The Pope Who Wrote a Romance Novel


Pope Pius II was born Enea Silvio Piccolomini
near Siena, Italy in 1405, one of 18 children. His family was part of the Italian aristocracy,
but they had fallen into poverty. Once the future Pope was old enough, he went
to university and then began work as a teacher, before becoming a secretary to Cardinal Domenico
Capranica in 1431. He was later a follower of the Antipope Felix
V and was excommunicated for siding with a man who went against the real Pope’s wishes. Back then, the future Pope Pius II was part
of a group that is today known as the Renaissance humanists. He also fathered illegitimate children and
wrote erotic literature and obscene poetry. Shortly after one of his illegitimate children
died, he joined the court of the Emperor Frederick III as an imperial poet and private secretary
to the Emperor in 1442. Two years later, the future Pope wrote The
Tale of Two Lovers. Historians believe he might have written other
books and manuscripts with similar subject matter, and in addition to the novel, a romantic
comedy has been attributed to him. Whatever the case, The Tale of Two Lovers
is about a man who falls in love with a married woman. The two exchange letters, and their correspondence
makes up a bulk of the book, making it one of the first examples of an epistolary novel. As an example of the type of content within
the book, Pius wrote: Now Sigismund, though advanced in years, was
quick to passion; he took great pleasure in the company of women, and loved feminine caresses. Indeed he liked nothing better than the presence
of great ladies. So when he saw these, he leaped from his horse,
and they received him with outstretched hands. Then, turning to his companions, he said:
‘Have you ever seen women like these: For my part, I cannot say whether their faces
are human or angelic. Surely they are from heaven.’ In his later years, Pius II looked back on
his past with some regret. Writing to a friend, he said, I know what you will say: why, how strait-laced
Aeneas is; now he writes to me of chastity from Vienna, but in Neustadt be spoke otherwise. I don’t deny it, dearest John, but time
slips away, day by day; we are older, the day of our death draws near, and now we must
consider not how to live, but how to die… For me, John, I have sinned enough, and too
much. Now I know myself, and may it not be too late. For now I am forty, and the day of salvation,
the time for repentance is at hand… Pius II attempted to suppress the Tale of
Two Lovers, not wanting the transgressions of his pre-Pope days to catch up with him,
but the book proved to be too popular. However, he was a prolific writer, and many
of his other writings eclipsed the Tale of Two Lovers, at least in the eyes of the church. His Commentaries was published by a distant
relative long after his death, along with his autobiography written in the third person. In addition, he wrote about historical events
as well as political, religious, and ethical issues of his time, which have proven to be
invaluable resources about the time period in which he lived. If you’re wondering how someone with a background
frowned upon within the Catholic church made it all the way to its highest office, Pius
II made his way from sinner to Pontificate through a remarkably rapid set of promotions. These were partially the result of the fact
that he was well liked among his peers and also genuinely excelled at tasks given to
him, despite his perhaps less than ideal morals by the church’s standards. His rapid rise began after being made a representative
in Frankfurt. After breaking off his friendship with the
Antipope in 1445, he was absolved of his excommunication. In 1446, he was ordained as a priest. He then helped to resolve issues between the
German princes and the Pope, and for his efforts was made a bishop in 1447. Thanks partially to a recommendation from
his former employer, Emperor Frederick III, a little over a decade after the removal of
his excommunication, he was made a cardinal. This leads us to his next jump, to Pope. According to Pius II himself, after the death
of his predecessor, the man who was the favourite for the position of Pope was a cardinal named
Guillaume d’Estouteville who was of exceptional character. However, Pius II felt that he’d do a better
job than d’Estouteville in the position of Pope. He also felt that it would be an easy enough
task to improve upon his own personal character to match d’Estouteville’s, which would
be necessary if he was chosen. He set about attempting to convince the other
cardinals of these things and was elected unanimously in a second ballot, taking up
the position of Pope in 1458. While he was Pope, his attention was focused
on developing a crusade against the Turks, who had invaded Constantinople. He even went so far as to implore King Mehmet
II to convert from Islam to Christianity. This effort ultimately failed. As morale waned with the crusaders, Pope Pius
II traveled to join them, but ended up falling ill and dying shortly thereafter on August,
14, 1464. Because he spent most of his time as Pope
waging war against the Turks, little of note was accomplished during his papacy.

