Birth of Pope Clement VII

Birth of Pope Clement VII

Pope Clement VII
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Pope Clement VII is born. As a member of the powerful Medici family, Pope Clement VII had many connections and considerable diplomatic skill. Unfortunately, he lacked the ability to cope with the various political and religious crises he faced.

Pope Clement VII handles matters so badly with Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, for example, that Charles invades Italy, sacks Rome, and imprisons Clement. Charles V imposes on Clement a humiliating compromise that forces him to surrender a great deal of secular and religious power.

This is the worst possible time for internal squabbling: the conflicts between Charles V and Pope Clement VII will make it impossible for defenders of orthodoxy to respond effectively to the challenges created by the Protestant Reformation. The pope and the emperor simply could not agree on what to do and how to react — Charles even asked Clement to call a church council, but Clement refused (perhaps in an attempt to avoid looking like he was under the emperor's control more than he already was).

In an attempt to finally appease Charles, Pope Clement VII will refuse to grant King Henry VIII of England a divorce from his wife, Catherine of Aragon, who happens to be Charles' aunt. This, in turn, allows the English Reformation to develop. In the end, political and religious dissent in both England and Germany will develop and spread more readily because of Clement's failed political policies.

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