Pope Clement VIII

Last updated

Clement VIII
Bishop of Rome
Papst Clemens VIII Italian 17th century.jpg
Elected30 January 1592
Papacy began2 February 1592
Papacy ended3 March 1605
Predecessor Innocent IX
Successor Leo XI
Ordination31 December 1580
Consecration2 February 1592
by  Alfonso Gesualdo di Conza
Created cardinal18 December 1585
by Sixtus V
Personal details
Birth nameIppolito Aldobrandini
Born24 February 1536
Fano, Marche, Papal States
Died5 March 1605(1605-03-05) (aged 69)
Rome, Papal States
Previous post Cardinal-Priest of San Pancrazio fouri le Mura (1585–92)
Other popes named Clement
Papal styles of
Pope Clement VIII
C o a Clemente VIII.svg
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleNone

Pope Clement VIII (Latin : Clemens VIII; 24 February 1536 – 5 March 1605), born Ippolito Aldobrandini, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 2 February 1592 to his death in 1605. Born in Fano, Italy [1] to a prominent Florentine family, he initially came to prominence as a canon lawyer before being made a Cardinal-Priest in 1585. In 1592 he was elected Pope and took the name of Clement. During his papacy he effected the reconciliation of Henry IV of France to the Catholic faith and was instrumental in setting up an alliance of Christian nations to oppose the Ottoman Empire in the so-called Long War. He also successfully adjudicated in a bitter dispute between the Dominicans and the Jesuits on the issue of efficacious grace and free will. In 1600 he presided over a jubilee which saw many pilgrimages to Rome. He had little pity for his opponents, presiding over the trial and execution of Giordano Bruno and implementing strict measures against Jewish residents of the Papal States. He may have been the first pope to drink coffee. Clement VIII died at the age of 69 in 1605 and his remains now rest in the Santa Maria Maggiore.


Early life

He was from a Florentine family, and followed his father as a canon lawyer, becoming an Auditor (judge) of the Roman Rota, the highest ecclesiastical court constituted by the Holy See. [2] He was only ordained as a priest at the age of 45, and rose to Pope in a further 12 years. He was an effective, if sometimes ruthless, administrator.


Election of Pope Clemens VIII in 1592, by Louis de Caullery, Petit Palais (Paris) Caullery Pape Clement VIII Rome.jpg
Election of Pope Clemens VIII in 1592, by Louis de Caullery, Petit Palais (Paris)

He was made Cardinal-Priest of S. Pancrazio in 1585 by Pope Sixtus V, who named him major penitentiary in January 1586 and in 1588 sent him as legate in Poland. He placed himself under the direction of the reformer Philip Neri, who for thirty years was his confessor. Aldobrandini won the gratitude of the Habsburgs by his successful diplomatic efforts in Poland to obtain the release of the imprisoned Archduke Maximilian, the defeated claimant to the Polish throne. [3]

After the death of Pope Innocent IX (1591), another stormy conclave ensued, in which a determined minority of Italian Cardinals were unwilling to be dictated to by Philip II of Spain. Known to be very intelligent, disciplined, and in tune with the inter workings of the Church, [4] Cardinal Aldobrandini's election on 30 January 1592 was received as a portent of more balanced and liberal Papal policy in European affairs. He took the non-politicised name Clement VIII. He proved to be an able Pope, with an unlimited capacity for work, a lawyer's eye for detail, and a wise statesman, the general object of whose policy was to free the Papacy from its dependence upon Spain. [3]

Ecclesiastical matters

Clementine Vulgate

In November 1592, he published the Clementine Vulgate. [5] It was issued with the Bull Cum Sacrorum (9 November 1592) [6] which asserted that every subsequent edition must be assimilated to this one, no word of the text may be changed, nor even variant readings printed in the margin. [7] This new official version of the Vulgate, known as the Clementine Vulgate [8] or Sixto-Clementine Vulgate, [8] [9] became the official Bible of the Catholic Church. [10]

De Auxiliis controversy

In 1597, he established the Congregatio de Auxiliis which was to settle the theological controversy between the Dominican Order and the Jesuits concerning the respective role of efficacious grace and free will. Although the debate tended toward a condemnation of Molinism's insistence on free will to the detriment of efficacious grace, the important influence of the Jesuit Order — among other considerations — which, beside important political and theological power in Europe, had also various missions abroad (Misiones Jesuiticas in South America, missions in China, etc.), led the Pope to abstain from an official condemnation of the Jesuits. In 1611 and again in 1625 a decree prohibited any discussion of the matter, although it was often informally avoided by the publication of commentaries on Thomas Aquinas.

