Election of Pope Paul III, the First Pope of the Counter Reformation Hot

Election of Pope Paul III, the First Pope of the Counter Reformation

Pope Paul III
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Paul III is elected pope. Born Alessandro Farnese, he is the first pope of the Counter Reformation and will play an important role in the development of the Catholic Church's responses to the Protestant Reformation. Pope Paul III will inaugurate the Council of Trent on December 13, 1547, excommunicate King Henry VIII of England, give official approval to the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), initiate the Inquisition against Protestants, and more.

Pope Paul III will also encourage Charles V in his war against the Schmalkaldic League, an alliance of German Protestants who are fighting for their right to separate themselves from the Roman Catholic Church.

Although he will chastise others for their cruelty towards Protestants, he himself will establish the Index of Forbidden Books as part of the effort to shield Catholics from heretical views. He also formally establishes the Congregation of the Roman Inquisition, officially known as the Holy Office, which will be given wide powers of both censorship and prosecution.

Despite such excesses, Paul will be a strong supporter of the arts. He commissions Michelangelo to paint his famous Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel and to supervise architectural work on the new St. Peter's Basilica.

He will also, unfortunately, be a strong supporter of nepotism. Even after he declares that the college of cardinals has to be reformed, he promotes two of his grandsons to cardinals — one will be just 14 years old and the other 16 years old. Curiously, extravagant support of the arts and extravagant nepotism are characteristic of many Renaissance popes.


The Reformation and Counter-Reformation

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