Just one of those days


You know, it’s hard to drag yourself off to the polling booth when contemporary UK political discourse can essentially be distilled to this:


All set to peak when the great leaders have their tv debate on the 16th April, surely a night to be otherwise engaged!

“And you will see, in great confusion, schemes of thieves, stratagems of swindlers, undertakings of scoundrels and, moreover, sweet aversions, bitter pleasures, mad resolves, fallen faiths, limp hopes and little charity; great and shrewd judgement regarding the affairs of others and lack of insights regarding one’s own; words that are mouthed but not the least bit meant; the truest believer also the most deceived; and universally the love of money. In conclusion, you will see nothing that’s certain, but lots of action; plenty of defects, little that’s pretty, and nothing of any worth. I seem to hear the characters approach. Farewell.”
[Prologue to Candelaio by Giordano Bruno]

And then there’s this guy:


Wake me up when it’s all over, K?

Per Scherzo

man with medal
Sandro Botticelli: Portrait of a Man Holding a Medal of Cosimo de Medici, c.1474-75. Tempera on panel, 57.5 x 44 cm. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

One of two surviving early portraits is this mysterious picture of a young man holding a medal of Cosimo de Medici.
The young man in the portrait has never been identified, but there has been considerable speculation. Writing in 1900, art historian George Noble Plunkett colorfully identified whom he believed the youth portrayed:

“one realizes painfully that this is the Piero who has left an indelible stain on the Medici family by his betrayal of Florence. The small covetous eyes, the ignoble nose, the pursed animal mouth, with only the restraint of selfishness on it, the very manner in which he holds up the memorial of his house’s founder, as though it were his badge of honour”

It was painted on a carefully prepared panel on which the carver left a raised circle of wood. To this was then applied a gilt gesso cast of a medal of Cosimo de Medici known to have been made between 1465 and 1469, and probably around 1465. Botticelli has made the hands parallel with the front plane, so as to emphasize the importance of their actions -the medal is what we should look at.

medal 1

This bronze medal is the earliest example of a product created by the Florentine school. It celebrates Cosimo de Medici (1389-1464). He was the head of the Medici family, a family of bankers who were the de facto rulers of Florence during most of the Italian Renaissance. Cosimo was granted the title Pater Patriae by the Florentine Signoria after his death on 1 August 1464.

The obverse of the medal presents the bust of Cosimo in profile, facing left. He is wearing a flat beret, which was proper for persons of high rank, and a buttoned cloak. The circular legend, in Roman capital letters, reads as follows: MAGNVS COSMVS MEDICES P(RIMVS) P(ATER) P(ATRIAE).

The reverse shows a female figure, Florentia, seated on a throne, the figure inspired by Graeco-Roman coins depicting Concordia. She is wearing a peplos and is veiled, likely as a sign of mourning for Cosimo. In her left hand she holds an olive branch ending in three shoots. In the other hand, stretching forward, she grasps a globe. The circular legend of the reverse reads PAX LIBERTAS QVE PVBLICA (Peace and Public Liberty).

There is another version of the medal:
cosimo medal
No-doubt later in production, as it now carries the ‘by public decree’ text and would seem to benefit from an improved casting procedure.

It also retains what appears to be a subtle and well executed ‘joke':

At first glance PAX LIBERTAS QVE PVBLICA seems to read PAX LIBERTAS OVE PVBLICA, or to translate:
“Peace, Liberty, sheep-people”.

Ove being the ablative singular of ovis (A common, four-legged animal that is commonly kept by humans for its wool).

Of course, after a shocked double-take and a closer look, one would realise that the O is actually a Q.

Lorenzo de Medici (who was fifteen when the medal was struck) was a notorious prankster, great practical joker, considered a genius, and a very fine writer of epic poetry and ribaldry -some so ribald in fact that there is still no remotely adequate edition of his works in English.

