|Bishop of Rome|
A portrait of Pope Urban VIII
by Pietro da Cortona (1627)
|Papacy began||6 August 1623|
|Papacy ended||29 July 1644|
|Ordination||24 September 1592|
|Consecration||28 October 1604|
by Fabio Blondus de Montealto
|Created cardinal||11 September 1606|
by Pope Paul V
|Birth name||Maffeo Barberini|
|Born||5 April 1568|
Florence, Duchy of Florence
|Died||29 July 1644 (aged 76)|
Rome, Lazio, Papal States
|Parents||Antonio Barberini & Camilla Barbadoro|
|Coat of arms|
|Other popes named Urban|
Pope Urban VIII (Latin : Urbanus VIII; baptised 5 April 1568 – 29 July 1644) was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 6 August 1623 to his death in 1644. He expanded the papal territory by force of arms and advantageous politicking, and was also a prominent patron of the arts and a reformer of Church missions.
However, the massive debts incurred during his pontificate greatly weakened his successors, who were unable to maintain the papacy's longstanding political and military influence in Europe. He was also an opponent of Copernicanism and involved in the Galileo affair.
He was born Maffeo Barberini in April 1568to Antonio Barberini, a Florentine nobleman, and Camilla Barbadoro. His father died when he was only three years old and his mother took him to Rome, where he was put in the charge of his uncle, Francesco Barberini, an apostolic protonotary. At the age of 16, he became his uncle's heir. He was educated by the Society of Jesus ("Jesuits"), and received a doctorate of law from the University of Pisa in 1589.
In 1601, Barberini, through the influence of his uncle, was able to secure from Pope Clement VIII appointment as a papal legate to the court of King Henry IV of France. In 1604, the same pope appointed him as the Archbishop of Nazareth,an office joined with that of Bishop of the suppressed Dioceses of Canne and Monteverde, with his residence at Barletta. At the death of his uncle, he inherited his riches, with which he bought a palace in Rome, which he made into a luxurious Renaissance residence.
Pope Paul V also later employed Barberini in a similar capacity, afterwards raising him, in 1606, to the order of the Cardinal-Priest, with the titular church of San Pietro in Montorio and appointing him as a papal legate of Bologna.
|Papal styles of|
Pope Urban VIII
|Reference style||His Holiness|
|Spoken style||Your Holiness|
|Religious style||Holy Father|
Barberini was considered someone who could be elected as pope, though there were those such as Cardinal Ottavio Bandini who worked to prevent it. Despite this, throughout 29–30 July, the cardinals began an intense series of negotiations to test the numbers as to who could emerge from the conclave as pope, with Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi dismissing Barberini's chances as long as Barberini remained a close ally of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, whose faction Barberini supported. Ludovisi had discussions with Cardinals Farnese, Medici and Aldobrandini on 30 July about seeing to Barberini's election. The three supported his candidacy and went about securing the support of others, which lead to Barberini's election just over a week later.On 6 August 1623, at the papal conclave following the death of Pope Gregory XV, Barberini was chosen as Gregory XV's successor and took the name Urban VIII.
Upon Pope Urban VIII's election, Zeno, the Venetian envoy, wrote the following description of him:
The new Pontiff is 56 years old. His Holiness is tall, dark, with regular features and black hair turning grey. He is exceptionally elegant and refined in all details of his dress; has a graceful and aristocratic bearing and exquisite taste. He is an excellent speaker and debater, writes verses and patronises poets and men of letters.
Urban VIII's papacy covered 21 years of the Thirty Years' War, (1618-1648) and was an eventful one, even by the standards of the day. He canonized Elizabeth of Portugal, Andrew Corsini and Conrad of Piacenza, and issued the papal bulls of canonization for Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Society of Jesus, "Jesuits") and Francis Xavier (also a Jesuit), who had been canonized by his predecessor, Pope Gregory XV.
Despite an early friendship and encouragement for his teachings, Urban VIII was responsible for summoning the scientist and astronomer Galileo to Rome in 1633 to recant his work. Urban VIII was opposed to Copernican heliocentrism and he ordered Galileo's second trial after the publication of Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems , in which Urban's point of view is argued by the character "Simplicio".
Urban VIII practiced nepotism on a grand scale; various members of his family were enormously enriched by him, so that it seemed to contemporaries as if he were establishing a Barberini dynasty.He elevated his brother Antonio Marcello Barberini (Antonio the Elder) and then his nephews Francesco Barberini and Antonio Barberini (Antonio the Younger) to Cardinal. He also bestowed upon their brother, Taddeo Barberini, the titles Prince of Palestrina , Gonfalonier of the Church, Prefect of Rome and Commander of Sant'Angelo . Historian Leopold von Ranke estimated that during his reign, Urban VIII's immediate family amassed 105 million scudi in personal wealth.
Urban VIII was a skilled writer of Latin verse, and a collection of Scriptural paraphrases as well as original hymns of his composition have been frequently reprinted.
