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social sciences

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Papacy  
 
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By the end of 1506, Julius compelled Michelangelo to undertake the Sistine Ceiling, even though the artist did not believe that he had sufficient talent to complete this project. Over the next two years, the final program for the ceiling was developed through often heated negotiations between the Pope and the artist. The nine narrative scenes down the center of the ceiling narrate the history of creation, the fall of the human race through original sin, and the establishment of a Covenant between God and the Chosen People, led by Noah. These panels are displayed in a fictive stone framework, which seems to have the weight of Bramante's actual structures. The figures became increasingly large in size, heroic in musculature, and dynamic in movement as work progressed from the chronologically later scenes of Noah toward the initial stages of Creation. Located approximately in the middle of the ceiling, the Creation of Adam visualizes a balance between human potential and divine power.

The program also includes enthroned figures of sibyls and prophets to the sides of the narrative panels. Sensual nude male figures are seated at the corners of the five smaller narrative panels. The meaning of these nudes is uncertain, but their homoerotic qualities cannot be denied. Insignia of the Pope's family, including oak leaves and acorns, are displayed throughout the ceiling.

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Accounts about the homosexual liaisons of Julius's successor, Leo X (Giovanni de' Medici, 1474-1521; reigned 1513-21), are recorded in a variety of different types of contemporary sources, and they were repeated in historical accounts of the papacy published in the later sixteenth century. Having received an outstanding humanistic education, he was appointed Cardinal in 1492 by Innocent VIII. Beginning in 1508, he served Julius II as papal legate; in that capacity, he arranged for papal troops to invade Florence in order to secure the return of the Medici, who had been exiled from the city in 1497.

Unanimously elected Pope, Leo focused his energies upon the patronage of the arts and sciences. He established Greek colleges in Rome and Florence, promoted the study of Hebrew and Arabic writings, and gave strong support to printing. He funded extensive archaeological excavations, which uncovered the monumental antique statue of the river-god Nile (Vatican Museums) and other significant works, and he ordered the restoration of several important Early Christian churches, including Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome.

To give the city of Rome a more dignified appearance, Leo widened the streets and restored several public squares, including the Piazza del Popolo. In Florence, he commissioned Michelangelo to design a new façade for San Lorenzo (project design, 1516-19; never realized) and to undertake one of his most significant projects--the building and decoration of the New Sacristy of San Lorenzo, including Medici family tombs (1519-34).

Julius III (Giovanni Maria Ciochhi Del Monte, 1487-1555) provoked a major scandal when, shortly after his election to the papacy on February 7, 1550, he appointed as Cardinal a young man widely reputed to be his lover: Innocenzo Del Monte (1532-77). According to the numerous accounts of their relationship, Julius was immediately attracted to Innocenzo when he met him (supposedly on the streets of Parma) in 1545 or 1546. Because Innocenzo's father was uncertain, Giovanni Del Monte arranged for Innocenzo to be adopted by his brother, Baldovino Ciocchi del Monte, duke of Camerino.

Julius regarded Innocenzo as one of his closest advisors of his papacy despite the latter's lack of experience in diplomatic affairs. A variety of scandals plagued Innocenzo after Julius's death, and he generally has been portrayed very negatively by historians. Nevertheless, the sincerity of the commitment of Julius and Innocenzo to one another is suggested by the fact that they were buried next to one another in the Del Monte chapel in San Pietro in Montorio, Rome (the church in which Julius II also was buried).

Although his own behavior provoked the mockery of Protestants, Julius III made continuous and successful efforts towards Church reform, ordering the resumption of the Council of Trent and (ironically) initiating a program to ensure that benefices would be granted solely on the basis of merit. He worked to reform and expand the University of Rome, and he was active as a patron of the arts. For example, he gave significant commissions to the musician Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-94).

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