Bembo Workshop and Marriage Depictions

Posted: 11 Feb 2013, 11:19
by Lorredan
To add:
The Confraternity in part to combat Heresy in the case of the 15th Century- The heresy of the Free Spirit.....
Why on earth in Cremona?
from Wikipedia
By the early fifteenth century, the Catholic Church in Germany viewed heresy as a serious threat. It became a leading topic for discussion at the Council of Basel in 1431. Johannes Nider, a Dominican reformer who attended the council, became concerned that beliefs of the Free Spirit heresy, and other heresies, were mixed with elements of witchcraft. In his 1434 work, Formicarius, Nider combined the Free Spirit heresy with witchcraft in his condemnation of false teachings. Formicarius also became a model for Malleus maleficarum, a later work by Heinrich Kramer in 1486. By the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, the Church’s efforts to eradicate heresy and witchcraft resulted in heresy trials and the parallel civil authorities conducting witch burnings.
Apparently the heresy meant you could have direct relationship with God, without the intermediary of the Church.
Cremona wanted autonomy from the Church- maybe this was a sort of warning to stay in the fold or we will burn you all.
Hmmmm...nothing much to do with the Bembo Workshop except him being a CEO of the Charity.
Painting by day and witch hunting by night :-ss

Re: Bembo Workshop and Marriage Depictions

Posted: 11 Feb 2013, 17:53
by Phaeded
Interesting discussion. The Formicarius mentioned by Lorredan occurs right before the CY deck appears:
The Formicarius, written 1435-1437 by Johannes Nider during the Council of Basel and first printed in 1475, is the second book ever printed to discuss witchcraft. Nider dealt specifically with witchcraft in the fifth section of the book. Unlike his successors, he did not emphasize the idea of the witches' Sabbath and was skeptical of the claim that witches could fly by night. The Formicarius is an important work as it demonstrates that by the early fifteenth century trials and torture of people alleged to be witches were already taking place. Nider was one of the first to transform the idea of sorcery to its more modern perception of witchcraft. Prior to the fifteenth century, magic was thought to be performed by educated males who performed intricate rituals. In Nider's Formicarius, the witch is described as uneducated and more commonly female. The idea that any persons could perform acts of magic simply by devoting themselves to the devil scared people of this time and proved to be one of the many factors that led people to begin fearing magic. The idea that the magician was primarily female was also shocking to some. Nider explained that females were capable of such acts by pointing out what he considered their inferior physical, mental, and moral capacity.
Although the Free Will movement seems to have been largely a Northern European phenomenon it obviously also flourished in Cremona so perhaps in Italy it varied somewhat from the northern version? It does seem to have been an unstructured movement:
Not everyone accused of being a member of the Free Spirit or of disseminating their doctrines was part of the movement. Even at the Council of Vienne the Church authorities struggled to bring together documentation of what the Free Spirit stood for, using texts such as Marguerite Porete's The Mirror of Simple Souls as evidence of what the Brethren said. The very fact that no one spiritual thinker can be identified as the movement's founder (names linked to the movement include Amaury de Bene, Giochinno de Fiori and Meister Eckhart, all of whom, at different times, were cited by individuals proclaiming their adherence to the Heresy as the originators of their beliefs), or claimed to be so, indicate how disparate a movement it was.

Of the three main doctines one was the Joachim of Fiore belief: ... ree_Spirit
That history was divided into three periods, each corresponding to a different aspect of the Trinity.
The first, the Age of the Father, corresponded with the era of the Old Testament (Abraham, Moses and the Prophets etc). The second, the Age of the Son, corresponded to the coming and ministry of Christ and the first millennium or so of Christianity. The last and final era was the Age of the Holy Spirit or the Paraclete as it is described in the New Testament, when God would become manifest in Man. Giochinno de Fiori was the first to develop this doctrine, basing his ideas on a close reading of Revelation ("Grace be unto you, and peace from Him which is [the Son],and which was [the Father] and which is to come [the Holy Spirit]" Revelation 1:4). The Brethren of the Free Spirit believed that this era was coming to pass and, with the incarnation of God in all humanity, the Last Days before the dawn of the 'New Heaven and New Earth'.
I find all of this interesting in light of the dialogue I'm having with Ross on another thread regarding the PMB Papess. Wouldn't the inclusion of a Papess in light of the recent Formicarius, the new focus on women as heretics, have been an unnecessarily risky thing to do? Unless there was a strong reason in Milan (and Cremona?) to include this figure....


