digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















Johann Burchard, also spelled Johannes Burchart or Burkhart[1] (c.1450–1506) was an Alsatian-born priest and chronicler during the Italian Renaissance.

He was born at Niederhaslach, now Bas-Rhin, Alsace, France. Of humble origins, he was educated by the collegial chapter of St. Florent in Niederhaslach and eventually became secretary to the Bishop of Strasbourg. Burchard was ordained a priest in 1476 and moved to Rome in 1481.

Roman career[edit]

Nominated Protonotary Apostolic in 1481, he was appointed Master of Ceremonies to Pope Sixtus IV in 1483, having bought the office for 450 ducats. He held it until his death on 16 May 1506, successively acting as Ceremoniere to Innocent VIII (1484–1492), Alexander VI (1492–1503), Pius III (1503) and during the early years of Julius II. He was buried in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo at the Flaminian Gate.

In Rome, Burchard joined the Confraternity of Santa Maria dell'Anima and quickly rose to become its provost. It was while he held this office that the decision was taken to rebuild the church of Santa Maria dell'Anima for the Jubilee of 1500. The church was built in the style of a Hallenkirche that was typical for Northern Europe. Andrea Sansovino was retained as architect by the confraternity. The facade was completed by Giuliano da Sangallo.

Burchard accumulated an impressive array of ecclesiastical benefices in Alsace, including that of the provost of Moutier-Grandval (1475) and Dean of Basel (1501). He was promoted Bishop of Orte in 1503 by Pope Pius III. The early death of the Pope meant that Burchard could not be consecrated until his nomination had been confirmed by the new Pope, Julius II. K. Eubel's Hierarchia Catholica, Vol. III, p. 211 describes Burchard as having been a cleric of the Papal Chapel, an Abbreviator of Papal Letters and Dean of the Cathedral of Basel at the time of his promotion to the See of Orte.

Historical importance[edit]

Burchard's importance derives from his Liber Notarum, a form of official record of the more significant papal ceremonies with which he was involved. The first critical edition of this work was published by E. Celani in 1906 as Johannis Burckardi Liber Notarum ab anno MCCCCLXXXIII usque ad annum MDVI. Celani's edition collated various earlier printed editions of the work, and a collection of uncertain notations, with Burchard's original manuscript, thereby establishing an important critical edition of this account of the papal court at the end of the fifteenth century.

Among the significant events organised by Burchard as Ceremoniere were: the visit of Don Federigo de Aragon to Rome (December 1493 to January 1494); the coronation of Alfonso II of Naples (May 1494); the reception of Charles VIII of France in Rome (November 1494 to February 1495); the Papal Embassy to the Emperor Maximilian in Milan (July–November 1496); the Proclamation of the Jubilee (Christmas 1499); the visit of Alexander VI to Piombino (January–March 1502); and obsequies of Pope Alexander VI (August 1503). Burchard was also present at the laying of the foundation stone of the new Basilica of St. Peter on 18 April 1506. And in his diary is a record of the controversial orgy known as the Banquet of Chestnuts allegedly held by Cesare Borgia in the Papal Palace on 30 October 1501.

As Ceremoniere, he was responsible for the publication of a revised edition of the Liber Pontificalis in 1485 and for the publication of a new edition of the Caeremoniale Episcoporum in 1488. Perhaps Burchard's most enduring publication was the Ordo Servandus per Sacerdotem in celebratione Missae, published under orders from Pope Alexander VI. This book went through numerous editions before its substance eventually made its way into the Normae Generales of the Roman Missal.[2]

The Liber Notarum is still maintained by the papal Ceremoniere.

Though he only described musical details when in the context of innovations or mishaps, his account is an important source for details of papal choir singing. Among other details, he noted the use of polyphony in settings of the Passion, a practice apparently introduced from Spain, and the performance of the now-lost motet Gaude Roma vetus, written in honor of Pope Alexander VI to a text by Johannes Tinctoris.[1]

Burchard's residence, built in 1491, survives and can be seen at Via del Sudario 44, in Rome. Burchard was also known as "Argentinus" from the Latin name for Strasbourg, and the tower on his palace gave the name "Torre Argentina" to the district, still retained in the Largo di Torre Argentina and other names.

In popular culture[edit]

Johann Burchard is portrayed by Simon McBurney in the 2011 Showtime series The Borgias and by Victor Schefé in the French-German series Borgia.


