Piero Della Francesca: The Legend of the True Cross - Battle between Heraclius and Chosroes (1452-1466)

(Basilica di San Francesco, Arezzo, Italy)

This fresco by the Italian master Piero Della Francesca (1415-1492) is a part of a set called "The Legend of the True Cross". The serie shows several episodes of the history of the wood that became the Cross on which Christ was crucified. According to legend, the tree from which the cross was made was planted using a branch or a seed from the apple tree of the garden of Eden at the burial of Adam. After the wood was used to crucify Christ, the cross was rediscovered by Helena, the mother of the Roman emperor Constantinus I 'the Great', who placed in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Years later in A.D. 614 king Khosrau II (or Chosroes II) of the Sasanian Empire (reign 590-628) conquered Jerusalem and captured the True Cross. In A.D. 628  the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius defeated Chosroes and recaptured the Truee Cross. Heraclius eventually placed the cross back into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This fresco shows a battle between these two kings, complete with Medieval knights and flags. Fresco from 1452-1466.