Birthday: December 5, 1443
Died At Age: 69
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Also Known As: Fearsome Pope, Warrior Pope, Giuliano della Rovere
Born Country: Italy
Born in: Albisola Superiore, Italy
Famous as: Pope
Spiritual & Religious Leaders
Spouse/Ex-: no value
father: Raffaele della Rovere
mother: Theodora Manerola
siblings: Giovanni della Rovere
children: Felice della Rovere
Died on: February 21, 1513
place of death: Rome, Italy
Founder/Co-Founder: Vatican Museums
Who was Pope Julius II?
Pope Julius II, who was better known as the 'Fearsome Pope' to his colleagues and as the 'Warrior Pope' to common people, was the head of the Roman Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 1503 to 1513. His papal name was not in honor of Pope Julius I but in emulation of Julius Caesar, and he acted more like a warrior who focused on re-establishing the Pontifical States and delivering Italy from its subjection to France. However, he never neglected his duties as the spiritual head of the Church, and heard mass almost daily and often celebrated it himself. He issued a strict bull against simony at papal elections; condemned the heresy of Piero de Lucca; instituted Capella Julia, a school for ecclesiastical chant; and convoked the Fifth Lateran Council to eradicate abuses from the church. He is also remembered as a patron of the arts who hired Michelangelo to repaint the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, commissioned four exquisitely painted rooms from Raphael, and commissioned Bramante for the construction of a new basilica in place of old St. Peter's.
Childhood & Early Life
Pope Julius II was born as Giuliano della Rovere Albisola on December 5, 1443, in the Albisola near Savona in the Republic of Genoa to Raffaelo della Rovere and Theodora Manerola. He had four siblings: Bartolomeo, later Bishop of Ferrara; Leonardo; Giovanni, later Prefect of the City of Rome and Prince of Sorea and Senigallia; and Lucina, mother of Cardinal Sisto Gara della Rovere.
He was educated by his uncle Francesco della Rovere, a member of the Fransiscan order, who later became Minister General of the Franciscans before being elected Pope Sixtus IV on August 10, 1471. His uncle sent him to the Franciscan friary in Perugia, where he studied the sciences at the university.
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Giuliano della Rovere was appointed Bishop of Carpentras in the Comtat Venaissin by his uncle on October 16, 1471, and was raised to the cardinalate on December 16, being assigned to San Pietro in Vincoli.
He held several powerful offices at once; apart from the archbishopric of Avignon, he held at least eight bishoprics, including Lausanne and Coutances.
His uncle created the new Archdiocese of Avignon and appointed Giuliano as the first archbishop in 1475. He was named Papal Legate to France in 1480 and subsequently went there. His responsibilities included making peace between King Louis XI and Emperor Maximilian of Austria, raising funds for a war against the Ottoman Turks and negotiating the release of Cardinal Jean Balue and Bishop Guillaume d'Harancourt.
Following the death of Cardinal Guillaume d'Estouteville, he was promoted to suburbicarian Bishop of Ostia in 1483. The same year, he had an illegitimate daughter named Felice della Rovere from Lucrezia Normanni, whose marriage to Bernardino de Cupis he arranged shortly after.
After his uncle died in 1484, he influenced the elevation of Cardinal Cibo to the papacy as Innocent VIII, and he presumably also influenced most of the pope's decisions. He was instrumental in the war that broke out between the pope and King Ferrante of Naples, which resulted in the execution of revolting barons and Innocent VIII's papacy being discredited.
Following the death of Innocent VIII, he was his logical successor and had support from both King Charles VIII of France and Charles' enemy King Ferrante of Naples. However, his influence over the pope had earned him several enemies and a rivalry with Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, who was able to influence the majority of votes and was elected as Pope Alexander VI.
He resented the increasing influence of Ferdinand of Aragon in Italy under Alexander VI and opposed his nepotism, and to escape Alexander's wrath, he fled to France to the court of Charles VIII in 1494.
He encouraged the French conquest of the papal territory of Naples in 1494 and 1495, and following the successful military campaign, he unsuccessfully sought to convoke a council that would depose Alexander for simony.
After Alexander VI died in 1503, Giuliano della Rovere returned to Rome as a strong candidate for the papacy, but the old and sickly Francesco Piccolomini ascended the papal throne as Pius III. However, Pius III died after a short reign of 26 days, paving the way for his ascension as Pope Julius II, which he still secured by offering bribes and making great promises to the cardinals.
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Soon after becoming the pope, he condemned his predecessor of usurping the papal power by the devil's aid and rendered it impossible for the Borgias to retain power over the Papal States.
To further strengthen his temporal authority, he helped reconcile two powerful Roman families, the Orsini and Colonna, and made decrees in the interests of the Roman nobility.
He then undertook the task of expelling the Venetians, who had taken over various places in the ecclesiastical territory of Romagna, and formed an alliance between France and the Holy Roman Empire.
In 1506, he personally led an army to Perugia and Bologna to free the two papal cities from despots Giampolo Baglioni and Giovanni II Bentivoglio.
Unable to free Rimini and Faenza from the Venetians on his own, he reluctantly joined the League of Cambrai, formed by Emperor Maximilian I and Louis XII of France, on 23 March 1509. After Venice crumbled against the combined forces and was ready to negotiate with Julius II, he withdrew from the League and set the terms to free the Venetians from previously imposed bans.
He next focused on freeing entire Italy from the French, and in 1510-11, formed the Holy League, which initially only included the pope, the Venetians, and Spain. England joined it soon after, followed by the Swiss Cantons and the Holy Roman Empire, forming a superior force that subjugated the French in the bloody battle of Ravenna in 1512.
Julius II, who had sworn to summon a general council, maintained that it was delayed by foreign occupation of Italy, and after a false council 'Conciliabulum Pisanum' was formed, he convoked the Fifth Lateran Council in 1512. Despite being ill, he attended two sessions of the council, primarily to receive the formal adhesion of Emperor Maximilian to the Lateran Council, which was one of his greatest triumphs.
Death & Legacy
Pope Julius II's health gradually declined following his successful campaign against the French, and he had remarked about his failing health to Paris de Grassis in May 1512. He still continued to hear masses, visits churches, and address audiences, but after becoming bed-ridden during Christmas, he made arrangements for his funeral.
He suffered from severe fever, the causes of which could not be diagnosed, and died on February 21, 1513, following which Paris de Grassis conducted his funeral that evening. His remains were laid alongside his uncle, Pope Sixtus IV, but following the Sack of Rome in 1527, they were moved to St. Peter's Basilica.
Pope Julius II, who wanted to be laid at the newly constructed St. Peter's Basilica, had commissioned an imposing tomb from Michelangelo. However, he was not laid there, and the 'Tomb of Julius II', finished long after his death, was instead placed in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli, where the pope first became a cardinal.