Pope Paul II

Pope Paul II (Latin: Paulus II; 23 February 1417 – 26 July 1471), born Pietro Barbo, was Pope from 30 August 1464 to his death in 1471.


Paul II
Bishop of Rome
Papacy began30 August 1464
Papacy ended26 July 1471
PredecessorPius II
SuccessorSixtus IV
Created cardinal1 July 1440
by Eugene IV
Personal details
Birth namePietro Barbo
Born23 February 1417
Venice, Republic of Venice
Died26 July 1471 (aged 54)
Rome, Papal States
Previous postCardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria Nuova (1440–1451)
Apostolic Administrator of Cervia (1440–1451)
Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter (1445–?)
Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals (1445–1446; 1460–1461)
Bishop of Vicenza (1451–1464)
Cardinal-Priest of San Marco (1451–1464)
Bishop of Padova (1459–1460)
Abbot Ordinary of Montecassino (1465–1471)
Other popes named Paul
Papal styles of
Pope Paul II
Emblem of the Papacy SE
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleNone

Early life

Paul was born in Venice, a nephew of Pope Eugenius IV (1431–1447) through his mother. Through his father he was a member of the noble Barbo family. His adoption of the spiritual career, after having been trained as a merchant, was prompted by his uncle's election as pope. His consequent promotion was rapid; and the ambitious young cleric became a cardinal in 1440 and gained popularity through his generosity. He boasted that if elected pope he would buy each cardinal a villa to escape the summer heat.[1]

After having been lay abbot of Santa Maria in Sylvis since 1441, in 1445 he succeeded Giuliano Cesarini as archpriest of the Vatican Basilica. Platina reported that Pius II suggested he should have been called Maria Pietissima (Our Lady of Pity), as "when he could not obtain what he aimed at by praying, entreating, and requesting, he would join tears to his petitions to make them the sooner believed."[2] Some historians have suggested the nickname may also have been an allusion either to Paul's propensity to enjoy dressing up in sumptuous ecclesiastical finery,[3] or possibly a lack of masculinity reflecting possible homosexuality.[4]

Election as Pope

He was elected to succeed Pope Pius II by the accessus in the first ballot of the papal conclave of 1464[5] with a majority of fourteen of the nineteen cardinals present. Beforehand, to secure to the cardinals a greater share of power than they had enjoyed under Pius II, a capitulation was subscribed by all except Ludovico Trevisan. It bound the future Pope to continue the Turkish war, but he was not to journey outside Rome without the consent of a majority of the cardinals, nor to leave Italy without the consent of all. The maximum number of cardinals was limited to twenty-four, and any new Pope was to be limited to only one cardinal-nephew. All creations of new cardinals and advancements to certain important benefices were to be made only with the consent of the College of Cardinals.[6] Upon taking office, Paul II was to convene an ecumenical council within three years. But these terms of subscription were modified by Paul II at his own discretion, and this action lost him the confidence of the College of Cardinals. The justification for setting aside the capitulations, seen to be under way by the Duke of Milan's ambassador as early as 21 September, lay in connecting any abridgement of the Pope's absolute monarchy in the Papal States with a consequent abridgement of his sole authority in spiritual matters.[7] Almost from his coronation, Paul withdrew and became inaccessible: audiences were only granted at night and even good friends waited a fortnight to see him. His suspiciousness was widely attested.