Re: Bembo Workshop and Marriage Depictions

Posted: 11 Feb 2013, 21:56
by mikeh
It would be good to give references on this sensitive subject, Phaeded and Lorredan. Phaeded's source for Formicarius is Wikipedia, which has no citation for the particular part that Phaeded quotes, although later cites an article (Michael D. Bailey, Speculum, Vol. 76, No. 4 (Oct., 2001), pp. 960-990). I am pretty sure that the information you quote is wrong, about a change in the concept of magic at that time. [Added later: I withdraw this last statement until I read the article!] Witches had been thought to fly and were burned at the stake long before the 15th century, notably, in the campaign against Catharism in the 12th and 13th centuries. I will get sources if necessary; my recollection is that it was mainly in Languedoc that they did this (fly and get burned). I will look to see how close to Cremona they got.

The general point remains, however. There was indeed this new book, which probably was only the second such book. Before that, it was just Inquisition records. Northern Italy had been a hotbed of Catharism. It was stamped out, but things have a tendency to reappear in new form. The Cathars, I think, still believed that priests were a necessary intermediary to God; Cathar perfecti had to be the ones administering the sacraments (laying on of hands) and rituals (e.g. the consolomentum) thought necessary. Not only that, some thought that the perfecti had be without blemish once they had become such, in order to be efficacious. This of course led to problems, with charges hurled back and forth, retaking of sacraments, etc.

It would be good if you gave your source for Francesco and Bianca Maria being patrons of that particular confraternity, Lorredan. Or did I miss it?

On the subject of love and marriage, I have a nice conundrum for both of you--and anyone else.

There is a work attributed sometimes to Bonifacio Bembo under the title "People of the Court of the Sforza Family," e.g. at ... orzafamily and numerous other vendors of prints. It is in Bergamo. But at an exhibit from Bergamo in Canberra last year, it had a new title and artist, "Love Procession" or "Corteo d'Amore" by Marco Buono and Apollonio di Giovanni, the well known Trionfi painters in Florence: ... 3&ViewID=2, given to the 1440s. This new attribution and title is now going up on various websites.

Among art historians, all I can find is Lutz Malke, "Contributo alla figurazioni dei Trionfi e del Conzoniere del Petrarca," pp. 236-261 of [/i]Commentari: rivista di critica e storia dell'arte,[/i] anno XXVIII - Nuova Serie - Octobre-Decembre 1977, p. 255:


Malke has a sentence about it in his discussions of frescoes on the theme of the Petrarchan triumphs, p. 258, which I translate:
Un frammento del Triumphus Cupidinis che contiene solo il corteo, proviene della Casa Marenzi a Bergamo, e oggi si trova nell'Accademia Carrara (fig. 25). E' stato dipinto nella seconda metà del Quattrocento.

(A fragment of the Triumphus Cupidinis that contains only the procession comes from the Casa Marenzi in Bergamo, and today is found in the Academia Carrara (fig. 25). And was painted in the second half of the Quattrocento.)
It would be interesting to know how these Florentine artists managed to go to Bergamo, in the midst of all their production in Florence, or how the fresco somehow got transferred there. And also, why Bonifacio. Although I can certainly see a resemblance to the work you found and SteveM put up.

Re: Bembo Workshop and Marriage Depictions

Posted: 12 Feb 2013, 04:56
by Lorredan
Hi Mikeh!
Firstly I went to find out about Saint Omobono and I found this.... ... Q27806.pdf
Then I saw that some of the sources were in 1967 Catholic Encyclopedia(books)- I have several versions- that been one, and there I found out about the Confraternity and what happened when Visconti first got Cremona in 1334 and when Fillippo formalised it in 1420. The sources in that showed me that some class notes from the Catholic University faculty of History- Fillippo for reasons of control (and the taxes) eviscerating the institutions of republican administration while keeping their outward forms,changed the constitutions of Confraternities, and gave directions for their operations and the articles of heresy etc etc. I then went through all the tourist blurbs from Cremona (I bought a library of them back with me :) and found the "Gli organgi assembeari e Collegiali del comune di Cremona Nell'eta Visconti-Sforzesca (Milan :Giuffe 1978)" which I struggled through and should have used the term Benefactor in stead of Patron. I read a further book called Charity and Religion in Medieval Europe by James William Brodman and Essays in Honour of Brenda Bolton 'Pope Church and City (which I believe you can read online? ) and found some blurb on Cremona by an Editor called Lia Bellingeri and as I have no intention of repeating word and line I gave you the outline. Oh and there is an image of Homobonus in Statue form and it is in 'Images of Saints and Political Identity' by Brendan Cassidy. I no longer have a scanner.