So is the ‘partially obscured Q’ an unintended linguistic coincidence? Make that a double coincidence in fact, as the production ‘mistake’ is clearly suffered by both the original design and the 2nd ‘improved’ mould. Was it an early example of Lorenzian jocularity, the artisan’s hidden secret, or a neat practical joke that the whole Medici family -and their close followers- could enjoy? Perhaps the ‘pursed animal mouth’ is Piero trying not to laugh?

You decide.


The Hermetic Web


Searching on the internet today is like dragging a net across the surface of the ocean: a great deal is caught but from a technical stanpoint it is merely superficial. Traditional search engines cannot see nor retrieve content in the so called deep web.

The portion of the web that is indexed by standard search engines is known as the surface web. The deep web is many orders of magnitude larger.

The Darknet —ambiguously known as Dark Web— which consists of various anonymising networks like Tor and the resources that they provide access to, is not synonymous with the deep web, but is a subsection of it.

Although much of the deep web is innocuous, there are obvious concerns that the deep web is a haven for serious criminality. However:

A ban on online anonymity networks would be “technologically infeasible” and unwise, MPs were this week told.

The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (which issues advice to MPs) said that there was “widespread agreement that banning online anonymity systems altogether is not seen as an acceptable policy option in the UK”. In a briefing document on the dark net, of which Tor forms a prominent part, it added that, “even if it were, there would be technical challenges”.

Widespread agreements aside (the term ‘technical challenges’ is putting it somewhat mildy) UK governments do have a fine track record in lunacy & ‘plowing on’ regardless; so consider that the right moment to get all your anonymised ducks in a row never actually comes, it is always now.

Browse Like Bond: Use Any Computer Without Leaving a Trace with Tails

Whilst this article is a few years old, it remains a good introduction to setting up your own bespoke Tails system. You can also get the latest info from Tails here.

For users of the tablet & smartphone, there is also Tor for Android.

Who uses Tor?

Keep it in your back pocket.

“It seems to me that one of the great tragedies of mass society, of the press, television, and Internet, is the voluntary renunciation of privacy. The extreme expression of this renunciation is, at its pathological limit, exhibitionism. It strikes me as paradoxical that someone has to struggle for the defense of privacy in a society of exhibitionists.”
(Umberto Eco: Turning Back the Clock: Hot Wars and Media Populism)

Kevin Cappis 2005

Cromwell on Parliament

“I amongst others have endured a parliament -the which contained by the space of twelve whole weeks – where we communed of war peace strife contention debate murmur grudge riches poverty penury truth falsehood justice equity deceit oppression magnanimity activity force moderation treason murder felony conciliation and also, how a commonwealth might be edified and also contained within our Realm. Howbeit in concluson we have done as our predecessors have been won’t to do; that is to say, as well we might have left where we began.”

Thomas Cromwell 1523

Fugger Timeline

Via http://www.fugger.de

The master weaver Hans Fugger moves from the village of Graben to Augsburg. Note in the Augsburg tax register: »fucker advenit«, »Fugger has arrived«.


Election of Hans Fugger to the directorate of the weaver’s guild, thus granting him a seat in the city’s Grand Council.

Birth of Andreas Fugger.

ca. 1398
Birth of Jakob Fugger the Elder.

ca. 1408
Death of Hans Fugger.

beginning in 1409
Elisabeth Gfattermann and her sons manage and expand the business.

Marriage of Jakob Fugger the Elder to Barbara Bäsinger. The marriage produces seven sons, including the future benefactors Ulrich, Georg and Jakob.

ca. 1455
Division of the business areas and subsequent division of the family branches into Fugger vom Reh (Andreas) and Fugger von der Lilie (Jakob the Elder).

beginning in 1462
Economic rise of the Fugger von der Lilie family; the family’s wealth doubles between 1472 and 1486.

Jakob Fugger the Elder moves from the weaver’s guild into the merchant’s guild. He has come to rank as the seventh-richest taxpayer in the city’s tax register.