He wore rouge in public.[8] The story of Cardinal Ammanati that he meant to take the name Formosus II ("handsome"),[9] but was persuaded not to, is more often repeated than the story that he was dissuaded from Marcus, being Venetian and the Cardinal of San Marco, because it was also the war-cry of Venice.[10] He had a papal tiara made for his own use studded with "diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, topaz, large pearls, and every kind of precious gem".[8] He built the Palazzo San Marco (now the Palazzo Venezia) and lived there even as pope, amassing a great collection of art and antiquities.[11]


A sore point was his abuse of the practice of creating cardinals in pectore, without publishing their names. Eager to raise new cardinals to increase the number who were devoted to his interests, but restricted by the terms of the capitulation, which gave the College a voice in the creation of new members, in the winter of 1464–65 Paul created two secret cardinals both of whom died before their names could be published. In his fourth year as Pope, he created eight new cardinals on 18 September 1467. Five were candidates pressed by kings, placating respectively James II of Cyprus, Edward IV of England, Louis XI of France, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary and Ferdinand I of Naples; one was the able administrator of the Franciscans; and the last two elevated his old tutor and a first cardinal-nephew.[12] Two further cardinal-nephews were added on 21 November 1468.[13] In a sign of his increasing secretiveness and paranoia, he added two more cardinals secretly at the same consistory, and four more at the beginning of 1471, expecting to reveal them only in his testament.

Tensions with the College of Cardinals came to the fore when in 1466, attempting to eliminate redundant offices, Paul II proceeded to annul the College of Abbreviators, whose function it was to formulate papal documents; a storm of indignation arose, inasmuch as rhetoricians and poets with humanist training, of which Paul deeply disapproved, had long been accustomed to benefiting from employment in such positions. Bartolomeo Platina, who was one of these, wrote a threatening letter to the Pope, and was imprisoned, but later discharged. However, in February 1468, Platina was again imprisoned on the charge of having participated in a conspiracy against the Pope, and was tortured along with other abbreviators, such as Filip Callimachus, who fled to Poland in 1478, all of whom had been accused of pagan views. Not unaccountably, Platina, in his Vitae pontificum, set forth an unfavorable delineation of the character of Paul II. Though Platina's writing after the conflict would tarnish the legacy of Paul II, the conflict would prove to have a greater effect on the intellectual environment of Rome. Peter Partner explains, "Probably its most important result was to convince men of letters that cultural conformity would be enforced in Rome." More tangibly, after the crackdown of Paul II, the Roman Academy took on a more religious flavour, turning in part to theology as a means of legitimizing its pursuits.[14]

Final years

Pope Paul rejected King George of Poděbrady of Bohemia because he upheld the conventions of the Council of Basel in favor of the Utraquists. In August 1465, Paul II summoned Poděbrady before his Roman tribunal. When the King failed to come, Paul allied himself with the insurgents in Bohemia and released the King's subjects from their oath of allegiance. In December 1466, he pronounced the ban of excommunication and sentence of deposition against Poděbrady. Poděbrady's apologist, Gregory of Heimberg, subsequently accused Paul of immorality, a move that resulted in Gregory's own excommunication.

Just when the King's goodwill disposed the Pope in favor of reconciliation, Paul died suddenly of a heart attack on 26 July 1471. Reports of the death varied. Some claimed he had collapsed from severe indigestion after eating melon in excess.[15][16] Some (mainly the pontiff's detractors) say that he had died whilst being sodomized by a page boy.[17] Nevertheless, as a result a power vacuum was created in Central Europe – especially after Poděbrady himself died in March of that same year.


Although Paul II was a committed opponent of humanist learning, he oversaw and approved the introduction of printing into the Papal States, first at Subiaco in 1464 by Arnold Pannartz and Konrad Sweynheim, and at Rome itself in 1467. The result was that books and other documents became far more numerous and less expensive to procure than the previous handwritten manuscripts. Printing put the materials needed for an advanced education into the hands of more people than ever before, including an increasing number of laypeople. The output of printing presses at this period was, as a matter of course, subject to governmental scrutiny; during Paul II's reign, books produced in the Papal States were largely limited to Latin classical literature and ecclesiastical texts.

