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Mercurino Gattinara (*1465 †1530), chancellor of the Holy Roman Empire
Gattinara comes from the minor nobility of Piemont. He was educated in the humanist tradition and studied Roman law at Turin. Then he became lawyer and adviser of Duke Filiberto II of Savoy. After his death Mercurino accompanied and advised his widow Margaret of Austria while she acted as regent for her father, Emperor Maximilian, in the Netherlands. In 1518, her nephew Charles V. appointed him "Grand Chancellor of all the realms and kingdoms of the king", i.e. of the Holy Roman Empire. Pope Clement made him cardinal in 1529.
Gattinara was among Charles's closest advisers. Strongly influenced by Dante, he pursued the idea of a Christian dynastic empire. He suggested to Charles that it was his Christian duty to strive "towards the uniting of all Christendom under a single shepherd" (Dominium Mundi) and to establish a dynastic monarchy (Monarchia Universalis) in which all infidels, protestants included, would either be converted or conquered. It was to encompass Spain, the Austrian Patrimony and the Holy Roman Empire.
In pursuit of this goal, Gattinara considered the domination of Italy and an alliance with the Pope of the utmost importance. The emperor acted on his advice in this respect but did not go along with the unrealistic concept of a dynastic global monarchy.
Mercurino Gattinara died in Innsbruck 1530, when he accompanied Charles V on the way from his coronation in Bologna to the diet in Augsburg.

Bronze medal.     Ø 52 mm   one-side cast in the Coin Cabinet in Vienna
fully bearded breast effigy facing forward in a wrinkled robe and with cardinal's hat.
This piece was described in the journal Numismatische Zeitschrift vol.1 (1869).
Johann David Köhler reported already 1735 on such a one-side medal using a similar copper engraving.

The Dutch Wikipedia presents a similar picture as a likeness of Mercurino Gattinara. Wikipedias in other languages (except the Italian Wikipedia) erroneously associate Gattinara with a portrait that actually depicts the Dutchman Jean II Carondelet. This portrait is correctly attributed to Carondelet and not to Mercurino Gattinara by both the Dutch Wikipedia and the catalogue of the 2000 exhibition "Emperor Charles V - Power and Powerlessness of Europe" (p.164). The contradictions among the different language Wikipedias is clearly visible on Wikipedias pages Category:Mercurino Arborio di Gattinara and File talk:Jan_Cornelisz._Vermeyen 001.jpg.
This File Talk has contadicting titels: "Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen: English: Portrait of Mercurino Arborio Gattinara _ Deutsch: Porträt des Kanzlers Jehan Carondelet _ Italiano: Ritratto del cardinale Mercurino Arborio da Gattinara, cancellire dell'imperatore Carlo V." depending on the language: [screen shot 23.10.23], even in conflict with the real use of this picture in the different language-dependent Wikipedias (!).
The confusion within Wikipedia may have been caused by an unchecked image transfer from the erroneous page MERCURIUS DE GATTINARA .                   [Situation 23.10.2023]

copyright: Historisches Museum Basel
Touch the picture with the cursor to view the revers.
Cast in lead.     Ø 52 mm.   Historische Museum Basel, Inv.1905.759, Photo HMB Alwin Seiler,
kindly provided by Michael Matzke.

fully bearded breast effigy as before
"Only the faith of the earth has awakened this phoenix / Join the above, whom only they trust"
Phoenix in the fire on an altar with the inscription
    Look at the Photo of another piece of this medal    

Max Bernhardt identified Christoph Weiditz (*1498 Strasbourg) as the medalist of this cast. In 1528/29, Weiditz was at the royal court in Spain, where he produced a medal of Dantiscus and of Hernán Cortés. On the return journey he accompanied the emperor and his court on their way to the diet of Augsburg via Bologna. Very likely, Weiditz was given the opportunity to create a medal, shortly before the death of the famous chancellor. It is the only known portrait of the living Gattinara.

The Spaniard Alfonso de Valdés was Gattinara's secretary. He accompanied the emperor to the coronations in Aix-la-Chapelle (1520) and in Bologna (1529/30). At the diet of Augsburg in 1530 he tried to mediate between the emperor and Melanchthon. A portrait (ca. 1531/32) of Valdés shows him holding a small medal-like picture of Cardinal Mercurino Gattinara in purple robe (London, National Gallery). A detail of the picture discloses even the legend of the medal.

More portraits were created post mortem:
printing in the Bibliothèque nationale de France
Medaille 1845 erstellt von G. Ferraris, Ø 65mm (Bild: Rauch Aukt.92, Nr.2350, Wien)
bust erected at Gattinara's birthplace (63 cm heigh) by sculptor Pino Croce in 2000.
Weiditz' medal was apparently used as reference.

Probably only one portrait of Gattinara is known, which was created during his lifetime:
the portrait on a medal modeled by Christoph Weiditz.

See further medals by Christoph Weiditz.

• Joseph Bergmann: Bronzemedaille des Cardinals Mercurio Arborio de Gattinara, Kanzlers Ks. Karl's V.
   in: Numismatische Zeitschrift 1 (1869, Vienna), p.339-344, table 9/1
• Max Bernhart: Die Gattinara-Medaille (with a figure) in: MBNG 32/33 (1914/15, Munich), p.56-58
Johann David Köhler: Hist. Münzbelustigung, vol.7 (1735) p.9-16 - vol.7 available online as PDF
• National Gallery, London: A Man holding a Coloured Medal, oil 42x35cm, about 1531 of Alfonso de Valdés?
Kaiser Karl V. - Macht und Ohnmacht Europas. Catalog of the exhibition Bonn/Vienna/Gent 2000,
   p.10f [medal in hands of Alfonso de Valdés] and p.164f [portrait of Jan II Carondelet]
• Pino Croce: Monumento al Cardinale Mercurino da Gattinara  [9.2023: access made difficult due missing web certification]

12.2014  /  updated 10.2023

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