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Pius III
Pius III, Nordisk familjebok.png
Papacy began September 22, 1503
Papacy ended October 18, 1503
Predecessor Alexander VI
Successor Julius II
Personal details
Birth name Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini
Born May 29, 1439(1439-05-29)
Siena, Republic of Siena
Died October 18, 1503 (aged 64)
Rome, Papal States
Other Popes named Pius
Papal styles of
Pope Pius III

C o a Pio II.svg

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

Pope Pius III (May 29, 1439 – October 18, 1503), born Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini, was Pope from September 22 to October 18, 1503.[1]



He was born in Siena, the nephew of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, the future Pope Pius II, by his sister Laodamia.[2] He was received as a boy into the household of Aeneas Silvius, who permitted him to assume the name and arms of the Piccolomini family (his brother Antonio being made Duke of Amalfi during the pontificate of Pius II). Pius II appointed him in 1460, when only 21 years of age, to the see of Siena, which he had just raised to an archbishopric and made him a cardinal, at his first consistory, 5 March 1460.[3] Within months he sent him as legate to the March of Ancona, with the experienced bishop of Marsico as his counsellor. He proved studious and effective.

Cardinal Piccolomini participated in the conclave that elected Pope Paul II (1464–71) in 1464 but was absent when Pope Sixtus IV (1471–84) was elected in 1471. He was employed in several important legations, as by Paul II at the Imperial diet at Regensburg/Ratisbon, and later by Sixtus IV to restore ecclesiastical authority in Umbria.[4] He participated in the conclave of 1484 which elected Innocent VIII and in the conclave of 1492 which elected Alexander VI. The cardinal was involved in Alexander's brief-lived effort to reform the Roman curia, following the murder of his son Giovanni Borgia (1474) in 1497.

In 1502 the Cardinal commissioned a library with access from an aisle of the Duomo di Siena, which was intended to house the library of humanist texts assembled by his uncle, and commissioned the artist Pinturicchio to fresco its vault and ten narrative panels along the walls depicting scenes from the life of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini. Though Pinturrichio labored for five years, the books never reached their splendid destination; yet the Piccolomini Library is a monument of the High Renaissance in Siena. Some of Pope Pius III most famous portraits can be viewed in the Louvre museum. It gives an edited version of Pius' life, passing over his former support of the antipope Felix V.

Election to papacy

Amid the disturbances consequent upon the death of the Borgia Pope Alexander VI (1492–1503), it took the combined pressures of all the ambassadors to induce Cesare Borgia to withdraw from Rome, so that an unpressured conclave might take place. In it, Cardinal Piccolomini was elected Pope Pius III on September 22, 1503. This selection can be seen as a compromise between factions, Borgia and della Rovere, picking a frail cardinal with long experience in the Curia over the kin of either Sixtus IV or Alexander VI.

His coronation took place on October 8, 1503. He at once took in hand the reform of the papal court and arrested Cesare Borgia; but after a brief pontificate of twenty-six days he died (October 18, 1503) of an ulcer in the leg, or, as some have alleged, of poison administered at the instigation of Pandolfo Petrucci, governor of Siena.


  1. ^ Hendrix, John, History and Culture in Italy, (University Press of America, 2003), 173.
  2. ^ Munman, Robert, Sienese Renaissance tomb monuments, (DIANE Publishing Co., 1993), 112.
  3. ^ Williams, George L., Papal Genealogy: The Families And Descendants Of The Popes, (McFarland & Company Inc., 1998), 50.
  4. ^ The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol.19, Ed. Thomas Spencer Baynes, (Henry G. Allen Company, 1890), 153.


  • Hendrix, John, History and Culture in Italy, University Press of America, 2003.
  • Munman, Robert, Sienese Renaissance tomb monuments, DIANE Publishing Co., 1993.
  • The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol.19, Ed. Thomas Spencer Baynes, Henry G. Allen Company, 1890.
  • Williams, George L., Papal Genealogy: The Families And Descendants Of The Popes, McFarland & Company Inc., 1998.

See also

Further reading

  • Wilkie, William E. 1974. The cardinal protectors of England. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521203325.

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Alexander VI
Succeeded by
Julius II


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