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Pope Innocent VIII
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Pope Innocent VIII

Innocent VIII, né Giovanni Battista Cibo (1432July 25, 1492), pope from 1484 to 1492, was born at Genoa, and was the son of a man of senatorial rank. His early years were spent at the Neapolitan court, and subsequently he went to Padua and Rome for his education. In the latter city the influence of his friends procured for him, from Paul II the bishopric of Savona, and in 1473, with the support of Giuliano Della Rovere, he was made cardinal by Sixtus IV, whom he succeeded on August 29, 1484.

Shortly after his coronation he addressed a fruitless summons to Christendom to unite in a crusade against the infidels; the amount of his own zeal may in some degree be estimated from the fact that in 1489, in consideration of a yearly sum of 40,000 ducats and a gift of the spearhead which had pierced the Saviour's side, he consented to favour the sultan Bajazet II by detaining his fugitive brother in close confinement in the Vatican. In 1486, Henry VII of England was declared to be the rightful holder of the English crown by the threefold right of conquest, inheritance, and popular choice.

Innocent, in his papal bull "Summis desiderantes" (5 December 1484) instigated very severe measures against magicians and witches in Germany; the principles enunciated by him were afterwards embodied in the Malleus Maleficarum (1487). He it was also who in 1487 appointed Tomas de Torquemada to be grand inquisitor of Spain -- he was a strong supporter of the Spanish Inquisition; he also urged a crusade against the Waldensians, offering plenary indulgence to all who should engage in it. In 1486, he prohibited, on pain of severe ecclesiastical censures, the reading of the nine hundred propositions of Pico Mirandola.

An important event of his pontificate was the fall of Granada in January 1492, which was celebrated in the Vatican with great rejoicings and earned the king of Spain the epithet "Catholic Majesty.". He died July 25, 1492, leaving behind him numerous children (Octo Nocens pueros genuit, totidemque puellas; Hunc merito poterit dicere Roma patrem - "Eight wicked boys born, and just as many girls, so this man could be entitled to be called Father of Rome"), towards whom his nepotism had been as lavish as it was shameless. His successor was Alexander VI.

Preceded by:
Pope Sixtus IV
- chronological list
Succeeded by:
Pope Alexander VI