The festivities began on Saturday, a day before the actual coronation, in the afternoon. But the expectation had begun to flare high as much as a week before that: merchants and traders and noblemen of varying rank had kept arriving in Avignon -- they just kept coming, coming, coming, as if the entire world wanted to witness the coronation, and the always crowded city became so crammed that the court of His Holiness fled the city for the silent and calm Villeneuve-lèz-Avignon. Innkeepers and pickpockets got rich, a hundred pounds of the Holy Cross was sold: business flourished in the Other Rome as though there was a Jubilee going on, and the Other Rome loved the Pope and the King-to-be for it.
Martin of Aragon was to arrive in the city from Villeneuve through the Bridge Saint Bénézet, taking the Road of the Pilgrims towards the Palace of the Popes. The Prince's way was surrounded with spectators on both sides: the nobles were sitting on stands, rising from the mass of commoners in the way cliffs rose from the sea.
Excitement rose as time passed until, not long after Vespers, the bells began to ring in all the churches of the city: first in Villeneuve, in the Little Notre Dame, silently, then the sound of the bells climbed slowly in loudness, intensity and urgency as the other churches of Avignon joined in, those great many churches, those great many bells, until there was nothing but the thunder of the ringing bells, painful to the ears. The sharp-eyed now glimpsed the procession in the distance, but their cheers got lost in the deafening din. First came the spearmen of the Breton Guard, clearing the way (the screams of pain got lost in the deafening din), followed by some twenty horsemen who were there more for decoration than anything else, their faces set, solemnly emotionless. And then the procession suddenly turned into a religious one: monks came, Benedictines, in fact a choir (their song got lost in the deafening din), and after them came the Apostolic Cross, carried by the Gautier Cardinal Gómez who had been, as the only cardinal from Iberia in the absence of the Cardinal de Luna, chosen to be the advocate of the King-to-be's cause during the ceremonies.
Many bad things can be said about the Church, Universal and Apostolic, but one thing cannot be disputed: they knew how to manipulate people, how to manipulate emotions; they had a millenia of experience. Thus it's no surprise that by the time the King-to-be appeared, wearing his monk's habit, escorted by four monsignors, the crowd exulted and cheered in a maddened joy. Even the nobles were shouting and screaming like peasants, forgetting about pompousness and scepticism. Even though the ceremony was a mundane one, a religious rapture took over the minds as the Prince Martin was escorted in the Notre Dame Cathedral where he would spend all the night awake, praying for guidance and doing introspection, all alone in the grand basilica.
The crowd felt only emptiness and a strange disappointment when the bells fell silent and the gates of the Notre Dame were shut closed after the Prince Martin. The people lingered for a while, surprisingly quietly, then the crowd slowly dispersed: a few chose to follow the Prince's example, but the most retired to the inns, taverns, guesthouses... There was intense expectation in the air; Avignon awaited the tomorrow.
Sunrise, a new day breaking forth. The Prince Martin was thoroughly confessed, was bathed, and was clothed in royal garment: these activities took three long hours. In the meanwhile the crowd gathered again, filling the streets where the procession towards the Palace of the Popes would go through. But today the procession was different: only one churchbell was tolled, its lone, shrill voice just increased the expectations. The crowd was dead silent. The procession reached the Palace: there was a richly adorned wooden stand built before it, so that the crowd could witness the coronation. The procession reached the palace, the Prince Martin fell on his knees before the stairs leading up to the empty throne of Saint Peter.
Upon the hallowed silence came the sudden scream of trumpets: ta-ra, ta-ra-ra-raa, ta-ra-ra-ra, a throbbing, annunciotary voice, followed by the tenor cry:
"Appropinquat agnis pastor et ovibus pascendis..."
Clemens Pappas Septimus gestured his blessing towards his flock with a condescending and contented smile on his face.
"Ahleluia, ahleluia, ahleluia...!"
Cardinal Gómez approached the throne and knelt.
