BECK index

Rome, Popes, and Naples 1400-1517

by Sanderson Beck

Rome and the Popes 1400-58
Pius II, Paul II, Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII
Rome under the Borgias 1492-1503
Rome under Julius II and Leo X 1503-17
Naples and Sicily 1400-1517

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Rome and the Popes 1400-58

Rome and the Papal State 1250-1303
Rome and the Papal State 1303-1353
Rome and the Papal State 1353-1400

In 1401 the wealthy Giovanni Bentivoglio gained control of Bologna, but on June 26, 1402 he was defeated and killed at the battle of Casalecchio by the Visconti of Milan. That year the growing power of Gian Galeazzo Visconti came to an end with his death on September 3, relieving the Papal State and the Guelf alliance. The papal legate Baldassare Cossa in Romagna skillfully managed to bring Bologna under direct rule by the Church along with Perugia in November 1403 and Assisi. After Pope Boniface IX died on October 1, 1404, the Neapolitan Cosimo Migliorati was elected to be Pope Innocent VII. His weak regime was dominated by Neapolitans while the legate Baldassare Cossa formed an alliance with Florentine bankers and the Este of Ferrara, bringing back Faenza and Forli under the Church. Innocent VII died on November 6, 1406, and the cardinals elected the Venetian Angelo Correr to be Pope Gregory XII. He agreed to meet Benedict XIII at Savona in 1407 and did not try to defend his temporal power. The next year Ladislaus with his Neapolitan troops occupied Rome and much of the Papal State, accepting the signoria in Perugia. Gregory granted much territory to his brother and nephews in fee.

A Church council met at Pisa. Pope Gregory XII was a refugee at Rimini, and Pope Benedict XIII was secluded at Perpignan. Yet the council at Pisa was well attended by 24 cardinals, 4 patriarchs, 10 archbishops, 79 bishops and 116 representatives of other bishops, 128 abbots and priors plus 200 other representatives of abbots, 300 doctors of theology and canon law, and 109 representatives of cathedral and college chapters. Also present were the heads of the Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, Augustinians, Knights of St. John, Teutonic Order, and the kings of England, France, Poland, and Cyprus. On June 5, 1409 they tried to end the schism by deposing both Gregory XII and Benedict XIII of Avignon. Three weeks later they elected a Cretan to be Pope Alexander V. Scotland and Spain remained loyal to Benedict, and Naples and some of central Europe continued obedience to Gregory; but most Christians supported Alexander. When he died on May 3, 1410, the cardinals at Pisa elected the legate Baldassare Cossa to be Pope John XXIII.

Pope John XXIII controlled Rome and collected taxes to pay mercenaries, but Bologna revolted from the Church on May 11, 1411. Louis II of Anjou helped John defeat Ladislaus at Roccasecca on May 14. John called for a council at Rome in April 1412, but it was sparsely attended. They ordered Wyclif’s writing burned and adjourned on February 10, 1413. Ladislaus had recognized John as Pope in June 1412 and signed a treaty with him. Bologna returned to papal rule in August. However, King Ladislaus came into conflict with John again and drove him out of Rome on June 8, 1413, sacking the city. Pope John fled to Florence and retained control over Bologna. Ladislaus held Rome until he became ill in 1414 and went back to Naples to die.

Sigismund was elected emperor in July 1411, and he announced a council at Constance on October 30, 1413. He and Pope John XXIII met at Lodi in November about ending the schism, and John added his seal to the call on December 9. John went to the council at Constance in October 1414, and they deposed him on May 29, 1415. Gregory XII abdicated on July 4. The condottieri wielded much power. Paolo Orsini plundered Rome in November 1415, but he was murdered the next year. Bologna rebelled again in January 1416 and revived its communal autonomy. In the chaos Braccio da Montone of Perugia became the strongest leader in the Papal State, and he defeated and captured Carlo Malatesta on July 12. Braccio occupied Rome in June 1417 and besieged the legate Isolani in Castel Sant’Angelo. However, Muzio Attendolo Sforza got out of prison, marched on Rome, and forced Braccio to leave the city.

Cardinal Oddo Colonna was elected pope at Constance on November 11, 1417, and he chose the name Martin V. He entered Italy a year later but resided in Florence from February 1419 to September 1420 while Braccio da Montone was in Rome. Muzio Sforza marched against the condottiere Braccio on behalf of the papacy but was defeated and confined to Viterbo. Martin and his allies made peace with Braccio on February 26, 1420. One month before that, Antongaleazzo Bentivoglio with the help of Braccio had taken over Bologna, but Martin was able to raise money and call on the tyrant of Romagna along with Braccio. The Bologna revolt collapsed in July, and Martin established a papal government. In 1422 Pope Martin sent the Franciscan Anthony Massanus to Constantinople with nine articles for a proposed union of the eastern and western churches. The first reported burning of a witch in Rome was in 1424. In the summer of 1428 the Canetoli faction captured the legate Louis Aleman and took over Bologna. Bishop Niccolo Albergati escaped disguised as a monk. Martin kept Bologna isolated and sent another legate, but he was driven out by rioting in April 1430. Pope Martin V died on February 20, 1431.

The Guelf Gabriele Condulmer was elected to be Pope Eugenius IV on March 3, 1431, but the Colonna refused to turn over Martin V’s treasure. Prince Antonio Colonna of Salerno attacked Rome and was repulsed, beginning a war that lasted fourteen years. The Pope hired the Neapolitan general Jacopo Caldora; but when he came to Rome, he decided to fight for the Colonna instead. Eugenius made an alliance with Florence; but after the peace of Ferrara in 1433 Filippo Maria Visconti sent Milanese condottieri against the Papal State. Sigismund left the Council of Basel in 1431 to visit Italy, and Eugenius crowned him Emperor in Rome on May 31, 1433. Pope Eugenius recognized the Council as the highest authority on January 30, 1434. He sent the humanist Biondo Flavio to negotiate with Alessandro Sforza, and they signed a treaty on March 21, granting rich provinces to Sforza, who promised to be the papal standard-bearer for life. Niccolo Fortebraccio was attacking Rome, and Sforza defeated him at Tivoli on May 17; but the war-weary Romans supported Fortebraccio and the Visconti’s Niccolo Piccinino against Sforza and the Pope, who fled dressed as a monk in a boat on the Tiber.

Giovanni Vitelleschi was appointed papal governor of Bologna and Romagna in 1434. After Alessandro Sforza defeated and killed Fortebraccio, Vitelleschi entered Rome in October and terrorized the area, murdering or executing two powerful magnate families, the da Varano of Camerino and the Trinci of Foligno. In 1437 Pope Eugenius sent an army led by Cardinal Vitelleschi to support the Angevin cause in the kingdom of Naples; but the army fell apart, and Vitelleschi abandoned them in 1438. That year Annibale Bentivoglio led a successful revolt in Bologna against the Church. He ruled most of the time until he was assassinated on June 24, 1445 with the connivance of Pope Eugenius.

On January 8, 1438 Pope Eugenius IV convened the council at Ferrara, and it moved to Florence in early 1439. Seven hundred Greeks attended, including Bishop Bessarion of Nice, Archbishop Isidore of Kiev, and Archbishop Mark Eugenicus of Ephesus. They were looking for support against the invading Turks. Only Mark of Ephesus refused to sign the articles of agreement on July 5; but when the Greeks returned to Constantinople, the agreement was rejected with contempt. Isidore was held in a convent for two years before he escaped and went to Rome.

The Council of Basel deposed Eugenius as a heretic on June 25, 1439. Vitelleschi became archbishop of Florence, and in Rome he was appointed to subdue Bologna and Romagna; but in the spring of 1440 Vitelleschi was wounded and arrested at Castel Sant’Angelo, dying a few days later. The papal-Florentine alliance defeated Piccinino’s army at Anghiari on June 29. Venice was also an ally of the Pope and occupied Ravenna. In the spring of 1443 Eugenius recognized Alfonso V of Aragon as the ruler of Naples in recognition of his papal rights over the fief, and Alfonso ceded Terracina and Benevento to the Pope. Eugenius had been in exile from Rome for nine years, but he returned in triumph on September 28, 1443. In May 1445 he joined the Visconti in an alliance against Alessandro Sforza. By July 1446 Sforza was confined to the town of Iesi, and Ancona had returned to papal obedience.

