1902 Encyclopedia > Pope Paul V

Pope Paul V
(1605-1621)




PAUL V., Camillo Borghese, pope from 1605 to 1621, was born in Rome, 17th September 1552, of a noble family. He followed the study of canon law, and after having filled various important offices was made a cardinal in 1596. He succeeded Leo XI. on 16th May 1605, after an unusually long and stormy conclave, the vicissitudes of which are dramatically narrated in Mr T. A. Trollope's Paul the Pope and Paul the Friar. No one, till the last moment, had thought of Borghese, who owed his election to his supposed inoffensiveness and the inability of the leaders of the factions to agree upon any other man- Scarcely had he been elected ere he gave convincing proof that his character had been very much mistaken. He showed himself harsh, domineering, impatient of advice, fanatical in his devotion to the secular as well as the spiritual prerogatives of the church, and inflexible in his resolution to uphold them. He began by successfully re- pressing numerous encroachments of the civil power in various Boman Catholic countries, and thus became tempted to embark in a contention with the republic of Venice, which inflicted a deeper wound on Rome than anything that had taken place since the Reformation. The dispute was occasioned by the claim of the Venetians to try eccle- siastical culprits before the lay tribunals, and by the ex- tension of old laws forbidding the unauthorized formation of religious corporations and the acquisition of property by ecclesiastics to the entire territory of the republic. Paul protested and menaced (October 1605), and, when the Venetians refused to yield, he launched (April 1606) a bull of excommunication against them, and placed the whole republic under an interdict. The Venetians set him at defiance, forbidding their clergy to pay the least attention to the papal censures, and banishing those who disobeyed from their dominions. A vehement literary controversy arose, in which the famous Father Sarpi, the chief coun- sellor of the Venetian senate, especially distinguished him- self. Paul found himself impotent, and, disappointed in his expectations of material aid from Spain, was thankful to escape from the difficulty by the mediation of France, whose representative, Cardinal Joyeuse, negotiated a com- promise in April 1607. The Venetians made some nominal concessions, but gained every substantial point at issue; the main result of the contention, however, was to demon- strate the inefficacy of the spiritual weapons on which Rome had so long relied, and the disrepute into which papal pretensions had fallen even among Catholic nations. Throughout the remainder of his long pontificate Paul acted with comparative moderation, maintaining, never- theless, the character of a zealous pontiff intent on combat- ing heresy, and especially active in his encouragement of foreign missions. He ranks among the popes who have contributed most to the embellishment of Rome ; the nave, facade, and portico of St Peter's were completed by him; he also erected the sumptuous Borghese chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore, and greatly benefited the city by improving streets and constructing public fountains. He died on 28th January 1621, and was succeeded by Gregory XV. (R. G.)



The above article was written by: Richard Garnett.






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