Trinita de Monti

The present Church of the Trinita de Monti was erected by Louis XVIII, of France, to replace the original building which had been destroyed during the excesses of the French Revolutionary period. But in 1544 the old Gothic church of the Valois King stood looking westward over the French quarter of the city. This church dated from the year 1495, when Charles VIII, of France, on his way to reconquer his Neapolitan territory, entered Rome and paid a visit-half threaten­ing, half ceremonious-to Alexander VI. He left as a memorial of his stay in Rome this Church of the Trinita de Monti. The church became the nucleus of French influence in Rome. The French convent of the Sacred Heart grew up beside its walls, and many famous Frenchmen lived within its shadow.

Cardinal Ferdinand de Medici, who gave his family name to this villa, as well as to the Venus which, upon its discovery in Hadrians Villa, he immediately bought and placed here, was one of the commanding figures of his time. Fourth son of Cosimo, first Grand Duke of Tuscany, he had been made a cardinal at fourteen, in the room of his elder brother Cardinal Giovanni de Medici, who had died at nineteen. The second Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinands eldest brother, died in 1587, leaving no son, and so, after twenty-four years of ecclesiastical life, Cardinal Ferdinand, who had never taken holy orders, laid by the red hat to become third Grand Duke of Tuscany. He married Christine de Lorraine, a granddaughter of Catherine de Medici, and therefore a distant cousin of his own, and had, like his great-grandfather Lorenzo the Magnificent, and his own grandfather Cosimo I, eight children, his eldest son succeeding to the grand duchy. It is difficult to trace in the wise and beneficent grand duke the intractable young cardinal who had been a handful for even Sixtus V. The old pontiff had found in him an obstinacy and a craft equal to his own, and he must have thanked God fasting when Medici was no longer a member of his curia! The Pope was an old man, and the cardinal had the physical advantage of youth; nevertheless it was a battle royal when this true chip of the Medicean block interceded with the Peretti Pope for the life of his old friend, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese. Sixtus, who was not to be shaken in his determination, kept track of the time, and held firmly to his resolution until he was sure that the appointed hour for Farneses death had come and gone; then, knowing that it was too late, he graciously consented to spare Farneses life, to please his Cardinal de Medici.

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