Pope Paul III

Eumenis Megalopoulos | May 18, 2023

Table of Content


Paul III, originally Alessandro Farnese (Canino, 29 February 1468 - Rome, 10 November 1549) was the 220th Pope of Rome from 1534 until his death. The scion of the Farnese family, who had considerable wealth and power throughout Italy, lived at a peculiar time in the history of the Church. He entered the College of Cardinals as the brother of Alexander VI, the lover of Pope Borgia, but his later advancement was due not to his connections but to his outstanding personality and talents. Many consider Paul's pontificate to be a dividing line between Renaissance church leaders and true reform popes.

Paul III approached his pontificate with incredible energy, because he wanted to restore the Catholic Church as a leading authority and a credible church. From the moment of his election, he sought to convene a universal council, but this was long hampered by the rivalry between the German-Roman Emperor Charles V and King Francis I of France. He finally succeeded in reconciling the parties at Nice and then convened the first great reform assembly, the Council of Trent. He is also credited with discussing Protestant doctrines, radically reorganising the internal affairs of the papal state and rebuilding a plundered Rome.

Alessandro was born on 29 February 1468 in Canino, near Rome. His father was Pier Luigi Farnese and his mother was Giovannella Caetani. Both families were among the most powerful noble families in Lazio. The Farneses were also considered true Roman nobles, although the family's roots branched out to Viterbo, Orvieto and the Lake Bolsena area. The wealthy noble family sought to provide their child with the finest education and upbringing of his time, but Alessandro proved to be a tough nut to crack.

Young Farnese started his studies in Rome, where he spent his childhood. The troubles began mostly when Alessandro grew into a strong-willed and lively young man. Although his parents had intended him for a career in the Church, they were aware of their son's explosive nature. In 1482, they managed to secure a job as apostolic scribes at the papal curia. Alessandro used his years in Rome to live out his unbridled youth. He made no secret of his passion for wine and feminine charms, which increasingly infuriated his mother. When her fourth illegitimate child was born, Giovannella had had enough. The temperamental mother simply drained Alessandro of his income and declared that until he changed his lifestyle, he would not see a scudo of the family's wealth.

What exactly happened after that is a mystery, but the fact is that by the end of the story Alessandro was in the Angel Castle prison. Presumably, the young man, left penniless, went home in a rage and held his mother prisoner on Bisentina, an island in Lake Bolsena. Somehow, the mother managed to send a message to the Pope, who promptly arrested Alessandro and threw him in a dungeon. The family quarrel did not die down, and young Farnese spent a long time within the cold walls when one of his uncles took pity on him and paid off one of the guards, allowing the stubborn young man to escape. The Pope was none too happy to hear of the escape, but in the end he only stipulated that Alessandro could not return to Rome for a limited period.

The young man did not crumble at the news, and it seemed that the long years in prison had done their work, and he left the eternal city a more serious man. He went straight to Florence, where he began his studies at the distinguished Renaissance court of Lorenzo de' Medici. He was taught by some of the finest masters of the time, such as Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola. In addition to a first-rate education, he met the scions of the noble families of Italy at the time, who later became princes, popes, artists or kings. Alessandro's exceptional talent was soon recognised at the Florentine court, particularly in the artistic shaping of Latin and Italian.

In 1489, Lorenzo's letter of recommendation allowed him to return to Rome. The Florentine prince's recommendation listed excellent merits, and he quickly convinced the Pope of this during his tenure at the papal court. In 1491 he was appointed apostolic prototary of the chancery. This high position opened the door to Alessandro's future career. It was at this time that he met Rodrigo Borgia, later Pope Alexander VI, with whom he became close friends, and Alessandro's sister Giulia caught the Cardinal's eye. His love for her opened all the doors of the Church to Alessandro.

In 1492, the conclave placed Alexander VI on the papal throne, which also marked a steep rise in Alessandro's ecclesiastical career. The very next year, on 20 September 1493, Alexander ordained him deacon cardinal of the church of Sts. Cosmas and Damian. From then on he occupied a seat in the College of Cardinals for more than forty years. The Pope's turbulent foreign policy and his imperial policy based on the Borgia Church repeatedly stirred up tempers in Rome. When the French King Charles VIII led his armies towards Rome, Alexander appointed Alessandro legate of Viterbo, hoping that the city, ruled by the Farnese, would be able to stop the French armies.

