The Visconti heresy trials

Excellent, Marco. I had not thought to look at the lettering, which gives a more definitive result than the minor variations in the design.

Now I am going to finish my time-line, this time focusing just on the Visconti.


Here I am using three sources: first, at the beginning, Wikipedia. Then I go to Lea, History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, volume 3, for time-line entries. In the middle of it I put in selected passages from the Latin record of the charges Matteo Visconti and his sons were found guilty of in 1322. The selections I am quoting have to do specifically with Manfreda's connection with the Visconti rulers. I get them from Robert Michel, "Le procès de Matteo et de Galeazzo Visconti," in: Mélanges d'archéologie et d'histoire Vol. 29, 1909. pp. 269-327, an essay to which Ross graciously called my attention.

First, from Wikipedia ( and links), for the period 1268-1317: After 1268, the della Torre family continues to hold power in Milan and refuses to let the archbishop appointed in 1462, Ottone Visconti, take his seat, until Ottone defeats them in battle in 1278. He rules until his death in 1295. He is succeeded as lord of Milan by his nephew Matteo Visconti. It is under him, of course, that Manfreda and Andrea are burned at the stake, and Guglielma's remains are burned. In 1302 the della Torre return to power briefly, with Matteo and his sons returning in 1311.

1316-1317 (Lea,vol. 3 p. 196-7). John XXII becomes Pope;
...his first thought was to unite Italy under his overlordship...Early in December he despatched Bernard Gui, the Inquisitor of Toulouse, and Bertrand, Franciscan Minister of Aquitaine, as nuncios to effect that purpose. Neither Guelfs nor Ghibellines were inclined to accept his views... Especially recalcitrant were the threee Ghibelline chiefs of Lombardy, Matteo Visconti, known as the Great, who ruled over the greater part of the region and still retained the title of Imperial Vicar bestowed on him by Henry VII, Cane della Scala, Lord of Verona, and Passerino of Mantua. They received his envoys with all due honor, but found excuses for evading his commands.
According to the charges against Matteo, however, Matteo "violently expelled four inquisitors from Milan four inquisitors of heretics called by the authority of the Lord Pope" (Newman p. 21f, translating Andre-Michel, Le Proces p. 196). I have not located this passage in the charges.

1317. (p. 197)
In March, 1317, John issued a bull in which he declared that all the imperial appointments had lapsed on the death of [Emperor] Henry, that until his successor had received the papal approval all the power of the empire vested in the Holy See, and that whoever presumed to exercise those powers without permission was guilty of treason to the Church.
1318. (p. 197) John issues
a bull decreeing excommunication on Matteo, Cane [of Verona], Passerino [of Mantua], and all who refused obedience. This was speedily followed by formal motions and citations to trial on charges of heresy, Matteo and his sons being the chief objects of persecution,. It was not difficult to find materials for these, furnished by refugees from Milan at the papal court--Bonifacio di Farra, Lorenzo Gallini, and others.
May 1321. Matteo and his sons, having not appeared before the tribunal, are found guilty. An interdict is imposed on Milan and other cities under Visconti rule. Repeated Jan. 1322, in a papal bull, and in final form March 1322. Here is Lea's summary of the charges of which Matteo is found guilty. I highlight the most relevant part for us. (p. 200):
He had imposed taxes on the churches and collected them by violence; he had forcibly installed his creatures as superiors in monasteries and his concubines in nunneries; he had imprisoned ecclesiastics and tortured them--some had died in prison and others still lingered there; he had expelled prelates and seized their lands; he had prevented the transmission of money to the papal camera, even some collected for the Holy Land; he had accepted and opened letters between the pope and the legates; he had attacked and slain crusaders assembled in Milan for the Holy Land; he had disregarded excommunication, thus showing he had erred in the faith as to the sacraments and the power of the keys; he had prevented the interdict laid upon Milan from being observed; he had obstructed prelates from holding synods and visiting their dioceses, thus favoring heresies and scandals; his enormous crimes show that he is an offshoot of heresy, his ancestors having been suspect and some of them burned, and he has for officials and confidants heretics, such as Francesco Garbagnate, on whom crosses had been imposed; he has expelled the Inquisition from Florence [this should be "Milan," I think]; he interposed in favor of Maifreda who was burned; he is an invoker of demons, seeking from them advice and responses; he denies the resurrection of the flesh; he has endured papal excommunication for more than three years, and when cited for examination into his faith he refused to appear.
I cite the whole list mainly because it was a matter of public record, repeated over and over again, and something any Visconti descendant would or should have been educated in, in case new charges were visited upon them. As will be clear from the Latin below, people were judged guilty by association.

