Nicholas of Luxemburg

Ideal portrait of the patriarch in the Hall of the throne of the Diocesan Museum and  Tiepolo Galleries at Udine

Ideal portrait of the patriarch in the Hall of the throne of the Diocesan Museum and Tiepolo Galleries at Udine

The son of John of Luxemburg, Nicholas was born about the end of 1321. With great tenaciousness his brother Charles IV, king of Bohemia, did his utmost so as he could succeed to Bertrand of Saint-Geniès [Bertrando di Saint-Geniès], who had been murdered, to the see of Aquileia. The political relevance of Friuli with his alpine passes induced Charles the IV, in sight of his coming to Rome to be crowned emperor, to choose a close relation for the post of lord of Friuli. Pope Clement VI consented to the king’s persistent requests and on 22 October 1350 he appointed Nicholas patriarch of Aquileia. One of the first political actions of the new patriarch was the persecution and punishment of Bertrand’s, the former patriarch’s, killers. The punitive action was brutally undertaken: throughout the spring of 1351 a lot of castles were destroyed and plotters sentenced, even to be beheaded. He favoured the expectations of the citizens of Cividale by begging his brother Charles to grant that city the privilege to establish an University. The king consented to the erection of a ‘Studium’ of liberal arts and rights and, above all, he also granted the new University the possibility to award doctor titles (Prague, 1st August 1353). Despite all these efforts no academic activity ever took place at Cividale that was never a destination for students. At Udine Nicholas personally welcomed his brother Charles IV, who was crossing Friuli to go to Rome for his coronation, and he went alongside his brother in his journey: in this occasion he stayed some months in Siena and Pisa as captain and ‘vicarius generalis’ of Tuscany. At Pisa he was the victim of a riot against his person and, subsequently, taken prisoner, while in Friuli actions of revolt were being taken against his authority. The captains he had appointed in the cities of Udine and Cividale were killed. On his return to Friuli and until his death the political actions he accomplished have to be understood as a reaction to the difficulties created by inside and outside enemies more than as precise plans or strategies. On 29 July 1358 he died at Belluno, where he had his first burial: afterwards his remains were translated into the cathedral of Udine.

For further information see the entry Lussemburgo (di) Nicolò, patriarca d’Aquileia written by Gerald Schwedler in Nuovo Liruti. Dizionario biografico dei Friulani, 1, Il Medioevo, edited by C. Scalon, Udine, Forum, 2006, 512-517.

Seal of the patriarch Nicholas of Luxemburg (Udine, ‘Archivio capitolare, Pergamene’, III, 29).

Seal of the patriarch Nicholas of Luxemburg (Udine, ‘Archivio capitolare, Pergamene’, III, 29).

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