Clement VII | Free Online Biblical Library

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Clement VII

Pope from 1523. Giulio de’ Medici, illegitimate son of Giuliano de’ Medici and cousin of Pope Leo X,* became archbishop of Florence, being granted a special dispensation on account of his birth. Made cardinal in 1513, he practically controlled papal policy in Leo’s pontificate and succeeded Hadrian VI as pope. Indecisive and timid, he failed to deal with the problems raised by the Reformation, preferring to live as a prince and to forward Medici interests.

He patronized the arts, encouraging Cellini, Raphael,* and Michelangelo.* He vacillated between support of Francis I of France and emperor Charles V, siding with Francis at the League of Cognac (1526), then, after his capture by imperial troops at the sack of Rome (1527), with Charles at the treaty of Barcelona (1529). He was equally irresolute over the divorce of Henry VIII of England. Eventually yielding to imperial pressure (1529), he resisted Henry’s subsequent break with Rome.

There was also an antipope Clement VII (d.1394): Robert, son of Count Amadeus III of Geneva, who became archbishop of Cambrai in 1368 and was elected pope when the French cardinals seceded in 1378, so beginning the Great Schism.*