Pius II


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Pope (1458–64). Born of an impoverished noble family, Pius II led a dissolute life as a poet but reformed, took holy orders in 1446, and became an outstanding humanist. He became secretary to Felix V, the antipope, from 1439, and an ecclesiastical diplomat, to be employed by Emperor Frederick III as secretary and poet laureate. As pope he proclaimed a Crusade against the Ottoman Turks (October 1458) but a congress of Christian rulers summoned to Mantua in 1459 was a failure and despite repeated attempts to launch a Crusade the enterprise came to nothing. He had to face anti-papal movements in France and Germany and frequent quarrels with local rulers prevented him from carrying out his programme of reform. He died, bequeathing the problem of the Hussite heresy and Turkish war to his successor.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700).

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