Pope Leo X Biography


Birthday: December 11, 1475 (Sagittarius)

Born In: Florence, Italy

Pope Leo X was the pope for eight years, holding this position from March 1513 to his death in 1521. He was born into one of the most powerful families of Europe, the Medici family, which was quite prominent in banking and politics. Though he was a pope, he was popular mainly for his papal bull against the famous philosopher Martin Luther. Apart from this, he was also known for his inability to stem the Protestant Reformation that originated during his papacy. It was during his period that Martin Luther published 95 theses that he subsequently attached to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. His refusal to agree to Luther’s criticisms led to the beginning of Protestant Christianity. He was also known for his extravagance, and his massive expenditures often led the papacy to debt. He was a great patron of arts and was responsible for rebuilding the St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. He was also a great propagator of education and was responsible for the reorganization of Roman University and also promoted literature, poetry, etc. He is remembered for his remark, “It has served us well, this myth of Christ”.

Quick Facts

Italian Celebrities Born In December

Also Known As: Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici

Died At Age: 45


father: Lorenzo the Magnificent

mother: Clarice Orsini

siblings: Contessina Beatrice de' Medici, Contessina de' Medici, Giuliano de' Medici; Duke of Nemours, Lucrezia de' Medici, Luisa de' Medici, Maddalena de' Medici, Piero the Unfortunate

Born Country: Italy

Italian Men Italian Spiritual & Religious Leaders

Died on: December 1, 1521

place of death: Rome, Italy

Cause of Death: Broncho-Pneumonia

Notable Alumni: Sacred College Of Cardinals, University Of Pisa

City: Florence, Italy

More Facts

education: University Of Pisa, Sacred College of Cardinals

Childhood & Early Life
Pope Leo X was born on December 11, 1475, as Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici in Florence, Italy. He was the second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, the head of the Florentine Republic.
Giovanni was schooled along with his older brother Piero di Lorenzo de' Medici in all government arts. He was tutored by various famous men, such as Angelo Poliziano, Marsilio Ficino, and Pico Della Mirandola, an excellent humanist who was also an expert in persuasion. Giovanni grew up to become a fine and intelligent boy with a deep interest in arts and literature. He was very religious for his age.
In 1482, he entered the ranks of Roman Catholic clergy after getting tonsured at just the age of seven. He was then made a cardinal at just 13 years by the then Pope Innocent VIII. He received a lot of revenues from various wealthy churches, which in turn added to his family’s wealth.
His interest in education continued even after becoming a cardinal. Between 1489 and 1491, he studied theology and canon law in Pisa. He was tutored by Filippo Decio and Bartolomeo Sozzini.
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Becoming the Pope
Giovanni was formally admitted into the Sacred College of Cardinals on March 23, 1492. He started residing in Rome. He had to rush back to Florence the same year owing to the death of his father. The same year, Pope Innocent VIII also died, and Giovanni opposed the election of Cardinal Borgia.
In 1494, there was an uprising that forced the entire Medici family to go into exile. He used this time well to travel across Europe as he wasn’t allowed to go back to Rome since he had opposed the election of Cardinal Borgia as the pope.
In May 1500, Giovanni could finally return to Rome where he was welcomed back cordially by Pope Alexander VI. He started leading a life filled with art and literature during his life in Rome.
In 1503, he was delighted at the accession of Pope Julius II to the pontificate. The same year, his brother died, making him the head of the Medici family. Eight years later, he was appointed as the papal legate of Bologna and Romagna.
In February 1513, Julius II died. A seven-day stormy session ensued and the conclave finally united to make Giovanni the main candidate amongst the younger cardinals. He was elected on March 9. After this, he was proclaimed on March 11. Four days later, he was ordained into the priesthood.
He was given the title of Leo X on March 19, 1513. His appointment as the pope was received with delight by many Romans mainly due to his liberal attitude and also his love for peace.
Leo X faced multiple issues after the accession. Some of them were preserving the papal conquests which were inherited from the previous Popes Alexander VI and Julius II, limiting the amount of foreign influence, and the need to put an end to the Pisan schism.
He had great ambitions for his brother Giuliano, but his unfortunate death in March 1516 forced him to transfer those ambitions to his nephew Lorenzo. In the same year in December, Leo organized an expedition against the Turks which was led by Lorenzo.
The War of Urbino lasted from February to September 1517. It finally ended with the duke’s expulsion and the victory of Lorenzo. At the same time, it also revived the policy of Alexander VI, leading to an increase in brigandage and anarchy in all the Papal States. This also meant it wreaked havoc on the papal finances as the estimated cost of the war was nearly 800,000 ducats.
Meanwhile, in July 1517, Leo published the names of 31 new cardinals, including Lorenzo Campeggio, Egidio Canisio, and Thomas Cajetan. This huge number was quite unheard of in the history of the papacy.
Leo also felt the need to resist the advance of the Sultan of Ottoman, Selim I. He was threating Europe, especially the western part, regularly and had plans to conduct a crusade into western Europe. However, Leo didn’t get the chance to play a major role in the ensuing crusade.
Family & Personal Life
On 1st December 1521, Pope Leo X breathed his last. A few days prior, he had fallen ill with bronchopneumonia that took a toll on his health. He passed away so suddenly that not even the last sacraments could be given to him. He was laid to rest in Santa Maria Sopra Minerva.

See the events in life of Pope Leo X in Chronological Order

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