When we talk to you about 1515, you are certainly thinking of the battle of Marignan. However, this is not the only event taking place at this time, far from it! Through this work, Jacky Lorette portrays us, five hundred years later, this year of ruptures.
1515, pivotal year
The choice of the date of 1515 for a historical work is not trivial. On the one hand because we are in a key period in history: the Renaissance with all the splendours of princely life and the wealth of architecture and art that we know. On the other hand, and this is the subject of this book, we are in a year of ruptures. Ruptures of course, in several ways. First, a break in representation, with the “discovery” of new countries, the vision of man will evolve as well as his conception. Religious rupture also, with the appearance of Protestantism, economic rupture, with the appearance of new forms of capitalism, rupture in the conception of states and the art of war, rupture in the arts and literature and finally rupture in the way of governing. Choosing the date of 1515 therefore makes it possible to be part of a set of ruptures that will mark out the Renaissance to succeed in transforming mentalities in modern times.
From London to Paris and from Paris to Marignan
This first part focuses more broadly on European courts. Mainly France. The year 1515 indeed saw François d'Angoulême ascend the throne under the title of François 1er. However, all is not so easy with the death of Louis XII. The question is whether his second wife, Mary of England, sister of Henry VIII, is pregnant or not. Marie is a victim of her brother's political ambitions since she had already failed to marry Charles de Habsbourg, future Charles V, before passing into the arms of Louis XII, aged fifty-two, the King of France did not have son of Anne of Brittany allowing him to ensure his succession, Marie is young and can fill this gap, he dies three months after the marriage, and if the wait for a potential pregnancy is the least of things, the queen dowager knows that she is not carrying children. During the period of mourning, Marie thinks especially of her true love, Charles Brandon, whom she had to give up to serve the designs of her royal brother. She nevertheless obtained from him that if her husband were to die, she could marry the person of her choice. Henry VIII, however, does not hear it that way and does not want to keep his commitment. After the period of mourning and with the help of François I, now undisputed sovereign, Marie married Charles Brandon in secret, hoping to obtain forgiveness from her brother. While these internal problems are resolved, François 1er has the same ambition as his predecessors: to reign over Italy, and in particular to recover his rights over the Milanese. The expedition began in the spring of 1515 and the king descended along the Rhône, stopping in particular in Lyon and Grenoble. On September 13 and 14, 1515, when the king was sixteen kilometers from Milan, near the village of Marignano (Marignan in French), a battle of unprecedented impact took place. This battle is a real trauma for the Swiss army, which had not yet experienced such a surge of violence, giving way to numerous treaties which assure France a part of the Italian territory, part which will be definitively lost with the Battle of Pavia in 1525. The victory of King Francis also allows him to assert his power, royal propaganda is at work to transmit the image of this warrior king. After having settled some affairs, the king returned to France and launched the fashion for beards and short hair because of the injury he received in Marignan.
Humanity on the move
Secondly, Jacky Lorette wants to decenter the European-centered vision of his first part to devote himself to “the gaze of the Other”. A first state of the world in 1515 is then carried out. Using maps, figures and a state of the art, the author depicts the emergence of a capitalist society which benefits from certain economic and social realities in order to develop. Indeed, Europe is experiencing a phase of accelerated social advancement and a puzzle of undisguised ambitions. In France, we have already spoken of this obsession of the son to ensure dynastic continuity, but in England, the ambitions are quite different. Henry VIII must, in fact, deal with his heart problems and the “betrayal” of his sister, whom he will forgive her. In Italy, wars ravaged the states after the marriage of Valentine Visconti and Louis de France in 1389, leaving room for a whole bunch of demands on the part of the French. Switzerland was traumatized by its defeat at Marignan and threw itself into a series of wars of religion. The Iberian Peninsula knows the obsession with "purity of blood" and new alliances are formed while in Eastern Europe new difficulties appear as well as in the Nordic countries and countries under Ottoman domination. However, two peoples remain excluded from all alliances: the Jewish people and the Roma. The Renaissance also saw the appearance of many empires in the Muslim world (Mamluk, Ottoman, Safavid), but also in Central Asia, Africa and in the empires resulting from the great discoveries which allowed a revival of numerous trade with Asia. , but also with America. This colonization which results from the formation of empires also allows many cultural and artistic exchanges which will make the wealth of the men of the Renaissance.
Jacky Lorette's book addresses more or less completely the many ruptures that marked the year 1515. If the explanation is clear and accompanied by several illustrations in addition to the four-page photo book, it seemed relatively perilous to us. to consider these ruptures through a single date. Indeed, history is also studying the impacts of several events on the long term and how they have changed the vision and mentality of men of yesterday to consider the spirit of today. However, by focusing on a single date, the study only boils down to explaining the facts and leaves no real room for analysis, unless it spills over into its chronology, which Jacky Lorette sometimes does. . If the author says he wants to shift his focus from the European vision and "take account of the gaze of the other", this is not the case, however, as most of the book deals with Europe. Finally, it is interesting to mention that the author is an art historian, one would then expect a much more important part concerning the artistic field which abounds in this period. Despite these few remarks, Jacky Lorette's work remains very interesting and relatively rich, so much so that one wonders if the author should not have restricted himself to this point on the period and considered the Renaissance more broadly.
1515, the year of the ruptures, by Jacky Lorette. L'Archipel, February 2015.