  • Tobias Daniels, Der päpstliche Zeremonienmeister Johannes Burckard, Jakob Wimpfeling und das Pasquill im deutschen Humanismus, in 'Deutsches Archiv für die Erforschung des Mittelalters' 69,1 (2013), pp. 127-140.
  • E. Celani, Rerum Italiarum Scriptores, Vol. XXXII, parte 1a, I, Città di Castello 1907-1913.
  • L. Thuasne, Oeuvres, Paris 1883-1885.
  • D. Gnoli, La Torre Argentina in Nuova Archeologia, 43 (1908, III), pp. 596–605.
  • J. Lesellier, Les méfaits du cérémonier Jean Burckard in Mélange d'Archeologie et d'Histoire, 44 (1927), pp. 11–34.
  • L. Oliger, Der päpstliche Zeremonienmeister Johannes Burckard von Straßburg, in Archiv für elsäβiche Kirchengeschichte, 9 (1934), pp. 199–232.


  1. ^ a b Richard Sherr. "Burkhard, Johannes". In Macy, Laura. Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press.  (subscription required)
  2. ^ "How awful was Catholic life under those immoral Renaissance Popes!". Rorate Caeli. Retrieved 31 March 2014.  Quote: "At the beginning of the sixteenth century, John Burckard (+ 1506), a famous papal master of ceremonies, drew up -- using the Ordines of the Papal Court and the Vatican MSS. of Sacramentaries and Missals -- and published in 1502, by order of Alexander VI, an Ordo Missae. It is from this that some of the general rubrics of our present Missal are drawn, and the Ritus servandus of our Missal embodies the greater part of Burckard's Ordo."

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Burchard — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

19 news items

PQ Monthly

PQ Monthly
Thu, 19 Feb 2015 10:22:31 -0800

According to the Pope's Master of Ceremonies Bishop Johann Burchard's official diary, Alexander not only had an orgy “involving fifty fine courtesans” in the apostolic apartment but also had his children in attendance. He also bought his way into being ...
Mon, 21 May 2012 09:29:35 -0700

Emulate Swiss explorer Johann Burchard, who discovered the city of Petra 200 years ago, by travelling to Jordan in 2012 to discover firsthand one of the new seven wonders of the world. Completely excavated into the rocks, the Nabataeans, a nomadic Arab ...
Mon, 25 Feb 2013 07:49:28 -0800

At this party, which was given in honor of Caesar's father Pope Alexander VI, the courtesans, according to Johann Burchard, danced with the servants and the others who were present. At first they wore their dresses, then they stripped themselves ...


Sun, 19 Jul 2015 10:23:10 -0700

Bank watykański znalazł się w ogniu krytyki, kiedy na jaw wyszło kilka skandali i brak transparencji. Teraz okazuje się, że w jego geszefty uwikłane są także niemieckie banki. Udostępnij. 61. Skomentuj. Komentarze. 0. Watykan. Foto: Thinkstock Watykan.
Huffington Post UK (blog)
Tue, 17 Jan 2012 14:59:34 -0800

One of them, The Ballet of the Chestnuts, was recorded by the diarist Johann Burchard.... "Once the dishes had been cleared after the banquet, fifty of the city's most beautiful whores danced with the guests, first clothed, then naked, with the Pope ...

Periodista Digital

Periodista Digital
Sat, 13 Dec 2014 20:07:30 -0800

Está basada en un himno coral de Johann Burchard Freystein de 1695. El evangelio prescrito para ese domingo era el del siervo al que el señor le perdona sus deudas pero no es capaz de perdonar a sus deudores. El evangelio, como el himno sobre el ...

Wirtualna Polska

Wirtualna Polska
Wed, 02 Jul 2014 07:00:03 -0700

Ich echa przetrwały w czarnej legendzie Borgiów, do której przyczynili się i inni wrogowie potężnego rodu, wzbudzającego obawy i zawiść za sprawą swej błyskawicznej kariery politycznej. Wśród politycznych wrogów najbardziej znany jest Johann Burchard, ...
Tue, 10 Dec 2013 02:00:17 -0800

Miley Cyrus konkuruje między innymi z papieżem Franciszkiem, Barackiem Obamą oraz Edwardem Snowdenem o tytuł "Człowieka Roku" magazynu "Time". Miley Cyrus wśród nominowanych do nagrody "Człowiek Roku" magazynu "Time" Foto: Getty Images.

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!

Searchlight Group

Digplanet also receives support from Searchlight Group. Visit Searchlight