Here now are some selections from the Latin text of the condemnation, those passages of relevance to us, with my assuredly not fully accurate translation. It is my attempt to make sense of what comes out of Google Translate, using the online dictionaries. Also, I am not totally sure I have the right spelling of some of the Latin words, as it is sometimes hard to distinguish, for example, a "c" from an "e," or a "v" from an "r."
Deponit quod si non fuisset dimissum quando procedebatur contra Manfredam et heresim suam propter timorem Mathei qui dominabatur tunc Mediolani, multa fuissent tunc dicta et inventa contra fidem que non fuerunt revelata quia illi qui scierant timore
ipsius Mathei non fuerunt ausi revelare . (p. 318)

(Deposes that if it had not been released when issued against Manfreda and heresy, the fear of Matteo who then ruled Milan, many would have spoken and then found against the faith who were not revealed because they who had fear of Matteo did not dare to reveal it.)

. . . Deponit quod audivit quod Matheus rogavit pro quibusdam infamatis de heresi tempore processuum contra Manfredain hereticam combustam . . .
. . . Deponit quod Matheus tunc dominus Mediolani rogavit pro quodam Guidone Stanpherio, qui erat acusatus et suspectus de heresi Manfrede vel Guillelme, et suis precibus liberavit eum.
[f. 19] De resurrectione et providencia divina, videlicet quod non credit carnis resurrexionem, nec divinani providenciam circa actus humanos.
Deponit quod audivit ab ipso Matheo quod quando homo moritur anima ejus vadit quo ire débet et nunquam resurgit corpus ejus ad judicium. Et de fama super hoc. (319)

(Deposes that it was heard that Matteo requested for some people disgraced by heresy at the time of the trial against Manfreda burnt for heresy. . .
. . . Deposes that Matteo, then ruler of Milan, requested for Guido Stanpherio, who was accused and suspected of the heresy of Manfreda or Guillelma, that he be liberated at his request.
[f. 19] Of the resurrection and divine providence, that he does not believe in the resurrection, nor divine providence concerning human activity.
Deposes that from Matteo was heard that when a man dies, his soul goes where it goes and never resurrects with its body at judgment. And of glory above this.
That the soul goes directly to heaven or hell without resurrection of the body was a Waldensian belief, according to Gui (p. 54), who says of them,
They say and teach that when the soul leaves the body it goes immediately to paadise, if it is to be saved, or to hell if it is to be damned, and that there is no other place for souls after this life but paradise or hell.
We will see an allusion to the denial of purgatory in the next selection.
Item, quod mater dicti Mathei fuit de cognatione Magfrede heretice combuste...
[f. 22 v] Item, quod Matheus rogavit pro liberatione Magfrede heretice, jam deprehense et tradende judicio seculari.
Item, quod, habuit sororem patris vel avi [nomine Garafola] nuptam corniti de Curtenova (1), receptatori et credenti hereticorum, cuius castrum fuit per Inquisitores funditus dissipatum . . .
[f° 23] Item, quod in suo dominio astrinxit sibi et conciliarios secretarios habuit et habet et promovit suspectos et notatos de heresi, scilicet comitem Otolinum de Curtenova, consobrinum suum, qui negabat purgatorium dicens quod clerici finxerant hoc pro lucro; item, Franciscum de Garbanhate qui fuit de secta dicte Magfrede et propter hoc crucesignatus; item, Scotum de Sancto Geminiano, de favore hereticorum notatum; item, Franciscum de Parma qui in officiis suis inquisitores multipliciter gravavit et nuper Papie fuit per inquisitorem omni officio publico privatus et condempnatus quia (se) manifeste officio inquisitionis se opposuerat: item, Otonem et Goffredum de Castana, hereticorum filios vel nepotes; item, Andream, hereticum combustum, Albertonum de Novate, Otolinum de Garbanhate, Felesinum Tarentanum, Francisquinum de Malcasata (?), omnes crucesignatos . . .
[f 23 v°] Item, dicit se credere et audivisse. quod magister Antonius Parmensis qui est conciliarius et medicus dicti Mathei est magnus hereticus . . .
[fu24] Item, quod pluries et in pluribus locis impedivit officium inquisitionis heretice pravitatis per se vel per ministros seu officiales . . .
[1. Cortenova, Lombardie, prov. de Come] (322)