76 Replies to “The Pope Who Wrote a Romance Novel

  1. I read that ben franklin wasn’t allowed to write important documents like the constitution or the Declaration of Independence because he was known to put in subtle jokes that wouldn’t be noticed straight away. Could you do a video on this

  2. How interesting. I loved it. I really like when you come up with these little known facts and make us all one iota smarter.

  3. More than writing a romance novel, being excommunicated roughly a decade before becoming Pope seems like the bigger story here. Going from excommunicado to the Papacy in a decade is one Hell of a feat for anybody to accomplish.

  4. The history of the papacy is fascinating . Bastard children, brutal dictators, Sexual deviants and murder as well as good, kind and charitable men. Pope John the first was likely murdered the present Pope is a left leaning Socialist.

  5. That's like nothing. Current Russian Orthodox patriarch built his capital on selling cigarettes in 90's. He's like super-rich.

  6. I remember there was a quote allegedly attributed to him which rhymes in italian, in english it would be like:" When I was Aeneas nobody knew me, now that I am Pius everybody calls me uncle!"

  7. Gotta love the insanity of the Medieval Papacy. Should do one on Pope Benedict IX, youngest Pope at age 18 and who was elected Pope three different times.

  8. Strange that his life is almost similar in some aspect to that of Saul who later became St. Paul…except becoming a Pope.

  9. @Simon Whisler….. So did Pope John Paul II it is called the Jewelers Shop. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jeweler%27s_Shop

  10. I am a bit disturbed that no one has mentioned the Starship Enterprise making an appearance over said pope at 3:35.

  11. Can you guys tell us if there’s like 1 euro and 1 pound menus at McDonalds in other countries like the USA has the $1 menu. Thanks! Love your vids

  12. Hey idea my music teacher told me that we tuned to A440 but we used to tune to A432 i was wondering why we changed and thought that it might make a good video

  13. Why . Have you . Started . Speaking . Like . Captain James T. . Kirk . ? It's really getting on my tits ! Your own narrative style is far , far better . Your voice is so lovely and soothing ( and the quality and content amazing ). What happened a couple of weeks ago that prompted this change ? Please , please return to your own style !!!

  14. How Pius became a high ranking member of the Catholic Church despite his background?! Yep, sounds just like the members of the Church. A bunch of hypocrites, I tell you.

  15. Today I found out everyone in America that's not rich

    Is a slave to the Federal reserve, we havent been on a gold standard since 1933, our wealth gets siphoned from our pockets to the Uber rich every time the feds raise interest rates on money that's not backed by anything.

    That's what I learned today.

    Great to be alive you know?

  16. No one ever follows an Antipope–they're only antipopes in hindsight, once one of their rivals has won.

  17. I like how the Wiki article on it names it as "One of the best selling books of the 15th century."
    Only 1400's kids will remember this. They sure don't make books like they used to.

  18. Anyone British want to tell me if his pronunciations of renaissance and caresses is an English accent thing, or just bad pronunciation? It sounds awful as an American…

  19. Ooooh. You should do one on Pope John XIII, who drank toasts to Satan. Or Pope Paul V, who condemned scientists like Galeleo to death. Or my personal favorite, Pope Alexander VI…you know… the one that had a son…..with his daughter.

  20. So why does the contemporary catholic church have so many stories of homosexual behavior? Do a video on that.

  21. I'm going to use that quote about angele faced beauties at some point. It would be amazing if you could do a video about famous womanising seducers, Simon.

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