Ailly, Pierre d’ To Alesius, Alexander (Alexander Alane, Alexander Ales(s)) (Renaissance and Reformation)

Ailly, Pierre d’

(1350-1420) French geographer and theologian

Born at Compiegne and educated at the university of Paris, d’Ailly pursued a clerical career, rising in 1411 to the rank of cardinal. Caught up in the great schism, he broke with Pope Benedict XIII in 1408 and argued in his Tractatus super reformatione ecclesiae (1416) for the supremacy of Church councils over popes. He was also the author of Imago mundi (c. 1410), one of the foremost geographical texts of the period. The inspiration for the work remained predominantly classical; d’Ailly took little notice of the growing travel literature. A related work, Compendium cosmographiae (1413), did little more than repeat the geography of Ptolemy (2nd century ce). Whereas, however, Ptolemy had assumed that both land and sea covered about 180° of longitude, d’Ailly extended the land mass to 225°. The implications of such a framework were not lost on Christopher columbus, a careful reader of d’Ailly.

Alamanni, Luigi

(1495-1556) Italian poet and humanist Alamanni was born in Florence and took part in the unsuccessful conspiracy of 1522 against Giulio de’ Medici (later Pope clement vii) and was forced to flee to France. He returned and briefly served in the Florentine republican government of 1527-30, but thereafter lived in exile, enjoying the patronage of Francis I, Henry II, and Catherine de’ Medici. As a protege of the French court, he made many return journeys to Italy and maintained contacts with bembo, varchi, and other leading figures. In Florence he had been associated with the orti oricellari, and from that time had been a close friend of machiavelli, who made Alamanni one of the speakers in Arte della guerra. Alamanni played an important role in the establishment of Italian cultural influence in 16th-century France. His works include Flora (1549), a comedy based on Roman models, Antigone (1556), a tragedy after Sophocles, Avarchide (1570), a minor epic imitative of the Iliad, and Girone il cortese (1548), which drew on medieval French material. Most influential, however, was La colti-vazione (1546), a didactic blank-verse imitation of Virgil’s Georgics.

Alba, Fernando Alvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of

(1507-1582) Spanish nobleman

He served Charles I of Spain (who was also Emperor charles v) and philip ii of Spain as military commander, political adviser, and administrator. In the service of Charles, Alba fought the French (1524), attacked Tunis (1535), helped lead the imperial forces to their important victory over the German Protestant princes at muhlberg, and became commander-in-chief of the emperor’s armies in Italy (1552). He was one of Philip Il’s leading ministers from 1559 until 1567, when he was ordered to the Netherlands to crush the Calvinist Dutch rebels and to reassert Spanish authority (see also netherlands, revolt of the). His harsh rule as governor-general of the Netherlands fueled Dutch hatred of Spain; worst hated was Alba’s Council of Troubles (nicknamed the tribunal of blood by the Dutch) which set aside local laws, imposed heavy taxation, confiscated property, sent hundreds of Dutch to their deaths, and drove thousands more into exile. Lacking both money and sufficient naval resources, Alba lost control over parts of Holland. This failure, combined with the intrigues of his enemies at the Spanish court, led to his recall to Spain (1573) and house arrest (1579). Although Alba led the successful invasion of Portugal (1580), he never regained Philip Il’s favor.

Alberti, Leon Battista

(1404-1472) Italian architect and humanist

A member of a prominent merchant-banking family exiled by political opponents from its native Florence in 1402, Alberti, who was illegitimate, was born in Genoa and brought up by his father and stepmother in Venice. He attended guarino da verona’s school in Padua and in the 1420s studied law at Bologna University. The Florentine ban against his family was lifted in 1428 and by 1432, when he was employed as a secretary in the papal chancery, Alberti had made his first visit to the city. There he became acquainted with such men as donatello, ghib-erti, and masaccio, and with brunelleschi, to whom he dedicated the preface of his treatise Della pittura (On Painting; 1435), a work that contains the first description of perspective construction.