(Item, that Matteo's mother was of the family of Magfreda, [female] heretic burnt ...
[f. V 22] Item, that Matteo asked for the liberation of the [female] heretic Magfreda, now arrested and handed over to the secular court.
Item, that he had a sister of his father or grandfather [named Garafola] married to the Count of Curtenova (1), received and believed heretics, whose castle was completely destroyed by inquisitors. . .
[23° f] Item, that in his domain he had counselors and secretaries and successfully promoted those suspected and noted of heresy, namely, Count Otolinum Curtenova, his cousin, who denied purgatory, that the clergy have imagined, saying it for gain, and again, Francis Garbanhate who was of the said sect of Manfreda and because of this marked with crosses, and again, Scotum of St. Geminianus noted to favor heretics, again Francis of Parma, who in office multiply aggrieved the inquisitors and recently the Papie [the Papacy?] was by the inquisitors condemned from holding any public office, which it is clearly the duty of inquisitors to oppose; item, Otho and Goffredum de Castana, children or grandchildren of heretics; item, Andrea, heretic who was burned, Albertonum de Novate, Otolinum Garbanhate, Felesinum Tarentanum, Francisquinum da da Malcasata (?), all marked with crosses. . .
[f ° v 23] Item, it is believed and heard that Master Antonio Parmensis, who is a councilor and doctor, said that Matteo is a great heretic. . .
[fu24] Also, that in many times, and in many places, he has impeded with heretical wickedness the duty of the inquistitors, by himself or through his officers or officials. . .
[1. Cortenova, Lombardy, Prov. Come] (322))
In the above, it is is alleged specifically that Manfreda is related to the Visconti via Matteo's mother. Regarding Cortenova, you will recall, from my previous post, that Egidio, Count of Cortennova, turned over his castle to the heretics, with the result that the inquisitors razed it; then he seized another castle and installed his heretics there. This all happened before 1254. Andrea is Andrea Saramita, leader with Manfreda of the Guglielmites. "Marked with crosses" means: required to wear a large gold cross sewn into one's upper garment, front and back. However according to Lea they could get out of this requirement by paying a fine.

There is also this in the charges, about Galeazzo, Matteo's oldest son and heir:
[f° 11 v°] XX. — Quod fuit de secta Manfrede, heretice, et sjeìus condemnatorum per inquisitores.
. . . Deponit quod audivit a quodam fratre Pezolo, converso ordinis Heremitarum, qui fuerat hostiarius dicte heretice, quod Galeazeus frequenter ibat cum aliis ad domum dicte Manfrede, qui damnati fuerunt propter illum errorem, ipso fratre Pezolo, hostiario. vidente. Quidam alius deponit se audivisse quando detectus fuit error predictus dicte Manfrede quod Galeazeus fuisset cruce signatus nisi quia Matheus pater ejus fecit cum ire ad pedes inquisitoris cum corrigia ad collum, ut parceretur ei.

(That he was of the sect Manfreda, the [female] heretic, and was condemned by the inquisitors.
. . . Deposes that was heard from a brother Pezolo, converted to the order of the Hermits, who had been a doorkeeper of the said heretics, that Galeazzo frequently went with others to the house of the so-called Manfrede, who have been condemned because of their error, the brother Pezolo himself, doorkeeper, witness. Another deposes that it was heard when the error was detected of the so-called Manfrede, that Galeazzo would have been marked with a cross except that Matteo, his father, went to the feet of an inquisitor with a strap at his neck, to spare him.)
This would make Galeazzo more guilty of heresy than Matteo, who merely hinders its prosecution. The other brothers are mostly charged with interfering with the inquisitors and other church officials in their appointed duties.

Now I'll resume my time-line.

1322. Lea (p. 198f): "A peace party speedily formed itself in Milan and the question was openly asked whether the whole region should be sacrificed for the sake of one man...It is, perhaps, worthy of mention that Francesco Gabagante, the old Guglielmite, association with whom was one of the proofs of heresy against Matteo, was one of the efficient agents in procuring his downfall, for Matteo had estranged him by refusing him the captaincy of the Milanese militia." Matteo resigns in favor of his son Galeazzo and dies in June, age 72, buried in unconsecrated ground..

1323. (pp. 199-201) The sons of Matteo refuse to concede; Galeazzo's forces defeat the Papal forces. The cities of Lombardy remain under interdict.

1324. (p., 201) John XXII issues a new bull condemning Matteo and his five sons, repeating the inquisitorial sentence but with "the omission of the of the most serious charge of all--that of demon-worship--and the defence of Maifreda is replaced by a statement that Matteo had interfered to save Galeazzo, who was now stated to have been a Guglielmite". (However it seems to me that this was already included in the condemnation of 1322.)

1330s. Interdict lifted. (p. 202).

