Leo XI.

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Leo XI.

Leo XI. (* June 2, 1535 in Florence ; † April 27, 1605 in Rome ), born as Alessandro Ottaviano de 'Medici , was Pope of the Catholic Church from April 1 to April 27, 1605 .


Early life

Alessandro Ottaviano de 'Medici came from a sideline of the famous Florentine Medici family . He was the son of Ottaviano de 'Medici (* July 14, 1484; † May 28, 1546) and his wife Francesca Salviati, who was a daughter of Lucrezia de' Medici (1470–1553) and her husband Jacopo Salviati (1461–1533 ) was. Lucrezia de 'Medici was in turn the daughter of Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449–1492) and sister of Pope Leo X (1475–1521), after whom Alessandro Ottaviano gave himself his papal name. Leo XI. was the great-nephew of Leo X.

Francesca Salviati (* 1501/07), the mother of the future Pope Leo XI, had already been married to Piero Gualterotti for the first time before she widowed her second marriage to Ottaviano de 'Medici in 1533. Although she was the sister of the two Cardinals Giovanni (1490–1553) and Bernardo Salviati (1508–1568), she tried to keep her son from the priestly profession all her life. Francesca's older sister was Maria Salviati (1499–1543), who was married to the Condottiere Giovanni dalle Bande Nere (1498–1526). Both were the parents of Cosimo I (1519–1574), the first Grand Duke of Tuscany.

On behalf of his cousin, the Grand Duke of Tuscany , Cosimo I de 'Medici, Alessandro Ottaviano was ambassador to the court of Pope Pius V (1504–1572), where he was among other things a student of St. Philip Neri (1515–1595). Pope Gregory XIII (1502–1585) appointed him bishop of Pistoia in 1573 and archbishop of Florence a year later . On December 12, 1583, the Pope accepted him as a cardinal priest in the college of cardinals and awarded him the titular church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo .

De 'Medici, a very religious person who had good relations with the Dominicans of San Marco , was responsible in his dioceses for the implementation of the reforms that had been decided in 1563 at the Council of Trent . He also poured a lot of money into the restoration of Roman churches.

In April 1596 Pope Clement VIII (1536–1605) appointed him papal legate in France, a position he held for two years. As a legacy, De 'Medici was responsible for restoring the church discipline that had collapsed during the Wars of Religion , but he did not succeed in persuading Henry IV (1553–1610) to implement the Tridentine resolutions in France. Another task with which he was entrusted as legate were the diplomatic talks between France and Spain that led to the Vervins Peace Treaty on May 2, 1598 . In 1600 De 'Medici's last promotion to cardinal bishop of the diocese of Palestrina and at the same time to bishop of the diocese of Albano .


Coat of arms of Pope Leo XI.

On April 1, 1605, the conclave elected him as the new Pope and successor to Clement VIII. He took the name of his great-uncle, Leo X. Support came from the French, but not from the Spanish cardinals. Shortly after his election, when he was about to solemnly move into the Lateran , Leo, who was 69 years old, fell ill, probably with pneumonia . So it happened that he died after only 27 days in office. His tomb bears the inscription "Magis ostensus quam datus" (more shown than given), which was later often applied to John Paul I (1978) and refers to the brevity of the pontificate. Although Leo was unable to establish his own policy, some instructions are known that he gave from his sick bed. He promised Emperor Rudolf II support in the war against the Ottoman Empire . He also exempted the Roman people from a number of taxes.

In the theological field, he arranged for the establishment of a commission to revise the rules of the conclave.


  • Matteo Sanfilippo:  Leone XI. In: Mario Caravale (ed.): Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (DBI). Volume 64:  Latilla – Levi Montalcini. Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, Rome 2005, pp. 523-527.
  • Matteo Sanfilippo:  Leone XI. In: Massimo Bray (ed.): Enciclopedia dei Papi. Volume 3:  Innocenzo VIII, Giovanni Paolo II. Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, Rome 2000, pp. 269-277 ( treccani.it ).

Web links

Commons : Leo XI.  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Clement VIII Pope
Paul V.
Pedro de Deza Bishop of Albano
Simeone Tagliavia d'Aragona
Antonio Altoviti Archbishop of Florence
Alessandro Marzi Medici