Pope Julius II was a powerful ruler and also the greatest art patron among the popes. His reign is considered one of the most brilliant in the Renaissance period. He was born Giuliano della Rovere, in Albisola, Italy in 1443. He became a Franciscan priest in 1468. After his uncle became Pope Alexander VI in 1492, he fled to France, where he stayed until Alexander died. He was elected Pope Julius II in 1503. Even though bribery was a large part of his own election, the new pope quickly ordered all future elections influenced by simony invalid and subject to penalty. The chief concern of Julius's rule was the reunification and expansion of the Papal States. By joining the league of Cambrai in 1508 against the republic of Venice and by forming the Holy League against France, he secured his hold on the Papal States and extended papal rule over parts of northern Italy. Julius formed the Swiss Guard (papal guard) of the Vatican in Rome in 1505. It consists of 6 officers and 110 men. In 1506 Julius made a new line of demarcation set 1,110 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands instead of the original 300 miles west of the Islands established by Pope Alexander VI. He also called the Fifth Lateran Council in 1512, terminated in 1517. It forbade the printing of books without roman authority and approved the deal between Leo X and Francis I, king of France, which abolished the liberties of the French church.

As a result of Julius's lasting interest in the arts, many buildings were added in Rome, and churches throughout Italy were enriched artistically. He was a Patron and personal friend of some of the Renaissance masters, including Bramante, Raphael, and Michelangelo, whose effort to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel he commissioned. Before the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo had been commissioned to produce Julius's tomb, which was planned to be the most magnificent of Christian times. It was to be located in the new Basilica of Saint Peter's, then under construction. Michelangelo enthusiastically went ahead with this challenging project, which was to include more than 40 figures, spending months in the quarries to obtain the necessary Carrara marble for Julius. Due to a mounting shortage of money, however, the pope ordered him to put aside the tomb project in favor of painting the chapel ceiling. When Michelangelo went back to work on the tomb, he redesigned some of his finest sculpture for the Julius Tomb, including the Moses, the central figure in the much-reduced monument now located in Rome's church of San Pietro in Vincoli. In 1499 Bramante built the Tempietto for Julius and until the end of his life, he was employed almost only by the pope. Bramante also designed Saint Peter's Basilica, located in Vatican City, within the city of Rome in 1506. In 1512, Julius II died. Pope Julius II should be looked up to and admired just as most of the greatest artists and rulers of the Renaissance did. He is one of the most influential and amazing popes ever.

Related Essays on History: Christian