[Paper:] Philippa Woodcock (Warwick), Heraldry and Regime Change: the Trivulzio Chapel at San Nazaro, Milan, 1499-1522

Bernardino Conti, A Gentleman of the Trivulzio Family c.1510, Detroit Institute of the Arts

Bernardino Conti, A Gentleman of the Trivulzio Family c.1510, Detroit Institute of the Arts

Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, a disaffected Milanese mercenary in French service was appointed as Governor of Milan for Louis XII in 1499. As the duchy’s leading aristocrat he commissioned heraldic tapestries, medals and emblazoned campaign tents. The symbols of Ludovico Sforza’s Milan were effaced or defaced, just as the evidence of French rule would be covered over by emblems of subsequent regime change, under Sforza, Spanish and Austrian rulers.  ​

This paper will examine the heraldic significance of Trivulzio’s most significant commission in Milan, the chapel at San Nazaro. Designed by Bramantino, and completed c.1519 it still dominates the Porta Romana, a key ceremonial route into Milan. Firstly, I will ask why the heraldic devices on the chapel, and their clearly political texts survived subsequent hostile regime change: indeed, Trivulzio’s heraldry is amongst the rare survivals from French Milan. Secondly, the paper will discuss how Trivulzio’s heraldic scheme allowed him to convey multiple identities: military commander; Milanese aristocrat and Lombard magnate. In particular, it will outline the importance of heraldry belonging to female members in conveying Trivulzio’s ambitions. Finally, it will suggest that the survival of the chapel and its heraldry was due to its position within the city, and the sophisticated coupling of personal heraldry with medieval civic myth.

Conference: Heraldry in the Medieval City: The Case of Italy in the European Context (Journées Héraldiques 5), Rome, 5th-7th May 2015


Phillippa Woodcock’s research mainly concerns Franco-Italian interchange through patronage, political and economic activities. Her PhD (London, 2006) followed the careers of the governors of French Milan, 1499-1522, whilst her current research explores the relationship between Venice and Marseille in the Stato da Mar. She is a Teaching Fellow in Renaissance History at Warwick University, and has held lecturing positions in both the UK and France. Her publications reflect Franco-Italian interests, as well as her postdoctoral position at Oxford Brookes ‘The Parish Church and the Landscape, 1450-1650’. She has also published on the history of fashion including 2015’s The Dictionary of Fashion.


Heraldica Nova

This is the account of the Heraldica Nova editorial team.

1 Response

  1. 28/08/2015

    […] Philippa Woodcock (Warwick): Heraldry and Regime Change. The Trivulzio Chapel at San Nazaro, Milan, … […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *