Papal Propaganda and ‘Damnatio Memoriae’: The Fate of Lorenzo Valla – Jan de Jong

Papal Propaganda and ‘Damnatio Memoriae’: The Fate of Lorenzo Valla

Dr Jan de Jong, University of Groningen

Monday, February 3rd, 16:00, Faculty of Theology, Oude Boteringestraat 38, room 130

Around 1500, the position of the papacy as the supreme head of the spiritual power, superior to all secular authority, was seriously challenged, on both theological and historical grounds. The Italian scholar Lorenzo Valla (c. 1405-57) had disproved one of the papacy’s main claims to supremacy over secular power – the so-called Donation of Constantine – as a forgery. As a retaliation, Valla’s writings were put on the Index of Forbidden Books. But what to do with Valla’s tomb monument, which was standing on a prominent place in the pope’s own cathedral of St John Lateran in Rome?

Dr Jan L. de Jong is Senior Lecturer of Italian Renaissance Art at the University of Groningen. After his dissertation on the interpretation of themes from Classical mythology in Italian Renaissance painting, particularly in Rome, he has focused on papal propaganda in the 15th and 16th centuries. This has resulted in a book that has recently been published by Penn State University Press: The Power and the Glorification. Papal Pretensions and the Art of Propaganda in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. Together with Sjef Kemper, he is now working on an edition of Arnoldus Buchellius’s Iter Italicum, from 1587-88.

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