Jubilee of 1600

During the jubilee of 1600, three million pilgrims visited the holy places. The Synod of Brest was held 1595 in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, by which a great part of the Ruthenian clergy and people were reunited to Rome. [3]

Canonisations and beatifications

Clement VIII canonised Hyacinth (17 April 1594), Julian of Cuenca (18 October 1594), and Raymond of Peñafort (1601). He beatified 205 individuals, 200 of them being group martyrs; notable individuals he named as Blessed included Carlo Borromeo.


The pope created 53 cardinals in six consistories during his pontificate; he named his two nephews Pietro and Cinzio Passeri as cardinals. Notable cardinals named during his reign included Camillo Borghese (his successor Pope Paul V) as well as the noted theologians Roberto Bellarmino and Cesare Baronio.

Foreign relations

Relations with France and Spain

Clement VIII Clement viii.jpg
Clement VIII

The most remarkable event of Clement VIII's reign was the reconciliation to the Church of Henry IV of France (1589–1610), after long negotiations, carried on with great dexterity through Cardinal Arnaud d'Ossat, that resolved the complicated situation in France. Henry embraced Catholicism on 25 July 1593. After a pause to assess Henry IV's sincerity, Clement VIII braved Spanish displeasure, and in the autumn of 1595 he solemnly absolved Henry IV, thus putting an end to the thirty years' religious war in France. [3]

Henry IV's friendship was of essential importance to the Papacy two years later, when Alfonso II, Duke of Ferrara, died childless (27 October 1597), and the Pope resolved to attach the stronghold of the Este family to the states of the Church. Though Spain and the Emperor Rudolf II encouraged Alfonso II's illegitimate cousin, Cesare d'Este, to withstand the Pope, they were deterred from giving him any material aid by Henry IV's threats, and a papal army entered Ferrara almost unopposed. [3]

In 1598 Clement VIII won more credit for the papacy by bringing about a definite treaty of peace between Spain and France in the Peace of Vervins, [3] this put an end to their long contest, and he negotiated peace between France and Savoy as well.

Long War

In 1595, Clement VIII initiated an alliance of Christian European powers to take part in the war with the Ottoman Empire, fought mainly in Hungary, which would become known as the "Long War" and would continue past Clement's own lifetime. Facilitated by the Pope, a treaty of alliance was signed in Prague by Emperor Rudolf II and Sigismund Báthory of Transylvania. Aron Vodă of Moldavia and Michael the Brave of Wallachia joined the alliance later that year. Clement VIII himself lent the Emperor valuable assistance in men and money. [3]

Internal policies

Law enforcement

Clement VIII was as vigorous as Pope Sixtus V (1585–90) in crushing banditry in the papal provinces of Umbria and the Marche and in punishing the lawlessness of the Roman nobility. [3] Upon his ascension to the papal throne in 1592, he immediately had several noble troublemakers put to death. These included most famously Troio Savelli, scion of a powerful ancient Roman family, and the youthful and noble Beatrice Cenci, who had murdered her father – probably as a consequence of his repeated abuses. The latter case prompted many requests of clemency – rejected by the Pope, who passed the confiscated Cenci property to his own family.

Clement's strict ways also concerned philosophical and religious matters. In 1599 he ordered the Italian miller Menocchio  – who had formed the belief that God was not eternal but had Himself once been created out of chaos – to be burned at the stake. A more famous case was the trial for heresy of Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake in 1600. Pope Clement VIII participated personally in the final phases of the trial, inviting the Cardinals in charge of the case to proceed with the verdict.

