Frans Francken (II): Allegory on the Abdication of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1630-1640)

(Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

An allegory could also be about a historical event. Only 54 but weary of constant (religious) wars en suffering from illness, Charles V, Holy Roman emperor, king of Spain, Lord of the Netherlands etc, adbicated in the period 1554-1558 in several steps, dividing his enormous empire between his family. The painting shows the most famous of these abdications: the dividing of the German and Spanish lands. Charles V is in the middle, seated on his throne. On the left there is his brother Ferdinand I who recieved the Holy roman Empire. On the right stands his son Philip II who became King of Spain and Lord of the Netherlands. The female figures on the right with the flags represent the lands of charles V. The 4 persons bottom right represent the continents over which Charles’s vast empire stretched: America, Africa, Europe and Asia. Bottom left we can see Neptune, along with mermaids, seahorses, tritons etc. He represents the rule of Charles V ove the sea. The motto of all of this is that all the lands pay homage to Charles V. One of the tritons carries a pillar with the line "Plus Ultra" -  Latin for "further beyond". This pillar is a part of the coat-of-arms of Charles V. Top left we can see a small house with a horse and cart. This is the monastery of Yuste in Extremadura were Charles retired to. This painting is from 1630-1640.

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