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A Very Informal Guide to the Renaissance Popes*

by Matthew Dennison

Now before I begin to ramble on my thoughts on the renaissance popes I feel I owe you, the reader, a certain clarity to why I have any credibility to talk about this subject. I will admit as someone studying to become a high school history teacher I have collected a large amount of weird and obscure stories within history, but I’m by no means a scholar and am simply stating what I remember from my high school euro class. So if you wish to actually learn anything of importance I’d suggest looking for a more informed mind’s thoughts like McKay Hill Buckler, you know the guy who’s made what seems to be ever AP Euro textbook. But if you wish to continue and listen to the blabberings of a seemingly deranged college student then this is for you. 

Starting at the top of our list is Pope Alexander VI, aka the Worst Pope ever, aka the Party Pope, aka the Sex Pope. Now if my memory serves me right from my one class I took on European history my boy Pope Alexander was as some people would like to say a raging mad man or just a way too drunk frat guy. And I don’t mean he’s preaching that holy gospel with the cardinals 24/7 kinda party, but he was actually said, by some people, to have had sex parties, or in more blatant terms orgies, in the Vatican. Now that bit is more of his family, the Borgia, who we know did that. If you really want to know just look up the Banquet of Chestnuts. But many historians agree he probably had incestual relations with his daughter, Lucrezia Borgia, who he would marry to foreign leaders, get political power, and then absolve the marriage. 

Our next Pope was Pope Julius II, aka the Art Pope, aka the Warrior Pope. Now we call Pope Julius the Art Pope because he was really cool with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, he loved their artwork and couldn’t get enough of it. But what I’m more interested in is the warrior pope title. Now during this time a lot of fighting was going on, as it is with every time in history, but in this time period, the Italian peninsula was being conquered. So to give it the French, and at the same time the Venetians too, il papa decided to lead the papal army to war. Now normally it’s normal for a king to lead his troops into battle, but there’s something a bit unfair about being the Pope. Many troops didn’t like the idea of fighting the guy who could excommunicate them to hell and wouldn’t fight. But our Pope didn’t care. He did what any general would do. He executed prisoners, plundered, and killed some guys in the process himself. 

Our final Pope is Pope Leo X, or as I like to call him the Spendy Pope. Now the Catholic Church at this time has what many like to call cash money. The church not only owns what I’d assume around one-third of property within Catholic Europe but also collects money from literally everyone. So when I say that Pope Leo spent a lot of money, I mean he spent a lot. Pope Leo is a Medici so he was used to Florence, which at the time had the biggest and “baddest” of the pricey buildings. So when Pope Leo became Pope he must have got a lot of smack about having to live at the Vatican, cause he bankrupted the Church pimping out the Vatican with a giant dome. And during this whole HGTV home makeover, he had a little friend we call Martin Luther talking smack on the church at the diet of worms starting the protestant reformation. And then Pope Leo died that same year leaving the whole mess to the next guy to deal with.

If you want to know more concrete information feel free to research more about the Papal history and learn about all the crazy things some of these men did.

*This is just shedding light on some of the bad popes in history. We of course now have amazing men leading our church with an air of love and acceptance. Feel free to learn about Pope Francis and St. Pope John Paul II for examples of amazing Popes within our century.