Leo XI, Pope

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Pontificate: April 1 to April 27, 1605; b. Alessandro Ottaviano de' Medici, Florence, June 2, 1535. His mother, Francesca Salviati, of a collateral branch of the ruling Florentine family, objected to her son's vocation, and he was not ordained until after her death. For 15 years he served in Rome as the ambassador of Grand Duke Cosimo of Tuscany. Gregory XIII named him bishop of Pistoia in 1573, archbishop of Florence in 1574, and cardinal in 1583. Clement VIII appointed him his legate to France in 1596 in the hope of improving the situation of Catholics under King Henry IV. He became cardinal-bishop of Albano in 1600 and was transferred to Palestrina two years later. At the same time he was named prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars. His election to the papacy with French support was predicted by Philip Neri, his close friend during his years as Tuscan ambassador in Rome. Sixty-two cardinals met in the conclave of 1605. Ten votes were given to the Jesuit Cardinal Robert bellarmine; 20 were cast for the historian from the Oratory, Cardinal Caesar baronius, who, after receiving 37 votes in the second scrutiny, urged his friends not to vote for him. The election then went to Alessandro de' Medici. During his short pontificate Leo XI, who adopted the name of his uncle Leo X, initiated changes in the system of voting in conclave, settled the conflict between the clergy of Castile and Léon and the Jesuits, assisted Emperor Rudolf II in the Turkish War, and purchased the Villa Medici on the Pincio in Rome.

Bibliography: p. paschini and v. monachino, eds., I Papi nella storia, 2 v. (Rome 1961) 2:682683. l. pastor, The History of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages, (LondonSt. Louis 193861) 25:128. g. mollat, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951) 9.1:332333. Bullarium Romanum (Magnum), ed. h. mainardi and c. cocquelines, 18 folio v. (Rome 173362) 11:182194. r. po-chia hsia, The World of Catholic Renewal, 15401700 (New York 1996). m. caravale and a. caracciolo, Lo stato pontificio de Martino V a Pio IX (Turin 1978).

[t. f. casey]