Pope Pius II

Pope Pius II

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Pope Pius II, born Enea Silvio Piccolomini (Latin Aeneas Sylvius; October 18, 1405 – August 14, 1464) was Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 from August 19, 1458 until his death in 1464. Pius II was born at Corsignano in the Sienese
Siena
Siena is a city in Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the province of Siena.The historic centre of Siena has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. It is one of the nation's most visited tourist attractions, with over 163,000 international arrivals in 2008...

 territory of a noble but decayed family. His longest and most enduring work is the story of his life, Commentaries, which is the only autobiography ever written by a reigning Pope.

Early life


After studying at the universities of Siena
University of Siena
The University of Siena in Siena, Tuscany is one of the oldest and first publicly funded universities in Italy. Originally called Studium Senese, the University of Siena was founded in 1240. The University has around 20,000 students, nearly half of Siena's total population of around 54,000...

 and Florence
University of Florence
The University of Florence is a higher study institute in Florence, central Italy. One of the largest and oldest universities in the country, it consists of 12 faculties...

, he settled in the former city as a teacher, but in 1431 accepted the post of secretary to Domenico Capranica
Domenico Capranica
Domenico Capranica was an Italian theologian, canonist, statesman, and Cardinal.He was born in Capranica Prenestina. After studies in canon and civil law at Padua and Bologna, under teachers probably including Giuliano Cesarini, he received the title of Doctor of Both Laws at the age of twenty-one...

, bishop of Fermo, then on his way to the Council of Basel (1431–39). Capranica was protesting against the new Pope Eugene IV
Pope Eugene IV
Pope Eugene IV , born Gabriele Condulmer, was pope from March 3, 1431, to his death.-Biography:He was born in Venice to a rich merchant family, a Correr on his mother's side. Condulmer entered the Order of Saint Augustine at the monastery of St. George in his native city...

's (1431–1447) refusing him the cardinalate for which he had been designated by Pope Martin V
Pope Martin V
Pope Martin V , born Odo Colonna, was Pope from 1417 to 1431. His election effectively ended the Western Schism .-Biography:...

 (1417–1431). Arriving at Basel
Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

 after enduring a stormy voyage to Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

 and then a trip across the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

, he successively served Capranica, who ran short of money, and then other masters.

In 1435 he was sent by Cardinal Albergati, Eugenius IV's legate at the council, on a secret mission to Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, the object of which is variously related even by himself. He visited England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 as well as Scotland, underwent many perils and vicissitudes in both countries, and has left a valuable account of each. The journey to Scotland proved so tempestuous that Piccolomini swore that he would walk barefoot to the nearest shrine of Our Lady from their landing port. This proved to be Dunbar
Dunbar
Dunbar is a town in East Lothian on the southeast coast of Scotland, approximately 28 miles east of Edinburgh and 28 miles from the English Border at Berwick-upon-Tweed....

, and the nearest shrine 10 miles distant at Whitekirk. The journey through the ice and snow left Aeneas afflicted with pain in his legs for the rest of his life. In Scotland he had his second natural child, the other one having been born in Strasburg.

Upon his return to Basel, Aeneas sided actively with the council in its conflict with the Pope, and, although still a layman, eventually obtained a share in the direction of its affairs. He supported the creation of the antipope Felix V (1439–1449), Amadeus, Duke of Savoy, participating in his coronation. Aeneas then withdrew to the Emperor Frederick III
Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick the Peaceful KG was Duke of Austria as Frederick V from 1424, the successor of Albert II as German King as Frederick IV from 1440, and Holy Roman Emperor as Frederick III from 1452...

's (1440–1493) court at Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

. He had been crowned imperial poet laureate
Poet Laureate
A poet laureate is a poet officially appointed by a government and is often expected to compose poems for state occasions and other government events...

 in 1442, and he obtained the patronage of the emperor's chancellor, Kaspar Schlick. Some identify the love adventure at Siena Aeneas related in his romance, The Tale of the Two Lovers with an escapade of the Chancellor.

