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Pope Julius II

Pope Julius II 216th Roman Catholic Pontiff 1503-1513

216th Pontiff (1503-1513)

The Romans proclaimed that if Pope Julius II had not been a great pope, he had been a good king.

Giuliano della Rovere, born in poverty at Albisola in Liguria in 1443, became one of the most powerful of the Renaissance popes. He benefited greatly from the many favors bestowed upon him by his uncle, Pope Sixtus IV.

Giuliano, a Franciscan, was named cardinal at a young age by his uncle Pope Sixtus IV, and when Pope Sixtus IV died, Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere eagerly competed for the tiara with Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia. Neither candidate was elected, as the papal honor was conferred upon Pope Innocent VIII.

Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere soothed his ambition by undertaking much of the governing for Pope Innocent VIII, a laissez-faire pontiff. At the next conclave, Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere and Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia vied once more for the pontificate, and Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia became Pope Alexander VI.

The two men were enemies. The new pope detested Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, and Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, fearing for his life, fled to France. Once in France, he unsuccessfully tried to convince King Charles VIII of France to depose Pope Alexander VI and invade Italy.

Upon the death of Pope Alexander VI, Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere yet again contended for the tiara and was again beaten, this time by Pope Pius III.

However, Pope Pius III died from an incurable disease just 26 days after his coronation; so ultimately, Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere prevailed due in part to substantial bribes and promises of ecclesiastical advancement not all of which he kept.   Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere was elected Pope Julius II on November 1, 1503 after only a few hours of voting.

Pope Julius II 216th Roman Catholic Pontiff 1503-1513Pope Julius II was a vigorous, quick tempered, determinedly political, even military pope. It is said that he was also the delighted father of three daughters. Pope Julius II is best remembered for rebuilding the papal kingdom and crafting a mecca at Rome for artists and art lovers.

Pope Julius II devoted himself to the mission of becoming master in the papal kingdom.  In full armour, and taking the lead, he won back most of Romagna and captured Bologna and Perugia from their tyrannical rulers. Joined with the League of Cambria in 1508, Pope Julius II defeated Venice so completely that it surrendered Rimini and Faenza as well. King Louis XII of France, with the support of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and nine anti-Pope Julian II cardinals, convened a council at Pisa in 1511. Their purpose was to depose the pope, but Pope Julius II stripped the rebellious cardinals of their rank, and the council moved to Milan where they declared Pope Julius II suspended.  In gratitude to Switzerland for being loyal, the Vatican's Swiss Guard was created in 1506 by Pope Julius II.

The Holy League (Venice, Spain, England) was formed to protect the papacy. The stormy but shrewd Pope Julius II now raised the cry "Out with the barbarians," and before long, France was driven from Italy. The Papal States continued to increase, and Pope Julius II regarded himself as their re-founder. Many were shocked by Pope Julius IIs open display of power politics and his absolute absorption in the welfare of the papal kingdom.

Pope Julius II was a true patron of the arts and in effect moved the capital of the Renaissance from Florence to Rome. With Pope Julius IIs influence, three Renaissance artists left their indelible imprint: Bramante, with his grandiose plan for reconstruction of the Vatican, Raphael, with his frescoes in the palazzo of Pope Nicholas V, and Michelangelo, with his remarkable masterpieces in the Sistine Chapel. Pope Julius II oversaw Via Giulia, the first rectangular Roman street.

Before his death Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo to create his mausoleum where it stands in his titular church Saint Peter in Chains.

After ailing for some time, Pope Julius II died peacefully on February 21, 1513.

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