Pius IV (Pope) (Giovanni Angelo de' Medici; 1499–1565; Reigned 1559–1565)

views updated May 23 2018

PIUS IV (POPE) (Giovanni Angelo de' Medici; 14991565; reigned 15591565)

PIUS IV (POPE) (Giovanni Angelo de' Medici; 14991565; reigned 15591565), Italian pope. Born in Milan, Pius IV studied medicine at Pavia and received his doctorate in canon and civil law from Bologna. He entered papal service as a governor in the Papal States, then as apostolic commissary to the papal forces assisting the emperor in Transylvania and Hungary against the Turks (15421543), and afterwards as administrator in the papal states. In 1545, he was appointed archbishop of Ragusa, and in 1549 he was elevated to cardinal when the duke of Florence invited him to take the coat of arms of the House of Medici, though he was not related. He served as permanent prefect of the Segnatura gratiae, the supreme tribunal of the Roman curia for responding to appeals and supplications, under Julius III (reigned 15501555), but withdrew from service during the reign of Paul IV (15551559), whose anti-Spanish policies he rejected. In 1558, he left Rome for Tuscany. He was elected pope on 25 December 1559 as a candidate acceptable to all factions.

Pius's most notable achievement was to recall (and maintain control over) the general church council that had met at Trent (15451546 and 15521553) for its third and final period (15621563). On 4 December 1563, after completing work in its 25th session, the council was dissolved. Pius confirmed its decrees orally on 26 January 1564 and with the bull Benedictus Deus (30 June 1564). He asserted the right of the papacy to be final interpreter of the Tridentine legislation, which he entrusted to the Congregation of the Council of Trent. He carried out the council's directives promptly; among his first actions was an order that all absentee bishops return to their dioceses. In 1564, he established the Congregation of the Index of Forbidden Books, which mitigated the Index of Paul IV. He allowed bishops to give the chalice to the laity in lands affected by the Reformation, but he deferred the question of married clergy. With Tridentine legislation as the touchstone of Catholic belief, he ordered all higher clergy and individuals holding ecclesiastical office to take the Profession of the Tridentine Faith, an oath made to the pope, which consists of the Nicene Creed and twelve additional articles reflecting the clarification of Catholic dogma at Trent.

Pius made his sister's son, twenty-one-year-old Carlo Borromeo (canonized in 1610), a cardinal and appointed him secretary of state and archbishop of Milan. Borromeo rendered heroic services to his uncle in reforming the Sacred College and the offices of papal administration at Rome (Chancery, Datary, Rota, Sacred Penitentiary, and Apostolic Camera), as well as carrying out papal policy in Europe.

In contrast to his predecessor, Pius maintained good relations with Philip II of Spain and Emperor Ferdinand I, but he faced extraordinary challenges in the spread of Lutheranism within the empire and of Calvinism throughout much of Europe. He offered financial support to the French monarchy in resisting the Huguenots, watched anxiously the measures Queen Elizabeth took in England after the death of Mary Tudor, and gave moral, but not financial or military, support to Mary Stuart in Scotland.

At Rome and in the Papal States, Pius worked to repair damages wrought by the overbearing policies of his predecessor. He appointed Cardinal Giovanne Morone, whom Paul IV had persecuted on suspicion of heresy, as president at the Council of Trent. He had a number of cardinals and nobles arrested for murder and improprieties, and approved the execution of cardinals Carlo and Giovanni Carafa and others involved. He limited the powers of the Inquisition and mitigated much of Paul IV's harsh legislation. Pius also promoted education and was generous to artists: He appointed Paulo Manuzio to head a new printing press at Rome for Christian texts, and he beautified the Vatican (with the Casino di Pio IV), Rome (with Michelangelo's Porta Pia), and the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli in the Baths of Diocletian, where his remains were transferred in 1583.

See also Bellarmine, Robert ; Borromeo, Carlo ; Papacy and Papal States ; Trent, Council of .


Cristiani, Léon. "L'Église à l'époque du Concile de Trente." In Histoire de l'Église, depuis les origines jusqu'à nos jours, edited by Augustin Fliche and Victor Martin. Paris, 1948.

Pastor, Ludwig von. The History of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages. Vols. XVXVI. St. Louis, 1929.

Frederick J. McGinness

Pius IV

views updated May 21 2018

Pius IV

Pius IV (1499-1565), by backing the Council of Trent in its last and extremely tense period, emerged as one of the great popes of the Catholic Reformation. By his temperate and tractable approach, he broke with the severe regime of his predecessor, Paul IV.

Giovanni Angelo de' Medici, who became Pius IV, was born into the lesser nobility of Milan on March 31, 1499. His family was not related to the famous Medici of Florence. He received his early education at Pavia, and in 1525 he earned a doctorate in canon and civil law at the University of Bologna. The next year Medici began his service in the Church as a protonotary apostolic. Under Pope Paul III he gained a breadth of experience in administration within the papal states and in diplomacy on missions to Hungary and Transylvania. At the age of 46 Medici was ordained a priest. The same year, 1545, Paul III appointed him archbishop of Ragusa in Sicily and 4 years later raised him to the cardinalate. In 1556 Pope Paul IV assigned him to the archdiocese of Foligno. On Dec. 25, 1559, Medici was elected pope and took the name Pius IV.

Pius IV faced a serious challenge to his diplomatic finesse in the problem of the Council of Trent, which had been suspended since 1552. In 1562 the council was reassembled by his mandate. With astute diplomacy he guided the council's third period, the most stormy and difficult of all, to a successful conclusion on Dec. 4, 1563. During the remainder of his pontificate Pius IV implemented the Tridentine Decrees. In this task, as well as in the application of the Index and in supervising the work of the Inquisition, his sense of moderation and flexibility came to the fore. His sense of statesmanship and his smooth efficiency in administration also greatly aided him. One of Pius IV's chief aides was his nephew, Charles Borromeo, who served in the post of papal private secretary and whom Pius IV created a cardinal and archbishop of Milan in 1560.

Pius IV supported humanistic and artistic ventures in Rome in many ways. He encouraged Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina; he appointed to the cardinalate such eminent humanists as Girolamo Seripando, Stanislaus Hosius, and Guglielmo Sirleto; and he remained a loyal supporter of Michelangelo and heartened him in his work on the dome of the Basilica of St. Peter's. Various edifices and improvements in Rome bear his name: the Porta Pia on the Via Nomentana, the Borgo Pio, and the Villa Pia. Pius IV died in Rome on Dec. 9, 1565.

Further Reading

Even though research calls for some modifications, the best modern comprehensive study of Pius IV is in Ludwig Pastor, History of the Popes, from the Close of the Middle Ages, vols. 15 and 16, translated by Ralph F. Kerr (1928), which contains a full bibliography and list of sources. For background consult Alexander Clarence Flick, The Decline of the Medieval Church, vol. 2 (1930), and Karl H. Dannenfeldt, The Church of the Renaissance and Reformation (1970). □