Pius IV
Bishop of Rome
Portrait by Scipione Pulzone, c. 1560s
ChurchCatholic Church
Papacy began25 December 1559
Papacy ended9 December 1565
PredecessorPaul IV
SuccessorPius V
Consecration20 April 1546
by Filippo Archinto
Created cardinal8 April 1549
by Paul III
Personal details
Giovanni Angelo Medici

31 March 1499
Died9 December 1565(1565-12-09) (aged 66)
Rome, Papal States
Previous post(s)
Coat of armsPius IV's coat of arms
Other popes named Pius
Papal styles of
Pope Pius IV
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleNone

Pope Pius IV (Italian: Pio IV; 31 March 1499 – 9 December 1565), born Giovanni Angelo Medici, was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 25 December 1559 to his death, in December 1565. Born in Milan, his family considered itself a branch of the House of Medici and used the same coat of arms. Although modern historians have found no proof of this connection, the Medici of Florence recognized the claims of the Medici of Milan in the early 16th century.[1][2]

Pope Paul III appointed Medici Archbishop of Ragusa, and sent him on diplomatic missions to the Holy Roman Empire and Hungary. He presided over the final session of the Council of Trent. His nephew, Cardinal Charles Borromeo, was a close adviser. As pope, Pius IV initiated a number of building projects in Rome, including one to improve the water supply.


Early life

Giovanni Angelo Medici was born in Milan on 31 March 1499 as the second of eleven children to Bernardino Medici and Clelia Serbelloni.[3]

Giovanni Medici was the younger brother of condottiero Gian Giacomo Medici, and the maternal uncle of Charles Borromeo.[4] Medici studied philosophy and medicine in Pavia.

After studying at University of Bologna and acquiring a reputation as a jurist he obtained his doctorate in both canon and civil law on 11 May 1525. Medici went in 1527 to Rome, and as a favourite of Pope Paul III was rapidly promoted to the governorship of several towns, the archbishopric of Ragusa (1545–1553),[5] and the vice-legateship of Bologna.


On 8 April 1549, Pope Paul III made Medici a cardinal, receiving his red hat and titular church title on the following 10 May.[3] Under Papal authority, he was sent on diplomatic missions to the Holy Roman Empire and also to Hungary.



Main article: Papal conclave, 1559

On the death of Pope Paul IV, he was elected pope on 25 December 1559, taking the name Pius IV,[3] and installed on 6 January 1560. His first public acts of importance were to grant a general pardon to the participants in the riot after the death of his predecessor, and to bring to trial the nephews of his predecessor. One, Cardinal Carlo Carafa, was strangled, and Duke Giovanni Carafa of Paliano, with his nearest associates, was beheaded.

Council of Trent

Pope Pius IV

On 18 January 1562 the Council of Trent, which had been suspended by Pope Julius III, was convened by Pius IV for the third and final time.[6] Great skill and caution were necessary to effect a settlement of the questions before it, inasmuch as the three principal nations taking part in it, though at issue with regard to their own special demands, were prepared to unite their forces against the demands of Rome. Pius IV, however, aided by Giovanni Morone and Charles Borromeo, proved himself equal to the emergency, and by judicious management – and concession – brought the council to a termination satisfactory to the disputants and favourable to the pontifical authority. Its definitions and decrees were confirmed by a papal bull ("Benedictus Deus") dated 26 January 1564; and, though they were received with certain limitations by France and Spain, the famous Creed of Pius IV, or Tridentine Creed, became an authoritative expression of the Catholic faith.[7] The more marked manifestations of stringency during his pontificate appear to have been prompted rather than spontaneous, his personal character inclining him to moderation and ease.

Thus, a warning, issued in 1564, summoning Jeanne d'Albret, the Queen of Navarre, before the Inquisition on a charge of Calvinism, was withdrawn by him in deference to the indignant protest of Charles IX of France. In the same year he published a bull granting the use of the cup to the laity of Austria and Bohemia. One of his strongest passions appears to have been that of building, which somewhat strained his resources in contributing to the adornment of Rome (including the new Porta Pia and Via Pia, named after him, and the northern extension (Addizione) of the rione of Borgo), and in carrying on the work of restoration, erection, and fortification in various parts of the ecclesiastical states.

