Volume III-The Universal History of the World
------------Edited and Hacked----------------
In the time men would call "Middle Ages", knights in glistening armour rode forth to serve GOD, and their kings, and life was a stately procession winding through a landscape marked by castles and cathedrals.
Such it was said, was the will of GOD. Hidden away in the castles and cathedrals libraries, manuscripts, that held the science, poetry, and wisdom of two thousand years of life and discovery, dusty and unread.
Their new fortunes gave guildsmen power. The wisdom in these books, he told the merchants was "more valuable merchandise" than the rarest goods of China and Arabia.
Their philosophy was called humanism because it began with the study of mankind instead of the mysteries of GOD.
Art was a matter of everyday importance. Scholars like artist were of great demand. Men of learning were considered a necessary adornment for any court, and education was the mark of a gentleman.
And when the invitation of movable type made it possible to print books by the thousands instead of hand copying them one by one, the scholars did a masterly job of editing the Ancient Writings.
The Middle Ages had been a time of waiting and caution. The republic's government, like its money, was in the hands of a new set of aristocrats, a few important merchants who belonged to the great guilds. They resolved to over throw their aristocratic masters. The story did not begin very hopefully. The people had elected a new council. Instead of holding public office himself, he saw to it public council was filled with his friends. The people did not realize they had less to say about their government than ever.
His agents roamed Europe in search of OLD MANUSCRIPTS. Many of the Books were Greek. His wild adventures kept him in constant trouble with the city of Judges and the head of his monastery. He could bring to life the stories of the BIBLE by showing them as though they had happened in the countryside of Florence. To celebrate the betrothal he proclaimed a public holiday and staged an old fashioned tournament. The conspirators decided to do their killing during the Party. It was important, of course, that both Brothers be killed at the same time. The killings were postponed until the next morning, Easter Sunday. The hired killer had refused to practice his trade in church and two Monks volunteered to take his place.
The cathedral was jammed with worshippers. This was the killers signal to strike. The two Monks acted less quickly. His friends surrounded him to his palace. when he went to the council chamber to take charge of his government, the councillors stared at him in wonder, then put him under arrest. He called out to the men he had brought with him but no one came. Still the crowd was unsatisfied. The killings went on for months, until hundreds of men died. The King was impressed with his courage, he was pleased by his gracious manner and gradually he was convinced by his arguments for peace. The bells of the cathedral rang out to proclaim the PEACE.
For many townsmen the streets were outdoor living-rooms. Beggars huddled in doorways and beside the steps of churches. Side by Side the ugliness and cruelty were Beauty and Wisdom. The apprentice artist usually spent twelve years leaning his craft.
"I want to work Miracles" he said. By miracles, he meant paintings that showed the thoughts and feelings of men as well as what they looked like. He studied the movement of their arms and legs, the ever-changing expressions on their faces. He learned to watch the light and shadow that in an instant could change the look of a face or a mountain. when he began to understand how "nature's machines" worked, he tried to invent machines of his own.
He had been educated by the Humanists, he was himself a scholar and poet, and he was fascinated by the ideas of the ancient philosophers.
In 1471, a printing press with moveable type, a german invention, Books now that only the rich could afford tow own, could now be printed in great numbers and at much less expense.
"Now the most stupid thoughts can in a minute be put into thousands of Books and spread around the world", he grumbled.He might call it a Golden Age but the truth were in their account books.
"Fair is Youth and free of Sorrow
Yet how soon it's joys we bury
Let who would be now be merry
Sure is no one of tomorrow"
And the priceless collections of books and art were stolen, scattered, or destroyed.
"Never so sweet a gladness
Joy so pure and strong...
Cry with me now, cry as I cry,
Madness, Madness, holy madness"
Rich and Poor alike shuddered at the thought of doom, swore to reform their ways, and the Renaissance city turned backwards, to the Middle Ages. Then the spell began to fade.
If he walked through a fire and came out unharmed, his claims were true; if he burned they were false. He was a trouble maker, they decided, and they ordered their officers to arrest him. He was tortured, tried, and condemned to die. At last the Republic had it's Liberty. But nothing was as it once had been.
The Foreigners had come once; they would come again. In the Middle Ages the crusaders came there for their chain-mail, and it was said entire armies were outfitted in a few days.
Later the fashions of war changed. Indeed they made a show of their strength and wealth. It discouraged invaders and rivals and over-ambitious relatives. They frightened their subjects with harsh laws, rewarded them with pageants, and impressed them with magnificent palaces.
Brothers, nephews, and cousins, busily plotted one another's downfall. One met a sudden, well planned death, and his brothers, not wishing to share his fate, agreed to share the Family Lands instead. Any citizen who disobey faced forty days and forty kinds of tortures.