Pope Eugenius died on February 27, 1447, and one week later Tommaso Parentucelli of Sarzana was elected to be Pope Nicholas V. That year Sante Bentivoglio made a treaty with Pope Nicholas, and he governed Bologna until his death in 1463. A Jubilee Year was celebrated in 1450 in Rome, and according to Aeneas Sylvius 40,000 people went from church to church each day. On one occasion more than two hundred people were trampled to death or drowned in the Tiber. On March 18, 1452 Nicholas crowned Emperor Friedrich III, the last German to receive that honor. On June 18 his Dum Diversas bull granted King Afonso V of Portugal the right to enslave Saracens, pagans, and other unbelievers, and in 1455 this was confirmed in his “Romanus Pontifex” which also authorized buying African slaves from “infidels.” Nicholas sent Isidore as legate to Constantinople with two hundred troops, and in December 1452 he announced that the Greek and Latin communions were uniting.

To face the Turkish threat Nicholas sent only ten papal galleys in April 1453, and they were too late and too little to stop the Islamic conquest of the Eastern capital at Constantinople. He issued a bull summoning Christian nations to a crusade to regain Constantinople. Anyone spending at least six months on the project was granted absolution, and Christian states were asked to contribute a tenth. Friedrich called an assembly at Regensburg in the spring of 1454 but did not even attend himself. Enea Silvio Piccolomini made an eloquent appeal, and they adjourned to meet at Frankfurt in October. That meeting did not do much either. Pope Nicholas V was a great scholar and patron of the arts and literature, heralding the beginning of a renaissance. He had manuscripts collected from all over Europe and paid men to copy them at Rome. Giannozzo Manetti wrote that more Greek authors were printed during his papacy than in the five preceding centuries.

Alfonso de Borja was born at Valencia in Aragon, and only fifteen cardinals elected him Pope Calixtus III (1455-58) at the age of 76. During is coronation the feud between the Orsini and Colonna families broke out in Rome. Calixtus confirmed the right of Portuguese to enslave infidels and Africans by his Inter Caetera bull in 1456. He had papal jewelry sold to raise money for a crusade, and bells were rung every day in Rome to call people to pray for the war. However, the papal fleet led by Cardinal Serampo did little. He made two sons, Rodrigo and Juan, of his two Borgia sisters cardinals while in the their twenties and a third Pedro Luis governor of San Angelo and duke of Spoleto. In 1457 Calixtus appointed Rodrigo Borgia vice-chancellor of the Holy See. After the Pope’s death the Catalans fled, and Pedro sold San Angelo to the cardinals for 20,000 ducats.

Pius II, Paul II, Sixtus IV and Innocent VIII

Enea Silvio (Aeneas Silvius in Latin) Piccolomini was born into a poor but noble family in Siena on October 18, 1404. As a youth he heard Bernardino preach, and he learned Greek from the humanist Filelfo in Florence. An unrequited love affair inspired him to write Cinthia, a book of love poems in 1427, and in 1435 he wrote the poem Nymphilexis to praise his friend’s mistress. As secretary he accompanied Cardinal Capranica to the Council of Basel in 1431. He served the Bishop of Novaro in Rome but fled when the Bishop was imprisoned for conspiring against Pope Eugenius IV. He traveled with Cardinal Albergati to France, England, and Scotland. He returned to Basel and became more prominent, favoring the rump-synod in 1440 and the alternate Pope Felix V, who made him his secretary. He wrote a tract on general councils but left that cause to serve Emperor Friedrich III. As an envoy in Rome he apologized to Eugenius for his past errors and eventually became his secretary, persuading Friedrich to support Eugenius too just before the Pope died.

Piccolomini had many love affairs and acknowledged sons born in Scotland and to a Breton woman in Strassburg. He wrote an unexpurgated History of Friedrich III, the romantic Tale of Two Lovers, and the comedy Chrysis. He advocated the right of priests to marry, and he did not become a cleric until he was consecrated a sub-deacon in 1446. Pope Nicholas V made Piccolomini bishop of Trieste in 1447 and of Siena in 1450, and he became a cardinal in 1456. He persuaded the cardinals not to elect a Frenchman and was elected Pope Pius II on August 19, 1458.

The conclave bound Pius II to wage war against the Turks, follow the rules of the Council of Constance, and consult the sacred college on appointments. Cardinals with an income below 4,000 florins were granted 100 florins a month. In September 1459 he called for a crusade against the Turks to begin on January 14, 1460 and to last three years. Pius summoned a congress of princes to meet at Mantua in 1460. The congress was delayed and opened on September 26. In his three-hour opening address Pius urged them to follow the example of Christian martyrs and carry on war against the Turks. While the Pope was away from Rome, the Colonna, Savelli, and Anguillara families revolted, and Jacopo Piccinino led the soldiers who threatened the city. In 1461 Piccinino went to the Abruzzi, and the Pope’s Gonfaloniere for the Church, Duke Federico da Montefeltro of Urbino, got the Savelli to surrender. Federico defeated Sigismondo Malatesta of Rimini near Senigallia in 1462. After he captured Fano and Senigallia the next year, Pius made him vicar of the conquered territories.

The German lawyer Gregor of Heimburg spoke against the crusade, and he had appealed the sentence of excommunication against the Duke of Tyrol to a general council on August 13, 1460. Gregor was also excommunicated, and Pius got the city of Nuremberg to expel him. Archbishop Diether of Mainz also advocated the conciliar system and was deposed in 1461. In July of that year Pius declared Caterina of Siena a saint. In October he persuaded Louis XI of France to renounce the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges; but when Pius did not support the French claim to Naples, Louis revived the Sanction. The papal secretary Flavio Bondio pioneered archaeology and pleased Pius by completing his encyclopedic Italia illustrata (Italy Illuminated) in 1458. Flavio’s Historarum ab inclinatione Romanorum Imperii was the first history that described the decline of Rome and the history of Italy in three phases from 410 to 1442.

Pius had published the Execrabilis bull condemning appeals of decisions by the Roman pontiff to a council in January 1460, and on April 26, 1463 he argued that the Pope should be the monarch of the Church. He admitted his past mistakes and told people to “Reject Aeneas, and follow Pius.” He issued another bull for a crusade in 1463 that was ignored by most princes. The develoment of alum mines at Tolfa in 1462 provided the papal treasury with 100,000 florins a year, and the conclave of 1464 dedicated it to the crusade. Although he was ill, Pius took up the cross on June 18 and was carried in a litter to Ancona, where the crusaders were to gather. As the combined navies were approaching, he died on August 14. Pius II is the only Pope to write an extensive autobiography in frank and extensive commentaries that were not printed until more than a century after his death.

Pietro Barbo, a nephew of Pope Eugenius IV, was born in Venice, and he became a cardinal at the age of 23. On August 30, 1464 he was elected Pope Paul II on the first ballot. He had agreed to prosecute a crusade, summon a council within three years, limit the number of cardinals to 24 and the age of appointment to 30 or more, and prohibit more than one of the Pope’s relatives. However, as soon as he became Pope, he made the cardinals sign a document with his conditions. Only the veteran Carvajal declined to do so. Paul did not call a council or a congress to discuss a crusade, and he made three of his nephews cardinals. He decreed sumptuary regulations for Rome and imposed price controls on luxuries, weddings, and funerals, and restricted dowries to 800 gold florins. He opposed simony and punished bribery. Yet Paul encouraged the Romans to enjoy carnivals, and he decreed that 1475 should be a year of celebration. He extorted contributions from the Jewish ghetto to pay for entertainments. He had the papal palace greatly expanded and filled with Renaissance art.

Paul II authorized the first printing press in the Papal States at Subiaco in 1464 and at Rome in 1467 when the Germans Schweinheim and Pannartz arrived. Most of the books printed were ecclesiastical or Latin literature. Pius II had limited the number of abbreviators to seventy, but in 1466 Paul II dismissed them. Bartolomeo Platina threatened to appeal for a general council, and the Pope had the scholar chained in a cold cell for four months during winter. In 1467 he accused Platina of conspiring against him and had him imprisoned and tortured with the humanist Pomponius Laeto, who had founded the Roman Academy in 1460. Laeto criticized Christian preachers as hypocrites and taught his students Stoic philosophy. Platina later got revenge by writing a History of the Popes.