Death of Jakob Fugger the Elder; the business is managed by his widow Barbara and his sons Ulrich, Georg and Jakob (Jakob the Rich).

First financial dealings with the Roman Curia.

Lily coat of arms is bestowed; the brothers are admitted into the merchant’s guild; Jakob Fugger is educated in Venice as a merchant. Factoring companies are established in Nuremberg and Venice.


Marriage of Ulrich Fugger to Veronika Imhof, daughter of a salt manufacturer’s guild master; the brothers also marry into the Augsburg upper class: in 1486, Georg marries Regina Imhof and in 1498 Jakob marries Sibylla Artzt. Alongside the increased social and political influence, the companies are strengthened economically with the addition of the dowries to their assets.

Participation in mining operations in Salzburg.

beginning in 1485
Participation in mining operations in Tyrol (Schwaz).

All silver manufacturing in Schwaz is handled by the Fugger firm.

beginning in ca. 1490
Commerce in copper and silver through a newly established factoring company in Innsbruck.

Loan to King Maximilian I; further financing of court affairs and military campaigns follow.

Maximilian I becomes king, the Fugger firm handles various financial affairs for him.

beginning in 1494
Development of business in Hungary with ore mining and trading on a large scale.

Death of Barbara Bäsinger, full control of the family’s assets is transferred to the sons Ulrich, Georg and Jakob.

Renewal of the articles of partnership. Participation in business activities is henceforth limited to male members of the family.

Entry into the spice trade with India.

Death of Georg Fugger.

Lease of the Roman mints; the Fuggers mint coins for the popes, with interruptions, until 1524.

Death of Ulrich Fugger, Jakob Fugger assumes sole responsibility for all business.

Jakob Fugger is raised to nobility.

Four nephews are accepted into the firm, as Jakob the Rich remained childless.

Plans are made for a charitable estate – what is now the Fuggerei.

Jakob Fugger is granted the title of Imperial Count.

beginning in 1516
Construction of the Fuggerei.

The Fugger family manages the collection of »Peter’s pence« for the Pope in order to build the new St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome; Martin Luther criticises the sale of indulgences related to this effort.

Death of Emperor Maximilian I, his grandson Karl is elected as the new emperor. Approximately two thirds of the election money used to secure the electors’ votes for Karl are loaned by Jakob Fugger.

Jakob commissions the foundation deed that includes the Fuggerei, the Fugger Chapel and the sermon endowment at St. Moritz.

In his will, Jakob Fugger names his nephew Anton as sole »disposer and chafferer«; his brother Raymund and cousin Hieronymus are to support and advise him.

Unrest in Hungary; rebellions by peasants in Swabia and miners in Tyrol.

beginning in 1525
Expansion of credit operations with Emperor Karl and lease of Spanish feudal estates, which included the cinnabar and quicksilver mines in Spanish Almadén.

Jakob Fugger the Rich dies on December 30th. In accordance with Jakob’s will, Anton Fugger becomes his successor.

The firm’s profit accounts show a growth of 927 percent in 17 years.

Purchase of further manorial estates.

Dispute between the Catholic Fuggers and the Zwinglians of the city; Anton Fugger retreats to his Weißenhorn estate and does not return until 1536.

Purchase of the Babenhausen estate.

Admission of the Fugger family into the Augsburg patriciate.

Historical peak of the Fugger firm’s assets. Borrowers include Emperor Karl V, King Henry VIII of England, Ferdinand I of Bohemia and the kings of Portugal and Denmark.

In the Schmalkaldic War, the Free Imperial City of Augsburg takes the Protestant side. As financier of the Catholic Emperor and a practicing Catholic himself, Anton Fugger moves the firm’s headquarters to Schwaz.

After the loss of the Schmalkaldic War, Augsburg has to ask Emperor Karl V for clemency. Anton Fugger assumes the role of negotiator. In Ulm, he voluntarily kneels before the Emperor and supports his home city with its contribution payments.

