Pope Pius III

Pope Pius III (29 May 1439 – 18 October 1503), born Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 22 September 1503 to his death. He had one of the shortest pontificates in papal history.[1]


Pius III
Bishop of Rome , Duke of Amalfi
Papacy began22 September 1503
Papacy ended18 October 1503
PredecessorAlexander VI
SuccessorJulius II
Ordination30 September 1503
by Giuliano della Rovere
Consecration1 October 1503
by Giuliano della Rovere
Created cardinal5 March 1460
by Pope Pius II
Personal details
Birth nameFrancesco Tedeschini Piccolomini
Born29 May 1439
Siena, Republic of Siena
Died18 October 1503 (aged 64)
Rome, Papal States
Previous post
  • Cardinal-Deacon of San Eustachio (1460–1503)
  • Administrator of Siena (1460–1503)
  • Archbishop of Siena (1460–1503)
  • Archdeacon of Brabant (1462–1503)
  • Legate to Rome and the Papal States (1464)
  • Cardinal Protodeacon (1471–1503)
  • Administrator of Fermo (1485–1494)
  • Legate to Perugia (1488–1489)
  • Cardinal Protector of England (1492–1503)
  • Cardinal Protector of Germany (1492–1503)
  • Legate to France (1493–1495)
  • Administrator of Pienza and Montalcino (1495–1498)
  • Administrator of Fermo (1496–1503)
Other popes named Pius
Papal styles of
Pope Pius III
C o a Pio II
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleNone


Early life

Piccolomini, a member of the House of Piccolomini was born in Sarteano on 29 May 1439 as the fourth child of Nanno Todeschini and Laudomia Piccolomini, the sister of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini who was Pope Pius II. His brothers were Antonio, Giacomo and Andrea.[2]

He was received as a boy into the household of Aeneas Silvius who permitted him to assume the name and arms of the Piccolomini family (his brother Antonio being made Duke of Amalfi during the pontificate of Pius II). He studied law at the University of Perugia and obtained a doctorate after the completion of his studies.


Piccolomini was the administrator of the Archdiocese of Siena which his uncle had raised to the status of archbishopric. He was the administrator from 1460 to his own pontifical election. He was granted the title and the insignias of an archbishop in 1459 but didn't receive episcopal consecration. He also served as the protector of England and Germany.

Pope Pius II made his nephew a cardinal on 5 March 1460 in Siena and he was made the Cardinal-Deacon of San Eustachio. Pius II also appointed him in 1460 as the Archbishop of Siena when he was 21.[3] Within the next few months the pope sent him as the legate to the March of Ancona with the experienced Bishop of Marsico as his counsellor. He proved studious and effective in his job. Piccolomini was also the legate to Rome and the rest of the Papal States in 1464 when his uncle left for Ancona.

Piccolomini was made the archdeacon of Brabant in Cambrai in 1462 and he held that until 1503. He participated in the conclave that elected Pope Paul II in 1464 and he was named the legate to Germany in 1471. He served in this important legation for events like the Imperial diet at Regensburg/Ratisbon and remained there for Paul II's entire pontificate. He was still there after the pope died and was absent for the election of Pope Sixtus IV. He became the Cardinal Protodeacon in 1471 and served in a new legation to Umbria for the pope to restore ecclesiastical authority.[4]

He participated in the conclave of 1484 which resulted in the election of Pope Innocent VIII and as the protodeacon announced the election and performed the coronation of the new pope. He was made the administrator of Fermo in 1485 and resigned the position in 1494 in favor of Agostino Piccolomini. He was named once again when the latter stopped in 1496 and he kept that post until his pontifical election. He was also made the legate to Perugia in 1488 and he left in 1489.

He also participated in the conclave of 1492 which elected Pope Alexander VI and as such announced and crowned the new pontiff. He was also made the legate to France in 1493 to meet King Charles VIII and he returned after the monarch did not meet him in 1495. He was named the administrator of the see of Pienza and Montalcino in 1495 and occupied it until 1498 in favor of Girolamo Piccolomini. He was involved in Alexander VI's short-lived effort to reform the Roman Curia following the murder of his son Giovanni Borgia in 1497 and was named a member of a commission of six cardinals.