On the other hand, others bemoaned the austere Roman culture during his papacy; Giorgio Vasari in 1567 spoke of a time when "the grandeurs of this place reduced by stinginess of living, dullness of dress, and simplicity in so many things; Rome is fallen into much misery, and if it is true that Christ loved poverty and the City wishes to follow in his steps she will quickly become beggarly...".[8]

Doctrinal teachings

In addition to Benedictus Deus, Pius issued a papal bull on 24 March 1564 entitled Dominici Gregis Custodiae which set out the rules for forbidding books, including the stipulation that reading a vernacular translation of the Old Testament was restricted to learned and pious men who had episcopal permission.[9]


Main article: Cardinals created by Pius IV

Pius IV created 46 cardinals in four consistories during his pontificate, and elevated three nephews to the cardinalate, including Charles Borromeo. The pope also made Ugo Boncompagni, who would later be elected Pope Gregory XIII, a cardinal. In 1561, the pope nominated Daniele Barbaro as a cardinal "in pectore"; however, the nomination was never publicly revealed. In 1565, Pius IV offered the cardinalate to Jean Parisot de Valette, the grand master of the Order of Malta, in recognition for his defense of Malta against the Ottoman Empire; however, he declined the pope's invitation.[10]


A conspiracy against Pius IV, headed by Benedetto Accolti, cousin of cardinal Benedetto Accolti the Younger, was discovered and crushed in 1565.[11]

Architectural achievements

During the reign of Pius IV, Michelangelo rebuilt the basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli (in Diocletian's Baths) and the eponymous Villa Pia, now known as Casina Pio IV, in the Vatican Gardens designed by Pirro Ligorio. It is now the headquarters of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He also assigned Michelangelo to build Porta Pia.[12]

Pius IV also ordered public construction to improve the water supply of Rome.[13]


During his papacy, Pius IV canonized no saints and only beatified one individual, Gundisalvus of Amarante, on 16 September 1561.


Pius IV died on 9 December 1565 from complications following an infection in the urinary tract and a high fever. He was buried in Santa Maria degli Angeli on 4 January 1583 after his remains were initially housed at Saint Peter's Basilica. His successor was Pius V.

Pius IV suffered from many illnesses such as gout which restricted his mobility. Giacomo Soranzo remarked between May and August 1565 to the Venetian Senate about the pope's health, commenting that he possessed a great natural vigor. However, gout impeded movement in his legs, shoulders, arms, and hands. Sorzano also mentioned that this meant that the pope, more often than not, needed to be carried in the sedia gestatoria to avoid walking. Pius IV also suffered from a major illness in 1564 from which he recovered.[14]

However, the pope fell ill eight days before his death with a constant fever throughout the duration. Borromeo, who arrived in Rome during the evening on 8 December, was with the pope when Pius died alongside Saint Philip Neri.

See also


  1. ^ "Treccani - la cultura italiana | Treccani, il portale del sapere".
  2. ^ "The List of Popes." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 4 September 2014
  3. ^ a b c "Loughlin, James. "Pope Pius IV." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 12. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 4 Sept. 2014".
  4. ^ "John, Eric. The Popes, Hawthorne Books, New York". Archived from the original on 6 June 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  5. ^ Bartolomeo Scappi, The Opera of Bartolomeo Scappi (1570): L'Arte Et Prudenza D'Un Maestro Cuoco, Transl. Terence Scully, (University of Toronto Press, 2008), 688.
  6. ^ Bard Thompson, Humanists and Reformers: A History of the Renaissance and Reformation, (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996), 520.
  7. ^ Imma Penn, Dogma Evolution and Papal Fallacies, (AuthorHouse, 2007), 195. [self-published source]
  8. ^ Freedberg SJ, p. 429.
  9. ^ McNamara, E., Pius V's 1570 Bull, published 31 October 2016, archived 26 March 2018, accessed 5 August 2023
  10. ^ Salvador Miranda. "Pius IV (1559-1565)". The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. Retrieved 10 March 2022.
  11. ^ Marjorie Reeves, The Influence of Prophecy in the Later Middle Ages: A Study in Joachimism, (Oxford University Press, 1969), 368.
  12. ^ Goldscheider, L. (1953). Michelangelo : Schilderijen, beeldhouwwerken, architectuur : Complete uitgave. London : Utrecht: Phaidon; De Haan. 23.
  13. ^ Katherine Rinne, Waters of Rome [full citation needed]
  14. ^ John Paul Adams (26 October 2015). "Sede Vacante 1565-1566". CSUN. Retrieved 10 March 2022.

Further reading

Catholic Church titles Preceded byPaul IV Pope 1559–1565 Succeeded byPius V Preceded byPanfilo Strassoldo Archbishop of Ragusa 1545–1553 Succeeded byLodovico Beccatelli