Pope Paul II

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Pope Paul II (February 23, 1417 – July 26, 1471), born Pietro Barbo, was Pope from 1464 until his death in 1471.


Early life and election

He was born in Venice, and was a nephew of Pope Eugene IV (1431–1447), through his mother. His adoption of the spiritual career, after having been trained as a merchant, was prompted by his uncle's election as Pope. His consequent promotion was rapid; he became a cardinal in 1440 and gained popularity through his tender-hearted generosity.

He was elected Pope by the accessus in the first ballot,[1] by a majority of fourteen of the nineteen cardinals in conclave on August 30, 1464, to succeed Pope Pius II (1458–1464). Beforehand, to secure to the cardinals a greater share of power than they had enjoyed under Pius II, a capitulation was subscribed by all except Ludovico Trevisan; it bound the future pope to continue the Turkish war, but he was not to journey outside Rome without the consent of a majority of the cardinals, nor to leave Italy without the consent of all. The maximum number of cardinals was limited to twenty-four, and any new pope was to be limited to only one cardinal-nephew. All creations of new cardinals and advancements to certain important benefices, were to be made only with the consent of the College of Cardinals.[2] Upon taking office, Paul II was to convene an ecumenical council within three years. But these terms of subscription were modified by Paul II at his own discretion, and this action lost him the confidence of the College of Cardinals. The justification for setting aside the capitulations, seen to be under way by the Duke of Milan's ambassador as early as 21 September, lay in connecting any abridgement of the pope's absolute monarchy in the Papal States with a consequent abridgement of his sole authority in spiritual matters.[3] Almost from his coronation, Paul withdrew and became inaccessible: audiences were only granted at night; even good friends waited a fortnight to see him; his suspiciousness was widely attested.


A sore point was his abuse of the practice of creating cardinals in pectore, without publishing their names. Eager to raise new cardinals to increase the number who were devoted to his interests, but restricted by the terms of the capitulation, which gave the College a voice in the creation of new members, in the winter of 1464–65 Paul created two secret cardinals both of whom died before their names could be published. In his fourth year he created eight new cardinals (18 September 1467); five were candidates pressed by kings, placating respectively James II of Cyprus, Edward IV of England, Louis XI of France, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary and Ferdinand I of Naples; one was the able administrator of the Franciscans; the last two elevated his old tutor and a first cardinal-nephew.[4] Two further cardinal-nephews were added on 21 November 1468.[5] In a sign of his increasing secretiveness and paranoia, he added two more cardinals secretly at the same consistory, and four more at the beginning of 1471, expecting to reveal them only in his testament.

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