Bernardo Cles, known in the humanistic world with the name of Clesio, was born on 11 March 1485 in the homonymous castle of the Non valley in Trentino. After being educated at the University of Bologna, he was called in 1514 to the bishopric of Trento, interrupting the long series of German prelates, who for a century and a half were dominating the bishop's principality, and inaugurating the series of indigenous bishops. He took possession of the new charge with a pump that was never seen again. In 1530, being in Bologna as the representative of Ferdinand king of the Romans at the coronation of Charles V, he was raised by the pontiff to the cardinalate. Ferdinando's favor nearly earned him the tiara in the conclave of 1534. In 1539, appointed administrator of the bishopric of Bressanone, he opened the doors of that principality to the noble Trent. But in Bressanone he died, suffering from apoplexy, on July 28th of the same year. The bishops of Trento should be considered as the most illustrious. For the principate he found Riva, who served him as a refuge in the cloudy days of the rustic uprising of 1525, and so also the Four Vicariates; he definitively permuted the jurisdiction of Bolzano with that of Pergine; reorganized the bishop's archive, providing for the compilation of the Clesian Code; and published the statute of Trento. He also reopened the mint, beating large-form silver coins with his own effigy.
In religion and in politics he was decided to oppose the refoma and the partisan devotee of the emperor, especially in the wars against the Turk. He spent part of his life in Germany at the services of Ferdinand, exerting with rare sagacity the functions of supreme chancellor and of intimate counselor of the king of the Romans, so as to be called by the Cuspinian "the second hand" of him. Hatred for everything he knew of German Protestantism, made him look at Rome, as a lifeline. And of humanism and Italian art, he was an expert and illustrious patron. As he had relations with Erasmus, with Brassiano, with Cocleo, with Echio, and with other German scholars of the time, so he cultivated friendly relations with Bembo, with Aretino, with Nogarola, with Vergerio and with other humanists of our own.
A lover of splendor and glory, the Clesio printed a deep footprint in the artistic history of the region. Once the diversion of the Fersina torrent was carried out, it encouraged in every way the building rebirth that had to convert the frowning medieval Trento into a laughing city of the purest Italian renaissance. S. Maria Maggiore di Trento, the parishes of Civezzano and Cles, the government buildings of Cavalese and Cles, the castles of Toblino, of Pergine, of Stenico and still Cles, and many other sacred and profane buildings of Trentino are so affected by the direct influence of him, that from the munificent cardinal soles call himself the style of those monuments. But in the "Magno palazzo" erected in continuation of the old castle of Buonconsiglio in Trento, as a sumptuous residence for himself and worthy housing of the imperial and royal guests, Clesio wanted to leave his memory to posterity, deepening his arms on all the treasures of art there coluned. After the great painters and sculptors, who had contributed to that factory, from Dossi to Romanino and Fogolino, from Zacchi to Vicentino and to Longhi, another group of Italian artists was about to renew the residence of Bressanone, when death truncated at the beginning the generous divisions.