The Real Colegio de España‘s creation was promoted in 1364 by cardinal Egidio Albornoz (1310-1367) to host Bologna’s Studium non-resident students. It was built between 1365 and 1367 under Matteo Gattaponi da Gubbio’s supervision thanks to his bequest. It was called ‘Spanish’ more than one century before Spain’s actual unification. The title ‘royal’, was granted by Emperor Charles V during his coronation in Bologna in 1530. At the beginning of the 20th century, the college was in such severe economical conditions that its safety was at risk. Luckily the institute was saved by the Infantado Duke and by King Alfonso XIII. In the second half of the 1900s the whole complex underwent numerous renovations, which brought back to light ancient structures and decorations partially erased by neo-gothic additions.
The College of Spain owns the world’s richest private collection of medieval codes. Inside the complex resides the Gothic church of San Clemente, which preserves on its altar a polyptych by Marco Zoppo and a fresco perhaps by Andre de’ Bartoli (1368). The Colegio was taken as a model for those who were built subsequently to serve similar purposes. Among the important people hosted by the structure we remember Antonio de Nebrija, Ignacio de Loyola , Pietro d’Arbués, and Miguel de Cervantes. In 1530 Charles V from Habsburg stayed there for four months, on occasion of his coronation as emperor ( in the basilica of San Petronio). The portal that looked on ‘College of Spain Street’ dates back to 1525 and was created by Andrea da Formigine. In the background, we can see a 1800s trompe l'oeil, a popular expedient to give more depth to the space. ‘Venice’s power was so prominent that every land and every prince feared it. Therefore every controversy was most of the time arbitrary’. This is how Venice intervened in the differences born between the princes who wanted those lands. Venice then made the family of the Visconti occupy Bergamo and Brescia. The Visconti from oleggio took Padova, Vicenza, Treviso, then Verona, Bergamo, Brescia and more cities in Romagna. It was Pope Benedetto XII from Avignone fearing the loss of Italy, threatened by Emperor Lodovico IV from Baviera, king of the Romans. To make friends with all of those who had stolen the lands, and force them to defend Italy in the name of the Church (which they considered theirs, like the Emperor did as well) , he invested Lombardia’s Principals with maximum authority. In 1342 Benedetto XII died and Clemente VI succeeded him and seeing the Emperor - like Macchiavelli said - , he gifted to all those who were princes in the Church’s lands, their own lands, so that with imperial authority they could own them. And so the Malatesta family gained power in Rimini, Pesaro and Fano, the Montefeltro family in Marca and Urbino, the Polenta in Ravenna, the Ordelaffi in Forlì, the Manfredi in Faenza, the Alidosi in Imola and the Visconti in Bologna. Meanwhile, Rome reintroduced the ancient republic , uniting the Roman provinces' hopes. Cola di Rienzo, famous component of the Capitol, published legislations directed to giving back security and forcing nobles to seek safety in their castles. He then wrote to the princes and the Italian cities, and asked the Pope to abandon Avignone. Then, after 7 months of governing, he’s forced to flee from the country and to find refuge in Prague, where Emperor Charles IV’s court sends him as a prisoner to the Pope. Petrarca, who had promoted the tribune in Avignone and now sees him again being dragged in the city’s discussions, can’t express his disdain, so he writes the epistle ‘Sine titulo’ to the Roman people, where he affirms Rome’s eternal right to be the head of the world and the home of the Roman empire: ‘…si imperium Romanum non est, ubi, quaeso est?’. ‘Ostate, almeno per onor vostro, ché niente è tanto indegno di un romano, quanto il timore: nil minus Romanum est quam timor’ (Notice, at least for your own honor, that nothing is as worthy in a Roman, as his fear’). Innocenzo VI, who succeeded Clemente VI, gave back Cola his freedom and entrusted him to Cardinal Egidio Albornoz, Legato Pontificio, to reorder Rome; but Cola di Rienzo, in an uprising promoted by the nobles, gets killed in the Capitol and Albornoz fights and wins every riot , both from the working class and from the aristocracy. Egidio Albornoz is a captain, a leader of armies more than he is a bishop; Toledo’s archbishop, made cardinal-priest by Clemente VI with the title of S. Clemente, was banished from the Spanish court by Pietro IV (nicknamed the Cruel), the Castilian Albornoz quickly conquered Bologna, which at the time was occupied by Giovanni Visconti from Oleggio, Duke and Archbishop of MIlan. He convinces the Romans to accept a foreign senator, who changed every year following the Pope’s orders. The Pope shot down the English army leader Giovanni Hawkwod , who militates in Tuscany with 400 thousands men to help the Ghibellini: this way, here-established the Church’s reputation that the Popes had lost.
