Roman Catholic Pope. Born Giuliano della Rovere at Albissola, Italy, his uncle, Francesco della Rovere, saw to it he was educated with the Franciscan Order at Perugia. His uncle was later elected Pope Sixtus IV in 1471, and boosted his nephew's career, granting him the episcopal see of Carpentras. He then headed a papal army into Umbria and fought to extend the influence of the papacy. During the course of his uncle's papacy, he was rewarded with a further a dozen episcopal sees, culminating in the Archiepiscopal See of Avignon in 1474. He was appointed papal legate to France in 1480, and served for four years. His ambition, however, was matched by his greatest rival, Rodrigo Borgia. In the murky depths of church politics, he survived several assassination attempts, including at least two attempts to poison him, and with Borgia's election to the papal throne in 1492, he went into exile in France and stayed away for ten years before his rival's death made it possible for him to return. Following the month-long reign of Pius III, della Rovere was elected Pope Julius II by a near-unanimous vote; his election only took a few hours and scholars generally agree that his success was almost certainly due to bribery and coercion. He set about breaking Borgia influence in the Papal States, and reconciling other powerful and influential families. He initiated campaigns against Venice and set in motion the so-called "Italian Wars," he campaigned to restore and preserve the Papal States and led military efforts to hold off the encroaching French forces. In 1506 he founded the Pope's Swiss Guard. In addition to his reputation as "The Fearsome Pope" and "The Warrior Pope," he was well-known as a patron of the arts, and commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; Raphael, who created the Pope's most famous portrait, and Donato Bramante, who began the rebuilding of St. Peter's. He succumbed to fever at Rome at age 69 and was interred in St Peter's in the Vatican, although his grave was later desecrated during the Sack of Rome in 1527. His grave now lies in the floor of St Peter's, marked by a simple marble tombstone.
Bio by: Iola