Title Page
 Table of Contents
 United States immigration
 Pilgrim, monk, or missionary?
 The "cooperation of physical forces"...
 The Palazzo Pazzi
 Between black and white legend...
 Monks, kings, and empresses
 Book reviews

Title: Alpata : a journal of history
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090930/00004
 Material Information
Title: Alpata : a journal of history
Series Title: Alpata : a journal of history
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: History Department, University of Florida
Publisher: History Department, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2007
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090930
Volume ID: VID00004
Source Institution: University of Florida
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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
    Table of Contents
        Page 4
        Page 5
    United States immigration
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
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    Pilgrim, monk, or missionary?
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
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    The "cooperation of physical forces" through Humboldtian isometric lines
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    The Palazzo Pazzi
        Page 54
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        Page 78
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    Between black and white legends
        Page 80
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
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    Monks, kings, and empresses
        Page 90
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        Page 93
        Page 94
        Page 95
        Page 96
        Page 97
        Page 98
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        Page 100
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        Page 103
    Book reviews
        Page 104
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
Full Text

A J o

University of Florida
Volume IV, Spring 2007





Charles Flowers
Britt Tevis

Jenny Durant
Will Eriov
Andrew Holt
Anna Prusa
Daniel Watkins

Dr. Jack E. Davis
University of Florida
Department of History
Dr. Joseph Spillane, Chair

Charles Flowers


Fredrick Heinrichs is a senior finishing a major in history. An
aspiring librarian, his interests include early United States
history, East Asian history, and the Interstate highway system.

Daniel Watkins is first year graduate student in History. He
earned his B. A. in history and religion at UF in 2005. After
spending a year studying Theology at Fuller Theological
Seminary, he has returned to pursue an M. A. in Early Modern
European History. His current interests lie in 16th-century France
and the relationship between violence and religion.

David Andrews earned B. A. degrees in History and Business
from UF in 2006. Exploring M. A. programs in History, his aim is
to research Christianity in Scotland from the Irish invasion to the
Reformation, examining the melding of Calvinist reform with
Celtic Christianity. Loves the Gators with every fiber of his being.

Stephenie Livingston's studies to this point reflect cross-
disciplinary interests including history, cultural anthropology,
religion, music, and art. Her primary interest is in African history
and culture, with an emphasis on so-called "indigenous" societies
in East Africa. This summer, she will be doing research abroad in
Aswan, Egypt through the University Scholars Program,
expanding this submission into a senior thesis.

Matthew Paul Michel is a senior finishing double majors in
history and Spanish. He is interested in the effects of the Spanish
and Medieval Inquisitions on religious minorities in Western
Europe. After graduation, he hopes to work in the Dept. of State.

Jennifer Le Zotte has just completed her M. A. in History at UF
and will begin her doctoral studies at the University of Virginia in
the fall of 2007. Her interests include the cultural history of the
emergence and growth of flea markets, thrift stores, and garage
sales in post-World War II America.

Brady Lee is a senior majoring in Art History, minoring in Italian.
This summer, he received a University Scholar grant to research
the Pazzi family's patronage in Quattrocento Florence. After his
return from Florence, he plans to complete his undergraduate
degree and then continue his education in graduate school.

Cover photo: "Immigrants Landing at Ellis Island"
by Brown Brothers, New York, New York, ca. 1900.
National Archives and Records Administration,
Records of the Public Health Service, 1912-1968

Table of Contents

Special Section United States Immigration

Introduction 6
Britt Tevis

English Immigration in the 17th and 8
18th Centuries
Jenny Durant and Anna Prusa

Jewish Immigration in the 19th and 14
20th Centuries
Britt Tevis

Haitian Immigration in the 20th 19
Daniel Watkins


Pilgrim, Monk, or Missionary? 26
Interpreting the Life of St. Columban
David Andrews

The "cooperation of physical 42
forces" through Humboldtian
Isometric Lines
Fredrick Heinrichs

Articles (continued)

The Palazzo Pazzi 54
From Commission through
Brady Lee

Between Black and White Legends 80
Torture in the Legacy of the Spanish
Matthew Paul Michel

Monks, Kings, and Empresses 90
A New Approach to Understanding
the Christianization of Nubia
Stephenie Livingston

Book Reviews
Robyn Muncy, Creating a Female 104
Dominion in American Reform, 1890-

Bryan Ward-Perkins, The Fall of Rome 107
and the End of Civilization

Special Section: Immigration

Three Hundred Million Immigrants

Britt Tevis

When the editorial board began discussing possible
themes for the Special Topics section of this journal, a bevy
of creative and interesting topics-from Holy War to
nutrition-were proposed. Ultimately, we decided to focus on
immigration for two major reasons: first, because it is a
highly topical issue. Not only has immigration legislation
topped current political agendas in Washington, D.C. for
years, but also October 18, 2006 marked the day when
America officially became a country of 300 million citizens.
While countless new mothers claimed that their son or
daughter earned the title of "300 millionth American," many
demographers contended that, in fact, the 300 millionth
American was most likely an immigrant. According to the
Census Bureau, "the nation gains an immigrant from
abroad every 31 seconds."1
Months after agreeing to immigration as our topic of
choice, the New York Times reported that as "the first step
in a broad plan to reopen all of the buildings on Ellis
Island," and after extensive repairs, the Ferry Building was
made available for public viewing.2 While we would like to
claim to have had advance knowledge of this event, the
coincidence speaks to the true currency of the topic of

1 Sam Roberts, "300 Millionth American. Don't Ask Who," New York Times,
October 18, 2006.
2 Patrick McGeehan, "Final Stop for Thousands Of Ellis Island Immigrants Is
Reopening After Repairs," New York Times, April 2, 2007.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Immigration
The second reason immigration merited special
concentration is because of its position as one of the few
constants of history and of American history in particular.
Immigration, what precipitates it, what comes in its
aftermath, what it means in discrete times and places,
really feeds into almost every vein of history. The following
essays-an essay about the myths that emanate from early
American settlement at Jamestown and Plymouth, an essay
chronicling nineteenth- and early twentieth-century
American Jewish immigration, and a piece about late
twentieth-century Haitian immigration-represent broad
case studies of varying peoples who came made their way to
the United States of America. In choosing these specific
cases we attempted to cover three distinct time periods to
highlight some of the similarities and differences
experienced by groups of American immigrants.
Additionally, we hope that in reading these essays
readers will ask more penetrating questions about
immigration. Such questions include, but are not limited to:
What propelled immigration to the United State during
different periods of time? What inhibited immigration
during specific historical periods? At what point were
newcomers to the United States defined as "immigrants" vs.
settlers? Are the terms synonymous? How have different
groups of immigrants been received? What does such
reception indicate about the character of the United States
during specific periods of time? How has the myth of
America as a nation of immigrations functioned as a part of
America's collective memory?

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Special Section: Immigration

English Immigration in the

17th and 18th Centuries

Jenny Durant and Anna Prusa

"What passes for identity in America is a series of myths about
one's heroic ancestors."
James Baldwin

In societies throughout the world, folklore inspires
national identity and national pride. In the United States,
however, myth has merged with fact until we teach our children
the story of George Washington and the cherry tree and celebrate
Christopher Columbus's 'discovery' of the Americas without
questioning the accuracy of these depictions. Often what is
taught as truth is the product of exaggerations, facts twisted and
altered until they become almost unrecognizable. Yet behind
each myth lies a true story, a live person, or an actual voyage.
We intend to explore several of these myths concerning early
English immigration to the Americas, drawing attention to the
inaccuracies and inconsistencies of our understanding of the
foundation of Jamestown, the lives of the Pilgrims who journeyed
to North American on the Mayflower, and the settlement of
Georgia, the thirteenth colony.

As the first permanent English colony in the Americas, we
tend to view Jamestown as the epitome of English colonization, a
clear example of European superiority and progress and the
cradle of American freedom and individualism. Former Supreme
Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote, "America's traditions
of representative government, free enterprise and cultural
diversity have their roots at Jamestown."3 In truth, the joint-
stock Virginia Company that funded the Jamestown venture,
never intended for Jamestown to be a permanent settlement,

3 Jamestown 2007. http://www.jamestown2007.org.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Immigration
much less the "birthplace of modern America."4 Stockholders in
the company hoped to liquidate it for profit after a few years,
forcing the colonists to focus on gathering wealth. Historian Jack
P. Greene argues in his work Pursuits of Happiness that
"Virginia's orientation was almost wholly commercial from the
beginning."5 The initial inhabitants of Jamestown were not
immigrants, seeking to establish a new home in the Americas, but
gentleman and entrepreneurs hoping to strike it rich and return
to England.
Furthermore, while the charter of the Virginia Company
did guarantee the Jamestown settlers the same rights as
Englishmen in England, Jamestown was not a democratic society,
and the settlement leaders enforced harsh punishments for many
of the rights our current Constitution protects. One settler in
Jamestown who publicly criticized the governor was sentenced to
"be disarmed [and] have his arms broken and his tongue bored
through with an awl...[and be] kicked down and footed out of the
fort."6 Although we have come to believe that American values of
democracy and individualism crossed over the Atlantic with early
English immigrants to North America, such was not the intention
or focus of the initial settlers.
Perhaps the one of the most famous and most
romanticized figures of early Jamestown is John Smith. Over the
past four centuries, the tale of Smith and Pocahontas has
captivated Americans. Pocahontas, the daughter of the leader of
the Algonquian confederacy bordering Jamestown, represents the
short-lived hope of a peaceful relationship between English
settlers and American Indians and, through her marriage to the
Englishman John Rolfe, the multicultural nature of the United
States. Several scholars of this period, including John Tilton, the
author of Pocahontas: The Evolution of an American Narrative,
have argued that the myths surrounding the interactions of
Pocahontas and John Smith "became central to the search for an

4 Ibid.
5 Jack P. Greene, Pursuits ofHappiness, (Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1988), 8.
6 Quoted in David M. Kennedy, et. all, The American Pageant, (Houghton
Mifflin Company: New York, 2002), 30.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Special Section: Immigration
American Aeneid."7 The tale became an integral part of the
American myth. During the past century in particular we have
romanticized the image of Pocahontas dramatically throwing
herself between Smith and the war clubs of his captors, saving
him from death. In many cases, Pocahontas is depicted as far
older than the eleven-year-old girl she was when she first met
Smith, adding infatuation as a possible motive for her act; a clear
example of this is the 1996 Disney animated film Pocahontas,
which claims to be "based on historical fact."8 Yet the very story
of Pocahontas saving Smith's life is a matter of debate. Smith
first recounted the story at a highly opportune moment more than
ten years after it had happened, when Pocahontas, then the wife
of John Rolfe, was in favor with the English court.9 Yet despite
the research available on the history of Pocahontas and Smith,
the romanticized tale of their friendship remains part of the
American consciousness. The tale of Pocahontas and John
Smith, like much of our folk history of Jamestown, is distorted
and exaggerated to validate our national identity as Americans.

Although Jamestown was founded in 1607, Plymouth is
often considered the first permanent English settlement in North
America. The history of the Mayflower and Pilgrims of Plymouth
is considered common knowledge; children often become familiar
with the tale of the first Thanksgiving in kindergarten. Yet many
aspects of the Pilgrim's lives are overlooked as we focus almost
exclusively on what we deem important: that Thanksgiving
celebrates cooperation and friendship, and that the Pilgrims fled
England to escape religious persecution, confirming the belief
that America is a haven for people of all faiths. A summary of the
common retelling runs thus: after a difficult voyage, the Pilgrims
reached the New World, landing on Plymouth Rock and founded
their settlement nearby. They quickly established friendly
relations with the American Indians living in the area, and our

7 Karen Ordahl Kupperman, "Review: Pocahontas: The Evolution of an
American Narrative, by Robert S. Tilton," The American Historical Review,
(Vol. 101, No. 4. Oct., 1996), 1265-1266.
9 Richard Shenkman, Legends, Lies and CherishedMyths ofAmerican History,
(Harper Perennial, NY 1988), 110-111.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Immigration
Thanksgiving celebrates the first harvest, a celebration of the
cooperation between the Indians and the Pilgrims. Very little of
this tale is strictly truth. For example, the commonly held belief
that the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock is based on "dubious
secondhand testimony given by a ninety-five-year-old man more
than a century after the Mayflower arrived...based on a story he
had supposedly been told as a boy by his father." 10 The man's
father had arrived at Plymouth several years after the Mayflower,
and thus had not witnessed the landing. Furthermore, if the
Pilgrims did at some point land at Plymouth Rock, it would have
been an exploring party only, composed of men, not the popular
image of "men, women, and children and dogs, landing on the
Rock directly from the Mayflower," as Samuel Morison, a former
professor emeritus of history at Harvard University points out. 11
The tradition of Thanksgiving has also been subject to
misconception over the years. Very little is known about the first
Thanksgiving, only that it occurred in autumn of 1621 and was
more of a drawn out, community picnic than a celebration
centering around a food-laden wooden table. Surviving records
indicate that Thanksgiving was not always celebrated in the fall;
some scholars believe in 1623 Thanksgiving occurred in July.
Nor was it celebrated every year.
Our misconceptions of the Puritans who immigrated to
North America extend beyond the founding of Plymouth. Far
from being the rigidly religious, prudish, stoic, and somberly
dressed figures of our childhood history textbooks, the Puritans
were more progressive and accepting than we often give them
credit for. Although we commonly depict the Puritans dressed in
dull black or brown clothes, public record and private documents
(wills and business records) suggest that the Pilgrims dressed no
differently than other people of their class in England at the time.
In fact, they often wore clothes dyed a wide range of colors, from
"turkey red" to "royal purple."12 The ubiquitous black hat with a
silver buckle that has come to be almost a "symbol of the Pilgrim
Fathers," was actually a French design, and became popular
during the French revolution. Instead the Puritans, both men

10 Ibid., 144.
11 Samuel Eliot Morison, I i.c, Light Wanted on the Old Colony," The William
andMary Quarterly-15 (June 1958), 360.
12 David Hackett Fischer, Growing Old in America (1978), 35-36.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Special Section: Immigration
and women, wore a type of floppy hat common among the English
and Dutch on Sundays, while the men wore simple stocking caps
during the rest of the week. 13 Although the Puritan heritage of
the United States is often referred to in explaining the character
of Americans, such as their work ethic or socially conservative
views, the prevailing image of the Massachusetts Puritans is the
product of misconception.

Georgia was the last of the original thirteen colonies that
the English founded. Established in 1733 by John Oglethorpe
and several other prominent Englishmen, Georgia is often
thought of as simply a penal colony, full of convicts from English
prisons meant to serve as a buffer between the more valuable,
northern colonies and the French and Spanish possessions to the
south. Yet its founders intended the colony to be a place where
England's poor could begin anew and build better lives. In a
speech before the South Carolina Assembly in 1733, Oglethorpe
proclaimed Georgia a "place of refuge" for the "distressed people
of Britain and the persecuted Protestants of Europe."14 However,
the perception of Georgia as a haven in the New World rapidly
spread, and soon the majority of immigrants to the colony were
actually laborers, merchants and other hard-working members of
the British middle class.15
Far from being a brutal colony where individuals worked
only for their own survival, the Trustees sought to create in
Georgia an egalitarian settlement that recognized and
implemented the fundamental rights of life, liberty, and property
espoused by John Lock. The founders intended that all settlers
have equal portions of land, and thus equal opportunity within
the colony. Slavery, in any form, was originally illegal, as was
alcohol. Georgian rule was more socialistic than democratic or
capitalistic; its leaders valued society over the individual. Thus
Georgia, as originally intended, was neither a penal colony nor a
bastion of American individualism. Yet while many of the facts
concerning the first settlers in America are skewed or forgotten, it
is true that the vast majority of English immigrants to the

13 Morison, 359-60.
14 Speech by James Oglethorpe in the South Carolina Assembly (June 9, 1733).
15 http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/S ,.i' .iii.i .i l, .htm.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Immigration
Americas in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries traveled
across the Atlantic in search of better lives, for themselves and
their children. This belief in the possibilities present in America
has become the foundation of our national identity and the
American myth. Thus the legacy of the early immigrants
pervades the modern United States and the American

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Special Section: Immigration

Jewish Immigration in the

19th and 20th Centuries

Britt Tevis

The third decade of the nineteenth century marked the
beginning of large-scale Jewish immigration to the United States
of America. Between the years 1820 and 1924, Jewish
immigration resembled an inverted funnel; between 1820 and
1880 approximately two hundred and fifty thousand Jewish
immigrants slowly trickled into America, while from 1881 to 1924
roughly two and a half million Jewish immigrants arrived. 16
These two waves of Jewish immigration share some similarities
and a number of interesting differences. Prior to 1880, mostly
single young men migrated to America, while following 1880 an
equal number of Jewish men and women entered. 17 Additionally,
most pre-1880 Jewish immigrants came from northern and
western Europe, while most post-1880 immigrants originated
from southern and eastern Europe.18 European Jews, who
constituted three million of the approximately forty-five million
European immigrants who came to America between 1880 and
1924, left indelible marks on American and Jewish history.19
Transformations in political and economic realities
throughout central Europe triggered Jewish immigration to
America. Starting at the end of the eighteenth century and into
the beginning of the nineteenth century, significant technological
advancements, including improved transportation systems and
the initial development of factories, marginalized the importance
of Jewish peddlers and merchants.20 This prompted Jews to leave
in search of greater economic opportunities; some Jews moved to
urban centers, while others relocated to other countries.
Simultaneously, late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century political

16 Hasia Diner, The Jews of the United States: 1654- 2000, (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 2004), 79.
17 Diner, The Jews of the United States, 94.
8 Ibid., 77.
19 Ibid., 115.
20 Ibid., 82.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Immigration
developments-namely various emancipation movements that, to
differing degrees, demanded changes from European Jews-
contributed to Jews' decisions to migrate to America during the
first half of the nineteenth century. While emancipation offered
Jews unprecedented political and social opportunities, the highly
unstable nature of such political movements in certain regions,
namely central Europe, contributed to the decision of some Jews
to journey to America.
Similarly, political and economic factors also motivated
post-1880 Jewish immigration. Following the April 15, 1881,
assassination of Czar Alexander II, multiple waves of violent
outbreaks aimed at Russian Jewry, known as pogroms,
contributed to increased Jewish immigration. Unviable economic
circumstances in eastern Europe, what historian Arthur
Hertzberg called the "push" factor of eastern European
immigration-for example, a severe lack of employment
opportunities-also encouraged Russian Jewry westward.
Simultaneously, "the 'pull' factor [for eastern European
immigrants] was the attraction of America: the still-existing
frontier offered land for those who wanted to farm, and the
industrialization of America[n]" cities.21
The physical process of immigrating proved quite
laborious. In addition to the difficulties and expense of obtaining
proper travel documentation, travel to America required an
uncomfortable two- to three-week journey across the Atlantic
Ocean on a massive cargo ship.22 Ships were ill-equipped to
transport the number of passengers aboard and they often
contracted illnesses during the trip. Once in America,
complications for the immigrants persisted. Increased
immigration following 1880 inspired bureaucratic solutions.
Immigration centers, the most famous of which was Ellis Island,
subjected Jewish immigrants to "incessant pushing, prying, and
poking."23 Those found "unfit," admittedly few in number, faced
detention and in some cases were even forced to return to

21 Arthur Hertzberg, The Jews in America Four Centuries of an Uneasy
Encounter: A History, (I ic York: Simon and Shuster, 1989), 152.
22 Gerald Sorin, A Time For Building: The ThirdMigration 1880-1920,
(Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 45.
23 Sorin, A Time for Building, 47.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Special Section: Immigration
Although Jewish American immigrants who arrived prior
to 1880 maintained a schizophrenic relationship with later
Jewish immigrants, later immigrants benefited from the inroads,
institutions, and communal organizations founded by their earlier
counterparts. A mixture of benevolence, pity, and the anticipation
of anti-Semitism, resulting in part from the arrival of Jews en
mass, led already-acculturated American Jews to establish
associations that aided new Jewish immigrants with everything
from finding homes to finding employment.24 The largest of such
organizations, the Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society
(HIAS), was established in 1892.25 HIAS agents met immigrants
as they took their first steps on American soil and acted as
intermediaries between new immigrants and immigration officials.
Regardless of the seeming consideration displayed by American
Jews, such actions were frequently undertaken as a result of
"social insecurity."26 In order to ensure that the new arrivals
would not be too visible, many American Jews during this time
advocated the dispersion of new Jewish immigrants to American
cities less densely populated than New York, or to desolate
farmlands, and some even endorsed limitations on Jewish
immigration?7 Regardless of some American Jews' nativist
sympathies, high rates of Jewish immigration continued until
Once Jewish immigrants found their way past immigration
centers and into American society, they retained specific modes of
existence and also adopted new traditions. Much like in Europe,
most Jewish immigrants settled in already well-established
Jewish communities. While the majority of nineteenth-century
Americans lived in rural regions, Jewish American immigrants
inhabited urban centers.28 In fact, already by the mid-1840s, one-
fourth of American Jewry lived in New York City, Philadelphia,
and Baltimore. Many Jews who arrived in America also
reassumed the occupations that they performed in Europe?9