But Alessandro fell and was taken prisoner by the French, along with his sister Giulia, who was loved by the Pope. After Alexander's trials, they were both released unharmed, but the Pope never forgave Alessandro for losing the city of Viterbo and for putting his love in danger. The relationship between the Pope and the Cardinal was aggravated by the unexpected uprising of the Orsini, who betrayed the Pope for a large ransom and let the French armies into Rome. The Orsini were backed by most of the Farnese family, and Alessandro lost all credibility in the eyes of Alexander.

After the fighting had subsided, the Pope took a cruel revenge on the Orsini family, and although he took the town of Viterbo from the Farneses, he left the family's income largely untouched. It was clear that it was wiser for Alessandro to retire from Rome to Viterbo. The next time he was back in the eternal city was in 1499, when the Pope turned Alessandro's mother's family, the Caetani, out of their fortune. Although Alexander's reign lasted until 1503, the Farnes managed to survive this period too. And Alessandro's perseverance was rewarded by the papal curia in 1502 when he was appointed papal legate of Marche in Ancona. In the same year, Alessandro publicly acknowledged the woman who bore him four children. He officially named Pier Luigi and Paolo, but never acknowledged his children Costanza and Ranuccio.

In 1503, Alexander VI died and Alessandro attended the conclave at which Pius III was elected. Soon after Pius' death, he travelled again to Rome, where he took part in the election of Giulio II. The Della Rovere family sided with the Orsini and Colonna families, and it soon became apparent that the Farnese family's connections were welcome. This was sealed with the marriage of the Pope's child, Nicola della Rovere, to Giulia's daughter, Laura Orsini. With this event Alessandro gained the favour of the new Pope, which was increasingly felt by the whole Farnese family. In 1509 Alessandro was able to return from Ancona to Rome, where he was appointed by Giula Cardinal of the Basilica of Sant'Eustachio, one of the richest parishes in the eternal city. Along with the new cardinalate, Alessandro was also made bishop of Parma. In 1510, Alessandro's second son Paolo died, leaving the Cardinal in deep mourning.

In 1513, the cardinals met again for a conclave, where the increasingly routine Alessandro argued with great influence for Pietro Giovanni Medici, on whose head Alessandro himself placed the tiara, and who chose the imperial name Leo X. Since his studies in Florence, he had been closely linked to the Medici family and was one of the most direct papal advisers under Leo. On 15 March 1513, Alessandro was ordained a priest, and two days later a bishop. In that year, construction began on the sumptuous Palazzo Farnese, still visible today. The power of the Farnese family grew even more under the Medici Pope, and Alessandro's son Pier Luigi married Gerolama Orsini in 1519, and with her he was able to take the Duchy of Pitigliano.

In 1521, after Leo's death, Alessandro was a serious contender for the conclave, but the Medicis' support was insufficient, and a foreign head of the church, Adorian VI, was allowed to take the throne. After a few months of his reign, Alessandro gave up his candidacy in favour of Giulio de Medici, for whom he was a skilful orator, so that in 1523 a Medici Pope, Clement VII, could again take the throne. Clement sought to compensate Alessandro for the withdrawal of his candidacy by giving Alessandro the newly vacant post of dean of the Sacred College. In 1519 he was given the bishopric of Frascati, and in 1523 he was consecrated bishop of Porto and Palestrina. In 1524 he was made Bishop of Sabina, and in the same year he was given the episcopate of Ostia.

Alessandro decided to have Pier Luigi trained in the military forces of the Venetian Republic, but the Queen of the Adriatic came under the increasing influence of the German-Roman Emperor Charles V as war approached. When the imperial armies sacked Rome in 1527, Pier Luigi fought among the emperor's troops and took up his quarters in the Farnese Palace in the Eternal City, which was not damaged in any way. After the consolidation of Clement's rule, Pier Luigi was cursed by the Church, and it was only through Alessandro's influence that the punishment was reduced months later. Clement, on his deathbed, saw in him alone the faithful follower of his policy, and he tried to make the cardinals aware of this.

