Gregory XIII, Pope
GREGORY XIII, POPE
Pontificate: May 14, 1572, to April 10, 1585; b. Ugo Buoncompagni, Bologna, Jan. 1, 1502. The fourth son of Cristoforo, a merchant, and of Angela Marescalchi, he studied at Bologna under celebrated jurisconsults and became a doctor of canon and civil law at 28. From 1531 to 1539 he taught at Bologna as professor of law, including among his pupils Otto truchsess, Cristoforo madruzzo, Reginald pole, Francesco Alciati, and Alessandro farnese. In 1539 Cardinal Pietro Paolo Parisio brought him to Rome. Paul III made him successively judge in the Capitol, abbreviator (secretary) of the Council of Trent, and vice-chancellor in the Campagna. Until that time he had not been ordained to the priesthood, and while at Bologna, he had a natural son, Giacomo. He was ordained when he was about 40 years of age. Under Paul IV Buoncompagni was made datary to Cardinal Carlo carafa, the pope's nephew, whom he accompanied twice on important legations, namely, to France in 1556 and to Brussels in 1557. In July 1558 he was made bishop of Viesti. Despite his association with the Carafa family, he escaped being involved in their downfall after the death of Paul IV. In 1561 Pius IV sent Buoncompagni, as an expert in Canon Law, to Trent with Cardinal Ludovico simonetta, the legate.
When the Council of Trent ended in 1563, he returned to Rome. On March 12, 1565, Pius IV created him cardinal priest with the title of St. Sixtus. He was then sent to Spain to review the case of the Archbishop of Toledo, Bartolomé de carranza, whom the Inquisition had imprisoned on suspicion of heresy. Felice Peretti (later Sixtus V) accompanied him as theologian on this mission. Pius IV died while Buoncompagni was in Spain. He did not reach Rome for the conclave that elected Pius V. The new pope gave Buoncompagni the Segnatura of Briefs (1566). In the conclave that followed the death of Pius V, Cardinal Antoine Perrenot de granvelle dissuaded those who favored the election of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese and helped secure, with the favor of Philip II, the election of Buoncompagni on May 14, 1572. He took the name Gregory in honor of Pope Gregory the Great, on whose feast day he had been made cardinal.
Religious Restoration. Gregory was fervently concerned with religious restoration. Some of his efforts were inconclusive, as in France, where the outcome in favor of Catholicism would not be decided until after Gregory's death. But the massacre of st. bartholomew's day occurred barely three months after Gregory's election. The letters of Antonio Maria Salviati, the legate in Paris, were read in consistory on Sept. 6, 1572. These alleged, on testimony of the French court, that the huguenots had plotted to kill Charles IX and the royal family and that they had therefore been sentenced to death. Cardinal Charles de Lorraine (1524–1574), a guise, then urged the Pope and Sacred College to join in a Te Deum the following week. The event was celebrated not merely as the defeat of a political treason, but as defeat of a conspiracy against the Church. Although Gregory continued to support the League in France, he sensed the ambition of the Guises. He stressed that members of the League should work primarily for religious and not for political ends.
He failed in moves against England and the Turks, and his efforts in Sweden and Russia were likewise fruitless. He acted against Elizabeth mainly because of her persecution of Catholics, but also because she was aiding the Huguenots surreptitiously and because of mary stuart's situation. He was unsuccessful in his hopes for an Irish invasion, when the first attempt, organized by Thomas Stucley (Stukeley), became abortive in 1578 and the second ended in the killing of his confederate James (Fitzmaurice) Fitzgerald in a skirmish after landing in 1579. In Sweden John III (reign 1568–92) secretly abjured
Lutheranism and began negotiating with the papacy, but his stipulations (including clerical marriage and suppression of the invocation of saints and of prayers for the dead) were unacceptable. John III then reverted to Lutheranism. The efforts of the pope to secure union of the Russian Church with Rome failed because Gregory and his envoys, mediating between Stephen bÁthory of Poland and Ivan IV, underestimated the religious inflexibility of the Russians. Gregory failed also in the attempt to sustain a crusade against the Turks. Despite the victory of Lepanto in 1571, Venice made peace with the Turks in 1573, the Spaniards were driven out of Tunis in 1574, and Spain negotiated a peace in 1581. Hope of organizing a combined Polish-Russian crusade, however, was never realized.
