Pope Pius II

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POPE PIUS II
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POPE PIUS II STATS
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Name: Enea Silvio Piccolomini
Born: 18 October 1405
Home town: Corsignano (he was to rename it Pienza)
Died: 14 August 1464
Position: Held Papacy from 19 August 1458 - 14 August 1464. Also was Poet-Laureate
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Personality type: Sincere, loving nature, frank and naïve even in his aberrations and defects. The leading trait of Pius II's character was his extreme impressionableness. Chameleon-like, he took colour from surrounding circumstances, and could always depend on being what these circumstances required him to be. As, therefore, his prospects widened and his responsibilities deepened, his character widened and deepened too; and he who had entered upon life a shifty character quit it a model chief shepherd. While he vied with any man in industry, prudence, wisdom, and courage, he excelled most men in simplicity of tastes, constancy of attachments, kindly playfulness,magnanimity, and mercy. As chief of the church he was able and sagacious, and showed that he comprehended the conditions on which its monopoly of spiritual power could for a season be maintained; his views were far-seeing and liberal; and he was but slightly swayed by personal ends.
Hobbies: Writing his memoirs, travelling.
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"All that has been written to me about that marvelous man seen at Frankfurt [sic] is true. I have not seen complete Bibles but only a number of quires of various books of the Bible. The script was very neat and legible, not at all difficult to follow—your grace would be able to read it without effort, and indeed without glasses."
Future Pope Pius II in a letter to Cardinal Juan Carajala, March 1455 talking about
Johannes Guttenburg

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POPE PIUS II BIO
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Born on 18 October 1405 at Corsignano (he was to rename it
Pienza), near Siena, son of noble but impoverished parents, Enea Silvio Piccolomini worked as a boy in the fields, then steeped himself in humanist culture for eight years as a student at Siena and Florence. From 1432 to 1435 he was at the Council of Basel (1431 - 49) as secretary to Cardinal Capranica and then other prelates, and in 1435 he travelled widely on diplomatic errands with or for Cardinal Niccolo Albergati. In 1436 he became an official of the council, being thud enabled to display his brilliance an an orator. A firm opponent then of Eugene IV, he was appointed secretary to Antipope Felix V (elected 5 November 1439), and wrote dialogues defending the authority of the council. When Felix sent him to the diet of Frankfurt in 1442, King Frederick III of Germany (1440 -1493) noticed him and his astonishing literary flair, crowned him poet laureate, and invited him to exchange Felix's service for his. Enea accepted, and became close friends with Frederick's chancellor, Caspar Schlick. To this period belong his widely read novel, Lucretia and Euryalus, celebrating Schlick's amorous adventures, and his erotic comedy Chrysis. In 1445 he severed connection with Felix V and was formally reconciled with Eugene IV. In the same year, moved by a serious illness, he abandoned his dissolute life (he had fathered several illigetimate), and on 4 March 1446 was ordained priest. In the following year he was largely responsible for persuading Frederick III and the German electors to abandon their neutrality in the schism and recognise Eugene IV. For his services Nicholas V made him bishop of Trieste in 1447 and of Siena in 1450, while Frederick continued to use his diplomatic abilities until 1455. On 18 December 1456, Callistus III, as reward for successful negotiations with Alfonso V, King of Aragon and Naples (1416 - 1458), raised him to the cardinalte which he had long coveted. To this period belongs his important History of Emperor Frederick. At a conclave marked by lobbying in which he himself took part Enea, only fifty three was elected to succeed Callistus III; he chose the name Pius in reminiscence of Vergil's 'pius Aeneas''.

