Pope Julius III

Leading the Church for a little over five years as the 221st Pope, Julius III succeeded Pope Paul III. His election to the papacy was not an easy one. Typically viewed by scholars as a “compromise candidate,” he did not achieve much during his time in office.

While Pope Julius III did reconvene the Council of Trent, history has not viewed his reign favorably. He is remembered more for living a lavish life and dealing with controversy rather than his political or ecclesiastical affairs.


Before his rise to the papacy, Julius III was an accomplished scholar. He was born Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte in Rome. The son of a humanist and esteemed lawyer, del Monte was exposed to academics at a very young age.

He went on to study law at Perugia and Siena where he was known more as a distinguished canonist rather than a theologist.

Eventually, del Monte’s family ties led to his first position in the Church. When his uncle, the Archbishop of Manfredonia, vacated his see to become cardinal, del Monte succeeded him as Archbishop. This later resulted in his position as Archbishop of Pavia and Bishop of Siponto.

Time With the Church

Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte’s time with the Church was quite successful. His diplomatic and administrative skills were highly praised. He also had a reputation for being approachable; something that was not common for leaders within the Church.

Under Pope Clement VII, del Monte served as the governor of Rome twice when it was part of the papal states. He was governor during the 1527 Sack of Rome. He barely escaped execution as a hostage to the Emperor’s forces. The future Pope was one of several hostages given to Pope Clement VII.

Under Pope Paul III, del Monte was made Cardinal-bishop of Palestrina. During his time in this position, he participated in several legations. The most notable was the Council of Trent, which he served as senior papal legate.


After the death of Pope Paul III, the 48 cardinals electing the new Pope were split into three factions. There were the Imperials, which wanted to reconvene the Council of Trent, and the French, who wanted to drop the Council of Trent. The third faction was the Farnese, who wanted to see Pope Paul III’s grandson become the new Pope.

Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte was a compromise between the three factions and became Pope Julius III, the 221st pope. Romans were quite pleased with his election, as there hadn’t been a Roman Pope in over 100 years.

Originally, Julius III had a desire to reform the Church. Upon the request of Emperor Charles V, he reconvened the Council of Trent. This caused a rift between the Duke of Parma, whom he confirmed, and King Henry II of France. The result of this rift was the War of Parma.

The war did not last long and Pope Julius III came to terms with his adversaries, suspending the Council of Trent once again.

Beyond that ordeal, Pope Julius III didn’t accomplish much during his reign. He became Pope at the start of the Jubilee of 1550. As a fan of glitter and glamor, the Pope indulged in banquets and entertainment.

He spent a lot of time and money at his luxurious palace in Villa Giulia. There, he supported composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina and paid for designs by Michaelangelo.

Nepotism was rampant during his reign. One of the most scandalous parts of his legacy surrounds his adoptive nephew. Julius III had his brother adopt a teenage street urchin who worked at the family residence. This boy, Innocenzo Ciocchi Del Monte, quickly became cardinal-nephew and was showered with benefices. The extent of their relationship is a point of discussion among scholars even to this day.

Quick Facts About Julius III

  • Julius III was born on September 10, 1487.
  • He was born Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte.
  • Pope Julius III died on March 23rd, 1555, at the age of 67.
  • No exact cause of death has been reported. Many historians believe his death came from complications of gout.
  • Pope Julius III was elected on February 7th, 1550.
  • His papacy ended with his death on March 23rd, 1555.
  • Pope Julius III was succeeded by Pope Marcellus II

Interesting Facts About Julius III

  • Pope Julius III was deemed unworthy of a true mausoleum. So, he was buried in a simple tomb at the Vatican Grottos.
  • He confirmed the Duke of Parma, Ottavio Farnese, after gaining his support during the papal election.
  • He was responsible for establishing the Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum, a German-speaking seminary.
  • Pope Julius III welcomed England back into the Church with Mary I on the throne.
  • He worked to improve the Vatican library by appointing Cervini, future papal successor, to serve as a librarian.

List of Events In The Life of Pope Julius III (Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte)

10 Sep 1487Born
18 Mar 151325.5AppointedArchbishop of Manfredonia, Italy
12 Nov 151427.1Ordained BishopArchbishop of Manfredonia, Italy
13 Mar 152133.5AppointedBishop of Pavia, Italy
3 Jun 153042.7ResignedBishop of Pavia, Italy
22 Dec 153649.2Elevated to Cardinal
15 Jan 153749.3AppointedCardinal-Priest of San Vitale
11 Oct 154255.0AppointedCardinal-Priest of Santa Prassede
5 Oct 154356.0AppointedCardinal-Bishop of Palestrina
4 Jun 154456.7AppointedBishop of Pavia, Italy
25 Jun 154456.7ResignedArchbishop of Manfredonia, Italy
7 Feb 155062.4ElectedPope (Roma, Italy)
22 Feb 155062.4InstalledPope (Roma, Italy)
23 Mar 155567.5DiedPope (Roma, Italy)

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