Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Mario Erasmo

Mario Erasmo is Professor of Classics at the University of Georgia specializing in the Legacy of Classical Antiquity. He is the author of several books, including Death: Antiquity and Its Legacy and Reading Death in Ancient Rome and the volume editor of A Cultural History of Death in Antiquity. His historical walking guides, Strolling Through Rome: The Definitive Walking Guide to the Eternal City and Strolling Through Florence: The Definitive Walking Guide to the Renaissance City, take visitors step-by-step through the eras and areas of the cities to experience first-hand the sites and art that have played an enormous role in shaping Western Culture.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Erasmo's reply:
Charles Spencer, Killers of the King: The Men Who Dared To Execute Charles I (Bloomsbury, 2014).

In this gripping book, Charles Spencer traces the fascinating series of events leading to the trial and execution of Charles I, the fate of participants in the trial, and the consequences to the Stuarts and Bourbons. I was drawn to the subject from the perspective of the Medici as players on the world stage of politics. Many people are familiar with the ancestry of Charles I but many do not know that Henrietta Maria of France was a Medici. In many ways the marriage between Charles I and Henrietta Maria, the daughter of Henry IV of France and Navarre and Marie de Médicis, the granddaughter of Cosimo I Grand Duke of Tuscany and the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I was a successful dynastic match that brought the Stuarts closer to the Austrian and Spanish Habsburgs through their Bourbon relatives. From the perspective of Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans, this cast the shadow of Catholicism and Absolutism of the Continent closer to the shores of England. Aesthetics also mattered and communicated political affinities - the classically restrained Palladianism was a visual rejection of the absolutist excesses of the Baroque personified by the Pope in Rome and the Sun King Louis XIV, the nephew of Charles I. The trial and execution of Charles I anticipate the rejection of the doctrine of the divine right of kings during the French Revolution and the executions of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Following the Restoration of the Stuarts with her son Charles II, Henrietta Maria returned to England and secured important marriage alliances with France through her daughter Henrietta whose granddaughter Anne Marie d'Orleans was the grandmother of Louis XV, making Henrietta Maria's mother Marie de Médicis an ancestor of most European royal families and many peers of the British nobility today including the author Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer.
The Page 99 Test: Death: Antiquity and Its Legacy.

--Marshal Zeringue