Pope Sixtus IV

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Pope Sixtus IV
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{{redirect|Francesco della Rovere|the archbishop|Francesco della Rovere (archbishop)}}

type Pope|honorific-prefix=Pope|name=Sixtus IV|title = Bishop of Rome|image=Titian - Sixtus IV - Uffizi.jpg|image_size=220px|caption=Posthumous portrait of Pope Sixtus IV by Titian|birth_name=Francesco della Rovere|term_start=9 August 1471|term_end=12 August 1484

Pope Paul II>Paul II|successor=Innocent VIII| ordination = | ordinated_by =| consecration =25 August 1471| consecrated_by =Guillaume d'Estouteville| cardinal =18 September 1467Pope Paul II>Paul II
    |birth_date=21 July 1414|birth_place=Celle Ligure, Republic of Genoa
    1484127df=y{edih}|death_place=Rome, Papal States|other=Sixtus}}

    Pope Sixtus IV (21 July 1414 â€“ 12 August 1484), born Francesco della Rovere, was a Pope and botanist from 9 August 1471 to his death in 1484. His accomplishments as pope included building the Sistine Chapel and the creation of the Vatican Archives. A patron of the arts, the group of artists that he brought together introduced the Early Renaissance into Rome with the first masterpieces of the city's new artistic age.Sixtus aided the Spanish Inquisition though he fought to prevent abuses therein, and he annulled the decrees of the Council of Constance. He was noted for his nepotism and was personally involved in the infamous Pazzi conspiracy.Lauro Martines, April Blood: Florence and the Plot Against the Medici, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003, pp. 150–196.

    Early life

    Francesco was born to a family of modest means from Liguria, Italy, the son of Leonardo della Rovere and Luchina Monleoni. He was born in Celle Ligure, a town near Savona.Miranda, Salvador. Cardinals of the Holy Roman ChurchAs a young man, Della Rovere joined the Franciscan Order, an unlikely choice for a political career, and his intellectual qualities were revealed while he was studying philosophy and theology at the University of Pavia. He went on to lecture at Padua and many other Italian universities.Butler, Richard Urban. "Pope Sixtus IV." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 25 Jul. 2014In 1464, Della Rovere was elected Minister General of the Franciscan order at the age of 50. In 1467, he was appointed Cardinal by Pope Paul II with the titular church being the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli. Before his papal election, Cardinal della Rovere was renowned for his unworldliness and had even written learned treatises, entitled On the Blood of Christ and On the Power of God.Martines, April Blood, p. 159 His pious reputation was one of the deciding factors that prompted the College of Cardinals to elect him pope upon the unexpected death of Paul II at the age of fifty-four.Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, New York: HarpersSanFrancisco, 1997, p.264-5.


    Upon being elected pope Della Rovere adopted the name Sixtus, which had not been used since the 5th century. One of his first acts was to declare a renewed crusade against the Ottoman Turks in Smyrna. However, after the conquest of Smyrna, the fleet disbanded."Sisto IV (1414-1484)", Palazzo-Medici Riccardi {{webarchive|url= |date=2014-08-10 }} Some fruitless attempts were made towards unification with the Greek Church. For the remainder of his pontificate, Sixtus turned to temporal issues and dynastic considerations.


