Alessandro Farnese was born in Canino, in Lazio Maremma (today Viterbo province), son of Pier Luigi I Farnese, lord of Montalto (1435-1487) and Giovannella Caetani, descendent of the family of Gelasio II and Bonifacio VIII. He was the third of five children, the first of the males.
He received the first humanistic training in Rome. His teachers were: the humanist Pomponio Leto for ancient letters, history and classical culture; the scientist Alberto Piglio for mathematical and scientific disciplines. But in the Eternal City his conduct was reprehensible. After being in jail for some time, he was sent away from the city.The family sent him to the court of Lorenzo de 'Medici. In Florence he was able to attend the lessons of Marsilio Ficino, he met Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and met the highest rappresentatives of the Italian nobility: future priests, kings, dukes, cardinals, artists, writers and poets. At the Medici Court he also become acquainted with John and Giulio de 'Medici (both of whom will precede him as popes).
Returned to Rome, he went to Pope Innocent VIII, who assigned him the apostolic protonotary office. Pope Alexander VI appointed him Cardinal. Alessandro's sister, Giulia Farnese, was the favorite of Pope Borgia. In 1495 Alexander inherited the office of Papal Legation of Viterbo. In 1502 he was appointed delegate of the Anconitan Marca. He left the appointment 1509. He spent the following years between the Pope Medici's court and the family's possessions. In 1513 the building of Palazzo Farnese in Rome was started.
He was not present in Rome in the days of the Sacco dei Lanzichenecchi (1527). In September of that same year he settled in Parma, whose diocese was bishop. On June 1, 1528, he entered with Pope Clement VII to Viterbo.
On December 13, 1532, he accompanied Charles V of Asburg at his entrance to Bologna, where he met Pope Clement VII.
Alessandro Farnese was ordained a priest on 26 June 1519 and was consecrated bishop on July 2nd by Leo X. He celebrated his first Mass on December 25 of the same year. In 1512 he was among the Pope's representatives at the Lateran Council V. As a bishop of Parma, he held a synod in the ducal town, where he began to apply the decrees of the lateran council.
As a cardinal participated in six conclaves, from 1503 to 1534; its influence increased over time. He laid the papal tiara on Leo X's head in 1513 and attended the coronation ceremony of Emperor Charles V in 1530.
Paul III supported the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and encouraged him to clash with the king of France, the huguenot Francis I. In 1540 he sent the cardinal John Gerolamo Morone as a nuncio to Germany, accompanied by Cardinal Gasparo Contarini the following year.
In January 1546 the pontiff suspended from his office Cardinal Hermann von Wied, Archbishop of Cologne and elector since 1515. In April, he excommunicated him.
On December 17, 1538 the Pontiff excommunicated King Henry VIII of England and put him under ban. After this he tried to form a coalition of Catholic kings against England, but the monarchs of the two major states of the time (France and the Empire), in contrast to each other, prevented it from being realized.
In 1534 all Europe was crossed by tearing religious tensions. A resolute act of the new pontiff, and of the entire Catholic Church, was necessary because of the spread of the Protestant Reformation. First, Paul III expanded the Cardinal's College with the insertion of figures who, in a different way, were in favor of a Catholic reform: Gasparo Contarini, Gian Pietro Carafa, John Gerolamo Morone and English Reginald Pole.
The pontiff needed France and Germany to ensure their neutrality, that is, they did not influence the work of the council. To this end, in 1537 he made an official visit to Emperor Carlo V of Habsburg, promising that the seat of the council would be Mantua. But the Duke of Lombarda lost its support, saying that he could not bear the costs of an international level assassination. Paul III then chose Vicenza (the Republic of Venice had good relations with both the Germans and the French), but the council could not begin because in the meantime a conflict between France and the Empire broke out. Paul III had to wait for the end of the conflict.
On May 22, 1542, Paul III announced the council (The papal bull Initio nostro) for October 1 of the same year (Kalendas octobris) in Trento. Trento was considered the most appropriate choice as it was halfway between Rome and Germany and was home to a bishopric principate belonging to the German Empire. Due to the state of war in which some nations were still declining, the council was suspended on July 6, 1543. It was re-consecrated the following year with the Laetare Jerusalem (19 November 1544) bubble. The Council opened solemnly in Trento on December 13, 1545, on the 3rd Sunday of Advent, in the cathedral of San Vigilio, to honor the homily of Prince Bishop Cristoforo Madruzzo. The pontiff was represented by three cardinals: Giovanni Ciocchi del Monte, Marcello Cervini and Reginald Pole.
The Council first counted a few prelates, almost all Italians, and was almost always controlled by the Pontifical delegates. For the first two years the conciliar fathers discussed procedural issues, lacking the agreement between the Pope and the Emperor: while the Emperor tried to bring the debate on reformist issues, the Pope tried to bring him more on themes of a theological nature.
