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POPE NICHOLAS V
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POPE NICHOLAS V STATS
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Name: Tommaso Parentucelli
Born: 15 November 1397
Home town: Sarzana
Died: 24 or 25 March 1455
Position: Held Papacy from 6 March 1447 - 28 March 1455
House of: --
Nickname: Tommaso of Sarzana
Personality type:
Hobbies: Bibliophile, translating books
Strength(s): --
Weakness(es): --
Quirks: --



"to strengthen the weak faith of the populace by the greatness of that which it sees."


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POPE NICHOLAS V BIO
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A doctor's son, born at Sarzana, near La Spezia on 15 November 1397, Tommaso Parentucelli was a student at Bologna; to earn his keep he for a time tutored wealthy wealthy Florentine families, being thus introduced to leading figures in art and culture. After completing his doctorate in theology he served Bishop Niccolo Albergati of Bologna for twenty years, moving with him in 1426 to Rome and so joining the curia. On Niccolo's death Pope Eugene IV, to whose notice he came during the discussions with the Greeks at Florence (1439), named him Bishop of Bologna in 1447, an appointment he could not take up because the city was in revolt. In autumn 144 he went as papal legate to the diet of Frankfurt, and with his colleagues succeeded in swinging it round to the recognition of Eugene IV. For this service he was created cardinal in December 1446. At the conclave following Eugene's death he emerged as a compromise candidate because the favourite, a Colonna, was blocked by family jealousies. He took the name Nicholas out of regard for his old patron.

More patient and politically adroit than Eugene, Nicholas proved the constructive conciliator the church needed. Enjoying good relations with the Roman families, he had considerable success in restoring order in the city, while in the papal state he got rid of the mercenary troops, won or brought back cities, and recognised petty princelings as his vicars. He granted virtual independence to unruly Bologna, and prudently stood aside from the power struggle that ensued on the death of Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan, content that the condottiere Francesco Sforza eventually succeeded and so left the March on Ancona in undisputed papal possession. He at once ratified the settlement Eugene had reached with the German church, and by the concordat of Vienna (February 1448) obtained the recognition by Frederick III (1440 - 1493) of papal rights to annates and church appointments in Germany. A notable achievement with his peaceful liquidation of the schism with the rump Council of Basel and its pope, Felix V. As early as 1447 he prevailed on Charles VII of France (1422 - 1461) to mediate, and, by patience and tactful concessions, was able to persuade Felix to abdicate (7 April 1449) in return for an honourable status and income, and the council, now at Lausanne since Frederick III had withdrawn its safe-conduct for Basel, to dissolve itself (24 April) after having gone through the motions of electing "Tommaso of Sarzana" as pope. The mutual censures and processes were annulled, the possession of benefices was confirmed, and several of Felix's cardinals were admitted to the Roman College. In thanksgiving for unity restored he proclaimed 1450 a year of jubilee, and the thousands of pilgrims flocking to Rome not only confirmed it as the centre of Christendom but usefully replenished the papal finances. In the same year he canonised the Franciscan reformer Bernardino of Siena (1380 - 1444), and sent Cardinals Nicholas of Cusa and Capistrano to Germany and Cardinal d'Estouteville to France on missions of reform.

Although he himself failed to initiate any programme of reforms, Nicholas deliberately brought the intellectual and artistic aspirations of the Renaissance into partnership with the church. A scholar and man of letters, he enjoyed the company of scholars and humanists, and arranged for the translation of numerous Greek authors, classical as well as patristic, into Latin. A compulsive bibliophile all his life, he spent vast sums on collecting manuscripts and having them copied; at his death he left some 1,200 Greek and Latin Manuscripts, and was the real founder of the Vatican Library. The impulse he gave to the Renaissance was equally strong in architecture and the decorative arts. He took in hand not only the rebuilding of countless churches, palaces and bridges in Rome, but a planned strengthening of its fortifications; in the papal state he erected numerous strongholds. To adorn his buildings he employed Fra Angelico and his assistant Benozzo Gozzoli. In all these enterprises his aim was to advance the church by making it the leader of culture.

On 19 March 1452 Nicholas crowned Frederick III emperor in St Peter's (the last imperial coronation to take place in Rome). Notwithstanding, dark clouds overshadowed his closing years. In early January 1453 a plot against his life was brought to light. It was inspired by a republican dreamer, Stefano Porcaro,whom he had earlier tread leniently, and revealed the deceptiveness of Rome's outward calm. He had Stefano and his fellow conspirators executed, but was worried and suspicious from then on. Then in June 1453 the news of the Sack of Constantinople by the Turks (29 May) filled Europe with horror and dread. Nicholas tried to rally Christendom to a crusade (30 September 1453), but to no effect. He also summoned a congress of Italian states to Rome to work out a peace settlement for Italy, but again in vain. Eventually secret negotiations between Venice and Milan led to the Peace of Lodi (9 April 1454), in which Florence soon joined. Although irked that he had been left out so far,
Alfonso I King of Naples and Sicily (1442 - 1458), was persuaded by Nicholas to accept it too, and 26 June 1455 a solemn peace covering all Italian powers except Genoa was established for twenty five years.

When Nicholas died 24 March 1455, enfeebled by gout, he felt disappointed and on the defensive. His dream of himself as the restorer of Rome, patron of men of letters, and assertor of the papacy as the leader of civilisation had been dimmed by the harsh realities of the fall of Constantinople, the new responsibilities it placed on his shoulders, and his awareness of his own unfitness to undertake them. The first of the Renaissance popes, he was untouched by nepotism, but left the urgent problem of religious reform untackled.


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CONTEMPORARY VOICES
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POPE NICHOLAS V QUOTES
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  • "To strengthen the weak faith of the populace by the greatness of that which it sees."
  • "As Thomas of Sarzana," he said, "I had more happiness in a day than now in a whole year." Pope Nicholas in his last years.

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POPE NICHOLAS V TRIVIA
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  • Nicholas issued the bull "Dum Dviersas" (June 18, 1452) in response to a request from the Portuguese monarchy. King Alfonso V was conferred the right to "attack, conquer, and subjugate Saracens, Pagans and other enemies of Christ wherever they may be found." It gave title over all lands and possessions seized and permitted the Portuguese to take the inhabitants and consign them to perpetual slavery.



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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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