Pope Clement VII (Giulio de' Medici)


Florence 26 May 1478


Rome, 25 September 1534

Pope Clement VII (Giulio de' Medici)

Biological and posthumous son of Giuliano de’ Medici, brother of Lorenzo “il Magnifico” killed during the Congiura dei Pazzi (27 April 1478), and of one Fioretta, he grew up and lived with cousins under the protective wing of his uncle in the family villas. He was very close, in particular to his cousin Giovanni, whom he followed to Rome on several occasions, while his ecclesiastical career progressed; for the rest, during the first part of his life he shared the fate of the family during th time in exile (1494-1512) and just after the “restoration” of the Medici regime in Florence. Giovanni's rise to the Papacy (1513) marked the beginning a brilliant ecclesiastical career also for Giulio. During the confrontation between Charles V and Francis I, after the death of Leo X (1521) he transferred “his” votes in the Conclave to Adriaan of Utrecht, the last non-Italian Pope before John Paul II, as well as tutor of the Emperor. Thanks to the consensus he had gained, Giulio soon became Pope himself in 1523. From then on, a proverbial irresoluteness which often turned into political uncertainties and indecisions led him, first to the French alliance of the League of Cognac (1526) then, as a consequence, to the disastrous confrontation with Charles V, which led to the Sack of Rome in 1527 and to the Medicis being driven away. later on the diplomacy set in motion by the war (in favour of Charles V on all fronts) led the Pope and the Emperor to sign the Treat yf Barcelona, which entaled sacrificing Florence, capitulating in August 1530. Between 1530 and 1534 the sole purpose of Clement VII's action was to consodidate the regime of Alessandro de’ Medici and, more in general the future of the family: by directly hitting the Republicans in Tuscany; finding a position for the other offspring of the family, Ippolito and Caterina, within a wider framework.

Bibliography and sources:

Adriano Prosperi, Clemente VII, in Enciclopedia dei Papi, Roma, Treccani, 2000, s.v.
Marcello Simonetta, Volpi e leoni. I misteri dei Medici, Milano, BUR, 2017

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