Anton Fugger establishes the Holz- und Blatternhaus Foundation (wood and smallpox house) and reorganises the existing foundations. With a legal decree, Anton limits succession to male descendants in order to secure wealth and properties in the long term. Daughters had the right to befitting endowments and commensurate dowries. The family’s estate is divided between Anton’s and Raymund’s lines.

The lease for the Slovakian mines is relinquished after profits from Hungarian trade become increasingly worse.

Anton Fugger gives up his share in Spanish commerce and plans the dissolution of the firm.

In his will, Anton Fugger tells his sons to travel and study foreign languages so that they might find »honourable positions« in the imperial or royal courts. Thus a new goal is named in addition to economic success: a noble way of life.

Purchase of the Kirchheim estate; in following years increasing reorganisation of the family’s wealth, including lands; ambitious marriage politics with relatives in the landed nobility.

First Spanish bankruptcy. The Fugger family’s large outstanding debts with the Spanish crown threaten the financial power of the Fugger firm.

king of spain

Death of Anton Fugger. His nephew Hans Jakob and his son Marx take over management of the firm.

Hans Jakob is removed from the firm; other partners in the Raymund line have to be paid off. The firm’s assets are significantly reduced.

1568 to 1605
The »Zeitungen« (newspapers) created by Philipp Eduard and Octavian Secundus Fugger help to advance communications in Europe. Together with the Welsers, the brothers operate the so-called pepper trade with a subsidiary in Goa.

Land holdings are split between Marx, Hans and Jakob Fugger. Increased acquisition of land holdings, primarily in Swabia.

A statement of accounts shows a significant improvement of net assets; Marx Fugger’s consolidation measures and concentration on a small number of business areas proves successful.

Hans Fugger builds Schloss Kirchheim.

The Spanish crown declares a moratorium on all debt payments; losses from the long-standing leasing business in Spain.

Thirty Years’ War with devastating effects on the populace and the economy; the Fugger family withdraws from an increasing number of business areas. Otto Heinrich Fugger is governor of Augsburg in 1635/36.

Foundation of a second mercantile firm by Fugger family members with subsequent disputes.

End of leasing businesses in Spain.

Return of Tyrol mining holdings to the state; cessation of business operations.

The Fugger firm is dissolved. Members of the Fugger family have meanwhile found success as councillors, officers or in the clergy. In the following centuries, many Fuggers hold high offices at court or in the government. They are also heavily involved in patronage for music, art and literature and the conservation and maintenance of the family’s lands, castles and palaces.

Properties in Babenhausen, Boos and Ketterhausen are granted status of inherited holdings of imperial principalities, Anselm Maria Fugger is the first Prince of Babenhausen.

All of the Fugger family’s properties are mediatized to the Kingdom of Bavaria.

The Fugger von Glött family is granted hereditary princely rank by King Ludwig III of Bavaria.

The Fuggerei
“The Fuggerei is the oldest existing social housing complex in the world, a city within a city with 67 buildings and 142 residences as well as a church. Jakob Fugger founded in Fuggerei in his own and his brothers’ names in 1521.

Approximately 150 needy Augsburg citizens of the Catholic faith live here for an annual base rent of €0.88 and three daily prayers.”

His Serene Highness Hubertus Viktor, 8th Prince Fugger von Babenhausen (in 2004:)

Brain Food

“No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power.”
Jacob Bronowski

Good game:

Origins of the Royal Society

The Royal Society’s motto ‘Nullius in verba’ might roughly translate as ‘take nobody’s word for it’, or ‘on the word of no one’, and yet the Royal Society has become increasingly involved in interfacing science with political policy-making. As a result, the Royal Society would seem to be tainted, politicised & increasingly involved in ideological advocacy and media awareness of ‘sensitive’ issues, apparently abandoning the balanced language of the scientist. Can this really be true?