24 Ibid., 49.
25 Ibid., 49.
26 Ibid., 51.
27 Ibid., 55.
28 Hasia Diner, A Time For Gathering: The Second Migration 1820-1880,
(Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992), 56.
29 Diner, The Jews of the United States, 87.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Immigration
Peddling dry goods and clothing often led to the forming of small
businesses, which relied on "familial and communal credit
networks." Such reliance on familial ties reinforced the bonds of
Jewish communities in America.30
In order to "accelerate the prospects of socioeconomic
advancement," Jewish American immigrants willingly adapted the
customs of their new homeland. 31 Significantly, educational and
cultural change was not only an internal Jewish exercise; rather,
American political and economic conditions enabled Jews to
influence and partly redefine American culture at large. The
adoption of English was the first and arguably most significant
internal cultural change weathered by American Jews: "no other
immigrant group was quicker" in learning the perceived language
of "true" Americans.32 Jews learned English with such gusto, first
and foremost, in order to be able to interact with non-Jewish
customers, employers, and employees. The adoption of English by
Jewish immigrants not only transformed Jews, but also
transformed the English language, and by extension American
culture. As Jews in America learned English, Yiddish words such
as "ganef [thief] and kibitzer [an interfering onlooker] and
chutzpah [shameless audacity] [became] enshrined in the
Jewish American immigrants not only added to the
English vernacular but to American culture through their role in
the creation and mass distribution of movies and visual arts. The
story of Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, the co-creators of the comic
strip hero Superman, illustrates such a Jewish influence within
American culture. An immigrant par excellence, "Superman
signified the yearning to protect the vulnerable. . That is why
he reliably fights for 'truth, justice, and the American way."'4
Beyond merely embodying the creation of two Jewish young men,
Superman symbolized the experiences of Jewish immigrants.
Additional examples of Jewish contributions to American culture

30 Diner, A Time For G.C,l.. ",- 60.
31 Stephen Whitfield, "Declarations of Independence: American Jewish Culture
in the Twentieth Century," in Cultures ofJews: Modern Encounters, Vol. III,
ed. David Biale, (1 ic' York: Schocken Books, 2002), 384.
32 Whitfield, 384.
33 Whitfield, 386.
34 Ibid., 388.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Special Section: Immigration
include numerous films, including Samson Raphaelson's The
Jazz Singer (1927), in which the son of Jewish immigrants, much
to his parents' chagrin, makes his way in the gentile world as a
jazz singer, and George Gershwin's musical works George White's
Scandals of 1922, Rhapsody in Blue (1924), and Porgy and Bess
(1935).35 These works, in addition to innumerable others, serve as
examples of Jewish culture that evolved into American culture,
much like Jewish immigrants evolved into modern Jewish
In 1924, acting on fear of communism, nativist
inclinations, xenophobia, and racist ideology and, of course, "the
best interest of the country," the U.S. Congress passed the
Johnson-Reed Act, severely limiting immigration. The act
stipulated that immigrants from any given country may amount
to two-percent of people from that country already living in the
United States according to the Eleventh United States Census of
1890. This ended the century-long period of mass Jewish
immigration to America, in which three million Jewish
immigrants became Jewish Americas. 36

35 Ibid., 407.
36 Arthur Hertzberg, The Jews in America, 243.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Immigration

Haitian Immigration in the

20th Century

Daniel Watkins

From 1956 to 2000, over 415,000 Haitians emigrated to
the United States.37 This was one of the largest migrations of
peoples from a single country to the United States during the
second half of the twentieth century. The reasons for this influx
of immigrants are numerous and varied and include political,
social, economic, and even environmental factors. Facilitating this
movement of people is the proximity of the western hemisphere's
poorest country (Haiti) with the world's wealthiest country (United
States of America). For understanding this phenomenon,
however, this paper will answer not only why the emigration
occurred but how Haitian immigrant populations were received
and survived once in the United States. In answering these
questions, it becomes evident that the Haitians during this period
underwent considerable difficulties in Haiti, upon leaving Haiti,
and even after arriving in the U.S.

Leaving Haiti
Haitian emigration during the second half of the twentieth
century has been described as mainly an economically driven
phenomenon. Especially in the 1990s, images of impoverished
Haitian refugees flooded the U.S. media. Haitian poverty can be
attributed to a multitude of sources; however, one in particular
was the fiscal management of the Haitian government. From 1973
to 1980, Haiti's public debt increased "seven fold": from $53
million to $366 million, nearly doubling the rate of growth of
external indebtedness in Latin America during this period. 38 By
the 1976 World Bank standards (setting $140 per-capita annual

37 U.S. Bureau of the Census, inA Nation ofPeoples: A Sourcebook on
America's Multicultural Heritage, ed. Elliot Robert Barkan (Westport, Conn.:
Greenwood Press, 1999), 521.
38 Robert Lawless, Haiti's Bad Press (Rochester, VT: Schenkman Books,
1992), 116.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Special Section: Immigration
income as the mark for absolute poverty), approximately seventy-
five percent of Haitians were victim to extreme poverty.39 Despite
receiving substantial support from other nations (including $40.4
million from the United States in the first four years of his reign),
Francois Duvalier, political leader of the country from 1957 to
1971, did little to improve the economic situation of the country
and its inhabitants.40
This poverty manifested itself in numerous areas of society
including dramatically poor health conditions. Even as late as
1995, the life expectancy was only 54.9 years for Haitian men and
58.3 years for women.41 Rural areas especially suffered from
outbreaks of tuberculosis and later AIDS. The poverty of Haiti
during the last half of the twentieth century constituted a reason
for many Haitians to migrate elsewhere.
Haitian immigration, however, was not simply an
economic affair; political oppression also compelled many
Haitians to leave. Immigration came in waves contingent upon the
rapidly changing political situation of Haiti in the twentieth
century. The autocratic reign of Francois "Doc" Duvalier drove
many of Haiti's politicians and social elites out of the country,
especially after he declared himself "president for life" in 1964.42
When Duvalier transferred power to his son, Jean-Claude
Duvalier, in 1971, more Haitians fled the country.43 Besides the
violence of the tontons macoutes Duvalier's personal armed
force the Duvalier regime found other ways to negatively affect
the Haitian population. One example is from the early 1980s,
when the government of Jean-Claude Duvalier destroyed the
country's entire pig population because of the threat of African
swine fever.44 Though this may seem like a reasonable course of

39 Paul Farmer, The Uses of Haiti (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press,
1994), 117-118.
40 Farmer, The Uses ofHaiti, 108.
41 Gilbert Saint-Jean, "The Haitian Community of Miami-Dade County: A
Cross-Sectional Study of Needs, Access and Utilization of Health Services"
(PhD dissertation, University of Miami, May 2004), 44.
42 Michel S. Laguerre, Diasporic Citizenship: Haitian Americans in
TransnationalAmerica (I 1' York: St. Martin's Press, 1998), 75.
43 Ibid.
44 Anthony V. Catanese, Haitians: Migration andDiaspora (Boulder, CO:
Westview Press, 1999), 9.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Immigration
action, scholars today still debate over whether or not there
actually was an African swine fever outbreak in Haiti at this time
or if this was a political move cn Duvalier's part.45 The effect,
however, was great on Haiti's rural poor to whom pigs were one of
their most valuable financial assets.46 One of the most popular
periods of migration came after the 1991 ousting of Jean-
Bertrand Aristide, Haiti's first true democratically elected
president. The coup lead thousands of Haitians to flee, bringing
with them tales of terrible violence and oppression.47 Thus,
political situations and their effects on the Haitian population
drove many to emigrate.
One final condition for Haitian immigration that is often
seen as unique to Haiti in the twentieth century was the
environment. In fact, the term "environmental refugees" was
claimed to have first been used in regard to Haitian boat people
during the 1980s.48 The degradation of the Haitian environment
was mainly the result of intense deforestation. Forests were
cleared for agricultural purposes to such a degree that by 1999
only two percent of Haiti was considered dense forest.49
Deforestation led to substantial erosion problems, including
mudslides that affected both the rural and the urban populations
alike.50 Heavy rains often had devastating consequences

45 Ibid., See note 22.
46 Ibid.
47 Farmer, The Uses ofHaiti, 189-190. Farmer tells of one woman from a
provincial town, Gonaives, who reported that on 2 October 1991 soldiers of the
coup forced their way into her home and executed her three younger brothers.
Apparently she had no idea as to why her brothers were executed, though
Farmer suggests that the popular support of rural citizens for Aristide targeted
them as a threat to the new government.
48 See: J. L. Jacobson, Environmental Refugees: A Yardstick ofHabitability,
Worldwatch Paper 86 (Washington, D. C.: Worldwatch Institute, 1988), and J.
L. Jacobson, "Environmental Refugees: Nature's Warning System," Populi 16,
no. 1 (1989): 29-41.
49 Catanese, Hatians: Migration and Diaspora, 25.
50 See: Catanese, Hatians: Migration and Diaspora, 22. The example is
given of Port-au-Prince whose sole generator of electricity is a single
hydroelectric dam in the mountains away from the city. Apparently soil erosion
caused by deforestation has lead to the clogging of the dam with silt and

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Special Section: Immigration
including the destruction of crops, houses, and even the loss of
lives.51 These scenarios gave Haitians yet another reason to flee
the country for the United States and elsewhere.

Coming to the United States
The journey to the United States was not as simple as
taking a plane to Miami; the only option for thousands of refugees
was to take to the seas with make-shift rafts in the hopes of
reaching Floridian beaches. On 24 May 1992, however, President
George H. Bush issued an executive order to "return directly to
Haiti any fleeing refugees encountered."52 In his press release, the
president cited the "safety of Haitians" as his main reason for
undertaking this policy, hoping to deter Haitian attempts to brave
the "600-mile sea journey" for which they were "not equipped."53
Though leaders of Haitian refugee groups in the United States
and human rights lawyers protested, this policy managed to slow
the influx of Haitians into the country and made it substantially
more difficult for refugees to reach U.S. soil.54
By 1994, President Bill Clinton began a new policy of
providing hearings for Haitian refugees to determine if they could
establish a "well-founded fear of persecution," in which case
asylum would be granted.55 Haitians were often brought to
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for processing by the INS (U.S.
Immigration and Naturalization Services) and other organizations.
However, determining the status of a potential refugee was in fact
complex. As a legal consultant for the UNHCR (United Nations
High Commission for Refugees), Mary Watt spent time in

sediment, thus making consistent electricity for the country's capital
51 Ernest H. Pregg, The Haitian Dilemma: A Cast Study in Demographics,
Development, and U.S. Foreign Policy (Washington, D. C.: Center for Strategic
& International Studies, 1996), 36.
52 Douglas Jehl, "Bush Orders U.S. Ships to Turn Back Haitians'
Immigration," Los Angeles Times, 25 May 1992.
5 George H. Bush, press release, 24 May 1992, in Encyclopedia of
American Immigration vol. 4, ed. James Ciment (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe,
2001), 1357.
54 Jehl, "Bush Orders U.S. Ships to Turn Back Haitians' Immigration."
55 Garry Pierre-Pierre, "29 Haitians, Rejected, Return Home," The New
York Times, 21 June 1994.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Immigration
Guantanamo reviewing asylum cases. She explained how defining
persecution was problematic because onehad to determine
"persecution by whom" and "on the basis of what."56 The
experience of violence was often not enough to establish a fear of
persecution because it lacked a formal motive or a clearly defined
persecuting group. Thus, many Haitians struggled to even find
their way to the United States.

Case Study: The Haitian Population of Miami-Dade
Once in the United States, Haitian immigrant populations
continued to face challenges. A good example lies in the Haitian-
American community ia Miami-Dade County during the 1980s
and 1990s. The exact number of Haitians living in the area at
this time is unknown; however, some estimates have put the
number around 375,000.57 The highest concentration of Haitians
was found in the northern part of he county know as "Little
Haiti."58 The Haitian population revolutionized the culture of this
county and especially this particular area. There are Haitian-
owned radio and TV stations that broadcast news on Haiti, a
number of different newspapers edited in French, and even an
elementary school that has been named after a Haitian national
icon: Toussaint Louverture.59
For Haitians in the Miami-Dade area, numerous
stumbling blocks were set before them.60 In a survey of the
Haitian immigrant population of Dade County, sixty-six percent of
Haitians interviewed expressed that they were unemployed. 61 The
educational level of entrant groups was also a significant
difficulty. Fifteen percent of Haitian immigrants had no formal

56 Interview with Mary Watt, by author, 22 March 2007, Gainesville, Fla.
57 Saint-Jean, "The Haitian Community of Miami-Dade County," 22.
58 Ibid., 23.
59 Ibid., 23-24.
60 Ibid., 23. The author notes that there are "scores of Haitian lawyers,
physicians, dentists, university professors, nurses, police officers, businessmen,
bankers, schoolteachers, etc." in the area. He even states that at that time one
municipality was administered by a Haitian-American mayor.
61 Metropolitan Dade County, "Social and Economic Problems among
Cuban and Haitian Entrant Groups in Dade County, Florida," 37.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Special Section: Immigration
schooling.62 Haitian-American populations in the Miami-Dade
area faced other barriers, including racism and lack of sufficient
health care. Though many immigrant groups face some sort of
racial barrier upon entering the United States, the situation of
Haitians was somewhat unique. In the Miami-Dade area, they
endured "triple minority" status because they were "foreigners,
Black and Creole speakers."63 Moreover, American stereotyping of
Haitians in Miami often pictured them as "endemic tuberculosis
carriers" from a place of "voodoo and zombies."64 These racial
stigmas may have been conditions for other detrimental
experiences to the Haitian population, including lack of jobs and
even availability of health care. Indeed, each challenge simply
served to aggrandize the others. The lack of financial means
prohibited many Haitians from utilizing health insurance or even
seeking regular check-ups.65 In a study of the Haitian population
of the county, only twenty-seven percent had private insurance as
compared to forty-six percent of U.S. Hispanics and seventy-two
percent of the Miami-Dade population overall.66 Thus, the
experience of Haitians in Miami-Dade County can be seen as
fraught with further complications and strife exemplifying the
entire experience of Haitians in the latter half of the twentieth

The Experience of Haitian Immigration
What this brief snapshot of Haitian immigration has done
is de-romanticize the experience of the immigrant to the United
States during the second half of the twentieth century. Though
the United States has the reputation of being the home of the
"American Dream," this case study shows that the journey of
immigrants starting in their home country, on the way to this
country, and once in the U. S. is often met with substantial
challenges. Despite these challenges, however, the tale of Haitians
in this country is also sprinkled with stories of success and
triumph. Thus at the beginning of the new millennium, Haitian-

62 Ibid., 66.
63 Saint-Jean, "The Haitian Community of Miami-Dade County," 48.
64 John-Thor Dahlburg, "A New World for Hatians," Los Angeles Times, 4
September 2001.
65 Saint-Jean, "The Haitian Community of Miami-Dade County," 96-102.
66 Ibid., 77.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Special Section: Immigration
American communities have become components to an already
diverse cultural landscape that was indeed born through the
experiences of immigrants just like them.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Pilgrim, Monk, or Missionary?

Interpreting the Life of St. Columban

David Andrews

Embarking as peregrini pro Christo, or pilgrims for Christ,
during the sixth century, Irish devotees to the Celtic tradition left
their island homeland as self-exiled pilgrims to the continent.
Many consider Saint Columbanus, the founder of a new monastic
order and force of change in the Merovingian and Lombard
churches, the most revered and influential of the peregrini.1
Among the most venerated of Irishmen, Columban is renowned
for his lasting influence on monasticism and spiritual life, most
notably the introduction of private penance to the continental
churches. Columban imparted new ideas and traditions to the
lagging spiritual communities of Burgundy and Lombardy, which
thereby spread across Europe. He also initiated a renewal of
asceticism via the establishment of disciplined communities at
Luxeuil, Annegray, and Bobbio.
In his letters and sermons, Columban expressed his
concern for the salvation of the multitudes and his desire to
spiritually assist heathens in the lands surrounding him.2 While
Columban's role as a pilgrim and a monk is largely undisputed,
scholars debate his role as a missionary. In fact, most scholars
argue that missionary work ranked very low on Columban's list of
priorities. Despite this, it is the contention of this paper that
Columban did consider himself a missionary and as a result he
made significant spiritual headway in the regions surrounding
the communities in which he lived. Columban may not have been
a missionary by vocation, but his presence as an innovative monk
and devout servant to God made him a missionary by

1 For the purpose of this paper I will refer to the saint as Columban.
2 Sancti Columbani Opera-ed. G. S. M. Walker, Scriptores Latini Hiberniae,
vol. II, (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1957), xii.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Pilgrim, Monk, or Missionary?
circumstance.3 His role as a "holy man" under the reign of
Burgundian kings, the messages of his letters and sermons, and
Jonas of Bobbio's Life of Saint Columban reveal his intentions
and lasting influence in the missionary field. He was indeed a
missionary in spite of himself.
To understand Columban's life as a pilgrim, missionary,
and monk, one must consider the meaning of each title. A pilgrim
travels from his homeland into unfamiliar territory in the service
of God, while a monk is a devout believer who dedicates himself
to a rigorous life of servitude and discipline. In his essay on
Columban's life G. S. M. Walker described what it meant to be a
pilgrim for the Irish:

The Irish pilgrims-and Columban may be taken
as representative of most-looked for sanctuary on
earth. They sought a heavenly country...but the
urge to travel was turned into Christian channels,
so that pilgrimage became associated with mission,
and both were subordinate to the spiritual
perfection of the monk.4

Columban constantly moved and reached out to new peoples; he
embodied all the characteristics of an Irish pilgrim. Furthermore,
Columban was one of the greatest monastic innovators during the
seventh century. As an innovator, he was not only a missionary
himself, but also a facilitator of missionary activity in the regions
he settled:

To that extent, the monastery as such might be a
missionary community; likewise individual monks,
provided they were tried and tested, might become
missionaries... For some monk, therefore, the
monastery was not a lifelong home, but a school
for pastoral and missionary work.5

3G. S. M. Walker, "St. Columban: monk or missionary?" in The Mission of the
Church and the Propagation of the Faith, ed. G.J. Cumming (Cambridge:
University Press, 1970) Vol. 6, 39-44.
4 Walker, St. Columban: monk or missionary, 43.
5 Walker, Early Christian Ireland, 383.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

David Andrews
Columban engaged in missionary work and equipped his
followers for the work the he desired to accomplish both in the
established churches and in pagan lands.
Columban left his community in Ireland to begin anew. He
was an ambassador for Christ, sharing the Celtic tradition with
the regions he entered. He was an outspoken religious activist,
who imparted his ideals on the established religion, and took the
gospel to pagans in surrounding lands. Upon examination of
Columban's life, through his letters, sermons, and the accounts
of a seventh-century biographer, Columban appears to embody
many of the characteristics of a missionary. From pagans to
powerful bishops, Columban's preaching and influence knew no
bounds. This paper will interpret Columban's ideas, discover
major influences in his life, and reveal his missionary activities
within continental Europe.

Columban and Irish Christianity
To reveal the purpose of Columban's journey in Europe,
one must examine the values and customs of the Irish Church
and Columban's mentality prior to his departure from Ireland.
Distinct practices in the ascetic communities set the Irish brand
of monasticism apart from the rest. The Irish habit focused on
individuals' austere and disciplined lives in which suffering for
Christ took precedence over all.6 Irish Penitentials emerged from
this movement, including the greatest penance of all: a self-
chosen exile known as peregrinatio pro Christo. Such an
emphasis on pilgrimage as the prime example of sacrifice is due
to the significance of close family relationships in Ireland; leaving
one's family and home was considered the greatest renunciation
of one's own desires. Therefore, devoted men frequently left their
homeland and never returned. They traveled as far away as
possible in order to serve God and prove their dedication to
suffering for Christ.7 These pilgrimages often included various
spiritual practices including isolation, prayer, preaching, and
almost always some form of missionary activity.