Albornoz, named Legate of Bologna by the Church and by Pope Innocenzo VI, in the morning of October 27 1360, departing from the monastery of S. Michele in Bosco, entered the city welcomed with great celebrations from the people and the magistrates. Conforming to his role, he goes to war with the Alidosi destroying the Varigiana fortress and De’ Britti castle’s walls. In Casalecchio, he goes to war and he then builds an even stronger Bastia on the Coloredo bridge. He corrects river Reno’s course, which first passed where we now find Cavaticcio, and promotes the construction of the Chiusa. After four years he leaves the government to Balasco Fernando, a family member, who becomes Bologna’s dean. He leaves for Ancona to deliver the Marca Anconitana to the Visconti family. In Ancona on September 29th 1364 , in a testament approved by Innocenzo VI, Albornoz offered himself to a College to be built in Bologna, which shall host young Spanish noble students, between the ages of twenty and twenty-nine years old. The army man feels the power of the Bolognese Study and so he thinks back to his homeland, and decides to benefit it. They decided to use the Delfini family’s houses, in the vast triangular area limited by three streets, and they were all defended by a high crenellated wall. The College opened on March 6th 1365, then arose the constructions designed by Matteo Gattaponi da Gubbio, progressively decorated in time with more refined taste. The beautiful decoration on the entry door is to be attributed to the Formigini. The strict and massive cloister works as a decoration, on the arches’ corbels of the superior loggia, a lot of medallions painted by Annibale Carracci who also painted Charles V, Ferdinando II, Miguel Cervantes and Viriato. The church, dedicated to S. Clement , now without the baroque decorations added in the 1702 renovations (and there were paintings of Camillo Procaccini and Orazio Sammachini), gained back its original characteristic aspect of the XIV century. In the internal wall, on the left, we see ancient leftover paintings by Andrea dei Bartoli, bolognese (1368), which represent some of Christ’s life stories. The other one preserves an ancient altarpiece by Marco Zoppo, divided into three golden compartments, with the Virgin, the Putto, S. Clemente, Girolamo, Giacomo, Andrea and a lot of other figures, with the signature: work by the Zoppo (crippled) from Bologna. In the sacristy we find the Martirio of B. Pietro d’Arbues - a famous collegian - a painting by Giuseppe Maria Crespi, and a Madonna by Lippo Dalmasio, detached from an external wall. In the upper loggia we see a fresco that represents the Virgin and Child, S. Giuseppe, S. Elisabetta and an angel that spreads flowers, painted by Bartolomeo from Bagnacavallo. The library is rich in manuscripts, precious codes from the old print technique times, among which we find Cicero’s epistles, the Farsaglia di Lucano, a Bible printed in Magonza in 1460 and the Pandette Egidiane. Just as interesting is the archive with the College’s documents, from its founding to our days, and various letters that bear important figures’ signature. When Albornoz died on August 25th 1367 in Viterbo, the leadership of the College continued to follow the strict Cardinal’s wills through the centuries. The studious bolognese man, who attracted a lot of foreign people, saw the uprising of other colleges that were born around those doctors who privately taught Right and Laws. He saw the institute prosper and he saw it being used by Alfonso XIII King of Spain and De Riviera, his prime minister, fascinated by the Italian fascist spirit, to honor Bologna and the house of their homeland.
(Traduzione a cura di Maty Ba - nell'ambito del progetto di Alternanza scuola-lavoro 2020/21 con il Liceo Linguistico Boldrini di Bologna).