"Sancte Pater, ab sapienta summus petimus...," he sang in a plain chant."Holy Father, we ask from your highest wisdom to make this Martin, at whose piety and honour many have wondered, King of Mallorca, for it is not good for a Kingdom to be without a King..."
The request was long and tense, it somehow managed to make it seem as if it were a request real, not merely ceremonial.
"Gratissima nobis causa, fili," Clement expressed his doubts. "It is great concern, children..." Then he went on to explain that even though he would favour the idea, he is now somehow discouraged, hesitating to make such an important decision: he asked all to pray for guidance.
The choir and the crowd sang the Litany of Saints together: "Father-of-Heaven, God, have mercy on us! Son, Repurchaser-of-the-World, God, have mercy on us! Ghost-Most-Holy, God, have mercy on us! O Sacred Threefoldhood, God-One-and-Only, have mercy on us! Holy Mary, pray for us!" Cardinal Gómez repeated his request, Clement once again prayed for guidance. "Kyrie eleison...! Christe eleison...!
Cardinal Gómez pleaded the Pope yet a third time. "We, who are Peter himself..." Clement intoned his positive reply, rendering his decision under the guidance the Holy Spirit, calling the Prince Martin up to before him, and now it was the Pope's turn to plead and be rejected: the Prince rejected the crown twice, only to accept it for the third time.
Martin of Aragon was anointed with the Holy Oil brought right from Reims, of the very same chrism Pepin and Charlemagne had once been anointed with; the substance smelled of age.
"Benedicat te, omnipotens Deus..."
Clement placed the crown on Martin's head, and then he presented the newly created King with the sword:
"This is the sword of Saint Peter," the Pope recited, "may you unsheathe it when the Patromony of Peter is endangered, may you use it skillfully and well against the heretics, schismatics, infidels, the enemies and presecutors of the Church, Universal and Apostolic..."
Then King Martin swore the well-learned oath on the Bible: "I, Martin, by the Grace of God King of Mallorca, from this hour forth shall be faithful to God, St. Peter, the Universal and Apostolic Church and to my Lord Pope Clement and all his successors elected and ordained in a proper manner. I shall not bring it about by deed, word, consent or counsel, that they lose life or members or be taken captive; to the contrary, I shall prevent them being harmed, and I shall aid them to the best of my ability with kindly given advice and princely service. Any counsel which they entrust to me through themselves or through their envoys or through their letters, I will keep secret, nor will I knowingly disclose it to anyone to their harm. I shall aid to the best of my ability in holding and defending against all men the Patrimony of St. Peter, and I shall never cease to donate charitable gifts to the aforementioned Apostolic Church: namely, the aforementioned Apostolic Church shall receive yearly a hundred golden ducats, and more if my Lord the Pope wishes so. And I bind myself and my successors not to try to counter any of these things; and if I or anyone of my successors shall attempt this, whoever he be, he shall lose his rights to the Kingdom. So may God and these holy Gospels aid me."
"Long live the King," His Holiness announced in his loud baritone, "long live King Martin!"
The chorus burst into the Te Deum, and then the Pope, the King and their escort proceeded back to the Notre Dame: the King on foot, walking before the Pope's throne in the way once, back in the pagan times, the captured barbarian leaders walked before the triumphant Emperor. In the basilica the Pope himself celebrated the mass: there were so many people in there that his helpers had a hard time getting him through the crowd; the newly created King was almost squashed to death.
And only now began the real celebration: the commoners were given free ale and wine at the Palace of the Popes, the richer were drinking in the taverns, the cardinals held great feasts in their Livrées, but the greatest feast was given by the Pope himself in his summer residence in Villeneuve-lèz-Avignon: there were three feasts, actually, one in the courtyard, for the retainers; one in an outer hall, for the lower-ranking nobles; and one for the privileged only. Here His Holiness sat at the head of the table, with a King on both sides: on his left sat the King Frederick of Sicily; and on his right the King Martin of Mallorca.