Go to contents

The fall of Rome

Posted May. 22, 2018 07:19,   

Updated May. 22, 2018 07:19


At the time da Vinci and Michelangelo were active, Firenze was a city with a population of a mere 100,000. It was not a small city given the population level at the time but it was not a big city that could confront the kings of France, Germany and Spain. That’s why the success of the Medici family seems even more remarkable. The Medici family, who were financiers of this small city, produced Queen Katherine of France, Pope Leo Ⅹ and Clemens Ⅶ.

At that time, the pope, who also served as a worldly monarch, was the ruler of Rome. Leo Ⅹ was a good person but did not have any sense of reality as he was a young noble from a rich family. His half-brother Clemens, on the other hand, was a man of outstanding caliber.

Nevertheless, as Clemens actually came into power, his sense of reality turned into machination. It would have been better if he were able to use it appropriately as Machiavelli said, but Clemens took on as if manipulation itself was a hobby. Unable to separate what’s important and what’s not, Clemens had no priorities and did not know how to distinguish strategy, tactic and operation. He spread himself too thin and escaped out of crisis with his natural-born plots and manipulations. Well, at least he was splendid at it.

Clemens recklessly ran wild saying he could control France and the Holy Roman Empire and incurred anger from both sides. Ultimately, the army of the Holy Roman Empire and France attacked Italy one by one. The worst situation occurred in May 1527. The army of Karl V, who was outraged by betrayal and double contract entered Rome. Clemens VII escaped to Castel Sant’Angelo but the army of Karl V completely plundered and destroyed Rome. This incident, which is known as the nightmare of Rome, burnt the long history, cultural assets and the legacy of Renaissance into ashes. Even in this situation Clemens VII survived tactfully. Rome, however, was left in ruins.

Romans ask for what reason did all these happen? A few purposes were discussed but none of them was enough to take such risk. What Clemens VII proved was a devastating end of political tactics. This, however, also caused ridiculously too much damage to say it was a historical lesson.

Won-Joo Lee takeoff@donga.com