LEO X

(1475-1521)
The pontificate of Leo X (1513-21) was a period of intense cultural activity and was exemplary of the heights of Renaissance extravagance. Born Giovanni de' Medici in December 1475, the future Leo X was the intelligent second son of the illustrious Lorenzo de' Medici of Florence. Tonsured at the age of seven, Giovanni was intended by his father to become the vehicle of Medicean and Florentine interests in the Sacred College. He was tutored by some of the leading scholars of the time—Politian and Marsilio Ficino among them—and later stud­ied canon law at Pisa before his formal elevation to the College of Cardinals in 1492. Following the exile of the Medici from Florence in 1494, the cardinal traveled throughout Europe, eventually returning to Rome six years later, where he took up a relatively pious, modest, but thoroughly urbane mode of life. He distinguished himself politically under Pope Julius II,* who appointed him papal legate for Bologna and Romagna in 1511. In 1512 he accompanied the papal army against the French at Ravenna and finally saw the restoration of the Medici to Florence that same year.
Leo's election to the papacy after Julius's death in 1513 was unexpected, but not unwelcome to those who looked forward to a more cultured pontificate. As a product of the intellectual and artistic ferment of his father's court, the new pope launched an extravagant program of patronage that attracted to Rome some of the brightest lights of the day. Both Michelangelo* and Raphael* were in his employ, although the latter soon became the artistic centerpiece of his court. Leo's fondness for belles lettres drew into his service such famous literati as Pietro Bembo* and Pietro Aretino,* as well as a galaxy of less noteworthy talents. The pope's devotion to scholarship and the culture of antiquity also helped finance the University of Rome, an academy of Greek studies, and many other erudite projects. In addition to these high-minded pursuits, Leo delighted in lavish amusements, theatrical and musical performances, buffoonery, and hunting. His generosity and enthusiasms, however, were too widespread to be sustained; within two years of his accession the papal finances were in a state of crisis.
The pope's genial personality was less apparent in his political affairs. His general strategy was to unify central Italy (preferably under Medicean control) against France and Spain. Although his initial efforts were moderately success­ful, the French victory at Marignano in 1515 obliged him to make significant territorial and investiture concessions to Francois I* in return for the revocation of the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges. Leo's allegiances continued to shift freely with the changing political landscape, however, earning him a not-undeserved reputation for duplicity and diplomatic opportunism. He also became mired in a costly and unpopular private war (1516-17) to install his nephew as the duke of Urbino. Burdened by debt and the cost of the reconstruction of St. Peter's, Leo frequently resorted to outright simony to raise funds. In 1516 his fiscal dealings with Albrecht of Brandenburg brought into light the worst abuses of the sale of indulgences and set in motion the first stages of Martin Luther's* revolt against Rome. Leo's own attempts at church reform through the Fifth Lateran Council had been minor and ineffectual, and he never truly appreciated the scope of disaffection caused by papal policy. He excommunicated Luther in 1521 and died, possibly of malarial fever, later that same year, leaving the Roman church financially unstable and irrevocably compromised by the growing momentum of the Reformation.
Bibliography
L. Pastor, The History of the Popes, vols. 7-8, 1908.
H. M. Vaughan, The Medici Popes, 1908.
Michael J. Medwick

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Leo — is the Latin word for lion. Leo can also refer to:* Leo (constellation) * Leo (astrology), a sign of the Zodiac * Leo the Lion (MGM), the mascot of the Metro Goldwyn Mayer film studio * Leo (film), a 2000 Spanish film, written and directed by… …   Wikipedia

  • Leo I. — Leo ist ein männlicher Vorname, griechisch Leon, Λέων. Er ist ebenfalls die Kurzform verschiedener Vornamen, die dieses Element beinhalten: männlich als Kurzform von Leopold, Leon(h)ard, Leonid oder Leas weiblich als Kurzform von Leontina,… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • LEO — Leo, Léo oder LEO steht für: Leo (Vorname) (siehe dort auch für Herrscher namens Leo bzw. Leon) Léo, eine Provinzhauptstadt in Burkina Faso Löwe (Sternbild), ein Sternbild der Ekliptik Kleiner Löwe, ein Sternbild des Nordhimmels eine… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Leo — steht für: Leo (Vorname) (siehe dort auch für Herrscher namens Leo bzw. Leon) Leo (2007), schwedisches Krimi Drama aus dem Jahr 2007 Löwe (Sternbild), Sternbild der Ekliptik Kleiner Löwe, Sternbild des Nordhimmels eine Märchenschach Figur Taifun… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Leo X —     Pope Leo X     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Pope Leo X     (GIOVANNI DE MEDICI).     Born at Florence, 11 December, 1475; died at Rome, 1 December, 1521, was the second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449 1492) and Clarice Orsini, and from his… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • LEO — Léo Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Leo IX —     Pope St. Leo IX     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Pope St. Leo IX     (1049 54), b. at Egisheim, near Colmar, on the borders of Alsace, 21 June, 1002; d. 19 April, 1054. He belonged to a noble family which had given or was to give saints to the… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Leo IX. — Leo IX. in einer Briefsammlung des 11. Jahrhunderts Leo IX., geboren als Bruno von Egisheim Dagsburg (* 21. Juni 1002 in Egisheim (heute Eguisheim), Oberelsass; † 19. April 1054 in Rom), war ein Papst deutscher Abstammung, der vom… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • LEO° — LEO°, name of 13 popes. LEO VII (936–39) the only pope who openly advocated forcible measures for the conversion of the Jews. He advised Frederick, archbishop of Mainz from 937 and the pope s vicar in all the regions of Germany, to deliver to the …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • LEO LT — AB is energy holding company in Lithuania. The name of the company stands for Lithuanian Electricity Organization ( lt. Lietuvos elektros organizacija). The holding company own shares of Lithuania s three major power production and distribution… …   Wikipedia

  • Leo XI. — Leo XI. Leo XI. (* 2. Juni 1535 in Florenz; † 27. April 1605 in Rom) geboren als Alessandro Ottaviano de´ Medici, war vom 1. April bis zum 27. April 1605 Papst der katholischen Kirche. Inhaltsverzei …   Deutsch Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.