Pope Clement VII

Portrait by [[Sebastiano del Piombo]], {{circa |1531}}<br /><small>(oil on slate; [[J. Paul Getty Museum]], [[Los Angeles]])</small> Pope Clement VII (; ; born '''Giulio de' Medici'''; 26 May 1478 – 25 September 1534) was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 19 November 1523 to his death on 25 September 1534. Deemed "the most unfortunate of the popes", Clement VII's reign was marked by a rapid succession of political, military, and religious struggles—many long in the making—which had far-reaching consequences for Christianity and world politics.

Elected in 1524 at the end of the Italian Renaissance, Clement came to the papacy with a high reputation as a statesman. He had served with distinction as chief advisor to Pope Leo X (1513–1521, his cousin), Pope Adrian VI (1522–1523), and commendably as gran maestro of Florence (1519–1523). Assuming leadership at a time of crisis, with the Protestant Reformation spreading, the Church nearing bankruptcy, and large foreign armies invading Italy, Clement initially tried to unite Christendom by making peace among the many Christian leaders then at odds. He later attempted to liberate Italy from foreign occupation, believing that it threatened the Church's freedom.

The complex political situation of the 1520s thwarted Clement's efforts. Inheriting unprecedented challenges, including Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation in Northern Europe; a vast power struggle in Italy between Europe's two most powerful kings, Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Francis I of France, each of whom demanded that the Pope choose a side; Turkish invasions of Eastern Europe led by Suleiman the Magnificent, Clement's problems were exacerbated by Henry VIII of England's contentious divorce, resulting in England breaking away from the Catholic Church; and in 1527, souring relations with Emperor Charles V, leading to the violent Sack of Rome, during which Clement was imprisoned. After escaping confinement in the Castel Sant'Angelo, Clement—with few economic, military, or political options remaining—compromised the Church's and the Papal States' independence by allying with his former jailer, Charles V.

In contrast to his tortured pontificate, Clement was personally respectable and devout, possessing a "dignified propriety of character", "great acquirements both theological and scientific", as well as "extraordinary address and penetration—Clement VII, in serener times, might have administered the Papal power with high reputation and enviable prosperity. But with all of his profound insight into the political affairs of Europe, Clement does not seem to have comprehended the altered position of the Pope" in relation to Europe's emerging nation-states and Protestantism.

Clement left a significant cultural legacy in the Medici tradition. He commissioned artworks by Raphael, Benvenuto Cellini, and Michelangelo, including Michelangelo's ''The Last Judgment'' in the Sistine Chapel. In matters of science, Clement is best known for approving, in 1533, Nicolaus Copernicus's theory that the Earth revolves around the Sun—99 years before Galileo Galilei's heresy trial for similar ideas. Provided by Wikipedia
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    by Clement VII, Pope, 1478-1534
    Published 1527
    [Antwerp, Mich. Hillen van Hoochstraten] 1527.
    48 l. 8vo.
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    by Erasmus, Desiderius, -1536
    Published 1526
    Lucerne : [Thomas Murner (Privatpress) 1526]
    40 p. (4to)
    Other Authors: ...Clement VII, Pope, 1478-1534...

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