Pope Paul II also tried to depose Bohemia’s King George of Podébrad and persecuted the Utraquists. In 1466 he excommunicated George and ordered him deposed. George’s advocate Gregory of Heimberg called Paul II immoral and was also excommunicated. Pope Paul opposed the humanists and had the Roman Academy closed in 1468, the year Emperor Friedrich III visited Rome with 600 knights. Paul also forbade the teaching of pagan literature in the schools of Rome. He collected jewelry and gems, and his successor was said to have found 54 silver chests filled with pearls worth 300,000 ducats and jewels and gold worth just as much. He had a magnificent papal crown created with jewels worth 120,000 ducats. Paul died after eating too much melon, but others believed the final cause of his death was undergoing anal sex with a page boy.

Francesco della Rovere was born on July 21, 1414 in Liguria. He studied at the University of Pavia and taught theology there and at Bologna, Siena, Florence, and Perugia. He joined the Franciscans early and was elected their Minister General in 1464. Paul II made him a cardinal in 1467. His nephew Pietro Riario helped him get elected Pope Sixtus IV on August 9, 1471 by making promises for the cardinals’ votes. He began by trying to organize a crusade against the Turks and sent the cardinals Bessarion to France, Marco Barbo to Germany, and Roderigo Borgia to Spain. The gems Paul II had collected were sold to pay for the expedition. A papal fleet of 18 galleons sailed in 1472 led by Cardinal Caraffa, and they were joined at Rhodes by 30 ships from Naples and 36 from Venice; but they only captured 25 Turks and 12 camels.

Sixtus IV broke the nepotism records by appointing five of his nephews and one grand-nephew as cardinals. The most important were the young Pietro Riario and Julian della Rovere in 1471. He appointed Julian’s brother Lionardo prefect of Rome, and upon his death in 1475 replaced him with his brother Giovanni. Julian became archbishop of Avignon and Bologna, bishop of Lausanne, Constance, Viviers, Ostia, and Velletri, and he was put in charge of several abbeys. Riario was rumored to be the Pope’s son, and he became bishop of Spoleto, Seville, and Valencia and patriarch of Constantinople. His income was 60,000 florins, and he had a retinue of a hundred horsemen. He traveled and lived with such indulgence that he died in 1474 at the age of 28, leaving behind a debt of 60,000 florins.

Then his brother Jerome became prominent, and Sixtus bought him Imola for 40,000 ducats, causing a major conflict with Lorenzo de’ Medici. Jerome married Caterina Sforza. Sixtus took his money out of the Medici bank in Rome and transferred it to the Medici’s rival, the Pazzi. In 1478 the Pope even approved a conspiracy to overthrow Lorenzo and his brother, though it was said he told them not to kill him. Lorenzo survived the attempted assassination, and Sixtus put Florence under an interdict and got Naples to be his ally against them. When Turks landed at Otranto in 1480, Sixtus absolved Florence to try to unite Italy. To raise money for the Turkish war he had a brothel opened in Rome to serve both sexes. His taxes on courtesans in Rome raised an estimated 26,000 ducats a year. Sixtus was considered bisexual and was accused of incest because Riario was thought to be his son by his sister. The Turkish threat diminished after Sultan Mehmet II died in 1481.

The aggressive Pope Sixtus IV also supported the Orsini in their bloody feud against the Colonna. He collected indulgences by offering salvation from purgatory. Sixtus authorized anyone who intended to cultivate land to appropriate a third of holdings left to pasture even if the owner was ecclesiastical. He approved the Inquisition in Castile on November 1, 1478 with his Exigit Sinceras Devotionis Affectus bull, beginning centuries of persecution, imprisonment, torture, and hundreds of thousands of deaths. On April 18, 1482 Sixtus ordered that the names of witnesses and accusers be given to the suspects, that imprisonment be in episcopal jails, that confessions to the bishop stop prosecution, and that appeals be allowed to the Apostolic chair; but Fernando complained and suggested that these reforms were started by conversos giving gold to the curia. By October 1483 the Pope had given in to Fernando on all these points, and Torquemada’s appointment was confirmed. When the Pope confirmed the penitent’s right to letters of absolution, Fernando objected again, causing Sixtus to retreat.

Pope Sixtus allowed the Inquisitors in Rome to prohibit the printing of any disapproved book. He cancelled the reforms of the Council of Constance. He put the persecuted scholar Platina in charge of the Vatican library and gave him four assistants to catalog the archives in three volumes. He greatly expanded the Hospital of Santo Spirito in a nine-year project that was completed in 1482, and he authorized the dissection of corpses to teach anatomy. Sixtus had the Sistine Chapel built and founded the Sistine choir. He reorganized the University of Rome, built a new Vatican library and added 1,100 more volumes in Latin and Greek. He opened the first public museum that Paul II had started. He brought the humanist Filelfo to Rome but got behind in paying him his salary of 600 florins a year. Sixtus was the first “warrior Pope” of the Renaissance, and the diarist Infessura called him an impious and iniquitous ruler without charity and motivated by avarice who loved vain pomp and was cruel and a homosexual.

When Sixtus took Forli and gave it to Jerome, he offended Ferrara. This provoked a war, and he got Venice as an ally. When Venice made peace with Ferrara, he put it under the interdict. He even promised a plenary indulgence to anyone who killed a Venetian. The Pope allied with Florence and Milan against Venice. During their feud with the Orsini, the Colonna joined Naples in a war against Pope Sixtus, ravaging Campagna and raiding Rome. The Pope hired Roberto Malatesta of Rimini to lead the papal forces who defeated Naples and the Colonna at Campo Morto. Roberto died of fever and was replaced by Girolamo Riario. Sixtus blessed his artillery that was used to attack the Colonna fortresses. He became ill in 1484. On August 11 he learned that his allies had made peace with Venice against his instructions. Sixtus refused to ratify it but died the next day. He left behind a debt of 150,000 ducats.

Upon the death of Pope Sixtus IV chaos erupted in Rome. Mobs roamed the streets, raided the papal granaries, robbed Genoese banks, and sacked the palace of Girolamo Riario. His wife was defending San Angelo, but Girolamo renounced it for 4,000 ducats. The Orsini and Colonna rivals agreed to withdraw from the city. Girolamo ended his campaign against the Colonna and brought his troops back to Rome, allowing the Colonna to reconquer their fortresses. All but four of the 25 cardinals in the 1484 enclave were Italians. Once again before the election they all agreed to reforms. Rodrigo Borgia offered bribes to get elected; but when he learned that Cardinal Barbo was leading with ten votes, Borgia joined with his rival Giuliano della Rovere to elect Giovanni Battista Cibo, who stayed up all night signing promises for votes. Cibo was born in Genoa but was brought up at the Aragonese court of Naples. He studied at Padua and Rome where he became a priest. Cardinal Giuliano helped him become a cardinal in 1473 and became his main advisor when he became Pope Innocent VIII. Crime was rampant in the streets of Rome, and ecclesiastical offices were sold. The eighteen new papal secretaries contributed 62,400 ducats to the papal treasury. The 52 appointed to seal papal bulls had to pay 2,500 ducats each.

Innocent VIII was influenced by Heinrich Krammer and James Sprenger, and on December 5, 1484 he issued his bull Summis Desiderantes, making them inquisitors in Germany against suspected witches. In 1486 Krammer and Sprenger wrote The Witches’ Hammer (Malleus Maleficarum), blaming witches and magicians for an extended period of cold weather that was later called the “little ice age.” In the preceding five years the two men had 48 people burned at the stake. In 1487 Innocent confirmed the Grand Inquisitor Torquemada in Spain, and he promoted a crusade against Waldensians by offering indulgences. Like the Spanish Inquisition, this campaign against witches also lasted for three centuries and caused hundreds of thousands of women and some men to be imprisoned, tortured, and killed. When Castile drove the Moors from the Iberian peninsula in 1492 by conquering Granada, Innocent urged Torquemada to purge the Jews from Spain as well as the Muslims. Krammer and Sprenger traveled around searching for witches, and the Archbishop of Cologne drew up the Tariff of Torture in order to get money from the families of the suspected witches. Fees were based on the extent of the pain from the various methods of torture. This motivated women to confess in order to protect their families, the usual reward being that she would be strangled before being burned.

