Pope Paul II
Pope Paul II born Pietro Barbo, was pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 from 1464 until his death in 1471.

Early life

He was born in Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

, and was a nephew of Pope Eugene IV
Pope Eugene IV
Pope Eugene IV , born Gabriele Condulmer, was pope from March 3, 1431, to his death.-Biography:He was born in Venice to a rich merchant family, a Correr on his mother's side. Condulmer entered the Order of Saint Augustine at the monastery of St. George in his native city...

 (1431–1447), through his mother. His adoption of the spiritual career, after having been trained as a merchant, was prompted by his uncle's election as pope. His consequent promotion was rapid; he became a cardinal
Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

 in 1440 and gained popularity through his tender-hearted generosity.

He was elected pope
Papal conclave
A papal conclave is a meeting of the College of Cardinals convened to elect a Bishop of Rome, who then becomes the Pope during a period of vacancy in the papal office. The Pope is considered by Roman Catholics to be the apostolic successor of Saint Peter and earthly head of the Roman Catholic Church...

 by the accessus
Accessus is a term applied to the voting in conclave for the election of a pope, by which a cardinal changes his vote and accedes to some other candidate. Accessus voting was first used in the papal conclave, 1455...

 in the first ballot, by a majority of fourteen of the nineteen cardinals in conclave on 30 August 1464, to succeed Pope Pius II
Pope Pius II
Pope Pius II, born Enea Silvio Piccolomini was Pope from August 19, 1458 until his death in 1464. Pius II was born at Corsignano in the Sienese territory of a noble but decayed family...

 (1458–1464). Beforehand, to secure to the cardinals a greater share of power than they had enjoyed under Pius II, a capitulation was subscribed by all except Ludovico Trevisan; it bound the future pope to continue the Turkish war
Ottoman–Venetian War (1463–1479)
The First Ottoman–Venetian War was fought between the Republic of Venice and her allies and the Ottoman Empire from 1463 to 1479. Fought shortly after the capture of Constantinople and the remnants of the Byzantine Empire by the Ottomans, it resulted in the loss of several Venetian holdings in...

, but he was not to journey outside Rome without the consent of a majority of the cardinals, nor to leave Italy without the consent of all. The maximum number of cardinals was limited to twenty-four, and any new pope was to be limited to only one cardinal-nephew
A cardinal-nephew is a cardinal elevated by a Pope who is that cardinal's uncle, or, more generally, his relative. The practice of creating cardinal-nephews originated in the Middle Ages, and reached its apex during the 16th and 17th centuries. The word nepotism originally referred specifically to...

. All creations of new cardinals and advancements to certain important benefice
A benefice is a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services. The term is now almost obsolete.-Church of England:...

s, were to be made only with the consent of the College of Cardinals
College of Cardinals
The College of Cardinals is the body of all cardinals of the Catholic Church.A function of the college is to advise the pope about church matters when he summons them to an ordinary consistory. It also convenes on the death or abdication of a pope as a papal conclave to elect a successor...

. Upon taking office, Paul II was to convene an ecumenical council
Ecumenical council
An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice....

 within three years. But these terms of subscription were modified by Paul II at his own discretion, and this action lost him the confidence of the College of Cardinals. The justification for setting aside the capitulation
Capitulation (surrender)
Capitulation , an agreement in time of war for the surrender to a hostile armed force of a particular body of troops, a town or a territory....

s, seen to be under way by the Duke of Milan's ambassador as early as 21 September, lay in connecting any abridgement of the pope's absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

 in the Papal States
Papal States
The Papal State, State of the Church, or Pontifical States were among the major historical states of Italy from roughly the 6th century until the Italian peninsula was unified in 1861 by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia .The Papal States comprised territories under...

 with a consequent abridgement of his sole authority in spiritual matters. Almost from his coronation
Papal Coronation
A papal coronation was the ceremony of the placing of the Papal Tiara on a newly elected pope. The first recorded papal coronation was that of Pope Celestine II in 1143. Soon after his coronation in 1963, Pope Paul VI abandoned the practice of wearing the tiara. His successors have chosen not to...

, Paul withdrew and became inaccessible: audience
Audience (head of state)
An audience is a formal meeting that takes place between a head of state and another person at the invitation of the head of state. Often the invitation follows a request for a meeting from the other person...

s were only granted at night; even good friends waited a fortnight to see him; his suspiciousness was widely attested.


A sore point was his abuse of the practice of creating cardinals in pectore
In pectore
In pectore is a term used in the Catholic Church to refer to appointments to the College of Cardinals by the Pope when the name of the newly appointed cardinal is not publicly revealed...

, without publishing their names. Eager to raise new cardinals to increase the number who were devoted to his interests, but restricted by the terms of the capitulation, which gave the College a voice in the creation of new members, in the winter of 1464–65 Paul created two secret cardinals both of whom died before their names could be published. In his fourth year he created eight new cardinals (18 September 1467); five were candidates pressed by kings, placating respectively James II of Cyprus
James II of Cyprus
James II of Cyprus or Jacques II le Bâtard de Lusignan , was the illegitimate son of John II of Cyprus and Marietta de Patras.-Archbishop of Nicosia:...

