Cardinal Francesco Piccolomini Historical Profile


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CARDINAL FRANCESCO PICCOLOMINI
Historical Profile
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CARDINAL FRANCESCO PICCOLOMINI STATS
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Name: Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini
Born: 29 May 1439
Home town: Siena
Died: 18 October 1503
Position: Cardinal and Archbishop of Siena, later Pope Pius III
House of: Piccolomini
Nickname:
Personality type: Honest, intelligent, scholarly, genuinely religious.
Hobbies: Collecting books.
Strength(s): Piety, humility, probity, administrative flair, the ability to gain the respect of his contemporaries.
Weakness(es): The state of his health.
Quirks: He was so abstemious in food and drink that he only had an evening meal every other day.


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CARDINAL FRANCESCO PICCOLOMINI BIO
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Francesco Piccolomini was born in Siena on 29 May 1439, the nephew of Aeneas Sylvanus Piccolomini, who became Pope Pius II in 1458. He was the fourth child of Nanno Todeschini and laudomia Piccolomini (sister of Pope Pius II). He was allowed to assume the surname and arms of his uncle. Francesco studied law at the University of Perugia, where he earned his doctorate.

Pope Pius II made him a Cardinal and Archbishop of Siena in 1460 when he was only 21, but proved hardworking and effective. Like his uncle, he was a scholarly man with a great interest in humanism. He was the administraor/legate to the See of Siena and cardinal Protector of England and Germany. To honor the memory of Pope Pius II, he founded the Piccolomini Library, next to the cathedral of Siena; it housed that pope's library and was decorated by Bernardino di Betto (Benedetto), Italian painter known as Pinturicchio. Although the building seems to have been uncompleted on his death and the books were never housed there, the Piccolomini Library is one of the greatest Renaissance buildings in Siena. It is decorated with frescoes by the artist Pinturicchio (who also decorated the Borgia Apartments in the Vatican) depicting the life of Pope Pius II.

Cardinal Piccolomini was widely regarded as an honest, religious and capable man. He kept no mistresses and avoided conspicuous display.

The Cardinal largely stayed out of Rome during the pontificates of Pope Sixtus IV and Pope Alexander VI - given his character, it is unlikely that he would have approved of their behaviour. However, he did work with Alexander on his short-lived plan to reform the Church following the death of Juan Borgia.

Following the death of Pope Alexander VI, he was elected Pope as a compromise candidate between the various factions at the conclave on 22 September 1503. He had great plans for his pontificate - he said that he wanted to be 'a Pope of Peace', and planned to call a General Council to reform the Church. Pius III was ordained as a priest on 30 September, 1503, consecrated as Bishop of Rome 1 October, and he was crowned Pope on 8 October. Sadly, he was in frail health, severely afflicted with gout, and died on 18 October of an infected leg ulcer after a pontificate of only 26 days.

Pius III was a complete contrast in character to Alexander VI, although like him, he had considerable intelligence and ability. One wonders what history might have been like had Pius II lived for a few more years and attained some success in his plans for Church reform.



page logo CONTEMPORARY VOICES
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FROM SIGISMONDO DE CONTI ...he left no moment unoccupied; his time for study was before daybreak; he spent his mornings in prayer and his midday hours giving audiences, to which the humblest had easy access.



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page logo CARDINAL FRANCESCO PICCOLOMINI TRIVIA
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  • It was alleged that he died of poison adminstered at the instigation of Pandolfo Petrucci, Governor of Siena.
  • He had not received the priestly ordination and the episcopal consecration at the time of his election to the papacy.
  • Participated in the Conclave of 1492 that elected Rodrigo Borgia as Pope Alexander VI; he crowned new pope on August 20, 1492 in the steps of the patriarchal Vatican basilica.
  • Allowed himself an evening meal every other day.


page logo ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND MATERIALS
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BOOKS & PUBLICATIONS WEBSITES & MEDIA
  • History of the Popes (Ludwig von Pastor) VI, 185 sqq.
  • Papal Genealogy: The Families And Descendants Of The Popes, (George L. Williams) 1998
  • Albero della famiglia Piccolomini (A. Lisini and A. Liberati) Siena, 1899


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