Pope Nicholas V

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Pope Nicholas V (Italian: Niccolò V) (November 15, 1397 – March 24, 1455), born Tommaso Parentucelli, was Pope from March 6, 1447 to his death in 1455.



He was born at Sarzana, Liguria, where his father was a physician. His father died while he was young, but in Florence, Parentucelli became a tutor in the families of the Strozzi and Albizzi, where he met the leading humanist scholars.

He studied at Bologna, gaining a degree in theology in 1422, whereupon the bishop, Niccolò Albergati, was so much struck with his capacities that he took him into his service and gave him the chance to pursue his studies further, by sending him on a tour through Germany, France and England. He was able to collect books, for which he had an intellectual's passion, wherever he went. Some of them survive, with his marginal annotations.

He distinguished himself at the Council of Florence, and in 1444, when his patron died, he was appointed bishop of Bologna in his place. Civic disorders at Bologna were prolonged, so Pope Eugene IV (1431–1447) soon named him as one of the legates sent to Frankfurt to negotiate an understanding between the Papal States and the Holy Roman Empire, regarding undercutting or at least containing the reforming decrees of the Council of Basel (1431–1439).

His successful diplomacy gained him the reward, on his return to Rome, of the title of Cardinal priest of Santa Susanna (December 1446). He was elected Pope in succession to Eugene IV on 6 March of the following year, taking the name of Nicholas V in honour of his early benefactor.

The eight scant years of his pontificate (1447–1455) were important in the political, scientific, and literary history of the world. Politically, he made the Concordat of Vienna, or Aschaffenburg (February 17, 1448) with the German King, Frederick III (1440–1493), by which the decrees of the Council of Basel against papal annates and reservations were abrogated so far as Germany was concerned; and in the following year he secured a still greater tactical triumph, when the resignation of the Antipope Felix V (1439–1449) (7 April) and his own recognition by the rump of the Council of Basel (1431–39), assembled at Lausanne, put an end to the Western Schism (1378–1417).

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