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    Pope Sixtus IV appoints Platina as Prefect of the Library, by Melozzo da Forlì, accompanied by his relatives
    Sixtus IV sought to strengthen his position by surrounding himself with relatives and friends. In the fresco by Melozzo da Forlì, he is accompanied by his Della Rovere and Riario nephews, not all of whom were made cardinals; the protonotary apostolic Pietro Riario (on his right), the future Pope Julius II standing before him; and Girolamo Riario and Giovanni della Rovere, behind the kneeling Platina, author of the first humanist history of the popes. His nephew Pietro Riario also benefited from his nepotism. Pietro became one of the richest men in Rome and was entrusted with Pope Sixtus' foreign policy. However, Pietro died prematurely in 1474, and his role passed to Giuliano Della Rovere.The secular fortunes of the Della Rovere family began when Sixtus invested his nephew Giovanni with the lordship of Senigallia and arranged his marriage to the daughter of Federico III da Montefeltro, duke of Urbino; from that union came a line of Della Rovere dukes of Urbino that lasted until the line expired, in 1631.On his premature death (1501), Giovanni entrusted his son Francesco Maria to Federico's successor Guidobaldo (Duke of Urbino 1482–1508), who, without an heir, devised the duchy on the boy. Six of the thirty-four cardinals that he created were his nephews.McBrien, Lives of the Popes, p. 265.In his territorial aggrandizement of the Papal States, his niece's son Cardinal Raffaele Riario, for whom the Palazzo della Cancelleria was constructed, was a suspected colluder in the failed Pazzi conspiracy of 1478 to assassinate both Lorenzo de' Medici and his brother Giuliano and replace them in Florence with Sixtus IV's other nephew, Girolamo Riario. Francesco Salviati, Archbishop of Pisa and a main organizer of the plot, was hanged on the walls of the Florentine Palazzo Della Signoria. Sixtus IV replied with an interdict and two years of war with Florence.According to the later published chronicle of the Italian historian Stefano Infessura, Diary of the City of Rome, Sixtus was a "lover of boys and sodomites", awarding benefices and bishoprics in return for sexual favours and nominating a number of young men as cardinals, some of whom were celebrated for their good looks.BOOK,weblink Studies in the psychology of sex, Havelock Ellis, 2007-07-30, 2013-06-23, WEB, Sex Lives of the Popes, Prion, 1996, Nigel Cawthorne, 160, Stefano Infessura, Diario Della città di Roma (1303–1494), Ist. St. Italiano, Tip. Forzani, Roma 1890, pp. 155-156BOOK, Wilhelm, Gollmann, Homeopathic Guide to all Diseases Urinary and Sexual Organ, Rademacher & Sheek, Charles Julius Hempel, 1854,weblink However, Infessura had partisan allegiances to the Colonna and so is not considered to be always reliable or impartial.Egmont Lee, Sixtus IV and Men of Letters, Rome, 1978 The English churchman and Protestant polemicist John Bale, writing a century later, attributed to Sixtus "the authorisation to practice sodomy during periods of warm weather" to the "Cardinal of Santa Lucia".Giovanni Lydus, Analecta in labrum Nicolai de Clemangiis, De Corrupto Ecclesiae state. In class a: Nicolas de Clemanges, Opera Omnia, Elzevirius & Laurentius, Lugduni Batavorum 1593, p. 9) Although such accusations are easily dismissed as anti-Catholic propaganda, they still prompted the noted historian of the Catholic Church, Ludwig von Pastor, to issue a firm rebuttal.Ludwig Pastor, History of the Popes [1889], vol. II, Desclée, Roma 1911, pp. 608-611

    Foreign policy

    Sixtus continued a dispute with King Louis XI of France, who upheld the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges (1438), which held that papal decrees needed royal assent before they could be promulgated in France. That was a cornerstone of the privileges claimed for the Gallican Church and could never be shifted as long as Louis XI manoeuvred to replace King Ferdinand I of Naples with a French prince. Louis was thus in conflict with the papacy, and Sixtus could not permit it.On 1 November 1478, Sixtus published the papal bull Exigit Sincerae Devotionis Affectus through which the Spanish Inquisition was established in the Kingdom of Castile. Sixtus consented under political pressure from Ferdinand of Aragon, who threatened to withhold military support from his kingdom of Sicily. Nevertheless, Sixtus IV quarrelled over protocol and prerogatives of jurisdiction; he was unhappy with the excesses of the Inquisition and condemned the most flagrant abuses in 1482."Sixtus IV." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2008 Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.As a temporal prince who constructed stout fortresses in the Papal States, he encouraged the Venetians to attack Ferrara, which he wished to obtain for another nephew. Ercole I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, was allied with the Sforzas of Milan, the Medicis of Florence along with the King of Naples, normally a hereditary ally and champion of the papacy. The angered Italian princes allied to force Sixtus IV to make peace to his great annoyance. For refusing to desist from the very hostilities that he himself had instigated and for being a dangerous rival to Della Rovere dynastic ambitions in the Marche, Sixtus placed Venice under interdict in 1483. He also lined the coffers of the state by unscrupulously selling high offices and privileges.In ecclesiastical affairs, Sixtus promoted the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, which had been confirmed at the Council of Basle in 1439, and he designated 8 December as its feastday. In 1476, he issued the apostolic constitution Cum Praeexcelsa, establishing a Mass and Office for the feast. He formally annulled the decrees of the Council of Constance in 1478.