1337: Luchino, anxious to have a Christian burial for his father, applies to Benedict XII to reopen the process. (p. 202)

1341. Benedict XII declares "the whole proceedings null and void, for irregularity and injustice" (p. 202). However Matteo and his deceased sons remain buried in unconsecrated ground even then, pending more appeals (p. 203),

1363. Innocent VI summons Bernabo Visconti for trial as a heretic; he is condemned by Urban V on March 3, and has a crusade preached against him. Peace made in 1364. (p. 202f)

1373. (p. 203) Bernabo is again summoned to stand trial for heresy. Lea observes that the same was done in many other cases, for political purposes, so no actual suspicion of heresy should be presumed. I cite it only to show that the Visconti would have retained a lively interest in circumstances under which they might at any time be so charged.

All of this was a matter of very public record. I would imagine that people descended from this family would have been made aware of this record, for their own protection, perhaps not only of the Church's perspective but of the victims' perspective as well.

Access to this list of charges against the Visconti would not have conveyed the information that Manfreda was to take the place of the Pope at the Holy See at the time of Guglielma's resurrection. That would have had to come from the trial transcript that was found in Pavia in the 17th century, which Barbara Newman speculates Matteo got from the inquisitors who came in 1317.

Conversely, there is no mention of the Visconti in the extant transcript of the 1300 trial, not even the relationship of cousin that is stated in the charges against Matteo. It would seem that such references either didn't occur in the trial transcript or were left out of the copy found in the 17th century. If the former, this might have been part of a deal, for Matteo to burn Manfreda in exchange for him and his immediate family not being mentioned. If the latter, then the copy found in the 17th century might have been edited by the Visconti to delete incriminating testimony.

Besides the 1317 inquisitors, another possible source of the trial transcript might be via the Archbishopric. The Cistercian abbey that venerated Guglielma asked the Inquisition for an account of the charges, according to Lea (vol 3 p. 99): I gather that this is before the actual trial.
Then the Guglielmites applied to the Abbot of Chiaravalle and to one of his monks, Marchisio di Veddano, himself suspected of Guglielmitism. These asked to have a copy of the bull, and one was duly made by a notary and given to them, which they took to the Archbishop of Milan at Cassano, and asked him to place the investigation of the matter in their hands.
The Archbishop did nothing, of course. But he at least got a copy of the charges, which might have included the part about becoming Pope. Also, he might also have asked for a transcript once the trial was done, given the high social standing of those involved and the abbey's interest. From there, it would have been easy to transfer the document to the Visconti once they regained control of the archbishopric in 1339, in the person of Giovanni Visconti (yes, one of the sons of Matteo who had been condemned in 1322; see ... rchbishop)).

The fresco at Chiaraville

This is more about Manfreda/Maifreda. I am posting here, as opposed to other more current threads, because of all the previous material, which works as background for this post.

I recently read an essay by Ida Li Vigni, "La Papessa del Tarocchi Visconti: storia di un'eresia femminile", pp. 63-78 of Il Ludus Triimphorum o Tarot: carte da gioco o alfabeta da destino, edited by P. A. Rossi and I. Li Vigni, Genova 2011. She has a reproduction of the Caffi sketch of the Guiglielma fresco in the cemetery of the Abbey at ChiaravAlle, which was still visible in 1849, and that he published in his book Dell'Abbazia di Chiaravalle in Lombardia:


Here is what she says about it (pp. 69-70); translation follows the Italian:
Dell'affresco che decorava la cappella di Guglielma a Chiaravalle sono rimaste labilissime tracce - le aureole sbiadite della vergine Maria, di Gesù bambino e di San Bernardo - e l'unica testimonianza certa ci è offerta dalle parole e dal disegno dello storico milanese Michele Caffi che nel 1842 (anno di pubblicazione del suo libro Dell'Abbazia di Chiaravalle in Lombardia) ebbe la possibilità di vederlo e di denunciare le condizioni di assoluto degrado della cappella.

