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Incoronation of Emperor Charles V

Giorgio Vasari, Clemente VII incorona Carlo V in San Petronio a Bologna details

On February 24, 1530, Bologna was the center of a monumental event: the solemn imperial Coronation of Charles V in the church of San Petronio.

It was his birthday and Charles V was the last Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire to have been elected by a Pope: Clement VII.

Due to the massive crowd in Piazza Maggiore, full to bursting with people who had arrived from everywhere for the historic event, a temporary bridge was built so that kings and dignitaries could easily reach San Petronio from the imperial apartments in The City Palace (“Palazzo Pubblico” or “Palazzo d’Accursio”), where Charles V e Clement VII were staying.

World famous architects, artists, painters, artisans were called to the city to prepare for the ceremony.  The city was decorated with statues and fountains and veils were hung between houses and over the streets. Richly adorned chapels and platforms were constructed inside the church made to look like San Pietro in the Vatican.

Security measures were taken to fortify the city: Piazza Maggiore and the city gates were sealed off by Antonio de Leyva and his armed soldiers in order to protect the Emperor.

Mass was long and solemn. The Emperor was on his knees before the Pope, and after pronouncing the ritual phrases, he received the imperial golden crown, as the heads of all the Italian states and most of the peninsula’s aristocracy looked on.

At the conclusion of the Coronation, a procession passed through the streets of Bologna from Piazza Maggiore, through via Orefici. The Pope and Emperor rode on the same litter followed by magnates, magistrates and doctors of law, the governor of Bologna, four of the Pope’s chaplains,  ambassadors of many countries, princes, dukes, marquis, counts, the College of Cardinals, priests, and German and Spanish soldiers led by their general.

Coro ligneo Basilica di San Domenico The procession broke up quite quickly and Clement VII returned to the Palazzo Pubblico while Charles V and his entourage concluded their cavalcade at the Basilica of San Domenico
As he stood in wonder of the intricate woodwork of the church’s choir, he lost no time in defining it “the eighth wonder of the world”.

While riding through the city in his procession, Charles V had demonstrated his generosity by "disseminating monies" along his path, and by naming counts and knights among the Bolognese gentlemen before returning to the Palazzo Pubblico with his court.