Pope Pius IV

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Pius IV
Bishop of Rome
Ritratto di Pio IV.jpg
Papacy began25 December 1559
Papacy ended9 December 1565
Predecessor Paul IV
Successor Pius V
Consecration20 April 1546
by  Filippo Archinto
Created cardinal8 April 1549
by Pope Paul III
Personal details
Birth nameGiovanni Angelo Medici
Born31 March 1499
Milan, Duchy of Milan
Died9 December 1565(1565-12-09) (aged 66)
Rome, Papal States
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Coat of arms Pius IV Coat of Arms.svg
Other popes named Pius
Papal styles of
Pope Pius IV
Pius IV Coat of Arms.svg
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleNone

Pope Pius IV (31 March 1499 – 9 December 1565), born Giovanni Angelo Medici, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 25 December 1559 to his death in 1565. Born in Milan, his family considered itself a branch of the House of Medici and used the same coat of arms. Although modern historians have found no proof of this connection, the Medici of Florence recognized the claims of the Medici of Milan in the early 16th century. [1] [2]


Pope Paul III appointed Medici Archbishop of Ragusa, and sent him on diplomatic missions to Germany and Hungary. He presided over the final session of the Council of Trent. His nephew, Cardinal Charles Borromeo, was a close adviser. As pope, Pius IV initiated a number of building projects in Rome, including one to improve the water supply.


Early life

Giovanni Angelo Medici was born in Milan on 31 March 1499 as the second of eleven children to Bernardino de' Medici and Clelia Serbelloni. [3]

Giovanni Medici was the younger brother of condottiero Gian Giacomo Medici, and the maternal uncle of Charles Borromeo. [4] Medici studied philosophy and medicine in Pavia.

After studying at University of Bologna and acquiring a reputation as a jurist he obtained his doctorate in both canon and civil law on 11 May 1525. Medici went in 1527 to Rome, and as a favourite of Pope Paul III was rapidly promoted to the governorship of several towns, the archbishopric of Ragusa (1545–1553), [5] and the vice-legateship of Bologna.


In April 1549, Pope Paul III made Medici a cardinal. [3] Under Papal authority, he was sent on diplomatic missions to Germany and also to Hungary.



On the death of Pope Paul IV, he was elected pope on 25 December 1559, taking the name Pius IV, [3] and installed on 6 January 1560. His first public acts of importance were to grant a general pardon to the participants in the riot after the death of his predecessor, and to bring to trial the nephews of his predecessor. One, Cardinal Carlo Carafa, was strangled, and Duke Giovanni Carafa of Paliano, with his nearest associates, was beheaded.

Council of Trent

Pope Pius IV Pius iv.jpg
Pope Pius IV

On 18 January 1562 the Council of Trent, which had been suspended by Pope Julius III, was convened by Pius IV for the third and final time. [6] Great skill and caution were necessary to effect a settlement of the questions before it, inasmuch as the three principal nations taking part in it, though at issue with regard to their own special demands, were prepared to unite their forces against the demands of Rome. Pius IV, however, aided by Cardinal Morone and Charles Borromeo, proved himself equal to the emergency, and by judicious management – and concession – brought the council to a termination satisfactory to the disputants and favourable to the pontifical authority. Its definitions and decrees were confirmed by a papal bull ("Benedictus Deus") dated 26 January 1564; and, though they were received with certain limitations by France and Spain, the famous Creed of Pius IV, or Tridentine Creed, became an authoritative expression of the Catholic faith. [7] The more marked manifestations of stringency during his pontificate appear to have been prompted rather than spontaneous, his personal character inclining him to moderation and ease.

Thus, a warning, issued in 1564, summoning Jeanne d'Albret, the Queen of Navarre, before the Inquisition on a charge of Calvinism, was withdrawn by him in deference to the indignant protest of Charles IX of France. In the same year he published a bull granting the use of the cup to the laity of Austria and Bohemia. One of his strongest passions appears to have been that of building, which somewhat strained his resources in contributing to the adornment of Rome (including the new Porta Pia and Via Pia, named after him, and the northern extension (Addizione) of the rione of Borgo), and in carrying on the work of restoration, erection, and fortification in various parts of the ecclesiastical states.

On the other hand, others bemoaned the austere Roman culture during his papacy; Giorgio Vasari in 1567 spoke of a time when "the grandeurs of this place reduced by stinginess of living, dullness of dress, and simplicity in so many things; Rome is fallen into much misery, and if it is true that Christ loved poverty and the City wishes to follow in his steps she will quickly become beggarly...". [8]


Pius IV created 46 cardinals in four consistories during his pontificate, and elevated three nephews to the cardinalate, including Carlo Borromeo. The pope also made Ugo Boncompagni, who would later be elected Pope Gregory XIII, a cardinal.


A conspiracy against Pius IV, headed by Benedetto Accolti, cousin of cardinal Benedetto Accolti the Younger, was discovered and crushed in 1565. [9]

Architectural achievements

During the reign of Pius IV, Michelangelo rebuilt the basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli (in Diocletian's Baths) and the eponymous Villa Pia, now known as Casina Pio IV. in the Vatican Gardens designed by Pirro Ligorio. It is now the headquarters of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Pius IV also ordered public construction to improve the water supply of Rome. [10]


Pius IV died on 9 December 1565. He was buried in Santa Maria degli Angeli. His successor was Pius V.

See also

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  1. http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/pio-iv_%28Enciclopedia-dei-Papi%29/
  2. "The List of Popes." The Catholic Encyclopedia . Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 4 September 2014
  3. 1 2 3 Loughlin, James. "Pope Pius IV." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 4 Sept. 2014
  4. "John, Eric. The Popes, Hawthorne Books, New York". Archived from the original on 6 June 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  5. Bartolomeo Scappi, The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570): L'Arte Et Prudenza D'Un Maestro Cuoco, Transl. Terence Scully, (University of Toronto Press, 2008), 688.
  6. Bard Thompson, Humanists and Reformers: A History of the Renaissance and Reformation, (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996), 520.
  7. Imma Penn, Dogma Evolution and Papal Fallacies, (AuthorHouse, 2007), 195. [ self-published source ]
  8. Freedberg SJ, p. 429.
  9. Marjorie Reeves, The Influence of Prophecy in the Later Middle Ages: A Study in Joachimism, (Oxford University Press, 1969), 368.
  10. Katherine Rinne, Waters of Rome[ full citation needed ]

Further reading

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Paul IV
25 December 1559 – 9 December 1565
Succeeded by
Pius V