Of course he sent his soldiers around to make certain the dogs were well fed, whether the peasants ate or not. He had long envied his brother's wealth and now meant to take it from his brother's son.
He was a coward, who frantically fled to safety at the first sign of a fight. The people welcomed him with joyful shout;
"Long Live the Count and down with the taxes."
Since he was still a coward he also bought courage. While they squabbled their father's generals deserted and claimed the town as their own. At last the young duke and his Brother agreed to divide the shrunken dukedom. His hands it were said were fed on human flesh. He rarely went out where his subjects could see him, and he changed his secret living quarters in the palace so often that even his councillors often had difficulty finding him. He tried to buy his commanders' loyalty with high salaries, and sent spies on them, just to be sure. In his youth, he had marched with the army commanded by his father, a commoner whose skill in battle had won him friendship of Kings. He had learned how to command men. He disciplined them strictly. Many rulers and cities sought his services. This he thought, was what he wanted; and this, he swore to himself was what he would have.
Now they were free. They were determined to have no new master. He lived simply, worked hard,and treated his subjects as justly as he treated his soldiers.
For important guests of state,there was a special treat. He also gave displays of dreadful cruelty,Citizens were tortured in public squares, merchants were insulted and dragged off to prison,-all so that the Duke could show off his power. His years at court had taught him to be cunning and ruthless.
Some citizens complained that she was too proud and too extravagant. Not as an architect or military engineer, of course, but as a painter and planner of pageants and holiday decorations. Sometimes he rushed from the streets, added one or two strokes of paint to one figure, the left again, sometimes he sat for hours, staring at the picture and adding nothing. Desperate for money and soldiers, he disguised himself and fled to Germany, to seek the help of the emperor. While he was gone, his officers gave up the fight.
Now he was a wanderer, going from city to city in search of work, still filling his notebooks with ideas for inventions, still dreaming of making miracles. Again he put on a disguise but he was captured and taken to France. For years he was held a prisoner in one of the French King's castles. He consulted his councillors and men who had travelled widely in Europe, asking them who best deserved this honour.
Actually it was not a development state at all. It's Duke paid an annual tribute to the Pope for the privilege of governing his family dukedom himself. It all depended on their rulers - the ambitious dukes or counts or sometimes, commoners who gained riches and power.
It's dukes d'Estes, had to come to power in the last days of chivalry. Here Nobles ad Ladies posed on furniture decorated with gold. In hidden alcoves, courtly couples whispered of love, and scholars argued noisily about the meaning of Greek Words.
There were many stories and many versions of the same story handed down from minstrel to minstrel. The adventures were wild and impossible. There were winged horses, people who turned into trees, and fortresses that melted away with a magic word. In the practical age of learning and discoveries there was no place for romantic knights, but people liked to read and remember. Of course chivalry was dead or out-of-date.
Now he decideth for his children power and wealth were not enough, they must have learning as well. The boys were students like their father. At sixteen she married him and went on making wishes for gowns embroidered with jewels, a court, to play with, and a title of Duchess. She learned to write poetry in Italian and essays in Latin, to talk politics with diplomats, and painting with artists, to sing and dance and play clavichord and flute.
Visitors to her father's court came away exclaiming about her brilliance, and a half of a dozen rulers sent their ambassadors to ask the duke to wed to their sons. She could ride all day and dance all night and never seem tired.
She seemed to know the right thing to say to every-one, scholars, and diplomats, poets and painters, Kings and commoners. She had the boldness of a man yet kept her womanly charm. Princes, popes, and generals were flattered to be called her friends, and a poet named her 'La Prima Donna Del Mondo', the First Lady of the World.
"Your Excellency," she said, "is indebted to me as never husband was to wife. You could never repay me".
They were also taught to play music and judge paintings. Italy had never known a school like this before. He was merely copying the Ancient Greeks, who had tried to bring up their sons to be "complete men". Healthy bodies, strong character, and minds full of wisdom, the schoolmaster said were the Greeks goals and his. They were also goals of the men whom the word would come to call "Renaissance Men", men who strove to do everything well and came close to succeeding.
For twenty years, he taught as many as he could, the girls as well as the boys. Hs first pupils began to take their places as the leaders of cities and states and he was pleased when he heard they were govern themselves.
Learning added to power and wealth did not always bring such happy results, however. His talents and education simply made more dangerous villains. Even his poetry served his villainy. He had in fact the qualities of a good ruler except the wish to be one. His ancestors were famous for their double dealings. He was kindly and generous to his subjects. But the projects in which he took greatest pride, was in his library. It included thousands of volumes of history and law, of poetry and music , of religion, mathematics, and military tactics, all bound in crimson and silver.