    The two papal bulls issued by Pope Nicholas V, Dum Diversas of 1452 and Romanus Pontifex of 1455, had effectively given the Portuguese the rights to acquire slaves along the African Coast by force or trade. Those concessions were confirmed by Sixtus in his own bull, Aeterni regis, of 21 June 1481.Raiswell, p. 469 see also "Black Africans in Renaissance Europe", p. 281 Arguably the "ideology of conquest" expounded in those texts became the means by which commerce and conversion were facilitated.Traboulay 1994, P. 78-79.In November 1476, Isabel and Fernando ordered an investigation into rights of conquest in the Canary Islands, and in the spring of 1478, they sent Juan Rejon with sixty soldiers and thirty cavalry to the Grand Canary, where the natives retreated inland.Sixtus's earlier threats to excommunicate all captains or pirates who enslaved Christians in the bull Regimini Gregis of 1476 could have been intended to emphasise the need to convert the natives of the Canary Islands and Guinea and establish a clear difference in status between those who had converted and those who resisted.Sued-Badillo (2007), see also O'Callaghan, p. 287-310 The ecclesiastical penalties were directed towards those who were enslaving the recent converts."Slavery and the Catholic Church", John Francis Maxwell, p. 52, Barry Rose Publishers, 1975

    Princely patronage

    missing image!
    - Sixtus IV.png -
    As a civic patron in Rome, even the anti-papal chronicler Stefano Infessura agreed that Sixtus should be admired. The dedicatory inscription in the fresco by Melozzo da Forlì in the Vatican Palace records: "You gave your city temples, streets, squares, fortifications, bridges and restored the Acqua Vergine as far as the Trevi..." In addition to restoring the aqueduct that provided Rome an alternative to the river water, which had made the city famously unhealthy, he restored or rebuilt over 30 of Rome's dilapidated churches such as San Vitale (1475) and Santa Maria del Popolo, and he added seven new ones. The Sistine Chapel was sponsored by Sixtus IV, as was the Ponte Sisto,Morris, Roderick Conway. "When Sixtus IV Needed a Painter", New York Times, May 10, 2011 the Sistine Bridge (the first new bridge across the Tiber since Antiquity) and the building of Via Sistina (later named Borgo Sant'Angelo), a road leading from Castel Sant'Angelo to Saint Peter. All of that was done to facilitate the integration of the Vatican Hill and Borgo with the heart of Old Rome. That was part of a broader scheme of urbanization carried out under Sixtus IV, who swept the long-established markets from the Campidoglio in 1477 and decreed in a bull of 1480 the widening of streets and the first post-Roman paving, the removal of porticoes and other post-classical impediments to free public passage.
    missing image!
    - Ponte Sisto, Rome.jpg -
    Ponte Sisto, the first bridge built at Rome since the Roman Empire
    At the beginning of his papacy, in 1471, Sixtus had donated several historically important Roman sculptures that founded a papal collection of art, which would eventually develop into the collections of the Capitoline Museums. He also refounded, enriched and enlarged the Vatican Library. He had Regiomontanus attempt the first sanctioned reorganisation of the Julian calendar and increased the size and prestige of the papal chapel choir, bringing singers and some prominent composers (Gaspar van Weerbeke, Marbrianus de Orto and Bertrandus Vaqueras) to Rome from the north.In addition to being a patron of the arts, Sixtus was a patron of the sciences. Before he became pope, he had spent time at the very liberal and cosmopolitan University of Padua, which maintained considerable independence from the Church and had a very international character. As Pope, he issued a papal bull allowing local bishops to give the bodies of executed criminals and unidentified corpses to physicians and artists for dissection. It was that access to corpses which allowed the anatomist Vesalius, along with Titian's pupil Jan Stephen van Calcar, to complete the revolutionary medical/anatomical text De humani corporis fabrica.

    Other activities


    The pope created 34 cardinals in eight consistories held during his reign; he created three nephews as pope in addition to one grandnephew and one other relative thus continuing the practice of nepotism that he and his successors would engage in during this period.

    Canonizations and beatifications

    Sixtus IV named seven new saints with the most notable being Bonaventure (1482); he also beatified one person: John Buoni (1483).