Raffaele Riario (1461-1521) was made a cardinal at the age of 17. He became the chief financial officer for the Papal State and fought for the Colonna in the war against the Orsini in 1484. Two years later he erected a palace and sponsored a production of Seneca’s Phaedra on the piazza in front, making the humanist Tommaso Inghirami famous as an actor.

Innocent had so many affairs with women that the rumor went out that he had sixteen children by married women, and he acknowledged at least two of them. Yet Innocent only appointed one of his relatives to the sacred college. His son Franceschetto married Maddalena, the daughter of Lorenzo de’ Medici at the Vatican on January 20, 1488, and in November his granddaughter Peretta wed the Marquis of Finale. In 1489 Innocent appointed Lorenzo’s 14-year-old son Giovanni de’ Medici a cardinal. Innocent also let his foreign policy come under the influence of Lorenzo de’ Medici. The diarist Stefano Infessura wrote that Rome had about 6,800 public courtesans in 1490. Cardinal Giuliano had three daughters, and the children of Rodrigo Borgia were prominent at parties. Cardinal Balue died with a fortune of 100,000 ducats.

Mehmed II’s son Djem Zizim after his father’s death had fled to Rhodes, where the Knights of St. John imprisoned him for the 45,000 ducats a year promised by the Sultan. Djem was transferred to a Hospitaller house in France, and Hungary, Naples, Venice, and the Pope also bid for him. Pope Innocent made D’Aubusson a cardinal, and on March 13, 1489 Djem became a resident of the Vatican. Sultan Bayazid paid the Pope 40,000 ducats a year to keep his younger brother in custody. Djem was terrified of being poisoned and died while still a captive in 1495.

Rome’s war against Ferrante of Naples continued. In 1489 Innocent excommunicated and deposed Ferrante, and the Pope even urged the French to invade Naples. To pay for his wars he pawned the papal miter. He patronized artists such as Pinturicchio and Mantegna and scholars who made translations. In 1489 Innocent learned that two papal secretaries had confessed to forging more than fifty decrees granting dispensations in two years, and he had them hanged. According to rumor the dying Pope was given blood transfusions from three young men who died as a result. Innocent died on July 25, 1492.

Rome under the Borgias 1492-1503

Rodrigo Lanzol was born on January 1, 1431 at Xativa in Valencia of Aragon, and he studied law at Bologna. When his uncle became Pope Calixtus III in 1455, he took his mother’s name Borgia. Calixtus made him a cardinal at the age of 25; but Rodrigo did not become a priest until he was 37. He learned Church administration by serving for so many years as vice chancellor. In 1492 he and Giuliano della Rovere competed to be elected Pope by offering offices and money. Charles VIII of France put 200,000 ducats in a Roman bank for Giuliano, and Genoa provided him with 100,000 ducats. All but five of the 23 cardinals took bribes. Rumors spread that Rodrigo gave Ascanio Sforza four mules loaded with gold, his palace, and the position of vice chancellor. Rodrigo was elected Pope Alexander VI on August 11.

In the 36 days between the death of Pope Innocent VIII and Alexander’s coronation there were 225 murders in Rome. Alexander had the first assassin captured and his brother hanged to restore order in the city. In his first month he made his nephew Giovanni Borgia a cardinal. His son Cesare and three more Borgias also joined the sacred college. Alexander acknowledged numerous children including Pedro Luis, Juan, Cesare, Lucretia, Joffré, and Pedro Ludovico by Vanozza de Cataneis. Juan inherited the dukedom of Gandia in Spain. Cesare was appointed archbishop of Valencia on the day of his father’s coronation at the age of 16.

Cardinal Rovere fortified Ostia while Pope Alexander formed a league against Naples on April 25, 1493. That year Alexander created twelve new cardinals. Although on August 16, 1482 Pope Sixtus IV had written that Cesare was the son of the vice chancellor Rodrigo Borgia, on September 19, 1493 Alexander declared that Cesare was the son of Vanozza and d’Arignano. Thus he was made a cardinal at age 18. The Pope also appointed his mistress Giulia Farnese’s brother Alessandro Farnese and the 15-year-old Ippolito d’Este.

On May 4, 1493 Pope Alexander VI divided the western world by a north-south line 100 leagues west of the Azores, giving Spain the west side of the line and Portugal the east side, but the treaty of Tordesillas on June 7, 1494 moved the line to 370 leagues west of the Cape Verde Islands. That year Ulrich and Jakob Fugger established a banking house in Rome.

Innocent VIII’s son Franceschetto Cibo sold Cervetri and Anguillera to Virginio Orsini for 40,000 ducats and then retired in Florence. Ludovico and Ascanio Sforza complained that this upset the balance of power in Italy, and they urged Pope Alexander to counter King Ferrante of Naples who supported Orsini, but Ferrante advanced the fortunes of the Pope’s children enough to win him over from the alliance with Milan and offered his grandchild Donna Sancia to marry the Pope’s 13-year-old son Joffré. Ludovico Sforza reacted by urging France’s Charles VIII to invade Italy for his claim to Naples that had belonged to the Angevins. Ferrante died on January 25, 1494, and Cardinal Juan Borgia crowned Alfonso II king of Naples.

In September 1494 Charles VIII at the age of 22 led his French army of 40,000 men across the Alps and into Italy with innovative artillery. Giuliano della Rovere fled to Avignon to support the French. The Colonna faction occupied Ostia in the name of France. Milan, Pisa, and Florence opened their gates to the French army while Pope Alexander’s envoys could not get an audience with Charles. Giorgio Bocciardo took the Pope’s letters in July to Sultan Bayezid and was sent back with 40,000 ducats for holding Bayezid’s brother Djem and with letters offering the Pope 300,000 ducats for doing away with Djem. Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere captured Bocciardo at Senigallia, seizing the money and the letters to the Pope. Rovere sent copies of the letters to Charles VIII.

After being welcomed at Milan and Florence, the French army entered Rome on December 31, 1494 with 36 bronze cannons and the cardinals Rovere, Sforza, Savelli, and Colonna, and half the cardinals urged Charles to depose Alexander for simony. The Pope refused to surrender the castle of San Angelo, but he negotiated a deal with Charles, handing over Djem and having Cesare accompany the French to Naples as papal legate. Yet the French seized the port of Ostia and sacked Rome, including Vanozza’s house. The French king moved into the Vatican, and Rovere was the only disaffected cardinal who did not reconcile with Alexander. Charles and his army left Rome with Djem and Cesare on January 25, 1495, but the Turkish pretender died before the French reached and took over Naples in May.

The Pope formed the Holy League with Venice, Germany, Spain, and Milan on March 31, 1495 against the Turks but secretly to expel the French. The French returned north and were defeated by the League of Venice at Fornovo on July 6. Pope Alexander evaded the French and returned to Rome, sending a message to warn Charles to leave Italy or be excommunicated. The Pope demanded that Florence join the League and expel or silence Savonarola who favored the French. Also in 1495 Alexander gave Fernando and Isabel the title of “Catholic” and gave as one of the reasons their expelling of the Jews from Spain in 1492.

Alexander appointed his oldest son Giovanni to lead the papal army against the rebelling Orsini fortresses in 1496. Giovanni was defeated at Soriano and resigned from the army. The papal army managed to regain the fortresses and Ostia. On June 14, 1497 Alexander’s son, Duke Juan of Gandia, was murdered after dining at the home of Vanozza. The Pope was so stricken with grief that he did not eat for three days. He appointed a commission of six cardinals to make proposals for reformation of the Church; but he rejected their proposals because he needed the revenues to reconquer the Papal States. He became absorbed with the weddings and careers of his children Cesare and Lucretia.

