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Clement VII

Clement VII, c.1475–1534, pope (1523–34), a Florentine named Giulio de' Medici; successor of Adrian VI. He was the nephew of Lorenzo de' Medici and was therefore first cousin of Pope Leo X. In 1513 he became a cardinal and as archbishop of Florence was noted as a reformer. He was a chief supporter and adviser of Adrian in his attempts to reform the church. As pope, however, he proved to be unaware of the menace of Lutheranism to the church and was certainly not the man for the opening battles of the Reformation. His relations with Holy Roman Emperor Charles V were never very cordial, since Clement allied himself with Francis I of France in the League of Cognac (1526). As a result of his hostility to the emperor, the imperial troops attacked Rome in 1527, sacked the city, and held the pope for some months. Eventually (1529) peace was achieved and Clement crowned Charles emperor. About 1527 the first stage of the struggle of Henry VIII of England against the church began. Clement's behavior in the matter of the divorce and the dispensations for a new marriage has been called vacillating, but when the situation became critical, he put the irreproachable Cardinal Campeggio in charge of the case with Cardinal Wolsey. Later canon lawyers have steadily maintained that, whether he was influenced by Charles V or not, Clement followed the only course possible on legal grounds. He was a patron of Raphael, Michelangelo, and Benvenuto Cellini. He was succeeded by Paul III.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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