Aeneas' character had hitherto been that of an easy and democratic-minded man of the world, with no pretense to strictness in morals or consistency in politics. He now began to be more regular in the former respect, and in the latter adopted a decided line by making his peace between the Empire and Rome. Being sent on a mission to Rome in 1445, with the ostensible object of inducing Eugenius to convoke a new council, he was absolved from ecclesiastical censure
Censure
A censure is an expression of strong disapproval or harsh criticism. Among the forms that it can take are a stern rebuke by a legislature, a spiritual penalty imposed by a church, and a negative judgment pronounced on a theological proposition.-Politics:...

s, and returned to Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 under an engagement to assist the Pope. This he did most effectually by the diplomatic dexterity with which he smoothed away differences between the papal court of Rome and the German imperial electors; and he had a leading part in the compromise by which, in 1447, the dying Eugenius IV accepted the reconciliation tendered by the German princes, and the council and the antipope were left without support. He had already taken orders, and one of the first acts of Eugenius IV's successor Pope Nicholas V
Pope Nicholas V
Pope Nicholas V , born Tommaso Parentucelli, was Pope from March 6, 1447 to his death in 1455.-Biography:He was born at Sarzana, Liguria, where his father was a physician...

 (1447–1455) was to make him Bishop of Trieste. He later served as Bishop of Siena.

In 1450 Aeneas was sent as ambassador by the Emperor Frederick III to negotiate his marriage with the princess Eleonore of Portugal, which object he successfully achieved; in 1451 he undertook a mission to Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

, and concluded a satisfactory arrangement with the Hussite
Hussite
The Hussites were a Christian movement following the teachings of Czech reformer Jan Hus , who became one of the forerunners of the Protestant Reformation...

 leader George of Podebrady
George of Podebrady
George of Kunštát and Poděbrady , also known as Poděbrad or Podiebrad , was King of Bohemia...

; in 1452 he accompanied Frederick III to Rome, where Frederick wedded Eleanor and was crowned emperor by the pope. In August 1455 Aeneas again arrived in Rome on an embassy to proffer the obedience of Germany to the new pope, Calixtus III (1455–1458). He brought strong recommendations from the emperor and King Ladislaus of Hungary for his nomination to the cardinalate, but delays arose from the Pope's resolution to promote his own nephews first, and he did not attain the object of his ambition until December in the following year. He achieved temporarily the bishopric of Warmia
Warmia
Warmia or Ermland is a region between Pomerelia and Masuria in northeastern Poland. Together with Masuria, it forms the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship....

 (Ermeland).

Election to Papacy



Calixtus III died on August 6, 1458. On August 10, the cardinals entered into conclave. According to Aeneas' account, the wealthy cardinal Guillaume d'Estouteville of Rouen
Rouen
Rouen , in northern France on the River Seine, is the capital of the Haute-Normandie region and the historic capital city of Normandy. Once one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe , it was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy in the Middle Ages...

, though a Frenchman and of apparently exceptionable character, seemed certain to be elected. Aeneas has told us in a passage of his own history of his times, long excerpted from that work and printed clandestinely in the Conclavi de' Pontifici Romani, by what art, energy and eloquence he frustrated this supposedly false step. It seemed appropriate to Aeneas that the election should fall upon himself: although the sacred college included a few men of higher moral standard, he believed his abilities made him most worthy of the papal tiara
Papal Tiara
The Papal Tiara, also known incorrectly as the Triple Tiara, or in Latin as the Triregnum, in Italian as the Triregno and as the Trirègne in French, is the three-tiered jewelled papal crown, supposedly of Byzantine and Persian origin, that is a prominent symbol of the papacy...