Iconograficamente l'affresco non presenta elementi di eterodossia, rappresentando Guglielma presentata da San Bernardo alla Vergine Maria inginocchio e di proporzioni più piccole, così come minori sono quelle della suora in ginocchiata accanto a lei, verosimilmente Maifreda. Nel disegno appena abbozzato del Caffi l'unica figura ben tratteggiata, soprattutto nel volto, è proprio quella di Guglielma, ed è un volto tinto di rosso, al pari di quello di Maifreda. Il Caffi motiva questa caratteristica citando la sua fonte, Giovanni Pietro Puricelli, studioso del XVII secolo che si era occupato della vicenda in una dissertazione intitolata De Guillelma Boheme vulgo Gulielmina (manoscritto, segnatura C. 1 inf., Biblioteca Ambrosiana). Ecco le sue parole:
...La Vergine seduta sostiene il bambino nel suo grembo, stringe nella destra un giglio: alla sua sinistra è san Bernardo che le addita Guglielmina genuflessa, e più abbasso è pure genuflessa la di lei socia Mainfreda vestita dell' abito delle Umiliate. Gio. Pietro Furicela, che scrìsse di Guglìelmina, come dirò più innanzi, nel 1646, dice che la figura di Guglielmina era quella d'una donna rossa in viso, dell' età intorno a' cinquant' anni. Ora i colori e le traccie del volto sono troppo deperite per darne un giudizio. Assai preziosa è, a mio avviso, questa pittura, sia pel soggetto ch'essa ricorda, sìa per la sua antichità che si prova colla seguente considerazione: Guglielmina morì in odore di santità nel'anno 1281, ma nel 1300 fu dichiarata eretica, diseppellita, le sue cenerei vennero bruciate, fu arsa viva la seguace Mainfreda. Chi dopo il 1300 avrebbe osato dipingere Guglielmina e Mainfreda in atto di divozione, presentate da un santo alla Vergine? Quella pittura deve adunque essere stata eseguita quando ancora le ossa della Boema ivi riposavano, quando ancora la di lei memoria era in venerazione, e quindi prima del 1300.

L'appariscente colore rosso dei due volti doveva essere un neppure troppo segreto riferimento simbolico alla fede guglielminita, ovvero all'incarnazione in Guglielma dello Spirito Santo, essendo il rosso, nella liturgia cristiana, il colore dello Spirito Santo in quanto vita è rinnovamento e rossi sono i paramenti della Pentecoste, uno dei giorni in cui si celebrava la festa della santa Boema. La conservazione di queste immagini, ben leggibili ancora nel 1646, è una prova del perdurare nel tempo del culto a Guglielma e della memoria di Maifreda e può supportare l'ipotesi che proprio Maifreda, o meglio ancora Guglielma-Maifreda, sia la fonte d'ispirazione dell'Arcano 2. Lo stesso Puricelli, nella sua sintesi in 14 punti della dottrina guglielminita, al punto X afferma:
...Suor Maifreda deve essere vera "Papessa" e avere autorità di un vero papa, perché, essendo Guglielma lo Spirito santo informa di donna, Maifreda deve essere la sua vicaria informa di donna ...

(Of the fresco that decorated the chapel of Guglielma in Chiaravalle the feeblest traces remain - the faint halo of the Virgin Mary, baby Jesus and St. Bernard - and the only sure witness is offered to us by the words and the design of the Milanese historiian Michele Caffi in 1842 (the year of the publication of his book (On the Abbey of Clairvaux in Lombardy) who had a chance to see it and denounce the conditions of absolute degradation of the chapel.

Iconographically the fresco has no elements of heterodoxy, depictin Guglielma presented by St. Bernard to the Virgin Mary, kneeling and of smaller proportions, as well as the smaller one of the nun at her knee beside her, probably Maifreda. In the design just sketched by Caffi the only figure treated well, especially in the face, is precisely that of Guglielma, and it is a face stained red, like that of Maifreda. Caffi explaiins this feature, citing his source, John Peter Puricelli, a scholar of the seventeenth century who had dealt with the matter in a dissertation entitled De Boheme Guillelma vulgar Gulielmina (manuscript, segnatura C 1 inf., Biblioteca Ambrosiana). Here are his words:
...The seated Virgin supports the child in her lap and holds a lily in her right hand: to the left is St. Bernard who points to Wilhelmina kneeling, and lower down is also her associat Mainfreda dressed in the habit of the Umiliate. Pietro Furicela, who wrote of Wilhelmina, as I will explain further on, in 1646 , says that the figure of Wilhelmina was that of a woman red in the face, around 'fifty' years of age. Now the colors and the traces of the face are too wasted to make a judgment. That this painting is very valuable, in my opinion, both for the subject that it records, and for its antiquity, is proved by the following consideration: Wilhelmina died in the odor of sanctity in the year 1281, but in 1300 she was declared a heretic, her exhumed remains were burnt, and her follower Mainfreda was burnt alive. Who would have dared to paint after 1300 Wilhelmina and Mainfreda in the act of devotion to the Virgin presented by a saint? That painting must therefore have been executed even when the bones of the Bohemian therein reposed, even when still her memory was venerated, and thus before 1300 ...
The striking red color of the two faces had to be a not too secret symbolic reference to the guglielminite faith, or the incarnation in Guglielma of the Holy Spirit, red, in the Christian liturgy, being the color of the Holy Spirit, as life is renewal and red are the vestments of Pentecost, one of the days when there was the celebration of the holy Bohemian. The conservation of these images, still legible in 1646, is proof of the persistence over time of the cult of Guglielma and of the memory of Maifreda, and can support the hypothesis that Maifreda herself, or better yet Guglielma-Maifreda, is the source of inspiration for Arcanum 2. The same Puricelli, in his summary in 14 points of Guglielminite doctrine, at point X says:
...Suor Maifreda deve essere vera "Papessa" e avere autorità di un vero papa, perché, essendo Guglielma lo Spirito santo informa di donna, Maifreda deve essere la sua vicaria informa di donna ...
(...Sister Maifreda must be true "Papessa" and have the authority of a true pope, because, being Guglielma the Holy Spirit informs the woman, Maifreda must be her vicar informed by the woman ...)
I doubt that I have translated the words of Puricelli at the end properly; the manner of speaking is strange to me. So I repeated them in Italian, just before the English.