The religious restoration succeeded in Poland, the Low Countries, and parts of Germany. Poland was definitively won for Catholicism. The southern provinces of the Netherlands remained predominantly Catholic, and Michel Baius at Louvain abjured his errors. In Germany Duke Albert of Bavaria and Emperor Ferdinand II halted and reversed Protestant gains in Austria, Carinthia, and Styria. The Jesuits flourished in Ingolstadt, Regensburg, and at the University of Graz. Fulda, Mainz, and Cleves were held for Catholicism. Cologne was saved from the attempt of Gebhard Truchsess to convert that ecclesiastical principality into a holding for his family.
Gregory's nepotism was limited. His son Giacomo was made governor of Castel Sant'Angelo and gonfalonier of the Church. Two of his nephews were made cardinals. But the persons who most influenced his decisions were men imbued, like Cardinal Charles borromeo, with the ideals of Trent.
Reforms. Gregory supported the Jesuits both in Europe and in such lands as India, China, Japan, and Brazil. He also favored the Franciscans, the Trinitarians, and the Capuchins. In 1575 he sanctioned establishment of the Oratory under Philip neri, and approved the reform of the Spanish Carmelites under Teresa of Avila. Wishing to defend the faith with an effectively trained clergy, he fostered such schools as the German, the Greek, and the English colleges. In 1572 he reconstructed the Roman College, later known as the Gregorian University. Many schools outside Rome also owed their foundation to him. He enriched the Vatican Library by donating his own private library to it and opening it to scholars. Calendar correction, undertaken by a commission of scientists, provided a unique memorial to Gregory. The reformed calendar, which dropped ten days and interjected a lead year, was solemnly published in February 1582. Gregory continued and completed Pius IV's commission for a new edition of the Corpus Iuris Canonici, and produced a new edition of the Martyrology. He established the feast of the Most Holy Rosary (1573) and that of St. Anne (1584). In 1575 a jubilee brought over 300,000 pilgrims to Rome.
His stand against Henry of Navarre, against Elizabeth of England, and against the Turks cost great sums. So, too, did his support of schools and missions. He constructed, among many works in Rome, the Quirinal palace, the Gregorian chapel in St. Peter's, and the fountains in the Piazza Navona. His expenditures exhausted the papal treasury and led him to seek additional revenues from papal monopolies and customs. But he also charged escheatments and arrearages against extensive feudal holdings so that many fiefs were reclaimed by the papacy. Widespread banditry then arose on the part of dispossessed nobles, but the pontifical government was lax in countering disorder, and lawlessness came to prevail through the Papal States, even in Rome itself. Commerce declined. Despite the economic and administrative failures at the end of the reign, Gregory's was a great pontificate, especially in the actualizing of the aims of the Council of Trent.
Bibliography: m. a. ciappi, Compendio delle attioni et vita di Gregorio XIII (Rome 1591). p. herre, Papsttum und Papstwahl im Zeitalter Philipps II (Leipzig 1907). l. karttunen, Gregoire XIII comme politicien et souverain (Helsinki 1911). g. levi della vida, Documenti intorno alle relazioni delle chiese orientali con la S. Sede durante il pontificato di Gregorio XIII (Studi e Testi 143; Rome 1948). p. moncelle, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 1903–50; Tables générales 1951–) 6.2:1809–15. l. pastor, The History of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages (London–St. Louis 1938–61) v.19–20. g. schwaiger, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65)2 4:1188–90. g. jacquemet, Catholicisme 5:245–248. c. a. fernandez, Gregory XIII y Felipe II (Toledo 1991). j. dulumeau Catholicism between Luther and Voltaire (London 1977). p. caraman, University of Nations: The Study of the Gregorian University (New York 1981). j. w. o'malley The First Jesuits (Cambridge, Mass. 1993).
[d. r. campbell]