Papal Nuncio Leonardo Spinelli and His Mission to England in 1514
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Papal Nuncio Leonardo Spinelli and His Mission to England in 1514
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The article is devoted to the diplomatic mission of Leonardo Spinelli, a canon at Santa Maria del Fiore, who brought to England the sword and cap of maintenance, presented to Henry VIII by the Pope Leo X. My aim is to give an overview of this mission and to shed a new light on Leonardo Spinelli (1473—1521), his life and activities. For this, I draw on hitherto unknown sources from the Spinelli Family Archive (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Yale University. Spinelli Archive. Gen Mss 109), mainly the private letters of Tommaso Spinelli (1472—1522), a well-known Tudor diplomat. This research explores the role of family and private connections in daily work of the Tudor diplomats and helps to establish what kind of technics and tools they employed to achieve their personal goals and those of their peers. The study consists of three parts. The first introductory part briefly covers England’s participation in the so-called War of the League of Cambrai (1508—1516), pointing out the key moments of the Anglo-papal relations during this period, which made the Leonardo Spinelli’s mission to England necessary. The central part of the article takes a closer look on Leonardo’s biography, traces his family ties with his maternal relatives Gualterotti, and outlines the impact of Medici patronage on his life and fortunes. Here I draw particular attention to the role of his brother Tommaso and his connections with the English party at the Roman court (Christopher Bainbridge, Silvestro Gigli and Adriano Castellesi) in obtaining the papal favour for Leonardo’s promotion to the positions of the papal chamberlain and nuncio. The third part presents an overview of Leonardo’s mission itself, mapping the new data from the unpublished documents on the well-known descriptions from the Venetian diplomats’ and the royal herald’s reports on it.
England, Florence, Rome, diplomacy, relations, Tudors, Medici, Henry VIII, Leo X, Leonardo Spinelli, Tommaso Spinelli, pope, ceremonial, cap of maintenance, blessed sword, family connections
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