6 Jean Leclercq, The Irish Invasion in Jean Leclercq, Frangois Vanderbroucke,
and Louis Bouyer, The Spirituality of the Middle Ages (I ic' York: Seabury,
1968), 31-45.
7 Leclercq, The Irish Invasion, 34-35.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Pilgrim, Monk, or Missionary?
Born in Leinster, Ireland, in the middle of the sixth
century, the young Columban studied under the instruction of
Sinil, a distinguished scholar known for his knowledge of the
scriptures. In a country whose people were uncannily
enthusiastic about the calling to a disciplined communal life,
Irish boys commonly gravitated toward religious life.8 In order to
escape the romantic advances of several young women, as a
young adult, Columban turned to the monastic life. He left home
at the age of seventeen and embraced asceticism. According to
Columban's biographer, Jonas of Bobbio, Columban met a holy
woman in the wilderness who advised him to go "away, youth
away! Flee from corruption, into which, as you know, many have
fallen. Forsake the path which leads to the gates of hell."9 This
incident inspired his departure. Once Columban left southern
Ireland, he entered the strict community of Bangor, where he met
the respected Abbot Comgall. Under Comgall's guidance he "gave
himself entirely to fasting and prayer, to bearing the easy yoke of
Christ, to mortifying the flesh, to taking the cross upon himself
and following Christ, that he who was to instruct others might
first on his own instruct himself".10

Columban on the Continent
In 591, Comgall granted Columban permission to leave
Ireland for Gaul as a peregrinus, fulfilling Columban's wish to
venture even further away from his homeland. In traditional form,
Columban left Ireland with twelve other disciples, voyaging to
Gaul, a region in Western Europe, and eventually settled in
Burgundy, France. There, Columban secured the support of
Frankish kings and aristocrats, and supplied them with his
spiritual guidance, which in turn instigated religious changes
throughout Europe. His ties to the powerful and wealthy elites
provided Columban with opportunity to imprint his style of Celtic
Christianity throughout his journey. Eventually, Columban's
friendly relationships with royal authorities soured due to
Columban's reluctance to comply with royal demands. However,

8Sancti Columbani Opera-ed. G. S. M. Walker, Scriptores Latini Hiberniae,
vol. II, (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1957), xii.
9 Jonas of Bobbio, Life of Saint Columban, ed. B. Krusch in M. G. H. Scriptores
Rerum Merovingicarum, 1902, 8.
10 Jonas, Life of Saint Columban, 9.

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David Andrews
Columban continued to wield great influence among the
communities in which he lived, especially among many of the
bishops whom Columban counseled. Columban's travels from
Burgundy, across Francia, into western Bavaria, and finally south
to Lombardy, provided him with numerous missionary
Upon arrival in the region of Brittany, Columban and his
companions entered Burgundy with the zealous desire to change
hearts and sow the seeds of salvation in nearby nations.12 As an
Irishman, Columban entered the foreign land with a respected
reputation for spiritual discipline and knowledge. He first gained
the support of Guntram, King of Burgundy, and then that of
Childebert II, under whom Columban founded the monasteries of
Annegray and Luxeuil between 593 and 596, respectively. With
the support of the Burgundian kings, Columban benefited from
liberties similar to those he had enjoyed in Ireland, including the
freedom to conduct and rule his community of ascetics without
interference from the secular or clerical authorities. In fact,
Columban felt so unencumbered that he completely ignored the
Merovingian bishops, and installed himself as a religious leader
without their authorization, going as far as receiving the blessing
of the altar from an Irish bishop. 13 Regarded as a Christian holy
man because of his great knowledge of the scriptures, royal
authority granted him support despite their conflicts over the role
of monasticism in the church and the date of Easter.14 Such
concession from the king is likely to have been a result of the
king's desire to foster a united Christian nation. Despite the
king's hesitations, he preferred the notion of ruling a nation of
subjects under the banner of Christ than ruling a divided people.
Columban and his followers profited from the rulers' political
strategy. However, it was the holiness of Columban's

'' Leclercq, The Irish Invasion, 36-41
12 Jonas, Life of Saint Columban, 10.
P3ierre Riche, Columbanus, His Followers and the Merovingian Church ed. H.
B. Clarke and Mary Brennan, Columbanus and Merovingian Monasticism
(Oxford: BAR Publishers, 1981), 59-71.
14 Ian Wood, The Missionary Life: Saints and the Evangelization ofEurope 400-
1050 (London: Longman, 2001), 31

Alpata: A Journal of History

Pilgrim, Monk, or Missionary?
communities and rule that ultimately drew willing followers to the
Catholic faith.15
More than a new religious educator, Columban acted as a
holy man, a Christian saint as described by Peter Brown:

The rise of the holy man coincides with a
remarkable revival of the collective sense and
morale of the towns in the late fifth and sixth
centuries...These impersonal agents had become
the bearers of the supernatural among men...the
victory of Christianity in Late Roman society was
not the victory of the One God over the many: it
was the victory of men over the institutions of their
past. 16

Columban contributed to the revival of the Merovingian church.
He became the forbearer of a renewed emphasis on discipline and
the scriptures. Jonas, remarking on the state of the church upon
Columban's arrival, stated that the "love of mortification and the
remedies of penance scarcely existed in this kingdom."17 During
the sixth century, the Merovingian church created a stagnant
religious environment dominated by the conflicts of greedy feudal
lords. Columban instilled the principles of asceticism in the
communities surrounding his monasteries, emphasizing
obedience, silence, fasting, chastity, mortification, and penance.
He also restored a deep knowledge of scripture, an essential
element of the ascetic culture. Private penance, purifying the body
and soul, and the revitalization of scripture in the Merovingian
church brought about a deepened notion of sin and a more
frequent reception of the Eucharist.18 In turn, these results
dynamically changed the role and atmosphere of the Merovingian
church. It is clear that Columban made a deepening impact on
the Burgundian populace's acceptance of Roman Catholicism.

15 T. M. Charles-Edwards, Early Christian Ireland (London: Cambridge
University Press, 2000), 348.
16 Peter Brown, Rise and Function of the Holy Man in The Authority of the
Sacred (Cambridge: University Press, 1995), 55-77.
17 Jonas, Life of Saint Columban, 11.
18 Pierre Riche, Columbanus, His Followers and the Merovingian Church, 68.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

David Andrews
In his book about missionary life during the early middle
ages, Ian Wood suggested maintained that Columban failed in his
missionary endeavors. Wood wrote that

In a sense there is good Biblical precedent for
Columbanus' decision: as Christ said, 'And
whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your
words, when ye depart out of that house or city,
shake of the dust of your feet.'(Matthew 10:14) On
the other hand, the fact that Columbanus did
forget to preach to the heathen rather undermines
the picture of him as a missionary.19

While Wood admitted that Columban was justified in his decision,
he took too much liberty in stating that Columban "forgot" to
preach to the Bavarians. Columban did not simply forget, but was
convinced not to continue his mission to them because of their
"coolness." Moreover, Columban provided Biblical support for his
decision and certainly does not refrain from missionary work with
new peoples later in his life.
Wood also cited Letter IV, which Columban addressed to
his congregation at Luxeuil. Columban stated:

I have written this because of the uncertain
outcome of events. It was in my wish to visit the
heathen and have the gospel preached to them by
us, but when Fedolius just reported their coolness
he quite took my mind from that. 20

Indeed, Columban had not yet reached the pagans in Bavaria, to
whom he intended to preach to, but this was not for lack of desire
to do so. Columban wrote this letter while in Nantes, under
guarded supervision, while waiting to be escorted back to Ireland.
His intentions were in accordance with his mission, which was
clearly to preach to the pagans peoples of Europe. It was his
troubles with secular authorities which halted such intentions.
Royal authorities exiled Columban from Burgundy in 610,
in part, because he had alienated royal and ecclesiastical support

Alpata: A Journal of History

19 Wood, The Missionary Life, 31.
20 Columbanus, ep. IV, 5.

Pilgrim, Monk, or Missionary?
by encouraging the growth of his monasteries and transforming
the religious character of the surrounding region. When
Columban refused to bless the bastard sons of Theuderic, he was
finally expelled from Burgundy by King Childebert II.
Once expelled from Burgundy, Columban ventured to
Nantes under the supervision of a Burgundian force to ensure his
departure from the continent. He interpreted the stalling of this
fleet that was to carry him to Nantes as reason to continue his
missionary pursuits. Columban evangelized a group of
condemned criminals in the town of Besancon, striking off their
fetters and commanding them to go to the local church for
confession.21 Even in the custody of the royal guard Columban
continued to live as a missionary. Columban explicitly expressed
his concern for missions in Letter IV and even pursued those
desires when he had no hope left:

Hold yourself therefore to the impulse of the one
desire which you know my heart desires. You
know I love the salvation of many and seclusion for
myself, the one for the progress of the Lord, that is,
of His church...but these are longings in me rather
than achievements; but in yourself let them be
fulfilled, I pray, since in my absence you will be
able to know both at least in part.22

This letter revealed Columban's regrets about his own inability to
fulfill his desires for evangelism during his time spent under the
Merovingian kings. Columban expressed a deep urge to influence
people not in communion with God. Columban's letter to his
congregation at the Abbey Luxeuil, as well as in his other
writings, revealed his missionary goals. One can surmise that
had secular authorities in Burgundy permitted him to continue
his quest, Columban would have ventured further into pagan
lands and continued his missionary work. Using Columban's
sudden expulsion from the region as justification, Wood wrongly
discredited Columban's missionary role. Wood's negation of
Columban's missionary work appears presumptuous in
consideration of the context of Columban's letter.

21 Jonas, Life of Saint Columban, 34.
22 Columban, ep. IV, 4.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

David Andrews
In Letter IV Columban also expressed his hope for the
salvation of the peoples to whom he preached, stating, "The
greatness of my zeal for your salvation is known to Him alone
Who gave it, and my longing for the advance of your
instruction."23 Columban advised those who are teaching in his
stead, illustrating the anxiety of an abbot torn from his monks
and unable to guide his flock away from the wolves circling
around it:24

Through the devil's tricks they wish to divide you,
if you do not keep peace with them; for now
without me you seem to stand less firmly there.
Therefore be wary, considering the time when they
do not endure sound doctrine.25

This passage suggests that Columban was deed a source of
division but also a great source of influence. The presence of his
teachings in a community created disagreement between the
secular and religious authorities. His sphere of influence ranged
from the lowliest of criminals to the highest of bishops and the
landed aristocracy. Columban's letter also displayed his clout
among Burgundian religious authorities:

Or concerning others who, defiled as deacons, are
later elected to the rank of bishops? For some
exist, whose confessions I have heard on this, and
who, discussing the matter with my poor self,
wished to know for certain, whether after this they
could without peril be bishops...26

Writing to Pope Gregory the Great, Columban claimed that many
of the bishops sought him as a spiritual guide and that he often
heard their confessions, which demonstrates the great sway that
he held over many church figures. As illustrated above in his
letter to the congregation at Luxeuil, Columban was not afraid to
be a divisive figure in order to spread what he considered to be

23 Columban, ep. IV, 2.
24 H. B. Clarke and Mary Brennan, Columbanus and his Disciples, 358.
25 Columban, ep. IV, 3.
26 Columban, ep. I, 6

Alpata: A Journal of History

Pilgrim, Monk, or Missionary?
the truth. That his absence created such disorder indicates the
authority he held while in power. Columban's fourth letter,
written to his congregation at Luxeuil, showed Columban's
concern with missionary work. It also showed that he worried
greatly that his influence, and that of his disciples in Burgundy,
would abate. Columban's own writings exhibited his role as a
missionary, and how he acted as a force of change in the
Merovingian church who revived the region and began the
reawakening of spiritual life through ascetic practices, penance,
prayer, and the reading of sacred books.27
As chronicled in Jonas's account of Columban's life,
Columban's missionary work significantly affected Burgundy.
During his escorted trip back to Ireland, he courageously fled his
attendants and took shelter under the protection of Theudebert II,
king of Austrasia. Upon his arrival at Theudebert's court,
Columban met with an offer from the king, who:

promised to find him pleasant places inside his
territories offering every opportunity to the holy
man, and having neighboring nations on all sides
to be preached to. To these words the holy man
[Columban] said: 'If you offer the support of your
promise...let me be allowed to stay there a little
and see what may be done, sowing faith into the
hearts of the neighboring people.'28

This quotation shows Columban's concerted effort to secure the
promise of missions to the laity in Theudebert's land. Yet, even in
this context, Wood criticized Columban. Wood claimed that the
mentioning of missions first by the King, not by Columban,
exhibits the saint's lack of enthusiasm for missions. Yet, the
passage explicitly divulged Columban's desire to remain in the
region in order to spread his faith. Perhaps the king knew
Columban's missionary zeal and purposely mentioned such work
in order to keep him in the region; or perhaps Columban waited
to learn of the king's own desires. Whatever the circumstance, it
is inconsequential that the king mentioned missionary work
before Columban mentioned it.

27 Riche, Columbanus, His Followers and the Merovingian Church, 68.
28 Jonas, Life of Saint Columban, 51.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

David Andrews
Despite Jonas's continued account of Columban's role as
a missionary, Wood continued to criticize Jonas's work, claiming
that the author gives little weight to the saint's concern for

Nor does mission hold Jonas' attention at this
point, for he instantly turns from Colmbanus'
dealing with the Sueves to an account of the
martyrdom of Bishop Desiderus of Vienne and then
to two miracles concerning the provision of food in
the Bregenz region.29

Wood's remark is in fact contradictory. He mentioned the "two
miracles concerning the provisions of food," which supports the
claim that Columban was indeed a missionary, as miracles were
part and parcel of missionary activity during the Middle Ages.
Additionally, Jonas's intention in writing his account of
Columban's life was to chronicle the entire life of Columban, not
simply his missionary activities. Columban was indeed a
missionary but also much more. Therefore, Jonas's account
described any significant detail of the saint's life.
Much of Jonas's account highlights Columban's
missionary activities, including his direct involvement in the
conversion of Swabian pagans around the settlement of Bregenz
in western Bavaria:

He criticized them with evangelical words, telling
them to refrain from sacrifice, and told them to go
home. Many of them at that time were converted
to the faith of Christ by the blessed man's
[Columban] arguments and doctrine, and were
baptized. 30

Upon further consideration of Wood's assumptions concerning
Jonas's abrupt turn from Columban's dealings with the heathens
to the martyrdom account of Bishop Desiderius of Vienne, it is
apparent that Wood's arguments remain unsound. 31 Wood failed

Alpata: A Journal of History

29 Wood, The Missionary Life, 53.
30 Jonas, Life of Saint Columban, 53.
31 Wood, The Missionary Life, 33.

Pilgrim, Monk, or Missionary?
to recognize that Desiderius was greatly influenced by Columban
in his opinions toward Theuderic and those who opposed
Columban's teachings in Burgundy. Thus, Jonas's account of the
martyrdom of Bishop Desiderius reasserts Columban's influence
in Burgundy.
Columban remained under the protection of Theudebert,
King of Austrasia, settling in a small town on the western edge of
Germania called Bregenz in 610. Jonas described Columban's
experiences in the town of Bregenz, where he would spend a
considerable amount of time teaching and preaching prior to his
entry into Lombardy.32 Columban intended to go from Bregenz to
the eastern states, in order to preach to the heathen nations.
Columban "thought to travel to the frontiers of the Wends, who
are also called Slavs, and illuminate with evangelical light their
blind minds, and to show the way of truth to those in error from
the beginning, through the times of their ancestors."33
Columban again wanted to travel into hostile territory,
where Christianity had no base. By 612 Theudebert, King of
Austrasia agreed that he should be given a site for a monastery in
Italy so that he could preach Christianity to the pagan
Swabians.34 Before Columban found his way there, however,
Theudebert suffered defeat by Theuderic in an ongoing battle,
thwarting Columban's plans. Limited not by willpower but by
political forces, Columban was unable to travel east.35 Without
support from local authorities to establish monasticism,
Columban was rendered helpless as a missioner. He remained in
Bregenz for two years, performing many miracles and preaching
to sinners until the opportunity arose for him to travel to Italy.36
The Lombard kingdom, ruled by Agilulf and his wife
Theudelinda, welcomed Columban into Italy.37 There, Columban
entered a new land, ruled by an Arian king. He was given a
ruined church at Bobbio to establish a monastery, where he
immediately placed himself at the center of affairs in the Lombard

32 Jonas, Life ofSaint Columban, 54.
3Jonas, Life of Columban, 56.
4 Charles-Edwards, Early Christian Ireland, 372.
5 Brown, Rise and Function of the Holy Man, 63.
36 Jonas, Life of Columban, 56.
37 Agilulf adopted the Arianism, as did his nation, while his wife was a Catholic.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

David Andrews
church.38 It is here at Bobbio that Columban's peregrinatio
ended. He died in 615, three years after he established the
community at Bobbio, leaving his legacy as an ascetic,
missionary, and most of all a great force of change on the

Jonas of Bobbio's Life of Saint Columban
In 618 Jonas arrived at Bobbio and undertook the
honorable task of producing a written account of Columban's life.
His work, Life of Saint Columban, is not a simple expression of
piety like many martyrdom accounts, but a detailed history of
Columban's career written as hagiography. Using information
from Columban's own writings and words, Jonas chronicled
numerous cases of Columban preaching to non-believers in the
areas he traveled. The account is not simply a missionary
chronicle; it contains all the defining moments in Columban's life.
Yet Jonas was limited in his attempt to construct a concise
account of the saint's life. In order to jump between people and
locations, as Columban did during his life, Jonas was necessarily
quite hasty in his summarization of certain events. Despite these
logistical burdens, Jonas portrayed Columban as a missionary
who held great influence over many bishops, was personally
involved in conversions, and exhibited charity to the heathen
peoples surrounding him.
Ian Wood took issue with the authenticity of Jonas's
work. Despite arguing that Jonas was unconcerned with
Columban's missionary activity, Wood asserted that Jonas added
an exaggerated missionary twist to Columban's life.39 As made
clear by close examination of Columban's letters, however, there
was no need for Jonas to embellish Columban's missionary work.
His letters provided the primary evidence of his concern for
mission. Wood accused Jonas of embellishing the saint's life,
asserting a lack of sufficient evidence to paint him as a
missionary. Wood wrote:

38 Columban's Letter V was addressed to the Pope, accusing the Aquileians of
assailing the Catholic church.
39 Wood wrote that Jonas' emphasis on Theudebert rather than on Columban
raises interesting questions.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Pilgrim, Monk, or Missionary?
Columbanus' own lack of enthusiasm for mission
suggests that, far from failing to do justice to
his subject's missionary work, Jonas was doing his
best to give a missionary twist to the career of a
man who was a peregrinus pro Christo...40

Columban lacked enthusiasm in no area of his life; Woods
accusations are unwarranted. Jonas had little motivation to
embellish the missionary life of Columban. With Jonas embarking
on his quest for the details of Columban's life less that a decade
after the saint's death, he undoubtedly tapped into reliable
resources, relying on multiple first-hand accounts of Columban's
life. A primary source with first-hand accounts certainly yielded
accurate and reliable information on the subject's life. Therefore,
when examining Jonas' Life of Saint Columban, one can assume
that the information concerning the saint's life is accurate. It is
with certainty, upon inspecting all the facts, that Jonas's account
is a genuine description of Columban's activities as both a
missionary and a pilgrim. As evidenced by the excerpts from
Columban's letters and from Jonas's work, one can conclude that
Columban was indeed quite captivated and passionate about
missionary activity.
A final example from Columban's twelfth sermon to his
congregations epitomized his perspective on missions. Columban
most likely wrote this to his congregation at Luxeuil just prior to
his exile:

Lord, grant me, I pray Thee in the name of Jesus
Christ Thy Son, my God, that love which knows no
fall, so that my lamp may feel the kindling touch
and know no quenching, may burn for me and for
others may give light. Do Thou, Christ, deign to
kindle our lamps, our Savior most sweet to us, that
they may shine continually in Thy temple, and
receive perpetual light from Thee the Light
perpetual, so that our darkness may be
enlightened, and yet the world's darkness may be
driven from us. Thus do Thou enrich my lantern
with Thy light, I pray Thee...and loving Thee only

40 Wood, The Missionary Life, 34.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

David Andrews
may behold, and before Thee my lamp may ever
shine and burn.41

This passage embodied the sentiment that Columban carried with
him during and after his exile from Burgundy. Through his
words in this closing prayer, Columban expressed a growing
passion for missions.

