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Journal > Volumes > 42 (2011) / 4 (Winter)
Empire and Medieval Simulacrum: A Political Project of Mercurino di Gattinara, Grand Chancellor of Charles V
Rebecca Boone
Lamar University

As the grand chancellor under Emperor Charles V, Mercurino di Gattinara (1465-1530) orchestrated the administration and the aims of the Spanish Empire. Claiming messianic status for Charles V, and supernatural powers for himself, Gattinara appropriated several fourteenth century sources such as Dante and Bartolus to establish political hegemony. More disturbingly, he embraced the irrational in the form of dreams, prophecies, and occult knowledge in a calculated effort to manipulate the emotions of his audience. This article argues that Gattianra used a sense of nostalgia for political ends. His deliberate attempt to create a simulacrum of the Middle Ages in a world that was recognized as fundamentally different by the politically astute was part of a medieval revival that permeated political life in Italy throughout the sixteenth century.

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