The election of a connoisseur and practitioner of letters was acclaimed by humanist, but although he continued a voluminous author (writing, for example, his memoirs) Pius proved a friendly critic of them rather than their patron. Having for years called for resistance to the Turkish advance into Europe, he now made it his overriding aim to organise a crusade to check it. So he at once (October 1458) issued a crusade bull in impressive terms and summoned a congress of Christian rulers to meet at Mantua on 1 June 1459. Meanwhile, faced with a choice between Rene I, Duke of Anjou (1436 - 1480), and Ferrante or Ferdinand I (1458 - 1494), natural son of Alfonso V of Aragon, for the throne of Naples, he decided, in the interest of the balance of power in Italy, in favour of Ferrante. When the congress met after a slow start, his proposals for raising troops and money at once ran into opposition. France would do nothing, angry because of his rejection of Duke Rene. The Germans eventually promised an army, but although a three years' was agreed upon, the congress was a failure. Convinced that the decline of papal influence was due to the inflated prestige of councils, Pius published a bull (Execrabilis 18 January 1460) condemning, in defiance of his own earlier views, all appeal from the pope to a future council.

Hastening back from Mantua, Pius found himself faced with war between the French and Spanish in southern Italy and a rising of the barons in the Campagna. He dealt with these troubles without difficulty, but at the cost of still further alienating the French, from whom he was seeking the withdrawal of the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges. When Louis XI (1461 - 1483) came to the throne in 1461, he announced that he had abolished it, but this was a manoeuvre to induce the pope to change his mind over Naples; when Pius continued to support Ferrante. Louis yielded to French opinion and reintroduced the traditional liberties of the French church by decree. In Germany, where there were powerful and anti-papal current, Pius excommunicated Duke Sigismund of Tirol for his hostility to the reform programme Nicholas of Cusa wanted to introduce in Brixen, and the Duke appealed to a general council. At the same time Pius became embroiled with Diether von Isenburg, Archbishop of Mainz, who sided with George of Podebrady, King of Bohemia (1458 - 1471), in his efforts to replace Frederick III as King of the Romans. Diether, too appealed to a general council, and Pius declared him deposed. He also crossed swords with George of Podesbrady, who, angered by the pope's refusal to accept the Compacts of Basil agreed (1437) between Catholics and conservative Hussites, openly challenged his direction of the crusade and traditional position as arbiter of Christianity. All these difficulties, as well as the claims of the crusade, prevented Pius, who was more thoroughly aware than anyone of the 'grievances' throughout Europe against the curia, from carrying out the programme for general and curial reform on which he had been working since his election.

The crusade was never far from Pius's thoughts, and in 1460 - 1461, deserted by the European princes, he prepared his remarkable, still problematical, 'Letter to Sultan Mehmet III containing a detailed refutation of the Koran, an exposition of Christian faith, and an appeal to Mehmet to abandon Islam, be baptised, and accept the crown of he Eastern empire. The letter was never sent, but throws light on the pope's personality and Utopian aspirations. In October 1463, encouraged by the agreement of Venice and Hungary to join forces, he again called for a crusade, making Ancona the rendezvous for the following summer; to shame Christian rulers into action, he would personally lead it. While there was some popular support, the rulers held back. Nevertheless he held fast to his great project, took the cross in St Peter's in June 1464 and then, although seriously ill, made for Ancona. There he found, to his disappointment, only a handful of crusaders; but when at last the Venetian galleys came in sight, he died , and the enterprise came to nothing. His heart was interred at Ancona, while his body was taken to Rome. With his brilliant gifts, unrivalled experience, and literary accomplishment, he stood out among the popes of his epoch. If his favouritism for relatives and Sienese compatriots was a serious fault, his often criticised transfers of allegiance did him credit. Although ambition and opportunism played their part,he was genuinely disillusioned with the Council of Basil, and was sincere when he challenged critics, in his 'Bull of Retractation' (26 April 1463), to 'reject Aeneas, listen to Pius'. His moral conversion, too, was profound and lasting, and he had a vision of a united Christian Europe which was original and refreshing.

