50 Facts About Julius II


Pope Julius II was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 1503 to his death in 1513.

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One of the most powerful and influential popes, Julius II was a central figure of the High Renaissance and left a significant cultural and political legacy.

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In 1506, Julius II established the Vatican Museums and initiated the rebuilding of the St Peter's Basilica.

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The interests of Julius II lay in the New World, as he ratified the Treaty of Tordesillas, establishing the first bishoprics in the Americas and beginning the catholicization of Latin America.

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Julius II was described by Machiavelli in his works as an ideal prince.

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Pope Julius II allowed people seeking indulgences to donate money to the Church which would be used for the construction of Saint Peter's Basilica.

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Julius II became pope in the context of the Italian Wars, a period in which the major powers of Europe fought for primacy in the Italian peninsula.

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Once crowned, Julius II proclaimed instead his goal to centralize the Papal States and "free Italy from the barbarians".

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Julius II joined an anti-Venetian league formed in Cambrai between France, Spain, and Austria, with the goal of capturing the coast of Romagna from the Venetian Republic.

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Julius II brought the Catholic Ferdinand II of Aragon into the alliance, declaring Naples a papal fief and promising a formal investiture.

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Julius II personally led the Papal armed forces at the victorious Siege of Mirandola and, despite subsequent defeats and great losses at the Battle of Ravenna, he ultimately forced the French troops of Louis XII to retreat behind the Alps after the arrival of Swiss mercenaries from the Holy Roman Empire.

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At the Congress of Mantua in 1512, Julius II ordered the restoration of Italian families to power in the vacuum of French rule: the Imperial Swiss led by Massimiliano Sforza restored Sforza rule in Milan, and a Spanish army led by Giovanni de Medici restored Medici rule in Florence.

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The conciliarist movement promoted by foreign monarchs was crushed, and Julius II affirmed ultramontanism at the Fifth Lateran Council.

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However, Julius II was far away from the possibility to form a single Italian kingdom, if that was his goal at all, since foreign armies were largely involved in his wars and the French were preparing new campaigns against the Swiss for Milan.

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Julius II planned to call for a crusade against the Ottoman Empire in order to retake Constantinople, but died before making official announcements.

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Julius II was of the House of della Rovere, a noble but impoverished family, the son of Raffaello della Rovere and Theodora Manerola, a lady of Greek ancestry.

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Julius II had three brothers: Bartolomeo, a Franciscan friar who then became Bishop of Ferrara ; Leonardo; and Giovanni, Prefect of the City of Rome and Prince of Sora and Senigallia.

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Julius II was later sent by this same uncle, to the Franciscan friary in Perugia, where he could study the sciences at the University.

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Julius II seemed less enthused by theology; rather, Paul Strathern argues, his imagined heroes were military leaders such as Frederic Colonna.

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Julius II encouraged trade with the sizable Turkish community at these ports.

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Julius II's rivals included Cardinal Ardicio della Porta and Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, both patronized by the Milanese.

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Julius II warned King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain that Alexander was intriguing with the French, which brought an immediate visit of a Spanish ambassador to the Pope.

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Julius II joined Charles VIII of France who undertook to take Italy back from the Borgias by military force.

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Julius II became an open partisan of the French and Venice, and accepted their goal, the destruction of the Sforza hold on Milan.

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Giuliano Della Rovere took the name Julius II, only used by a single fourth-century predecessor, Julius II I, and was pope for nine years, from 1503 to 1513.

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Julius II usurped the papal power by the devil's aid, and I forbid under the pain of excommunication anyone to speak or think of Borgia again.

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Julius II used his influence to reconcile two powerful Roman families, the Orsini and Colonna.

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Julius II relied upon Guidobaldo's help to raise his nephew and heir Francesco Maria della Rovere; the intricate web of nepotism helped secure the Italian Papacy.

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Julius II left a spy at the Urbino Palace, possibly Galeotto Franciotti della Rovere, Cardinal of San Pietro, to watch the Mantua stables in total secret; the secular progress of the Papal Curia was growing in authority and significance.

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In 1508, Julius was fortuitously able to form the League of Cambrai with Louis XII, King of France, Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor and Ferdinand II, King of Aragon.

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Julius II refused to shave, showing utter contempt for the hated French occupation.

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Whereupon Julius II entered into another Holy League of 1511: in alliance with Ferdinand II of Aragon and the Venetians he conspired against the Gallican liberties.

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Ferdinand of Spain now recognized Naples as a papal fief, invested in 1511, and therefore Julius II now regarded France as the main foreign power in the Italian peninsula hostile to Papal interests.

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Julius II had seemingly restored fortuna or control by exercising his manly vertu, just as Machiavelli wrote.

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Nevertheless, although Julius II had centralized and expanded the Papal States, he was far from realizing his dream of an independent Italian kingdom.

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The French were preparing new campaigns to reconquer Milan, and Julius II confessed to a Venetian ambassador a plan to invest his counselor Luigi d'Aragona with the kingdom of Naples in order to end Spanish presence in the south.

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Julius II wanted to remind everyone of his legislation on papal conclaves, in particular against simony, and to fix his regulations firmly in canon law so that they could not be dispensed or ignored.

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Julius II was fully aware that his death was imminent, and though he had been a witness to a good deal of simony at papal conclaves and had been a practitioner himself, he was determined to stamp out the abuse.

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On Christmas Eve, Julius II ordered Paris to summon the College of Cardinals and the Sacristan of the Apostolic Palace, quia erat sic infirmus, quod non-speraret posse diu supravivere.

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Julius II's remains lay alongside his uncle, Pope Sixtus IV, but were later desecrated during the Sack of Rome in 1527.

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Early in his papacy, Julius II decided to revive the plan for replacing the dilapidated Constantinian basilica of St Peter's.

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Julius II was a friend and patron of Bramante and Raphael, and a patron of Michelangelo.

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Julius II often treated subordinates and people who worked for him very badly.

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Julius II's manner was gruff and coarse, just as his peasant-like sense of humour.

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Julius II is usually depicted with a beard, after his appearance in the celebrated portrait by Raphael, the artist whom he first met in 1509.

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Julius II was nevertheless the first pope since antiquity to grow facial hair, a practice otherwise forbidden by canon law since the 13th century.

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In overturning the ban on beards Pope Julius II challenged Gregorian conventional wisdom in dangerous times.

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Julius II shaved his beard again before his death, and his immediate successors were clean-shaven; nonetheless Pope Clement VII sported a beard when mourning the sack of Rome.

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Julius II was not the first pope to have fathered children before being elevated to high office, and had a daughter born to Lucrezia Normanni in 1483 – after he had been made a cardinal.

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Shortly after Felice was born, Julius II arranged for Lucrezia to marry Bernardino de Cupis, Chamberlain to Julius II's cousin, Cardinal Girolamo Basso della Rovere.

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