I have seen your sad procession supposedly by Bembo before- I think I even scanned it in somewhere here or Aeclectic yonks ago- I think Huck may have also.
It was a bequest to Bergamo- not made there. ... 3&ViewID=2

Re: Bembo Workshop and Marriage Depictions

Posted: 12 Feb 2013, 05:36
by mikeh
hanks, Lorredan, for the source of your information and also for cuing me in to read the blurb that the Canberra people put out, which I didn't notice. If it's on wood, it's probably not a fresco. And easily transportable to Carlo Marenzi's house, which I assume is the Casa Marenzi in Trieste--again, not a likely place for a painter to go. Unfortunately the blurb gives no reason for why the attribution to them.

Well, I will go back to the Cremona witches.

After reading the article by Bailey referenced on Wikipedia, I can say that Wikipedia drastically oversimplifies the 30 page article--as does the author himself sometimes. But he does get it right, if read carefully. On p. 968-69, he quotes from the Inquisition manual written by Bernard Gui in 1324, after 20 years of service as Inquisitor in Toulouse, on what questions to ask suspected sorcerers. Bailey says that they are clearly directed at "common sorcerers", as opposed to an intellectual elite. This is based on convictions at Carcassonne, he says, correctly I think. He cites Lea, History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages. I remember reading about women accused of being witches at Carcassonne; one even managed to escape by flying out the window of her cell (no doubt they were given windowless cells after that). I see that Lea does Gui's chapter on sorcery was only one small part of a large book; Gui did not press the point, and it was generally not used except where heretics were active. In 1330 John XXII removed sorcery from the jurisdiction of the Inquisition, reinstated by John XXIII. (This is from Lea, History of the Inquisition.) Then it became the basis of a whole book in 1376, and another in 1437. As heresy became more widespread, the definition of witchcraft expanded accordingly, until it was used indiscriminately against uneducated mainly female healers and dispensers of love charms. Also, in general, they were to be burned at the stake even if repentant, Lea reports.

The development of the ideas and prosecution of witchcraft is preeminently a Dominican domain: all its theorists and the Inquisitors who directed themselves toward "common sorcery" were Dominicans. In the earlier Middle Ages, Diana was said to be the presiding genius of the "night-riders"; but Hugh of S. Victor, a leading Augustinian theorist, said that "the companion of Diana is Minerva" (Lea, History of the Inquisition, ii. 494). I'm not sure what that means, but Minerva is goddess of Wisdom I see that John of Salisbury "alludes to the belief [in the night-riders] as an illustration of the illusions of dreams." The church in Cremona that Francesco and Bianca were associated with was Augustinian. The imagery of the "Song of the Seven Virtues and Seven Sciences" done for the Visconti c. 1350 and kept in Milan, probably by the Archbishopric, which we see in the CY, is also Augustinian, as Dorez argued, shown by Augustine's place at the head of the Church figures. But I have not thoroughly investigated this idea.

Lea traces the origin of the Brethren of the Free Spirit to one Amauri de Bene, at the University of Paris, who was compelled to abjure in 1207 and died soon after. The Lateran Council of 1215 condemned Amauri, but called his views "crazy rater than heretical" (Lea, ii, 323). By then a follower, Ortlieb of Strassburg, had made it a movement which was "strictly continent; the only generation of children permitted was spiritual, through conversion"; he called this movement the "Brethren of the Free Spirit". However it seems that when tried, they were accused of saying that to them all was permitted. Whatever the case, Lea does not mention the sect as being in Italy. I'm not sure why you brought them in, Phaeded. It's not related to Joachim that I can see.

Nider based his work on a secular judge named Peter of Berne, who "had burned large numbers of witches of both sexes, and driven many more from the Bernese territory, which they had infested for about sixty years."

Cremona, to be sure, was a hotbed of witches, although the Inquisition seems not to have been able to get many until the 16th century.
When at Cremona, in the early years of the sixteenth century, the inquisitor, Giorgio di Casale, endeavored to exterminate the numberless witches flourishing there, and was interfered with by certain clerks and laymen, who asserted that he was exceeding his jurisdiction, Julius II, following the example of Innocent VIII in the case of Sprenger, promptly came to the rescue by defining his powers and offering to all who would aid him in the good work indulgences such as were given to crusaders--provisions which, in 1523 were extended to the Inquisitor of Como by Adrian VI. The result of all this careful stimulation is seen in the description of the Lombard witches by Gianfrancesco Pico, and in the alarming report by Silvester Prierias that they were extending down the Apennines and boasting that they would outnumber the faithful.
Sprenger is the author of the Malleus Maleficarum, the Hammer of Witches.

I see on vol. iii p. 518 that the Inquisitor of Lombardy did manage to get five in 1474, named by witches in Piedmont before they were burned. One had the bad luck to be named Guglielmina (the same spelling Lea uses for her more famous sister), but the good fortune to have a rich enough peasant family to hire a lawyer, who was able to outsmart the inexperienced inquisitor. He had to transfer the case to Turin, where the outcome is unknown.

