- (Tommaso Parentucelli, 1397-1455, elected pope in 1447)Born at Sarzana in northwestern Italy, the son of a physician, and orphaned at an early age, he studied at the University of Bologna (ca. 1413-1416), where he became expert in scholastic philosophy and especially Aristotelian physics. Poverty compelled him to be-come tutor to the children of two wealthy Florentine families, an ex-perience that introduced him to humanistic studies and especially to the study of Greek. Parentucelli returned to Bologna to complete his master of arts degree (ca. 1420) and then entered the service of Nic-colô Albergati, bishop of Bologna, who soon became a cardinal. He accompanied Albergati on diplomatic missions for Popes Martin V and Eugenius IV. Parentucelli gained valuable ecclesiastical ap-pointments, and in 1444 he became bishop of Bologna. In 1446 the pope made him a cardinal. Shortly after, Eugenius died and Parentu-celli was elected pope.As pope, Nicholas managed to bring about a peaceful end to the schismatic remnant of the Council of Basel (1459). He sought peace-ful relations with other Italian states. When Constantinople fell to the Turks in 1453, he tried to organize a crusade for reconquest of the city, but without success. During his short pontificate he did consolidate pa-pal control of Rome itself and conceived an ambitious plan to trans-form the city into a splendid ecclesiastical capital of Christendom, though only a few of his projects were brought to completion. Nicholas is especially important for the history of the Renaissance because as a pope who had been a humanist, he encouraged humanistic and literary scholarship. He collected a vast library of classical manuscripts and in-tended to sponsor the translation of all of Greek literature into Latin. Nicholas is commonly regarded as the founder of the present Vatican Library. His pontificate marks the first step toward the emergence of Rome as a major center of Renaissance civilization.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.
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