Course:Carey HIST501/Project 3/Leo X

From UBC Wiki
Leo X

Research on the life of a medieval Pope from the list provided below and put together a 500-word mini biography of the historical figure assigned by the instructor (the list will be posted on the course website). For each mini biography, please include the following:

Year of birth and death

December 11, 1475- December 1, 1521

A short biographical sketch of the medieval Pope

Pope Leo X was born Giovanni de Medici in 1475 in Florence in Italy. He was born into a family known for love for art, literature, business and politics.[1]
Giovanni de Madici has his future in the religious life cut out him from a very tender age. "Giovanni de’ Medici received the tonsure—a ceremony involving the cutting of hair from the head, thus indicating the change of status from lay to clerical—at the early age of eight, and five years later he became the cardinal deacon of Santa Maria in Dominica."[2] Giovanni studied in one of the finest institutions in Europe at the time, the University of Pisa, with tutors such as Pico della Mirandola mentoring him.[2]
In 1492 he was inducted into the Sacred College of Cardinals and moved to Rome. "The death of his father later in the same year, however, brought him back to Florence, where he lived with his older brother, Piero."[2] He was later exiled with his brother, Piero, for crimes against the Republic in 1494, Giovanni also went into exile travelling Europe.[3]
Giovanni returned to Europe in 1500 and during this time as cardinal, "he commissioned the rebuilding of Santa Maria in Domenica and the façade of Santa Cristina in Bolsena, Rome".[3]
Giovanni was elected Pope at the age of 37 in 1513 under the name Leo X.[4] His passion and appreciation for arts led him to building projects to beautify the Vatican including the completion of St Peter's Basilica (initiated under Julius II). His huge investments in edifices and arts drained the treasury of the papacy. to make up for the deficit, he promoted the sale of "Indulgences".[1] In Germany this practice aroused the ire of Martin Luther who issued ninety- five arguments for church reform. Luther wrote in his 95 Theses, his criticism of the Church - "why doesn't the Pope build the basilica of St Peter's out of his own money?".[1] In 1520, Leo issued the papal bull Exsurge Domine demanding Luther retract 41 of his 95 theses. Luther's refused and was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.[1]
Leo X died in December 1521 from pneumonia.

Major impact of the medieval Pope such as:

Leo X became known for his expensive building and art projects that emptied the papal treasury. Leo X's reign also saw the start of the Reformation, but his role in promoting the selling of indulgence, first authorized by his predecessor Julius II, to pay for his vanity projects became the the most significant record of his administration. He endorsement of the sale of indulgence to raise funds for papal projects drew the ire of Martin Luther leading to the further split of the western church.[5][6]
Leo was also known for making Roman the cultural and political capital of the medieval world attracting the most famous artists and scholars. The Catholic Church made him a patron of learning for his advocacy for whatever extended knowledge and added colour to life. His desire to bring glory to Rome and to God through his ambitious projects was also a catalyst for the Reformation that compelled Martin Luther to write the ninety-five theses.
The was also known as the last pope who was ordained into priesthood and Bishop only after his election to the papacy.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Pope Leo X". Retrieved 2/11/2021. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Leo X". Britannica. Retrieved 2/11/2021. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Pope Leo X (Giovanni de' Medici)". The Medici Family. Retrieved 2/11/2021. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  4. Taking the title of Leo X, the pontiff-elect was ordained a priest on March 15 and consecrated bishop of Rome on the 17th. Two days later the papal coronation took place.
  5. "Pope Leo X". Reformation 500. Retrieved 2/11/2021. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  6. This attempt to keep Luther quiet had the opposite effect. Luther now started issuing statements about other issues. For example, at that time people believed that the Pope was infallible (incapable of error). However, Luther was convinced that Leo X was wrong to sell indulgences. Therefore, Luther argued, the Pope could not possibly be infallible.