Alberti’s study of the Roman architectural writer vit-ruvius resulted in De re aedificatoria, a treatise on architecture in 10 books dedicated to Pope Nicholas V (1452). The treatise was first published in 1485 at Florence, with a prefatory letter by politian addressed to Lorenzo de’ Medici. This Latin edition was subsequently reprinted at Paris (1512) and Strasbourg (1541); the first Italian translation appeared in Venice in 1546, and French (1553) and Spanish (1582) versions were also printed during the 16th century. Alberti was employed by the pope on a number of architectural projects in Rome but his most famous buildings are in Florence, Rimini, and Mantua. In Florence he designed the Palazzo Rucellai (c. 1445-51), the classical forms of its facade being influenced by the Roman Colosseum, and the main facade of Sta. Maria Novella (1456-70); in Rimini the famous tempio malatestiano; and in Mantua the churches of San Sebastiano (1460-70) and Sant’ Andrea (c. 1470), in which the Tempi o’s triumphal-arch motif was again incorporated. Alberti’s humanistic interests found expression in a number of prose works, notably Della famiglia (On the family; 1435-41), De iciarchia (On the ruler of his family; 1470), and the first Italian grammar. Also a poet, mathematician, and engineer, Alberti exemplified his own belief that "men can do all things." He died in Rome.

The first illustrated edition of De re aedificatoria (1550) was Cosimo Bartoli’s Italian version that superseded the Venetian version of 1546. Giacomo Leoni (1686-l746), a Venetian architect living in England, published his English translation in 1726, with engravings based on his own drawings after the woodcuts of the 1550 Bartoli edition. Leoni’s translation was twice reprinted in the 18th century (1739, 1755), and the 1755 edition was the basis of a photographic reprint edited by Joseph Ryk-wert (London, 1955; New York, 1966, 1986). Rykwert’s own translation (with Neil Leach and Robert Tavernor) appeared under the title of On the Art of Building in Ten Books (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1988).

Leon Battista Alberti His architectural designs include the facade of the west front of Sta. Maria Novella, Florence (1456-70).

Leon Battista Alberti His architectural designs include the facade of the west front of Sta. Maria Novella, Florence (1456-70).

Albertinelli, Mariotto

(1474-1515) Italian painter Albertinelli was born in Florence, where he trained under Cosimo rosselli. Through Rosselli he met Fra bartolom-meo, with whom he collaborated for a number of years, for example on the altarpiece of Sta. Maria della Quercia, near Viterbo. Albertinelli also painted an Annunciation for the Duomo in Volterra (1497), another now in the Accademia, Florence (1510), and a Visitation (1503; Uffizi, Florence). His works show the influence of Perugino and Leonardo da Vinci, as well as that of Fra Bartolommeo.

Albert of Austria (Albrecht von Hapsburg)

(1559-1621) Archduke and coruler of the Spanish Netherlands (1598-1621)

The youngest son of Emperor Maximilian II, Albert began his career in the Church, being appointed cardinal at age 18. However, he later renounced his orders so as to marry (1598) his cousin, the Infanta isabella, to whom control of the Spanish Netherlands was to be ceded. Albert and Isabella became corulers. Continuing Spanish attempts to subdue the independent Dutch provinces to the north bedeviled the first decade of the Archdukes’ reign, but in 1609 Albert prevailed upon the Spanish government to agree to a 12-year truce. During this period the Archdukes worked energetically to repair the ravages of war (although Protestants in their territories continued to be harassed). Patronage of artists and musicians was part of their program of reconstruction: Otto van veen and rubens were both close associates of Albert, Jan brueghel was his court artist from 1609, and Peter philips was his court organist from 1597.

Albert of Prussia

(1490-1568) Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights (1511-25) and first duke of Prussia (1525) Albert was the grandson of Elector Albert Achilles of Brandenburg and was chosen as grand master of the Teutonic Knights in the hope that his uncle, the king of Poland, would facilitate a settlement over east Prussia. These lands had been held by the Knights under Polish suzerainty since the Second Treaty of Thorn (1466). In 1522 he visited Nuremberg where he met the religious reformer Andreas osiander under whose influence he became a Protestant. On the advice of Martin luther, he secularized the dominions of the Teutonic Knights, thereby becoming duke of the hereditary duchy of Prussia. The early years of his rule were prosperous and he established a great number of schools, including Konigsberg University (1544). However, his later years were marred by violent religious and political disputes revolving around Albert’s support for Osiander’s doctrine and ending in strict Lutheranism being imposed in his domains.