Anti-Jewish measures

Clement VIII tightened measures against the Jewish inhabitants of his territories. In 1592, the papal bull Cum saepe accidere forbade the Jewish community of the Comtat Venaissin of Avignon, a papal enclave, to sell new goods, putting them at an economic disadvantage. In 1593, the bull Caeca et Obdurata reiterated Pope Pius V's decree of 1569 which banned Jews from living in the Papal states outside the cities of Rome, Ancona, and Avignon. The main effect of the bull was to evict Jews who had returned to areas of the Papal States (mainly Umbria) after 1586 (following their expulsion in 1569) and to expel Jewish communities from cities like Bologna (which had been incorporated under papal dominion since 1569). [11] The bull also alleged that Jews in the Papal States had engaged in usury and exploited the hospitality of Clement VIII's predecessors "who, in order to lead them from their darkness to knowledge of the true faith, deemed it opportune to use the clemency of Christian piety towards them" (alluding to Christiana pietas). [12] With the bull Cum Hebraeorum malitia a few days later, Clement VIII also forbade the reading of the Talmud. [13]

Later life and death

Statue of Pope Clement VIII in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore Clement VIII SM Maggiore.jpg
Statue of Pope Clement VIII in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Clement VIII was afflicted by gout, and was forced to spend much of his later life immobilized in bed. He suddenly became ill on 10 February 1605 and his condition rapidly deteriorated over the next few weeks. He died on 3 March 1605 around midnight, leaving a reputation for prudence, munificence, ruthlessness and capacity for business. Clement was buried in St. Peter's Basilica, and later Pope Paul V (1605–21) had a mausoleum built for him in the Borghese Chapel of Santa Maria Maggiore, where the remains were transferred in 1646.

His reign is especially distinguished by the number and beauty of his medals. Clement VIII founded the Collegio Clementino for the education of the sons of the richer classes, and augmented the number of national colleges in Rome by opening the Collegio Scozzese for the training of missionaries to Scotland. [3]


Coffee aficionados often claim that the spread of its popularity among Catholics is due to Pope Clement VIII's influence. He was pressed by his advisers to denounce coffee. However, upon tasting coffee, Pope Clement VIII declared: "Why, this Satan's drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it." [14] Clement allegedly blessed the bean because it appeared better for the people than alcoholic beverages. [15] The year often cited is 1600. It is not clear whether this is a true story, but it may have been found amusing at the time. [16]

See also

Related Research Articles

Pope Clement V pope

Pope Clement V, born Raymond Bertrand de Got, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 5 June 1305 to his death. He is remembered for suppressing the order of the Knights Templar and allowing the execution of many of its members, and as the pope who moved the Papacy from Rome to Avignon, ushering in the period known as the Avignon Papacy.

Pope Leo XI 17th-century Catholic pope

Pope Leo XI, born Alessandro Ottaviano de' Medici, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 1 to 27 April 1605. His pontificate is one of the briefest in history having lasted under a month. He was from the prominent House of Medici originating from Florence. Medici's mother opposed his entering the priesthood and sought to prevent it by having him given secular honours, but after her death he eventually was ordained a priest in 1567. In his career he served as Florence's ambassador to the pope, Bishop of Pistoia, Archbishop of Florence, papal legate to France, and as the cardinal Prefect for the Congregation of the Bishops and Religious. He was elected to the papacy in the March 1605 papal conclave and served as pope for 27 days.

Avignon Papacy period during which the pope decided to live in Avignon, France rather than in Rome

The Avignon Papacy, also known as the Babylonian Captivity, was the period from 1309 to 1376 during which seven successive popes resided in Avignon rather than in Rome. The situation arose from the conflict between the papacy and the French crown, culminating in the death of Pope Boniface VIII after his arrest and maltreatment by Philip IV of France. Following the further death of Pope Benedict XI, Philip forced a deadlocked conclave to elect the French Clement V as pope in 1305. Clement refused to move to Rome, and in 1309 he moved his court to the papal enclave at Avignon, where it remained for the next 67 years. This absence from Rome is sometimes referred to as the "Babylonian captivity of the Papacy".

Jacques Davy Duperron Catholic cardinal

Jacques Davy Duperron was a French politician and Roman Catholic cardinal.

Aldobrandini family noble family with origin in Toscana

The Aldobrandini are an Italian noble family from Florence, with close ties to the Vatican. Their Roman fortunes were made when Ippolito Aldobrandini became pope under the name Pope Clement VIII. He arranged the marriage that linked the Aldobrandini with the Roman family of Pamphili. They were also linked to marriage alliances with the Farnese and Borghese.