Ian Wood took a limited perspective on what it means to
be a missionary. Examining his core argument against
Columban's work as a missionary, one sees that Wood limited his
definition of missionary to preaching to and converting previously
pagan peoples to Christianity-"I will confine the word as far as is
possible to mean mission to the pagan."42 He limited his analysis
to include only one particular characteristic of what it means to
be a missionary: the conversion of pagan peoples to Christianity.
If one uses this definition to draw conclusions about Columban's
life then the evidence depicting him as a missionary would prove
scant. However, a missionary is more than a converter of pagans;
a missionary is an ambassador to the region he settles. Wood's
definition of a missionary is inadequate.
In his letter to the Ephesians the apostle Paul described a
missionary when he said "Pray also for me, that whenever I open
my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make
known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador
in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."43
Although the New Testament speaks of the conversion of pagans,
it did not do so exclusively when referring to missions. Many of
Paul's letters referenced Christian communities that have strayed
from the path of righteousness, communities similar to those
Columban worked with.44 Columban's life as a missionary
reflected Biblical motifs. Columban denied his mother, wandered
through foreign nations, and preached the gospel to both the
established church and the unrepentant sinner.45 Columban did

41 Columban, Sermon XII, 3.
42 Wood, The Missionary Life, 3.
43 Ephesians 6:19-20, NIV
44 Including : 1 Corinthians, Galatians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians
45 Jesus calls the disciples to deny their families in Luke 9

Alpata: A Journal of History

Pilgrim, Monk, or Missionary?
indeed preach to the pagans, as well as strove to influence the
churches and authorities under which he lived. Even using
Wood's limited view of missions, an argument can still be made
for Columban's status as a missionary, citing his desire to reach
pagan lands in Letter IV, his burning desire to let his light shine
in Sermon XII, and the many examples of the Saint converting
pagans and performing miracles in Jonas' account of his life.
Throughout his lifetime, Saint Columban strictly followed
the instruction of the Bible in the way he preached, lived a
disciplined life, oversaw his monasteries, and not surprisingly, in
the way he performed missions. He traveled from Ireland to
Burgundy, into pagan lands and finally to Italy before his death.
During these travels Columban spoke his heart to the religious
and secular authorities who he believed were living in error
according to the scriptures. He preached to pagans in the town of
Besancon, and performed miracles in Bregenz. He heard the
confessions of bishops who sought spiritual advice, and held the
counsel with Arian kings. Columban's influence altered the
religious character of the European continent during the late
sixth and early seventh centuries. His Celtic tradition helped him
revive churches and establish new spiritual homes where
Christian communities did not previously exist. Perhaps
Columban did not intend to convert great numbers of peoples
when he first left home, be he did intend to serve Christ as best
he knew how. As he said in Letter IV to his congregation in
Luxeuil: "You know I love the salvation of many and seclusion for
myself, the one for the progress of the Lord, that is, of His church,
the other for my own desire."46 Saint Columban was truly a
missionary in spite of himself.

46 Columban, ep IV, 4.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

The "cooperation of physical

forces" through Humboldtian

Isometric Lines

Fredrick Heinrichs

Alexander von Humboldt amassed an impressive resume
of scientific and human achievements in his lifetime as an
explorer and a naturalist, particularly in his expedition to South
America from 1799 to 1804. What is surprising about
Humboldt's life is that despite his inexhaustible efforts in the
political, geographical, and physical sciences he has lost his
former prominence. Recently, a biographer of Humboldt
commented that he "never made a single, great, paradigm-
changing discovery with which his name would be forever
linked."1 It is this assumption that this paper wishes to
challenge. To the modern reader, the name Humboldt might not
be as familiar as Darwin; his popularity has not continued past
the tributes offered to him at his death and the centennial of his
birth .2
Nevertheless, his research and findings were instrumental
in laying the foundation for and advancing the fields of
geography, geology, plant geography, botany, and meteorology.
Humboldt initiated the use of isometric lines which proved pivotal
in helping to visualize important trends in these sciences.3 From
lines of equal temperature to lines of equal altitude to lines of
equal rock formations, Humboldt attempted to simplify and make
sense of the daunting number of parameters that described

SGerard Helferich, Humboldt's Cosmos (1 ico York: Gotham Books, 2004),
2 Ibid., 327-329.
3 Isometric lines connect places on a two-dimensional plane when values are
equal. For example, isobars in meteorology connect places of equal atmospheric
pressure; the lines drawn on a relief map connect places of equal altitude.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Humboldtian Isometric Lines
nature. His use of isometric lines exemplified his ultimate quest
to "comprehend the phenomena of physical objects in their
general connection, and to represent nature as one great whole."4
Humboldt identified recurring patterns existing in all of nature;
he represented lines in seemingly unrelated sciences, joining
sciences together to create powerful, understandable, and
intuitive graphical representations. His scientific findings of
natural phenomena are often taken for granted today, despite
their importance in changing the way Western culture thought
about the earth in his lifetime. The importance of Humboldt's
scientific discoveries and his isometric lines in helping to
"delineate nature in all its vivid animation and exalted grandeur"
deserve Humboldt mention among the top scientific minds in
The purpose of this research paper is twofold. The first
section will deal with Humboldt's application of isometric lines to
different sciences, specifically meteorology, plant geography,
magnetism, and geology. There this author will discern his
conceptions of each subject, his thoughts on his usage of lines,
and what he expected to find by utilizing such a system. The
second section will concern the degree to which Humboldt's
contemporaries and later scientists incorporated these lines into
their science. This analysis will show the importance of
Humboldt's use of lines and their applications today.
The majority of Humboldt's celebrated works started from
his Personal Narrative (1814-1829). The Personal Narrative
originated from Relation historique du voyage aux regions
equinoxiales du nouveau continent (1814-1825), of which exists
three dense volumes (a fourth was destroyed for unknown
reasons). Humboldt used his narrative to do two things: to
describe the unique sights and sensations of traveling where most
Europeans would never go and to keep everything in a scientific
perspective. His descriptions of entering into unknown territory
and seeing the Southern Cross for the first time capture one's
imagination: "A strange, completely unknown feeling is awoken in

4 Alexander von Humboldt, Cosmos: A Sketch of the Physical Description of
the Universe, trans. E.C. Otte, vol. 1 (Baltimore and London: The Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1997), 7.
5 Ibid., 12.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Fredrick Heinrichs
us ... the stars we have known since infancy begin to vanish."6
Throughout his narrative Humboldt mentioned his numerous
measurements of temperature that he took in South America,
which he took not just from volcanoes, but from sand and air as
well.7 He was driven by an overwhelming desire to record and
find information that could be used later even if he did not
recognize its future purpose. For example, Humboldt's interest in
the effect that temperature had on the human body led him to
question the reasons that the people he came across in Guayaquil
had such a low tolerance for extreme temperatures.8 Through
these studies, Humboldt began to assemble his theories of
isotherms. Isotherms are locations on a two-dimensional plane
where temperature readings are equal, most usually on a map.
Drawing lines of equal temperature can be used to show trends of
climate, for example, as isotherms visually illustrate changes in
temperature from place to place.
When he returned from South America, he worked
concurrently on the summary of his South American journey and
the technical data of his research, producing one of his first
studies in 1807, Essai sur la geographic des plantss9 Not only
did this text create the foundation of plant geography; its map of
the Chimborazo showed great strides in the development of
isometrics. In his diagram of Chimborazo, Humboldt noted the
different plants that grew on the mountain, and with a chart
surrounding the mountain, he listed several categories of
observations he made at different elevations of Chimborazo. The
impressive list of types of observations included the refraction
and intensity of light, frequency of electrical phenomena, the
blueness of the sky, the humidity, the barometric pressure, the
geological structure, and of course, the temperature (even the
boiling point).10 These categories isolated variables so that with

6 Ibid., 41.
7 Ibid., 34, 50, 68.
8 Ibid., 68.
9 Alexander von Humboldt and Aime Bonpland, Essai sur la geographic des
plants (I ic York: Arno Press, 1977).
10 Michael Dettelbach, "Global physics and aesthetic empire: Humboldt's
physical portrait of the tropics," in Visions of Empire, edited by David Philip
Miller and Peter Hanns Reill, 258-292 (Cambridge, United Kingdom:
Cambridge University Press, 1996), 270.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Humboldtian Isometric Lines
further study, one could examine and logically deduce causes of
atmospheric and botanic phenomena. Therefore, he linked
together temperature and elevation (among a host of other
properties) with plant life.
Interestingly, Humboldt created maps of isodynamic lines
earlier than his diagram of Chimborazo. Although what he
created was not exact (and it was also limited by the still
uncertain geography of America), Humboldt made maps
connecting lines of equal magnetic force as early as 1805.11 This
theory of isometric lines, as claimed by L. Kellner in a biography
of Humboldt, first appeared in a map of magnetic declination by
Halley in 1701.12 Thus it is fitting that the first true usage of
these lines came in a document showing magnetic intensity.
It is clear that Humboldt's findings on isotherms were his
most successful application of these theories. Beginning with his
1817 work, Des lignes isothermes et de la distribution de la
chaleur sur le globe, which was paralleled with a map in the
Annales de chimie et de physique Humboldt showed that the land
temperatures to the east of the Atlantic Ocean were less extreme
compared with land temperatures found in North America.13
Humboldt's isothermic lines presented information that was
simply recompiling past data, but he arranged it in a way that
made it easier to understand. The difference between Humboldt's
maps and other charts of information was that Humboldt's maps
were the only ones that truly visualized key trends and patterns
in temperature, representing a unity of geography, temperature,
and climate. His maps joined the sciences as a synthetic visual
aid made much simpler and much more accessible than any
other chart. Thus, he was able to create works that could be

" Alexander von Humboldt, "Chart of Isodynamic Lines of 1805," in Journal
de physique 59, from a copy at Harvard College Library, reprinted in "Global
physics and aesthetic empire: Humboldt's physical portrait of the tropics," in
Visions ofEmpire, 262.
12 L. Kellner, Alexander von Humboldt (London: Oxford University Press,
1963), 94.
13 Alexander von Humboldt, "Carte des lignes Isothermes," inAnnales de
chimie et de physique, 2d ser., 5, from a copy at Harvard College Library,
reprinted in "Global physics and aesthetic empire: Humboldt's physical portrait
of the tropics," in Visions of Empire, 263.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Fredrick Heinrichs
understood by the general public as well as by the scientific
Humboldt also applied his method of isometrics in his
essay on the superposition of rocks.14 In this work, Humboldt
emphasized the importance of the isochronism of rock
formations.15 What isochronism described was the connection of
rocks of equal age. Humboldt used his own research from the
coast of Venezuela as well as more recent research using fossils
and rocks from different continents as an argument for
After his more focused studies on meteorology and
weather, Humboldt returned to a more general view of nature. In
1850, Humboldt released his Aspects of Nature, which among
many things summarized his expedition to Central Asia and
documented animal and plant life along with his developed
interpretation of volcanic activity.17 The scope of material
Humboldt tackled in this book attests to his wishes to unify the
different fields of nature as much as possible. Humboldt also
described in greater detail the methods behind his isothermic
work. For example, Humboldt attempted to describe what creates
fluctuations in temperature and essentially why isotherms exist.
His motivation for finding these fluctuations came from his desire
to find "the various causes which produce greater moisture and a
less degree of heat in America."18 He referred to the role of trees
in not only shaping temperature but also providing evidence
themselves of the distinction between botanical zones. Differing
"stratum of leaves" radiating back into the air in subsequently

14 Superposition is the geological concept that rocks deeper in the earth were
created earlier.
15 Alexander von Humboldt, A Geognostical Essay on the Superposition of
Rocks in Both Hemispheres (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and
Green, 1823), 23.
16 Ibid., 20, 23.
17 Alexander von Humboldt, Aspects of Nature in Different Lands and
Climates; with Scientific Elucidations, trans. Mrs. Sabine (1 ic. York: AMS
Press, 1970).
'8 Alexander von Humboldt, Aspects of Nature in Different Lands and
C i,,.,.. a with Scientific Elucidations, trans. Mrs. Sabine, vol. 1 (1 ic. York:
Readex Microprint, courtesy History of Science Collections, University of
Oklahoma, 1969), 123.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Humboldtian Isometric Lines
different strengths create higher or lower temperatures based on
the type of trees.19 This document went beyond his discussions
of the usages of isometric lines as Humboldt had already laid the
foundation in developing such lines as his isotherms. By not
acknowledging his lines directly in Aspects of Nature, Humboldt
tried to find new ways to explore the scientific problems for which
he had no clear answers. For example, Humboldt questioned the
meaning of a correlation between the geologic age of a territory
and the presence of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.20 In
addition, Humboldt pondered what other variables factored into
his theory of plant geography, since he noted that despite his
application of isotherms and elevation, it was by no means a
perfect theory: "The distribution of organic beings over the surface
of the earth does not depend wholly on thermic or climatic
relations."21 Humboldt understood that the immense complexity
of nature was not conducive toward his unifying, simplifying
vision; nevertheless, he was determined to present his model to
the best of his ability, and he continued to show that drive in his
final major work.
Released starting in 1845, Humboldt's Cosmos was the
ultimate expression of his "synthesizing impulse."22 First,
Humboldt analyzed his magnetic lines, of which he described
magnetic force, inclination, and declination (isodynamic, isoclinic,
and isogonic, respectively).23 He described the progress made by
colleagues and himself in mapping the world magnetically.
Humboldt showed that he had faith in the significance of his
measurements and maps despite the possibility that they would
not hold true globally.
Later in Cosmos, Humboldt discussed his familiar
"distribution of heat" and suggested that his system of isothermal
lines, isotheral lines (equal summer temperatures), and
isochimenal lines (equal winter temperatures) become the

19 Humboldt, Aspects ofNature (AMS Press), 112-113.
20 Ibid., 119.
21 Ibid., 301.
22 Helferich, 323.
23 Magnetic inclination is the dip in compasses caused by the Earth's magnetic
field, while magnetic declination is the angle formed between magnetic north
and true north.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Fredrick Heinrichs
foundations of comparative climatology.24 Humboldt made a very
insightful statement that revealed the role of isometrics in
science. Drawing parallels to magnetism, he defined the
importance of lines in general in his works:

Terrestrial magnetism did not acquire a right to be
regarded as a science until partial results were
graphically connected in a system of lines of equal
declination, equal inclination, and equal intensity.25

In Humboldt's eyes, his lines of isometric magnetic
measurements created the truly scientific study of terrestrial
magnetism just as his isotherms created the study of comparative
climatology and his zones of plant life created the study of plant
geography. Throughout Humboldt's studies of the physical world
his reliance on isometric lines varied. Nonetheless, the
importance of these lines to Humboldt's success and the future of
these fields cannot be underestimated.
After Humboldt's works were released, there were varied
reactions in different fields. Humboldt made his most lasting and
popular contributions in the field of meteorology. He was
mentioned in meteorological works starting in 1823 with John
Frederic Daniell's Meteorological Essays and Observations.26
Daniell was an English meteorologist and chemist known for his
contribution to currents.27 In his work, Humboldt was "the
celebrated philosopher and traveler" and was considered as
popular for his measurements as his philosophy.28 In 1849,
David Purdie Thomson's Introduction to Meteorology relied heavily
on Humboldt's ideas.29 His isothermal lines were given their own

24 Humboldt, Cosmos, 317.
25 Humboldt, Cosmos, 317 [emphasis his].
26 John Frederic Daniell, Meteorological Essays and Observations (I ic'
York: Readex Microprint, courtesy History of Science Collections, University of
Oklahoma, 1969).
27 The Hutchinson Dictionary of Scientific Biography (Abingdon, Oxon,
United Kingdom: Helicon Pub., 2004), 278.
28 Daniell, 190.
29 David Purdie Thomson, Introduction to Meteorology (1 ic. York: Readex
Microprint, courtesy History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma,

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Humboldtian Isometric Lines
chapter, and drawing upon Humboldt's works, Thomson quoted
numerous passages such as Humboldt's account of a meteor
shower in Cumana.30 Humboldt was mentioned on forty-eight
pages-by far the most of any one contributor. This evidence
clearly shows that by the mid-19th century, Humboldt was used
as a source for various types of meteorological information, from
the amount of feet of elevation needed to lower one degree of
temperature to an observation of red hail to the composition of
Francois Arago, a renowned physicist and astronomer,
was a close friend of Humboldt's.32 He asked an aging Humboldt
to write the introduction to his 1855 Meteorological Essays.33
There, in addition to chronicling his esteem for Arago, Humboldt
alluded to his usage of lines by claiming that Arago's mind
"tended ever toward the same leading aims, i.e. generalization of
views, the connection of phenomena which had long appeared to
stand alone."34 Expectedly, Arago consulted Humboldt as a
source for a description of aurora borealis.35 Arago referred to
Humboldt while determining the intensity of magnetic force.36
Also in his concluding remarks on terrestrial magnetism, Arago
mentioned that Humboldt "has sought to associate many friends
of science in the promotion and prosecution of this common
work."37 Arago's comments signified that Humboldt's work was
making some degree of impact in magnetism as well as in
Humboldt was so intrinsically linked to his meteorological
work that even the famed commander of the HMS Beagle and avid
meteorologist Robert FitzRoy in his 1863 The Weather Book had
glowing words for Humboldt's "inexhaustible mines of

30 Ibid., 339.
31 Ibid., 43, 182, 184.
32 The Hutchinson Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 32.
33 Dominique Francois Jean Arago, Meteorological Essays...with an
Introduction by Baron Alexander Von Humboldt (New York: Readex
Microprint, courtesy History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma,
34 Ibid., xviii.
35 Ibid., 466.
36 Ibid., 290.
37 Ibid., 387.

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Fredrick Heinrichs
knowledge."38 Perhaps the finest example of Humboldt's legacy to
meteorology was from J. G. Bartholomew, whose 1899 Atlas of
Meteorology showcased Humboldt's lines and his isometrics.39
Detailed maps of isometrics, including some additional maps like
isonephs (equal cloudiness) and isohyets (equal rainfall) and
isohels (equal sunshine) along with isobars and isotherms, were
drawn for the entire world. In the introduction, Bartholomew
included Humboldt's isotherms among important works in the
"progress of meteorology" and attributed his lines to being
"brought down to date by Dove in his great work."40
However, it appears that Humboldt's influence in
meteorology dwindled after the end of the 19th century. Mentions
of Humboldt's observations and journeys decreased even though
scholars continued to use his isotherms. A textbook of
meteorology from 1941 neglected to attribute isothermic lines to
Humboldt.41 His lines continued to be used but their attribution
to Humboldt gradually faded away.
Humboldt's significance to plant geography seem to
parallel his significance in meteorology; however, among the plant
geography and botany communities, Humboldt's impact seems
still to be felt. William T. Steam, in his 1959 work "Alexander von
Humboldt and Plant Geography," recognized that his work
"showed the way to correlate plant zones with physical factors"
and influenced Darwin.42 In his 1960 article "Humboldt's 'Essai
sur la geographic des plantss," Steam argued that Humboldt's

38 Robert FitzRoy, The Weather Book: A Manual of Practical Meteorology
(I ic, York: Readex Microprint, courtesy History of Science Collections,
University of Oklahoma, 1969), 133.
39 J. G. Bartholomew, Atlas ofMeteorology: A Series of over Four Hundred
Maps (Edinburgh, United Kingdom: The Royal Geographical Society, 1899).
40 Ibid., 1.
41 Sverre Petterssen, Introduction to Meteorology (I ic' York and London:
McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1941), 205.
42 William T. Steam, "Alexander von Humboldt and Plant Geography," in
Humboldt, Bonpland, Kunth and Tropical American Botany, ed. William T.
Steam, 116-120 (Stuttgart, Germany: Verlag Von J. Cramer, 1968), 119.

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Humboldtian Isometric Lines
Essai sur la geographic des plants "ranks as a pioneer work, the
forerunner of later phytogeographical works."43
Despite these attempts to acknowledge Humboldt, some
scholars question his influence. In a 1981 history of plant
geography, Philip Anthony Tott considered Humboldt's Essai one
of the "early masterpieces of plant geography," but also noted that
"it was with the evolutionary understanding of Darwin, Wallace,
Huxley, and ... Hooker that the subject began to take on its
modern theoretical dimensions."44 Although Humboldt is
considered a father of plant geography, scholars still argue over
how much credit he truly deserves.
Humboldt suffered an equally cold reception in the fields
of geology and magnetism. As in so much of his work, Humboldt
was overshadowed mostly by others who specialized in their
particular field. William Smith was one of the founders of
stratigraphical geology (which was similar to Humboldt's works in
the field).45 Smith was more comprehensive in his study than in
Humboldt's geological works. Thus, many scientists gravitated to
his work. In magnetism, Arago saw Humboldt's work as vital to
his studies; indeed, Humboldt even coined the term "magnetic
storm."46 However, Humboldt's ideas on magnetic isometrics are
not contained in any standard 20th-century textbook of
magnetism. These books are concerned with more technical and
complicated magnetic phenomena than what Humboldt described
in his works. Thus, Humboldt's attempts to bring together a wide
range of sciences proved to be a weakness. He was eclipsed by
later scientists who had more expertise in their specific fields.
Despite Humboldt's failings to gain popular support,
historians since the mid-20th century have begun to illuminate
Humboldt's isometrics and its significance to his scientific
approach. In Edward F. Dolan's Green Universe, Humboldt is
portrayed discovering that the lines he drew connecting zones of
elevation to proper zones of plant life formed triangles that

43 William T. Steam, "Humboldt's 'Essai sur la Geographie des Plantes,"' in
Humboldt, Bonpland, Kunth and Tropical American Botany, 121-128, 121.
44 Philip Anthony Stott, Historical Plant Geography (London: George Allen
and Irwin, 1981), 3.
45 The Hutchinson Dictionary ofScientific Biography, 1065.
46 David P. Stem, "Millennium of Geomagnetism" (31 January 2003)
hlllp. 1 ,i .phy6.org/earthmag/mill_4.htm (accessed 4 December 2005).

