Clement VII (Dictionary of World Biography: Renaissance)
Article abstract: While Clement’s pontificate was marred with failures, especially with regard to halting the spread of the Protestant Reformation, he did manage to encourage reforms within the Catholic Church through newly established religious orders and did much to enrich the art treasures of the Vatican.
Guilio de Medici, who would become Pope Clement VII, was born in 1478 in Florence, the illegitimate son of Giuliano de Medici. Giuliano was the brother of Lorenzo de Medici, ruler of the powerful city-state of Florence. Within a year of Guilio’s birth, his father was killed by an assassin, and the boy was left in the care of his uncle Lorenzo. Lorenzo died when Guilio was only fourteen, and guardianship of the boy was then assumed by Lorenzo’s second son, Giovanni, himself only three years older than his cousin Guilio.
Giovanni became Pope Leo X in 1513. As pope, he quickly promoted his cousin Guilio to the rank of cardinal and also made him his personal vice-chancellor. Guilio proved an able administrator, serving his cousin Leo until the pope’s death in 1521. He continued in this same capacity during the short reign of Leo’s successor, Pope Adrian VI, who became pope in 1522 but who died in 1523.
Adrian’s short papacy left the church facing another papal election in 1523. After nearly six weeks of deliberations among the cardinals, Guilio de Medici emerged from the...
(The entire section is 1895 words.)
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