Ludovico Ludovisi

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Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi (oil painting by Ottavio Leoni 1621)
Ludovisis cardinal coat of arms

Ludovico Ludovisi (born October 27, 1595 in Bologna ; † November 18, 1632 there ) was Archbishop of Bologna and Cardinal .


Ludovico, the first of four children of Orazio Ludovisi and Lavinia Albergati, who both came from the Bolognese patriciate , was educated as a child with the Jesuits at the Roman Collegium in Rome and prepared for a spiritual career. After his uncle Alessandro Ludovisi was appointed Archbishop of Bologna in 1612 , Ludovico went back there and studied law . As early as February 25, 1615 , he received his doctorate in both rights and only a little later, not yet twenty years old, was accepted into the college of judges in Bologna and received a lectureship at the university.

On September 25, 1616 he received the benefice of the archpriest of the Church of San Pietro in Bologna and one year later accompanied his uncle, who had meanwhile been elevated to cardinal, on a diplomatic mission to Pavia and Milan , where he became seriously ill at the beginning of 1618. On June 28, 1618 he returned to Bologna, but at the end of 1619 he went to Rome, where he embarked on a curial career.

Since December 18, 1619, he has worked as a trainee lawyer in the Segnatura di Giustizia, and shortly afterwards he was also accepted into the Congregation of Gratia. In December 1620 he was able to get a seat in the important congregation De Bono Regiminis and on January 5, 1621 Pope Paul V appointed him prelate of the Consulta . When his uncle was elected Pope on February 9, 1621 - he gave himself the name Gregory XV.  - that appointed him on February 15, 1621 as cardinal nepot . As such, he displayed a pronounced political talent and an astonishing energy in the following 29 months, and he benefited from an extremely rich endowment with offices and benefices that his uncle gave him.

Among other things, he became sopraintendent of the Papal States on February 21, 1621, Cardinal Chamberlain on March 17, 1621 , Archbishop of Bologna on March 29, 1623 and Vice Chancellor of the Church on June 7, 1623. Its annual income amounted to around 100,000 Scudi in 1632. Even at the beginning of his uncle's pontificate, he tried to build a clientele through a strategic alliance with the Aldobrandini family, the Pope Clement VIII family, and achieved his goal within just three months. On April 25, 1621, his sister Ippolita married Gian Giorgio Aldobrandini, who received a dowry of 100,000 Scudi and the rights of a secular papal nepot. For this purpose Ippolito Aldobrandini was raised to cardinal of the titular church of San Lorenzo in Damaso . Niccolo Ludovisi, his brother, tried to marry off the wealthy heiress Isabella Gesualdo, Principessa di Venosa. However, since their possessions were in the Kingdom of Naples , which belonged to Spain , the consent of the Spanish monarch was necessary for the marriage, which after intensive negotiations by Philip III. was granted. Politically, too, he sought to align with Spain, but without giving up the independence of the Holy See . In the German Empire, the Catholic League was energetically supported, in the question of the transfer of electoral dignity to the Bavarian duke, the papal diplomacy acted under his virtuoso leadership in favor of Maximilian of Bavaria and was ultimately successful, despite Spanish resistance.

His negotiations for the settlement of the Valtellina conflict were no less successful , in which the Holy See succeeded in taking on a mediating role between the great powers Spain and France . In religious terms, he was committed to the Jesuit order , whose Roman church of S. Ignazio he financed. With the Congregatione di Propaganda Fide on January 6, 1622, a central institution was created to bundle Catholic missionary efforts. Also of considerable importance was the reform of the papal elections, which was adopted and implemented on November 15, 1621 after decades of discussions, the provisions of which remained in effect for almost 300 years. In addition, Ludovisi was active as a patron of art and culture on a large scale. In June 1621, for example, he founded the Accademia dei Virtuosi, which was devoted to a wide range of scientific questions.

With the Villa Ludovisi on the Pincio Hill in Rome, he built a high point of Roman baroque art, and his collection of antiques and paintings was one of the most important of its time. After the death of Pope Gregory XV. (July 8, 1623) and the election of Pope Urban VIII , he initially stayed in Rome, but then went to his Archdiocese of Bologna in March 1624 and tried hard to implement church reform measures. He spent the holy year 1625 again in Rome, where on August 2, 1626 he laid the foundation stone for the Jesuit church of S. Ignazio. Under his auspices , the Irish Pontifical College was opened in Rome in 1628 .

Portrait of Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi on his funerary monument by Pierre Le Gros (Rome, Sant'Ignazio)

But the relationship between the ruling Pope Urban VIII and his family and Ludovisi deteriorated noticeably, for which the systemic ousting of Ludovisikl clients from the curial leadership positions and the France-friendly politics of the Pope were responsible. During the Borgia crisis in the spring of 1632, Ludovisi was one of the leaders of the inner-curial opposition, which was oriented towards Spain. This accused the Pope of indirectly supporting the German Protestants in the Thirty Years' War.

On the orders of the Pope he had to return to Bologna on March 27, 1632, where he, who had suffered from gout from an early age, arrived seriously ill and died on November 18, 1632. His body was brought to Rome, where it was initially temporarily buried in Sant'Ignazio di Loyola in Campo Marzio and in 1717 in the double tomb for Gregory XV designed according to plans by Pierre Legros. and his nephew was convicted, as he had determined in his will.


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predecessor Office successor
Alessandro Ludovisi Archbishop of Bologna
Girolamo Colonna