Albizzi, Rinaldo (degli)

(1370-1442) Italian statesman Rinaldo was a leading member of the Albizzi family, which dominated the government of Florence between the revolt of the ciompi (1378) and the medici seizure of power (1434). After his cousin Maso Albizzi died (1417) Rinaldo took control of the oligarchic regime in Florence. He organized the unpopular and unsuccessful expedition against Lucca (1429-33), which was opposed by Cosimo de’ medici. Although Rinaldo had Cosimo exiled (1433), he returned to Florence in 1434, overthrew the Albizzi, and sent Rinaldo into exile.

Albornoz, Egidio d’ (Gil Alvarez Carrillo d’Albornoz)

(1310-1367) Spanish churchman

Albornoz was born at Cuenca, Castile. He fought bravely against the Moors, was a favorite of Alfonso XI, and became archbishop of Toledo (1338), but was exiled (1350) by Alfonso’s son, Peter the Cruel. Albornoz was made a cardinal (1350) and appointed papal legate and vicar-general of Italy (1353-57, 1358-64) by Innocent VI to protect papal interests against Guelf Florence and to recover territory lost to the papacy (see avignon, papacy at). His long series of wars made some gains and facilitated a papal return to Rome, briefly in 1367 and permanently in 1377. Often he merely legitimized existing local tyrants as papal vicars in return for a recognition of papal authority, without breaking their power. Of more lasting importance was his work in administration and education. His codification of the laws of the Papal State (Con-stitutiones egidianae, 1357) provided the model for papal government until 1816. In 1365 he founded the Spanish college at Bologna.

Albuquerque, Afonso

(1453-1515) Portuguese admiral, second viceroy of Portuguese India

Born near Lisbon and educated at court, Albuquerque made his name during King afonso v’s invasion of Spain (1476). His first eastern expedition (1503) was to befriend the king of Cochin and build a fort there. He succeeded, and in 1506 he assisted the Portuguese admiral Tristao da Cunha during his massive expedition to India. Over the next few years Albuquerque carried out a series of attacks on Arab cities, establishing Portuguese trading routes and rights. His outstanding success was his recapture of Goa in 1510, where he established a senate and appointed native administrators. Albuquerque’s enlightened administration was extended to other territories he conquered, notably Malacca and the Spice Islands. His success aroused jealousies in the Portuguese court, and Lope Suarez, a personal enemy, was appointed in his stead. Albuquerque died at sea and was buried at Goa, where his tomb became a shrine for Indians oppressed by his successors.

Alcala (de Henares)

A town in central Spain on the River Henares, east of Madrid. Identified with the Roman settlement of Complutum, it was refounded by the Moors in 1083; its present name derives from the Moorish word for "castle." During the Renaissance it became a center of learning under the patronage of Cardinal ximenes de cis-neros, to whom a handsome marble monument remains in the church of the Colegiata. He founded the university there in 1500 (opened 1508); the chief university building, the college of Sant’ Ildefonso, dates from 1583. Many of the scholars whom Ximenes brought to Alcala were engaged on the production of the great edition of the Bible known as the complutensian polyglot.


The pseudoscience that in the Renaissance period was inextricably linked with the beginnings of chemistry. Renaissance alchemists inherited from their medieval forebears two main quests: for the process or substance (the philosopher’s stone) that would transmute base metals into gold and for the universal medicine (panacea). The elixir of life, the principal goal of Chinese alchemy, was of minor importance as being clearly contrary to Christian doctrine.

Alchemists in pursuit of the philosopher’s stone, who beggared themselves buying materials for their experiments or poisoned themselves with their processes, were properly ridiculed. Nonetheless they frequently imposed upon the greedy and gullible; Ben jonson’s comedy The Alchemist (1610) is a comprehensive expose of the tricks of this kind of alchemical trade. The Church regarded alchemy, along with other occult learning, with hostility, condemning alchemists with other "sorcerers" in its decrees. Gold-hungry Renaissance princes, with wars or other projects to finance, took a more pragmatic line. rudolf ii attracted many occult practitioners from all over Europe to Prague, among them the alchemists dee, drebbel, and sendivogius.