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Fredrick Heinrichs
conformed to the different latitudes.47 This historian has
Humboldt stumbling on his lucky find, but at the same time, his
idea was all his doing; he grasped the final link between altitude
and plant life. Kellner's 1963 biography gave plenty of insight
into Humboldt's data collection and meteorological advantages for
his studies, as well as the impact of Halley's magnetic declination
on Humboldt's own versions.
In his 1996 article "Global physics and aesthetic empire,"
Michael Dettelbach makes note of Humboldt's isometrics.48 He
describes Humboldt's isometric lines as resulting in an overall
Humboldtian philosophy of a "physics of the earth."49 He shows
an instance when Humboldt realized the common threads
between his isometric work in heat and magnetism.50 Humboldt
noted these scientific patterns and called them "the cooperation of
physical forces."51 Dettelbach claims in his 1996 article
"Humboldtian Science" that Humboldt's work on isothermic lines
were ways of expressing order and equilibrium in the
environment.52 His article confirms Humboldt's philosophy: his
measurements were organized in such a way as to increase
understanding in ways that lists or narratives could not do. In
2004, Gerard Helferich took this argument one step further in
claiming that Humboldt's visual conceptions of isothermic lines
were works of art depicting nature. They deliberately attempted
to "present apparently discordant data with such visual force that
their fundamental interrelations were inescapable."53
Humboldt's study of a great range of sciences made him
an intriguing scientific figure. Even if Humboldt is not held as

47 Edward F. Dolan, Green Universe: The Story ofAlexander von Humboldt
(I ic,, York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1959), 144-147.
48 Michael Dettelbach, "Global physics and aesthetic empire: Humboldt's
physical portrait of the tropics," in Visions of Empire, ed. David Philip Miller
and Peter Hanns Reill, 258-292 (Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge
University Press, 1996).
49 Ibid., 261.
50 Ibid., 261, 264.
51 Ibid., 264.
52 Michael Dettelbach, "Humboldtian Science," in Cultures of Natural
History, ed. Nicholas Jardine, James A. Secord, and E.C. Spary, 287-304, notes
482-484 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 295.
53 Helferich, 229.

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Humboldtian Isometric Lines
the vanguard of any particular science, this paper posits that he
was a leader in terms of both the general sciences and the history
of cartography and visualization. Although he may not have
made a revolutionary scientific finding, he revolutionized the
display of information that opened science both to the common
reader and the scientific community. He inspired leading
scientists (including Darwin) amid the growing
compartmentalization of science. Humboldt was the last great
universal scientist, bringing insights to a multitude of sciences.
Isometric lines were the centerpiece that communicated his
valiant efforts to understand the entirety of the natural world.
Humboldt's use of isometric lines legitimized his scientific
endeavors and gave him the right to be regarded as one of the
notable scientific minds in history.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

The Palazzo Pazzi

From Commission to Confiscation

Brady Lee

The Palazzo Pazzi, the late fifteenth-century residence of
the Pazzi family, was a new form in the tradition of the
Quattrocento palazzo in Florence. As such, it served as a political
statement in the ever-increasing tension between two of the most
prominent families in Florence, the Pazzi and the Medici. Located
on the Via del Proconsolo, a street on the east side of Florence
near the Bargello,' the Palazzo Pazzi (Figure 1) became the Pazzi
family residence after its completion in 1470.2 Messer Jacopo de'
Pazzi, the leader of the Pazzi family, commissioned architect
Giuliano da Maiano to design and build the palazzo as a part of
an attempt to challenge his rival Lorenzo de Medici's social and
political hegemony in Renaissance Florence.3 Its construction
catalyzed a series of events that increased tension between the
two families, culminating in the 1478 attempt on the life of
Lorenzo de' Medici and the murder of his brother, Giuliano. In
the aftermath of this coup, commonly referred to as the Pazzi
Conspiracy, the Medici systematically set out to destroy the Pazzi
family and eradicate every enterprise in which they had been
involved.4 This paper chronicles the construction of the Palazzo
Pazzi from commission to confiscation, highlighting the

1 Lauro Martines, April Blood: Florence and the Plot Against the Medici
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), first page map.
2 Richard Goy, Florence, the city and its architecture (London: Phaidon Press
Unlimited, 2002), 261. Messer Jacopo de' Pazzi is cited as the patron in
Leonardo Ginori Lisci, The Palazzi ofFlorence (Firenze: Cassa di Rispamo di
Firenze, 1985), 545.
3 Peter Murray, The Architecture of the Italian Renaissance (New York:
Schocken Books, 1997), 79.
4 The best source of information on the events before, during, and after the Pazzi
Conspiracy is Lauro Martines's book April Blood, 88-137.

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Palazzo Pazzi

Figure 1 Giuliano da Maiano, Palazzo Pazzi Fagade, 1462
(Saalman, Howard, "The Authorship of the Pazzi Palace" Plate 1)

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Brady Lee

Figure 2 Michelozzo di Bartolomeo, Palazzo Medici Facade, 1444
(Thomson, David. Renaissance Architecture: Critics, Patrons,
Luxury Plate 4)

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Palazzo Pazzi

architectural sources that Maiano used and to which he
responded, the architectural precedent that he established, and
the Florentine political turmoil that resulted as a consequence of
this unique building.
Because the construction of the Palazzo Pazzi prefigured a
number of events leading up to the Pazzi Conspiracy, analyzing
its presence in Florence will elucidate many social and political
aspects of Florentine culture. Art historian Richard Goy asserted
that no palazzo had the political significance of the Palazzo Pazzi
in Quattrocento Florence.5 Given the political significance of
every palazzo, this statement is quite surprising. Once Cosimo
de' Medici, Lorenzo's grandfather, began construction on the huge
Palazzo Medici (Figure 2) in 1444,6 his house became a model for
all homes in Florence.7 Homes modeled after the Palazzo Medici
in Quattrocento Florence physically symbolized families' political
leanings in relation to the Medici family. For example, Filippo
Strozzi, head of the Strozzi family and an associate of the Medici,
even consulted Lorenzo de' Medici before building the Palazzo
Strozzi in 1490.8 Jacopo de' Pazzi asked for no such consultation.
In fact, no other family challenged the Medici model as blatantly
as the Pazzi family, and the resulting political tension justifies
Goy's statement.

5 Goy, Florence, the city and its architecture, 261.
6 Murray, The Architecture of the Italian Renaissance, 68. It is important to
remember that the Riccardi added seven bays in 1659. See Goy, Florence, the
city and its architecture, 258.
7 Charles Burroughs discussed how the Palazzo Medici combined the public and
private aspects of architecture, citing the Palazzo della Signoria, which he called
"the greatest government building of the city," as the model for the Palazzo
Medici's transition from a government building into a private home. See
Charles Burroughs, The Italian Renaissance Palace Facade (United Kingdom:
Cambridge University Press, 2002), 104-105.
8 For a good discussion on the politics of family home construction, see the
section on Renaissance Italy in David Thomson, Renaissance Architecture:
Critics, Patrons, and Luxury (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993),
9-18. Thomson discussed the reason that Lorenzo allowed such a house to be
built, stating that even though Strozzi wanted to surpass the Palazzo Medici, it
was not a brash challenge. In fact, he adds, Lorenzo made a number of key
suggestions on the design before it was built (15).

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Brady Lee
The architecture of the Palazzo Pazzi was not the only way
in which the Pazzi challenged the Medici. As much as
architecture fueled the social and political rivalry between the two
families, the most extraordinary daily battles were financial.
Florence was a banking city and the Pazzi Bank was second only
to the Medici Bank in wealth and prestige.9 Andrea de' Pazzi,
Jacopo's father, and Cosimo de' Medici, Lorenzo's grandfather,
both made their banks into fiscal titans, which later generations
subsequently inherited. However, unlike Cosimo, Lorenzo was
never able to set aside his suspicions of Jacopo and the Pazzi, as
illustrated by Lorenzo's sour relationship with Pope Sixtus IV,
who favored the Pazzi family.10 In December of 1473, the Pazzi
bank loaned Pope Sixtus IV 40,000 ducats for the purchase of the
Romangol town of Imola, despite Lorenzo's attempt to prevent the
purchase." (Lorenzo had refused to loan Sixtus IV the money for
the purchase.) Jacopo also told Sixtus of Lorenzo's opposition to
the endeavor, which intensified the tension. In July 1474, the
Pope dismissed the Medici as his principle bank and, to add
insult to injury, audited their alum accounts.12 Two years later,
in June of 1476, the expiration of the Medici papal alum money
went to the Roman branch of the Pazzi bank.13 These incidents
infuriated Lorenzo and gave the Pazzi the confidence to set the
stage for a violent confrontation. As historian Lauro Martines
asserted in his work, April Blood, "Renaissance Florence was
going to be too small for the likes of Lorenzo and the Pazzi."14

9 See Martines, AprilBlood, 65-72.
10 For an extensive discussion on the many ways in which Jacopo and Lorenzo
tried to undermine and attack each other, Ibid., 76-82, 93-110.
1' The purchase was for Sixtus IV's nephew, Cardinal Pietro Riario. Ibid., 97.
12 The Pope dismissed them not only because he was slowly giving the Pazzi
more business but the account had also plunged in value. Lorenzo protested,
saying that this act dishonored his family who had been papal bankers for more
than a hundred years, Ibid., 97.
13 This final act did not go unpunished by Lorenzo who, in March 1477, despite
advice to do otherwise, pushed a bill through the legislative counsel that
"deprived daughters of major inheritances if they had no brothers and were
flanked by one or more male cousins." He did this with the Pazzi in mind,
which denied Beatrice Borromei, Giovanni de' Pazzi's wife, of her large
inheritance, Ibid., 106-107.
14 Ibid., 98.

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Palazzo Pazzi
On Easter Sunday, April 26, 1478, Pazzi family
conspirators attempted to murder Lorenzo de' Medici in the
Cathedral of Florence.15 Protected by his loyal followers, Lorenzo
de' Medici survived. However, Lorenzo's brother, Giuliano, was
stabbed approximately nineteen times and was left to die on the
cathedral floor. Chaos erupted in Florence. Officials and
peasants alike hunted and murdered the Pazzi and their co-
conspirators. 16 Authorities publicly hanged Francesco de' Pazzi,
the nephew of Jacopo and co-murderer of Giuliano de' Medici,
from the government palace window overlooking the Piazza della
Signoria. Additionally, Archbishop Salviati and his brother
Jacopo Salviati, two men involved with the conspiracy against
Lorenzo, were also thrown out of the government building
windows. Many more men were hanged, their bodies eventually
cut down and torn apart by peasants wanting to (perhaps
retroactively) claim loyalty to the Medici family. Machiavelli wrote
that the incident yielded "so many deaths that the streets were
filled with parts of men."17 One of the few survivors, Guglielmo
de' Pazzi, husband to Lorenzo's sister, was exiled, saved only
because his wife begged for his life. He was one of the few
conspirators in Florence that day to receive such lenient
After the initial violence, Lorenzo proceeded to lay siege on
the Pazzi family. He was determined to erase all signs the Pazzi
family ever existed. Lorenzo and the Lord of Priors, the governing
body of Florence, seized all of the Pazzi assets in Florence,
including the Palazzo Pazzi and its household goods. They made
an effort to sell everything and humiliate the remaining Pazzi with
bankruptcy. 1 Lorenzo then turned his wrath on the Pazzi
women, who he made change their names or risk becoming
rebels. Any man who married a Pazzi woman within three
generations of Andrea di Guglielmino, founder of the Pazzi bank,

15 For an extensive account of April 26 and the violent days after, Ibid., 111-137.
16 For an account of the conspirators who were killed in the direct aftermath,
Ibid., 124-132.
17 Machiavelli, Niccolo. Istoriefiorentine. Milan: F. Gaeta, 1962, as cited in
Martines, April Blood, 128.
'8 The financial aspect to this legal assault on the Pazzi was in large part due to
the banking rivalry between the two families. See Martines, April Blood, 132-

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Brady Lee
was immediately suspected of conspiracy and banned from public
office.19 The erasure was to be so complete, so thorough, that any
representation of the Pazzi was destroyed and the maker of any
image with the Pazzi name after 1478 would be fined 50 gold
florins.20 Lorenzo annihilated the Pazzi family's legacy, which was
all there was left to do once the violence against the conspirators
was complete.
But what of Messer Jacopo de' Pazzi? What was his role
in the coup against the Medici? As the lead conspirator, he left
the cathedral that Sunday morning planning to ride with between
fifty to one hundred mercenaries into the government square, to
lead the revolt against the Medici. Unfortunately, during his
entry into the square the city's emergency bells rang, alerting
Jacopo that at least one Medici brother was alive and that the
murder attempt had failed.21 Jacopo fled the city, only to be
caught a day later. He was tried, convicted as the chief
conspirator and traitor in these events, and hanged out of the
same window as his nephew.22 Authorities compromised and
allowed him to be buried in the family crypt at Santa Croce.
However, Jacopo did not remain buried. Four days of heavy rain,
threatening to ruin the cereal crop, had men voicing God's
supposed displeasure with an unholy man being buried on a holy
site. Jacopo was then exhumed and buried in unconsecrated
ground, only to be dug up again by a group of boys enticed by
Medici supporters. They dragged his body around the city,
parading and laughing until they finally came to Messer Jacopo's
home. The boys knocked on the door and cried: "Who's in there?
Who's inside? What, is there no one here to receive the master

19 As stated in note 13, the inheritance law also affected these Pazzi women.
With their male relatives either dead or exiled, they were not able to inherit
anything. Martines aptly stated, "... [the Pazzi women] had little hope of
marriage. Her best bet would be to settle for entry into a convent." Ibid., 134.
20 Ibid., 133.
21 The city's emergency bells are the key reason for Jacopo's exodus. The bells
were heard outside Florence's walls, prompting every church and building in the
area to ring their bells as a warning that something terrible was happening in the
city. Soldiers planning to enter the city to support the Pazzi would also have
heard these bells and immediately known the attempt had failed, and thus
abandoned Jacopo and his troops. Ibid., 121-124.
22 For an account on his macabre journey, Ibid., 129-132.

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Palazzo Pazzi
and his entourage?"23 They then left Jacopo de' Pazzi, murdered
and desecrated, outside the confiscated Palazzo Pazzi, the source
of much of the growing tension with the Medici and, undoubtedly,
where much of the conspiracy was planned.
To understand how the Palazzo Pazzi visually challenged
the normal Florentine house model, one must look at the
precedent for all family houses in the region, the Palazzo Medici?4
The Palazzo Medici was a three-story structure with boss,
rusticated masonry on the ground floor, channeled rusticated
masonry on the first story, and ashlar masonry on the second
story, each separated by a small dentilled cornice. This technique
made the Palazzo Medici appear tall and strong. Round-headed
before windows sat on each of the top two stories. The huge
cornice that rested atop the second story completed the aesthetic.
Significantly, even though the crowing cornice was proportional to
the rest of the building, its size visually crushed the second story
and made the top of the house appear awkward. 25 This cornice
was the only part of the facade of the Palazzo Medici that received
criticism; it also was the feature most altered in subsequent
palazzo designs. The Palazzo Pazzi was the most prominent
example of such deviation.
The rivalry between Medici and Pazzi motivated Jacopo's
attempt to architecturally trump the Palazzo Medici with his own
house on newly purchased property on the Via del Proconsolo.26
According to architectural historian Leonardo Ginori Lisci, despite
the new "alliance" created by the marriage of Lorenzo's sister
Bianca to Guglielmo de' Pazzi in 1459,27 the construction of the

23 Ibid., 131.
24 For a good discussion of the Palazzo Medici, see Fredrick Hartt, History of
Italian Renaissance Art (I ic' York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1979), 166-168.
25 The smooth ashlar rustication scheme exaggerates this issue. See Murray, The
Architecture of the Italian Renaissance, 69.
26 The best discussion in English of Jacopo's property can be found in Howard
Saalman, "The Authorship of the Pazzi Palace," The Art Bulletin 46 (September
1964), 388-391. The source of Saalman's argument is partially based on another
book in Italian by Arnoldo Moscato, II Palazzo Pazzi a Firenze (Roma: Ufficio
Stampa, 1963).
27 Martines mentioned this marriage while discussing the rise of Lorenzo de'
Medici as the leader of Florence (p. 94), and wrote another chapter explaining

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Brady Lee
Palazzo Pazzi worsened the already strained relations between the
two families.28 The facade of the Palazzo Pazzi, designed by
Giuliano da Maiano, includes a Medicean three-story scheme with
boss rusticated masonry on the ground floor.29 The stonework
also frames the entrance door. A dentilled cornice begins the first
and second stories, each supporting nine round-headed before
windows.30 Small circular oculi windows sit above each of the
before windows on the second story, separating it from the top of
the building (Figure 3). The absence of a cornice, even if one was
never intended, in combination with the oculi windows, gives the
Palazzo Pazzi a decorative charm that contrasted favorably
against the great cornice of the Palazzo Medici.31 Jacopo intended
the Palazzo Pazzi to serve as both a literal and figurative
representation of Pazzi superiority.
The tight confines of the Via del Proconsolo frame an
intriguing visual element of the Palazzo Pazzi. Goy stated that the
narrow street combined with the termination of the rusticated
stonework at the ground floor made the Pazzi home appear more
imposing.32 Michele Furnari observed that the light stucco
liberated the top two stories of the facade from the rusticated
stonework on the ground floor.33 Sgraffito, low-relief sculpted and
painted forms made of plaster, which decorated the first and
second stories on the facade, partially dispelled the notion of
light-dark contrasts on the building and added to the Palazzo

the reasons marriage was viewed as a status tool, including first hand accounts
of Lucrezia Tomabuoni's search for a bride. See Martines, April Blood, 25-36.
28 Lisci, The Palazzi ofFlorence, 545.
29 For architectural perspective on the palazzi of Florence and the elevation and
ground plan drawings of the Palazzo Pazzi, see Michele Furnari, Formal Design
in Renaissance Architecture (I ic York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.,
1995), 123-124.
30 Fumari, Formal Design in Renaissance Architecture, 124.
1Hartt, History of Italian Renaissance Art, 304.
32 Goy, Florence, the city and its architecture, 261-262.
33 Furnari also stated that the contrast was comparable to Brunelleschi's pietra
serena work in the Old Sacristy and the Pazzi Chapel, a source of the Palazzo
Pazzi and Giuliano da Maiano. See Furnari, FormalDesign in Renaissance
Architecture, 124. Burroughs stated that the contrast of the ground floor and
elegant upper floors is carried to an extreme. See his book, The Italian
Renaissance Palace Facade, 89.

