Julius II, Pope, Cardinal Della Rovere

Julius II, Pope, Cardinal Della Rovere, nephew of pope Sixtus IV, took the papal chair after the one month's rule of Pius II, in 1503. He was born at Albezzola, near Savona, in 1441; became successively bishop of Carpentras, Albano, Ostia, Bologna, Avignon, and Mende and was finally made cardinal by his uncle, Sixtus IV. During the pontificate of Alexander VI, the most infamous and depraved of all the popes, Julian della Rovere already sought to prepare the way for his own succession in the pontificate; but the cardinal d'Amboise, archbishop of Rouen and minister of Louis XII, became his competitor, and the claims of the French prelate were sustained by an army marching against Rome. Outwitted in this attempt, Julian at once set out to procure his future success, and, persuading the Italian cardinals that their interest demanded the election of a native pope, secured the election of Piccolomini as pope Pius III. During the short reign of the latter Julian resumed his intrigues, and when Pius III died, twenty-six days after his election, Julian had so well succeeded in bribing the most influential cardinals by promises of power and temporal advantages that he received the position. After his exaltation to the papal throne, he set about to raise the papacy from the political degradation, to which it had sunk during the reign of his predecessors, generally termed "the night of the papacy." Determined to recover for the Church all that had belonged to the Roman see in the days of Innocent III, he began by driving Caesar Borgia out of his ill gotten possessions in the Romagna; but there he found another power, the Venetians, who, during the preceding troubles, had taken possession of Ravenna, Rimini, and other places. The Venetians offered to pay tribute to the see of Rome for those territories, but Julius refused, and demanded their absolute restitution to the Church. After fruitless negotiations, Julius, in 1508, made a league with Louis XII, the emperor Maximilian, and the duke of Ferrara, against Venice. This was called the League of Cambray, and its object was the destruction of the republic of Venice and the partition of its territories. Venice, however, stood firm, although its armies were defeated and its territories were ravaged by both Germans and French. At last Julius himself, having recovered the town of Romagna, perceived the impolicy of uniting with ultramontane sovereigns against the oldest Italian state, and accordingly, in Feb. 1510, he made peace with Venice. Wishing to undo the mischief which he had done, and to drive the foreigners (whom he styled "barbarians") out of Italy; he first sought to arm the Germans against the French, whom he dreaded most; but, not succeeding, he called to his aid the Swiss. He himself took the field, and attacked and took the town of La Mirandola, entering it by a breach, in January, 1511; later he met with reverses, and lost Bologna. But in the following October his legates succeeded in forming a league, which he called "holy," with Ferdinand of Spain, Henry of England, the Venetians, and the Swiss. The campaign subsequent, in 1512, effected the total expulsion of the French from Lombardy. But this was done by the Swiss, German, and Spanish troops, and Julius merely succeeded in driving one party, of foreigners out of Italy by means of other foreigners, who meantime subverted the republic of Florence, and gave it to the Medici. In the midst of these events, Julius died of an inflammatory disease, on the 21st of February, 1513. He was succeeded by Leo X. Louis XII had convoked a council in order to obtain the approval of the French clergy on his warfare against Rome. To retort this measure the fifth Lateran Council was convoked (brought to a close after the accession of Leo X), and thus the designs of the French king were completely frustrated. As an ecclesiastical ruler Julius has little to recommend him in the eyes of the Christian Church. As a political sovereign, he is described by Ranke as "a noble soul, full of lofty plans for the glory and weal of Italy;" and professor Leo considers him, with all his defects, as one of the noblest characters of that age in Italy. He was fond of the fine arts, patronized Bramante, Michael Angelo, and Raffaelle, and began the structure of St. Peter's Church. See English Cyclopaedia, s.v.; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 7, 157; Reichel, Roman See in the Middle Ages, p. 534 sq.; Baxmann, Politik d. Papste; Bower, Hist. of the Popes, 7, 37 2 sq. (J.H.W.).

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