The departure of the French did not guarantee the unification of the Italian peninsula or an age of peace, not as long as Maximilian was still alive.
Maximilian had sided with King Louis and provided troops that helped defeat the papal forces at Ravenna, and he still thought he had a right to the northern half of Italy.
For Julius to see the end of foreign domination he had to win the peace, and that meant satisfying Maximilian, who still longed to be crowned the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire — by the pope, in Rome.
Maximilan sent his best man to consult Julius, someone Julius knew and respected: Matthäus Lang.
Lang’s task was to soothe the pope’s anger and make peace with him. He was also to pave the way for Maximilian himself to come to Rome and be given what he believed was rightfully his — the holy crown.
As he had done in Bologna, Julius planned to welcome Lang to Rome as if Lang himself were a king. Once again Julius would offer him a cardinal’s red hat, treat him to a great feast, and hold a mass in his honor. That mass would be held in the pope’s chapel. The Sistine Chapel.
To do so properly, Lang and the rest of the world needed to see the splendor on the ceiling. That meant the scaffolding needed to be removed before the mass. Which, of course, meant that Michelangelo needed to finish the ceiling on time. Julius had a feeling that the painter would need a bit of coaxing.
Next: Jesus Christ