Quick conclave

When Clement died, the conclave elected a new head of the church, Alessandro Farnese, in 1534 with surprising speed. Almost throwing aside the formality of a secret ballot, the cardinals declared their unanimity, which at the time was a miracle in an equally divided college. According to the chronicles, the election of Alessandro took barely twenty-four hours. There are, of course, several explanations for the rapid smoothing over of the Italian noble divisions in the conclave. The first and most important of these is that, apart from Alessandro, there was really no one better qualified for the high position. He had been a cardinal for 42 years, had played an influential role in the previous three conclaves and had even been a papal appointee. Moreover, he had managed to navigate his way through successive popes and noble families while maintaining good relations with the heads of the Church. And when you consider that the Borgia, Della Rover, Colonna, Orsini and Medici have all been involved in the most important offices of the Church, this is no small achievement. Alessandro, even during Clement's time, had a better grasp of the affairs of the Papal States than anyone else, a forceful but virtuous nature, and, moreover, the late Pope had recommended him as his successor. The cardinals knew that he was not afraid to embark on reforms which the Church was very ripe for and which no Pope before him had dared to undertake.

On 13 October he was elected head of the Church, and on 1 November he was greeted on the steps of St Peter's Basilica as Paul III by the people of Rome, who were very pleased with his election. After the German sack, which had been a real disaster, the Romans looked forward to the future with real joy, because once again a Roman was to occupy the papal throne, and he would certainly take the fate of his city to heart. And Paul did not sit idly by: he immediately set to work on his considerable tasks.

A bumpy road to the synod

Almost immediately after Paul's accession, he sent envoys to the most important European courts. In particular, he sent envoys to the German Emperor Charles V, King Francis I of France and King Henry VIII of England to raise the question of the Synod with them. While he waited for a response from the crown princes, he, like his predecessors, slightly rearranged the composition of the College of Cardinals. Nepotism was not far removed from the Renaissance church leaders, but the reforms called for a new type of man, which is why the college and the emperor were horrified at the sight of Paul's first cardinals. The Pope was the first to confer the cardinalate on his grandsons. Thus, Pier Luigi's two sons, Alessandro and Ranuccio, were given the cardinal's hat, although one was only sixteen and the other fourteen. But the outcry over the child cardinals quickly subsided when Paul had the foresight to elevate prominent clerics to the cardinalate, all of them committed to reform. These included Reginald Pole, Gasparo Contarini, Sadoleto, Caraffa and George Frater.

It soon became clear that Charles, of all the monarchs, was the most enthusiastic supporter of a universal synod, while Francis was not at all keen on the idea. The French monarch feared that at the synod Charles would succeed in sanctioning a campaign which, under the pretext of Catholicism, would in fact be a campaign to strengthen central power. A united Germany was certainly not in France's dream. Despite these complaints, Paul called a synod in Mantua on 2 June 1536. But the Protestant princes declared their unwillingness to leave German soil, and Francis I flatly declared that his presence and support could not be counted on. All this was compounded by the Duke of Mantua, who imposed such absurd conditions on the Pope that Paul finally withdrew the bull proclaiming the synod.

The Pope did not give up, however, and immediately after the failure, he proclaimed another synod for 1 May 1538 in Vicenza. This synod was pushed into the abyss of history by the renewed war between Charles and Francis. The warring factions were persuaded by the Pope to meet in Nice, where Paul brokered a ten-year truce. The outcome of the Nice negotiations was sealed by several marriages. On the one hand, one of the Pope's granddaughters married Francis' child, while Charles' daughter Margaret married Pier Luigi Farnese's son Ottavio.