, Edward IV of England
Edward IV of England
Edward IV was King of England from 4 March 1461 until 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death. He was the first Yorkist King of England...

, Louis XI of France
Louis XI of France
Louis XI , called the Prudent , was the King of France from 1461 to 1483. He was the son of Charles VII of France and Mary of Anjou, a member of the House of Valois....

, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary
Matthias Corvinus of Hungary
Matthias Corvinus , also called the Just in folk tales, was King of Hungary and Croatia from 1458, at the age of 14 until his death...

 and Ferdinand I of Naples
Ferdinand I of Naples
Ferdinand I , also called Don Ferrante, was the King of Naples from 1458 to 1494. He was the natural son of Alfonso V of Aragon by Giraldona Carlino.-Biography:...

; one was the able administrator of the Franciscans; the last two elevated his old tutor and a first cardinal-nephew. Two further cardinal-nephews were added on 21 November 1468. In a sign of his increasing secretiveness and paranoia, he added two more cardinals secretly at the same consistory, and four more at the beginning of 1471, expecting to reveal them only in his testament
Will (law)
A will or testament is a legal declaration by which a person, the testator, names one or more persons to manage his/her estate and provides for the transfer of his/her property at death...


Tensions with the College of Cardinals came to the fore when in 1466, attempting to downsize redundant offices, Paul II proceeded to annul the college of abbreviator
Abbreviator, plural Abbreviators in English or Abbreviatores in Latin, also called Breviators, were a body of writers in the papal chancery, whose business was to sketch out and prepare in due form the pope's bulls, briefs and consistorial decrees before these are written out in extenso by the...

s, whose function it was to formulate papal documents; a storm of indignation arose, inasmuch as rhetoricians and poets with humanist training
Renaissance humanism
Renaissance humanism was an activity of cultural and educational reform engaged by scholars, writers, and civic leaders who are today known as Renaissance humanists. It developed during the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries, and was a response to the challenge of Mediæval...

, of which Paul deeply disapproved, had long been accustomed to benefiting from employment in such positions. Bartolomeo Platina
Bartolomeo Platina
Bartolomeo Platina, originally named Sacchi was an Italian Renaissance writer.-Biography:Platina was born at Piadena , near Cremona....

, who was one of these, wrote a threatening letter to the Pope, and was imprisoned but later discharged. However, in 1467 Platina was again imprisoned on the charge of having participated in a conspiracy against the Pope, and was torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

d along with other abbreviators, like Filip Callimachus
Filip Callimachus
Filippo Buonaccorsi, called "Callimachus" was an Italian humanist and writer.-Life:...

 who fled to Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 in 1478, all of whom had been accused of pagan views
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

. Not unaccountably, Platina, in his Vitae pontificum, set forth an unfavorable delineation of the character of Paul II.

Final years

Pope Paul rejected King George of Podebrady
George of Podebrady
George of Kunštát and Poděbrady , also known as Poděbrad or Podiebrad , was King of Bohemia...

 of Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

 because he upheld the conventions of Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

 in favor of the Utraquists. In August 1465, Paul II summoned Podebrady before his Roman tribunal, and, when the King failed to come, allied himself with the insurgents in Bohemia, and released the King's subjects from their oath of allegiance. In December 1466, he pronounced the ban of excommunication
Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

 and sentence of deposition against Podebrady. Podebrady's apologist, Gregory of Heimberg
-In Germany:*Heimberg, Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony-Anhalt*Heimberg, Baden-Württemberg, in the municipality of Niederstetten, Baden-Württemberg*Heimberg , in the municipality of Regensburg, Bavaria*Heimberg , in the municipality of Augsburg, Bavaria...

, subsequently accused Paul of immorality; a move that resulted in Gregory's own excommunication.

Just when ultimately the King's good success disposed the Pope in favor of reconciliation, Paul died suddenly of cardiac arrest on 26 July 1471. Officially death was said to have been brought on following indigestion from eating melon; although a popular legend suggested that he had in fact died whilst being sodomized by a page
Page (servant)
A page or page boy is a traditionally young male servant, a messenger at the service of a nobleman or royal.-The medieval page:In medieval times, a page was an attendant to a knight; an apprentice squire...

 boy. As a result, a power vacuum
Power vacuum
A power vacuum is, in its broadest sense, an expression for a condition that exists when someone has lost control of something and no one has replaced them. It is usually used to refer to a political situation that can occur when a government has no identifiable central authority...

 was created in Central Europe, especially after Podebrady himself died later that same year.


Although Paul II was a committed opponent of humanist learning
Renaissance humanism
Renaissance humanism was an activity of cultural and educational reform engaged by scholars, writers, and civic leaders who are today known as Renaissance humanists. It developed during the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries, and was a response to the challenge of Mediæval...

