Death of Pope Clement VII

Death of Pope Clement VII

Pope Clement VII
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Pope Clement VII dies in Rome at the age of 56. 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 many political and religious crises he faced.

In fact, Clement VII handled matters so badly with Holy Roman Emperor Charles V that Charles invaded Italy, sacked Rome, and imprisoned Clement. The pope had to accept a humiliating compromise that forced him to surrender a great deal of secular and religious power.

This is the worst possible time for internal squabbling among Catholics: the conflicts between Charles V and Pope Clement VII prevented them from dealing effectively with the challenges created by the Protestant Reformation. The pope and the emperor simply could not agree with each other on a common course of action. Charles even asked Pope Clement VII to call a church council, yet Clement refused, aparently unwilling to appear to be the emperor's puppet.

In an attempt to finally appease Charles, Pope Clement VII denied King Henry VIII of England a divorce from his wife, Catherine of Aragon, who happened to be Charles' aunt. This, in turn, allowed the English Reformation to develop, which was contrary to both of their long-term interests. In the end, political and religious dissent in both England and Germany developed and spread more readily because of Clement's failed political policies.

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