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Pope Leo XI

Leo XI, born Alessandro Ottaviano de' Medici (2 June 153527 April 1605), was pope from April 1, 1605 to April 27 of the same year. He was born into the powerful Medici family of Florence: his mother, Francesca Salviati, was a daughter of Giacomo Salviati and Lucrezia Medici, a sister of Leo X. After a late start he was ordained priest, and Cosimo de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, sent him as an appropriate ambassador to Pope Pius V, a position which he held for fifteen years. Gregory XIII made him Bishop of Pistoia in 1573, Archbishop of Florence in 1574, and cardinal in 1583.

Clement VIII sent him, in 1596, as legate to France where Maria de' Medici was queen. Alessandro was a friend and disciple of Philip Neri.

On March 14, 1605, eleven days after the death of Clement VIII, sixty-two cardinals entered the conclave. Prominent among the candidates for the papacy were the great historian Baronius and the famous Jesuit controversialist Cardinal Bellarmine. But Aldobrandini, the leader of the Italian party among the cardinals, allied with the French cardinals and brought about the election of Alessandro against the express wish of King Philip III of Spain. King Henry IV of France is said to have spent 300,000 écus in the promotion of Alessandro's candidacy. On April 1, 1605, Alessandro ascended the papal throne with the Medici name Leo XI, being then seventy years of age, but took sick immediately after his coronation and died within the month.

External links

  • Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope Leo XI

Preceded by
Clement VIII
Succeeded by
Paul V

original text from the 9th edition (1882) of a famous encyclopedia.

Last updated: 02-08-2005 15:17:53
Last updated: 02-28-2005 11:06:06