In 1502 he commissioned a library with access from an aisle of the Duomo di Siena that was intended to house the library of humanist texts assembled by his uncle and commissioned the artist Pinturicchio to fresco its vault and ten narrative panels along the walls depicting scenes from the life of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini. Its iconography illustrating the donor's career gives an edited version of Pius II's life, passing over his former support of the Antipope Felix V. Though Pinturicchio labored for five years, the books never reached their splendid destination; yet the Piccolomini Library is a monument of the High Renaissance in Siena. Some of Pope Pius III's most famous portraits can be viewed in the Louvre Museum.


Election to papacy

Pope Alexander VI died in 1503 and amid the disturbances consequent upon his death, it took the combined pressures of all the ambassadors to induce Cesare Borgia to withdraw from Rome so that an unpressured conclave might take place. Cardinal Piccolomini was elected on 22 September 1503 and he named himself "Pius III" after his uncle Pius II.[5] This selection can be seen as a compromise between factions, Borgia and della Rovere, picking a frail cardinal with long experience in the Roman Curia over the kin of either Sixtus IV or Alexander VI.

Tomb of pope Pius III
Former tomb of Pius III

Piccolomini was neither ordained nor consecrated until 30 September 1503 when he finally received ordination. Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere consecrated him on 1 October 1503 in the Vatican and his coronation took place on 8 October 1503. Cardinal Protodeacon Raffaello Sansoni Riario performed the coronation and several of the features of the celebration had to be omitted due to his frail health.


On 25 September the new pontiff announced the aims of his pontificate:

  • Immediate reform of the church with the establishment of a council of cardinals.
  • Strict reform of the expenses and financial situation of the church.
  • Peace in the Papal States and the support of Cesare Borgia.

He supported Cesare Borgia and reconfirmed him as Gonfalonier. In honour of Pius II he founded the Piccolimini Library adjoining the Siena Cathedral.[6]

Death and burial

Wall Tomb of Pope Pius III color
Wall tomb of Pius III in Sant'Andrea della Valle

On 13 October he was on his deathbed with gout and after a brief pontificate of 26 days he died on 18 October 1503. After celebrating a consistory (no new cardinals were created), he died of an ulcer in the leg or, as some have alleged, of poison administered at the instigation of Pandolfo Petrucci, the ruler of Siena.

He was buried in the chapel of San Andrea in Saint Peter's Basilica next to his uncle as ordered by his brothers Giacomo and Andrea. When the basilica was being rebuilt, the monument was transferred below to the grottoes and the remains of Pius III and his uncle to the church of San Andrea della Valle in Rome put in a mausoleum created by Cardinal Alessandro Damasceni Peretti in 1614.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Hendrix, John, History and Culture in Italy, (University Press of America, 2003), 173.
  2. ^ Munman, Robert, Sienese Renaissance tomb monuments, (DIANE Publishing Co., 1993), 112.
  3. ^ Williams, George L., Papal Genealogy: The Families And Descendants Of The Popes, (McFarland & Company Inc., 1998), 50.
  4. ^ The Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol.19, Ed. Thomas Spencer Baynes, (Henry G. Allen Company, 1890), 153.
  5. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia – Visited 2011-10-08
  6. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica (2003), p.482-483
  7. ^ "Todeschini-Piccolomini, Francesco (1439-1503)". Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved 21 February 2015.


  • Hendrix, John, History and Culture in Italy, University Press of America, 2003.
  • Munman, Robert, Sienese Renaissance tomb monuments, DIANE Publishing Co., 1993.
  • The Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol.19, Ed. Thomas Spencer Baynes, Henry G. Allen Company, 1890.
  • Williams, George L., Papal Genealogy: The Families And Descendants Of The Popes, McFarland & Company Inc., 1998.

Further reading

  • Wilkie, William E. 1974. The cardinal protectors of England. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-20332-5.

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Alexander VI
22 September – 18 October 1503
Succeeded by
Julius II

Year 1439 (MCDXXXIX) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

1484 papal conclave

The papal conclave of 1484 (August 26–29), elected Pope Innocent VIII after the death of Pope Sixtus IV.

