1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Innocent/Innocent VIII
Innocent VIII. (Giovanni Battista Cibo), pope from the 29th of August 1484 to the 25th of July 1492, successor of Sixtus IV., was born at Genoa (1432), the son of Arano Cibo, who under Calixtus III. had been a senator of Rome. His youth, spent at the Neapolitan court, was far from blameless, and it is not certain that he was married to the mother of his numerous family. He later took orders, and, through the favour of Cardinal Calandrini, half-brother of Nicholas V., obtained from Paul II. the bishopric of Savona. Sixtus IV. translated him to the see of Molfetta, and in 1473 created him cardinal-priest of Sta Balbina, subsequently of Sta Cecilia. As pope, he addressed a fruitless summons to Christendom to unite in a crusade against the infidels, and concluded in 1489 a treaty with Bayezid II., agreeing in consideration of an annual payment of 40,000 ducats and the gift of the Holy Lance, to detain the sultan’s fugitive brother Jem in close confinement in the Vatican. Innocent excommunicated and deposed Ferdinand, king of Naples, by bull of the 11th of September 1489, for refusal to pay the papal dues, and gave his kingdom to Charles VIII. of France, but in 1492 restored Ferdinand to favour. He declared (1486) Henry VII. to be lawful king of England by the threefold right of conquest, inheritance and popular choice, and approved his marriage with Elizabeth, the daughter of Edward IV. Innocent, like his predecessor, hated heresy, and in the bull Summis desiderantes (5th of December 1484) he instigated very severe measures against magicians and witches in Germany; he prohibited (1486) on pain of excommunication the reading of the propositions of Pico della Mirandola; he appointed (1487) T. Torquemada to be grand inquisitor of Spain; and he offered plenary indulgence to all who would engage in a crusade against the Waldenses. He took the first steps towards the canonization of Queen Margaret of Scotland, and sent missionaries under Portuguese auspices to the Congo. An important event of his pontificate was the capture of Granada (2nd of January 1492), which was celebrated at Rome with great rejoicing and for which Innocent gave to Ferdinand of Aragon the title of “Catholic Majesty.” Innocent was genial, skilled in flattery, and popular with the Romans, but he lacked talent and relied on the stronger will of Cardinal della Rovere, afterwards Julius II. His Curia was notoriously corrupt, and he himself openly practised nepotism in favour of his children, concerning whom the epigram is quoted: “Octo nocens pueros genuit, totidemque puellas:—Hunc merito poterit dicere Roma patrem.” Thus he gave to his undeserving son Franceschetto several towns near Rome and married him to the daughter of Lorenzo de’ Medici. Innocent died on the 25th of July 1492, and was succeeded by Alexander VI.
The sources for the life of Innocent VIII. are to be found in L. Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, vol. 3, and in Raynaldus, a. 1484–1492. See also L. Pastor, History of the Popes, vol. 5, trans. by F. I. Antrobus (London, 1898); M. Creighton, History of the Papacy, vol. 4 (London, 1901); F. Gregorovius, Rome in the Middle Ages, vol. 7, trans. by Mrs. G. W. Hamilton (London, 1900–1902); T. Hagen, Die Papstwahlen von 1484 u. 1492 (Brizen, 1885); S. Riezler, Die Hexenprozesse (1896); G. Viani, Memorie della famiglia Cybo (Pisa, 1808); F. Serdonati, Vita e fatti d’Innocenzo VIII. (Milan, 1829). (C. H. Ha.)