Portrait of Alessandro Farnese (1520-1589), Cardinal (1534), Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church (1535-1589), Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Parma (1534-1535), Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Avignon (1535-1551), Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Benevento (1556-1560), Cardinal-bishop of Frascati (1565-1578), Cardinal-bishop of Ostia and Dean of the College of Cardinals (1580-1589), 1534
Alessandro Farnese (5 October 1520 – 2 March 1589), an Italian cardinal and diplomat and a great collector and patron of the arts, was the grandson of Pope Paul III (who also bore the name Alessandro Farnese), and the son of Pier Luigi Farnese, Duke of Parma, who was murdered in 1547. He should not be confused with his nephew, Alessandro Farnese, Governor of the Spanish Netherlands, grandson of Emperor Charles V and great-grandson of Pope Paul III. Farnese was born at the family castle at Valentano in Tuscany (current province of Viterbo), the son of Pierluigi Farnese, who was the son of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (Pope Paul III); and Girolama Orsini, daughter of Ludovico Orsini, seventh Conte di Pitigliano, and Giulia Conti. They were married in Rome on 6 August 1519. Young Alessandro studied at Bologna along with his cousin, Guido Ascanio Sforza di Santa Fiora. On 18 December 1534, at the age of 14, he was appointed Cardinal Deacon of the Title of Sant'Angelo in Pescheria by his grandfather Paul III, who had been elected to the papacy two months previously. Young Cardinal Farnese received many other offices and benefices, becoming Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church (13 August 1535 – 2 March 1589). On 27 August 1539, at the age of 18, Alessandro Farnese was named titular Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem; he vacated the office on the appointment of a new Patriarch on 28 February 1550. The office was highly lucrative, the duties were nominal and did not necessarily involve episcopal functions. In 1538, he was appointed Pope Paul III's principal Secretary and, with the assistance of Monsignor Marcello Cervino, he managed most of the papal business until 1549. In 1541, Cardinal Farnese was named Protector of the Holy Roman Empire before the Holy See and Protector of Spain before the Holy See. These offices made him the most prominent expediter of all Imperial and Spanish business in the Roman Curia; his opinion was always consulted and, since he was the Pope's nephew, it was often followed. At the same time, he was appointed Papal Legate in Avignon (1541-1565). From 1564 to 1565, he was Bishop of Sabina. From 1565 to 1578, he was Bishop of Tusculum (Frascati). He was the Bishop of Porto from 9 July 1578 to 5 December 1580. He was then Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia and Velletri and Dean of the College of Cardinals from 5 December 1580 until his death on 2 March 1589.
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