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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Not to be confused with Antipope Clement VIII.
Clement VIII
Papacy began 30 January, 1592
Papacy ended 3 March, 1605
Predecessor Innocent IX
Successor Leo XI
Personal details
Birth name Ippolito Aldobrandini
Born February 24, 1536(1536-02-24)
Fano, Marche, Papal State
Died March 3, 1605 (aged 69)
Rome, Papal State
Other Popes named Clement

Pope Clement VIII (24 February, 1536 –3 March, 1605), born Ippolito Aldobrandini, was Pope from 30 January, 1592 to 3 March, 1605.



He was made Cardinal-Priest of S. Pancrazio in 1585 by Pope Gregory XIII. Pope Sixtus V named him major penitentiary in January 1586 and in 1588 sent him as legate in Poland. He placed himself under the direction of the reformer Philip Neri, who for thirty years was his confessor. Aldobrandini won the gratitude of the Habsburgs by his successful diplomatic efforts in Poland to obtain the release of the imprisoned Archduke Maximilian, the defeated claimant to the Polish throne.




Papal styles of
Pope Clement VIII

Emblem of the Papacy SE.svg

Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style None

After the death of Pope Innocent IX (1591), another stormy conclave ensued, where a determined minority of Italian Cardinals were unwilling to be dictated to by Philip II of Spain. Cardinal Aldobrandini's election on 30 January, 1592, was received as a portent of more balanced and liberal Papal policy in European affairs. He took the non-politicised name Clement VIII. He proved to be an able Pope, with an unlimited capacity for work and a lawyer's eye for detail, and a wise statesman, the general object of whose policy was to free the Papacy from its dependence upon Spain.

In 1597, he established the Congregatio de Auxiliis which was to settle the theological controversy between the Dominican Order and the Jesuits concerning the respective role of efficacious grace and free will. Although the debate tended toward a condemnation of Molinism's insistence on free will to the detriment of efficacious grace, the important influence of the Jesuit Order — among other considerations — which, beside important political and theological power in Europe, had also various missions abroad (Jesuit Reducciones in South America, missions in China, etc.), led the Pope to abstain from an official condemnation of the Jesuits. In 1611 and again in 1625 a decree prohibited any discussion of the matter, although it was often uniformally avoided by the publication of commentaries of Thomas Aquinas.

Jubilee of 1600

During the jubilee of 1600, three million pilgrims visited the holy places. The Synod of Brest was held 1595 in Lithuania, by which a great part of the Ruthenian clergy and people were reunited to Rome.

Clement VIII presided at the conferences to determine the questions of grace and free will, controverted between the Jesuits and Dominicans, were commenced under him, but he abstained from pronouncing a decision.

Canonisations and beatifications

Clement VIII canonised Hyacinth (17 April, 1594), Julian of Cuenca (18 October, 1594), and Raymond of Peñafort (1601).

Foreign relations

Reconciliation with France

The most remarkable event of Clement VIII's reign was the reconciliation to the Church of Henry IV of France (1589–1610), after long negotiations, carried on with great dexterity through Cardinal Arnaud d'Ossat, that resolved the complicated situation in France. Henry embraced Catholicism on 25 July, 1593. After a pause to assess Henry IV's sincerity, Clement VIII braved Spanish displeasure, and in the autumn of 1595 he solemnly absolved Henry IV, thus putting an end to the thirty years' religious war in France and winning a powerful ally.

Expansion of the Papal States

Henry IV's friendship was of essential importance to the Papacy two years later, when Alfonso II, Duke of Ferrara, died childless (27 October, 1597), and the Pope resolved to attach the stronghold of the Este family to the states of the Church. Though Spain and the Empire encouraged Alfonso II's illegitimate cousin, Cesare d'Este, to withstand the Pope, they were deterred from giving him any material aid by Henry IV's threats, and a papal army entered Ferrara almost unopposed.

Peace of Vervins

In 1598 Clement VIII won more credit for the papacy by bringing about a definite treaty of peace between Spain and France in the Peace of Vervins which put an end to their long contest, and he negotiated peace between France and Savoy as well. He also lent valuable assistance in men and money to the Emperor in his contest with the Turks in Hungary.

Law enforcement

Clement VIII was as vigorous as Pope Sixtus V (1585–90) in crushing banditry in the papal provinces of Umbria and the Marche and in punishing the lawlessness of the Roman nobility. Upon his ascension to the papal throne in 1592, he immediately had several noble troublemakers put to death, including most famously Troio Savelli, scion of a powerful ancient Roman family. He did not even spare the youthful and noble parricide Beatrice Cenci, who was to become a popular heroine adapted in literature by Stendhal, Alberto Moravia, and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Cenci had murdered her father, who had abused her in many ways. Although popular opinion sided with Cenci, Clement VIII refused to grant her clemency in order to make a moral statement, although it has been rumored that it was more due to the property he confiscated from the Cenci family that he then passed on to his own family than any moral position.

Clement's strict ways also concerned philosophical and religious matters. In 1599 he ordered Italian miller Menocchio to be burned at the stake.

More notably, in 1600 Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake in the Campo de' Fiori, for having manifested, according to the Roman Inquisition, extremely serious heresies, and practiced the dark arts.


Clement VIII was also openly antisemitic, making the usual link of Jews and usury.

Later life and death

Statue of Pope Clement VIII in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.

Clement VIII was afflicted by gout, and was forced to spend much of his later life immobilized in bed. He died in March of 1605, leaving a reputation for prudence, munificence, ruthlessness and capacity for business. His reign is especially distinguished by the number and beauty of his medals, and especially tarnished by his role in the brutal execution of Giordano Bruno, one of the great minds of his time. Clement was buried in St. Peter's Basilica, and later Pope Paul V (1605–21) had a mausoleum built for him in the Borghese Chapel of Santa Maria Maggiore, where the remains were transferred in 1646.

Clement VIII founded the Collegio Clementino for the education of the sons of the richer classes, and augmented the number of national colleges in Rome by opening the Collegio Scozzese for the training of missionaries to Scotland.


Coffee aficionados claim that the spread of its popularity is due to Pope Clement VIII's influence. Being pressured by his advisers to declare coffee the "bitter invention of Satan" because of its popularity among Muslims, he instead declared that, "This devil's drink is so good... we should cheat the devil by baptizing it." It is not clear whether this is a true story.

In popular culture

Pope Clement VIII appears as one of dramatis personae in The Metal Opera (2000) by German heavy metal band Avantasia, where he plays vital role in the fantasy-styled plot. However the character is rather loosely based on the real person, and as such the Pope is shown in rather negative light, impersonating hipocrisy, intolerance and blind lust for power.



External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Innocent IX
Succeeded by
Leo XI


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