Rodolfo Pio da Carpi

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Rodolfo Pio da Carpi

Rodolfo Pio da Carpi (February 22, 1500 – May 2, 1564) was an Italian Cardinal, humanist and patron of the arts. He formed a great library and was at the center of humanist studies in 16th-century Rome, though serving on the Roman Inquisition. He was a trusted advisor to Pope Pius III and helped to establish the Inquisition at Milan.

Biography[edit]

Born to a distinguished noble family (see below) at Carpi near Modena, where his uncle Alberto (c. 1475-1531) was lord of Carpi, Rodolfo was sent to study at the University of Padua and at Rome, where he took up a church career under Pope Clement VII, who made him bishop of Faenza in 1528. There Carpi hosted a synod in 1533. He attracted further notice in papal diplomacy and was established at Paris 1535 – 1537 as papal nuncio at the court of François I, where, assisted by his uncle Alberto, he presided over the peace between François and the Emperor Charles V, who was pleased enough to appoint him "protector of the Holy Roman Empire".

Pope Paul III created him cardinal on December 22, 1536, and sent him, in January 1540, as legate to the March of Ancona. Cardinal Carpi, as he now was, made his presence felt in the Roman Curia as a member of the Roman Inquisition and a defender of the new orders, the Capuchins and the Jesuits. His friend Pius III assigned him his choice of sees; he preferred the delightful see of Frascati to Faenza (1553 – 1555). Only the intractable resistance of his feudal superior, cardinal d'Este prevented his being made pope at the conclave of 1559.

Roman marble bas-relief in the gardens of the Villa Carpi, drawn by the French visitor Pierre Jacques, ca. 1576 (Bibliothèque Nationale).

His broader modern interest for historians centers on his collection of classical sculpture and other antiquities, which formed one of the prominent museums of Rome (Roma nihil possidet magnificentius, nihil admirabilius one guidebook remarked: "Rome possesses nothing more magnificent, nor to be more admired") and the Greek and Latin library, dispersed after his death, that brought scholars and humanists, not invariably good Catholics, to his palazzo in the Campo Marzio— the Campus Martius of Antiquity— and his suburban villa, on the site of the gardens of Sallust, on the flank of the Quirinal Hill. In the 1550s the Flemish medallist and epigrapher Antoine Morillon studied the Latin inscriptions in the Cardinal's gallery. Even the dry inventories furnish materials for the historian of taste (i.e. C. Franzoni et al., Gli inventari dell'eredità del cardinale Rodolfo Pio da Carpi Pisa, 2002, for the Musei Civici, Comune di Carpi.) The semi-public collections of princes and cardinals made Rome a museum-city, memorialized by Ulisse Aldrovandi's guidebook Delle Statue antiche che per tutta Roma si veggono, 1556 (in international French, Les Antiquités de la cité de Rome, 1576). Aldrovandi praised the delights of the Carpi antiquities in their rustic suburban setting. Even after Cardinal Carpi's death, the collections drew sculptors and artists.

Among the antiquities that belonged to Cardinal Carpi:

  • The bronze bust called the Capitoline Brutus that Pio da Carpi bequeathed to the City of Rome, now in the Capitoline Museums. (Haskell and Penny, cat. 14).
  • The ecstatic marble head called the Dying Alexander, in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence by 1579; often copied in plaster, bronze and marble. (Haskell and Penny, cat. 2)
  • Bronze and marbles bought from Duke Alfonso II d'Este some of which disappeared after they belonged to Rudolf II at Prague.
  • A 5th-century manuscript of the complete works of Virgil, called the Medici Virgil after it was purchased for the Laurentian Library, Florence.

Cardinal Carpi did not neglect the moderns; among his paintings:

Cardinal Carpi is interred in Rome at Santa Trinità dei Monti, above the Spanish Steps, where there is a sepulchral monument erected to his memory by Pope Pius V.

The Family of Pio di Savoia da Carpi[edit]

The Lords of Carpi first made a position for themselves in the 14th century. From the house of Este they received the lordship of Carpi, and in 1518, through the influence of Pope Leo X they acquired the subsidiary fiefs of Meldola and Sassuolo, with which Rodolfo Pio da Carpi was invested. Many members of the family continued in the family tradition as condottieri: Alberto Pio obtained from the house of Savoy in 1450 the privilege of adding "di Savoia" to his name, as a reward for his military services. Others beside Cardinal Carpi made careers in diplomacy: the Alberto Pio (1475-1531) who was French ambassador in Rome, won fame as a man of learning. Ascanio Pio (d. 1649) was a dramatic poet. Spain conferred the title of prince on the family, and one branch of the family is to this day established in Spain.

Further reading[edit]

  • Manuela Rossi, edior. Alberto III e Rodolfo Pio da Carpi collezionisti e mecenati Atti del seminario internazionale di studi Carpi, 22 e 23 novembre 2002 Includes articles by A. Sarchi ("Sulle tracce di una collezione: percorsi colezionistici e dinastici dei Pio"), M. Zanot ("La carriera di un ecclesiastico alla corte di Roma"), G. Vagenheim ("Pirro Ligorio e le false iscrizioni della collezione di antichità del cardinale Rodolfo Pio di Carpi") E. Zatti ("Il restauro dell'opera di Vincenzo Catena raffigurante l'Annunciazione" etc. ISBN 88-86550-87-1

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Pier Andrea Gambari
Bishop of Faenza
1528–1544
Succeeded by
Teodoro Pio
Preceded by
Jean du Bellay
Cardinal-bishop of Albano
1553
Succeeded by
Juan Álvarez de Toledo
Preceded by
Jean du Bellay
Cardinal-bishop of Frascati
1553–1553 and 1564–1565
Succeeded by
Juan Álvarez de Toledo
Preceded by
Jean du Bellay
Cardinal-bishop of Porto
1555–1562
Succeeded by
Francesco Pisani
Preceded by
François de Tournon
Cardinal-bishop of Ostia
1562–1564
Succeeded by
Francesco Pisani