The chronicler Stefano Infessura's republican and anti-papal temper makes his diary a far from neutral though well-informed witness. But it is certain that although Paul II opposed the humanists, he yet provided for popular amusements: in 1466 he permitted the horse-race that was a feature of Carnival to be run along the main street, the Via Lata, which now became known from this annual event as the Via del Corso. So that nobody felt left out of the event, the Pope instituted races for boys, adult men, old people and Jews, with appropriate prizes for each group.[18] He tried as Pope to reduce or stop blood feuds and vendettas in Italy, and to make sure that Jews were treated fairly.[19] Paul II displayed an extravagant love of personal splendor that gratified his sense of self-importance.[20] After his death Sixtus IV and a selected group of cardinals inspected the treasure laid up against expenditures against the Turks: they found 54 silver shells filled with pearls, to a value of 300,000 ducats, jewels and gold intended for refashioning, worth another 300,000 ducats, and a magnificent diamond worth 7,000 ducats, which was sent to Cardinal d'Estouteville to cover monies he had advanced to the pontiff. The coin was not immediately found.[21] He had also amassed a collection of 800 gemstones.[22]

However, the Catholic Encyclopedia asserts, "justice requires notice of his strict sense of equity, his reforms in the municipal administration, and his fight against official bribery and traffic in posts of dignity."[23]

In statecraft, Paul II lacked eminence and achieved nothing of consequence for Italy. In the Papal States, however, in 1465 he eliminated the regime of the counts of Anguillara, a house that had played a consistent anti-papal role since the plot of Stefano Porcari and the unruly insurrection of Tiburzio di Maso in 1460.

See also


  1. ^ D'Elia, Anthony (2009). A sudden terror: The plot to kill a renaissance pope. Harvard.
  2. ^ Platina, Lives, 2:276
  3. ^ He was described as "a collector of statuary, jewellery, and (it was said) handsome youths" (Dynes, 1990)
  4. ^ Karlen, Sexuality and homosexuality, New York, 1971.
  5. ^ "The populace assembled in front of the Vatican received the news with joy," Pastor duly notes (IV:ii); acclamation of a new bishop of Rome by the people was a custom of the early church long in abeyance.
  6. ^ Ref. Burkle-Young
  7. ^ Offered by Pastor IV 1894:21.
  8. ^ a b Anthony D'Elia, "A sudden terror: The plot to kill a renaissance pope, Harvard, 2009
  9. ^ The chronicler N. della Tuccia says that for half a century no handsomer man had been seen in the Senate or the Church (Pastor IV 1894:16.
  10. ^ Pastor IV 1894:13 and note, 15.
  11. ^ Michael Walsh, The Conclave, Norwich 2003
  12. ^ "Francis A. Burkle-Young, "The election of Pope Sixtus IV (1471): Background"". Fiu.edu. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
  13. ^ "The great number of cardinal-nephews created in the reigns of Sixtus IV, Alexander VI, and Julius II were testimony to the effectiveness of Paul II in opening the floodgates", Francis A. Burkle-Young asserts.
  14. ^ Partner, Peter, The Pope's Men: The Papal Civil Service in The Renaissance (Clarendon Press), 23–24.
  15. ^ Paolo II in Enciclopedia dei Papi", Enciclopedia Treccani, http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/paolo-ii_%28Enciclopedia_dei_Papi%29/
  16. ^ "Vita Pauli Secundi Pontificis Maximi", Michael Canensius, 1734 p.175
  17. ^ Leonie Frieda, The Deadly Sisterhood: A Story of Women, Power, and Intrigue in the Italian Renaissance, 1427–1527, chapter 3 (HarperCollins, 2013) ISBN 978-0-06-156308-9
  18. ^ Pastor, Ludwig (1900), Antrobus, Frederick Ignatius (ed.), The history of the popes from the close of the Middle Ages : drawn from the secret archives of the Vatican and other original sources, IV (2 ed.), Kegan Paul, Trench, and Trubner, p. 32
  19. ^ Pastor, Ludwig (1900), Antrobus, Frederick Ignatius (ed.), The history of the popes from the close of the Middle Ages : drawn from the secret archives of the Vatican and other original sources, IV (2 ed.), Kegan Paul, Trench, and Trubner, p. 33
  20. ^ Pastor, Ludwig (1900), Antrobus, Frederick Ignatius (ed.), The history of the popes from the close of the Middle Ages : drawn from the secret archives of the Vatican and other original sources, IV (2 ed.), Kegan Paul, Trench, and Trubner, p. 16
  21. ^ A cardinal's report to the Duke of Milan's ambassador, related in Pastor vol. IV 1894:211.
  22. ^ Money and Beauty: Bankers, Boticelli and the Bonfire of the Vanities, Giunti, Florence, 2011
  23. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Weber, N. A. (1913). "Pope Paul I" . In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. XI. New York: Robert Appleton Company.