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Palazzo Pazzi


Figure 3 Round-headed before windows on Palazzo Pazzi
(Moscato, Arnoldo. II Palazzo Pazzi a Firenze page 24)

Figure 4 Floral Decoration
on round-headed before
windows (Moscato, Arnoldo.
I1 Palazzo Pazzi a Firenze
U ~page 26)

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Brady Lee

Figure 5 Pazzi coat of arms (http://www.aboutflorence.com/
firenze/pazzi-cospirazione.html Accessed October 31, 2006)

Figure 6 Detail of dolphins on the courtyard capital
(Saalman, Howard, "The Authorship of the Pazzi Palace" Plate 2)

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Palazzo Pazzi
Pazzi's contrast with the Palazzo Medici.34 Even though none of
the sgraffito has survived, Lisci believes it was painted to
resemble ashlars, similar to the Palazzo Bardi alle Grazie.35
However, due to the variety of figurative and decorative motifs on
other palazzi of the period and the Pazzi family's blatant challenge
to the Palazzo Medici facade design, it is more likely that the first
and second stories were more ornately made.36 This facade
scheme was not unprecedented, yet it was another divergence
from the Palazzo Medici's model.
Two other noteworthy details on the Palazzo Pazzi include
the floral decoration on the round-headed before windows (Figure
4) and the Pazzi coat of arms (Figure 5). The Pazzi coat of arms
was placed on the corner of the first story facade.37 Martines
stated that the Pazzi derived their coat of arms from the French
ducal family and their rich military history during the Crusades,
using crosses and battlement towers to symbolize their war for
Christianity.38 Twin dolphins also located on the capitals of the
columns inside the courtyard (Figure 6) signified generosity and
freedom.39 The decoration on the round-headed before windows is

34 Goy gave a small explanation of sgraffito in Florence at that time, citing the
first Renaissance example inside the Palazzo Medici courtyard in Goy,
Florence, the city and its architecture, 262. Hartt says that what is now smooth
intonaco was doubtlessly intended for sgraffito in Hartt, History of Italian
Renaissance Art, 304.
35 Lisci based this knowledge on his reading of Marchini. See Lisci, The Palazzi
ofFlorence, 549. n. 5.
36 For an extensively researched source on sgraffito facades and courtyards, see
Gunther Thiem, Toskanische Fassaden-Dekoration in .i, i.; i. und Fresco 14.
Bis 17. Jahrhundert (Mminchen: Verlag F. Bruckmann, 1964).
37 The coat of arms on the side of a family home was used for more than
identification. Goy discussed the symbolic location of the coat of arms on the
Palazzo Medici in Goy, Florence, the city and its architecture, 258. A slightly
more thorough examination was given by Burroughs, who even likened the
Palazzo Medici to the idea of the medieval enclave in its relation to the church
and piazza of San Lorenzo. See Burroughs, The Italian Renaissance Palace,
38 Martines discussed the origins of the Pazzi family and how those events
became part of the sculptural symbolism in Martines, April Blood, 62-64.
39 Ibid., 63-65. Goy mentioned another symbol that is on the columns of the
courtyard in the Palazzo Pazzi, the vase. He stated the vase represented the

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Brady Lee
also important. Martines claimed the two sails on either side of
the circular flower motif visually connected the Pazzi with their
involvement in overseas commerce and the Angevin Prince Rene
of Anjo.40 Lisci stated that the sails signified the family's
commercial and maritime success, while architectural historian
Howard Saalman stated that the vines and fruit on the windows
symbolized the growth of the Pazzi family through "patient
Even though the Palazzo Pazzi no longer served as the
residence of the Pazzi family following the Pazzi Conspiracy in
1478, the Palazzo Strozzi (Figure 7), commissioned in 1490 by
Filippo Strozzi, is one significant example of a family home that
used the Pazzi house as an architectural model.42 In fact,
Benedetto da Maiano, Giuliano's brother, built most of this
house.43 Two of the three facades on the Palazzo Strozzi were
very similar to the Palazzo Pazzi in elevation, designed with one
entrance and nine window spaces. Another similarity between to
two buildings was the treatment of the area below the crowning
cornice, where the Palazzo Strozzi has an empty frieze space on
the facade above the second story (Figure 8). Using a concept
similar to the oculi windows on the Palazzo Pazzi, either
Benedetto or Simone del Pollaiuolo used the frieze to rid the
Palazzo Strozzi of proportionality issues created by an enormous
Medicean crowing cornice.44

sacred flame that Pazzino de' Pazzi had brought back from the First Crusade to
the Holy Land. See Goy, Florence, the city and its architecture, 262.
40 While the events represented in the Pazzi symbols may have never happened,
the Pazzi and other families believed them because they enjoyed their
prestigious origins, Martines, April Blood, 63.
1 Lisci, The Palazzi of Florence, p. 546. Saalman, "The Authorship of the Pazzi
Palace," 392-393.
42 Hemsoll briefly mentioned the political climate of building a palazzo after the
Pazzi Conspiracy in David Hemsoll, "Giuliano da Sangallo in the new
Renaissance of Lorenzo de' Medici," The Early Medici and their Artists,
(London: Caldra House Ltd, 1995), 192.
43 Murray, The Architecture of the Italian Renaissance, 81.
44 It is generally accepted that Giuliano da Sangallo made the model (Murray,
81), Benedetto da Maiano built the house, and Simone del Pollaiuolo (or
Cronaca) designed the cornice. See Martucci, Roberto, and Bruno, Giovannetti.
Florence. (Venezia: Canal & Stamperia Editrice, 1997), 83.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Palazzo Pazzi

Figure 7 Benedetto da Maiano, Palazzo Strozzi, 1489
(Benevolo, Leonardo. The Architecture of the Renaissance, 205

Figure 8 Cornice detail of the Palazzo Strozzi
(Lisci, Leonardo Ginori. The Palazzi of Florence: Their History and
Art Plate 166)

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Brady Lee

Giuliano da Maiano's (Figure 9) significance in the history
of the Pazzi architects has evolved. Historians have redefined his
role in the creation of the Palazzo Pazzi, shifting it from tentative
attribution as the architect, to that of the main candidate for the
design of the Palazzo Pazzi.45 In addition to Maiano's traditionally
cited payment claim in 1478 (Figure 10),46 his earlier work on the
Pazzi Chapel at the church of Santa Croce (Figure 11) exposed
him to Filippo Brunelleschi's ideas and concepts, which
strengthened the attribution of the Palazzo Pazzi to his name.47
Somewhat ironically, Filippo Brunelleschi, the architect who did
not receive the commission for the Palazzo Medici, significantly
impacted the architectural rivalry between the two families.
The relationship connecting the Palazzo Pazzi and Palazzo
Medici can be seen as an ironic microcosm of the Filippo
Brunelleschi's relationship with Cosimo de' Medici, who
commissioned Brunelleschi to design the Old Sacristy adjoining
the transept of San Lorenzo that served as the Medici family
mausoleum. This relationship ended when Brunelleschi did not
accompany Cosimo to Venice following the exile of the Medici
from Florence.48 After the return of the Medici family to Florence
in 1434, Michelozzo di Bartolommeo became the Medici family
architect.49 While Cosimo was waiting to begin his new palazzo,
Brunelleschi accepted Andrea dei Pazzi's commission in the early

45 Goy, Florence, the city and its architecture, p. 261. Lisci rejected the old
hypothesis that attributed the Palazzo Pazzi to Filippo Brunelleschi because it
was built between 1459 and 1469, by which point Brunelleschi had already been
dead for fifteen years. See Lisci, The Palazzi ofFlorence, 545.
46 A document shows Giuliano da Maiano's claim for 1800 lire of outstanding
debt for his work for the Pazzi, discussed in Saalman, "The Authorship of the
Pazzi Palace," 388 and Lisci, The Palazzi ofFlorence, 545.
47 Hartt, History ofItalian Renaissance Art, 165.
48 Cosimo and the Medici were exiled because they paid the catasto, the
Florentine graduated income tax, incorrectly. See Howard Saalman, Filippo
Brunelleschi: The Buildings (London: Zwemmer, 1993), 147-152.
49 For a good discussion on their relationship, see Saalman, Filippo
Brunelleschi: The Buildings, 147-152.

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Palazzo Pazzi

Figure 9 Woodcut of Giuliano da Maiano
Vasari, Giorgio. Lives of the Most
Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects page 463

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Brady Lee

SC-~ -L-- --I
'-4~~ .kt Sm
ii~cc- -I

~r~a~f-. 4,--c-

.9---- c .-. .---.

* &LL...- L~ -L..1 ;L -

Figure 10- Document with
Maiano's Claim
(Moscato, Arnoldo. II Palazzo
Pazzi a Fire nze page 69)

Figure 11 Filippo Brunelleschi, Interior of the Pazzi Chapel
(Barolsky, Paul, "Toward an Interpretation of the Pazzi Chapel"
Plate 1)

Alpata: A Journal of History

"tF~ft-w- -09"

Palazzo Pazzi

1430s to design and build the Pazzi Chapel.50 When Cosimo
finally decided to build the Palazzo Medici in 1444, Michelozzo,
instead of Brunelleschi, won the competition for the commission.
This decision infuriated Brunelleschi, but his anger was short
lived.51 His death two years later left the Pazzi Chapel
incomplete.52 Significantly, since he died a Pazzi architect, his
work can be seen as the bridge needed to understand the visual
elements of the Palazzo Pazzi in response to the Palazzo Medici.
At first glance, the episode of Brunelleschi, the Pazzi
Chapel, and the Palazzo Medici may seem insignificant in the
context of the Palazzo Pazzi. Yet, from these events, one can trace
a path from Maiano and the Palazzo Pazzi to a building
Brunelleschi designed and built: the Palazzo di Parte Guelfa
(Figure 12).53 The oculi windows above the round-headed
windows of the Palazzo di Parte Guelfa (Figure 13) were exactly
the same architectural form as the oculi windows on the Palazzo
Pazzi.54 While it is probable that Maiano would have seen the

50 Eugenio Battisti explained the problems with dating the Pazzi Chapel by
examining the different tax returns and the dates found on the walls of the
chapel. See Eugenio Battisti, Filippo Brunelleschi (Milano: Electa, 2002), 222-
229. Cosimo waited to begin his house because he did not want to create
jealousy among the Florentine people. See Murray, The Architecture of the
Italian Renaissance, 66-68. Saalman gave a good history of the Pazzi family in
relation to both the Medici family and the Pazzi Chapel. See Saalman, Filippo
Brunelleschi: The Buildings, 210-223.
51 Brunelleschi smashed his model of the Palazzo Medici when Cosimo did not
accept his design. Hartt, History of the Italian Renaissance, p. 166 and Murray,
The Architecture of the Italian Renaissance, 68.
52 Murray, The Architecture of the Italian Renaissance, 31. For questions
pertaining to Brunelleschi and the Pazzi Chapel, see Battisti Filippo
Brunelleschi, 250-255.
53 The Palazzo di Parte Guelfa was Brunelleschi's addition to the Parte Guelfa's
building complex. See Diane Finello Zervas, The Parte Guelfa, Brunelleschi
andDonatello, (I ick York: J.J. Augustin, 1988).
54 The comparison of the architectural form is not new ground, which can be
found in Quinterio, Francesco. Giuliano da Maiano "Grandissimo Domestico
(Roma: Officina Edizioni, 1996), p. 319. However, the addition of the Pazzi
Chapel as a connecting architectural concept between the two architects
something that I have not found in my research.

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Brady Lee

Figure 12 Filippo Brunelleschi, Palazzo di Parte Guelfa
(Zervas, Diane Fienello. The Parte Guelfa, Brunelleschi &
Donatello Plate 73)

Figure 13 Detail of the Palazzo di Parte Guelfa (Zervas, Diane
Fienello. The Parte Guelfa, Brunelleschi & Donatello Plate 74)

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Palazzo Pazzi

Palazzo di Parte Guelfa, the connection is not based simply on
speculation about his familiarity with Florentine architecture.
Architectural historian Frederick Hartt suggests that Maiano
worked on the facade or porch of the Brunelleschi designed Pazzi
Chapel.55 Maiano's work makes it almost certain that inside of
the Pazzi Chapel he saw the same oculi window form that is on
the facade of the Palazzo di Parte Guelfa, where the four windows
are topped with roundels.56 There is the same oculi window form
on the second story of the Palazzo Pazzi, which made a visual
statement against the huge crowning cornice on top of the Palazzo
Medici. How ironic for Brunelleschi to have created a solution to
the only flaw of the building that he did not get the commission to
build, only to have it come from the hands of Giuliano da Maiano,
one of his followers.
Some scholars find Maiano's designation as the architect
of the Palazzo Pazzi problematic. Most notably, Howard Saalman
came to a different conclusion using the documents Arnoldo
Moscato used in 1963 to attribute the Pazzi home to Maiano.
Saalman stated that Moscato's work, II Palazzo Pazzi a Firenze,
used two pieces of documentation: a set of Florentine tax
returns, called the portate al catasto, for Jacopo and his brothers
between 1447 and 1469,57 and a document that showed Maiano
and his brother Benedetto's 1478 outstanding debt claim for
1800 lire.58 With this documentation, Moscato explained Del
Badia's observation that the last three southern windows are
closer together than the other six, calling it an addition based on

55 Hartt cited Maiano's stylistic similarity and the 1478 payment claim. See
Hartt, History ofItalian Renaissance Art, 165.
56 For an interpretation of the roundels in the Pazzi Chapel as a possible
representation of the heavenly city, see Paul Barolsky, "Toward and
Interpretation of the Pazzi Chapel," The Journal of the Society ofArchitectural
Historians 32 (October 1973), 228-231.
57 The catasto was for Jacopo de' Pazzi and his two brothers (Authorship, 388),
named Piero and Antonio, who died in 1464 and 1451 respectively, Martines,
April Blood, genealogies, xvi.
The claim in the document says, "nella chasa di Firenze e a luogo di villa a
Montughi e al capitol di Santa Croce" in Saalman, "The Authorship of the
Pazzi Palace," 388.

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Brady Lee
Jacopo's new property for which he bartered in 1462.59 On this
assumption Moscato resolved the dating and later indirectly
attributes the palazzo based on Maiano's claim for the 1800 lire
in 1478.60
After his explanation of Moscato's work, Saalman began to
counter argue the traditional date and architect normally
attributed to the Palazzo Pazzi. Saalman asked, how, if
construction of the building began before Jacopo acquired the
southern three bay spaces in 1462, the entrance door could still
be in the middle of the nine bay space facade.61 He asserted that
with this discrepancy there is no chance that the building had
been completed in the 1460s, adding that the 1800 lire that
Maiano claimed in 1478 was not stated as long overdue.62 He
then stated that Maiano's claim of 1800 lire (equivalent to about
450 Florins) was not nearly enough money to base an attribution.
Instead, Saalman thought that the documents suggested Maiano
worked on furnishings more than the design of the building,
citing a comparably valued 1700 lire intarsia payment that
Maiano earned in 1462 for the Badia in Fiesole.63 Based on this
information, Saalman attributed the home to the architect
Giuliano da Sangallo, with work beginning in the 1470s.64
Many historians have discussed the 1800 lire payment
that Maiano claimed in 1478. Unlike Saalman, Lisci wrote that
Maiano's claim of 1800 lire equated to a substantial amount of
money, converting it into fifteen-million lire at today's rate (1985),
and added that Maiano received this as compensation for work
not exclusively done on the Palazzo Pazzi.65 Significantly,
however, this payment was most likely not the only payment the
Pazzi family made to Maiano. As previously discussed, Lorenzo's
merciless assault against the Pazzi family destroyed most of the

59 Ibid., 389.
60 Ibid., 389. The documents are discussed further in Moscato's chapter on the
attribution of the Palazzo Pazzi in Moscato, II Palazzo Pazzi di Firenze, 41-78.
61 While discussing the documents, Saalman questioned why Messer Jacopo was
still recalling the fact that his father lived in that house, concluding that the
omission of Andrea's name in 1469 was significant. Ibid., 390-391.
62 Ibid., 391.
63 Ibid., 391.
64 Ibid., 392.
65 Lisci, The Palazzi ofFlorence, 546.

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Palazzo Pazzi
Pazzi's possessions, which included accounting documents.66 As
a result, one may never know how much Maiano (or any other
architect or worker for that matter) was paid for work on the
Palazzo Pazzi. Unfortunately, the lost documentation diminishes
the importance that Saalman placed on the sum of money, and
makes any argument using the documents much more difficult to
Saalman's attribution of the Palazzo Pazzi to Giuliano da
Sangallo, instead of Giuliano da Maiano, despite the poor
documentation, merits attention. Saalman's suspicion that the
Palazzo Pazzi was not built in the 1460s suggested that Maiano
was not the only architect in Florence who was available to
complete such a project.67 Saalman then suggested that the
floral decoration and original concept of the Palazzo Pazzi
suggests Sangallo brought a more romantic version of Roman
imperial architecture to Florence, something that Maiano would
not have done.68 Based on his case against Maiano, Saalman
attributed the Palazzo Pazzi to Sangallo for two reasons. First, he
suggested that even though Sangallo's return to Florence is not
documented, the gap in his work from April 1472 to 1479 allows
for the possibility that Sangallo garnered the commission.69 This
claim supports his assertion that the Pazzi house was built right

66 The Florentines were strict record keepers, thus in the weeks and months after
the failed attempt on Lorenzo's life, the Lord of Priors made it known that all of
the creditors and debtors of the Pazzi needed to come forward and make their
claims known (201). This diligence made it possible for Martines to make a list
of everything they had at their disposal by 1486 (211), which included 56
smallish notebooks, 127 record and account books, and eight bundles of papers.
All told, it was a substantial amount of documentation, none of which, it seems,
still exists. See Martines, April Blood, 201-213.
67 The decline of Michelozzo and the death of Bernardo Rossellino made
Maiano one of the main architects in Florence in the 1460s, Saalman, "The
Authorship of the Pazzi Palace," 391. Andrew Butterfield stated that Giuliano
and his brother Benedetto ran one of the most successful workshops in
Quattrocento Florence, adding that Giuliano was the capomaestro of the Duomo
starting in 1477. See Andrew Butterfield, "Giuliano e la bottega dei da Maiano,
Atti del Convegno Internazionale di Studi, Fiesole 13-15 Giugno 1991," The
Burlington Magazine 137 (August 1995): 552.
68 Saalman, "The Authorship of the Pazzi Palace," 392.
69 Ibid., 392.

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Brady Lee
before the Pazzi attempt on the lives of the Medici brothers, even
suggesting that the Della Rovere family, family of Pope Sixtus IV,
may have sent Sangallo specifically to work for the Pazzi.70
Second, he cited Sangallo's sketchbook (Figure 14), which has
forms very similar to twin dolphins on the capitals of the columns
in the courtyard.71 However, these assertions overlooked key
Even if one were to accept the date Saalman gave the
Palazzo Pazzi, which is already on unstable ground, the practical
context of Florentine patronage suggests that Sangallo would
have been unable to accept the commission for the Pazzi home.
In fact David Hemsoll, in his work The Early Medid and their
Artists, makes two points that negate the notion that Sangallo
would have even sought the commission of the Palazzo Pazzi73
First, Hemsoll comments on Vasari's assertion that Sangallo was
very loyal to Lorenzo de' Medici, a patron who gave him many
commissions.74 A loyal Medici artist would not have attempted to
work for the Pazzi. Second, Hemsoll attributes the Palazzo Scala,
a home built in north Florence for Bartolomeo Scala, a supporter
of the Medici, to Sangallo.75 Work began on the Scala home after
1473, which means at best Sangallo could have worked one or
two years on the Pazzi home. Considering Sangallo's loyalty to

70 Ibid., 392.
71 The dolphins are found in the frieze designs of the Barberini Codex and
antique capital designs in other sheets. Ibid., 392-393.
72 There is a third reason, although it cannot be reconstructed with certainty.
Saalman explained that in terms of Sangallo's style, the plan and elevation of the
Palazzo Pazzi, especially in the courtyard, were similar with the villa at Poggio a
Cajano because "these plans are affected by practical compromises with overall
symmetry." The irregularly spaced windows of the facade on the villa at Poggio
a Cajano were Sangallo's way to create interior symmetry, something that was
not contingent on also having a symmetrical exterior. According the Saalman, a
similar concept was at work at the Palazzo Pazzi in an attempt to make the
largest possible salone, one of three rooms on the piano nobile. Ibid., 393.
73 Hemsoll chronicled Giuliano da Sangallo as an architect for Lorenzo de'
Medici in David Hemsoll, "Giuliano da Sangallo in the new Renaissance of
Lorenzo de' Medici," 187-205.
74 Ibid., 187-188.
75 Ibid., 191. Hemsoll declared the best source for Sangallo is G. Marchini,
Giuliano da Sangallo (Florence, 1942).

Alpata: A Journal of History

Palazzo Pazzi

a mW- ..f&

.~~~ )F"i ^-~

Figure 14 Sangallo's Sketchbook
(Saalman, Howard, "The Authorship of the Pazzi Palace" Plates 5
and 6)

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Brady Lee

Lorenzo and other architectural obligations, it is therefore
extremely unlikely that Giuliano da Sangallo would have been
simultaneously commissioned to work for the both the Pazzi and
Assigning a date for the commission of the Palazzo Pazzi
remains important. I do not think that a date of 1458, which
both Goy and Lisci tentatively suggested,76 is readily
distinguishable in relation to Murray's more accepted date of
1462.77 On the other hand, it is important to distinguish these
two dates from Saalman's range of between 1472 and 1479.78
Something was certainly happening before Pope Sixtus IV
changed the papal alum money from the Medici to the Pazzi, and
contrary to Saalman's claim, the Pazzi had more than enough
money before the years leading up the Pazzi Conspiracy to
challenge the Medici in any aspect of life.79 Could the time
between the marriage of Bianca to Guglielmo de' Pazzi in 1459
and the banking competition in the early 1470s be filled by the
Pazzi family's architectural statement? Placing the beginning of
construction of the Palazzo Pazzi in 1462 links the progression
from the marriage to the papal alum accounts and provides a very
plausible chain of events that led up to the violent Pazzi
Conspiracy. Because Jacopo's 1462 acquisition of land and
subsequent construction on the property are consistent with the
political situation, 1462 should remain as the correct date that
Giuliano da Maiano began building the Palazzo Pazzi.
In the aftermath following the Pazzi Conspiracy in 1478,
one is left to wonder how much of the Pazzi estate was destroyed.
How many clues vanished in Lorenzo's purge after his brother
Giuliano's murder? Are the payment documents truly
unavailable? Was the sgraffito on the facade damaged? It was
certainly not maintained. How much of an architectural impact
would the Palazzo Pazzi have made if it were not doomed as a

76 Goy suggested that the Palazzo Pazzi was begun after 1458, but adds that it
was perhaps 1462 in Goy, Florence, the city and its architecture, 261. Lisci
gave comparable dates, stating that it was probably built between the years of
1458 and 1469 in Lisci, The Palazzi ofFlorence, 545.
77 Murray, The Architecture of the Italian Renaissance, 79.
78 Saalman, "The Authorship of the Pazzi Palace," 392.
79 Martines, April Blood, 76-82.

