It is the 9th of August 2020. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org, I’m Dan van Voorhis.
The year was 1516.
Charles of Ghent becomes Charles I, King of Spain, with the death of King Ferdinand. Within a decade, the Habsburg king would be known as Charles V and would be Emperor over a vast swath of land. It was under this Emperor that the phrase “the empire on which the sun never set” was first attributed.
Speaking of 16th-century power players, it was in 1516 that the Concordat of Bologna was signed. This agreement brought peace between Pope Leo X and King Francis I of France. Across the channel, Henry VIII received his first child after his wife Catherine had three stillborn children, and one son who died at seven weeks. The child, Mary, would become Queen in 1553.
In 1516 Ludovico Ariosto published his epic poem, “Orlando Furioso.” Considered one of the finest pieces of Italian Renaissance literature, Orlando was a play on the French tales of Roland, who is the titular character in many French epics surrounding the Death of King Arthur and the search for the Holy Grail.
1516 was a wunder-year of sorts for publications. Erasmus first published his New Testament in both Greek and Latin, Thomas More published his “Utopia,” Michelangelo, Titian, and Raphael were all working, and Josquin Des Pres released his third book of masses.
If you find yourself holding a Bavarian beer, or being with someone who is, check out the label for the year 1516 hidden somewhere. That is the year that the Reinheitsgebot was passed. The first of its kind, it was a purity law for brewing beer: only water, barley, and hops were allowed.
As we mentioned before, Ferdinand of “Ferdinand and Isabella” fame died in 1516, which was the same year that the future Bloody Mary would be born.
Johann, or Hans, Fugger was born in 1516. The future banker and patron was joined by Hieronymus Wolf, the future German humanist scholar.
And when one Hieronymus entered the world, another Hieronymus left. It was on this the 9th of August, in 1516, that famed painter Hieronymus Bosch died. A quick note: the name Hieronymus is the Latin version of Jerome, as in, the church father.
Hieronymus Bosch belongs in a category all by himself. But he can be considered a late Gothic painter that is also representative of the early Dutch painting school. His pieces inspired both piety and horror. His seeming obsession with human folly, sin, and temptation make some of his works the most shocking and recognizable of the era.
Bosch was likely born in 1450 into a line of painters. From 1486 to the year of his death, his name is found on the register for the Brotherhood of Our Lady, a local confraternity, something like a labor union. We have no writings or journals from Bosch. We do know he likely witnessed a large fire in his hometown around the time he was thirteen.
He did not sign or date his works, but art historians are confident that at least 25 of the paintings claiming to be originals are indeed so. While his work is anything but monolithic, he has traditional sketches, religious pieces, and triptychs. He is probably best known for his “The Garden of Earthly Delights.” The three-paneled piece took ten years to finish and famously contains the “Hell” panel which has long bedeviled interpreters and long vexed my old partner, Jeff Mallinson.
Bosch also did work on stained glass and altarpieces. Like much of his work, his life and thought are vexing. He was likely influenced by the work of Erasmus and others in the Netherlands, who were gradually inching towards a kind of religious freedom. While his more shocking works have rightly received attention, he was very capable of using the standard religious imagery of a pre-Reformation Christian artist.
Bosch was married around the age of 30 to an older woman, and they had no children. The painter was born in 1450, he died on this day in August in 1516. Hieronymus Bosch was 66 years old.
The reading for today is a poem written by an Argentinian and translated by a Dutch pastor. This is the 3rd stanza to “Christ is Risen” by Nicolas Martinez translated by Fred Kaan
Death has lost its old dominion,
let the world rejoice and shout!
Christ the firstborn of the living
gives us life and leads us out.
Let us thank our God who causes
hope to spring up from the ground.
Christ is risen, Christ is giving
life eternal, life profound.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 9th of August 2020 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. The show is produced by a man who pretends to be Dutch so he can always ask to split the bill, Christopher Gillespie. The show is written and read by the 14th great-grandson of Coert Janse van Voorhis, a contemporary of Bosch, Dan van Voorhis. You can catch us here every day. and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.