Regarding the quest for the panacea, the theories of paracelsus greatly stimulated spagyrical medicine. (The Latin word spagyricus "alchemical" was apparently a Paracelsian coinage.) Some practitioners developed their researches in the direction of iatrochemistry, but others, notably the Rosicrucians, interpreted the quest in spiritual as well as alchemical terms (see rosicrucianism).

The terminology of alchemy, conspiring with the pathological secretiveness of its practitioners, thwarted any incipient usefulness it might have had to the embryonic science of chemistry. Renaissance alchemists continued to rely on such texts as the 13th-century Latin versions of the Arab Geber, the writings of Arnold of Vil-lanova and Albertus Magnus, and such venerable classics of obfuscation as the Turba philosophorum and pseudo-Aristotle, in which metals were called after their astrological equivalents—Sol (gold), Luna (silver), Saturn (lead), etc.—and other materials were identified in fanciful metaphors; a powerful acid, for example, would be called "the stomach of the ostrich" in tribute to its digestive properties. To some, the whole alchemical enterprise itself became a metaphor for the purgation and salvation of the soul and the process became associated with the cosmic manipulations of the Renaissance magus.

Alciati, Andrea

(1492-1550) Italian lawyer and humanist

Alciati was a native of Milan and after legal studies at Pavia and Bologna he was professor of jurisprudence at Avignon (1518-22, 1527-29) and at Bourges. Alciati’s main contribution was in the field of juristics; he published a number of treatises on the Corpus Iuris Civilis. However, his most famous book was Emblemata (1531), a repertory of allegorical images illustrated by woodcuts accompanied by Latin epigrams pointing up the interaction of the visual image and the ethical message (see emblems). This volume exercised a profound influence on the iconography of mannerist and baroque art. Alciati also published a volume of notes on the historian Tacitus.

One of the best-sellers of the 16th century, Alciati’s Emblemata was first published at Augsburg in 1531 in an edition containing 103 emblems; an edition revised by the author and enlarged to 211 emblems appeared at Lyons in 1550. The work was rapidly disseminated throughout Europe, both in complete and abridged versions of the Latin original and in French (1536), German (1542), and Spanish (1549) rhyming translations. Many of the emblems are reproduced in the massive compilation of Emblemata by Arthur Henkel and Albrecht Schone (Stuttgart, 1967), which also provides valuable comparative material from other emblem books. Peter M. Daly (ed.) in Andreas Al-ciatus, 2 vols (Toronto, 1985) prints the emblems in Latin and also supplies English translations, along with useful indexes.

Aldegrever, Heinrich

(1502-55/61) German print maker and painter

Aldegrever who was born at Paderborn, probably studied in durer’s workshop. About 1527 he settled at Soest, where he died. He executed relatively few paintings, mostly portraits, which are notable for their characterization. Aldegrever is best known for his numerous engravings of religious subjects, events from classical antiquity, genre scenes, portraits, and decorative motifs. These reveal the influence of Durer, but also of Italian engravers, including pollaiuolo. His delicate, slender figures have a mannerist elegance, and his meticulous engraving technique, reminiscent of Durer’s own, allowed him to depict effects of light and texture with considerable fidelity. He also designed woodcuts, and may be characterized as the most significant north German print maker of the 16th century.

Aldine press The press set up in Venice by Aldus manu-tius in 1494/95, specializing in scholarly texts of Greek and Latin classics. Until 1515 many of them were edited by Marcus Musurus (1470-1517), one of the Venetian community of exiled Greeks. A folio Aristotle (1495-98) is an early example of the press’s high standards, though the hypnerotomachia polifili (1499), a fine illustrated book, is more famous. Italian classics were also printed, among them Petrarch (1501) and Dante (1502), both edited by bembo.

Francesco Griffo, who cut the Aldine Greek type, modeled on Musurus’s script, also made the first italic types, which appeared in a 1501 Virgil. A series of compact little books followed, the small format and italic type setting a fashion that was soon copied, especially in Lyons. Griffo’s roman type, commissioned by Aldus in 1495, influenced garamond and other designers, though Nicolas jenson’s types and matrices had also been bought for the press. The Aldine device of a dolphin and anchor, found on coins of the Roman emperor Titus Vespasianus (3981 ce), was used in a series of versions after 1502, as well as being copied by several French printers during the next century and many others thereafter (see illustration p. 200).