Cesare Borgia decided to renounce his ecclesiastical career. Alexander admitted Cesare was his illegitimate son, and the cardinals unanimously invalidated his cardinalate on August 17, 1498. Alexander offered the new King Louis XII of France the divorce he wanted, and the King made Cesare the duke of Valentinois and promised him a royal wife. Called Duke Valentino by Italians, Cesare left Rome with a mule train carrying 200,000 ducats, and he married the King of Navarre’s sister Charlotte d’Albret in May 1499. Cesare escorted Louis XII into Milan on October 6. Louis gave him 300 French lances, 4,000 recruited Gascon and Swiss, and 2,000 Italian mercenaries. The Pope issued a bull declaring that Imola, Forli, Rimini, Camerino, Faenza, Urbino, and Pesaro were being held illegally. His father made Cesare the duke of Romagna and captain-general of the Church with 8,000 mercenaries. The Pope declared war against the houses of the Gaetani, Colonna, Savelli, and Orsini. In January 1500 Cesare and his army crossed the Apennines and marched to Forli which welcomed them. Caterina Sforza refused to surrender the citadel until it was besieged. Cesar did not have enough money to pay his foreign soldiers, and they mutinied.

In the year 1500 hundreds of thousands of pilgrims came to Rome for the Jubilee, and money was put aside for a Turkish crusade. Money collected from Poland and Venice was used for a crusade, but the rest financed the Pope’s campaigns to recover the Papal States. In March a papal bull offered Christians who did not make the pilgrimage Jubilee indulgences for money. In the bull fights Cesare killed five bulls. Cesar admitted that he had Lucretia’s husband, the Duke of Besiglia, murdered on August 18. Pope Alexander had added four Spanish cardinals in 1495, and on September 28, 1500 he appointed twelve cardinals, bringing in 120,000 ducats. Vladislaus II of Hungary paid the Pope 30,000 ducats to annul his marriage to Beatrice of Naples.

Cesare used these funds and money from the Jubilee for a second campaign, and he persuaded Paolo Orsini and his men to join the papal army. Gianpaolo Baglioni of Perugia also came, and Vitellozzo Vitelli led the artillery. In September they attacked and captured the castles held by the Colonna and Savelli in Latium. Cesare led an army of 14,000 men in October into Rimini and Pesaro. Astorre Manfred in Faenza resisted a siege all winter and then surrendered. Cesare let Astorre and his brother join his staff; but at Rome he had them imprisoned at San Angelo, and a year later their bodies were found dead. In 1501 the Pope decreed that no book could be printed without the approval of the local archbishop, though he allowed free expression in Rome. In his campaign against the Campagna nobles his bull described the crimes and vices of the Savelli and the Colonna, and the letter by Mancione to Silvio Savelli accused Alexander and Cesare Borgia of crimes and vices that ruined their reputations for centuries. Also in 1501 the Fuggers promised to loan money to Alexander and King Vladislaus of Hungary for a crusade with a repayment method for disguising the high rate of interest so that it would not be considered usury.

Cesare began his third campaign on June 12, 1502 with Leonardo da Vinci as his chief engineer, and they took Urbino by surprise on June 21. Their art was taken and sold to pay the troops. Vitelli seized Arezzo, angering Florence’s Signory which sent the Bishop of Volterra and Machiavelli to complain to Cesare. He agreed to restore Arezzo if Florence would be loyal to him. Camerino surrendered to the Borgias on July 20, completing the reconquest of the Papal States. Upset that Arezzo was taken away from him, Vitelli invited Baglioni, Bentivoglio of Bologna, and the Orsinis to meet in September and fight against Cesare. Their victories led to revolts in Urbino and Camerino as well.

When Cardinal Ferrari died, Pope Alexander seized his 50,000 ducats and sold his benefices so that Cesare could hire an army of 6,000 men. Cesare in December went to accept the surrender of Senigallia from four leaders, but he treacherously had Vitelli and Oliverotto killed and the two Orsini imprisoned until the Pope approved their execution on January 18, 1503. Alexander also had Cardinal Orsini and other suspects arrested on January 3 and confiscated all the goods in his palace. Cardinal Orsini’s mother tried to use bribery to keep her son alive, but according to rumor he was poisoned by Alexander on February 22. Cesare reluctantly besieged Giulio Orsini’s fortress at Ceri on March 14, using Leonardo’s war machines. Giulio surrendered all the Orsini castles in papal territory. Only Bologna was independent, and Ferrara accepted Lucrezia Borgia as duchess.

In 1503 Cesare got another 130,000 ducats for nine more red hats and 64,000 ducats when the Pope appointed new abbreviators. He also got 150,000 ducats from Cardinal Michiel’s estate in April. Although Rome was known for treating Jews well, the Venetian ambassador Giustiniani and the Florentine envoy Vittorio Soderini reported that Jews were often arrested and charged with heresy until they contributed to the papal treasury. Alexander sanctioned galley labor as a punishment, and life imprisonments could be shortened because of mercy or for financial reasons.

On August 5, 1503 Pope Alexander and Cesare dined outdoors with Cardinal Adriano da Corneto. Six days later the Cardinal got a fever but recovered after three days. On August 12 Alexander and Cesare became ill with fever and vomiting. That summer many died of malaria, and physicians believed they did too. Later rumors spread that they were poisoned. After being bled Alexander died on August 18, 1503, but Cesare recovered.

Rome under Julius II and Leo X 1503-17

While Cesare Borgia was still ill in 1503, the Orsinis recovered their castles. Venice urged the lords of the Romagna to reclaim their principalities. Cesare recovered in time to send armed men to protect the funds in the Vatican. He sent ships and troops to keep his rival Rovere from returning to Rome. The cardinals refused to convene a conclave until the troops of Cesare, the Orsini, and the Colonna left Rome. Cardinal Rovere returned, but the rival factions compromised on September 22, 1503 by choosing Cardinal Francesco Piccolomini to be Pius III in honor of his uncle. He was 64 but suffered from an abscessed leg and died on October 18.

Giuliano della Rovere, nephew of Pope Sixtus IV, had become a cardinal at the age of 27. He made a deal with Cesare Borgia for the support of the eleven Spanish cardinals by confirming Cesare as Duke of Romagna and commander of the papal army. Rovere bought other cardinals with bribes and was elected Pope Julius II on October 31, 1503. He had been in exile from Rome for nearly ten years, and his numerous bishoprics and benefices had made him the richest cardinal. Julius had three daughters and appointed two of his nephews to the sacred college on November 29. He did not keep his promise to call a council within two years.

Cesare went to Ostia but refused to obey the Pope’s order to give up the Romagna fortresses. Pope Julius ordered him to return to Rome, and Cesare did so and was arrested. After Cesare yielded his Romagna castles to the Pope, he was released. On April 19, 1504 Cesare went to Naples, where he was welcomed by Gonzalo de Cordoba and given a safe conduct. Cesare organized a small force, but King Fernando of Spain ordered Gonzalo to arrest him. Cesar was taken to Spain in August and was in prison there for two years.

In 1500 Pope Alexander VI had given the Sienese banker Agostino Chigi and the Spannocchi firm control over mining, production and sales at Tolfa for a fixed annual rent, but in 1503 Chigi gained the Spannocchi’s share for complete control. Chigi was the richest man in Rome and became apostolic secretary in December 1505. In 1507 he purchased the position as notary of the Apostolic Chamber that governed his tax concessions and the alum business at Tolfa. He also bought the title “count palatine.” Angelo Colocci worked his way up and became apostolic notary in 1509 and apostolic secretary in 1511. Yet as a humanist he was devoted to antiquities and literature, and he endowed a privately administered museum and library.

Pope Julius II let the Orsini and Colonna go back to their castles, and his relatives married into their families. He was intent on strengthening the Pope’s power over the Papal States, and he hoped to free Italy from foreign invaders; the French held Milan and Genoa, and Spaniards ruled Naples and Sicily. Venice quickly captured Rimini and besieged Faenza. Julius sent Cesare Borgia to Imola and ordered him to recruit a new army. The Pope tried to remedy the injustices of the previous reign and restored Sermoneta to the Gaetani dukes. He criticized Alexander for having enriched his own kin by fraud and deceit.

Julius asserted his authority over papal territory and led an army of 500 men to enforce that. He appointed three nephews of the French Cardinal d’Amboise to the sacred college, and France sent him 8,000 soldiers and withdrew their support from Bologna’s despot Bentivoglio. Naples, Mantua, Urbino, Ferrara, and Florence also pledged military assistance. He returned to Rome as a conquering hero, and he gave thanks with the 28 cardinals in crumbling St. Peter’s church. He sent letters and legates to urge the doge of Venice to give back Rimini, Faenza, Forli and other towns of the Romagna which he had taken. In 1504 Julius authorized an archbishop and two bishops on the island of Española (Haiti). Julius had the ancient St. Peter’s church torn down in 1505 and summoned the artist Michelangelo to Rome. The next year the Pope laid the foundation stone for a much larger building designed by Donato Bramante, offering indulgences for contributions.

