Angus Trumble’s 1417 In Retrospect


“Ex-Pope John XXIII of the so-called Pisan line, the deeply unscrupulous Neapolitan Baldassare Cossa, because he regarded himself as infallible and lacked even the slightest moral instinct, remained in Mannheim, indefinitely detained there by his avowed enemy Louis III, Elector Palatine of the Rhine. Meanwhile, ex-Pope Gregory XII of the so-called Roman line, the deeply nepotistic, certainly crafty but nevertheless pious and occasionally sensible Venetian Angelo Correr, because he regarded as infallible his city, his family, and himself, in that order, conveniently died, possibly of natural causes....”

In the latest installment of our regular series, Trumble details papal intrigues, cupola construction, and the very first Tet offensive.

Angus Trumble (1964–2022) was the director of the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, Australia. He was also a senior research fellow at the National Museum of Australia, as well as a curator at the Yale Center for British Art and the Art Gallery of South Australia. Trumble wrote several books, including A Brief History of the Smile (Basic Books, 2004) and The Finger: A Handbook (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2010). In 2015, he was named a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. In 2022, he was made an honorary fellow of his alma mater, Trinity College, Melbourne.