Pope Alexander VIII

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Alexander VIII
Alexander VIII 1.jpg
Papacy began 6 October 1689
Papacy ended 1 February 1691
Predecessor Innocent XI
Successor Innocent XII
Consecration 27 December 1654
by Marcantonio Bragadin
Created Cardinal 19 February 1652
Personal details
Birth name Pietro Vito Ottoboni
Born (1610-04-22)22 April 1610
Venice, Republic of Venice
Died 1 February 1691(1691-02-01) (aged 80)
Rome, Papal State
Other popes named Alexander

Pope Alexander VIII (22 April 1610 – 1 February 1691), born Pietro Vito Ottoboni, was the head of the Catholic Church from 6 October 1689 to his death in 1691. He is the last Pope to take the name "Alexander" upon his election.

Early life[edit]

Pietro Ottoboni was born of a noble Venetian family, and was the son of Marco Ottoboni, grand chancellor of the Republic of Venice. His early studies were made with marked brilliancy at the University of Padua, where, in 1627, he earned a doctorate in canon and civil law.

Governor of Terni, Rieti and Spoleto[edit]

He went to Rome during the pontificate of Pope Urban VIII (1623–44), and was made governor of Terni, Rieti, and Spoleto. For fourteen years he served as auditor of the Rota. At the request of the Venetian Republic, Ottoboni was made Cardinal-Priest of San Salvatore in Lauro by Pope Innocent X (1644–55) in 1652. In 1654, he was assigned to be the bishopric of Brescia, in Venetian territory, where he quietly spent the next decade. In 1683, he became bishop of Santa Sabina and Frascati, and in 1687, of Porto and Santa Rufina.


Papal styles of
Pope Alexander VIII
C o a Alessandro VIII.svg
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style None

The ambassador of Louis XIV of France (1643–1715) succeeded in procuring his election on 6 October 1689, as successor to Pope Innocent XI (1676–89); nevertheless, after months of negotiation Alexander VIII finally condemned the declaration made in 1682 by the French clergy concerning the liberties of the Gallican church. He chose the name of Alexander in gratitude to Cardinal Flavio Chigi, the nephew of Alexander VII Chigi, who also had helped support his candidacy.[1]

Alexander VIII was almost an octogenarian when elected to the papacy, which lasted only sixteen months, during which time little of importance was done. Louis XIV, whose political situation was now critical, profited by the peaceful dispositions of the new pope, restored Avignon to him, and renounced the long-abused right of asylum for the French Embassy.

Financial controversies[edit]

Charities on a large scale and unbounded nepotism exhausted the papal treasury, reversing the policies of his predecessor. Among the various nominations, his 22-year-old nephew Pietro was made cardinal and vice-chancellor of the Church,[2] nephew Marco, son of his brother Agostino, was made inspector of naval fortifications and Duke of Fiano, and nephew Antonio, another of Agostino's children, was made general of the church. His nephew Giovanni Rubin was made secretary of state and bishop of Vicenza. Out of compassion for the poor of the impoverished Papal States, he sought to help them by reducing taxes. But this same generous nature led him to bestow on his relations the riches they were eager to accumulate; on their behalf, and to the discredit of his pontificate, he revived sinecure offices which had been suppressed by Innocent XI. He bought the books and manuscripts of Queen Christina of Sweden for the Vatican Library. Alexander VIII assisted his native Venice by generous subsidies in the war against the Turks, as well as sending seven galleys and 2,000 infantry for the campaign in Albania.

Tomb of Alexander VIII, St. Peter's Basilica

In 1690 he condemned the doctrines of the so-called philosophical sin, taught in the Jesuit schools. That year he also canonised St. John of God.

Alexander VIII died on 1 February 1691. His grandiose tomb in St. Peter's was commissioned by his grandnephew, Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni, and designed by Count Arrigo di San Martino. The bas-relief at the base and the flanking figures (1704) were sculpted by Angelo de' Rossi, while the bronze statue of the pope was cast by Giuseppe Bertosi.[3]

See also[edit]


  • Rendina, Claudio (1984). I papi. Storia e segreti. Rome: Newton Compton. 
  1. ^ Olszewski E. page 13.
  2. ^ Olszewski E. page 5.
  3. ^ Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni (1667-1740) and the Vatican tomb of Pope Alexander VIII, by Edward J. Olsezewski (2004), American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia.

Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope Alexander VIII". Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. 

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Innocent XI
6 October 1689 – 1 February 1691
Succeeded by
Innocent XII