1566-1590 History of Italy 1618-1660

Papal State and Papacy, 1590-1618

Pope Urban VII. (Giambattista Castagna) ruled 1590; he was succeeded by Gregory XIV. (1590-1591, Niccolo Sfondrati), Innocent IX. (1591, Gian Antonio Facchinetti), Clement VIII. (1592-1605, Ippolito Aldobrandini), Leo XI. (1605, Alessandro Ottaviano de Medici) and Paul V. (1605-1621, Camillo Borghese)
In 1592, an improved version of the bible translation - the project had been started under Pope Sixtus V. - was published, the Vulgata Clementina.
The influence of Spain was dominant - a number of cardinals were on Spanish payroll. Henry III. hitherto the leader of France's Huguenot party, declared in 1593 that he intended to convert to Catholicism. In 1595 Pope Clement VIII. declared the absolution of his past sins, thus paving the way for French Catholics to accept their new king. Now in Europe the balance of power was restored; the papacy had freed herself from overbearing Spanish influence. Clement VIII. then mediated the Treaty of Vervins that ended the Franco-Spanish War in 1598.
Pope Clement VIII. attempted, with little success, to establish an alliance of Catholic powers to fight the Ottoman Empire. Hopes that James VI. of Scotland, the son of Mary Stuart, would convert to Catholicism and reunite the Church of England with Rome, on the occasion of his succession to the English throne, did not materialize. Similarly hopes that King Sigismund Vasa, a Catholic who in 1587 had been crowned King of Poland and in 1592 king of (Lutheran) Sweden, might return Sweden to Catholicism, did not materialize; King Sigismund was deposed in 1600, succeeded by a Lutheran hostile to Catholicism.
Pope Paul V. soon got in conflict with the Republic of Venice, which passed a number of laws interfering with the authority and liberty of the church. The pope demanded the cancellation of these laws; when this was refused, he excommunicated the Doge and declared the ban over the republic (1606). Pope Paul V. made preparations for war, for which he asked for and received Spanish aid. However, the decision to go to war was not taken. Venice ignored her excommunication and in the end succeeded; the affair proved a significant loss of face for the papacy. Orders such as the Jesuits, which obeyed the papal ruling, were banned from Venetian territory.

Pope Clement VIII.'s court was lavish; he was a nepotist. In 1597 Alfonso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, died without direct descendants. The Duchy of Ferrara, of which Pope Clement VIII. was lord paramount, was annexed into the Papal State; a sideline of the Este family only held on to the Duchy of Modena. During the pontificate of Paul V., construction of St. Peter's Cathedral was completed. Like Clement VIII., Paul V. was a nepotist.

Biography of Urban VII., from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912 edition
Biography of Gregory XIV., from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910 edition
Biography of Innocent IX., from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910 edition
Biography of Clement VIII., from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908 edition
Biography of Leo XI., from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911 edition
Biography of Paul V., from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911 edition
Biography of Henry IV., King of France and Navarra, from Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910 edition
DOCUMENTS Portrait of Clement VIII., 1600, from Getty Museum
Tomb of Clement VIII., from Web Gallery of Art
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]
Thomas J. Dandelet, Politics and the state system after the Habsburg-Valois Wars, pp.11-30 in : John A. Marino (ed.), Early Modern Italy (Short Oxford History of Italy), Oxford : UP 2002

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on September 5th 2002, last revised on March 29th 2006

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