A commander being armed for battle

A Commander being armed for Battle, by Sir Peter Paul Rubens (1577- 1640), painted in 1613 or 1614. Look at: the commander’s implacable moral determination, facial expressions and the handling of the light. The contrast between the youths and the man. The general texture of it all.

Apparently the beardy man is Emperor Charles V, eldest son of Philip the Handsome and Joanna the Mad. Though always at war, Charles was essentially a lover of peace, and all his wars were virtually defensive. He was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Carlos I of Spain, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his abdication in 1556.

“Not greedy of territory,” wrote Marcantonio Contarini in 1536, “but most greedy of peace and quiet.”

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