From 1515 to 1533 the press was run by the founder’s brothers-in-law, the Asolani, who failed to maintain its scholarly editing. Aldus’s youngest son, Paulus (Paolo) Manutius (1512-74) took over in 1533 and concentrated on Latin classics, especially Cicero.

Aldrovandi, Ulisse

(1522-1605) Italian natural historian

The son of a wealthy Bolognese notary, Aldrovandi was educated at the university of Bologna where he later became professor of natural history. Financially independent, he was free to pursue his interests through extensive European travel. In this manner he accumulated a good deal of information on European fauna, and preparation of this material for publication dominated the remainder of his life. By his death only the volumes on birds, Or-nithologiae (1599-1634), and insects (1602) had begun to appear. Ten further volumes, dealing with almost every aspect of the animal kingdom, were edited by pupils and appeared before 1668. Despite his considerable first-hand experience, Aldrovandi continued to operate mainly in a literary tradition, giving fanciful tales from the classical writers Strabo and Pliny the same authority as his own observations. Consequently, while there was a place for the hydra and basilisk in Aldrovandi’s bestiary, fossils were dismissed in his Musaeum metallicum (1648) as of little importance.

Aleandro, Girolamo

(1480-1542) Italian humanist and diplomat

Born at Treviso, he studied at Padua and then Venice, where he met Aldus manutius. In 1508 he went to Paris on the advice of and with an introduction from Erasmus. bude was among his first private pupils. In 1509 he gave a course of lectures in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin at Paris and taught there intermittently until 1513. His Lexicon Graeco-Latinum appeared in 1512. After ill health forced him to give up teaching he was employed as a papal envoy, having a notorious confrontation with luther in Germany in 1520-21. He became Vatican librarian (1519) under Leo X and later cardinal (1536). Aleandro was an influential teacher. Sometimes his classes numbered 1500 students and he was largely responsible for introducing greek studies to Paris.

Aleman, Mateo

(1547-1615) Spanish novelist Descended from Jews who had been forcibly converted to Catholicism, Aleman, who was born the son of a prison doctor in Seville, studied medicine in Salamanca and Al-cala but abandoned his studies before completion. His most important literary work, guzman de alfarache (1599), is one of the earliest picaresque novels. Such was its popularity throughout Europe that there were several pirated editions, as well as a spurious sequel, which appeared even before Aleman could complete the second part of his own work (1604).

Success however did not alleviate his constant financial difficulties; he had supported himself in a series of insignificant administrative jobs, but in 1601 he was imprisoned for debt for the third time. Aleman’s fortunes prospered only after he emigrated to Mexico (1608) with his patron Archbishop Garcia Guerra, whose biography he published in 1613. His other minor works include a biography of St. Anthony of Padua (1603) and Ortografia Castellana (1609), the latter containing some sensible proposals for the reform of Spanish spelling.

Alesius, Alexander (Alexander Alane, Alexander Ales(s))

(1500-1565) Scottish-born Lutheran theologian He was born in Edinburgh and graduated at the University of St. Andrews (1515) and became a canon there. In 1527 he was chosen to refute the Lutheran doctrines of Patrick hamilton, but ended up converting to them himself. Following a spell in prison, he escaped abroad (1532), meeting Luther and other leaders of the German Reformation, while maintaining his attack on ecclesiastical abuses in Scotland, as the result of which he was excommunicated (1534). After carrying a letter from Philipp melanchthon to henry viii of England in 1535, he became a lecturer at Cambridge University, under the patronage of cromwell. However, his lectures on the Psalms so enraged the Cambridge Catholics that he had to retreat to London. Fearing further harassment, he returned to Germany (1539), where he was again involved in controversy, and eventually settled in Leipzig, where he died. He wrote exegetical works on the Psalms and Epistles and a defense of the view that there is biblical authority for just two sacraments. His translation of parts of the book of common prayer into Latin was published in 1551.

Next post:

Previous post: