Sack, but …

Do you know what takes real chutzpah? Sacking Rome, imprisoning Pope Clement VII, then, just a few years later, having a grand Royal Entry – a veritable Triumph — into Rome to get the blessing of Pope Paul III because you just sacked Tunis and killed 30,000 Muslims.

That is just what Holy Roman Emperor Charles V did on 5 April, 1536.

The Italian historian Onofrio Panvinio recorded Charles V’s entry into the city as a Roman Triumph to celebrate the Emperor’s victory “over the infidel.” Like the imperial Romans of antiquity, Charles and his procession went, “past the ruins of the triumphal arches of the soldier-emperors of Rome”, where “actors dressed as ancient senators hailed the return of the new Caesar as miles christi,” or “a soldier of Christ”. Because nothing honors a ardent Jewish pacifist who decried all violence like the murder of thousands of people, am I right?


I wonder how the people of Rome felt about Charles V coming into their city in glory, especially accompanied by his troops? After all, the Emperor’s army had rampaged through the the city in May of 1527, kidnapping and looting and burning and murdering and raping as they went:

“an army of mercenaries fighting on behalf of German Emperor Charles V began to storm the capital of Christendom. Thousands of mercenaries, using crudely fashioned ladders made of laths and vine stakes, attempted to climb Rome’s ancient defensive walls … the intruders broke through Rome’s defenses and entered the Vatican district. From there, they crossed the bridges across the Tiber River and, with a horrible roar, advanced into the center of Rome. What happened next triggered an uproar for months in Renaissance Europe. A leaderless army of 24,000 men took control of one of the world’s most magnificent cities. According to one chronicler of the attack, the men dragged off sacks of gold and stabbed so many citizens “that one could no longer see the pavement while walking down the street, there were so many corpses.” … For almost 10 months after the invasion, the mercenaries imposed a regime of terror along the Tiber. In full view of paintings by Titian, they committed the large-scale rape of nuns, tortured bishops and urinated in front of baptismal fonts.”

El_Saco_de_Roma Sack of Rome by Aparicio


Now, Charles and his boys were back and being blessed. The Romans had to have been torqued, especially since the Pope ordered 11 churches and more than 200 housed to be destroyed to clear a path for the Triumph. The whole thing is simply mind-boggling from a rational perspective.


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