Clement VII (1523-1534). Giulio de' Medici became Clement VII. During his reign the Protestants made huge gains in Germany and Scandinavia. In England, in 1527, King Henry VIII asked Clement VII to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Unfortunately for Clement, Catherine was the aunt of the uncrowned Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. The pope could not politically afford to grant the request. Henry VIII was refused and the English church broke with Rome. Clement got caught in the middle of Italian and European politics and mismanaged his treaties with both France and the Empire. First he supported Francis I, thereby angering Emperor Charles V. Then, after a French defeat, he sought protection from Charles V. Then he joined an alliance with France, Milan, Florence, and Venice against the emperor. This mismanagement and intrigue led to the invasion of Italy and Rome by Charles V in 1527. As his troops attacked Rome, the pro-imperial Colonna family killed fellow-citizens and captured the Vatican. The pope was able to escape to Castel Sant' Angelo by a secret passage in the Vatican built by Alexander VI. The pope and the emperor agreed to terms, but the pope violated the agreement to lay waste to Colonna family properties. Charles V agreed to a truce bought for the price of 60,000 ducats. However, his 30,000 troops mutinied and sacked Rome. The Swiss guard (the pope's protectors) was cut down to the last man. Rome was ravaged for eight days, and off and on for nine months. Massacre, plunder, rape, and fire raged out of control. Clergy were brutalized, nuns were drug off to brothels or sold to soldiers in the streets. Palaces were plundered, churches and monasteries sacked for treasure, and tombs broken into in search of treasure. The Vatican was used as a stable. 2,000 bodies were thrown into the Tiber River, 9,800 buried. Loot and ransom were estimated at three to four million ducats. As part of the eventual settlement Charles V was crowned King of Italy and Naples and emperor in 1530, the last emperor to be crowned by a pope.
Clement spent the rest of his pontificate restoring his family's fortunes in Florence. The Medici had been overthrown in Florence by a republican government. With help from the army of Charles V, Medici rule was reestablished in Florence after a ten month siege. He was also able to marry Catherine de' Medici to the French king's second son and her brother to a daughter of Charles V. When he died he was universally hated. His corpse was dug up, mutilated, and thrust through the heart with a sword, and thrown on the steps of St Peters Basilica.Clement was a patron of Cellini, Raphael, and Michelangelo. He commissioned the Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel. His political difficulties kept him from effectively dealing with the Protestant problem.
As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. -HL Mencken 1933