“The Royal Society isn’t what it was” one might say. No indeed, but perhaps it never was what it was in the first place?

The Royal Society’s own page on its history hints at its origins, but remains silent on all the really important bits:

‘The origins of the Royal Society lie in an ‘invisible college’ of natural philosophers who began meeting in the mid-1640s to discuss the new philosophy of promoting knowledge of the natural world through observation and experiment, which we now call science.’

Invisible college? Discovering the footprint of these ‘invisibles’ might lead us down some surprising avenues.

Thomas SpratFrontispiece of Thomas Sprat’s History of the Royal Society 1667. Designed by John Evelyn.

In the centre is the bust of Charles II, on the right is Francis Bacon & on the left, the Society’s first president William Brouncker. What of the trumpeting Angel, crowning the bust of the king & with Francis Bacon apparently under its wing? This symbolic figure offers us a tantalizing clue as to the roots of the Royal Society.

Francis Bacon died in 1626. In 1627 there was published an unfinished work in which he outlined his ‘utopia’, his dream of an ideal society. It is allegorical, concerning the discovery -by storm wracked sailors- of the New Atlantis. The parable reflects at many points the themes of the Rosicrucian manifestos, in such a way that it is certain that Bacon knew the Christian Rosencreutz story. Before the sailors land, they are handed a scroll of instructions from this New Atlantis. ‘This scroll was signed with a stamp of cherubin’s wings, not spread, but hanging downwards, and by them a cross.’ So was the Rosicrucian Fama sealed at the end with the motto ‘under the shadow of Jehova’s wings’ & indeed the Fama begins with a trumpet blast, announcing their existence. A few days after the sailors land, another official from the New Atlantis arrives, wearing a white turban ‘with a small red cross on the top’, further proof that Bacon’s shipwrecked sailors have come to the land of the Rosicrucian brothers.

Further on, it is explained that the wise men of New Atlantis knew all that went on in the wider world, even though they themselves remained invisible to it. Officials were sent out in disguise to collect information, adopting the local customs & habits, and therefore passing un-noticed. Although the name Rose Cross is nowhere mentioned by Bacon in the New Atlantis, it is abundantly clear that the Rosicrucian brotherhood -with its invisible college, their ‘house of Salomon’- is the inspiration for this work & subsequently the inspiration at the root of the Royal Society itself. Yet the story does not end there.

What was the initial inspiration behind the Rosicrucian manifestos? The clues are all there: The red cross, hermetic secrets, the Temple of Solomon. Who else but those pesky & perennial ne’er do wells, the Templars!

temple A closer look at the frontispiece & we can clearly see the temple structure, as well as an array of alchemical & ‘masonic’ instruments.

Ever since the early fourteenth century when King Philip the Fair -with Papal assistance- destroyed the Templars, the stories of their secret survival have fascinated & grown. Numerous stories of their clandestine activities have been written, the Rosicrucians are a crucial link in their story. In the eighteenth century a French branch of Freemasonry called Scottish Freemasonry (also known as Templar and Occultist Freemasonry) became part of this fictional construction. Not only did the Scottish Freemasons trace their origins to the builders of Solomon’s Temple, but they also claimed that the builders of the temple were related to the Templars, whose hermetic tradition had been handed down through the mediation of the Rosicrucians.

These secret societies and the existence of ‘unknown superiors’ were the subject of great debate in the days just before the French Revolution, and are the root of virtually all subsequent ‘illuminati’ conspiracy theory, right down to the insensible writings of Dan Brown & even the popular computer game franchise that is Assassin’s Creed.

RS links
So the Royal Society is linked to the Rosicrucian brotherhood, the Templars, Freemasonry and the so-called illuminati.

But don’t take my word for it . . . .


Further reading:
The Rosicrucian Enlightenment
by Francis Yates

The Templars
by Barbara Frale

The New Atlantis
by Francis Bacon