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Pope Paul IV

Pope Paul IV
Pope Paul IV

Paul IV, né Gianni Carafa (June 28, 1476 - August 18, 1559) was Pope from May 23, 1555.

Gianni Carafa was born in Benevento into a prominent noble family of Naples. He was mentored by Cardinal Oliviero Carafa , his relative, who resigned the See of Chieti (Latin Theate) in his favour. Under the direction of Leo X he was ambassador to England and then papal nuncio in Spain, where he conceived a violent detestation of Spanish rule that affected the policies of his later papacy.

However in 1524 Clement VII allowed Carafa to resign his benefices and join the ascetic order of St. Cajetan , popularly called the Theatines , after Cardinal Carafa, bishop of Theate. Following the sack of Rome in 1527, the order removed itself to Venice. But Carafa was recalled to Rome by the reform-minded Paul III, to sit on a committee of reform of the papal Court, an appointment that forecast an end to a humanist Papacy, and a revival of scholasticism, for Carafa was a thorough disciple of Thomas Aquinas. In December, 1536 he was made a cardinal and then Archbishop of Naples. He reorganized the Inquisition in Italy.

He was a surprise choice as Pontiff to succeed Marcellus II; his rigid, severe and unbending character combined with his age and patriotism meant he would have declined the honour. He accepted apparently because the Emperor Charles V was opposed to his accession. As Pope his nationalism was a driving force, he used the office to preserve some liberties in the face of four-fold foreign occupation. The Hapsburgs disliked Paul IV and he allied with France, possibly against the true interests of the Papacy. He also alienated the English and rejected Elizabeth's claim to the Crown. The strengthening of the Inquisition continued and Paul IV's rectitude meant that few could consider themselves safe by virtue of position in his drive to reform the Church; even Cardinals he disliked could be imprisoned.

Paul IV had rather anti-Semitic views, and he acted on those views, as well. He considered Jews to be condemned by God to slavery and undeserving of "Christian love". In 1555 he issued a canon (papal law), Cum nimis absurdum, by which the Roman Ghetto was created; Jews were then forced to live in seclusion in a specified area of the town, locked in at night. The following pope would have enforced the creation of other ghettos in most Italian towns. Under conservative pressure from Pius IX, the Roman ghetto was the last ghetto to be abolished in Western Europe.

As with other Renaissance Popes, Paul IV was not backward in promoting his relatives - he made a nephew into a cardinal and chief advisor as well as granting favours and estates to other relatives, often taken from those who supported the Spanish. However at the conclusion of the foolish and disastrous war with Philip II in August 1587 the Pope publicly disgraced his nephew and banished him from the Court.

He was buried in St. Peter's but was later transferred to St. Maria sopra Minerva.

Preceded by
Marcellus II
Succeeded by
Pius IV

Last updated: 02-07-2005 18:31:55
Last updated: 05-02-2005 00:54:20