He set the example himself and his court became famous for its grace and polished manners. He called it The Book of Courtier, though he might well have called it How to be a Gentleman. A gentleman he said, must be skillful in war, and an expert at riding, fencing; swimming, jumping, running, and other sports. But he warned that a gentleman should never be so expert at such things that people could say he was showing off. In fact, the mark of a true gentleman was that he did everything perfectly, gracefully, but with no sign of effort. He must understand Greek and Latin, know poetry and history, and speak and write well. The ladies, indeed, were most important: "No court, however, great it may be, can have any beauty or brightness in it, or any mirth, without women, nor can a gentleman be gracious, pleasant, or brave, unless he is stirred with the conversation and love of women." They must be gracious, learned, and polite.
It was translated into French and English, and people all over Europe rushed to buy it. Indeed they had become a strict code of conduct for our new age, a code which gentleman of the Renaissance could follow as the knights once followed the code of chivalry.
The stories of many of Italy's ruling families ended with defeat and flight, or destruction and death. He was a commoner, a courtier, without a court, a diplomat whose cunning no one wanted to employ. He went to live on country estate that belonged of his father. By day, he played the country gentleman, but at night he lived again in the world of diplomats and kings.
He turned to writing, and at first he wrote about governments of the people, republics of Rome, conquered the Ancient World. So he wrote the Book called 'The Prince'. "It is not necessary for a Prince to be merciful, faithful, sincere, religious", he wrote, "For that would make him dangerously weak. But it is most necessary for him to seem to be these thing." It was useful of course, if a Prince through his shows of goodness could win his people's loyalty and love.
Few men had spoken so harshly of mankind, and none had called treachery a good thing in a King. He was a handsome, intelligent, witty, gracious and well loved hater, with the neatest piece of diplomatic trickery that Italy had seen in years, he outwitted a group of noblemen who conspired to murder him. They even agreed to leave their soldiers behind when arriving to his castle for a friendly conference.He described it in great detail in his book, as an example for ambitious Princes. He called for the help of allies he had courted with favours, promises, and gifts. None of them came to his aid.
These men who followed the harsh code of the Price took their places beside the gentleman who live by the code of the courtier. As he crept out of the city, disguised as a poor friar, he
swore that he would one day return in Triumph. But first, he thought he must look to his career in the church.
The young cardinal was not alone in hoping to make his fortune in Rome. Rome had known every sort of splendour and evil.
Memories of unmatched elegance and unbelievable ruins of temples and arenas built by Ancient Emperors.
For the ways of Church and business and politics, the work of scholars are artists, and the very safety of the city depended on the man the cardinals executed. He was a diplomat, a finance minister, and sometimes a general. Not every Pope brought learning a gaiety to Rome. But innocent was wise enough to win the favour of the Romans by adding new buildings to their city. But at least his officers kept order in the streets.
For the first time in years it was possible to go about the city without running the risk of getting robbed or murdered. The Pope himself became famous for his good humour, "Rome was a free city," he said, "where everyone can say what he likes."
There were for instance the strange sudden death of churchmen. Surely such convenient deaths were no accident. Most of the stories told about the Pope and his family were probably untrue, but the Romans, were willing to believe any evil whispered about them. In site of the gossip, malaria, not a poison, that struck down the Pope and his son. The Pope in armour was startling a sight.
Together the paintings seemed to sum up the wisdom and art that were the glories of the Renaissance. He loved his work and he loved the life. He enjoyed the warm companionship of friends, the charm of plenty women, expeditions and parties. His art was agonizing labor for him and life seemed to have been planed for his own special annoyance. All that he asked of patrons was the time it took "to find the figure" in a block of marble by chipping away at the stone bit by bit. But people were reluctant to hire an artist who worked so slowly. They were, they write, usually out of jobs, somehow they usually were.
And when they asked the artist to do a huge wall painting in their council chamber, he had no choice but to agree. He disliked painting as much as he loved carving, but he needed the money. He wanted a tomb for himself, a monument so big and so splendid that even after his death Rome would never be able to forget him, he returned with the plans for a marble monument, two stories high and decorated with 40 statues. Here at last were an artist with ideas as grand as his own. They also had the same angry temper, the same unbending pride. Over the years they argued, shouted, threatened, each other time and time again, never to speak or meet again and together Rome its greatest masterpieces.
There were 343 bodies to do, 343 heads nearly a quarter of an acre in background and no assistant he would trust to touch any of it. The one reward for his hours of painful labor was the fact that upon his scaffolding he could be alone in his work. He divided the space into more than 100 panels. Each a separate picture, but skillfully planned. It firmed a en of one great design. The stories, these pictures told were parts of one great story, the story of GOD and the world he made. His religion was a religion of strong feelings, and the figures on is ceiling we as powerful as those he carved from the stone. Best of all, he remembered it was his duty to guide men toward heaven, he saw no reason why they should not enjoy their time on earth. He certainly meant to do so himself while he worked at these jobs, the young artist found time for dozens of other projects.
