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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 Philibert 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).

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, Foto HMB Alwin Seiler.
fully bearded breast effigy as before
Phoenix in the fire on an altar with the inscription FIDES

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 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 Valdes 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: A printing in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, a medal 1845 of G. Ferraris, Ø 65mm and a bust from Pino Croce, erected at Gattinara's birthplace in 2000 (63 cm heigh). Weiditz' medal was apparently used as reference.

Unfortunately, and some Wikipedia entries attribute a portrait of the dutchman Jan II Carondelet to Mercurino Gattinara. Wikipedia-Commons File:Jan Cornelisz. Vermeyen 001.jpg offers two conflicting titles and Wikipedia-Category Mercurino Gattinara offers two conflicting pictures. The Italian Wikipedia already replaced the erroneous picture in May 2015.

• 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, p. 9 ff (1735) - available on
Kaiser Karl V. - Macht und Ohnmacht Europas. Catalog of the exhibition Bonn/Vienna/Gent 2000, p.10f
• Pino Croce: Monumento al Cardinale Mercurino da Gattinara

Dec. 2014.

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