What makes this information interesting for our purposes is that it shows how in the 17th century the name "Guglielmina" was attached even to what was obviously not the lady of the 9th century, the wife of the Englishman or whatever, but to the 13th century Guglielma herself, in the very spot she had been buried, and that while they were able to disinter her bones, the Inquisition had been unable to efface her memory among the Cistercians. No Cistercians were called to the trial, no doubt for good reason. And the fresco, orthodox enough unless one wanted to interpret the red faces and the identity of the figures, remained.

Also, I need to muddy the waters regarding something I had said and agreed with earleir, that the testimony at the trial was to the effect that Manfreda/Maifreda only held that she would become pope once the existing pope was unseated. Lea (Vol. 3 p. 99) says that when the Guglielmites were summoned to appear before the inquisitors ( ... m#page_098):
Then the Guglielmites applied to the Abbot of Chiaravalle and to one of his monks, Marchisio di Veddano, himself suspected of Guglielmitism. These asked to have a copy of the bull, and one was duly made by a notary and given to them, which they took to the Archbishop of Milan at Cassano, and asked him to place the investigation of the matter in their hands. He promised to intervene, but if he did so he was probably met with the information, which had been speedily elicited from the culprits, that they held Boniface VIII. not to be pope, and consequently that the archbishop whom he had created was not archbishop. Either in this or in some other way the prelate’s zeal was refrigerated, and he offered no opposition to the proceedings.[105]
Lea's footnote is to Andrea Ogniben, I Guglielmiti del Secolo XIII., Perugia, 1867, pp. 21, 40, 42, 78-9, with his added comment in the footnote:
Dionese de’ Novati deposed (p. 93) that Maifreda was in the habit of saying that Boniface was not truly pope, and that another pontiff had been created. We have seen that the Spiritual Franciscans had gone through the form of electing a new pope. There was not much in common between them and the Guglielmites, and yet this would point to some relations as existing.
I cannot find such testimony in Tamburini's book, online ( ... &q&f=false). I do see such statements in Ogniben, e.g. p. 21 and especially p. 93, where Lea's translation seems accurate enough. See ... &q&f=false. It does not look like a verbatim testimony. And it seems to me that I have read somewhere that there were questions about Ogniben's reliability. In any case, Lea was Moakley's source, whom she followed reliably, and Lea followed Ogniben reliably.

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

Wouldn't the apparently male, and not dressed as a nun, person with Guglielma be the "grown son" that Newman says came to Milan with her when she arrived around 1260? (end of paragraph 8 of her article; in my printout it is on page 3, which I would guess is about p. 275 of the original)

Caffi's 1842 book is available in several scans online. If you "read online" at one of the copies, you can see the original color with a nice copy of the engraving - ... inal69.jpg

The brickwork of the tomb, with traces of the fresco visible, still stands at Chiaravalle. Here is a picture taken in 2008, found here - ... -da-manzu/
(The photograph seems unattributed) ... to2008.jpg

Clicking on the link for a larger image, you can see that Mary had a halo as well. Jesus' halo, St. Bernard's, as well as the top of the lily Mary is holding, are also visible.

Superimposing Caffi's engraving on the traces, we can see that while his dimensions were a little off, it is a tantalizing reminder of what we have lost to both time and neglect: ... bcaffi.jpg

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

Thanks for the pictures, Ross. For others who may want to look, ... 7/mode/2up is I guess the one you mean (between p. 68 and 69 of the book). By "original color" I assume you don't mean the red that is referred to. I didn't see any color reproductions.

