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Pius III

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Title: Pius III  
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Subject: Cesare Borgia, Pope Alexander VI, Papal coronation, Counter-Reformation, Siena Cathedral, Sant'Andrea della Valle, Johann Burchard, University of Perugia, Piccolomini, Pio di Savoia
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Pius III

"Francesco Piccolomini" redirects here. For the Italian Jesuit, see Francesco Piccolomini (Jesuit).
Pius III
Papacy began 22 September 1503
Papacy ended 18 October 1503
Predecessor Alexander VI
Successor Julius II
Ordination 30 September 1503
Consecration 1 October 1503
by Pope Julius II
Created Cardinal 5 March 1460
Personal details
Birth name Francesco Tedeschini Piccolomini
Born (1439-05-29)29 May 1439
Siena, Republic of Siena
Died 18 October 1503(1503-10-18) (aged 64)
Rome, Papal States
Other popes named Pius
Papal styles of
Pope Pius III
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style None

Pope Pius III (29 May 1439 – 18 October 1503), born Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini, was the head of the Catholic Church from 22 September 1503 to his death in October, 1503.[1]


He was born in Siena, son of Nanno Todeschini and Laodamia Piccolomini, sister of Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, the future Pope Pius II.[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, on 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 Paul II (1464–71) in 1464, but was absent when 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 short-lived effort to reform the Roman Curia following the murder of his son Giovanni Borgia in 1497.

In 1502 the Cardinal commissioned a library with access from an aisle of the Duomo di Siena that 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. Its iconography illustrating the donor's career gives an edited version of Pius' life, passing over his former support of the antipope Felix V. 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's most famous portraits can be viewed in the Louvre Museum.

Election to papacy

Amid the disturbances consequent upon the death of 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 22 September 1503. He named himself Pius III after his uncle Pius II.[5] 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 8 October 1503. He supported Cesare Borgia and reconfirmed him as Gonfalonier; but after a brief pontificate of twenty-six days he died (18 October 1503) of an ulcer in the leg, or, as some have alleged, of poison administered at the instigation of Pandolfo Petrucci, governor of Siena.

See also



  • Hendrix, John, History and Culture in Italy, University Press of America, 2003.
  • Munman, Robert, Sienese Renaissance tomb monuments, DIANE Publishing Co., 1993.
  • The Encyclopædia 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.

Further reading

  • Wilkie, William E. 1974. The cardinal protectors of England. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-20332-5.

External links

  • : Pope Pius III
  • Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church:
  • Frida De Salve, "The Piccolomini Library"
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Alexander VI
22 September – 18 October 1503
Succeeded by
Julius II

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