Call for Papers: Carolus Quintus: Image and Perception of Emperor Charles V in Neo-Latin literature

21st NeoLatina conference, Freiburg im Breisgau, 27–29 June 2019



Virginie Leroux (École pratique des hautes études, EPHE, PSL;
Marc Laureys (Universität Bonn;
Florian Schaffenrath (Ludwig Boltzmann Institut für Neulateinische Studien, Innsbruck;
Stefan Tilg (Universität Freiburg;


The reign of Charles V (1519–1556) coincided with the diffusion of Renaissance humanism throughout Europe. Whereas various research projects and a host of publications in the domain of history and art history have significantly improved our knowledge about Charles V and his court, it is surprising to see that his reception in literature, and especially in Neo-Latin literature, has to date received much less scholarly attention. Important work has nonetheless paved the way for further research. Suffice it to mention John Flood’s Poets Laureate in the Holy Roman Empire: A Bio-Bibliographical Handbook (Berlin / New York 2006), the investigation of Habsburg panegyric, conducted by a Neo-Latin research team in Vienna, led by Franz Römer and Elisabeth Klecker (see, among others, their contributions in Karl V. 1500–1558. Neue Perspektiven seiner Herrschaft in Europa und Übersee, edd. Alfred Kohler e.a. [Vienna 2002]), and the collection of essays, published by Roland Béhar and Mercedes Blanco (“Les Poètes de l’Empereur. La cour de Charles-Quint dans le renouveau littéraire du XVIe siècle”, in: e-Spania, 13, 2 [2012]), as well as seminal studies by Peter Burke (“Presenting and Re-Presenting Charles V”, in: Charles V 1500–1558 and his Time, edd. Hugo Soly / Wim Blockmans [Antwerp 1999], 393–475) and Hermann Wiegand (“Das Bild Kaiser Karls V. in der neulateinischen Dichtung Deutschlands”, in: Acta conventus Neo-Latini Bonnensis, edd. Rhoda Schnur e.a. [Tempe, AZ 2006], 121–143).
Neo-Latin authors have played a substantial role in fashioning the image and perception of Charles V. Their writings help us to refine and correct our understanding of the image-building and communication strategies surrounding the Emperor. The 500th anniversary of the election of Charles V as King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor on 28 June 1519 offers a symbolic occasion for a fresh look at the Latin literature devoted to or connected with him. At stake are not only contemporary authors, but also litterati from later periods, who looked back and reflected on his rule. The range of possible topics is very wide and includes, among others, the following themes and questions:

The imperial myth
Neo-Latin authors have contributed substantially to the development of an imperial ideology surrounding Charles V in all its allegorical and symbolic dimensions. Charles’s chancellor, Mercurino Gattinara (1465–1530), in particular, propagated the idea of an empire, established by divine providence, and others elaborated upon this concept with messianic motifs and prophetic claims. In this perspective, the Emperor was entrusted with the task of uniting the world under his sole pastoral care, waging war against the heretics and infidels, and re-installing a universal monarchy. At the same time, the Emperor was styled as a hero and a saint according to literary, historical, philosophical and religious norms, conventions and models, drawn from both Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages. The rich Neo-Latin source material, that is abundantly available in both printed and manuscript form, yields a multiplicity of literary contexts to be explored, topics and techniques of praise and blame to be analyzed and different forms of imperial representation to be examined.

Divergences and similarities
Beyond the universal ambitions of the Emperor, the relevant texts offer a multitude of both laudatory and critical statements and judgments about Charles V, which need to be scrutinized in their respective historical contexts. In addition to the special case of foreign enemies of Charles and his opponents within the Empire, such as the Protestants, there are various national or regional perspectives to be taken into account: How did other courts and territories position themselves vis-à-vis the Emperor and the Holy Roman Empire? How were dramatic events, such as the Sacco di Roma of 1527, commented upon in different milieus? Did all Neo-Latin authors share the same ethical and aesthetical ideals in the way they portrayed Charles? To what extent were the literary discourses surrounding Charles determined by the rules and principles of distinctive literary genres?

Social strategies and patronage
The Latin literature devoted to or connected with Charles V plays a special role in the context of patronage and, more generally, in the construction of social relationships in a court environment. Throughout the early modern age Neo-Latin literature, in particular, often served as a literary instrument for securing the support of a mecenas and gaining access to specific communities. At times the Emperor himself acted as a patron, but high-ranking persons from his entourage assumed that role as well. It will thus be interesting to pursue the question how the relationships between these different partners were constructed and staged in Neo-Latin texts. The panegyrical Poemata of Antonio Sebastiano Minturno (1500–1574), e.g., published in 1564 but partly written already during Charles’s lifetime, illustrate both options at the same time: the poems eulogize not only Charles V, but also his secretaries Nicolas Perrenot de Granvelle (1484–1550) and Francisco de los Cobos (ca. 1477–1547), as well as Miguel Mai (ca. 1480–1546), who served as Charles’s ambassador in Rome from 1528 to 1533 and was thereafter Vice-Chancellor of the Crown of Aragón. The timing of the publication is, in this case as in many others, a further factor that merits attention.

Practical information
Topics: We welcome papers on specific case studies that focus on individual texts, authors or courts, but it will also be possible to combine various facets and analyze, e.g., specific events, such as a coronation or a Joyous Entry, from different points of view. Neo-Latin texts in both verse and prose can be dealt with.


Proposals and registration: Paper proposals, containing a provisional title and an abstract of ca. 10 lines, should reach one of the organizers by 1 December 2018 via e-mail. Participants who will not give a paper do not need to register.

Travel and accommodation: The conference will start with a key-note lecture on 27 June in the evening and close on 29 June around noon. Rooms will be booked by the organizers, unless participants explicitly point out that they prefer to make their own arrangements. Further practical details will be communicated after the deadline for proposals has passed and the list of speakers has been established. The organizers will make every effort to raise the funds necessary for covering travel and accommodation costs of all speakers.

Location: Haus zur Lieben Hand (Löwenstraße 16) and the library of the Seminar für Griechische und Lateinische Philologie of the University of Freiburg.

Format: 20 minutes for the paper and 10 minutes for discussion. Papers can be delivered in German, English, French, Italian or Latin.

Publication: The conference proceedings will be published in the series ‘NeoLatina’ (Tübingen: Gunter Narr-Verlag).


About the ‘NeoLatina’ conferences

The Neo-Latin conferences in Freiburg were initiated in 1999 by Eckard Lefèvre and Eckart Schäfer under the title ‘Freiburger Neulateinisches Symposion’. Since then, they have been organized every year and have become an acclaimed event in the community of Neo-Latin scholars. Since 2013 the conference runs under the title ‘NeoLatina’ in order to document its link with the Gunter Narr publishing house, which produces the conference proceedings.

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