The choice of Trento had not been appreciated in Rome. In the curia, the choice of a city of the Germanic empire had been accepted; several times it was also attempted to transfer the council to a city closest to Rome, but it was necessary to give up the idea for the emperor's opposition. The occasion came in February 1547 when a plague epidemic broke out in Trento. This led to the departure of many Italian prelates: for the pope was a harm as they were his supporters. Before the damage became irreparable, the Legates decided, with the majority of two thirds, to transfer the seat of the Council from Trento to Bologna. The pope confirmed the transfer. Two sessions took place in Bologna. The first began in the same year 1547; the second was held in 1549.
During this time the tension between the pope and the emperor went further. Relationships first stem from a violent Emperor's protest (January 1548), then for his arbitrary act at the Diet of Augusta, where he had issued a provisional measure, the so-called Interim (June 30, 1548). This document, both from the doctrinal and the disciplinary point of view, was basically Catholic, but allowed Protestants the priests' marriage until a final decision of the council. There was no word about the restitution of the ecclesiastical goods seized. The pope was dissatisfied because he saw an undue interference of the emperor in the sphere of ecclesiastical rights. For this arbitrary act of Charles V, which was added to the death of King Francis Francis I, who deprived the pontiff of a strong ally, on September 13, 1549, Paul III suspended the council. The pontiff did not see the conclusion of the council, which lasted until 1563.
Paul III declared himself neutral in the ultradecal contention between France and the Empire. The King of France Francis I, who was strong in this neutrality, regained hostilities in 1536, commencing the third conflict with the Emperor, which ended only two years later, in 1538, with the armistice of Bomy and the Peace of Nice , which did not lead to any result, leaving unchanged the findings of the Peace of Madrid and of Cambrai Peace, which had concluded the two previous conflicts.
Despite the long-awaited summoning of the Council, probably because of the Protestant refusal to attend, Emperor Charles V decided to use weapons. Among the rulers, they had passed on his side as allies, besides his brother King Ferdinand, Duke Guglielmo IV of Bavaria, some Protestant princes (including Duke Maurice of Saxony), and the same pontiff Paul III, who exchange, had succeeded in gaining the opening of the Council. The moment seemed opportune to the pontiff also to acquire for his son Pier Luigi the duchies of Parma and Piacenza. Even though they belonged to the Pontifical States, Pope Paulus thought he had the best on the reluctance of the cardinals by exchanging duchies with the less precious domains of Camerino and Nepi. The Emperor accepted the proposal because of the expected reward of 12,000 infantry units, 500 knights and a considerable amount of money. On August 17, 1545, Paul III assigned the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza to his son Pier Luigi, his nephew Ottavio and their male descendants by birth order.
The soldiers promised by Paul III were sent to the emperor under the command of Ottavio Farnese. The Smalcalda League War had a very rapid development, the Emperor defeated and dissolved the League in April 1547. But in reality Protestantism was only won as a political-military organization, not as a religious power.
But while north of the Alps the Emperor had been exploited in the recovery of Germany to Roman Catholicism, the Pope detached himself from him as the Emperor himself had kept himself distant in the question of the recognition of Parma and Piacenza in Pier Luigi and the the situation came to a complete breakup when the imperial vice-regent, Ferrante I Gonzaga, proceeded to the expulsion of the Pope's son. The duke was assassinated in Piacenza and Paul III believed that this could not have happened without the Emperor's knowledge.
In 1540 the tax on salt in the city of Perugia was increased. There were riots in the city (the salt war). Paul III sent his son Pier Luigi Farnese to quell the revolt. Perugia lost its autonomy and became an integral part of the Pontifical State.
Paul III was one of the greatest patrons of the Italian Renaissance. He arranged guilds and scholars, built chapels, churches and great Roman monuments. During his pontificate the Pauline Chapel was erected in the Vatican Palace and the construction of the Regia Hall was started. The pontiff promoted a new building development in Rome, embellishing it with new streets and fountains, spending high figures to improve the road network.The coin called Giulio, after his death was called Paul. Prior to his election to the Pontifical Father, he succeeded in creating what is now known as the Farnese collection.
He was an astrology lover, and he had wizards and seers among his courtiers, who often consulted about every little thing, such as deciding on the time of a departure or the date of a Consistory.
Among the protagonists of this season, the greatest was Michelangelo Buonarroti: the Tuscan genius settled in Rome in 1534 and lived in the Eternal City until his death, thirty years later. in 1534 Paul III commissioned him the Universal Judgment. He also entrusted him with many other assignments, including the life-long superintendent of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican and the creation of the Capitol Square. The painters Sebastiano Ricci and Tiziano, famous, performed several portraits of Paul III.
At the age of eighty, his health deteriorated suddenly: a violent altercation with the grandchildren Ottavio and Alessandro about the annexation of the Duchy of Parma and Piacenza caused him a serious infirmity from which he did not recover.
On November 10, 1549, after fifteen years of pontificate, who had seen him as the protagonist of European affairs , Paul III died.He was buried in St. Peter's Basilica.