Lea, a Protestant, was writing in 1887. I don't know how well his research stands up, but in looking at what he says about witchcraft, it seems to me that Bailey is just repeating , with different details, what Lea said long ago.

Re: Bembo Workshop and Marriage Depictions

Posted: 12 Feb 2013, 06:02
by mikeh
More on witches, in this case from Bologna, concerning Ginevra Sforza, Francesco's niece, whose marriage to Sante Bentivoglio had sealed the Milan-Bologna alliance in 1454. It's in the third paragraph. I give the first to show her interest in paper, and the second to show her liberal views. I am quoting from Ady's The Bentivoglios of Bologna.
"Ginevra had herself a direct interest in paper-making and printing, if we may judge from the description given by one Bolognese printer of his press, as situated in the 'edificio da carta della Illma Madonna Sforza di Bentivoglio." [Footnote: the printer is Ercole Nani, and the desciprion occurs in Diogene Laerzio's Vite dei filosophi, published 14 Jan. 1494, see Sorbelli, Storia della stampa in Bologna.](p. 162)

"In 1493 the Lent preacher was Girolamo Savonarola. According to the story told by Burlamacchi, he did not find favour with the Lady of Bologna, and she marked her displeasure by coming in late, with a crowd of ladies and attendants, and interrupting the sermon. When gentler methods failed, Savonarola rebuked her from the pulpit. Genevra, in revenge, sent assassins to attack him, but he was miraculously preserved from injury. The tale bears the mark of the hagiographer, but if, as is likely, Ginevra did not approve of Savonarola's preaching, she would certainly have made her opinion plain. Lent preachers, like ever one else in Bologna, were expected to increase the prestige and please the tastes of the Bentivoglio." (p. 183.)

"In 1498 Gentile Cimitri, the wife of a Bolognese notary, was burnt as a witch after sensational revelations as to her beliefs and powers. She had won the favour of Ginevra Bentivoglio owing to her reputation as a healer, and had been sent by her to Mantua to work a cure on her daughter Laura. It came to be believed that Gentile caused persons to fall ill in order to gain money by curing them. Bianca Rangoni and Sforza, the only son of Alessandro Bentivoglio, were held to have suffered at her hands, and she was reported to have had designs upon Messer Giovanni himself. On being examined by the Dominicans, she confessed to being as intimate with the devil as with her dearest friend, and said that, when she heard the priest reading the Gospel at Mass, she made answer to him with the words, 'You lie in your throat.' When the hour of her execution came, she mounted the scaffold on the Piazza with incredible confidence and went to her death undaunted. [Footnote: Ubaldini, Cronaca, f. 713, Fileno della Tuata, Cronaca, i. f. 337v, and Nadi, Diario Bolognese, p. 238, all contribute interesting details about Gentile Cimitri.] (p. 181f)
Also, here is my paraphrase of the Augustinians' support at her marriage with Sante, based on Ady on around p. 49. (I am lifting all this from a post of mine on the Bologna thread), viewtopic.php?f=12&t=334&p=5332&hilit=G ... ated#p5329.
Ady says that the only recorded clash [of Bessarion] with Sante was over Bessarion's "sumptuary edict" of March 1453, designed to "bridle the extravagant luxury of the Bolognese ladies." Sante's mistress led the opposition to this edict. And "when Sante's own wedding celebrations defied the restrictions," he had to go to a different church, the Augustinians' San Giacomo, to get married. Bessarion then excommunicated the Augustinians, an act later rescinded at Sante's request.

Re: Bembo Workshop and Marriage Depictions

Posted: 12 Feb 2013, 06:28
by Lorredan
I do not think the decision by Visconti to Confraternities about heresy actually had anything to do with witches.
The Heresy of the Free Spirt was mostly spread in Italian States by written word, not by preachers. I think it was to do with the amount of vagrants coming into towns and getting aid from the Confraternities, and various methods were tried to keep them away. Cremona apparently put many gallows up outside the town to deter these wandering ''spirituals' or flagallents etc. Some Confraternities used a token system to keep track of those rightfully supposed to get charity. It seems to be forgotton that Cremona was a port- all sorts of undesirables came their way and it was difficult for charity minded souls to ignore them. When the Church put out printed matter- it went everywhere so the articles spoken about at Basel/Ferrara/Florence reached all over the place.
I think we forget how much the printing press changed attitudes and gave information to people who formerly would have had to rely on the preacher/priest/Church. Much how the web has informed us now- huge change. Look how America or China has fought to control ideas via the web. The Catholic Church had the same idea in the 15th Century. Information is power. So was money.