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Popes of the 15th Century

History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church

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Below is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the fifteenth century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church.

 

204. Boniface IX: November 2, 1389 - October 1, 1404 (14 years, 11 months)
Pope Boniface IX was the second pope during the Great Western Schism and his failure to do much to end this rift causes most to regard his papacy as something of a failure.

205. Innocent VII: October 17, 1404 - November 6, 1406 (2 years)
Pope Innocent VII reigned during the Great Schism of the West and it is partly because of him that this schism continued as long as it had. Before his election (with only eight cardinals), he had agreed to abdicate his position on the condition that the antipope Benedict XIII do the same - but after his election, Innocent generally ignored Benedict and decided to go his own way.

206. Gregory XII: November 30, 1406 - October 18, 1417 (8 years, 7 months)
Gregory XII reigned during the Great Schism of the West and had, before his election, promised to abdicate as long as the antipope Benedict XIII agreed to do the same. Unfortunately, matters did not go well and disagreements over where they would meet resulted in an obstinate refusal on both sides to meet at all.

207. Martin V: November 11, 1417 - February 20, 1431 (13 years)
The election of Martin V served to end the Great Schism of the West - there had been three rival popes and, after the Council of Constance, there was only one: Martin V.

208. Eugene IV: March 3, 1431 - February 23, 1447 (15 years, 11 months)
An Augustinian monk and a nephew of Pope Gregory XII, Eugene IV was chosen by the cardinals in large part because they were looking for someone who would treat them less as servants of the papacy and more as partners when it came to adminstering the Church and making decisions about theology and doctrine.

209. Nicholas V: March 6, 1447 - March 24, 1455 (8 years)
Pope Nicholas V was the first of the Renaissance popes and is known as a Humanist Pope because of the resources he devoted to scholarship and learning. He founded the Vatican Library and invested considerable sums for the translation of Greek literature.

210. Callistus III: April 8, 1455 - August 6, 1458 (5 years)
Callistus III was born into the infamous Borgia family and one of the nephews which he named as cardinal would himself later become pope and take the name Pope Alexander VI. The only reason that Callistus appears to have been elected in the first place was that he was so old and feeble that all of the cardinals considered him a safe compromise.

211. Pius II: August 18, 1458 - August 15, 1464 (5 years, 11 months)
Pius II was an enthusiastic supporter of crusades against the Turks - he called for a new one in 1458, but his political alliances caused France to refuse to participate; this effectively ended any hopes for a new military expedition to the Holy Lands.

212. Paul II: August 30, 1464 - July 26, 1471 (6 years, 10 months)
Himself a beneficiary of nepotism because his uncle, Pope Eugenius IV, Pope Paul II, promised to end the practice during his reign - along with other reforms which were designed to improve the morals and administration of the Vatican.

213. Sixtus IV: August 9, 1471 - August 12, 1484 (13 years)
One of the first acts of Sixtus IV after being elected was to encourage the leaders of France, Spain, Germany, Hungary, and Poland to pursue a new crusade against the Turks - but the crusade accomplished little in the end.

214. Innocent VIII: August 29, 1484 - July 25, 1492 (7 years)
Pope Innocent VIII was not aptly named - his papacy was one of the most worldly and corrupt on record. Matters started out badly enough because his election was due in large part to the scheming of Cardinal Giuliano Della Rovere.

215. Alexander VI: August 11, 1492 - August 18, 1503 (11 years)
Alexander VI's maternal uncle was Callixtus III, who quickly made Rodrigo bishop, cardinal and vice-chancellor of the church. Despite such nepotism, he served five different popes and proved to be a capable administrator. His private life was something else, however, and he had many mistresses.

 

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