Friday, March 17, 2017

The Europe of 1517

Inspired by Carlos, Rey Emperador, here is the earliest pictorial chart I've made: European Monarchies exactly 500 years ago, 1517, which happens to be when the show starts. No one had heard of a German monk named Martin Luther, though that would soon change. (Thanks to Jonathan Bennett for help with some details.) It's interesting to notice that if I were alive 500 years ago at my present age (38), I would already be older than most of Europe's leading sovereigns.

Unsurprisingly, appropriate pictures of the youngest children named were unavailable. In some cases I could not determine who the heir to the throne would have been at that time. The Papacy, the Empire, and Bohemia & Hungary were elective monarchies so there was no automatic heir as such (though as we see in the show, young King Carlos was assumed by many to be the rightful heir to his paternal grandfather Maximilian I). France and Scotland were hereditary, but while Fran├žois I and James V both fathered heirs eventually, they hadn't been born yet in 1517, and neither king had younger brothers.

The Swedish throne was vacant, with the kingdom ruled by Regent Sten Sture the Younger (1493-1520); I elected not to include him since I did not include other rulers whose rank was lower than King. Gustaf I Vasa would fully reestablish the Swedish monarchy, never again to be joined with Denmark's, in 1523.

Needless to say, despite (as an Anglican and Bach fan) not having an entirely negative view of the Reformation (though I think I'm more critical of it than the Vatican is these days), I much prefer this European political, religious, and cultural order to the present one. One can't miss modern conveniences, even Blogger, if one has never known them. "I" hopefully would have been some sort of court musician (though the cello hadn't been invented yet) or perhaps a priest, even a bishop (the arts-patronising kind, of course).

One of the interesting things I learned looking up 16th century royalty: the present Princess Isabella of Denmark (b 2007) was named after her distant ancestor Queen Isabella (1501-1526), teenage bride of King Christian II (1481-1559) and sister of none other than our friend Emperor Charles V. Oddly, since Christian II was deposed in 1523 and succeeded by his uncle Frederik I, no descendant of theirs occupied the Danish throne until 1912, but all Danish monarchs since then have been their descendants.


Aaron Traas said...

In theory I'd love to live in an earlier time, but alas, I couldn't really have survived childhood in any time prior to the wide use of antibiotics. I just would have died due to an issue I have with my inner ear making me prone to infection.

But I completely understand the sentiment -- you can't miss what you don't know. I likely would have been a priest if I lived a hundred years ago or more (and somehow survived).

Theodore Harvey said...

I understand. I had a skin infection in my leg in 2005 that would have been fatal without antibiotics.

If only we could just do away with aspects of modernity we DON'T like...