Paul and the Church State

Even the repeated failure to convene the much-desired universal synod could not break Paul's resolve. The Pope decided that, until a synod could be convened, he would set about solving some of the Church's problems on his own. This period of his pontificate was characterised by incredible achievements which put the internal affairs of the Church on a fundamental footing. By the time the international political climate was ready to convene a synod, Paul had in fact established a clear and orderly relationship within the central institutions of the Church and the Papal States. He wanted first of all to put in order the structure of the Curia and the disciplinary relations of the high priesthood. To this end, in 1536, he invited nine truly eminent prelates to form a kind of reform commission to examine in detail the functioning of the Church's organisation. Paul asked the nine clerics to take special note of abuses, injustices and controversial cases in the Church. The commission completed its investigation in 1537 and published its findings in a voluminous document, the Concilium de emendenda ecclesia. The Concilium was sharply critical of abuses at certain levels of the papal administration and of the failures of ordinary masses. The report was not only published in Rome but also reached several cities in Germany, including Strasbourg, where copies were printed. The balance sheet of the Nine proved to be a great help in Paul's further reform efforts, and would become a fundamental source for the later Tridentine Council. Nevertheless, in 1538 Luther wrote a critical work on the Concilium, the cover of which depicts the cardinals cleaning Augeias' stable, attempting to perform the Herculean task with their fine fox's fleece. Luther's message was that he didn't really believe that the church really wanted to do something about the abuses he was accused of.

Paul did not respond to Martin Luther's criticism, or rather, instead of responding, he immediately set about reforming the Curia. He put the Apostolic Camera on a new footing, reorganised the Rota tribunal, the Penitentiary and the Chancery. At the same time, it was a real criticism of the Concilium that, while the central institutions had been reformed on this basis, the extensive ecclesiastical morality could only be put on a real footing with the help of the Council, which was still to come.

After the restoration of the immediate Roman institutions, Paul's attention turned to the territories of the equally shattered Papal States. He did not want to start a war for the lost territories, as he did not want to endanger the synod, but he did want to restore papal rule in each city, and especially the accuracy of tax collection. The restoration of the internal affairs of the state of central Italy still had certain Renaissance regal features, since Paul was not sparing in the donation of property within his own family. In 1540, war almost broke out with the Duke of Urbino when the Pope's grandson Ottavio Farnese gave the Duchy of Camerino into his hands. The heavy taxes that Paul needed to pay to fight the Protestants, rebuild Rome and pay for the reforms almost sparked off a civil war in the Papal States. The city of Perugia openly refused to pay taxes in 1541, so Pier Luigi, leading a papal army, stormed and defeated the city. The same fate befell the city of Colonna, but apart from these, order was slowly restored in the Papal States, and Paul founded a new institution to guard it. The creation of the Holy Office was in fact the institutionalisation of the Inquisition in Italy. The Pope had no tolerance for Protestants in his State, so the Inquisition chair he set up was often busy at first, but eventually it brought 'order' to the life of the faith.

Foreign policy in this short period was characterised by a policy of neutrality. Paul believed that he did not want to get involved in the Franco-German wars while restoring the ruined Church State. The wise observance of neutrality brought peaceful progress in Italy, so it was certainly worth it. Yet both Charles V and Francis I often asked the Pope for help. There was, of course, another reason for the neutrality, since Paul had secret plans to give Parma and Piacenza, which belonged to the Papal States, to his son Pier Luigi. But to do this he needed the unconditional support of one of the powers. This depended mainly on the outcome of the war.

The Council of Trent

See also: the Council of Trent

In the years before the proclamation of the Council of Trent, however, Paul was not alone in tackling certain ecclesiastical problems. Although Charles V was constantly at war with France, he tried to find a solution to the growing Protestant-Catholic conflict. The Emperor was relatively naïve in his approach to the problem, believing that the ecclesiastical schism could be resolved peacefully through synods and negotiations. This was a point of view that Paul was familiar with and certainly supported, even though he did not see it as a solution that would lead to results. The emperor had been aware of the power and demands of the Protestant orders since the 1530 Apostles' Creed, and in 1540 he tried to resolve the differences between the two opposing parties at the negotiating table in imperial assemblies. Several Protestant princes were present at the meetings in Hagenau and then Worms, and Paul sent Cardinal Morone to represent the Vatican. The meeting was in fact inconclusive, and in 1541 Charles called another synod, this time in Regensburg. The conference was attended by Cardinal Gasparo Contarini as nuncio to Paul III. The most influential debate at the Regensburg conference was on the question of absolution. Contarini himself uttered the famous phrase that "only by faith can we obtain absolution". The controversial statement was immediately rejected by the consistory in Rome on 27 May, which would have highlighted the needlessness of the Church. However, Luther said that he would accept this common doctrine if the Catholic Church publicly admitted that it had hitherto preached false doctrines. Paul, of course, refused to do this.