Francisco de Toledo (Jesuit) Catholic cardinal

Francisco de Toledo was a Spanish Jesuit priest and theologian, Biblical exegete and professor at the Roman College. He is the first Jesuit to have been made a cardinal.

Federico Borromeo Cardinal Archbishop of Milan

Federico Borromeo was an Italian cardinal and Archbishop of Milan.

Roman Catholic Suburbicarian Diocese of Frascati suburbicarian diocese

The Diocese of Frascati is a suburbicarian see of the Holy Roman Church and a diocese of the Catholic Church in Italy, based at Frascati, near Rome. The bishop of Frascati is a Cardinal Bishop; from the Latin name of the area, the bishop has also been called Bishop of Tusculum. Tusculum was destroyed in 1191. The bishopric moved from Tusculum to Frascati, a nearby town which is first mentioned in the pontificate of Pope Leo IV. Until 1962, the Cardinal-Bishop was concurrently the diocesan bishop of the see in addition to any curial duties he possessed. Pope John XXIII removed the Cardinal Bishops from any actual responsibility in their suburbicarian dioceses, and made the title purely honorific.

Cardinal-nephew Nephew or relative of a pope appointed as a cardinal by him

A cardinal-nephew was a cardinal elevated by a pope who was that cardinal's relative. The practice of creating cardinal-nephews originated in the Middle Ages, and reached its apex during the 16th and 17th centuries. The last cardinal-nephew was named in 1689 and the practice was extinguished in 1692. The word nepotism originally referred specifically to this practice, when it appeared in the English language about 1669. From the middle of the Avignon Papacy (1309–1377) until Pope Innocent XII's anti-nepotism bull, Romanum decet pontificem (1692), a pope without a cardinal-nephew was the exception to the rule. Every Renaissance pope who created cardinals appointed a relative to the College of Cardinals, and the nephew was the most common choice, although one of Alexander VI's creations was his own son.

1621 papal conclave

The papal conclave of 1621 was convened on the death of Pope Paul V and ended with the election of Alessandro Ludovisi as Pope Gregory XV. It was the shortest conclave in the seventeenth century.

<i>Caeca et Obdurata</i> papal bull regarding the Jews

Caeca et Obdurata Hebraeorum perfidia was a papal bull, promulgated by Pope Clement VIII on February 25, 1593, which expelled the Jews from the Papal States, effectively revoking the bull Christiana pietas (1586) of his predecessor Pope Sixtus V. Prior to 1586, Pope Pius V's bull Hebraeorum gens sola (1569) had restricted Jews in the Papal States to Rome and Ancona.

1592 papal conclave

The papal conclave of 1592 elected Pope Clement VIII in succession to Pope Innocent IX.

Sixtine Vulgate Official Catholic edition of the Latin Vulgate published in 1590 under Pope Sixtus V

The Sixtine Vulgate or Sistine Vulgate is the edition of the Vulgate—a 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible that was written largely by Jerome—which was published in 1590, prepared by a commission on the orders of Pope Sixtus V and edited by himself. It was the first edition of the Vulgate authorised by a pope. Its official recognition was short-lived; the edition was replaced in 1592 by the Sixto-Clementine Vulgate.

Sixto-Clementine Vulgate Official edition of Latin Vulgate promulgated in 1592 by Pope Clement VIII

The Sixto-Clementine Vulgate or Clementine Vulgate is the edition promulgated in 1592 by Pope Clement VIII of the Vulgate—a 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible that was written largely by Jerome. It was the second edition of the Vulgate to be authorised by the Catholic Church, the first being the Sixtine Vulgate. The Sixto-Clementine Vulgate was used officially in the Catholic Church until 1979, when the Nova Vulgata was promulgated by Pope John Paul II.

March 1605 papal conclave One of two papal conclaves in 1605

The papal conclave of March–April 1605 was convened on the death of Pope Clement VIII and ended with the election of Alessandro Ottaviano de' Medici as Pope Leo XI. It was the first of two papal conclaves in 1605; Leo died on 27 April 1605, twenty-six days after he was elected. The conclave was dominated by conflict over whether Cesare Baronius should be elected pope, and Philip III of Spain excluded both Baronius and the eventually successful candidate, Medici.

