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Ippolito de' Medici (1511 – 10 August 1535) was the only son of Giuliano di Lorenzo de' Medici, born out-of-wedlock to his mistress Pacifica Brandano.

Ippolito de' Medici
Ippolito de' Medici.jpg
Lord of Florence
Reign19 November 1523 – 16 May 1527
PredecessorGiulio de' Medici
SuccessorAlessandro de' Medici
Florence, Republic of Florence
Died10 August 1535 (aged 24)
Itri, Kingdom of Naples
Noble familyMedici
FatherGiuliano de' Medici
MotherPacifica Brandano


Ippolito was born in Urbino. His father died when he was only five (1516), and he was subsequently raised by his uncle Pope Leo X and his cousin Giulio de' Medici.

When Giulio was elected pope as Clement VII in 1523, Ippolito ruled Florence on his behalf (1524–1527). After the siege of Florence (1529–1530), however, Clement favored his nephew Alessandro de' Medici as the family member to take charge of Florence. To assist and succeed him in church affairs, Clement VII created his cousin Ippolito a cardinal on 10 January 1529, and on the same day named him first Archbishop of Avignon, a position that brought him a considerable income. Since he was only eighteen, he could not be consecrated a bishop or even be the administrator of the diocese without a papal dispensation.[1] Ippolito was named Cardinal Priest of Santa Prassede, though there is no evidence that he was ever ordained a priest or consecrated as a bishop.[2] His own preference was to be ruler of Florence, not a cleric, and he spent the rest of his life trying to renounce his clerical calling and depose his cousin Alessandro.[3] On 3 May 1529, Cardinal Ippolito was named Papal Legate in Perugia.[4]

On 12 August 1529, Cardinal Ippolito de' Medici was one of the three Cardinal Legates who met Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at Genoa with the purpose of conducting him in state to his coronation as Emperor in Bologna.[5] In Bologna, he participated in the ceremonies of the coronation.[6]

On 15 February 1530, Pope Clement granted Cardinal Ippolito a ⅓ share in the annual papal income from the town and territory of Chiusi for his lifetime.[7]

Ippolito was sent to Hungary in the spring of 1532 as Papal Legate,[8] departing from Rome on 8 July, according to the diaries of the Italian literatus Pietro Aretino.[9] He was in Regensburg by 12 August.[10] There he demonstrated a talent for soldiering,[11] leading 8000 Hungarian soldiers against the Ottoman Turks, though the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent was unwilling to move forward so late in the season, and the Emperor Charles V only had sufficient forces for defense, not offence. When the Emperor returned to Italy early in the next year, Cardinal Ippolito followed him.[12]

On 3 July 1532, Cardinal Ippolito was named Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church, the most lucrative office in the Roman Curia.[13] Along with that post he was transferred to the Titular church of San Lorenzo in Damaso.[14]

He was a friend to, and possibly had a liaison with,[citation needed] Giulia Gonzaga, the Countess of Fondi. He loved Catherine de' Medici, but they never married. Alessandro de' Medici once caught him and Catherine de' Medici in a private embrace. However, when he was sent away as a Cardinal, they weren't allowed to see each other any longer. Some theories suggest that the reason Clement made Ippolito Cardinal was to keep him and Catherine de' Medici apart.[citation needed] By 24 April 1531, Catherine had been promised to Henry, the son of King Francis I of France, in a draft contract of marriage.[15] Catherine was 11, and Cardinal Ippolito was 21.

Ippolito's cousin, Pope Clement, died on 25 September 1534. The Conclave elected Cardinal Alessandro Farnese on October 12, and he chose the name Paul III. In 1535, free of his cousin's influence, Cardinal Ippolito acted as Florentine ambassador to Emperor Charles V, happily conveying complaints against the administration of Alessandro de' Medici. Suffering from a low-grade fever for eight days, Ippolito died from malaria in Itri, in southern Lazio,[16] although there were rumors that he had been poisoned either by Alessandro de' Medici,[17] whose abuses he was intending to denounce, or by Pope Paul III, who aimed to acquire Ippolito's lucrative benefices for his own nephews.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Saint Marthe, Denis (1716). Gallia christiana (Tomus primus ed.). Paris: Imprimerie royale. p. 831. Eubel, Conradus (ed.); Gulik, Guilelmus (1923). Hierarchia catholica, Tomus 3 (second ed.). Münster: Libreria Regensbergiana. pp. 20, 126–127.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Salvador Miranda, The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, Medici, Ippolito de', retrieved: 2016-10-09.
  3. ^ Thomsen, p. 417.
  4. ^ Eubel, III, p. 20 note 7. L. Fiumi, "La legazione del Cardinale Ippolito de' Medici nell' Umbria", Bollettino della regia deputazione di storia patria per l'Umbria, 5 (1899), pp. 481–587.
  5. ^ Giordani, p. 4.
  6. ^ Giovanni Sassu (2007). Il ferro e l'oro: Carlo V a Bologna (1529-30) (in Italian). Bologna: Editrice Compositori. p. 105. ISBN 978-88-7794-590-7.
  7. ^ Eubel, III, p. 20 note 7.
  8. ^ Robert Walter Carden (1911). The life of Giorgio Vasari: a study of the later renaissance in Italy. H. Holt. pp. 18–20.
  9. ^ Baronio, Annales ecclesiastici Tomus 32, under the year 1532, § 24, p. 236.
  10. ^ Pastor, X, p. 200.
  11. ^ Cardella, IV, p. 109.
  12. ^ Cardella, p. 109.
  13. ^ Etta V. Thomsen, "Ippolito de' Medici', in: Peter G. Bietenholz; Thomas Brian Deutscher (2003). Contemporaries of Erasmus: A Biographical Register of the Renaissance and Reformation, Volumes 1-3, A-Z. University of Toronto Press. p. 417. ISBN 978-0-8020-8577-1.
  14. ^ Cardinal Ippolito's predecessor as Vice-Chancellor, Cardinal Pompeo Colonna, had been Cardinal Priest of San Lorenzo in Damaso and Archbishop of Mondovi in Sicily. Ippolito was succeeding Colonna in all three posts. He could only be Administrator of Mondovi, however, since he was not a bishop. Eubel, III, p. 64 and p. 250.
  15. ^ Knecht, p. 21.
  16. ^ Crews, p. 109.
  17. ^ Cf. James Montgomery (1835). Eminent Literary and Scientific Men of Italy, Spain, and Portugal ...: Dante. Petrarch. Boccaccio. Lorenzo de' Medici [etc.] Bojardo. Berni. Ariosto. Machiavelli. London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, & Longman. pp. 188–189.


External linksEdit

  • Rebecchini, Guido, "Medici, Ippolito de'", Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani 73 (2009) Retrieved: 2016-10-09. (in Italian)