The clash of opinions at the Regensburg conference led Charles to draw some serious conclusions. It proved to him that the views of the two opposing sides were so different that it was hardly possible to resolve this peacefully. In addition, after the conference, the Protestant princes refused to participate in the universal synod that was to be convened, saying that they would not participate in a synod presided over by the Pope. The Emperor was convinced that the Protestants could only be convinced of the truth of the Catholic religion by force of arms. Paul tacitly acknowledged the idea, and sent three thousand ducats, 12,000 foot soldiers and 500 cavalry to support Charles' plans, with the support of the papal curia.

The air became really fiery when, on 18 September 1544, King Francis I of France signed the peace terms dictated by Charles at Crépy. The peace with France, which had been defeated in the war, was an incredible boost for Charles, but also an incredible blow to the forces of the Schmalkalden alliance, which had been set up by the Protestant princes in 1531. With peace restored in Western Europe, Paul immediately set about finally convening the long-overdue universal synod, which he proclaimed in agreement with Charles by the end of the year with the bull Laetare Hierusalem, issued on 15 March 1545 in the city of Trento, whose Latin name was Tridentum. The city was then part of the German-Roman Empire, but under the rule of an independent bishop-prince, and was therefore an ideal location for the synod between Italy and Germany. So after much planning, the nineteenth universal synod finally opened on 13 December 1545. By this time, Charles was putting the finishing touches to the preparations for the war to be launched, and, suspecting that there was a much stronger opponent than the princes in the Protestant preachers, he warned Paul that the synod should not touch on the principles of the faith, but should instead discuss only disciplinary matters. This was totally unacceptable to the Pope, so the synod also dealt with serious matters of faith, which incurred the disapproval of the Emperor.

The synod under Paul's pontificate lasted until 21 April 1547, and seven sessions were held. The opening and the arrival of the various dignitaries took up the first two sessions, and it was only from the third onwards that important doctrines of faith were laid down. In the third session, the symbols of faith were discussed, followed by Scripture, original sin, absolution, sacraments and baptism. The renewed doctrines of faith were mainly developed by the Synod Fathers, with Paul playing a coordinating role in Trent. At the end of 1546, the city was struck by a severe plague, which led the Synod to decide to continue its meetings in Bologna. The location, clearly in Italy, was not agreed to by most of the German clergy, including Charles himself. Nevertheless, the synod moved, with the exception of fifteen German clerics who insisted on a neutral environment. Charles demanded of Paul that the site of the synod be returned to German soil. As the dispute grew increasingly heated, Paul decided not to risk another schism and closed the synod in 1547 and adjourned its sessions.

The wars of Schmalkalden

The reaction of the Curia to the creedal thesis raised by Cardinal Contarini in Regensburg, and then Luther's statements, showed that no peaceful means could be used to bring the two opposing sides to an agreement. Charles, after the victorious war against France, openly plotted against the Protestant princes of the Schmalkalden League. As an ally, he won the support of Catholic Bavaria and, of course, of Paul III for his cause. The Pope tried to make the most of the wars. The struggles against the Protestants had been in Paul's favour from the start, but on the eve of the outbreak of war, the Renaissance monarch once again emerged from the head of the Church. He had long been planning to carve the cities of Parma and Piacenza out of the Papal States for his son Pier Luigi, and turn them into duchies. Until then, however, the political environment was not conducive to the creation of a German-Italian border state. After the Pope had supported Charles' military campaign with considerable sums of money and soldiers, he in fact obtained the Emperor's consent in return for the duchy headed by Pier Luigi, which was created in 1547.

