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Pope Urban VIII : biography

5 April 1568 - 29 July 1644

Pope Urban VIII ( baptised 5 April 1568 – 29 July 1644), born Maffeo Barberini, was the head of the Catholic Church from 6 August 1623 to his death in 1644. He was the last pope to expand the papal territory by force of arms, and was a prominent patron of the arts and reformer of Church missions. However, the massive debts incurred during his papacy greatly weakened his successors, who were unable to maintain the papacy's longstanding political and military influence in Europe. He was also involved in a controversy with Galileo and his theory on heliocentrism during his reign.

He is the most recent Pope to date to take the name "Urban" upon being elected as Pope.

Later life and legacy

A consequence of these military and artistic endeavours was a massive increase in papal debt. Urban VIII inherited a debt of 16 million scudi, and by 1635 had increased it to 28 million.

According to contemporary John Bargrave, in 1636 members of the Spanish faction of the College of Cardinals were so horrified by the conduct of Pope Urban VIII that they conspired to have him arrested and imprisoned (or killed) so that they could replace him with a new pope; namely Laudivio Zacchia.Pope Alexander the Seventh and the College of Cardinals by John Bargrave, edited by James Craigie Robertson (reprint; 2009) When Urban travelled to Castel Gandolfo to rest, the members of the Spanish faction met in secret and discussed ways to advance their plan. But they were discovered and the Pope raced back to Rome where he immediately held a consistory and demanded to know who the new pope was. To put an end to the conspiracy, the pope decreed that all Cardinal-Bishops should leave Rome and return to their own churches.

With the Spanish plan having failed, by 1640 the debt had reached 35 million scudi, consuming more than 80 percent of annual papal income in interest repayments.

Urban's death (29 July 1644) is said to have been hastened by chagrin at the result of the Wars of Castro. Because of the costs incurred by the city of Rome to finance this war, Urban VIII became immensely unpopular. On his death, the bust of Urban that lay beside the Palace of the Conservators on the Capitoline Hill was rapidly destroyed by an enraged crowd, and only a quick-thinking priest saved the sculpture of Urban belonging to the Jesuits from a similar fate.Ernesta Chinazzi, Sede Vacante per la morte del Papa Urbano VIII Barberini e conclave di Innocenzo X Pamfili, Rome, 1904, 13.

His unpopularity swayed the papal conclave not to elect Cardinal Giulio Sacchetti who was closely associated with the Barberini. Instead, it elected Cardinal Giovanni Battista Pamphili as his successor at the papal conclave of 1644, who took the name of Innocent X.

Papacy

On 6 August 1623, at the papal conclave following the death of Pope Gregory XV, he was chosen as Gregory's successor and took the name Urban VIII.

Upon his election, Zeno, the Venetian envoy, wrote the following description of him: by Valérie Pirie (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1935)

Urban's papacy covered twenty-one years of the Thirty Years' War and was an eventful one even by the standards of the day. He canonised Elizabeth of Portugal, Andrew Corsini and Conrad of Piacenza, and issued the Papal bulls of canonisation for Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier who had been canonized by his predecessor, Pope Gregory.

Despite an early friendship and encouragement for his teachings, Urban was responsible for summoning Galileo to Rome in 1633 to recant his work.

Urban practiced nepotism on a grand scale; various members of his family were enormously enriched by him, so that it seemed to contemporaries as if were establishing a Barberini dynasty.http://www.libraryindex.com/encyclopedia/pages/cpxlcmvbhn/urban-viii-barberini-rome.html He elevated his brother Antonio Marcello Barberini (Antonio the Elder) and then his nephews Francesco Barberini and Antonio Barberini (Antonio the Younger) to Cardinal. He also bestowed upon their brother, Taddeo Barberini, the titles Prince of Palestrina, Gonfalonier of the Church, Prefect of Rome and Commander of Sant'Angelo. Historian Leopold von Ranke estimated that during his reign, Urban's immediate family amassed 105 million scudi in personal wealth. by Leopold von Ranke (Wellesley College Library, reprint; 2009)

Living octopus

Living octopus

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