  • Pastor, Ludwig (1894). The History of the Popes from the Close of the Middle Ages. IV. ISBN 978-0-8434-0650-4.

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Albert d'Albret
Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals
Succeeded by
Juan de Torquemada
Preceded by
Juan de Mella
Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals
Succeeded by
Alessandro Oliva
Preceded by
Pius II
30 August 1464 – 26 July 1471
Succeeded by
Sixtus IV
1464 papal conclave

The papal conclave of 1464 (August 28–30) convened after the death of Pope Pius II, elected as his successor cardinal Pietro Barbo, who took the name Paul II.

1471 papal conclave

The papal conclave of 1471 (August 6–9) elected Pope Sixtus IV following the death of Pope Paul II. With the exception of the conclaves of the Western Schism, this conclave was the first since 1305 to feature a working, two-thirds majority of Italians within the College of Cardinals, in no small part because of the absence of six non-Italian cardinals. This was in part due to the unexpectedness of the death of Paul II.

Alfonso de Fonseca

Alfonso de Fonseca (died 1505) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Bishop of Osma (1493–1505), Bishop of Cuenca (1485–1493), and Bishop of Ávila (1469–1485).

Alonso de Fonseca y Acevedo

Alonso de Fonseca y Acevedo (also Alonso II de Fonseca) (1440 – 12 March 1512) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela (1460–1465 and 1469–1507), and Archbishop of Seville (1465–1469).

Alonso de Fonseca y Ulloa

Alonso de Fonseca y Ulloa (also Alonso I de Fonseca) (died 1473) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Bishop of Ávila (1445–1454), Archbishop of Seville (1454–1465 and 1469–1473), and Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela (1465–1469).

Andrea Veroli

Andrea Veroli (died 1478) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Bishop of Camerino (1464–1478),Bishop of Muro Lucano (1463–1464),Bishop of Urbino (1452–1463),Bishop of Boiano (1439–1452),

and Bishop of Conversano (1437–1439).

Anton Nicolai

Anton Nicolai (died 1474) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Titular Bishop of Athyra (1469–1474) and Auxiliary Bishop of Gniezno (1469–1474).

Antonio degli Agli

Antonio degli Agli (died 1477) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Bishop of Volterra (1470–1477), Bishop of Fiesole (1467–1470), and Bishop of Dubrovnik (1465–1467).

Barbo von Waxenstein

The Barbo family (later Barbo zu / von Waxenstein ) is a Slovenian noble family with Italian origin.

The Barbo family originated in Veneto, later moving into Austria and Carniola in Slovenia. They claim to descend from Roman Emperor Claudius. In 1547 the family settled in Kožljak, Istria. They were elevated to the rank of baron in 1622 and in 1674 they were elevated to the rank of count.The family produced one Pope, Paul II.

Cardinals created by Paul II

Pope Paul II (r. 1464–1471) created ten cardinals in two consistories.

Cristoforo di Geremia

Cristoforo di Geremia (1410–1476) of Mantua was a Renaissance sculptor, goldsmith, and medallist. He worked in Rome beginning sometime around 1456 and was active until 1476. He is most famous for his bronze medallion work under Pope Paul II. Cristoforo did a number of medals and jewellery for royal and noble commissions.