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Palazzo Pazzi
confiscated artifact so soon after its completion? These are
questions that may never be known. But, even amid the
frustration of lost and destroyed hints in the search for answers
concerning the Palazzo Pazzi, one can assume that whatever
happened, the events surrounding the construction of the Palazzo
Pazzi undoubtedly shook Florence to its very foundations. From
Brunelleschi's rise and fall as the Medici architect to Giuliano da
Maiano's acceptance of the commission for the Palazzo Pazzi, no
other building in Quattrocento Florence had quite the same
impact as the Pazzi home architecturally, politically, and

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Between Black and White Legends
Torture in the Legacy of the Spanish

Matthew Paul Michel

The Spanish Inquisition's use of torture in obtaining
confessions has received what some scholars call an excessive
amount of attention. This issue has proved equally attractive to
both serious historians and anti-Spanish polemicists. Striking a
middle path, recent historians seek to revise the "Black Legend"
of the Spanish Inquisition, absolving it of unrestrained
institutional terror without exonerating the tribunal of all
misconduct. 1 Proponents of this moderate theory, notably Henry
Kamen, Edward Burman, Edward Peters, and Joseph Perez, focus
on legal records and other archival documents from the period
rather than the often unreliable accounts of "eyewitnesses" and
propagandists. Scholars of the revisionist school argue not that
the focus on the Inquisition's use of torture is inappropriate, only
that it is misdirected. Traditional scholarship focused excessively
on the horrors of the torture chamber, an ordeal faced by a
minority of those brought before the tribunal, to the exclusion of
far-reaching trends such as censorship, the autos-de-fi, and the
effects of the secret tribunal on the popular consciousness.

The "Disastrous Instrument of Wrong": Traditional
Approaches to the Inquisition
Perhaps the earliest scholarly treatment of the
Inquisition's use of torture in English during the modern period is

1 Also applied to the Spanish conquest of the Americas, the term "Black
Legend" or leyenda negra refers to the perception of the Inquisition as the site of
exceptional malice and refinement in torture. The origins of the term itself are
much debated, but the earliest source I have found is Julian Juderias y Loyot, La
leyenda negra y la verdad historica, (Madrid: 1914).

Alpata: A Journal of History

Between Black & White Legends
Henry Charles Lea's magisterial History of the Inquisition of Spain
(4 vols., New York and London, 1902- 1907), a massive
undertaking that offers an unprecedented look into the inner
workings of the tribunal without relying on anti-Spanish
polemical tracts or Protestant propaganda. After analyzing
archival records of trials, abjurations, and autos-de-fi, Lea
concluded that the popular interpretation of the Inquisition as an
instrument of unprecedented malice had no historical basis. In
fact, Lea frequently compared the Holy Office favorably to its
medieval predecessor, the Papal Inquisition. He noted that in
Rome torture was often employed on those who had already
confessed, both to determine the true extent of their
transgressions and to obtain further names of heretics. The
Spanish Inquisition, by contrast, considered torture an
extraordinary measure and took great care to elicit free
confessions without force. Additionally, there were many
situations in which examination was forbidden in Spain but was
permissible and indeed mandatory in Rome, including cases
involving only the presumption of heresy. Lea concluded that
Spain's use of torture was a "last resort when the result of a trial
left doubts to be satisfied, while Rome's was a matter of course."2
Lea also viewed the civil authorities with disdain when
compared with the Inquisition. Corregidors, or secular municipal
administrators, in particular, had access to far more gruesome
torture methods: the garrucha, or pulley-torture; the toca, or
ordeal of water; the potro, or the rack; the mancuerda, which were
hot irons for the feet; hot bricks for the stomach and buttocks;
garrotillos, known as bone-breakers; the trampa to tear the legs;
and the bostezo to distend the mouth.3 Nor were these macabre
instruments reserved for particularly heinous crimes, but
employed as a daily matter of criminal justice. Lea even cast
much of the blame for the mistreatment of prisoners of the Holy
Office on the lay officials it employed. Because it used torture
intermittently and had no regular staff of its own, the Inquisition
relied on public executioners, whose methods were identical with
those of the secular courts. Thus over-zealous laymen, the only
functionaries of the court ever actually to lay hand on the

2 Henry Charles Lea, A history of the Inquisition of Spain, (New York: The
Macmillan Company, 1922), 3.
3 Ibid., 23.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Matthew Paul Michel
prisoners, committed all abuses.4 The Inquisition therefore did
not explicitly refine its torture methods but actually confined
itself to only a fraction of the means available to public officials.
Typical of many nineteenth-century historians, Lea did not
refrain from offering moral judgments on his topic; indeed, he
condemned the Inquisition as a "disastrous instrument of wrong,"
a "system of so-called justice more iniquitous than has been
evolved by the cruelest despotism," and avered, "its work was
almost wholly evil."5 Yet he placed blame not on the inquisitors
themselves, who he claimed were acting out of earnest if erring
conviction, but on the patristic authorities: St. Augustine, John
Chrysostom, and the other church fathers who propounded
sentencing unrepentant heretics to death, both as punishment for
deviance and to protect the faithful from contamination. The
greatest crime of the Inquisition was not the application of torture
itself, but that it fostered a society of intolerance and violence in
the name of religion. In retrospect, perhaps it is unsurprising
that an American historian would be particularly grieved ly the
fusion of state and religious authority that the Inquisition
The most obvious weakness of Lea's approach is his lack
of statistical data. Of course, this fault is not entirely uncommon
for historians of this period, and it may be considered one of the
limitations of the early modern era. Lea noted that, given the
chaotic nature of the archives themselves, it was "impossible to
compile statistics of the torture-chamber."6 Nonetheless, it
became extremely difficult for Lea to prove his thesis that the
Inquisition was relatively benign without some sort of statistical
framework to contextualize his study. In part to avoid this
criticism, he attempted to describe the scene on a local level.
According to the record of the Toledo tribunal between 1575 and

4 It is worth noting that Lea accepted this particular rule at face value, apparently
without considering the possibility it was ever disregarded. This tendency is
common among revisionist scholars, who embrace evidence of a humane
Inquisition as readily as the old propagandists believed descriptions of its
5 Lea, 533. Were the book's 1907 publication delayed by ten years, how
differently might the experience of the First World War have affected the
judgments expressed in this passage?
6 Ibid., 33.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Between Black & White Legends
1610, physical examination was invoked in about thirty-two
percent of heretical prosecutions, a figure Lea qualified as
"probably less than the average."7 A report of the tribunal of
Valladolid for 1624 showed that of eleven cases of Judaism and
one of Protestantism, eleven were tortured and, in 1655, all of
nine cases of Judaism were subjected to torture. Thus Lea
suggested that the frequency of torture depended very heavily on
the personality and disposition of the individual councils
involved, a fact that may help explain the difficulty of compiling
exact figures. Lea defended his analytic approach and to an
extent dismissed the value of raw numerical data, stating: "They
are simply a measure of the greater or less activity of the
tribunals and not of the principles involved."8 More important is
understanding the mindset beneath the practice.

By the Inquisitor's Hand: Archival Documents in
Assessing Cruelty
As has been noted, Lea focused exclusively on archival
texts in assessing the nature of torture and the extent of its
practice. The only outside perspectives he included were the
sensationalized accounts of Protestant exiles and anti-Spanish
propagandists. There are numerous problems with this
approach. Foremost, by relying on the Inquisition's own account
of its operations, he implicitly accepted the organization's
truthfulness and made no provision for intentional inaccuracies.
Admittedly, the Inquisition did not flinch from detailing the most
horrific details of individual torture sessions, as notaries dutifully
recorded the imploring shrieks and incoherent ramblings of
suspects. It may be argued that any tribunal willing to include
such incriminating particulars would scarcely have reason to lie
about anything else. Yet the very act of exaggerating these
accounts renders them largely unbelievable to readers unfamiliar
with the actual event. It is conceivable that individual inquisitors
chose to stretch the truth in order to blunt the credibility of anti-
Inquisition propaganda, but more likely simply as a warning to

7 Ibid., 36
8 Ibid., 35.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Matthew Paul Michel
the public at large? At the opposite extreme, there are numerous
incidents that appear to have been sanitized: Lea recorded the
"hideously suggestive" case of Blanca Rodriguez Matos, at
Valladolid, whose record indicates that she was examined 21 May
1655, and died the same day.10 Despite the obvious implication,
the transcript contains no overt acknowledgment that the
prisoner's death resulted from her examination, suggesting that
there were some crimes for which even the inquisitors were
reluctant to take direct responsibility.
The nature of the transcripts as archival documents
deserves special attention. The Holy Office compiled these
records to verify testimony and for the instruction of other
inquisitors, not for public scrutiny. Inquisitional documents,
however meticulously detailed, provide only a narrow and
expurgated view of the proceedings to which they bear witness. It
may safely be supposed that the secrecy-obsessed Inquisition
never imagined a time in which records of its most intimate
proceedings would be broadly available to scholars and
academics, rather than securely locked away in its labyrinthine
archives. Nevertheless, repeating the Inquisition's accounts
verbatim does little more than reproduce the scene as viewed by
the Holy Office, perpetuating the inquisitors' own view of their
activities. Though scholarship has yet to construct one, a
credible external perspective is crucial to a complete study of the
tribunal's use of torture.

Revisionist Models: Debunking the "Black Legend"
Following Lea's study, many scholars began to examine
the Inquisition's own archives to learn how the Holy Office
perceived itself. Expanding on Lea's method, Edward Burman
sought to measure the extent of the tribunal's operational
effectiveness by placing it within the proper social and political
context. The result shows a surprisingly humane Inquisition,
concerned, as had never before been suggested, with accuracy
and justice in its verdicts. This analysis further distanced

9This, of course, raises the question of how the inquisitors would have expected
the common people to receive word of these accounts, as the transcripts
remained secluded in the archives. Perhaps they assumed that some rumor of the
documents' contents was bound to reach the people and acted accordingly.
10 Lea, 23.

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Between Black & White Legends
scholarly opinion from the previously unquestioned "Black
Burman's analysis of early modern European legal codes
reveals surprisingly extensive (though often ineffective) safeguards
built into the Spanish Inquisition's examination procedure.
Despite considerable attention to detail, the standards for
interrogation were riddled with ambiguities that led to abuse.
One example is the frequency of torture; according to canon and
civil law, prisoners could only be tortured once, so sessions were
merely "suspended" rather than formally "ended" at the
conclusion of each day's work. Although the provision was
originally intended for the protection of suspected heretics, in
practice this legalistic and perhaps illusory distinction allowed
the ordeal to be prolonged almost indefinitely. Another decree
required torture to be carried out by a public executioner only in
the presence of an inquisitor, a representative of the local bishop,
and a doctor. The latter stipulation proved remarkably flexible,
as Inquisitor-General Torquemada himself hedged that in cases of
expediency the interrogator might simply be a "learned and
faithful man" (hombre entendido y fiel) designated by the
inquisitor. As might be imagined, this clause became a
convenient loophole for abuses.11 Yet regardless of the serious
potential for misconduct, the very presence of such laws indicates
the Holy Office was far more concerned with establishing correct
and just procedure than many other medieval European judicial
institute ons.
One of the chief claims of the "Black Legend" is the belief
that the Spanish Inquisition was prolific in its application of
torture, constantly innovating and refining new forms of cruelty.
Burman states that evidence from the period does not support
this macabre claim. Records indicate that very few victims
actually died under torture, or suffered permanent injury or
disfigurement (i.e., loss of limb) as a result of an examination.
This suggests that prisoners of the Holy Office on the whole fared
relatively well, at least compared with contemporary secular
courts. As might be expected, however, the "ferocity of torture

11 Edward Burman, The Inquisition: Hammer ofHeresy, (I ic' York: Dorset
Press, 1984), 146. It is worth noting that Torquemada's successor, Fernando de
Valdes, reversed this decision and insisted that the inquisitors be present. This
was in part to avoid what he felt was a rise in abuses of the practice.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Matthew Paul Michel
varied from inquisition to inquisition," and the "personality and
zeal of individual inquisitors were the determining factors."12
Despite the horrific visions of unabated cruelty and suffering
conjured by Poe in "The Pit and the Pendulum," there was no
mode of torture unique to the Spanish Inquisition, and its three
most common methods, the garrucha, toca, and potro, first
appeared in the medieval institution. Voluntary confession in the
torture chamber was generally sufficient to avoid torture
altogether, and the sight of the implements available to the
interrogators apparently prompted many suspects to take
advantage of this escape clause. After relating the case of an
English sailor arrested on the (probably spurious) charges of
spying and Protestantism, Burman comments at length on this
man's treatment relative to other judicial bodies of the era: "It
must be remembered that the Spanish Inquisition was certainly
no worse than contemporary secular courts in other countries-
including England-and no more vicious in its application of
torture than the Inquisition in earlier centuries in France and
Italy."13 Any account to the contrary is dismissed as "an error
due to sensational writers who have exploited credulity."14
This apparent vindication of the Holy Office begs the
question, if accounts of torture were so exaggerated, why was the
Inquisition able to inspire such fear? Ultimately, the pervasive
atmosphere of secrecy, enhanced by unnamed accusers and
unspecified charges was far more terrifying than the actual
examination. Burman goes so far as to say that "secrecy and the
fear it engendered were the main weapons of the Spanish
Inquisition, perhaps even more than the torture itself."15 The
paranoia and vindictiveness fostered by the tribunal's
machinations is clearly illustrated by the so-called "Edicts of
Grace." These were periodic calls from the Inquisition for all
heretics to come forward and for the faithful to report others
known to them. This led to a chain reaction of fear,
denunciations, and counter-denunciations that often degenerated

12 Ibid., 147.
13 Ibid., 150.
14 Ibid., 150. This line, with many others on the topic, is taken almost word-for-
word from Lea's book, underscoring the reliance of Burman along with
numerous later scholars on the earlier work.
15Ibid., 143.

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Between Black & White Legends
into physical violence. Burman stresses the essentially personal
nature of such conflicts, noting, "gossip and revenge [as] the main
causes of the strife and suffering under the Inquisition."16 The
risk of false testimony was immense, particularly when those
accused of heresy or judaizing often had business or personal
relations with their accusers. Yet this cyclical process of
obsessive mutual scrutiny perpetuated the Inquisition's own
existence and proved a highly effective form of control over much
of the Spanish populace.
The effects of hearsay and rumor are further illustrated by
accounts of incarceration. Inquisitional prisons, far from the
wretched dungeons legend makes them, were "no worse than
others at that time."17 There were in fact frequent cases of
prisoners seeking transfer from overcrowded secular prisons, in
particular friars and priests who made heretical statements or
even confessed to being judaizers in order to move into the
jurisdiction of the Holy Office. As late as 1820, an inquisitional
prison was described by the authorities of Cordoba as "safe, clean
and spacious" compared to the municipal prison. A qualification
to this rosy picture is needed: these cases refer to the permanent
prisons, or casas de penitencia, rather than to the more bleak
cdrceles secrets used to break suspects during interrogation.
Still, Burman notes that "complaints about treatment were no
more frequent than in any other penal system"while the policy of
requiring newly released prisoners to swear never to reveal
anything they had seen or experienced while imprisoned
inevitably made the rumors worse.18

New Approaches: The Inquisition in Context
In summary, present opinion among Inquisition scholars
suggests that past historians have been too quick to accept
contemporary accounts of the Holy Office as an omnipresent,
tyrannical body. More recent approaches have challenged this
idea through emphasizing the tribunal's fundamental weakness
as an institution. Most vocal in this respect is Henry Kamen, who
stresses the absurdity of the notion that fifty or so inquisitors
could exercise direct authoritative control over the bulk of the

16 Ibid., 140.
17 Ibid., 145.
8 Ibid., 146.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Matthew Paul Michel
Spanish populace. For the Holy Office to achieve the sort of
power it is supposed to have wielded, it would require an
extensive bureaucracy, a reliable system of informers, regular
income, and the cooperation of the secular and ecclesiastical
authorities.19 In reality, it possessed a large but hopelessly
erratic network of familiars, suffered from perpetual financial
difficulties, and was constantly embroiled in disputes over
jurisdiction (especially in the Crown of Aragon). Noted historian
Edward Peters also casts doubt on the ability of the Holy Office to
effectively police all of Spain, noting that for much of its existence
the tribunal barely managed to finance itself. Drawing once again
from archival records, this time from the Council of Castile, he
observes: "The Inquisition was dramatically understaffed and
underfinanced, uncertain as to its purpose and ambiguously
responsive to challenges to its authority and legitimacy."20 Like
Kamen, Peters asserts that the tribunal had only a marginal
impact on society after the first few decades of crisis. They agree
with Burman that the greatest damage to the Inquisition's
reputation resulted from its own rule of secrecy, which silenced
the tribunal's potential defenders and gave victory to its enemies
by default.
A common concern in the discussion of the methods of the
Spanish Inquisition is the criticism that foregoing scholarship is
one-sided, relying on too narrow a base of documentation for
support.21 Although the recent availability of vast archival texts
has helped restore balance somewhat, some scholars continue to
depend exclusively on the Inquisition for their information, as
though it were a "uniquely reliable source."22 As already
discussed, archival documents are dubious for the same reason
they are so valuable: they represent only the view of the tribunal's
actors, perpetuating their perspective while excluding all others.
Furthermore, the very nature of secret trials raises doubts

19 Henry Kamen, The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision, (I ic Haven,
Conn.: Yale University Press, 1998), 315.
20 Edward Peters, Inquisition, (I ic', York: The Free Press, 1988), 90.
21 Ironically, many of the critics themselves suffer from this same dependence:
Kamen and Perez in particular rely heavily on archival transcripts compiled by
inquisitors and notaries. Their defense is that they recognize this limitation and
seek ways to nuance their analysis around it.
22 Kamen, 318.

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Between Black & White Legends
concerning the reliability of witnesses and the quality of
testimony, which often came from individuals ordinarily
unqualified to testify including those considered infamous?3
Under the circumstances, a certain degree of relativity of
perspective seems almost unavoidable.
By contrast, minimal progress has been made towards
understanding the social or ideological conditions in which the
Holy Office operated. Recently, revisionist scholars have
emphasized the fundamental popularity of the institution,
showing that rather than an unnatural imposition by extremist
zealots, it was a logical expression of prevailing social prejudices.
As such, the Inquisition merely institutionalized the common
attitudes already present in society.24 It is on these ideological
aspects that future scholarship must concentrate; to fully
appreciate the tribunal's origin and legacy, greater research is
necessary on the social and cultural framework in which the
Inquisition operated. Who were the inquisitors, and from where
did they draw their support? How vwre they able to convince
successive monarchs of their office's great value to the state?
Why were they motivated to enforce religious orthodoxy on a
populace largely ignorant of doctrinal affairs? These and other
questions must be answered before the field can leap forward
again as it did a century ago when Henry Lea first examined the
inquisitorial records, ushering in a new age of research and
breaking decisively with that bane of Inquisition scholarship, the
Black Legend.

