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Church’s freedom

Giuliano della Rovere was born on the 15th day of December 1445, in born in Albissola, Italy which is in close proximity to Savona. The fortune of the della Rovere family was built upon the Church. For the most part of the 15th century, their family remained obscure. They were not of noble descent. They do not even have a history of achievement, either. In 1471, Pope Sixtus IV, Giuliano’s uncle, named him a cardinal. As a cardinal, Giuliano was influential in papal politics. He particularly dispute Alexander VI, the pope from the influential Borgia family.

As a cardinal, Giuliano was given the titular Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, which formerly belongs to his uncle. However, he was mindful of being the second best at the Vatican court, the less favored nephew of his uncle. Nonetheless, there are times when such treatment toughens and sharpens determination and aspiration. Instead of being an envious, passive and willing victim, as other people like him would end up doing, or designing a plan to cause the destruction of his cousin, Pietro Riario, he rather focused on perfecting and improving his own talents and abilities.

He had an inherent instinct for survival, a sense of management, as well as an interest in the military, which will eventually earn for him the title of “Warrior Pope. ” Instead of merely being present inside the confines of the Vatican court, aware of his second class status, he grew to become his uncle’s troubleshooter. Giuliano traveled across the Italian Papal States, acting as mediator during conflicts and rebellions. His triumphs prompted his uncle to drive him even further afield. In February of 1476, Sixtus made him Archbishop of Avignon in France.

Due to the rising conflict involving France and Rome, Giuliano traveled there one month after to give a strong ecclesiastical presence in the country. He stayed there for more than one year. For the duration of his stay there, Giuliano was able to forge good relations with the French crown as well as with prominent French prelates. Of all the elected popes during the Renaissance period, it was Pope Julius II who appeared to be the most forceful and dynamic of them all. In 1503, Giuliano della Rovere was elected as the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church.

Soon after, he became a fervent champion of papal temporal power and started grand projects intended for Rome’s beautification. In order to accomplish the goals he has set, he resorted to waging wars. In the year 1503, the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church died. The College of Cardinals had to elect a new pope. They elected Pius II. However, in less than four weeks following his reign, Pius III succumbed to death. It was again time to select a new pope to take his place. The newly elected pope, Giuliano della Rovere came to be known as Julius II.

Following his election as pope, Julius II was resolved to recover the Papal States occupied by Cesare Borgia as well as other Italian powers, mainly Venice. The Pope himself commanded armies in the invasion of Bologna and Perugia. In 1509, he became associated with the League of Cambrai against Venice. The Pope’s main goal was the expansion and fortification of the regions governed by the Church. These territories are collectively known as the Papal States. Pope Julius II often seizes a land by means of force, which suitably gained him the name of the Warrior Pope.

He takes pleasure in participating in a military combat and normally rode at the front of his troops. With the intention of strengthening his influence, the Pope assembled the Holy League. It was a group of military allies consisting of armies from the Holy Roman Empire, Spain, England, Venice, and Switzerland. As a group, they engage in battles against nations which were not part of the league. They drove the French completely out of Italy. The Pope seemed to be concerned with reform. Among other things, he was a patron of the arts.

He supported the works of the renowned artists such as Michelangelo and Raphael. Nonetheless, he was more interested with military and political affairs than with the spiritual life of the church. He earned a merit for being the last Supreme Pontiff to engage in warfare. With the intention of securing his hold on the Papal States as well as of extending the papal rule over parts of Italy, Pope Julius II employed the armed force. He was able to bring about no substantial change and nothing to advance the moral image of the papacy.

Unlike any other member of the clergy who preceded or succeeded him, Giuliano della Rovere set about establishing his identity by means of highly ornamented architectural works of art. His artistic projects were the most enduring aspect of his papacy. He was one of the greatest Renaissance patrons of the arts. Donato Bramante, an architect was commissioned by the Pope to design the new St. Peter’s Church. Pope Julius II was present during the laying of the foundation stone in 1506. He commissioned the artist Michelangelo to carve his tomb as well as to adorn the Sistine Chapel with frescoes.

He also employed the artist Raphael to work in the Vatican apartments. The Helvetian soldiers were famous for their loyalty, noble sentiments, and bravery. They were invited by the Pope to visit Rome in 1506. Initially as allies with one side and eventually with the other, the Swiss Cantons played a significant role in the political history of Europe. Moreover, as allies of the Pope, these soldiers assisted in forming the destiny of Italy in 1512. They even received the title of “Defenders of the Church’s freedom” from the Pope. On the 22nd day of January 1506, the Pope founded the Swiss Guard.

They were composed of one hundred fifty Swiss mercenaries who served under the Warrior Pope. At present, there are only about one hundred eleven members of the Swiss Guard serving Pope Benedict XVI in Vatican City. Dressed in colorful stripped uniforms, the role of these soldiers is mainly ceremonial. Today, there are still many members of the Swiss Guard who carry with them the halberd, a medieval weapon which is actually a combination of a battle ax and a spear. As the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, he certainly had his critics primarily for his role as the Warrior Pope.

The factor of his leadership which has gained for him utmost universal praise has been his patronage of the arts. The complex iconography of some of the works he commissioned, specifically the frescoes made by Raphael in the Vatican Stanze, as well as the magnitude of some of the projects he started, for instance, the reconstruction of St. Peter’s, the improvement of the via Giulia, the massive and ornate tomb Michelangelo designed for him gave an abundant soil for interpretation of such masterpieces as manifestations of the Pope’s own principles, goals, intentions, and self-image.

Too abundant, perhaps – certain interpretations have been rather over-elaborated. The temptation to associate the epic character of the Pope with the claims for the transcendent authority as well as with the dignity of the papacy alive in the iconography and ideas of the works of art and writings created in Rome at the time of his reign, whether or not they were commissioned by the pope, has been the usual subject of scholars.

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