Callistus III, Pope
CALLISTUS III, POPE
Pontificate: April 8, 1455, to Aug. 6, 1458; b. Alfonso de borgia Játiva (near Valencia), Spain, Dec. 31, 1378; d. Rome, Italy. Born in the year the western schism began, he studied and taught law at the University of Lérida, where he was a cathedral canon before he became a jurist in the service of his king, Alfonso V of Aragon. Pope Martin V made him bishop of Valencia in 1429 for having obtained the resignation of antipope Clement VIII (Gil S. Muñoz, who succeeded benedict xiii) in Peñíscola; Eugene IV created him a cardinal for his services in separating Alfonso V from the supporters of the Council of basel. A man of austere life who possessed the mind of a medieval canonist, he was elected pope as a neutral, since it was impossible to elect anyone from the colonna or orsini camps.
He was not a dedicated patron of humanism, as his predecessor nicholas v had been, but neither was he its enemy. The policy of a balance of power in Italy that he followed had been begun by Nicholas with the Peace of Lodi, resulting in the Italian League (1454–55) of Venice, Milan, Florence, Rome, and Naples. His main goal, a crusade, made urgent after the fall of constantinople to the Turks (May 29, 1453), depended on peace in Italy. Hence in 1455–56 he opposed by spiritual and military means the Sienese conquests of the condottiere Giacomo Piccinino, who was protected by Alfonso V of Aragon and (after 1442) of Naples. On Alfonso's death (June 27, 1458), Callistus asserted the rights of the Holy See to the Kingdom of Naples, which had been left by Alfonso to his natural son, Ferrante I.
The crusade against the Turks was Callistus' greatest achievement. The papal legate to the holy roman empire and to hungary, Cardinal Juan de carvajal, won the promise of aid from Emperor Frederick III and the complete support of King Ladislaus V of Hungary and Bohemia. John Hunyadi, exregent of Hungary, and St. john capistran, who preached the crusade, led the troops that forced the Turks to raise the siege of Belgrade. Confronted with opposition to this enterprise from German princes and prelates, who regarded the tithes to be levied as a burden on the German Church, Callistus turned to Scanderbeg (George Castriota), Prince of Albania, and to Alfonso V. After the defeat of the Turkish fleet at Metelino by the papal Aragonese fleet under Cardinal Scarampo, and after the land victory of Scanderbeg at Tomorniza (both in 1457), the pope formed an alliance with Stephen Thomas, King of Bosnia, and with Matthias Corvinus (Hunyadi), the new King of Hungary, as he was not able to rely for aid on Germany, Burgundy, France, Castile, or Portugal. At the same time, he was reconciled with the new King of Bohemia, George Poděbrad.
The Turkish threat kept Callistus from the needed reform of the Church, but his excessive nepotism was a contributing factor. The swarm of Valencians and Catalans at his court can be explained only by the animosity and ill-will shown by Italians at the election of a foreign pope and by the presence of numerous Spaniards in Naples after its occupation by Alfonso V. Some of them, however, e.g., Abp. Pedro de Urrea of Tarragona and Antoni Olzina, were more loyal to the king than to the pope. Callistus' nephews Rodrigo de Borgia (later Pope alex ander vi), bishop of Gerona, Oviedo, and Valencia and vice-chancellor of the States of the Church, and Lluís Joan del Milà (bishop of Segorbe), cardinals in 1456, were known for loose and worldly lives. Rodrigo's brother Pere Lluís (duke of Spoleto and captain general of the States of the Church) had to flee Rome on the day of Callistus' death, and he himself died in nearby Civitavecchia when the Italians vented their hate against the Catalans. Callistus died on the Feast of the transfiguration, which he had instituted to commemorate the victory at Belgrade.
Bibliography: Sources. poggio bracciolini, Vitae quorundum pontificum in Liber pontificalis, ed. l. duchesne (Paris 1886–92, 1958) 2:546–560. Cf. c. da capodimonte, "Poggio Bracciolini autore delle anonime Vitae quorandam pontificum," Rivista di storiaa della Chiesa in Itallia 14 (1960) 27–47. Magnum bullarium Romanum a beato Leone Magno usque ad S. D. N. Benedictum XIII., 8 v. (new ed. Luxembourg 1727) v.1. f. fita, "Restos mortales de C. III y Alejandro VI," Boletin de la Real Academia de la Historia 18 (1891) 159–166. l. von pastor, ed., Ungedruckte Akten, v.1 (Freiburg 1904) 37–91. f. martorell, "Un inventario della biblioteca di C. III," Miscellanea Francesco Ehrle, v.5 (Studi e Testi 41; 1924) 166–191. j. rius serra, "Un inventario de joyas de C. III," Analecta Sacra Tarraconensia 5 (1929) 305–320; ed., Regesto ibérico de C. III, 2 v. (Barcelona 1948–58). o. raynaldus, Annales ecclesiastici, ed. j. d. mansi, 15 v. (Lucca 1747–56) 10:13–157. Literature. j. stein, C. III et la comè'te de Halley (Rome 1909). j. b. altisent jovÉ, Alfonso de Borja en Lérida (Lérida 1924). l. pastor, The History of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages (Freiburg 1955–) 2:315–495. j. sanchis sivera, "El obispo de Valencia, Don Alfonso de Borja (C. III), 1429–1458," Boletin de la Real Academia de la Historia 88 (1926) 241–313. j. rius, "Catalanes y Aragoneses en la corte de C. III," Analecta Sacra Tarraconensia 3 (1927) 193–330. p. paschini, "La flotta di C. III, 1455–1458," Archivio della Società romana di storia patria 53–55 (1930–32) 177–254. l. gÓmez canedo, Un español al servicio de la Santa Sede, Don Juan de Carvajal (Madrid 1947). f. babinger, Mehmed der Eroberer und seine Zeit (Munich 1953). g. hofmann, "Papst Kalixt III. und die Frage der Kircheneinheit im Osten," Misc Mercati, 6 v. (Studi e Testi [Rome 1900–] 121–126; 1946) 3:209–237. a. m. albareda, "Il bibliotecario di C. III," ibid. 4:178–208. c. m. de witte, "Les Bulles pontificales et l'expansion portugaise au XVe siècle," Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique 51 (1956) 413–453, 809–836. p. brezzi, "La politica di C. III," Studi romani 7 (1959) 31–41.