Duchy of Ferrara

The Duchy of Ferrara (Latin: Ducatus Ferrariensis Emilian: Ducàt ad Frara Italian: Ducato di Ferrara) was a sovereign state in what is now northern Italy. It consisted of about 1,100 km2 south of the lower Po River, stretching to the valley of the lower Reno River, including the city of Ferrara. The territory was ruled by the House of Este from 1146 as vassals of the Holy Roman Empire.

In 1471, the territory was transferred from the Empire to the Papal States. Borso d'Este, already Duke of Modena and Reggio, was created Duke of Ferrara by Pope Paul II. Borso and his successors ruled Ferrara as a quasi-sovereign state until 1597, when it came under direct papal rule.

Francesco Barozzi (bishop)

Francesco Barozzi (died 1471) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Bishop of Treviso (1466–1471).

Francesco Gonzaga (1444–1483)

Francesco Gonzaga (15 March 1444, Mantua, Italy – 21 October 1483, Bologna, Italy ) was an Italian bishop and a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church during the reigns of Popes Pius II, Paul II and Sixtus IV.

Palazzo Venezia

The Palazzo Venezia (Italian: [paˈlattso veˈnɛttsja]), formerly Palace of St. Mark, is a palazzo (palace) in central Rome, Italy, just north of the Capitoline Hill. The original structure of this great architectural complex consisted of a modest medieval house intended as the residence of the cardinals appointed to the church of San Marco. In 1469 it became a residential papal palace, having undergone a massive extension, and in 1564, Pope Pius IV, to win the sympathies of the Republic of Venice, gave the mansion to the Venetian embassy to Rome on the terms that part of the building would be kept as a residence for the cardinals, the Apartment Cibo, and that the republic would provide for the building's maintenance and future restoration. The palace faces Piazza Venezia and Via del Plebiscito. It currently houses the National Museum of the Palazzo Venezia.

Patrick Graham (archbishop)

Patrick Graham (died 1478) was a 15th-century Bishop of Brechin and Bishop of St. Andrews; he was also the first Archbishop of St. Andrews.

He was the son of Robert Graham of Fintry, the son of Sir William Graham of Kincardine by Lady Mary Stewart, daughter of King Robert III of Scotland. He was therefore of royal blood, and the nephew of his predecessor as bishop of St. Andrews, James Kennedy. Before rising to the rank of bishop, Patrick for many years controlled the parish church of Kinneil. Although Patrick paid for the bishopric of Brechin, his election was acknowledged by Pope Pius III, who appointed him to the see sometime before 29 March 1463. However, Patrick was not long bishop of Brechin. On 4 November 1465 Patrick was translated to the bishopric of St. Andrews by Pope Paul II, for which Patrick's proctor, a merchant of Florence called Ricardo de Ricasolis, paid over 3300 gold florins on 29 November the same year.

Patrick became the first Archbishop of St. Andrews when a Bull of Pope Sixtus IV, dated at Rome, 17 August 1472, elevated the bishopric of St. Andrews to archiepiscopal status. Nevertheless, Patrick's individual career was in trouble. The same Pope Sixtus IV ordered an enquiry into Patrick's conduct. He commissioned one John Huseman, Dean of the church of St. Patroclus in Soest in the diocese of Cologne, to investigate charges (of insanity) made against Archbishop Patrick. The result was that Archbishop Patrick was condemned to confine himself to a monastery, residing first at Inchcolm, then Dunfermline, before being imprisoned in Loch Leven Castle. He was formally deposed on 9 January 1478 and died later in the year at Loch Leven. He was buried on St. Serf's Inch in Lochleven.

Piazza Venezia

Piazza Venezia (Italian: [ˈpjattsa veˈnɛttsja]) is the central hub of Rome, Italy, in which several thoroughfares intersect, including the Via dei Fori Imperiali and the Via del Corso. It takes its name from the Palazzo Venezia, built by the Venetian Cardinal, Pietro Barbo (later Pope Paul II) alongside the church of Saint Mark, the patron saint of Venice. The Palazzo Venezia served as the embassy of the Republic of Venice in Rome.

