THE FIRST POLITICAL SATIRE
In the time of the Renaissance originated in France the oldest purely political and satirical image that has been found so far and here in facsimile is displayed. It’s not a caricature because the personages are not represented with distorted facial features. That could hardly be otherwise because the real facial features were, at least to a wider audience, hardly known. Soon after that, the satire began to be absorbed by the religious battle and struggle, accompanied by theological treatises and vitriolic pamphlets.
THE REVERSE OF THE SWISS GAME – 1499- or the Card Game of the Kings and the Pope
“The princes are sitting around a card table with the French king Louis XII right across from the Swiss and next to the Doge of Venice, with the face toward the viewer, being an ally of France against Milan. The Swiss were then opposed with the Dutch against the expansive politics of France. Louis announces that he has a good card, the Swiss sees the weakness of his game and the Doge lays down his cards. In fact, won the French king. In the right corner is the English King Henry VIII in a lively conversation with the Spanish king. Behind him, the Infante Marguerite gives with an eye to the Swiss signals on the cards of the opponent. Behind the Doge stands Pope Alexander VI (Roderic Borgia) who, although related to the French king and despite attempts to do so, can not see the game of the king.
On the right of the Doge, the Emperor is holding a different play of cards and he seems to rejoice in the fact that the play of Louis is hampered. The Duke of Lorraine is serving a drink, and the Duke of Milan who then fulfilled a dual role captures the fallen cards to form an own game. Louis carried out his plans. The Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, called the Moor, played his party badly, lost his dukedom and died as a prisoner. However, the victory of Louis would be shortlived.”
Politics were at that time still a matter between crowned heads and mainly determined by the marriage settlements of the royal families. The Hapsburg family were the first to arrange marriages as a dynastic policy for territorial expansion in addition to conquests.
This satire is based on the metaphor of politics as “game” or “building card houses” among the greats and this metaphor has left deep scars.
FRANCOIS I – After Louis XII succeeded King Francois I in the conquest of the Duchy of Milan. He could in this way prevent that France was entirely surrounded by countries that belonged to the Hapsburg Empire, which always would remain a motive of French politics.
But Francois I too had imperial aspirations and set himself up as a rival of Charles V. He promoted the Renaissance in France and invited Leonardo da Vinci to settle in Amboise.