The Musée du temps (Museum of time) in Besançon has a series of monumental tapestries devoted to the life of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1500-1558), who was also the King of Spain, Prince of the Netherlands and King of Sicily. The tapestry in my first photo is called Le Triomphe and shows Charles V, dressed as a Roman emperor, triumphantly entering Hungary after the retreat of the Turks in 1532. The label in the museum explains that Charles was “coming to the rescue of his brother Ferdinand, who had been elected king of Hungary against the wishes of numerous Hungarian dignitaries. They had appealed to the Turks to aid them in their revolt.”
This tapestry, “The Meditation of Charles V”, shows the emperor as I ‘know’ him from one of my favorite operas, Verdi’s Don Carlo. Charles V had by this time abdicated, divided up his vast domains and withdrawn to a convent in Spain. The opera deals mainly with the conflict between his son, King Philip II of Spain, and his grandson Don Carlo, but Charles V is there as an unseen presence, perhaps appearing as an old monk or a voice from above.
My photos in this post are from 2014. I revised the text in 2019.
See more posts on Verdi’s Don Carlo (or Don Carlos in French).