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Urbano VIII (Maffeo Barberini)


He was born in Florence on April 5, 1568, the fifth child of Antonio di Carlo Barberini and Camilla di Giovandonato Barbadori. Having lost his father at the age of three, he attended in Florence the schools recently opened by the Jesuits, and then was sent by his mother to Rome to his paternal uncle Francesco who was the apostolic notary. In Rome he studied philosophy at the Roman Collegium; then, from 1586 to 1588 studied law in Pisa, also gaining a reputation as an fine Latinist with his funeral oration for the Grand Duke Francesco, which he read at the university in 1587. Toward the end of March 1588 he graduated in jurisprudence at Pisa; whence returning to Rome in May, and in October entering the prelacy, having given excellent proof of his wit and extensive culture, he obtained from Sixtus V, Gregory XIV and Clement VII various posts at court, and from Clement VIII he also won the commssion to regulate the waters of Lake Trasimeno, the dignity of being made Archbishop of Nazareth in the Kingdom of Naples, and in 1604 of winning the post of Apostolic Delegate at the court of Paris. Paul V made him a Cardinal on September 11, 1606, Bishop of Spoleto in 1608, and Legate in Bologna in 1611. On August 6, 1623 he was elected Pope, taking the name of Urban VIII. He was incoronated on September 29, and took possession of the Lateran Basilica on November 19th. His election to the papacy raised great hopes among scholars and men of letters, and it was celebrated with publications. During his long period as Pope he took a active role in almost all the great political events of the time, reunited the Duchy of Urbino to the Papacy's temporal dominions after Franceso Maria II's investiture had extinguished itself; waged a long war from 1641 to 1644 with the Farnese family of Parma for the Duchy of Castro. In 1630 he attributed to cardinals, as well as to the three ecclesiastical Electors and the Grand Master of Malta, the titles of Eminence and Most High Eminence. In 1631 a plot to assassinate him was organized under the leadership of Giacinto Centini, nephew of Cardinal Centini; and again in 1640 by Tommaso Orsolini, a priest of Recanati. In the summer of 1637 it was feared that he would die of a fever that had afflicted him. As the learned man he was, and a poet of both Latin and Italian verse, he took a special regard for the School of Rome; endowed a sizeable benefice to the Congregation of Propaganda Fide, founding the urban College and the famous polyglot printing-works; and reformed the Roman Catholic Breviary. He undertook numerous architectural projects in several churches in Rome, chiefly in Saint Peter's; and commissioned the construction of the apostolic palace of Castel Gandolfo. He died on July 29, 1644.

The Works of Galileo Galilei, national edition edited by Antonio Favaro, Florence, Barbčra, 1899-1909, vol. XX, Biographical Index, to v.