Ewout Kieckens

Monza: Royal city in the shadow of Milan



Ten minutes. That is the travel time by local train between Milan and Monza. Then it is a good five minutes’ walk to the cathedral in the center of the city. This church has a wide, white marble Gothic facade from the 14th century. A piece of jewelry. But the true jewel is inside the cathedral: the chapel with a fresco cycle about the life of Theodelinde. Just because of this chapel, Monza is worth a visit and the city offers a good alternative to Milan.

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When you enter the chapel, a (comic) book opens. The “book” consists of 45 paintings on five horizontal strips (registers) that cover 180 degrees. Like any book, you start reading from left to right and from top to bottom. So you can “read” that Theodelinde, daughter of the Duke of Bavaria, married 588 the Longobardian king Authari in 588. The poor man dies within the year. The couple is childless.

It is unusual at that time for a woman to occupy the throne. The kingdom is therefore in danger. Theodelinde would not be the first woman to be put aside by a usurpator who then takes over. Nevertheless, the intelligent Theodelinde manages to choose a suitable new spouse himself. Of course, she does not choose the shoemaker on the corner, but searches in the circle of the nobility. Her eye falls on Duke Agilulfo. Marriage is a success, a heir to the throne is born and the kingdom is saved.

The comprehensive article is at the moment only available in Dutch

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