Pope Paul IV

Pope Paul IV (1476-1559) was born Gian Peitro Carafa. His papacy lasted from 1555 until he passed on in 1559. During his papacy, some of the Papal States were invaded by the Spanish military. In response to this, he used the French military as a mercenaries.

Since Italy was already in a war with the House of Habsberg in Austria, Pope Paul IV didn’t want to start a second one with Spain. As a result, the Papal States made a treaty with Cave, Spain called the Treaty of Cave. After that, Spain and France both agreed to part ways with Italy.

Carafa started out as a bishop with Chieti. However, in 1524, he resigned in order to to co-found the the Congregation of Thetines with St. Cajetan. He was shortly recalled and made Archbishop of Naples and help set up the Inquisition. It opposed the Protestant movement and everything affiliated with it.

Carafa was elected Pope in 1555 under the political influence of Cardinal Farnesse as a mutual opposing force to Emporer Charles V. During his papacy, Pope Paul IV demonstrated a strong ethnocentrism against Spain at King Philip II. He was also racist against the Jews, forced the ones living in Rome to wear yellow hats and live in a ghetto. This continued for the next three centuries.

His papacy was further damaged when he dismissed his Cardinal Nephews over a bunch of scandals. He did curb many clerical abuses but his own methods were harsh, abusive and cruel.

He had approximately 100 Marranos of Ancona thrown into prison. About 50 underwent unjust trials and 25 were burned at the stake.

Almost needless to say, Pope Paul IV is considered to be one of the most notorious Popes in history.


Quick Facts

  • Born: June 28, 1476 in Caprigila, Irpina. It is located in the province of Avellino, Campiana.
  • Birth Name: Gian Peitro Carafa
  • Died: August 18, 1559
  • How he died: He started to have health complications in May 1559. He was experiencing heat exhaustion, especially when rallying for the Inquisition. By the beginning of August, he was bedridden. Only on the 17th, it became obvious that his time was getting very close. On the morning of his passing, the Cardinals and other officials gathered by his bedside where he expressed his last wishes for a decent successor and for the inquisition to continue. He passed on at 5pm.
  • Papacy began: 1555
  • Papacy ended: 1559
  • Sucessor:Pius V


Other Interesting Facts

  • Carafa apparently had some ulterior motives for taking on the papacy. Apparently, he only did so because Emporer Charles V was vehemently opposed to him and the feeling was mutual.
  • Paul IV’s motives were often not very peaceful. For example, he actually opposed the five-year truce between Spain and France. He harbored such a hatred for Spain that he urged King Henry II to join the Papal States’ invasion of Spain. However, the King arranged a backfire on Paul IV by having 12,000 men under the Duke of Alba invade the Papal States. They succeeded with leaving the Papal exposed, driving the French troops to Civitella and leaving Spanish troops at the ready at Rome’s edge. That was when Paul IV agreed to declare neutrality. However, Emporer Charles V criticized the neutrality as an excessive generosity for Paul IV.
  • Paul IV’s own nephew, Carlo Carafa served as a political advisor to his uncle on a pension from France and worked to secure an alliance with the French. A few of the other nephews, such as Carlo’s brother, Giovanni, were in the papacy as well. However, their conduct became a notoriety and turned into one scandal after another in Rome. At the end of the Italian War in 1559, Paul IV publicly disgraced his nephews and dismissed them.
  • Paul IV not only imprisoned those he considered heretics, he was also not above imprisoning cardinals he personally disliked.
  • Even though he forced the Jews in the area to live in a boxed-in ghetto and not own any property, ironically, Paul IV did not allow their Christian landlords to raise their rents or to evict them.