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Authors: Mark Lamster

Master of Shadows

BOOK: Master of Shadows
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ALSO BY MARK LAMSTER

Spalding’s World Tour: The Epic Adventure That Took Baseball
Around the Globe—and Made It America’s Game

For Anna & Eliza and Hal & Jane

I could provide a historian with much material, and the
pure truth of the case, very different from that which is
generally believed
.


PETER PAUL RUBENS

CONTENTS

MAPS

AUTHOR’S NOTE

PROLOGUE

Chapter I •
A NOVICE WITHOUT EXPERIENCE

Chapter II •
EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF

Chapter III •
THE PRINCE OF PAINTERS

Chapter IV •
A GOOD PATRIOT

Chapter V •
THUNDER WITHOUT LIGHTNING

Chapter VI •
MORE USEFUL THAN INJURIOUS

Chapter VII •
THE CONNECTING KNOT

Chapter VIII •
THE HORRORS OF WAR

EPILOGUE

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

CAST OF CHARACTERS

CHRONOLOGY

NOTES

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

ILLUSTRATION CREDITS

AUTHOR’S NOTE

The primary action of this book concerns the status of the Low Countries—today, Belgium and the Netherlands—during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. As Europe emerged from its feudal past, this territory came under the sovereignty of Habsburg Spain, which had extensive holdings across the Continent. Spanish rule in the Low Countries was so divisive as to instigate a prolonged war of rebellion—the Eighty Years’ War—within the seventeen provinces of the greater Netherlands. The ten southern provinces (modern Belgium) remained loyal to Spain, and came to be known as the Spanish Netherlands, or Flanders. The seven northern provinces fought for their independence, and became the Dutch nation, commonly known as Holland. This conflict ensnared all the great powers of western Europe, who were perpetually jockeying among themselves in disputes of political ambition, commerce, religion, and territory.

For the sake of clarity, I generally use the designation “Flanders” to refer to the southern, loyalist region that is properly known as the Spanish Netherlands. In fact, Flanders was just one of several provinces that constituted the Spanish Netherlands. Similarly, I use the designation “Holland” to refer to the rebellious Dutch provinces to the north, though it was just one of several provinces in the coalition that became the modern Netherlands. It was standard practice to refer to “Flanders” and “Holland” (and “Fleming” and “Hollander”) at the time the book is set, so it is reasonable to turn to them again here. The Latin term
Belgica
, also familiar during that period, referred to the Low Countries in their entirety.

For convenience, dates are regularized to the Continental standard calendar. England, at the time, operated on a calendar ten days behind the rest of Europe, with the New Year begun on the twenty-fifth of March. There was also no standard currency used across Europe during this period. For reference, one Flemish guilder or florin was roughly equivalent to one-tenth of an English pound and a twelfth of a Continental crown. An average annual salary for an unskilled tradesman in Flanders was roughly 300 guilders.

PROLOGUE

Few artists have left so deep an imprint on their times as Peter Paul Rubens, the painter whose sense of grandiosity and drama gave visual definition to Baroque power. Fusing the lessons of the Italian Renaissance and the artistic traditions of his native Flanders, Rubens created a style that was entirely original and universally appealing, an international language that bespoke authority and cultivation. It was a heroic vision, one that allowed him to picture the most powerful men and women of his day, and the institutions they controlled, not necessarily as they were, but as they wished to be seen. His unique ability and keen sense of entrepreneurship brought him a seemingly endless stream of royal clients, but he was adored by the general public as well, especially for the moving evocations of devotion he created for their places of worship. No artist better managed the delicate task of translating the ethereal passion and splendor of religious faith onto canvas. The reverence shown him by other artists was almost fanatic. A young Rembrandt, like many painters who followed in his wake, modeled himself on
Rubens—he even dressed in imitation of the great master from Antwerp.

BOOK: Master of Shadows
8.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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