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Urban Viii

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URBAN VIII. (Maffeo Barberini), pope from 1623 to 1644, belonged to a Florentine family which had been greatly enriched by commerce, and was born in 1568. Through the influence of an uncle, who had become apostolic protonotary, he, while still a young man, received various promotions from Sixtus V. and Gregory XIV. By Clement VIII. he was himself made protonotary and nuncio to the French court ; Paul V. also employed him in a similar capacity, afterwards raising him to the carclinalate, and giving him the legation of Bologna. On 6th August 1623 he was chosen successor to Gregory XV. The period of his pontificate, covering as it did twenty-one years of the Thirty Years' War, was an eventful one, and the ultimate result of that great struggle was largely determined by Urban's policy, which was aimed less at the restoration of Catholicism in Europe than at such an adjustment of the balance of parties as might best favour his own independence and strength as a temporal power in Italy (see POPEDOM, vol. xix. p. 506). In 1626 the duchy of Urbino was incorporated into the papal dominions, and in 1627, when the direct male line of the Gonzagas in Mantua became extinct, he favoured the succession of the duke of Nevers against the claims of the Hapsburgs, whose preponderance he dreaded. lie was the last pope to extend the papal territory, and Castelfranco on the Mantuan frontier was fortified by him. In Rome he greatly strengthened the castle of St Angelo, removing, for the purpose of making cannons, the massive tubular girders of bronze from the portico of the Pantheon (" quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt Barberini "), establishing also an arsenal in the Vatican, as well as a manufactory of arms at Tivoli, and fortifying the harbour of Civita Vecchia. It was during the pontificate of Urban that Galileo was summoned to Rome to make his great recantation in 1633 ; on the other hand, the Ponssins and Claude Lorraine were patronized by him, and it was he who brought Athanasius Kircher to Rome, and who employed Bernini to build the Palazzo Barberini, the college of the Propaganda, the Fontana del Tritone, and other prominent structures in the city. He was the last to practise nepotism on a grand scale : various members of his house were enormously enriched by him, so that it seemed to contemporaries as if he aimed at establishing a Barberini dynasty. He canonized many saints, among whom the most conspicuous are Ignatius Loyola, Francis Xavier, Al. Gonzaga, and Filippo Neri. Urban VIII. was a clever writer of Latin verse, and a collection of Scriptural paraphrases as well as original hymns of his composition has been frequently reprinted. His death (29th July 1644) is said to have been hastened by chagrin at the result of a war he had undertaken against the duke of Parma. He was succeeded by Innocent X.

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