Alexander VIII, Pope
ALEXANDER VIII, POPE
Oct. 6, 1689, to Feb. 1, 1691; b. Pietro Vito Ottoboni, Venice, April 22, 1610. Descendant of a noble Venetian family; his father Marco was chancellor of Venice. Pietro showed brilliance in his studies and at 17 won a doctorate in civil and Canon Law at the University of Padua. In 1630 he went to Rome and was made governor of Terni, Rieti, and Spoleto and auditor of the Rota (1643–42). Innocent X named him cardinal in 1652 and bishop of Brescia in 1654. He returned to Rome in 1664 and, under Innocent XI, he became grand inquisitor of Rome and secretary of the Holy Office. When elected pope in 1689, Alexander was an octogenarian. He used the 18 months of his pontificate to diminish the tensions with France, and in a mood of conciliation brought louis xiv to restore Avignon, seized during the reign of innocent xi, and to renounce the privilege of diplomatic residence. He did not give way, however, on the four articles of the assembly of the french clergy of 1682 (Gallican Articles). In the bull Inter multiplices, signed Aug. 4, 1690, but promulgated just two days before his death, he declared them null and invalid. His improved relations with France decreased his friendship with Emperor Leopold I, who recalled his ambassador from the Vatican court and refused to receive the papal chargé d'affaires in Vienna. He was interested also in a possible Stuart restoration in England and established a group to study English affairs. His reign was conspicuous for generous aid to Venice in the Turkish wars, for excessive nepotism, and for his patronage of the Vatican Library. He is also remembered for his condemnation of 31 Jansenist propositions (Denzinger 2301–32), certain errors about the so-called philosophical sin (Denzinger 2290–93), and errors about the love of God (Denzinger 2311–13, 15).
Bibliography: h. denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum, a. schÖmetzer (32d. ed. Freiburg 1963). l. pastor, The History of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages, (London-St. Louis 1938–61) 32:530–560. p. richard, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillat et al. (Paris 1912–) 2:243–251. x. m. le bachelet, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 1903–50; Tables générales 1951–) 1:747–763. g. a. hanotaux, Recueil des instructions données aux ambassadeurs et ministres de France, 3 v. (Paris 1888–1913). Bullarium Romanum (Magnum), ed. h. mainardi and c. cocquelines, 18 folio v. (Rome 1733–62) 20:1–167. l. cognet, Le Jansenisme (Paris 1961). j. dulumeau, Catholicism between Luther and Voltaire (London 1977).
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