The Schmalkalden War started in the west, in the territory of the bishopric of Cologne. The emperor expected an easy battle here, since the ideas of the Reformation had only reached the city of Cologne in 1542, and the population here did not receive Luther's theories with such enthusiasm. In the meantime, Paul tried to make things easier for the emperor by means of excommunications. Thus the two greatest figures of the League, Philip I, Count of Hesse, and John Frederick, Elector of Saxony, were cursed by the Church. After the successes at Cologne, the imperial forces launched open warfare against the League in 1546. The initial setbacks were slowly overcome by the imperial forces, and at the decisive Battle of Mühlberg on 24 April 1547, Charles's forces were victorious.

But the war he won did not bring the breakthrough Paul had expected. The Protestants conceded defeat, but as the war strengthened central power, the smaller provincial lords of the empire increasingly turned away from Charles. The emperor therefore tried to make a peace that would satisfy both Protestants and Catholics. It was from this imperial idea that the Provisional Treaty of Augsburg was born in 1548, which sought to resolve the religious differences within the empire. The treaty, which reconciled Protestant and Catholic elements, was not taken seriously by either side, and Charles's efforts were frustrated.

Paul at the head of a rebuilding church

When Paul came to the throne, he knew full well that the Church was in a very precarious state. This was reflected not only in its internal values and credibility, which he sought to remedy by convening a universal synod, but also in its external characteristics. Clement VII could not be said to have pursued a fortunate foreign policy in 1527, when he brought the unruly mercenary army of Emperor Charles V down on Rome. The Sacco di Roma destroyed the city in all its Renaissance glory. Many palaces were burnt to the ground and the raid did not spare the holy places. Clement, too, tried to restore the ruined city, but his time and resources were dwindling. When Paul came to the throne, the situation changed. Taxes began to flow into the eternal city again, and the papal treasury was used to rebuild Rome, which had become almost uninhabitable. To this day, the structure of the city, the streets, squares and palaces of the interior of the eternal city, still bear his name. The Pope truly breathed new life into the holy city, replacing the ruins with wider boulevards and a more landscaped city centre. He had the city's defences strengthened and repaired.

And world-renowned Renaissance architects such as Michelangelo Buonarroti contributed to the new townscape. Commissioned by Paul, arguably one of the greatest polyhistorians of the age, he began building the Piazza del Campidoglio, the square crowning the Capitoline Hill, in 1536. The palaces surrounding the square are also a tribute to Michelangelo. The layout, still original today, also has a symbolic meaning. The impressive splendour of the square was also an expression of Paul's superiority over Charles. The entrance to the square turns its back on the Roman Forum and also symbolically faces the centre of the Catholic world, St Peter's Basilica. Michelangelo completed the square in 1546, five years after he painted his fresco of the Last Judgement behind the altar in the Sistine Chapel, commissioned by Clement in 1534. In 1546, the Pope also made the master architect of the new St Peter's Basilica. Michelangelo designed the basilica's monumental dome, but it was not completed until after his death. However, the chapel named after Paul, the Cappella Paolina, was completed.

Besides Michelangelo, another important artist at Paul's court was Titian. The painter of European fame painted his first portrait at the Papal Court in 1542, but became so popular that he was allowed to paint a portrait of the Pope the following year, and left several other masterpieces to the Farnese family.

Paul was the first church leader who was already seriously concerned about stopping the spread of the Reformation. The decisions of the Synod, the establishment of the Inquisition in Italy, all served this purpose, but the Pope recognised that monastic orders could perhaps have an even more direct effect on the common people than any papal bull or synodal decision. It is for this reason that Paul's pontificate is linked to the creation of several monastic orders. Among these was the most important order of the Counter-Reformation, the Jesuit order founded by St Ignatius of Loyola. In 1540, Paul officially recognised the Society of Ignatius, which later became the mainstay of the popes in the fight against the Reformation. The head of the church also presented the Capuchins, the Brownites and the Orsolyites with a charter of recognition.

