The POPE Encyclopedia

by Matthew Bunson

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Pope from 1513 to 1521, considered one  of  the  Renaissance
popes whose reign hastened the rise of Martin Luther and the
Protestant Reformation. The second son of Lorenzo  de'Medici
the  Magnificent, Giovanni de'Medici was born in Florence in
1475, growing up in the culturally resplendent court of  the
Medicis.  Made  a  cardinal at the age of thirteen (although
not officially invested until 1492) by Pope Alexander VI, he
was  taught  by the foremost humanists of the time and later
studied theology and canon law at Pisa (1489-1491). With the
exile  of  the  Medicis  from  Florence  in  1494,  Giovanni
wandered across Europe, journeying to France,  Germany,  and
Holland from 1494-1500. Returning to Rome in 1500, he became
one of the leading figures in the pontificate of Julius  II;
Julius appointed him legate to Bologna in 1511 and commander
of the oft-used papal army.  In  April  1512,  Giovanni  was
captured  at Ravenna, escaping a short time later. That same
year he helped secure the turn of his family  to  prominence
in Florence, becoming de facto master of the city until 1513
and the summons to attend the conclave to choose a successor
to  Julius. Only thirty-eight years old, he was nevertheless
elected pope on March 11, 1513, in a vote free of bribes and
The  tone  of  his reign was set by his exclamation, "Let us
enjoy the papacy which God has seen fit to bestow upon us!''
The  incomparably lavish inauguration festivities alone cost
a staggering 100,000 ducats, one seventh ot the vast  wealth
Julius  had  left for his successor. The rest was soon spent
on hunting parties, dances. banquets, theatrical spectacles,
and   every  form  of  excess  and  entertainment.  Leo  was
personally  generous,  moral  and  free   of   any   serious
wickedness,  but his court and enjoyments of the papacy were
Artisans and writers flocked to Rome to share in the  pope's
patronage and cardinals vied to create palaces worthy of the
golden age of culture in which  they  lived.  Such  was  the
appalling  state  to  which papal finances were soon reduced
that Leo turned to  bankers  for  loans  from  such  banking
houses  as  the  Gaddi,  Salviati. and especially the Chigi,
money secured at the usurious rate of 40 percent.  To  repay
them,  the pontitf sold offices and indulgences, creating in
1517 alone thirty  new  cardinals  and  so  netting  500,000
desperately needed ducats. Other revenue was squeezed out of
the survivors  of  an  assassination  plot  orchestrated  by
Cardinal  Petrucci  in 1517; Petrucci was strangled, and the
other members of the cabal  pardoned  after  paying  various
ransoms, some around 50,000 ducats.
The  shadow  upon  his  reign was the rise of Martin Luther,
whom Leo excommunicated in 1520 and  whose  tirades  against
the Church found fertile ground in Germany. In the political
field, Leo was as vacillating in his  alliances  as  he  was
disinterested  in  the  reform  of  the  Church. He at first
concluded a concordat with King Francis I of France in  1516
to  replace the long-standing Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges,
but then, realizing he had alienated the Holy  Roman  Empire
at  a time when he very much needed its help against Luther,
he supported the electioin of Charles  (V)  as  emperor  and
concluded  an  anti-French alliance. This did little to stem
the Lutheran tide and his successors  would  bear  the  full
brunt  of  the Reformation, the dangers of which Leo and his
advisors,  including  Niccolo  Machiavelli,  had  failed  to
recognize.  Leo  died on December 1, 1521. Successor: Adrian

(sebelum, sesudah)

Published by Crown Trade Paperbacks
201 East 50th Street, New York
New York 10022, USA
ISBN 0-517-88256-6

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