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Paul V

1552-1621. Pope from 1605. Born Camillo Borghese in Rome, he studied canon law at Padua and Perugia and maintained a lifelong reputation as an able and strict canonist. He served in the Curia beginning about 1580 and rose rapidly to the top, being created cardinal in 1596, becoming vicar of Rome in 1603, and elected pope two years later as a compromise candidate. He supported educational reform, approved new reform orders, and sponsored improvements in the city of Rome.

But although he led a saintly life (except for nepotism), his pontificate was plagued with painful struggles: (1) the bitter Jesuit*-Dominican* dispute over grace, which he finally decided on the side of the Jesuits without condemning their opponents. His reaction was to ban all further discussions of the topic (1607); (2) the problem arising from the teachings of Galileo,* especially in the light of Bellarmine's* attacks. The Congregation of the Index decided this issue by condemning Galileo (1616); (3) a political struggle with Venice. Paul was forced to take action in Venice where in 1605 the “benefit of clergy”* provision was violated. The bitter struggle expanded into a pamphlet warfare on the old “Two Swords” issue, with Bellarmine siding with the papacy against the animated Paolo Sarpi.* Ultimately Paul placed an interdict on the city; the Venetians retaliated by expelling all groups supporting the pope. Matters were finally settled through the mediation of Henry IV of France; (4) a political struggle involving England. James I's* divine-right theories (especially the Oath of Allegiance, 1606) occasioned two papal briefs of condemnation. A fierce contention raged for many years; (5) finally, the outbreak of the Thirty Years' War. Paul sided with the Hapsburgs, but died shortly after the Battle of White Mountain (1620).

See C.P. Goujet, Histoire du pontificat de Paul V (2 vols., 1765).