I suppose it is possible that the smallest figure is the grown son. But the two figures seem dressed similarly to me. Also, we hear nothing about the son during the time she was associated with Mainfreda. The son seems to have dropped out of the picture by then. There is also the color red to account for, and the fact that this fresco was not destroyed. Red would seem to have the same symbolism as putting a hand on the head, which was how the the Holy Spirit was brought from one person to another. Any oral tradition associated with the fresco--and 150 years is not too long for such a tradition to persist; if we think in terms of monk-generations, it is only around 4 --would more likely have referred to Mainfreda rather than the son.

My main point is that this fresco is of the unsanitized Giuglielma, associated with the Holy Spirit, and as opposed to the sanitized one we hear of in quattrocento Ferrara and Florence; as such it was readily available in Bianca Maria's time. Any

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

I just read about something I had not taken into consideration before: the motto "a bon droit" on the man's hat in the Cary-Yale Love card, a Visconti motto, It is pointed out in Art and Love in Renaissance Italy, Metropolitan Museum, NY, 2008, p. 139, in a commentary on the cards by Jacqueline Marie Musacchio. The words are not visible currently; all you can see is that something is there (my image taken from On Cicigonara's drawing of the card, reproduced in Kaplan vol. 1, p. 89, the words are more legible.


The existence of the motto presents problems for the interpretation. I had assumed that the presence of the fountain on the man's coat (is it only on the back, or also on the front?) meant that he was Francesco Sforza, in a deck commemorating that marriage or betrothal, because the fountain was heraldic of his. However to the extent that "a bon droit" means "with good right" and refers to the right to rule, Filippo Visconti would never have applied that motto to Francesco. I see five possible explanations, none of them entirely convincing.

(1) In this case "a bon droit" means only "with appropriate virtue". In other words, Francesco has earned the right to marry Filippo's daughter by his virtue of faithful service. The motto was originally applied to mean that Barnabo had a right to the title "Count of Virtue", where "Virtue" was a territory in France that was part of his wife's dowry. But its association with the turtledove, as Petrarch originally proposed it, means also that he rightly is attributed the virtue of faithfulness. (For these points, see my post earlier in this thread, viewtopic.php?f=11&t=917&p=13592&hilit=droit#p13592.) Faithfulness is also implied by the dog in the CY card. The problem is that by 1441 Francesco hadn't been very faithful to Filippo (although he was to Bianca, in that he still wanted to marry her). In 1432, the time of the betrothal, however, both conditions would have obtained. A more serious problem is that the other implication, ruling rightfully in Visconti domains, cannot simply be ignored.

(2) The card, and thus the whole deck, is a Sforza forgery designed to suggest that Filippo approved of Francesco's accession to the duchy of Milan. In favor of this is that Francesco did forge a will purporting to be Fil;ippo's saying the same thing formally. Also, the Bembo workshop was known for its ability to paint in the obsolete style of Filippo's time. If so, everyone's dating of the deck as before 1447 is radically in error.

(3) The fountain on the man's coat is not a Sforza heraldic, but rather a generic fertility symbol. The same is true of the promegranate/quince on the court cards. (The quince certainly was.) The fountain relates to the "fountain of youth" and the restoration of virility. If so, The problem is that it would seem inappropriate to commemorate Filippo's marriage, in that it reportedly never was consummated. However the card could have been made before it happened; or it was designed to give the appearance that Filippo was doing his part, despite his age, to produce a legitimate heir. Or the woman on the card had a double reference, to his wife Maria of Savoy and also to Bianca Maria's mother, and the deck commemorates both events (marriage and birth) as well as perhaps affirming a desire for more children by the same woman.

(4) The deck was made for the condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni, who entered Filippo's service in 1443 along with Sforza and was favored briefly until Filippo imprisoned him, according to Wikipedia, and then for a time with Sforza ( Kaplan writes (vol. 2 p. 51):
The droplets of gutte seen splashing from the fountains on the costumes of the figures on the court cards in the suit of staves in the Cary-Yale deck may refer to the symbols of male virility found in the Colleoni court of arms. The Victoria and Albert ace of cups contains the Colleoni coat of arms on the base of the fountain. The condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni served both under Filippo Maria Visconti and Francesco Sforza.
That the "droplets" refer to testicles seems to me a long shot, as they are single blobs: see;;;, and compare to the detail posted by Ross at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=500&p=10665&hilit=colleoni#p10665.

