Pope Alexander VIII

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Pope Alexander VIII (22 April 1610 – 1 February 1691), born Pietro Vito Ottoboni, was Pope from 1689 to 1691.

Contents

Early life

Pietro Ottoboni was born of a noble Venetian family, and was the son of Marco Ottoboni, chancellor of the Republic of Venice. His early studies were made with marked brilliancy at the University of Padua, where, in 1627, he earned a doctorate in canon and civil law.

Governor of Terni, Rieti and Spoleto

He went to Rome during the pontificate of Pope Urban VIII (1623–44), and was made governor of Terni, Rieti, and Spoleto. For fourteen years he served as auditor of the Rota. At the request of the Venetian Republic, Ottoboni was made Cardinal-Priest of San Salvatore in Lauro by Pope Innocent X (1644–55) in 1652, and was later given the bishopric of Brescia, in Venetian territory, where he quietly spent the best years of middle life.

Pontificate

The ambassador of Louis XIV of France (1643–1715) succeeded in procuring his election on 6 October 1689, as successor to Pope Innocent XI (1676–89); nevertheless, after months of negotiation Alexander VIII finally condemned the declaration made in 1682 by the French clergy concerning the liberties of the Gallican church.

Alexander VIII was almost an octogenarian when elected to the papacy, and lived but sixteen months, during which time little of importance was done. Louis XIV, whose political situation was now critical, profited by the peaceful dispositions of the new pope, restored Avignon to him, and renounced the long-abused right of asylum for the French Embassy.

Financial controversies

Charities on a large scale and unbounded nepotism exhausted the papal treasury, reversing the policies of his predecessor. Among the various nominations, his 22-year-old nephew Pietro was made cardinal, nephew Marco was made Duc of Fiano, and nephew Antonio Church was made general. Out of compassion for the poor of the impoverished Papal States, he sought to help them by reducing taxes. But this same generous nature led him to bestow on his relations the riches they were eager to accumulate; on their behalf, and to the discredit of his pontificate, he revived sinecure offices which had been suppressed by Innocent XI. He bought the books and manuscripts of Queen Christina of Sweden for the Vatican Library. Alexander VIII assisted his native Venice by generous subsidies in the war against the Turks, as well as sending seven galleys and 2,000 infantry for the campaign in Albania.

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