One side of the Piazza is the site of Italy's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Altare della Patria, part of the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, first king of Italy.

The piazza or square is at the foot of the Capitoline Hill and next to Trajan's Forum. The main artery, the Via di Fori Imperiali begins there and leads past the Roman Forum to the Colosseum.

Capitalizing on this modern and ancient symbolism--and the useful open space--Piazza Venezia was the location of public speeches given by the Italian dictator Mussolini to crowds of his supporters in the 1920s-1940s.

In 2009, during excavations in the middle of the square for the construction of the Rome C Metro Line (station Venezia), remains of the emperor Hadrian's Athenaeum were unearthed.

Second Peace of Thorn (1466)

The Peace of Thorn of 1466 (German: Zweiter Friede von Thorn; Polish: drugi pokój toruński) was a peace treaty signed in the Hanseatic city of Thorn (Toruń) on 19 October 1466 between the Polish king Casimir IV Jagiellon on one side, and the Teutonic Knights on the other.

The treaty concluded the Thirteen Years' War which had begun in February 1454 with the revolt of the Prussian Confederation, led by the cities of Danzig (Gdańsk), Elbing (Elbląg), Kulm (Chełmno) and Thorn, and the Prussian gentry against the rule of the Teutonic Knights in the Monastic State.

Both sides agreed to seek confirmation from Pope Paul II and Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III, but the Polish side stressed (and the Teutonic side agreed) that this confirmation would not be needed for validation of the treaty. In the treaty, the Teutonic Order ceded the territories of Pomerelia (Eastern Pomerania) with Danzig, Kulmerland with Kulm and Thorn, the mouth of the Vistula with Elbing and Marienburg (Malbork), and the Bishopric of Warmia (Ermland) with Allenstein (Olsztyn). The Order also acknowledged the rights of the Polish Crown for Prussia's western half, subsequently known as Polish or Royal Prussia. Eastern Prussia, later called Duchy of Prussia remained with the Teutonic Order until 1525, as a Polish fief.

The treaty stated that Royal Prussia became the exclusive property of the Polish king and Polish kingdom. Later some disagreements arose concerning certain prerogatives that Royal Prussia and the cities held, like Danzig's privileges. The region possessed certain privileges such as the minting of its own coins, its own Diet meetings (see the Prussian estates), its own military, and its own administrative usage of the German language. A conflict over the right to name and approve Bishops in Warmia, resulted in the War of the Priests (1467–79). Eventually, Royal Prussia became integrated into the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, but retained some distinctive features until the partitions of Poland in the late 18th century.

In 1525, the Order was ousted from East Prussian territory by its own Grand Master when Albert, Duke of Prussia adopted Lutheranism and assumed the title of duke as hereditary ruler under the overlordship of Poland in the Prussian Homage. The area became known as the Duchy of Prussia.

Tord Pedersson (Bonde)

Tord Pedersson (Bonde) (died May 1470) was the un-ordained Archbishop of Uppsala from 1468 to 1469. He was born as Tord Pedersson, but since his mother was of the Bonde family, he would often use this name in addition to his own.

He studied at the University of Leipzig in 1437-1439 and received a Bachelor of Arts. After returning home, he became dean in Linköping. His mother had a connection to the king Charles VIII of Sweden, which is believed to have been the reason for this promotion.

In 1467, the Archbishop of Uppsala died, and on the King's recommendation, Tord Pedersson was elected as his successor. He moved to Almarestäket and filled the chair as Archbishop. However, Pope Paul II did not approve this elevation, and requested that Pedersson be replaced by Jakob Ulvsson. Pedersson was replaced on 18 December 1469.

Not long thereafter, Tord Pedersson died.

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