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German Great Artist Lucas Cranach - A Year in the Life 1547

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 10:14 PM

A Year in the Life 1547

Tilting at windmills, Miguel de Cervantes, the Spanish playwright, poet and novelist, was born in 1547. He is most famous for his Don Quixote, the would-be knight who sets out with his loyal servant Sancho Panza in search of chivalric glory over a century too late. In 1547 The Emperor Charles V won his great victory at Muhlberg over the Schmalkaldic League of Protestant Princes with serious consequences for the Elector of Saxony and his court painter Lucas Cranach. But the Protestant cause in Germany and in Scotland during this year was only in temporary eclipse.

Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France were two of the three great princes who dominated the European political scene during the first half of the 16th century. Both died in the early months of 1547. The third prince, the Emperor Charles V was to survive for another war-torn decade complicated by the political repercussions of the Reformation.

Charles V was absolute ruler of a huge empire 'on which the sun never set'. His dominions ranged from Aztec Mexico in the West, conquered for him by Hernando Cortes (who also died during 1547) to Austria in the East under his brother Ferdinand. This vast dominion which even extended down into the Italian peninsula, had seriously alarmed the French King who had taken the unprecedented, and to some eyes the even heretical step of allying himself with the Turks in the East. Although Pope Paul III had of necessity made an alliance with the Emperor, their relationship by 1547 was less than amicable.

Kabul recaptured, The Great Moghul Humayun succeeded in wresting Kabul from his brother Kamran at this time.
Two years earlier the Pope had convened the Council of Trent which, dominated by the newly founded Society of Jesus, was to become the spearhead of the Counter Reformation. Meeting at Trent in northern Italy (modern Trentino) on Imperial soil, Protestant and Catholic representatives were invited from all over Christendom. The Pope was attempting to establish peaceful relations within Europe so as to present a united front against the Turks.

While Paul III saw the council as of doctrinal importance, Charles on the other hand had hoped it would be an excellent forum for sorting out the unification of Protestant and Catholic Germany. He was obsessed with establishing imperial supremacy over his German princedoms. Inevitably there were clashes between papal and imperial policies with the result that the council was moved from Trent to Bologna on papal authority in March 1547 to the fury of the Emperor. There could be no hope of settling German religious problems on papal territory with a papal Council. An impasse was reached until the election of a new pope.


Council of Trent, This famous church council, inaugurated by the Emperor Charles V, was moved to Bologna by Pope Paul III when the inevitable impasse between Pope and Emperor was reached in 1547. Charles now concentrated on suppressing the Schmalkaldic League of Protestant Princedoms which threatened his supremacy. He declared war on the League and succeeded in shattering it at the Battle of Muhlberg in April 1547. The capture of the Elector John Frederick and his being forced to sign the capitulation of Wittenberg, the very heartland of Protestantism, was a blow from which Saxony never recovered. Cranach left Wittenberg to join his master in confinement at Augsburg. Nevertheless, no doubt to the artist's satisfaction, the Emperor's success was to be very shortlived.

Protestant reformer enslaved, John Knox discovered his vocation as preacher and spokesman of the Scottish Reformation while beseiged in St Andrews Castle with other Protestants in 1547. The governor of the town succeeded in recapturing the fortress with French aid and was no doubt quite happy to see Knox and others carried off into slavery by the French galleys, to be released 19 months later after English intervention.
Religion also played a large part in English politics during this year. Henry VIII died in January, leaving the throne to his nine-year-old son Edward. His uncle Edward Seymour (brother of Jane Seymour, Henry's fourth wife) assumed the position of Lord Protector. He pursued Henry's policy of trying to bully the Scots into a Protestant union through alliance by marriage to the young Edward VI. James V of Scotland had died five years previously leaving a week-old daughter from his marriage to the French aristocrat Mary of Guise. This infant was none other than the ill-fated Mary Queen of Scots.

Terrified of the continuation of the 'auld alliance' between Scotland and France, the English resorted to what was described as the 'Rough Wooing' hoping to win the young Scottish Queen by force. An able general, the Lord Protector defeated the Scots at the battle of Pinkie in September but was too late t save the Scots Protestants who were holding out in St Andrews Castle. French guns battered the castle into submission and the occupants, including the reformer John Knox, were carried off into slavery in French galleys. The worst blow was the capture of the young Queen who was promptly married the following year to the dauphin of France. Once more the wily Scots were a thorn in the side of the English.

Writer – Marshall Cavendish

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