In August 1506 Pope Julius led another campaign with Duke Guidobaldo of Urbino in military command. Perugia quickly capitulated. The Pope excommunicated the Bentivogli and others in Bologna, offering an indulgence to anyone who killed any of them. Giovanni Bentivoglio fled, and Julius was carried on a litter and welcomed as a liberator on November 11. He hired Michelangelo to make a statue of him and went back to Rome. Julius hired Swiss soldiers as the papal guard that still exists.

Cesare Borgia’s brother-in-law, King Jean d’Albret of Navarre, arranged his escape in November, and Cesare went to the court of Navarre. When the Count of Lerin rebelled against Jean, Cesare led Navarre’s army against his fortress at Viana. After his troops fled, Cesare was surrounded and killed on March 12, 1507 at the age of 31.

On December 10, 1508 Julius formed the Cambrai alliance with Louis XII, Emperor Maximilian, and later Fernando of Spain. They bound themselves to fight the Turks and planned to divide up Venetian holdings. France already had Milan and was to get Cremona and Brescia. Maximilian was promised Verona, Padua, and Aquileia. Naples would take over the Venetian towns of Monopoli, Trani, Brindisi, and Otranto in the south. Hungary would get Dalmatia, and Savoy would get Cyprus. The Pope would regain the portions of the Papal States that had been lost. In January 1509 France declared war on Venice, and on April 15 King Louis led the French army out of Milan toward Venice. On April 27 Pope Julius put Venice under the interdict, and Venice called for a general council. The French army defeated the Venetians in the battle at Agnadello on May 14, and by the end of the month Bergamo, Brescia, Crema, and Cremona had surrendered to the French. The Cambrai alliance also forced Venice to withdraw from Rimini, Faenza, and Ravenna. The republic could no longer nominate bishops and tax the clergy without the Pope’s consent, and the Adriatic was opened to free trade. On February 24, 1510 Venetian envoys in Rome were humiliated on their knees before they were forgiven. The absolution made Venice a papal ally.

Julius hoped to bring Ferrara under his power, and he excommunicated Duke Alfonso. Bishop Schiner of Sitten helped the Pope hire 6,000 Swiss mercenaries for 13,000 gulden a year and 6 francs a month for each soldier and twice that for officers, and later Schinner was made a cardinal. In Brescia the government had refused to burn women convicted as witches by the Inquisition in 1486, but in 1510 they burned 140 people for witchcraft.

In September 1510 Louis XII met with French bishops at Tours, and they condemned Julius for having put aside the keys of St. Peter to take up the sword of Paul. They stopped the transfer of funds from France to Rome and declared that princes had the right to oppose Julius by force even in papal territory.

Pope Julius got out of his sick bed in the cold January of 1511 and joined his army in their camp. He led the siege of Mirandola in northern Ferrara, and its envoys surrendered on January 20. They paid a ransom of 6,000 ducats. Francesca Trivulzio was forced to leave, and she was replaced by her brother-in-law Gianfrancesco. The Pope traveled by sled on the snow and reached Bologna on February 7 but four days later left for Ravenna. On March 10 he created eight new cardinals and used the money to pay his soldiers. Julius returned by horse to Bologna on April 6. Peace talks broke off on April 25, and the French forced him to flee from Bologna on May 14. They tore down the statue Michelangelo made and sold the bronze to Alfonso of Ferrara who used it for cannons. Julius once again excommunicated his enemies.

The French recaptured Mirandola, and at Rimini the Pope found a document on the door of San Francesco signed by nine cardinals announcing a general council at Pisa on September 1, 1511. Julius almost died of an illness in August. To oppose the French he pulled together the Holy League on October 4 with Venice and Spain’s Fernando, and England’s Henry VIII joined on November 13. Because the Florentine Signory permitted the council to meet at Pisa, the Pope declared war on Florence.

Only six cardinals, two archbishops, and fourteen bishops attended the council at Pisa on November 5, and one week later they moved to Milan. In March 1512 Louis ordered the council to move to Bologna. After the French were defeated, the council transferred to Asti in Piedmont on June 4 before adjourning to Lyons where it dissolved on July 6. The minority synod had declared Pope Julius II deposed and had confirmed the decree of the Constance Council giving general councils authority over the Pope.

In January 1512 Pope Julius appointed Cardinal Schiner papal legate to the Swiss. France’s governor of Milan, Gaston de Foix, led the French army of 25,000 men that drove away the Spaniards besieging Bologna and took over the city. The French army slaughtered 7,000 people at Brescia and pillaged such valuable loot that many of their soldiers went home. The Holy League’s army of 20,000 met the remaining French army on Easter Sunday near Ravenna. Gaston de Foix was killed, but their artillery overwhelmed the League’s army in one of Italy’s bloodiest battles that left nearly 20,000 dead. Rimini, Forli, and other cities opened their gates for the French.

In March 1512 Pope Julius had appointed eight cardinals to reform the Curia, and on March 30 he issued a bull to reduce burdensome fees. While summoning the Lateran Council on April 19 he deposed the cardinals who attended the council at Pisa, and France was put under the interdict. The Lateran Council began on May 3 with seventy cardinals, twelve patriarchs, ten archbishops, seventy bishops, and three generals of orders. Pope Julius presided over the first session on May 10 with the three goals of ending the schism, reforming the Church, and prosecuting a crusade. Simony during papal elections was severely condemned.

On May 17, 1512 Pope Julius announced that Germany had joined the Holy League. About 18,000 Swiss mercenaries met in Verona on May 28, and they joined the Venetians in Valleggio on June 2 and the papal forces at Cremona four days later. Maximilian drew the German troops from the French army, and the Holy League forced the French to give up Milan and retreat across the Alps. The Pope took over Parma and Piacenza. He bought Siena from Maximilian for 30,000 ducats and with the help of Spanish troops forced Florence to restore the Medici in August. The Pope recovered Bologna, Ravenna, and the Romagna while his lieutenant, the Duke of Urbino, reconquered Modena and Reggio. The Marquis of Este was still in Ferrara, and the French held onto Brescia. Ghiara d’Adda yielded Cremona to Sforza and his Swiss. Venice refused to give Vicenza and Verona to Maximilian even though the Pope supported Maximilian. A Spanish army took over Brescia, and the Swiss gained control of Milan.

Julius became ill and died on February, 20, 1513. He had spent 200,000 ducats on a new jewel-studded tiara. Despite his large war expenditures, building projects, and art work, Julius left 400,000 ducats worth of coins and plate. The “warrior Pope” had established the Papal States and the temporal power of the Pope that lasted until 1870. Maximilian announced his support of the Lateran Council in December, and this council went on until 1517, confirming Boniface’s theory that the Roman pontiff is supreme. When the Council disbanded in March, many people were disappointed that long-needed reforms had not been made.

Lorenzo de’ Medici’s son Giovanni became Pope Leo X at the age of 37. He was ordained a priest on March 15, 1513, and two days later his coronation festival cost about 100,000 ducats. To confront the French threat in northern Italy he agreed on April 5 to the Mechlin treaty with Emperor Maximilian, England’s Henry VIII, and Spain’s Fernando. After the Swiss defeated the French at Novara on June 6, King Louis XII accepted the authority of the Lateran Council. Cardinals Carvajal and Sanseverino, who had gone to the Pisan Council, confessed their error and were reinstated. Pope Leo secretly approved the marriage of Louis to Henry’s sister Mary Tudor and to his claims in northern Italy. On November 5 Leo united the College of the Holy Palace in the Vatican with the City College to form the University of Rome which soon had 88 paid professors including fifteen in medicine. He invited the scholar John Lascaris, and he organized the Greek Academy in Rome. During his first year Leo opened a theater on the Capitol. His edict with major reforms on May 3, 1514 met so much resistance that he did not enforce them. That year three hundred people were burned for witchcraft at Como.

The fifth Lateran Council resumed in April 1513 and ratified the concordat. On December 19 they affirmed the doctrine of the immortality of the individual soul. On May 14, 1515 a decree granted Franciscans the right to charge interest on loans to cover expenses but not for profit. The censorship of books was put in the hands of the bishop in each diocese, but no fee was to be charged for the service. They affirmed the supreme authority of the Pope over Church councils in 1516. They even added that disobedience of the Pope could be punished with death. The Council adjourned on March 16, 1517.

