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Pope Paul III (Alessandro Farnese)

1468 - 1534 - 1549 (81)


Link to Popes of the Renaissance



Pope Paul III painted by Titian c1543 - now in Toledo Cathedral facing down the el Grecos, as well as in the Galleria Nazionale Capodimonte, Naples - image source unknown


Pope of the Counter Reformation who kicked off the Council of Trent in 1545.  Four more Popes were to occupy the throne of Saint Peter before the Council ended in 18 years later in 1563, so the court artist had plenty of time to capture the scene in the painting below of the Council in session, which is in Santa Maria in Trastevere.  .


The Council decided that  the Reformation needed to be rolled back (or stopped from further expansion anyway).  Two of the European instruments used in this were the Jesuits (founded by S Ignatius Loyola and S Francis Xavier in 1534) to teach, and an expanded Inquisition (which originated in Spain in 1478)  to root out and eliminate those who did not want to be taught!


It was 1562 before the deliberations got round to music, resulting in the banning of masses based on popular songs (which most of them were) and other "distractive" music. Luckily Palestrina and Victoria were in Rome to take up the challenge of producing the new church music, and produced a transcendently beautiful style that was to retain its influence into the eighteenth century.




This large painting of the Council of Trent in session can be found on the wall of the Altemps Chapel in Santa Maria in Trastevere.



He was also responsible for the world's most beautiful palace facade - the Farnese Palace in Rome (below), designed by Antonio di Sangallo the Younger and Michelangelo and containing a famous set of frescoes by Annibale Carracci painted between 1597 and 1604. 


France has the exclusive use of the Farnese Palazzo as their embassy, and getting in needs a bit of advanced planning.


Alessandro's sister, the reputedly drop dead gorgeous Giulia Farnese, was mistress of the earlier Spanish Borgia Pope Alessandro VI .   Sadly not one authentic image of her survives (see this web page).  Cardinal Farnese received rapid advancement under Alessandro VI, leading to his nickname of "the Petticoat Cardinal".  He had four children by his Roman mistress - Pier Luigi, Paolo, Ranuccio, and Costanza - and later made sure that two of his grandchildren were appointed cardinals whilst still in their teens (probably the two "nephews" shown below, nephew being the euphemistic term often used to describe the children / grandchildren of Popes and Cardinals).  





Pope Paul III and nephews Alessandro and Ottavio (1546 - he had apparently aged rapidly since the 1543 painting!)

Galleria Nazionale Capodimonte, Naples (and there is a copy in the Farnese Palace) - image source unknown


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