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Pope Clement VII

Pope Clement VII is one of the legendary Renaissance Popes, coming from the House of Medici and the pope under whom Henry VIII established the English Church. Clement was the son of Giuliano de Medici, who was brother to Lorenzo the Magnificence. When his cousin was made Pope Leo X, young Giulio was made cardinal of Florence.

Pope Clement VII was famous for:

  • Denying Henry VIII a divorce
  • Commissioning the Last Judgment to be painted on the Sistine Chapel
  • From the House of MediciPope Clement VII

Pope Clement VII Imprisoned

Cardinal Giulio de Medici was a powerful figure during the pontificate of Leo X, as cardinal protector of England among other titles. He was well regarded as a Church diplomat. Elected pope in 1523, he was soon confronted by the realities of the Protestant Reformation, which he largely ignored. Also during his pontificate, the Italian states were embroiled in wars with Francis I of France. Clement VII aligned the Papal States with Francis against the Holy Roman Empire, a plan that backfired with Francis’ defeat. When Francis was released, Clement again switched sides against Emperor Charles V. German forces eventually sacked Rome, taking Clement VII prisoner for several months.

Pope Clement VII and The Sistine Chapel

With the Pope wholly dependent on the power of the Emperor, Clement refused to grant a divorce to one of the most well known Tudor Kings, Henry VIII of England, sparking that monarch’s entry into the Protestant Reformation and establishment of the separate Church of England. Culturally, Clement VII is best remembered as the Pope who commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel.

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