This blog, written by Thomas E. Rutledge, focuses primarily on business entity law in Kentucky. Postings on contract law, contractual and statutory construction, and the entity law of other jurisdictions appear as well. There may as well be some random discussions of classical, medieval and renaissance history.
Monday, May 6, 2013
The Sack of Rome & the Papal Swiss Guard
The Sack of Rome
Today marks the anniversary of the Sack
of Rome in 1527 by troops of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.
Since the late 15th Century
Italy (or at least the region we today identify as Italy – the notion of the
region as a nation was long in the future) had been repeatedly invaded by
forces from Northern Europe, each seeking to claim dominion over one area or
another. Rival claimants to the crown of Naples caused as much trouble as did
anything, but economic rivalry between for example Genoa and Venice did nothing
to calm the waters.
Charles’ forces were at this point
battling the League of Cognac, it being comprised of France, Milan, Venice,
Florence and the Papal States (keeping track of the various Leagues through the
Italian Wars is a troubling task; the League of Cambrai was initially formed
against Venice by the Papacy, France, Spain and the Holy Roman Empire. Later
the initial members would be allied against France with Venice as an ally.
Later Venice and France would be against the Papacy, Spain and the Holy Roman
Empire). After a significant victory over the French army the troops were
restive in that they had not been paid – most were mercenary. Pillaging Rome
would be a way of paying the troops. The city was not well defended, although
its formidable walls did need to be and were breached. Discipline immediately
broke down among the troops and a sack of over three days began.
The Pontifical Swiss Guard, created only
in 1506 under Pope Julius II, rose to the occasion. Of its then number of 189,
147 would fall defending Pope Clement VII, affording him time to take refuge in
the Castel Sant’Angelo (Hadrian’s Mausoleum). In recognition of this event, new
members of the Pontifical Swiss Guard are sworn in on May 6.
There was earlier this year an event
unique to the Guard, namely the recognition of a Pope’s retirement. Benedict
XVI left the Vatican as Pope, flying to the Castle Gandolfo.The Swiss Guard accompanied him to the castle
and there stood guard.When the moment
his resignation became effective, and Benedict became not Pope but Pope
Emeritus, the Guard left there station at the castle and returned to Rome.While the Vatican has its security forces, and
they no doubt continued to provide protection for Benedict, the Swiss Guard
serve the Pope.
Of course this was not the only sack of
Rome – it had fallen many times in its long history. It fell to the Normans in
1084, in 546 by the Ostrogoths, in 455 by the Vandals, in 410 by the Visigoths
and in 387 BC by the Gauls.