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CONTEMPORARY VOICES
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From Pope Pius II to Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia :


Dear Son: We have learned that your Worthiness, forgetful of the high office with which you are invested, was present from the seventeenth to the twenty-second hour, four days ago, in the gardens of John de Bichis, where there were several women of Siena, women wholly given over to worldly vanities. Your companion was one of your colleagues whom his years, if not the dignity of his office, ought to have reminded of his duty. We have heard the the dance was indulged in in all wantonness; none of the allurements of love were lacking, and you conducted yourself in a wholly worldly manner. Shame forbids mention of all that took place, for not only the things themselves but their very names are unworthy of your rank. In order that your lust might be all the more unrestrained, the husbands, fathers, brothers and kinsmen of the young women and girls were not invited to be present. You and a few servants were the leaders and inslirers of the orgy. It is said that nothing is now talked of in Siena but your vanity, which is the subject of universal ridicule. Certain it is that here at the baths, where Churchmen and the laity are very numerous, your name is on every one's tongue. Our displeasure is beyond words, for your conduct has brought the holy state and office into disgrace; the people will say that they make us rich and great, not that we may live a blameless life, but that we may have means to gratify our passions. This is the reason the princes and the powers dispose us and the chancellor of the Church, and what renders your conduct all the more reprehensible is the fact that you have a seat among the cardinals, with the Pope, as advisers of the Holy See. We leave it to you whether it is becoming to your dignity to court young women, and to send e laity mock us; this is why our own mode of living is thrown in our face when we reprove others. Contempt is the lot of Christ's vicar because he seems to tolerate these actions. You, dear son, have charge of the bishopric of Valencia, the most important in Spain; you are a those whom you love fruits and wine, and during the whole day to give no thought to anything but sensual pleasures. People blame us on your account, and the memory of your blessed uncle, Calixtus, likewise suffers, and many say he did wrong in heaping honors upon you. If you try to excuse yourself on the ground of your youth, I say to you; you are no longer so young as not to see what duties your offices impose upon you. A Cardinal should be above reproach and an example of right living before the eyes of all men, and then we should have just grounds for anger when temporal princes bestow uncomplimentary epithets upon us; when they dispute with us the possession of our property and force us to submit ourselves to their will. Of a truth we inflict these wounds upon ourselves, and we ourselves are the cause of these troubles, since we by our conduct are daily diminishing the authority of the Church. Our punishment for it in this world is dishonor, and in the world to come well deserved torment. May, therefore, your good sense place a restraint on these frivolities, and may you never lose sight of your dignity; then people will not call you a vain gallant among men. If this occurs again we shall be compelled to show that it was contrary to our exhortation, and that it caused us great pain; and our censure will not pass over you without causing you a blush. We have always loved you and thought you worthy of our protection as a man of an earnest and modest character. Therefore, conduct yourself henceforth so that we may retain this our opinion of you, and may behold in you only the example of a well ordered life. Your years, which are not such as to preclude improvement, permit us to admonish you paternally.




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POPE PIUS II QUOTES
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POPE PIUS II TRIVIA
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  • Enea's visited England as well as Scotland, underwent many perils and vicissitudes in both countries, and has left a valuable account of each. The journey to Scotland proved so tempestuous that Piccolomini swore that he would walk barefoot to the nearest shrine of Our Lady from their landing port. This proved to be Dunbar, and the nearest shrine 10 miles distant at Whitekirk. The journey through the ice and snow left Enea's afflicted with pain in his legs for the rest of his life. In Scotland he had his second natural child, the other one having been born in Strasburg.
  • Pius condemned slavery of newly baptised Christians as a "great crime" in an address (1462) to the local ruler of the Canary Islands. Pius instructed bishops to impose penalties on transgressors. Pius did not condemn the concept of trading in slaves, only the enslavement of the recently baptised who represented a very small minority of those captured and taken to Portugal. Pope Uban VIII in his bull dated 22 April 1639 describes these grave warnings of Pius (7 October 1462, Apud Raynaldum in Annalibus Ecclesiasticis ad ann n.42) as relating to "neophytes". According to British diplomatic papers Pius's letter was addressed to Bishop Rubeira and confirms Urban's observation that the condemnation relates to new converts being enslaved.
  • His longest and most enduring work is the story of his life, Commentaries, which is the only autobiography ever written by a reigning Pope.
  • Pope Pius II inaugurated an unusual urban project, perhaps the first city planning exercise in modern Europe. He refurbished his home town which is now by his name called Pienza (Tuscany). A cathedral and palaces were built in the best style of the day to decorate the city. They survive to this day.

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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND MATERIALS
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BOOKS & PUBLICATIONS WEBSITES & MEDIA
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Popes by JND Kelly
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