1492 papal conclave

The papal conclave of 1492 (6–11 August) was convened after the death of Pope Innocent VIII (25 July 1492). It was the first papal conclave to be held in the Sistine Chapel.

Cardinal Rodrigo Borja was elected unanimously on the fourth ballot as Pope Alexander VI. The election is notorious for allegations that Borja bought the votes of his electors, promising them lucrative appointments and other material gifts—a practice known as simony. Concerns about this conclave led Pope Julius II to create stronger rules against simony in 1503.


Year 1503 (MDIII) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

Antonio Alberici

Antonio Alberici (died 1506) was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Bishop of Nepi e Sutri (1503–1506).


Caetani, or Gaetani, is the name of an Italian noble family which played a great part in the history of Pisa and of Rome, principally via their close links to the papacy.

Cardinal electors for the 1503 papal conclaves

Two papal conclaves were held in 1503.

The first conclave was held following the death of Pope Alexander VI on August 18, 1503. This conclave lasted from September 16, 1503 to September 22, 1503 and ended in the election of Cardinal Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini, who took the name of Pope Pius III.

The second conclave followed the death of Pope Pius III on October 18, 1503. This conclave lasted from October 31, 1503 to November 1, 1503 and ended in the election of Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, who took the name of Pope Julius II.

Cardinal protector of England

The Cardinal protector of England was an appointed crown-cardinal of England from 1492 until 1539. A cardinal protector is the representative of a Roman Catholic nation or organisation within the College of Cardinals, appointed by the pope. The role was terminated as a result of the English Reformation.

The role of national protectorships within the College developed during the fifteenth century, due to developments in the emergence of national monarchies and Renaissance diplomacy. Cardinal protectors of Roman Catholic religious orders date back farther to the thirteenth century. According to King Henry VIII, the cardinal protector "indueth as it were our owne Person, for the defence of Us and our Realme in al matiers [in the Curia]...touching the same". The cardinal protector represented the monarch in consistory, especially in cases where the right of investiture was divided between the pope and the monarch, and also led the English diplomatic corps in Rome.Although earlier cardinals had filled similar roles, "the existence of national protectorships was first openly and regularly recognized only" by Pope Julius II. The terms 'cardinal protector' and 'cardinal procurator' were "used very loosely and sometimes interchangeably during the fifteenth century". The earliest reference to a 'cardinal protector' of England dates from 1492, but according to Wilkie, this results from a confusion between this office and that of cardinal procurator.Unlike other national cardinal protectors, the cardinal protectors of England, Scotland, and Ireland were generally chosen exclusively by the pope. The cardinal was "imposed from above, rather than chosen" and often had no direct relationship with the governments of these countries. The English cardinal protector played a large role in English ecclesiastical appointments, and a substantial role in similar appointments in Scotland and Ireland.

Diana Guardato

Diana Guardato was a member of the aristocratic Patrician Guardato family, and had three children with King Ferdinand I:

Ferdinando d' Aragona y Guardato, 1st Duke of Montalto, who married 1st, Anna Sanseverino, 2nd, Castellana de Cardona

Maria d'Aragona, who married Antonio Todeschini Piccolomini, Duke of Amalfi, a nephew of Pope Pius II and brother of Pope Pius III.

Giovanna d' Aragona, who married Leonardo della Rovere, Duke of Arce and Sora, a nephew of Pope Sixtus IV and brother of Pope Julius II.Diana Guardato is the 16th-Great Grandmother of His Royal Highness Albert II of Belgium, 15th-Great Grandmother of His Majesty Juan Carlos I of Spain, 17th-Great Grandmother of Philippe of Belgium, 14th-Great Grandmother of His Majesty Manuel II of Portugal, 16th-Great Grandmother of Grand Duke Henri, as well as many others.

Ensisheim (meteorite)

The Ensisheim meteorite is a stony meteorite that fell on November 7, 1492 in a wheat field outside the walled town of Ensisheim in then Alsace, Further Austria (now France). The meteorite can still be seen in Ensisheim's museum, the sixteenth-century Musée de la Régence.