May 1605 papal conclave Election

The papal conclave of May 1605 was convened on the death of Pope Leo XI and ended with the election of Camillo Borghese as Pope Paul V. This was the second conclave of 1605, with the one that had elected Leo XI having concluded just 37 days earlier. It is significant for having the only recorded case of an injury at a papal conclave, which was the result of a physical fight amongst the cardinals over who should be elected pope.

Girolamo Agucchi Italian cardinal

Girolamo Agucchi was a Catholic cardinal from 1604 to 1605.

Giovanni Aldobrandini was an Italian Roman Catholic bishop and cardinal.

Giovanni Battista Agucchi Italian churchman, Papal diplomat and writer on art theory

Giovanni Battista Agucchi was an Italian churchman, Papal diplomat and writer on art theory. He was the nephew and brother of cardinals, and might have been one himself if he had lived longer. He served as secretary to the Papal Secretary of State, then the Pope himself, on whose death Agucchi was made a titular bishop and appointed as nuncio to Venice. He was an important figure in Roman art circles when he was in the city, promoting fellow-Bolognese artists, and was close to Domenichino in particular. As an art theorist he was rediscovered in the 20th century as having first expressed many of the views better known from the writings of Gian Pietro Bellori a generation later. He was also an amateur astronomer who corresponded with Galileo.

Camillo Caetani (Gaetano) was an Italian aristocrat and Papal diplomat in several European capitals during the early Counterreformation.


  1. "Clement VIII". w2.vatican.va.
  2. See John Paul II, ap. con. Pastor Bonus art. 121, 80 Acta Apostolicae Sedis 841 (1988) (noting that the Apostolic Signatura is the supreme tribunal).
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 PD-icon.svg  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Loughlin, James (1908). "Pope Clement VIII". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia . 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 3 September 2014.
  4. “Pope Clement VIII,” Italian Baroque Art, Duke University
  5. Metzger, Bruce M. (1977). The Early Versions of the New Testament. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 349.
  6. "Vulgata Clementina". vulsearch.sourceforge.net. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  7. Scrivener, Frederick Henry Ambrose; Edward Miller (1894). A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament. 2 (4 ed.). London: George Bell & Sons. p. 65.
  8. 1 2 Pelikan, Jaroslav Jan (1996). "1 : Sacred Philology ; Catalog of Exhibition [Item 1.14]". The reformation of the Bible, the Bible of the Reformation . Dallas : Bridwell Library ; Internet Archive. New Haven: Yale University Press. pp.  14, 98.
  9. Gerace, Antonio (2016). "Francis Lucas 'of Bruges' and Textual Criticism of the Vulgate before and after the Sixto-Clementine (1592)". Journal of Early Modern Christianity. 3 (2): 201–237. doi:10.1515/jemc-2016-0008 via KULeuven.
  10. Houghton, H. A. G. (2016). The Latin New Testament: A Guide to Its Early History, Texts, and Manuscripts. Oxford University Press. pp. 132–133. ISBN   9780198744733.
  11. Foa, Anna; Grover, Andrea (2000). The Jews of Europe After the Black Death. University of California Press. p. 117. ISBN   978-0520087651.
  12. Fragnito, Gigliola; Mozzarelli, Cesare; Oresko, Robert (2001-09-06). Church, Censorship and Culture in Early Modern Italy. p. 182–183. ISBN   9780521661720.
  13. S. Wendehorst, "Katholische Kirche und Juden in der Frühen Neuzeit" 1.3 "Zensur des Talmud", following Willchad Paul Eckert, "Catholizmus zwischen 1580 und 1848" in Karl Heinrich Rengstorf and Siegfried Kortzfleisch, eds. Kirche und Sinagoge II (Stuttgart, 1970) p. 232.
  14. Cole, Adam. "Drink Coffee? Off With Your Head!", Salt, NPR, January 17, 2012
  15. Wallin, Nils-Bertil. "Coffee: A Long Way From Ethiopia", Yale Global, November 5, 2002 Archived April 1, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  16. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-06-01. Retrieved 2010-06-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Coffee Facts and Statistics
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Innocent IX
30 January 1592 – 3 March 1605
Succeeded by
Leo XI