The 1638 papal bull Commissum Nobis protected the existence of Jesuit missions in South America by forbidding the enslavement of natives who were at the Jesuit Reductions.At the same time, Urban VIII repealed the Jesuit monopoly on missionary work in China and Japan, opening these countries to missionaries of other orders and missionary societies.
Urban VIII issued a 1624 papal bull that made the use of tobacco in holy places punishable by excommunication;Pope Benedict XIII repealed the ban one hundred years later.
Urban VIII canonized five saints during his pontificate: Stephen Harding (1623), Elizabeth of Portugal and Conrad of Piacenza (1625), Peter Nolasco (1628), and Andrea Corsini (1629). The pope also beatified 68 individuals including the Martyrs of Nagasaki (1627).
The pope created 74 cardinals in eight consistories throughout his pontificate, and this included his nephews Francesco and Antonio, cousin Lorenzo Magalotti, and the pope's own brother Antonio Marcello. He also created Giovanni Battista Pamphili as a cardinal, with Pamphili becoming his immediate successor Pope Innocent X. The pope also created eight of those cardinals whom he had reserved in pectore .
Urban VIII's military involvement was aimed less at the restoration of Catholicism in Europe than at adjusting the balance of power to favour his own independence in Italy. In 1626, the duchy of Urbino was incorporated into the papal dominions, and, in 1627, when the direct male line of the Gonzagas in Mantua became extinct, he controversially favoured the succession of the Protestant Duke Charles of Nevers against the claims of the Catholic Habsburgs. He also launched the Wars of Castro in 1641 against Odoardo Farnese, Duke of Parma and Piacenza, whom he excommunicated. Castro was destroyed and its duchy incorporated into the Papal States.
Urban VIII was the last pope to extend the papal territory. He fortified Castelfranco Emilia on the Mantuan frontier and commissioned Vincenzo Maculani to fortify the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome. Urban VIII also established an arsenal in the Vatican, an arms factory at Tivoli and fortified the harbour of Civitavecchia.
For the purposes of making cannon and the baldacchino in St Peters, massive bronze girders were pillaged from the portico of the Pantheon leading to the well known lampoon: quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt Barberini, "what the barbarians did not do, the Barberini did."
Urban VIII and his family patronized art on a grand scale.He expended vast sums bringing polymaths like Athanasius Kircher to Rome and funding various substantial works by the sculptor and architect Bernini, from whom he had already commissioned Boy with a Dragon around 1617 and who was particularly favored during Urban VIII's reign. As well as several portrait busts of Urban, Urban commissioned Bernini to work on the family palace in Rome, the Palazzo Barberini, the College of the Propaganda Fide, the Fontana del Tritone in the Piazza Barberini, the baldacchino and cathedra in St Peter's Basilica and other prominent structures in the city. Numerous members of Barberini's family also had their likeness caught in stone by Bernini, such as his brothers Carlo and Antonio. Urban also had rebuilt the Church of Santa Bibiana and the Church of San Sebastiano al Palatino on the Palatine Hill.
The Barberini patronised painters such as Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain. One of the most eulogistic of these artistic works in its celebration of his reign, is the huge Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power painted by Pietro da Cortona on the ceiling of the large salon of the Palazzo Barberini.
A consequence of these military and artistic endeavours was a massive increase in papal debt. Urban VIII inherited a debt of 16 million scudi, and by 1635 had increased it to 28 million.
According to contemporary John Bargrave, in 1636 members of the Spanish faction of the College of Cardinals were so horrified by the conduct of Pope Urban VIII that they conspired to have him arrested and imprisoned (or killed) so that they could replace him with a new pope; namely Laudivio Zacchia.When Urban VIII travelled to Castel Gandolfo to rest, the members of the Spanish faction met in secret and discussed ways to advance their plan. But they were discovered and the pope raced back to Rome where he immediately held a consistory and demanded to know who the new pope was. To put an end to the conspiracy, the pope decreed that all Cardinal-Bishops should leave Rome and return to their own churches.
With the Spanish plan having failed, by 1640 the debt had reached 35 million scudi, consuming more than 80% of annual papal income in interest repayments.
Urban VIII's death on 29 July 1644 is said to have been hastened by chagrin at the result of the Wars of Castro. Because of the costs incurred by the city of Rome to finance this war, Urban VIII became immensely unpopular with his subjects.
On his death, the bust of Urban VIII that lay beside the Palace of the Conservators on the Capitoline Hill was rapidly destroyed by an enraged crowd, and only a quick-thinking priest saved the sculpture of the late pope belonging to the Jesuits from a similar fate.
Following his death, international and domestic machinations resulted in the papal conclave not electing Cardinal Giulio Cesare Sacchetti, who was closely associated with some members of the Barberini family. Instead, it elected Cardinal Giovanni Battista Pamphili, who took the name of Innocent X, as his successor at the papal conclave of 1644.