Francesco Piccolomini (Jesuit)

Francesco Piccolomini may also refer to Pope Pius IIIVery Rev. Francesco Piccolomini, S.J. (22 October 1582 – 17 June 1651) was an Italian Jesuit, elected the eighth Superior-General of the Society of Jesus.

After Vincenzo Carafa, the 7th Superior General of the Order, died on 8 February 1649, a General Congregation made of representatives of the various Jesuit provinces, met on 21 December of the same year and chose Piccolomini as his successor. He died after eighteen months in office.

Before his election as General he had been professor of philosophy at the Roman College; he died at the age of sixty-nine, having passed fifty-three years in the Society.

Francisco Desprats

Francisco Desprats (1454–1504) (called the Cardinal of León) was a Spanish Roman Catholic bishop and cardinal.

Giovanni Piccolomini

Giovanni Piccolomini (1475–1537) was an Italian papal legate and cardinal. He was a nephew of Pope Pius III.

He was made Archbishop of Siena in 1503, Bishop of Sitten in 1522, Bishop of Aquila in 1523, Bishop of Albano in 1524, Bishop of Palestrina in 1531, Bishop of Porto e Santa Rufina in 1533, Bishop of Ostia in 1535.

He was made Dean of the College of Cardinals in October 1534.

Juan de Vera

Juan de Vera (1453–1507) (called the Cardinal of Salerno) was a Spanish Roman Catholic bishop and cardinal.

October 1503 papal conclave

The papal conclave of October 1503 elected Giuliano della Rovere as Pope Julius II to succeed Pope Pius III. The conclave took place during the Italian Wars barely a month after the papal conclave, September 1503, and none of the electors had travelled far enough from Rome to miss the conclave. The number of participating cardinals was thirty-eight, the College of Cardinals having been reduced by the election of Piccolomini as Pius III, who did not elevate cardinals. At a consistory on October 11, Pope Pius had proposed to make Cardinal d'Amboise's nephew a cardinal, as part of his effort to conciliate the French, but the response from the Cardinals was not enthusiastic.

Pandolfo Petrucci

Pandolfo Petrucci (14 February 1452 – 21 May 1512) was a ruler of the Italian Republic of Siena during the Renaissance.

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.

Pope Pius

There have been 12 Roman Catholic Popes named Pius:

Pope Pius I (c. 140–154; officially listed as 142/146 – 157/161)

Pope Pius II (1458–1464)

Pope Pius III (1503)

Pope Pius IV (1559–1565)

Pope Pius V (1566–1572)

Pope Pius VI (1775–1799)

Pope Pius VII (1800–1823)

Pope Pius VIII (1829–1830)

Pope Pius IX (1846–1878)

Pope Pius X (1903–1914)

Pope Pius XI (1922–1939)

Pope Pius XII (1939–1958)There has been 1 traditionalist Roman Catholic antipope named Pius:

Antipope Pius XIII (1998–2009)Other uses of the papal name Pius include:

In the Babylon 5 science fiction saga, Pius XV is a fictional early 22nd century Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Pius XV was featured in the novel Dark Genesis and mentioned in The Glass Bead Game.

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown opens with the death of Pope Pius XVI, which triggers the events described in the book.

In the series The Young Pope, the protagonist is named Pope Pius XIII.

September 1503 papal conclave

The papal conclave of September 1503 elected Pope Pius III to succeed Pope Alexander VI. Due to the Italian Wars, the College of Cardinals was surrounded by three potentially hostile armies, loyal to Louis XII of France, Ferdinand II of Aragon, and Cesare Borgia (the cardinal-nephew and illegitimate son of Alexander VI).

The participation of thirty-nine cardinals, made possible by the delay of the funeral of Alexander VI, made the conclave the largest in history, up to that time, in terms of the number of electors. There were 21 Italian cardinals, 11 Spanish, and 7 French. A convergence of factors undid years of planning by Louis XII and his predecessor Charles VIII of France to promote the candidacy of Georges d'Amboise. After receiving far fewer votes than expected on the first ballot due to the independent candidacy of Giuliano della Rovere and the loss of control of the Spanish cardinals by Cesare Borgia, d'Amboise threw his support to Francesco Piccolomini, who was elected Pius III on the second ballot despite receiving only four on the first.

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