1902 Encyclopedia > Pope Paul IV

Pope Paul IV
(1555-1559)




PAUL IV., Giovanni Pietro Caraffa, pope from 1555 to 1559, born 28th June 1476, was the nephew of Car-dinal Oliviero Caraffa, by whose interest he became at an early age chamberlain to Pope Alexander VI., and subse-quently, though contrary to his own inclination, archbishop of Chieti. He was afterwards nuncio in England and Spain, both of which missions he discharged with credit; but in 1524, under the influence of strong religious im-pressions, he resigned his archbishopric, distributed his goods among the poor, and retired from the world to direct the monastic order of Theatins, founded by himself. In 1536 the fame of his sanctity induced Paul III. to call him to his court and confer the dignity of cardinal upon him, notwithstanding his own reluctance. He now be-came the head of the reactionary party at Rome, bent on crushing all tendencies to religious innovation, while in-sisting on reforms in discipline and moral deportment. Such was unquestionably the policy required by the times from the exclusive point of view of the interests of the church, and it was thoroughly incarnate in Caraffa, in whom the spirit of the Dominican exterminators of the Albigenses seemed to revive. Having taken an important part in two conclaves, he was himself unexpectedly elected pope on 23d May 1555, after the death of Marcellus II., notwithstanding his personal unpopularity and the positive veto of Charles V. Raised to the pontifical throne, Paul showed himself a man of extreme counsels in every respect. He endeavoured to efface the prejudice against his former austerity by excessive magnificence. He rushed into politics, and evinced himself as rash in his partisanship as his predecessors had been dexterous and ambiguous. His open espousal of the cause of France brought upon him a Spanish invasion which would have destroyed his temporal sovereignty but for the superstition of Philip II. and his general Alva, who embraced the first opportunity of making peace. He called his nephews to court and trusted them with blind confidence, but unhesitatingly disgraced them when convinced of their unworthiness. He refused to acknowledge Ferdinand as emperor of Germany, maintain-ing that Charles had no right to abdicate or Ferdinand to succeed without his own permission. Amid all these agitations he never lost sight of the main purpose of his life: he struggled incessantly against heresy, and was the first pope to issue a full official Index Librorum, Prohibit-orum (see vol. xii. p. 730). He died, on 18th August 1559, recommending the Inquisition to the cardinals with his last breath, and leaving the character of a pope of rare energy of body and mind, upright in all his thoughts and actions, but intoxicated with fanaticism and the pride of office, and more perverse, obstinate, and impracticable than any occupant of the papal chair since Urban VI. His memory was so detested by the Roman people that the hawkers of glass and earthenware were compelled for a time to discontinue their usual cry of "carafe" and cry "ampolle." He was succeeded by Pius IV.






The above article was written by: Richard Garnett.



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