In January 1515 Leo persuaded Maximilian and Spain to accept the Pope’s brother Giuliano de’ Medici’s receiving Parma, Piacenza, and Reggio. Leo bought Modena from the Emperor for 40,000 ducats and was sending 60,000 ducats a month for the troops of his secret allies. He was also secretly negotiating with Venice in order to drive the Spaniards out of Italy. After the French army of 35,000 men led by King François defeated 20,000 Swiss mercenaries at Marignano in September, Pope Leo met with François at Bologna and gave him Parma and Piacenza. They also replaced the Pragmatic Sanction with a concordat which recognized France’s right to nominate French bishops, abbeys, and priories, but did not make the pope subject to general councils.

During 1515 Pope Leo X increased the number of officials in Rome from 141 to 612, raising 286,000 ducats. By starting the order of the Knights of St. Peter he brought in 1,000 ducats per knight from the 401 members. Leo appointed the artist Raphael superintendent of antiquities. In 1516 the Pope began offering indulgences for contributions to the rebuilding of St. Peter’s.

On March 5, 1517 Leo issued a bull calling for the rulers of Europe to accept a five-year truce so that they could prepared an expedition against the Turks. In May a plot was discovered to murder the Pope by the physician Battesta de Vercelli while operating on his piles aggravated by sodomy. He and Cardinal Alfonso Petrucci, who came to Rome on a safe conduct, were tortured, confessed, and were executed. Cardinals Raffaele Riario, Soderini, Adrian of Corneto, and Saulis were implicated in the plot and paid fines totaling 150,000 ducats. On July 3 Leo’s nephews Giovanni Salviati and Nicolas Ridolfi were among the 31 new cardinals, including seven from prominent Roman families, that brought in an estimated 500,000 ducats. The Pope’s annual income was almost 600,000 ducats with 420,000 coming from state revenues and mines.

Popes Leo X, Clement VII and Paul III
Popes Paul IV, Pius IV and Pius V
Popes Gregory XIII and Sixtus V

Naples and Sicily 1400-1517

Sicily and Naples 1250-1400

King Louis II of Naples decided to go back to Provence, and in 1399 Ladislaus regained Naples. In 1406 Ladislaus gained Taranto by marrying the dowager princess Mary of Taranto. Pope Alexander V of Avignon urged Louis II to reconquer Naples, and in 1409 he liberated Rome from the occupation by Ladislaus, whom he defeated again at Roccasecca in 1411. However, Louis could not take Naples away from Ladislaus and returned to Provence again. Ladislaus made peace with Pope John XXIII on June 14, 1412 and was invested with the Neapolitan crown. In 1413 Ladislaus invaded the Papal State and sacked Rome. He became ill and went back to Naples, where he died on August 6, 1414.

Ladislaus was succeeded by his sister Giovanna (Joanna) II. She was a widow and was in love with the page Pandolfello Alopo before she married Jacques de la Marque in 1415. Jacques kept her confined in the Castel Nuovo and had Alopo tortured and killed. When she attended a feast, her subjects were shocked at her appearance and escorted her to the Castel Capuano, imprisoning her husband. Giovanna then took up with Sergianni Caracciolo. In 1418 Jacques went back to France, and Giovanna II was crowned on October 19, 1419. When she refused to support the papal army, Pope Martin V turned to Louis III of Anjou, who invaded Campania. The Pope summoned the ambassadors to Florence and tried to mediate, but Giovanna offered Alfonso V of Aragon the throne of Naples. He entered Naples in July 1421, but in May 1423 Alfonso had Sergianni arrested and besieged Giovanna in the Castel Capuano. She called on Muzio Sforza, who drove Alfonso into the Castel Nuovo. When Alfonso’s Sicilian fleet arrived, Giovanna and Sergianni escaped to Aversa. She met Louis, named him her heir, and renounced her offer to Alfonso. On January 4, 1424 Muzio Sforza drowned while trying to save a soldier. His son Francesco Sforza came to Aversa, and Giovanna confirmed him in his father’s honors.

Alfonso V went back to Aragon in 1424, and Giovanna returned to Naples. Pope Martin made his nephew Antonio the duke of Aquila. Giovanna liked Louis and fell out with Sergianni, who become jealous. The Duchess of Sessa hated Sergianni and had him murdered. The Queen provoked a war between the Sanseverini and the Prince of Taranto and sent Louis against Taranto, resulting in the death of Louis in November 1434. Giovanna died on February 2, 1435 and willed her kingdom to René of Anjou, the last Angevin king of Naples.

René was held prisoner by Duke Philippe of Burgundy until 1438 but was supported by the Neapolitans. In 1435 Milan’s Filippo Maria Visconti sent a Genoese fleet that helped them defeat and capture Alfonso near the island of Ponza, and he was sent to Milan. Alfonso persuaded Filippo Maria that they should drive the French out of Naples. René of Anjou went to Naples in 1438.

After seven years of war Alfonso captured Naples on June 2, 1442, and René fled to Provence. Alfonso limited the plundering to four hours and hanged some men who disobeyed. He triumphantly entered Naples on February 26, 1443, and he had the city and fortress rebuilt. He recognized the barons as the political authorities in their lands. The general collecta tax was replaced by a hearth tax, which the barons were supposed to pay for the serfs but which fell on the communes. Pope Eugenius IV recognized René of Anjou, but the alternative Pope Felix V offered to recognize Alfonso. Alfonso negotiated with Eugenius, who recognized him and legitimized his son Ferrante as his legal heir in the treaty of Terracina signed on June 14, 1443. Alfonso recognized Eugenius as the Pope and withdrew his representatives from the Council of Basel, and he promised to drive the condottiere Francesco Sforza out of the March of Ancona.

Alfonso preferred Naples to his kingdom of Aragon and remained in Italy until his death in 1458. After Filippo Maria Visconti died in 1447, Alfonso sent an army to claim Milan, but they withdrew by the end of 1448. After the peace of Lodi in 1454, Alfonso and Milan’s Francesco Sforza formed an alliance. Alfonso had promoted the ecclesiastical career of Alonso Borja, who became Pope Calixtus III (1455-58) and concentrated on the crusade, asking Alfonso to contribute a fleet and serve as an admiral. However, the King of Naples urged the condottiere Jacopo Piccinino to fight in Tuscany, and Alfonso diverted his fleet from the crusade to ravage the coast of Genoa, battling Christian ships. In June 1457 the King and the Pope threatened to depose each other. When Alfonso died on June 27, 1458, Pope Calixtus rejected Ferrante and supported pretenders to the throne of Naples; but the Pope died on August 6.

The humanist Panormita recorded that Alfonso washed the feet of paupers on Holy Thursday each year and gave them money. Alfonso reduced taxes on the poor, getting money mostly from financiers and merchants. He also extorted money from Jews by threatening to baptize them as Christians. In 1453 Alfonso crowned the poet Filelfo with laurel. The King paid the Greek humanist George of Trebizond 600 ducats a year 1452-55. He also paid Panormita 900 ducats in 1454, Giannozzo Manetti 900 in 1455, and Bartolomeo Facio 500 in 1457. Alfonso paid Poggio Bracciolini 500 crowns to translate Xenophon’s Cyropaedia into Latin, and he gave Facio 2,000 ducats for the history of himself. The Florentine biographer Vespasiano da Bisticci wrote that Alfonso spent 20,000 ducats on scholars in the last year of his reign. For his generosity to humanists Alfonso was called Il Magnanimo.

Ferrante was born at Valencia on June 2, 1431, and his father Alfonso summoned him to Naples in 1438. His father hoped to marry him to a daughter of Visconti or Charles VII; but Ferrante wed Isabella di Chiaromonte, the niece of the Orsini prince of Taranto in May 1445, and she gave him four sons and two daughters by 1461. Ferrante was the Duke of Calabria and his father’s lieutenant-general in Naples. He led the army into Tuscany in 1452 during the Milanese succession struggle. When Alfonso died in 1458, his brother Juan II succeeded him as king of Aragon, Sardinia, and Sicily; but Ferrante inherited the kingdom of Naples. He began by convoking a parliament at Capua, and the assembled barons recognized him there. Pope Pius II replaced Calixtus, who had supported René and his son Jean of Anjou, and Pius recognized Ferrante in August 1458 and made a treaty with him in October.