(5) A combination of (1) and (3), in the case where the man might not be either Filippo or Francesco, but just anyone with enough virtue, and fertility, to merit marrying the lady. In this case, the card doesn't commemorate a particular marriage, i.e. it is not a marriage deck. The difficulty is that the phrase "a bon droit" and the Visconti viper above him do refer to a particular family, the Visconti. Also, the white cross on a red field is the heraldic of Maria of Savoy (as well as being another Visconti heraldic, in virtue of its rule over Pavia).

It seems to me that either 1 or 3 is the most likely. 3 coheres with a favorite interpretation of the World card of mine, one once advanced by mmfilesi, that the red castle on the World card is, on a special interpretation known only to those who knew the details, Bianca's mother's residence, just such a red castle, which Filippo would have reached by boat. But the issue remains problematic.

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

Re. a bon droyt on the CY Love card male’s hat

You’re overthinking this Mike; Sforza was allowed to rule the Visconti (VICECOMES in Latin, as on the medal for Sforza, dating to the same year as his marriage to Bianca, 1441) possession of Cremona “with good right” on behalf of Filippo as a vassal. Not only would the mottoes be permissible, but in fact in the medal below Sforza is even being allowed to refer to himself as “Visconti” via his marriage to Bianca.

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

I hadn't thought of that possibilty, Phaeded. So in a way, I underthought it. But I still am not clear. What is the date of that medal? I haven't seen it before. Did Visconti make Sforza a Viscount (surely not a Visconti!)? Would Filippo have understood the dowry as including the right to rule Cremona? I thought he was adverse to commoners ruling anything. Also, I didn't think Sforza was a vassal in the feudal sense; but rather a hired gun with no pledge of fealty.. I don't know what to think. Perhaps you can say more.

Re: Visconti marriage & betrothal commemorations

Your question misses the point on the medal – Sforza was not a viscount so the Latin version there obviously refers to Visconti. I take the medal inscription – keeping in mind Pisanello did one for Visconti at the same time – to simply indicate Cremona was a Visconti possession to which Sforza was made “lord” in a vassal sense (he already was a count and held the Marche). This is to be understood in the same imperial hierarchal sense that even Visconti was a vassal of the Emperor, as Milan was an imperial duchy. Sforza's main problem when he claimed to be duke of Milan was this imperial investiture...which he never got (a son got it after paying a handsome dowry).

1441 is the date given here:
The Renaissance Portrait: From Donatello to Bellini. Keith Christiansen, Stefan Weppelmann. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2011: 250 (the entry on this medal continues onto p. 251 but not included in Google books) ... 41&f=false

PS The Pisanello medal made for Visconti in the same year ... pisanello/

I discussed the relationship of the two Pisanello medals on page 7 of this thread over a year ago (31 Jan 2013, 09:41):
The specific context is Visconti art commissions in 1441 (Dummett -1986:14 – essentially endorsed the Becker-Kaplan theory of the Bianca/Sforza wedding so I think we can talk loosely of a consensus on that date) which also includes the Pisanello medals. Filippo Visconti had a victory of sorts in pulling Sforza away from the Florentine/Venetian/Papal “holy alliance” - this was the most pivotal coup in his geopolitical goals. He allowed (encouraged?) Sforza to broadcast that fact via Sforza’s Pisanello medal and I believe the reverse of Filippo’s own Pisannello medal definitely shows Venice in the background [note the campanile structure and dome to indicate St. Marks] , with a Sforza lance in the foreground (wearing Visconti’s crest of course). Sforza was to defeat Venice for Filippo. The CY deck serves the same purpose in a different medium (one likely first used by one of his enemies, Florence, and thus serves in one sense as counter-propaganda). … So no, the CY is not principally a “wedding deck” per se - although that event “sealed the deal” with Sforza - it commemorates the political alignment of the most successful condottiere of his age, Sforza, with Visconti. The radiant dove on Filippo’s person in the Pisanello obverse is the same image held out by the woman on the Chariot (and is embroidered on all of the women in Coin suit bearing this Visconti emblem) , thus extending the right to the use of “Visconti” to her husband, who in fact does use that name on his own Pisanello obverse. The CY court cards are iconographically a courtly pairing of two sets of coats of arms, the courting ritual itself played out in the trumps, or in some cases, merely endorsed by the trumps. … If the landscape of the final [CY] card of the “world” does not show the dowry of Cremona, with Sforza arriving from the Marche (again, the merger of two family symbols such as we find in the court cards: Cremona=Visconti, Marche=Sforza) then what is it?

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests