Pope Clement VII – 219th Pope

Pope Clement VII was the 219th pope and a member of the famous Italian Medici family. He is known for his connection to Michelangelo and for the political struggles that he faced. The life of Pope Clement VII and his papacy are addressed in this article.

Early Life

Clement VII started life as Giulio, a member of the Medici family in Italy. Just before his birth, his father visited the Florence Cathedral and was murdered. No records indicate his mother, but he spent much of his early life under the care of an architect who was also his godfather.

Lorenzo the Magnificent took him in and treated him as his natural son. As he was an illegitimate child, the Church banned him from certain positions. Lorenzo helped him enlist in the military and then attend college. When he passed away, Giulio took over the man’s role as a cardinal.

Papal Election

Known as Cardinal Medici during his later years, he supported the election of Adrian VI. After the pope passed away and Medici spoke out against the King of France, the cardinals decided that he would make a good pope. They elected him in 1523 in part because they thought he could end the war with France.

Papacy and Later Years

Clement VII continued the feud between Rome and France when he refused to let King Henry VIII divorce his wife. One of his nieces would later marry a man who became Henry II. He also made Charles V the Holy Roman Emperor. Known for his love of artwork, he commissioned several works that led to art historians nicknaming the art created during this era as Clementine.

Though canon law stated that popes must remain clean-shaven, Clement VII grew a long beard after the Sack of Rome to show his distress at the men who died during that battle. The effects of the political and other feuds during his reign took their toll on the pope. Though he wrote several letters in the hopes of finding a resolution with France, he never had the chance to see if they would work before he passed away.

Events In The Life of Pope Clement VII (Giulio de’ Medici)

26 May 1478
9 May 151334.9AppointedArchbishop of Firenze {Florence}, Italy
23 Sep 151335.3Elevated to Cardinal
23 Sep 151335.3AppointedCardinal-Deacon of Santa Maria in Domnica
21 Nov 151335.4AppointedBishop of Albi, France
17 Dec 151335.5Ordained DeaconDeacon
12 Jun 151436.0AppointedAdministrator of Lavaur, France
14 Feb 151536.7AppointedArchbishop of Narbonne, France
14 Mar 151536.8ResignedBishop of Albi, France
18 Feb 151738.7AppointedAdministrator of Bitonto, Italy
27 Feb 151738.7ResignedAdministrator of Bitonto, Italy
26 Jun 151739.0AppointedCardinal-Priest of San Clemente
6 Jul 151739.1AppointedCardinal-Priest of San Lorenzo in Damaso
19 Nov 151739.4AppointedAdministrator of Albenga, Italy
19 Dec 151739.5Ordained PriestPriest
21 Dec 151739.5Ordained BishopArchbishop of Firenze {Florence}, Italy
8 Jan 151839.6AppointedBishop of Bologna, Italy
3 Mar 151839.7ResignedBishop of Bologna, Italy
5 May 151839.9ResignedAdministrator of Albenga, Italy
5 Jul 151840.1AppointedAdministrator of Embrun, France
30 Jul 151840.1AppointedAdministrator of Ascoli Piceno, Italy
3 Sep 151840.2ResignedAdministrator of Ascoli Piceno, Italy
12 Sep 152042.2AppointedAdministrator of Eger, Hungary
7 Jun 152143.0AppointedAdministrator of Worcester, England, Great Britain
26 Sep 152244.3ResignedAdministrator of Worcester, England, Great Britain
18 Jun 152345.0ResignedAdministrator of Eger, Hungary
19 Nov 152345.4ElectedPope (Roma, Italy)
26 Nov 152345.5InstalledPope (Roma, Italy)
25 Sep 153456.3DiedPope (Roma, Italy)

Quick Facts About Pope Clement VII

  • Clement VII was born on May 26, 1478, in Florence, which was then part of the Republic of Florence.

  • His birth name was Giulio di Giuliano de’ Medici.

  • The pope died on September 25, 1534.

  • He was 56 when he passed away in Rome. Though there were rumors that he died after eating poisonous mushrooms, there is no evidence that this is true.

  • His papacy began on November 19, 1523.

  • The papacy of Pope Clement VII ended in 1534 when he passed away.

  • Paul III succeeded Clement VII as the next pope.

Interesting Facts About Pope Clement VII

  • Pope Clement VII may have had a son with a servant before becoming the pope. Records show that the servant’s son, Alessandro, was her child with Lorenzo Medici. Scholars today believe that he was likely the pope’s son.

  • Clement VII was the second member of the Medici family to become a pope. His cousin was Pope Leo X. Following Clement’s death, he was buried close to his cousin in Santa Maria Sopra Minerva.

  • Despite the lack of evidence to prove his mother, some historians think if was Fioretta Gorini. She had a long relationship with the pope’s father and appears in some records as his mother. The woman appears in several Renaissance paintings.

  • During his reign as pope, Clement VII commissioned Michelangelo to paint “The Last Judgment,” a painting that is still on display in the Sistine Chapel.

  • Clement VII was pope for a total of 10 years and 303 days.