Pope Paul's widespread attention and the largely restored prestige of the Church was shown by the Pope's bull Sublimus Dei, issued on 29 May 1537. In it Paul spoke out against the enslavement of Native Americans.

Endgame in Parma

For years, Paul had been trying to play into the hands of his eldest son Pier Luigi the territories of Parma and Piacenza, which he would carve out of the Papal States for the son of the head of the Church. When Charles received considerable papal support in the Schmalkalden wars, he turned a blind eye to Paul's ambitions, even though he was not in the least in need of an independent duchy on the border between the Holy Empire and the Papal States. Paul also played on the fact that the Emperor's forces and attention were occupied by the war. So in 1547, the Pope put his plans into effect, incorporating the duchies of Camerino and Nepi, which had previously been played into his grandson's hands, into the Papal States, while the more valuable territories of Piacenza and Parma were ceded to his son's ducal crown.

The real problem was that Paul had forgotten an important political factor, namely Milan. The city's duke, Ferrante Gonzaga, was a vassal of the emperor, but he had been largely independent in his politics and had had his teeth in Piacenza for years, which was now a free-for-all, so to speak. Gonzaga attacked the young duchy, assassinating Pier Luigi in 1549 and annexing Piacenza to Milan for good. Paul blamed Charles for what had happened, believing that it could not have happened without the Emperor's knowledge. But the family tragedies were far from over. Paul wanted the remaining territories of Parma to rejoin the Papal States, which had temporarily passed to Pier Luigi's eldest son and Charles' son-in-law Ottavio. The Pope's grandson, however, openly refused to give back his dukedom and sided with Charles, promising war against the Pope.

According to the chronicles, this was too much for Paul's nerves, and the shocks took their toll on the eighty-one-year-old church leader's health. It was said that his favourite grandson broke Paul's heart to pieces, and he grew worse and worse, suffering from a violent fever, and died in the palace on Quirinalis Hill on 10 November 1549. Paul's body was buried in St Peter's Basilica in a tomb by Michelangelo. The deceased Pope's fifteen-year reign gave new strength to the Church, and his reforms launched the Counter-Reformation, which began an important new era in the Church. All the subsequent church leaders who took the papal throne were reform popes, true saints, but all lacked the fire that Paul had. The recognition of his virtues and his reign could not have been more worthy than the fact that his tomb was placed directly under the throne of St Peter.


  1. Pope Paul III
  2. III. Pál pápa
  3. ^ (IT) Marina Addis Saba, La farnesina. Giulia Farnese e papa Borgia, in Storia, Storie, Affinità Elettive Edizioni, 2010, ISBN 9788873261544.
  4. ^ Verellen Till R. Pope Paul III (Alessandro Farnese) Oxford Online
  5. Verellen Till R. Pope Paul III (Alessandro Farnese) Oxford Online
  6. Martin Gayford, Michelangelo: His epic life, p. 71
  7. Gaston Castella: Illustrierte Papstgeschichte, Band II: Vom späten Mittelalter bis zum 19. Jahrhundert, S. 13.
  8. le Plat, J. (1782). Monumenta ad historiam Concilii Tridentini (em Latin). Leuven: [s.n.] pp. ii. 596–597  !CS1 manut: Língua não reconhecida (link)
  9. Fahlbusch, Erwin; Lochman, Jan Milic; Bromiley, Geoffrey William; Mbiti, John; Pelikan, Jaroslav (14 de fevereiro de 2008). The Encyclodedia of Christianity, Vol. 5 (em inglês). [S.l.]: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 212–213  !CS1 manut: Data e ano (link)
  10. Sur le palais Farnèse et la famille Farnèse en général, voir Ferdinand de Navenne, Rome. Le palais Farnèse et les Farnèse, Paris, Albin Michel, 1914 et 1923.
  11. Cf. Pierre Mesnard, "Charles Quint et les Barbaresques", Revue hispanique, 1959, (vol. 61, 2-3), p. 232.
  12. Aspects de la propagande religieuse de G. Berthoud.
  13. voir Dictionnaire historique des rues de Paris de Jacques Hillairet.
  14. Qu'il avait lui-même réinstauré dix ans plus tôt.

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