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Pope Pius II (Aeneus Sylvius Piccolomini)

(1405 - 1458 - 1464 (59))


Sienese Renaissance Pope



Link to Popes of the Renaissance



Portrait by Justo da Ghent (?) (Palazzo Ducale, Urbino)


Bust of Pope Pius II in the Sala delle Arti Liberali in the Vatican.  Attributed to Paolo di Taccone (aka Paolo Romano).



Pius II was the humanist Sienese Pope (from 1458) who put a medieval bulldozer through and rebuilt the centre of his home Borgo Corsignano, and renamed it Pienza (the first example of town planning since the Romans - photo below).  The rebuild included the large Palazzo Piccolomini, which was restored in the early 2000s.   His life as a well travelled senior and respected churchman is recorded in the huge frescoes by Pinturicchio, in the Piccolomini Library in Siena Cathedral.  This was built in his honour by his nephew Francesco Piccolomini - latterly (very briefly) Pope Pius III - but was never, as originally planned, filled with his books because the family flogged them all off.


Link to Siena Town Hall and Duomo Photos


One of the scenes in the life of this widely travelled and intelligent man which does not appear in the frescos is his viewing, whilst on a visit to Frankfurt in 1454, of the first printed bible ("the Gutenberg Bible").  It had, he reported, such neat lettering that it could be read without glasses, and he was informed that every copy had been sold.


The last year of his life was spent in a futile attempt to mount a Crusade to recapture Constantinople, and he died on the way to the small fleet in Ancona which he had paid for but for which he had no army.






Piazza Pio II - Pienza (and other interesting places South of Siena)





These Pope Pius II medal images come from a site with photos of lots of the post Martin V Papal Medals





The not very noticeable tomb of Pius II high up on the north wall of the nave in Sant'Andrea della Valle in Rome (on the busy Corso Vittore Emanuele, and better known as the setting for Act I of Puccini's opera Tosca).







Back in Florence the Sienese Pope is relegated to a distant crowd member behind the ranks of the Florentine Medici and friends.  He's the guy in the white trimmed red bonnet in the procession in the Capella dei Magi  in the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi.



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