In the papal bull Sanctissimus Dominus Noster of 13 March 1625, Urban instructed Catholics not to venerate the deceased or represent them in the manner of saints without Church sanction. It required a bishop’s approval for the publication of private revelations. Since the nineteenth century, it has become common for books of popular devotion to carry a disclaimer. One read in part: "In obedience to the decrees of Urban the Eighth, I declare that I have no intention of attributing any other than a purely human authority to the miracles, revelations, favours, and particular cases recorded in this book...."
Urban VIII is a recurring character in the Ring of Fire alternative history hypernovel by Eric Flint et al. where he is favorably portrayed. He is especially prominent in 1634: The Galileo Affair (in which he made the fictional Grantville priest, Larry Mazzare, a cardinal), and in 1635: The Cannon Law, 1635: The Papal Stakes, and 1636: The Vatican Sanction.
Pope Gregory XV, born Alessandro Ludovisi, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 9 February 1621 to his death in 1623.
Pope Innocent X, born Giovanni Battista Pamphilj, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 15 September 1644 to his death in 1655.
The Wars of Castro were a series of conflicts during the mid-17th century revolving around the ancient city of Castro, which eventually resulted in the city's destruction on 2 September 1649. The conflict was a result of a power struggle between the papacy – represented by members of two deeply entrenched Roman families and their popes, the Barberini and Pope Urban VIII and the Pamphili and Pope Innocent X – and the Farnese dukes of Parma, who controlled Castro and its surrounding territories as the Duchy of Castro.
The Barberini are a family of the Italian nobility that rose to prominence in 17th century Rome. Their influence peaked with the election of Cardinal Maffeo Barberini to the papal throne in 1623, as Pope Urban VIII. Their urban palace, the Palazzo Barberini, completed in 1633 by Bernini, today houses Italy's Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica.
The Pamphili family was one of the papal families deeply entrenched in Catholic Church, Roman and Italian politics of the 16th and 17th centuries.
Francesco Barberini was an Italian Catholic Cardinal. The nephew of Pope Urban VIII, he benefited immensely from the nepotism practiced by his uncle. He was given various roles within the Vatican administration but his personal cultural interests, particularly in literature and the arts, meant that he became a highly significant patron. His secretary was the antiquarian Cassiano dal Pozzo who was also a discerning patron of the arts. Francesco was the elder brother of Cardinal Antonio Barberini and Taddeo Barberini who became Prince of Palestrina.
Antonio Barberini was an Italian Catholic cardinal, Archbishop of Reims, military leader, patron of the arts and a prominent member of the House of Barberini. As one of the cardinal-nephews of Pope Urban VIII and a supporter of France, he played a significant role at a number of the papal conclaves of the 17th century. With his brothers Cardinal Francesco Barberini and Taddeo Barberini he helped to shape politics, religion, art and music of 17th century Italy. He is sometimes referred to as Antonio the Younger or Antonio Barberini iuniore to distinguish him from his uncle Antonio Marcello Barberini.
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.
Taddeo Barberini (1603–1647) was an Italian nobleman of the House of Barberini who became Prince of Palestrina and Gonfalonier of the Church; commander of the Papal Army. He was a nephew of Pope Urban VIII and brother of Cardinals Francesco Barberini and Antonio Barberini. Thanks to their uncle's famous nepotism, the brothers shaped 17th-century Italian politics, religion, art, music and architecture.
Gil Carrillo de Albornoz, called Egidio Carillo Albornozio in Italian sources, was a Spanish Catholic Cardinal who led the Spanish delegation at the papal conclave of 1644.
Girolamo Colonna was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and member of the noble Colonna family.
The papal conclave of 1644 was called upon the death of Pope Urban VIII. It lasted from 9 August to 15 September 1644; the cardinal electors chose Giovanni Battista Pamphili, who took office as Pope Innocent X.
Giulio Cesare Sacchetti was an Italian Catholic Cardinal and was twice included in the French Court's list of acceptable candidates for the Papacy, in 1644 and 1655.
Carlo Rossetti (Roscetti) was an Italian Catholic Cardinal, born of the noble Rossetti family in Ferrara. Earlier in his career he went to London as a secret nuncio on behalf of Pope Urban VIII. While in London, he was addressed as Lord Charles Rossetti and was referred to as Prince Rossetti, using his title as Italian nobility for his cover, rather than as a representative of the Roman Catholic Church to avoid persecution.
Vincenzo Maculani was an Italian Catholic Cardinal, inquisitor and military architect. He was known as a severe man, harsh and without compassion, who preferred the black cappa of his order to the brighter purple he was later entitled to wear as a cardinal.
Francesco Adriano Ceva was a Catholic Cardinal from Savoy.
Giovanni Giacomo Panciroli was an Italian Catholic Cardinal and Cardinal Secretary of State.
Lelio Falconieri (1585–1648) was an Italian Catholic Cardinal.
Luigi Capponi was an Italian Catholic cardinal who became archbishop of Ravenna.
Scipione Cobelluzzi was an Italian cardinal, archivist and librarian. He was chief archivist of the Vatican Secret Archives, from 17 February 1618 until his death on 29 June 1626.
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|Catholic Church titles|
| Pope |
6 August 1623 – 29 July 1644