23 Peters, 92.
24 Kamen, 320.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Monks, Kings, and Empresses
A New Approach to Understanding the
Christianization of Nubia

Stephenie Livingston

The ruins of an ancient black civilization remain in
modern southern Egypt and northern Sudan, an area which is
today overwhelmingly Muslim in religious and cultural
orientation. However, the magnificent kingdoms of Nubia were
actually Christian for centuries before and after the rise of Islam.
Many scholars of this Christian period in Nubia tend to
concentrate on a detailed narrative by John of Ephesus of the
Christianization of Nubia, neglecting the process which caused
his "official conversion" to take form. The appropriate approach
to the problem of conversion requires that adequate consideration
be given not only to the result of the process, but also to the ways
and means by which it was achieved. 1 This paper, therefore, will
illustrate the conversion of Nubia not as a single fixed event or a
series of fixed events, but rather as a transitional process.
Moreover, there is sufficient evidence to show that Christian roots
were deeply embedded in the culture of Nubian society.
Converted Nubian kings and other local influences, such as
"wondering monks,"2 in the centuries prior to the "official
conversion" in 540 C. E., introduced Christianity to the region
and allowed Christian beliefs to spread.
In the recent past, the majority of scholars have focused
on a limited body of sources to develop a consequently limited
picture of the Christianization of Nubia. The account of the

1 Rita Lizzi, "Ambrose's Contemporaries and the Christianization of Northern
Italy," Journal ofRoman Studies 80 (1990), 157.
2 Bogdan. Zurawski, "The Service Area in North-Eastern Corer of the
Monastery on Korn in Old Dongola. A preliminary report," Nubica III/1 (1994),

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Monks, Kings, and Empresses
conversion of Nubia by John of Ephesus has shaped the current
definition of how Nubia's Christianization took place. Scholars
often fail to treat fragmentary and "non-traditional" evidence,
such as archaeological remains. Moreover, intellectuals of
Christian Nubia fall short by failing to orient Nubia in a wider
geo-political context as it serves to enhance the understanding of
Nubia's Christianization as a broad and complex process. This
has led to various narrow views which miss the more extensive
reality of Nubia's Christinization. In order to broaden this
picture, we need to consider other bodies of evidence in order to
"complete" the picture. This evidence includes consideration of
Nubia's intercultural environment, archaeological record, and
other written sources which have remained neglected. This
evidence changes the picture dramatically. It creates a broader
geographical and chronological Christianization, while
emphasizing a greater African influence, rather than a primarily
European influence. Also, by presenting the conversion of Nubia
as a transitional process, rather than a sudden occurrence, we
can understand the true conviction of faith felt by the Nubian
people, rather than their conversion being simply a matter of
political expedience.
In addition, Christian Nubia as a period has often been
treated by scholars as an insignificant phenomenon on the fringe
of the Islamic history of North Africa and the near East. This
approach implies that Nubia quickly adopted Christianity and
then abandoned it for Islam, almost as quickly.3 In actuality,
Nubian Christianity, as it is often referred to due to its unique
qualities, neither suffered an early demise, nor became completely
extinct after the official adoption of Islam. Christianity in Nubia
lasted intact as the official religion from the sixth century well
into the fifteenth century, at which time Nubian Christianity did
not suffer sudden extinction, but rather a broad transition to
Islam.4 The view that Nubia simply jumped from one faith to

3 P. L. and M. Shinnie, I ic,- Light on Medieval Nubia," Journal of African
History, Vol. 3 (1965), 263. The authors of this article, along with others which
they cite, states that Nubia quickly adopted Christianity and then abandoned it
for Islam.
4Paul Bowers, "Nubian Christianity: The Neglected Heritage," African Journal
of Evangelical Theology, Vol. 1 (1985), 3. States that Nubian Christianity
simply became extinct with the onset of Islam.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Stephenie Livingston
another as it was beneficial to the Nubian people drastically
under-estimates the importance of Christianity in Nubia.
In 451 with the Council of Chalcedon which was an
ecumenical council that took place from October 8 to November 1,
451, at Chalcedon (a city of Bithynia in Asia Minor), today part of
the city of Istanbul on the Asian side of the Bosphorus and
known as the district of Kadik6y. It is the fourth of the first seven
Ecumenical Councils in Christianity, and is therefore recognized
as infallible in its dogmatic definitions by the Roman Catholic and
Eastern Orthodox churches. It declared the Eutychian doctrine
of monophysitism, the dogma of the single nature of Christ, partly
divine, partly human, heretical, and set forth the Chalcedonian
creed, which describes the "full humanity and full divinity" of
Jesus, the second person of the Holy Trinity. The imperial
household officially adopts Chalcedonian Christianity, and
subsequently that sect becomes associated with the support of
imperial rule and policy, while it's opposite becomes associated
with opposition to Byzantine rule. Especially in Egypt, its region
of greatest strength, and other frontier areas. By the 540s an
interesting situation has developed within the royal household.
Justinian, as emperor, naturally favored the Chalcadonian
perspective, which came to be known as the Melkite or Imperial
theological position. However, amazingly, his wife Theodora
supported anti-Chalcedonian Monophysite Christianity. It is here
that John of Ephesus's story of Nubia's "official conversion"
According to John of Ephesus, a presbyter named Julian,
a Monophysite exile, asked the Byzantine empress Theodora to
send him as a missionary to Nubia. She informed Emperor
Justinian of the proposed undertaking and subsequently
"promised to send the blessed Julian." However, when Justinian
later heard the person the empress intended to send was a
Monophysite and not a Chalcedonian, he was not pleased.5
Naturally, Justinian did not want a Monophysite church to the
south of Egypt, where at this point he was attempting to establish
a Melkite patriarch in Alexandria to challenge the anti-
Chalcedonians at the source.6 He consequently dispatched his

5 John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, OS 9.
6 James A. Evans, The Empress Theodora: Partner ofJustinian (University of
Texas Press: Austin, 2002), 63.

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Monks, Kings, and Empresses
own (Chalcedonian) mission, equipped with gold and baptismal
robes, and sent orders to the Duke of Thebaid to help it on its
When Theodora learned of Justinian's rival mission, she
counteracted by sending an intimidating letter to the Duke of

Be warned that if you permit his [Justinian's]
ambassador to arrive there before mine, and do not
hinder him by various pretexts until mine shall
have reached you, and passed through your
province and arrive at his destination, your life
shall answer for it, for I will immediately send and
take off your head. 7

The duke valued his head and considered it more prudent to
incur Justinian's wrath than Theodora's. Being "too well
acquainted with the fear in which the queen is held to dare to
stand in [her] way," he delayed Justinian's envoy.8 Theodora was
therefore at least the temporary victor, as the missionary Julian
and his fellow ambassadors reached the region of Nobatia first.
They were apparently received without hesitation; an army was
sent to meet them and they were shown into the presence of the
Nobadian king. During his stay Julian baptized the king, his
nobles, and many others. After Julian's return to Constantinople,
another missionary, Longinus, was appointed to succeed him in
charge of the Nubian mission, but it was not until about 569 that
he arrived in Nubia, and for nearly eighteen years there was no
Monophysite mission in Nubia. Earlier attempts had been
forestalled by Justinian, and so "aware that he [Longinus] was
watched and would not be permitted to leave, he disguised
himself and put a wig on his head, for he was very bald," and
Longinus was able to leave Byzantium for Nubia.
There are several reasons why Justinian did not take
stronger action against Theodora's mission. First, the mission
coincided with a raging plague, and Justinian badly needed
Theodora's support during the crisis. Second, the
Christianization of Nubia played a key role in Justinian's foreign

7John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, OS 9.
8 Evans, 62.

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Stephenie Livingston
policy, which the emperor realized would be served just as well by
Theodora's mission as it would be by his own. According to the
court historian Procopius, in 531 Justinian "got the idea of
making the Aithiopians and Homeritae his allies with a view to
damage the Persians."9 Justinian understood Nubia would make
a geographically strategic ally in this process.10 He also hoped
the Nubians, once converted, would control the Blemmyes,
nomadic raiders who preyed on the villagers of Upper Egypt and
slew hermits isolated there. Even before the rival missions were
organized, Justinian had already begun to create spiritual bonds
of similar beliefs in Nubia when he officially closed and
suppressed the Isis cult at Philae, and it seems that much of the
defacement of this Ptolemaic temple took place at this time.11
Traditionally, John of Ephesus's account has been
accepted as the sole authoritative history of the Christianization
of Nubia. There is serious reason, however, to doubt its veracity.
First, despite his inclusions of vivid descriptions like that of the
missionary Julian, who "from the whole of the third to the tenth
hour [would sit] in caves full of water with the whole people of the
region, naked or, better, wearing only a cloth, while he could
perspire only with the help of water,"12 John was not an
eyewitness to the conversions taking place in Nubia. It was
rather from Constantinople that he received and documented
information about the missionary work being undertaken there.
There exists, however, a much-neglected text by John of Bisclar,
a Chalcedonian who did in fact witness the Nubian mission and
whose account adds much to our understanding of the process.
John of Bisclar studied in Constantinople, and it was there that
he began to write his Chronicle, a history whose introduction
spells out the author's mission to continue the work of the
famous ecclesiastical historian Eusebius into John's own time. In
the Chronicle, John contradicts his Ephesian counterpart,
claiming that it was not until 568 that the "people of the

9 Procopius, trans. H. B. Dewing, History of the Wars (Loeb Classical Library:
London, 1914).
10 Derek A. Welsby, The Medieval Kingdoms ofNubia: Pagans, Christians, and
Muslims Along the Middle Nile (The British Museum Press: London, 2002), 18.
1 Welsby, 31.
12 John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, OS 11. John of Ephesus was only
present during Empress Theodora's audience with Julian.

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Monks, Kings, and Empresses
Maccurritae received the faith of Christ." Likewise, John of
Bisclar states, in 573 a delegation from Makuria arrived in the
capital of Constantinople bearing gifts for the emperor "of
elephant tusks and a giraffe, and stated their friendship with the
And additional doubt is cast on John of Ephesus's
testimony by an entry in the chronicle of the Greek Orthodox
Patriarch of Alexandria, Eutychius, which states that in 719 the
Church of Nubia transferred its allegiance from the Greek
Orthodox Church to the Coptic Church.14 This evidence suggests
that Makuria, the politically dominant Nubian kingdom, was
subsequently Chalcedonian for over two hundred years. John of
Ephesus leaves out this very significant detail, signaling his
partisan stance on religious matters; having been silent about the
conversion of Makuria, he may also have omitted information
about forms of Christianity already present in Nubia. And while
his silence has nevertheless led some scholars to doubt that
Makuria was Melkite at this time, the enmity between Makuria
and Nobadia is confirmed by John's own accounts of Longinus's
mission to Alwa and may indirectly prove his knowledge of
Makuria's conversion to Melkite Christianity.15
According to John of Ephesus, in 580, at the request of
the King of Alwa, Longinus went south to spread the gospel
among the people of that kingdom. The journey was hazardous,
and due to the hostility of the Kingdom of Makuria, which had
been converted by Justinian's Orthodox mission and was
unwilling to help spread what it considered heresy, he was not
able to go by the customary river route. Instead, Longinus had to
travel far to the east, for the Maccuritae were "on the look-out in

13 G. Vantini, Oriental Sources Concerning Nubia (Polish Academy of Sciences:
Warsaw, 1975), 27.
14 F. E. Peters, Jeruselum (Princeton University Press, 1985), 189-190. Peters here
quotes D. Baldi, ENCHIRIDIONLOCOR UM SANCTOR UM, 1955, 447-448,
reprinted, Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1982. Baldi gives Eutychius's
account from his history of the world, written in 867 C. E., in Arabic, Nazm al
Gawahir (Chaplet of Pearls), also known in Latin asAnnales or Eutychii
Historia Universalis.
15 L. P. Kirwan, The Emergence of the united kingdom ofNubia, SNR61 (1980),
136. Kirwan Argues Makuria was not converted to Melkite Christianity and the
Melkite faith did not exist in Nubia.

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Stephenie Livingston
all the areas of [their] kingdom, both in the mountains and in the
plains."16 Upon his arrival in Soba, the capital of Alwa, Longinus
seems to have had rapid success in converting the king and his
followers. However, his encounter with "certain [Phantasiasts]
Axumites" in Alwa reveals that Christianity may actually have
been spread to that kingdom by Christian Axumites before the
arrival of Longinus, and it also explains the king's request and
understanding of the missionaries.17 Adding to this evidence is
the fact that many tombstones in Makuria are in Greek and that
the prayers for the deceased inscribed on them are those in use in
the Orthodox Church during this period. There was also a
Melkite Bishop of Taifa in Nubia at one time, so it may well be
that the account by John of Ephesus has overstated the
Monophysite case.18
In fact, an examination of additional source material
paints a picture much more colorful than the one created by John
of Ephesus. Archaeological and literary sources point to royal
Christian influences prior to 540 from both Nubian royalty and
Axumites. In fact, the earliest evidence of a royal Nubian
Christian is preserved in the Book of Acts, which records an
Ethiopian man "believing Jesus Christ is the Son of God" and
being baptized by Philip in the year 37.19 This Ethiopian man is
described as a "eunuch of great authority under Candace queen
of the Ethiopians" who had "charge of all her treasure" and who
had traveled to "Jerusalem to worship."20 Here some explanation
is required. Nubian kings were regarded as too holy to deal with
secular functions, which were instead managed by the queen
mother, who used the title "Candace."21 If indeed the queen
mother was Christian, it is not unreasonable to assume the entire
Nubian royal family was also Christian at this early date.
Moreover, Nubia's Christianization was almost certainly
influenced to a large extent by the Christian kingdom of Axum

16John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, OS 17.
17John of Ephesus, Ecclesiastical History, OS 20.
18Evans, 64.
19 The ancient kingdom of Ethiopia corresponds not to what is Ethiopia today,
but to the nation of Kush during the Kushite period in Nubia.
20 Acts 8:26-40.
21 David E. Jones. Women Warriors: A History (Brassey, Inc.: Washington, D.
C., 2000).

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Monks, Kings, and Empresses
(located in modern Ethiopia) as early as the fourth century.
According to the fourth-century historian Rufinus, Axum was
Christianized in the early to mid-fourth century by the Bishop of
Tyre and his missionaries. The queen of Axum and her son
Ezana were quickly converted by these nine missionaries;
according to Rufinus, they were glad to accept the Christian faith
and "sought greatly to detain [the missionaries] and begged them
to return." Ezana became the first Christian king of Axum, and
Christianity is thought to have become the official religion of that
kingdom at some time during the 320s, as evinced by an
inscription by Ezana and a change to Christian coinage in
Axum.22 In the relevant victory inscription, King Ezana describes
his invasion of the Nile Valley and his activities in Upper Nubia
during the post-Meroitic period around 325. Here Ezana is
described battling the "Noba" at Meroe "through the power of the
Lord in Heaven" and plundering Nubia for months.23 It seems
logical that a Christian king would have wished his newly
conquered subjects to learn of his religion. Ezana's presence in
Nubia and Axum's close proximity further planted the seed of
Christianity among the Nubians. Significantly, Ezana's conquest
coincided with increased missionary activities from Egypt,
recorded in 324.24 Thus, with increased pressure from Christian
Egypt in the north and the rise of state Christianity in southern
Axum, Christian influences now surrounded Nubia, creating a
religious atmosphere through which the faith could grow there.
The most striking evidence for Christianity in Nubia well
prior to the "official conversion" of 540 is an inscription by Silko,
king of Nobatia, in the Temple of Mandulis. In this inscription
Silko describes himself as "King of the Noubades and all the
Aithiopians" and recounts the conduct of three campaigns against
the Blemmyes, declaring that "God gave me the victory." The
inscription is generally thought to describe Silko's alliance with

22 Heinrich Schafer, A History ofAncientAethiopian Kingship (London, 1905),
81-100. According to Schafer and sources found in this collection, Christianity
became the official religion either in 325 or 328 and began to be converted
sometime prior to 325.
23 Schafer, 82.
24 J.-P. Migne, Vitce patrum, sive, Historia eremiticce libri decem: auctoribus
suis et nitori pristine restituti ac notationibus illustraiti, (Gamier Fratres, Paris:
1849), 71.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Stephenie Livingston
Justinian and their joint victory against the Blemmyes.
Traditionally, this Silko has been identified as the sixth-century
king in John of Ephesus's account who turned away Justinian's
missionaries, indicating he was quite content with the
Monophysite belief. However, this inscription has recently been
discovered to be much older than was previously thought, dating
to perhaps as early as the first half of the fifth century.25 That
being so, Silko cannot be the king of Nobatia mentioned by John
of Ephesus; rather, he must have been a Nobatian king who was
a Christian a century before the arrival of Theodora's mission. A
letter found during a 1976 excavation at Qasr Ibrim provides
further evidence for this early date; the letter, written on papyrus,
dates to about the same time as the Silko inscription and
presumably came from the royal archives. It is written by the
Blemmyan king Phonen, who makes it clear that he is the enemy
of this same Silko and who subsequently records a summary of
the conflicts between the two kingdoms.26 These two pieces of
evidence together point to the possibility that Silko may have
influenced the growth of Christianity in the earlier Ballana period
to the same extent Byzantine missions did in the Christian
period. It is likely that Silko had accepted the Christian creed
and at the very least declared Christianity as the new religion of
the Nubian court.
Archaeological remains further emphasize the scope of the
Christian presence among the general Nubian population prior to
540. Throughout the fifth century, Nubian worship of the old
gods of Egypt and Kush seems to have declined, and Nubia seems
to have been transitioning during the same period from being a
land of old-style Egyptian temples to being one of Christian
churches. The Temple of Taharqo at Qasr Ibrim, for example,
seems to have been converted into a church well before the
traditionally attested date of 543 based cn the date of ceramics
found in the temple's sanctuary chamber, part of the
modifications associated with its conversion to Christian use.
These astonishing materials are dateable to the late Ballana
period, suggesting a date for this modification in the very early
sixth century before the "official conversion."27 In addition,

25 Welsby, 17.
26 Ibid.,18.
27 F. L. Griffith, Oxford Excavations in Nubia, LAAA 13, nos 1-2, 17-37. 51.

Alpata: A Journal of History

Monks, Kings, and Empresses
Christian symbols have been found carved on this same pottery
after its initial firing, a phenomenon that suggests the infiltration
of Christianity into the kingdom of Nobatia during the Ballana
period. The carving of a cross motif has likewise been found on
the wall of a rock-cut tomb at Qasr Ibrim above the head of the
deceased; this same tomb also contained pottery dateable to the
late fourth century.28 The most dramatic change, however, seems
to have been at the personal level in funerary practice. For
millennia the peoples of Nubia had provided the dead with
elaborate tombs, rich funerary gifts, and ritual offerings; near the
end of the fifth century, however, this practice changed
drastically. In the Nubian city of Sesebi, archaeologists have
discovered a shift from pagan to Christian funerary practices,
which were much simpler, at precisely this time.29 This is further
evidence of the early movement of Christianity into Nubia, a
process inevitable in areas located so close to the Egyptian border
and where there considerable contact existed between Nubians
and merchants and travelers from Christian Egypt.30
There is one more tantalizing but frustrating piece of
evidence which raises the even more extreme possibility that
Christianity may have made inroads into Nubia from Egypt well
before the fifth century through the activities of Egyptian
"wandering monks."31 For many years Egypt was the center of
the Christian monastic movement, housing the most rigorous
monks and some of the most creative minds of the period.
Initially, monks were hermits who withdrew from the cities and
towns of Egypt to live in desert caves. However, there also existed
"wandering monks" who traveled throughout the deserts
surrounding Egypt and Nubia. Recently discovered in the eastern
deserts of modern Egypt, hidden for hundreds of years beneath
various monasteries, are what may be the oldest monastic cells
ever discovered, dating to the fourth century.32 Early Egyptian
monks such as the ones who inhabited these cells may very well

28 A. J. Mills, The Cemetaries ofQasrIbrim: a Report ofF-, i .r ,, Antiquities
(Fvgpt Exploration Society: London, 1982), 48.
SD. N. Edwards. "Three Cemetary Sites on the Blue Nile," ANM (1994), 177.
30 Welsby, 38.
31 Zurawski, 319-360.
32 Michael Slackman, "In Egyptain desert, cells of the earliest Monks," The New
York Times (2005). Sec. C, 8.

Volume IV, Spring 2007

Stephenie Livingston
have come into contact with Nubians at some point.
Unfortunately, no actual evangelistic work which may have taken
place survives in existing documentation, so the possible Nubian
activities of these monks cannot be proven definitively and must
remain conjectural.
And despite these early Christian inroads, the
Christianization of Nubia was not the instant process presented
by John of Ephesus. Paganism was deeply embedded in Nubia
and did not yield to Christianity easily; in fact, pagan legends,
myths, and traditions of magic were ultimately assimilated into
Nubia's Christianity. For example, apotropaic devices like the
symbol of the cross were used by the Nubian Christians to ward
off evil spirits blamed for sickness, bad luck, and death;
consequently, newly baptized Nubians were quickly branded with
the symbol of a cross on their foreheads with red-hot irons.33
Cross motifs were also scratched and painted on walls of tombs to
keep away the "forces of evil which might appear from four
directions."34 Another reminder of the importance of magic and
superstition to Nubian Christians is their ritual protection of the
faces of the deceased, a traditional guard against evil spirits flying
through the air and entering the body through the openings of the
face. In a number of episcopal tombs at Faras, the mastaba are
pierced directly above the head of the deceased, a practice
presumably connected with the pouring of libations to the dead
and linking the Nubian Christians with their pagan
Likewise, magical texts dating to well after the "official
conversion" have been unearthed at the site at Qasr Ibrim. A
white painted inscription on a strange rectangular pottery vessel
found there was formulated to provide divine protection for the
contents of the vessel; it calls for divine damnation and threatens

33B. Rostkowska, "The Visit of a Nubian King to Constantinople in AD 1203,"
in New Discoveries in Nubia: Proceedings on the Colloquium of Nubian Studies,
The Hague, 1979, ed. Paul van Moorsel (Nederlans Instituut voor het Nabije
Oosten, 1982), 113-16.
34 Zurawski, 209.
35 Bogdan Zurawski, "The Nubian Mortuary Complex," in Nubian Culture Past
and Present: Main Papers Presented at the Sixth International Conferencefor
Nubian Studies in Uppsala, 11-16August, 1986, ed. Tomas Hagg (Almquist &
Wiskell International, Stockholm, 1987), 416.

Alpata: A Journal of History


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