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Pope from 1555. Born Giovanni Pietro Caraffa of a noble Neapolitan family, he received a good education in the home of his uncle, Oliviero Cardinal Caraffa, who was able to secure an appointment in the Roman Curia for him. Beginning as a chamberlain under, he became bishop of Chiete (Teate) in 1506. He also served as a papal envoy in several instances: in 1513 he was sent to England by Leo X to collect Peter’s Pence* from ; he then went to Flanders (1515-17) and Spain (1517-20). It was perhaps this last mission which provoked an anti-Spanish feeling which was to affect the policies of his pontificate. Always active in reform movements within the church, Caraffa was a member of the Oratory of Divine Love from 1520 to 1527 and co-founder of the Theatines in 1524. In 1536 he was made a cardinal by Paul III and remained a staunch supporter of the Counter-Reformation, serving on reform commissions and reorganizing the Italian Inquisition.
Elected pope in 1555, he displayed a zeal for reform that produced some drastic measures. His anti-Spanish and anti- imperial policies along with his fervent promotion of the Inquisition,* especially against holders of high office, and the publication of the Index* of Prohibited Books lessened his popularity. Nepotism also marred part of his pontificate, although he expelled his nephews before the end of his reign. In his attempt to apply medieval concepts of papal power to sixteenth-century politics he was unable to stem the tide of Protestantism throughout N Europe.