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    - Tomb of Sixtus IV Color.jpg -
    Tomb of Pope Sixtus IV by Antonio del Pollaiolo
    Sixtus IV took ill on 8 August 1484 but this illness worsened on 10 August while the pope was attending an event in Rome. He felt unwell that evening and was forced to cancel a meeting he was to hold with his cardinals the following morning. But the pope grew weaker during the night on 11 August and he was unable to sleep. Pope Sixtus IV died the following evening - 12 August.WEB,weblink Sede Vacante 1484, 2 May 2015, 22 January 2019, Pope Sixtus's tomb was destroyed in the Sack of Rome in 1527. Today, his remains, along with the remains of his nephew Pope Julius II (Giuliano della Rovere), are interred in St. Peter's Basilica in the floor, in front of the monument to Pope Clement X. A marble tombstone marks the site.His bronze funerary monument, now in the basement Treasury of St. Peter's Basilica, like a giant casket of goldsmith's work, is by Antonio Pollaiuolo. The top of the casket is a lifelike depiction of the Pope lying in state. Around the sides are bas-relief panels depicting with allegorical female figures the arts and sciences (Grammar, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, Painting, Astronomy, Philosophy and Theology). Each figure incorporates the oak tree ("rovere" in Italian) symbol of Sixtus IV. The overall program of the panels, their beauty, complex symbolism, classical references and their relative arrangement are some compelling and comprehensive illustrations of the Renaissance worldview. None of them actually states how he died.


    {{See also|Cardinals created by Sixtus IV}}Sixtus created an unusually large number of cardinals during his pontificate (23) who were drawn from the roster of the princely houses of Italy, France and Spain, thus ensuring that many of his policies continued after his death:{{col-begin}}{{col-break|width=33%}} {{col-break|width=33%}} {{col-end}}


    Pope Sixtus is portrayed by James Faulkner in the historical fantasy Da Vinci's Demons as having an identical twin, Alessandro. Shortly after the true Pope Sixtus, Francesco, was elected on conclave, Alessandro usurped the Holy See and had his brother locked up in Castel Sant'Angelo. The series implies that many of the more unsavoury parts of Sixtus' reign were really the work of his twin, who was out to gain power for himself.Pope Sixtus will be portrayed by Raul Bova in the second season of the TV series (Medici: Masters of Florence).WEB,weblink Daniel Sharman and Bradley James Join Netflix's 'Medici' (EXCLUSIVE), Clarke, Stewart, 10 August 2017, Variety (magazine), Variety, 11 August 2017,

    See also




    • Vincenzo Pacifici,Un carme biografico di Sisto IV del 1477, Società Tiburtina di Storia e d'Arte, Tivoli, 1921 weblink{{it}}
    • "The Historical Encyclopedia of World slavery", Editor Junius P. Rodriguez, ABC-CLIO, 1997, {{ISBN|0-87436-885-5}}
    • "Black Africans in Renaissance Europe", Thomas Foster Earle, K. J. P. Lowe, Cambridge University Press, 2005, {{ISBN|0-521-81582-7}}
    • "Christopher Columbus and the enslavement of the Amerindians in the Caribbean. (Columbus and the New World Order 1492–1992).", Sued-Badillo, Jalil, Monthly Review. Monthly Review Foundation, Inc. 1992. HighBeam Research. 10 Aug. 2009
    • "Castile, Portugal, and the Canary Islands: Claims and Counterclaims, 1344–1479", Joseph F. O'Callaghan, 1993, p. 287–310, Viator, Volume 24
    • "Variations of Popery", Samuel Edgar D.D. Internet Archive, Ebooks and Texts.

    Further reading

    {{Commons category|Sixtus IV}}
    • {{Wikisource-inline|list=
      • "s:Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Pope Sixtus IV|Pope Sixtus IV]]" in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia
      • Clark, J. W., s:On the Vatican Library of Sixtus IV|On the Vatican Library of Sixtus IV]]}}
    • Short Biography
    • WEB, Marek, Miroslav,weblink Genealogy of Leonardo della Rovere, Genealogy.EU, {{Self-published source|date=August 2012}},{{Better source|date=August 2012}} father of Francesco della Rovere, Pope Sixtus IV
    • Roberto Weiss The medals of Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484) (1961)
    {{Popes}}{{Catholicism}}{{History of the Catholic Church}}{{Sistine Chapel}}{{Franciscans}}{{Authority control}}

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