It was one of policy, a safe one, and one that was most necessary for a Pope who had to deal with powerful monarchs. The Emperor however was not too anxious to involve himself in a religious feud. But the hopeful beginnings led to a series of disasters. Unfortunately he did not know how to solve them either. He was cautious when he might have been bold and dawdled when he should have acted and trusted allies whose promises were false.
Never in 2000 years of wars and violence had the Romans suffered such cruelty or know such terror. They killed without reason--women as well as men, the patients in a hospital, the people who sought refuge in the churches.
"Your money or your Life", was their cry.
And those who had nothing to pay were tortured and killed. Meanwhile nature had dealt a kind of justice to the warriors who had treated Rome cruelly. It had not occurred that they had all helped to bring about the disasters that had come to them.
The Church was divided because too many churchmen cared more about riches then religion. But it was easier to blame the Pope. The Church at last began a program of reform, and the Pope once more became a man of honour and esteem. It's scholars were more than content to pore over their old books, in the quiet of the studies.
He had become a legend in Rome. He in fact had no mind for anything other than his work. As always he finally had agreed to do the job. He was haunted by the fear that he would not live to finish them.
"I' am so OLD", he said, "that death often pulls me by the cape and bids me go with him."
Many architects questioned wether it would stand up at all: these tombs were his last greta projects and something of a puzzle to everyone who saw them. The descendants of the settlers commanded mighty warships that ruled over the Mediterranean.
For 800 years, Venice celebrated the sea with a curious ceremony. Wedded to the Sea, Venice turned it's back on the and, the mainland of Italy.
It the Pope and the Emperor and did not enter the costly contest for land and power among the rival Italian states. Then the time of expansion came to an abrupt end.
Yet in it's last years of greatness, the city was made more glorious than it had ever been. In design and decoration the church was a mixture of Eastern and European magnificence. The names of aristocrats were written in the Libre D'oro or Golden Book, and they-- a thousand men or so --governed the city of more than a hundred thousand.
The city seemed to live in an endless carnival. Masquerading was it's favourite sport. Companies of players and dancers performed in the theatre and poets spouted verse in it's taverns. His verses so funny, his writing so popular and in his fame widespread that none of the men he made fools of dated wanted to punish him.
"I have struck terror into kings", he boasted and it was true. The King appointed him "painter, Engineer, King's Architect, and state Mechanician, and, for once, his titles and his jobs matched his talents. He sketched inventions in his notebooks, and amazed physicians with his knowledge of human anatomy, and delighted the King with his courtly conversation. He loved tournaments and duels, and looked on war as a chivalrous contest of courage. But underneath the decorations the chateaux were a solid fortress.
"Abandon yourself to nature's truths and let nothing in the world be unknown to you". Once a Monk but now a Poet. He was like a man dining on bread and water.
He tried to write about them all, splashing words onto his pages as though he feared they would fly away if he didn't catch them in an instant. The court lived according to his whims. The noblemen competed to become his favourites, and his favour shifted from day to day. They wore the Crown but their mother had the Power. France had indeed caught up with Italy. The way of the government was not tailored to fit frenchmen. The people were relieved when she
and the last of her sons died. He kept his Italian longings under control, and in his time, France again became a Nation, united, strong, and French.
Magnificence was very nice, he said, if one could afford it, but no King with a country to run and people to feed could afford to pretend.
"Que sais-je?" -- "What do I know?" -- had become the motto for the new humanists of France, scholars, and philosophers who looked on the world and themselves with cautious return.
The pictures were so crowded with sharp details of nature and life that they might have almost been coloured photographs. But the world in these paintings were richer and more brilliant than any other captures.
Then gradually the arts of vigorous countries started to blend together. They called him "Prince of the Humanists" and he taught that of humanism was a promise of hope in a world that too long had been enslaved by fear and despair. Indeed, in the ideas of the Ancient Philosophers he found new reasons for living a life of religion. Over the years too many churchmen had translated and changed the meaning of the BIBLE to suit their own beliefs. For nearly 35 years he strove to add to his collections. Her towns were poverty stricken, her farmlands unsown, and her army and navy devastated by series of disastrous foreign wars.
They were sure that England with only a woman to lead it would soon be easily conquered.
"I know I have the Body of a weak and feeble woman," she had told her people, "but I have the heart and stomach of a KING!"
The Queen also had the charm and wit of a lively woman, and a fiery temper that matched her red hair. But the people loved seeing the Queen, and she did her best to let as many of them see her as possible.