, he oversaw and approved the introduction of printing into the Papal State, first at Subiaco in 1464 by Arnold Pannartz and Konrad Sweynheim
Arnold Pannartz and Konrad Sweynheim
Arnold Pannartz and Konrad Sweinheim were two printers of the 15th century.Pannartz died about 1476, Sweinheim in 1477. Pannartz was, perhaps, a native of Prague, and Sweinheim of Eltville near Mainz. Zedler believes that Sweinheim worked at Eltville with Gutenberg in 1461-64. Whether Pannartz...

, and at Rome itself in 1467. The result was that books and other documents became far more numerous, and less expensive to procure than the previous handwritten manuscripts. Printing put the materials needed for an advanced education into the hands of more people than ever before, including an increasing number of laypeople. The output of printing presses at this period was, as a matter of course, subject to governmental scrutiny; during Paul II's reign, books produced in the Papal State were largely limited to Latin classical literature and ecclesiastical texts.

The chronicler Stefano Infessura
Stefano Infessura
Stefano Infessura was an Italian humanist historian and lawyer. He is remembered through his municipalist Diary of the City of Rome, a partisan chronicle of events at Rome by the Colonna family's point of view. He was in a position to hear everything that circulated in informed Roman circles, for...

's republican and anti-papal temper makes his diary a far from neutral though well-informed witness. But it is certain that though Paul II opposed the humanists, he was the best in providing for popular amusements: in 1466 he permitted the horse-race
Horse racing
Horse racing is an equestrian sport that has a long history. Archaeological records indicate that horse racing occurred in ancient Babylon, Syria, and Egypt. Both chariot and mounted horse racing were events in the ancient Greek Olympics by 648 BC...

 that was a feature of Carnival
Carnaval is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during February. Carnaval typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party...

 to be run along the main street, the Via Lata, which now became known from this annual event as the Via del Corso
Via del Corso
The Via del Corso , commonly known as the Corso, is a main street in the historical centre of Rome. It is remarkable for being absolutely straight in an area characterized by narrow meandering alleys and small piazzas...

. He displayed an extravagant love of personal splendor that gratified his sense of self-importance. After his death Sixtus IV
Pope Sixtus IV
Pope Sixtus IV , born Francesco della Rovere, was Pope from 1471 to 1484. His accomplishments as Pope included the establishment of the Sistine Chapel; the group of artists that he brought together introduced the Early Renaissance into Rome with the first masterpiece of the city's new artistic age,...

 and a selected group of cardinals inspected the treasure laid up against expenditures against the Turks: they found 54 silver shells filled with pearls, to a value of 300,000 ducat
The ducat is a gold coin that was used as a trade coin throughout Europe before World War I. Its weight is 3.4909 grams of .986 gold, which is 0.1107 troy ounce, actual gold weight...

s, jewels and gold intended for refashioning, worth another 300,000 ducats, and a magnificent diamond worth 7,000 ducats, which was sent to Cardinal d'Estouteville to cover monies he had advanced to the pontiff. The coin was not immediately found. The story of Cardinal Ammanati that he meant to take the name Formosus II ("handsome"), but was persuaded not to, is more often repeated than the story that he was dissuaded from Marcus, being Venetian and the Cardinal of San Marco
San Marco
San Marco is one of the six sestieri of Venice, lying in the heart of the city. San Marco also includes the island of San Giorgio Maggiore...

, because it was also the war-cry of Venice.

One of Paul's successors as pope suggested he should have been called Maria Pietissima, "Our Lady of Pity" as he broke into tears at times of crisis. Some historians have suggested the nickname was due either to Paul's propensity to enjoy dressing up in sumptuous ecclesiastical finery, or possible homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...


However, the Catholic Encyclopedia
Catholic Encyclopedia
The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...

asserts, "justice requires notice of his strict sense of equity, his reforms in the municipal administration, and his fight against official bribery and traffic in posts of dignity."

In statecraft
Public administration
Public Administration houses the implementation of government policy and an academic discipline that studies this implementation and that prepares civil servants for this work. As a "field of inquiry with a diverse scope" its "fundamental goal.....

, Paul II lacked eminence and achieved nothing of consequence for Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. In the Papal States
Papal States
The Papal State, State of the Church, or Pontifical States were among the major historical states of Italy from roughly the 6th century until the Italian peninsula was unified in 1861 by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia .The Papal States comprised territories under...

, however, in 1465 he eliminated the regime of the counts of Anguillara
Anguillara were a baronal family of Latium, especially powerful in Rome and in the current province of Viterbo during the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance....

, a house that had played a consistent anti-papal role since the plot of Stefano Porcari
Stefano Porcari
Stefano Porcari was an Italian politician and humanist from Rome, known as the leader of a rebellion against Pope Nicholas V and the tyrannic Papal authority.-Biography:...

 and the unruly insurrection of Tiburzio di Maso
Tiburzio di Maso
Tiburzio di Maso was a leader of an anarchic faction in Rome that briefly attempted to restore the medieval commune of the city, the last attempt at populist government in the States of the Church....

 in 1460.

External links

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