History of Italy 1471-1503

Papal State and Papacy, 1447-1471

Pope Nicholas V. (Tommaso Parentucelli) ruled from 1447 to 1455. He was succeeded by Callistus III. (1455-1458, Alonso de Borja), Pius II. (1458-1464, Enea Silvio Piccolomini) and Paul II. (1464-1471, Pietro Barbo).
General Church Policy. In 1449, rival pope Felix V. (Duke Amadeus of Savoy, elected by the Council of Basel in opposition to Pope Eugen IV. in 1439) abdicated, and the council, which in 1446 had moved from Basel to Lausanne, confirmed Nicholas, thus ending the schism the church had suffered from since 1378; now there was but one pope, Nicholas V., residing in Rome. In a papal bull (Execrabilis, 1460) Pius II. forbade individual national churches to appeal to a general church council, thus terminating Conciliarism.

Foreign Policy. Pope Nicholas V. concluded a Concordat with Roman King Frederick III. in 1448. In 1452, the pope crowned Frederick Emperor, the last such coronation celebrated in Rome. In 1453, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire; Pope Nicholas V, called for a crusade against the Turks, but found little resonance. The next pope, Callistus III., intensified the effort to organize a crusade; the pope himself contributed by equipping a fleet, which, commanded by Cardinal Scarappa, only gained minor temporary successes. However, in Germany and France the crusade was resented; in 1456 a Hungarian army under John Hunyadi defeated a Turkish army, saving the fortress of Belgrade. The pope supported George Castriota, called Skanderbeg, the Albanian prince who continued to resist the Turks. Pius II also energetically worked for a crusade against the Turks. He himself equipped a crusade army, but died before the crusade could depart from Ancona. During the pontificate of Pius II., King Louis XI. of France cancelled the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges and recognized papal authority. In 1462, Pius II. cancelled the Compacts of Basel, as they were violated by the Bohemian Hussites. The conclave of 1464 adopted a capitulation which required of the next pope to organize a crusade within 3 years. Paul II., however, l acked his predecessor's enthusiasm for the crusade, which did not materialize. In 1466, Paul II. declared King Georg Podiebrad of Bohemia deposed and called upon his subjects to refuse him recognition, a call which was followed by the Bohemian Catholics; Hungarian King Matthias Hunyadi temporarily gained control of Moravia and Silesia (Bohemian sidelands).

The Papal State. Pope Nicholas V. was a promoter of arts and science. An avid collector of books and manuscripts, he is regarded the founder of the Vatican Library; he called men such as Lorenzo Valla to Rome. In contrast to his predecessor, Callistus III., the first Borja on the papal throne, was a nepotist, disinterested in the Renaissance. The pope also granted many positions to his (Aragonese) countrymen; after his death, the mob of Rome rioted against "the Catalans". Pius II. again was a Renaissance pope. The establishment of an alum mining industry at Tolfa considerably increased the papal revenues. The reconciliation with France resulted in Avignon reintegrated into the Papal State. Like his predecessor, Pius II. was a nepotist. The conclave of 1464 adopted a capitulation which required him to limit the body of cardinals to 14, of which nepotes (papal relatives) were to be excluded. Paul II. closed down the Roman Academy. During his pontificate, the first printing shop was set up in Rome; Paul II. was a collector of coins and bronze sculptures.

Article Bohemia, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907 edition
Biography of Callistus III., from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908 edition
Biography of Nicholas V., from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911 edition
Biography of Paul II., from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908 edition
Biography of Pius II., from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911 edition
Biography of John Carvajal, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908 edition (papal diplomat who negotiated the concordat of 1448)
Avignon in the 15th and 16th centuries, from Avignon et Provence (in Engl.)
L'Italia durante il papato di Paolo II, from Cronologia, in Italian
REFERENCE Book Reviews : Papal State, from History Book Reviews

Franz Xaver Seppelt, Georg Schwaiger, Geschichte der Päpste (History of the Popes), München : Kösel 1964, 572 pp., in German [G]
Christopher Hibbert, Rome. The Biography of a City, Penguin 1988, 387 pp. [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on September 9th 2002, last revised on March 30th 2006

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