Adriano Castellesi

(c. 1461—1521) cardinal and English agent in Rome

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(c.1461–c.1521), Cardinal, born in Corneto (now Tarquínia). In 1488 he was appointed nuncio to Scotland by Pope Innocent VIII with a view to reconciling James III of Scotland to his people. Adriano's mission was unsuccessful (King James was murdered), and he moved to England, where he was appointed collector of Peter's Pence in 1489, prebend of St Paul's Cathedral, and rector of St Dunstan in the East in 1492. He returned to Rome as English ambassador, and there was appointed clerk to the papal treasury; while absent from England he was appointed bishop of Hereford (1502) and bishop of Bath and Wells (1504), but he never lived in either diocese. He bought a vineyard in the Borgo near the Vatican and commissioned a large palace there (now the Palazzo Giraud-Torlonia). He was created cardinal on 31 May 1503 in return for a large bribe to Pope Alexander VI. Shortly after his elevation Cardinal Adriano entertained the pope and his son Cesare Borgia at his palazzo; Adriano and his two guests all fell ill, and Pope Alexander died. Adriano deemed it prudent to withdraw from Rome because of widespread suspicion that he had poisoned the pope and his son; he returned on the election of Pope Leo X in 1511. He was implicated in the plot to murder Pope Leo in 1517, but a payment of 25,000 ducats enabled him to avoid being executed. He was stripped of his ecclesiastical offices and fled to Venice. His subsequent history is unclear, but he may have been murdered by a servant while travelling to Rome after the death of Pope Leo in December 1521.


From The Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700).

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