However, Juan of Aragon’s oldest son, Prince Carlos of Viana, had been in Naples since 1456, and he intrigued with the barons before returning to Spain in 1460. Jean of Anjou came to Naples in October 1459 with 24 galleys and led a rebellion with some barons, including the Prince of Taranto. Ferrante was supported with troops from Pope Pius and Francesco Sforza of Milan, and with the Neapolitan army they tried to quell the rebellion. In a meeting on May 30, 1460 the prince of Rossano, who was married to Ferrante’s sister, tried to assassinate Ferrante with two men and fled. Ferrante invited several barons to a meeting for reconciliation and then treacherously imprisoned Marino Marzano and his five-year-old son for thirty years. Ferrante’s surprise attack on the enemy camp at Sarno on July 7 was a terrible defeat with most of their soldiers being captured. Ferrante escaped to Naples with only twenty cavalry.

Sforza disrupted the Angevin supply lines by instigating a rebellion against the French garrison at Genoa. On August 29, 1462 Neapolitan and Milanese forces defeated Jean of Anjou at the battle of Troia. The Prince of Taranto made peace with Ferrante and was followed by other barons, and the Prince died in November 1963, ending the internal revolt. Jean continued his quest but was defeated in a naval battle at Ischia on July 7, 1465 when Juan II of Aragon’s flotilla helped the Neapolitan navy.

Ferrante allowed the larger towns autonomy and tried to remove the barons’ impediments to commerce. In 1466 he proclaimed free trade and an end to monopolies and tolls. Eventually he forced the barons to open their pasture lands. Pope Eugenius (1431-47) had given Alfonso a lifetime exemption from paying tribute, and Pope Pius (1458-64) continued that for Ferrante; but Pope Paul II (1464-71) wanted the tribute, and Ferrante only sent the white horse. This tension was removed when Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84) remitted all the tribute. When he went to war against Florence in 1478, Duke Alfonso of Calabria led the Neapolitan army into Tuscany and defeated Florentine forces in the fall of 1479. Lorenzo de’ Medici came to Naples in December and stayed four months negotiating with Ferrante. The Turkish admiral Ahmed Pasha landed near Otranto with 140 ships and 18,000 soldiers on July 18, 1480 and captured the city on August 11. They killed 12,000 of the 20,000 inhabitants, including Archbishop Stefano Pendinelli and all the men. Duke Alfonso brought his army back from Tuscany and besieged the Turks at Otranto in October, taking the city back on September 10, 1481.

In 1482 Pope Sixtus made an alliance with Venice and went to war against Ferrara, Naples, Florence, and Milan. Duke Alfonso led the Neapolitan army again and ravaged the Papal States. In April 1483 the Pope changed sides and began fighting against Venice with the other allies. Alfonso cooperated with Milanese forces against the Venetian condotierre Roberto Sanseverino in Lombardy and the Veneto. After Milan withdrew, peace was made at Bagnolo on August 7, 1484, a few days before Sixtus died. Pope Innocent VIII was from Genoa and supported the Angevins and a rebellion by the barons against Naples in 1485. In September the city of Aquila expelled the royal garrison and supported Ferrante’s second son Federico for the throne. Innocent sent Sanseverino and backed Duke René of Lorraine to rule Naples.

The ministers Francesco Coppola and Antonello Petrucci betrayed Ferrante. Duke Alfonso still had a strong army, and they invaded the Papal States, defeated Sanseverino, and suppressed the barons. On August 11, 1486 Ferrante and Pope Innocent made peace, and the King of Naples promised to pay the Pope tribute and pardon the rebelling barons. Duke Alfonso ratified the agreement two days later, but Ferrante sought revenge and had his men arrest Francesco Coppola and Antonello Petrucci with their families. Petrucci’s two sons and his brother Gianantonio were executed on December 11, and on May 11, 1487 Petrucci and Coppola were beheaded. Ferrante also had several other barons arrested and interrogated in June and July, and they were kept in dungeons for years.

King Ferrante died on January 25, 1494. France’s Charles VIII also claimed Naples, and in 1494 he led an army into Italy. Pope Alexander VI rejected the French claim and sent a cardinal to crown Alfonso II on May 8. He gladly sent the tribute and the white horse, and his illegitimate daughter Sancia married Alexander’s illegitimate son Joffré. Alfonso strengthened the defenses of Naples and sent his brother Federico with the fleet to help the Genoese exiles and keep the port from supplying the French. Alfonso sent his son Ferrandino to lead an army with papal allies in the Romagna. The French army crossed the Alps in September, and Federico’s navy was defeated at Rapallo. The French army avoided the Neapolitan forces in Lombardy, and after visiting Rome headed south for Naples.

Alfonso abdicated on January 23, 1495 and went to Sicily. Charles VIII entered Naples on February 22 as Ferrandino escaped to Ischia. The French army abused the people, and Ferrandino and Federico led insurrections against the occupiers. King Fernando of Aragon organized an army in Sicily, and on March 31 the League of Venice with him, the Pope, Emperor Maximilian, Milan, and Venice formed a coalition to drive out the French. Charles VIII left Naples with half his army on May 24, and Ferrandino entered the city on July 7, though the remaining French were not gone until the end of the year. After a 32-day siege the French capitulated at Atella on July 21, 1496. Almost before he could govern, Ferrandino died of illness on October 5, making his uncle Federico king of Naples. Many barons intrigued with the French. Federico refused to marry his daughter Carlotta to Cesare Borgia; but Pope Alexander made an alliance with the French when Cesare married a French princess in 1499.

King Fernando of Aragon had his eye on Naples, and in November 1500 he made the secret treaty of Granada with Louis XII of France in which they agreed to divide the kingdom of Naples. When the French army invaded again in 1501, Federico turned to Fernando for help; but he soon learned that his general Gonsalvo de Cordoba was allied with the French. The powerful French and Spanish armies quickly conquered the Regno of Naples, and Federico surrendered. The French and Spaniards quarreled over the territory, and Gonsalvo began fighting the French in 1503, driving them from the Neapolitan kingdom by the end of the year. In 1504 Gonsalvo became the first viceroy in Spain’s rule of Naples that would last 210 years.

Martin ruled Sicily from 1392 and as a Spanish general put down an uprising in Sardinia on June 30, 1409, but he died there one month later. Some Sicilian barons profited from this war. Aragon began ruling Sicily, but King Marti ruled for only one year before he died in 1410. Cabrera defied the regency of Queen Bianca, and Sicily suffered under factions. Citizens in Messina supported Queen Bianca and occupied the royal castles at Catania and Syracuse. Pope John XXII claimed to be the feudal overlord and proclaimed King Ladislaus of Naples sovereign over Sicily. However, Palermo supported Cabrera, and the Taormina parliament was boycotted. Fernando became king of Aragon in 1412 and also claimed Sicily. For the next four centuries Sicily would be ruled by viceroys of Aragon, and Fernando’s son Juan de Peñafiel was the first. Aragon’s King Alfonso V (r. 1416-58) also claimed Sicily. He established a school of Greek at Messina and a university in Catania in 1434. After Aragon was united with Castile in 1479, Sicily was governed by viceroys from Spain.

Humanists and Naples
Naples and Sicily 1517-88

Copyright © 2011 by Sanderson Beck

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MEDIEVAL EUROPE 1250-1400
EUROPE & Reform 1517-1588

Milan and Venice 1400-1517
Florence, the Medici and Machiavelli
Rome, Popes, and Naples 1400-1517
Italy and Humanism
Eastern Europe 1400-1517
German Empire 1400-1517
Scandinavia 1400-1517
Castile, Aragon, Granada, and Portugal 1400-1517
France’s Long War 1400-1453
France in the Renaissance 1453-1517
England of Henry IV, V, and VI 1399-1461
England 1461-1517
Scotland and Ireland 1400-1517
Erasmus and Spreading Humanism
Summary and Evaluation Europe 1400-1517
Bibliography

ETHICS OF CIVILIZATION Index
Chronology of Europe 1400-1588
World Chronology

BECK index