. It was the peculiar faculty of Aeneas to accommodate himself perfectly to whatever position he might be called upon to occupy; it was his peculiar good fortune that every step in life had placed him in circumstances appealing increasingly to the better part of his nature, an appeal to which he had never failed to respond. The party pamphleteer had been more respectable than the private secretary, the diplomatist than the pamphleteer, the cardinal than the diplomatist; now the unscrupulous adventurer and licentious novelist of a few short years ago seated himself quite naturally in the chair of St. Peter, and from the resources of his versatile character produced without apparent effort many of the virtues and endowments becoming his exalted station.

After allying himself with Ferdinand
Ferdinand II of Aragon
Ferdinand the Catholic was King of Aragon , Sicily , Naples , Valencia, Sardinia, and Navarre, Count of Barcelona, jure uxoris King of Castile and then regent of that country also from 1508 to his death, in the name of...

, the Aragon
Aragon
Aragon is a modern autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces : Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza...

ese claimant to the throne of Naples, his next important act was to convene a congress of the representatives of Christian princes at Mantua
Mantua
Mantua is a city and comune in Lombardy, Italy and capital of the province of the same name. Mantua's historic power and influence under the Gonzaga family, made it one of the main artistic, cultural and notably musical hubs of Northern Italy and the country as a whole...

 for joint action against the Turks
Ottoman Turks
The Ottoman Turks were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who formed the base of the state's military and ruling classes. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı , from the house of Osman I The Ottoman...

. On September 26, 1459, he called for a new crusade against the Ottomans and on January 14, 1460, he proclaimed the official crusade that was to last for three years. His long progress to the place of assembly resembled a triumphal procession; and the Council of Mantua
Council of Mantua (1459)
The Council of Mantua of 1459, or Congress of Mantua, was a religious meeting convoked by Pope Pius II, who had been elected to the Papacy in the previous year and was engaged in planning war against the Ottoman Turks, who had taken Constantinople in 1453...

, a complete failure as regarded its ostensible object, at least showed that the impotence of Christendom
Christendom
Christendom, or the Christian world, has several meanings. In a cultural sense it refers to the worldwide community of Christians, adherents of Christianity...

 was not owing to the Pope. The Pope did, however, influence Vlad III Dracula — whom the Pope held in high regard — in starting a war against Mehmed II
Mehmed II
Mehmed II , was Sultan of the Ottoman Empire for a short time from 1444 to September 1446, and later from...

. This conflict at its peak involved the Wallachians trying to assassinate the Sultan (see The Night Attack
The Night Attack
The Night Attack of Târgovişte was a skirmish fought between forces of Vlad III the Impaler of Wallachia and Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire on Thursday, June 17, 1462. The conflict initially started with Vlad's refusal to pay the Jizya to the Sultan and intensified when Vlad Ţepeş invaded...

).

On his return from the congress, Pius II spent a considerable time in his native district of Siena, where he was joined by his erstwhile host in Mantua Ludovico Gonzaga
Ludovico II of Gonzaga
Ludovico III of Gonzaga, also spelled Lodovico was the ruler of the Italian city of Mantua from 1444 to his death in 1478.-Parents:Ludovico was the son of Gianfrancesco Gonzaga and Paola Malatesta...

; Pius has described his delight and the charm of a country life in very pleasing language. He was recalled to Rome by the disturbances occasioned by Tiburzio di Maso
Tiburzio di Maso
Tiburzio di Maso was a leader of an anarchic faction in Rome that briefly attempted to restore the medieval commune of the city, the last attempt at populist government in the States of the Church....

, who was ultimately seized and executed. In the struggle for the Kingdom of Naples
Kingdom of Naples
The Kingdom of Naples, comprising the southern part of the Italian peninsula, was the remainder of the old Kingdom of Sicily after secession of the island of Sicily as a result of the Sicilian Vespers rebellion of 1282. Known to contemporaries as the Kingdom of Sicily, it is dubbed Kingdom of...

 between the supporters of the House of Aragon
House of Aragon
The House of Aragon is the name given several royal houses that ruled the County, the Kingdom or the Crown of Aragon.Some historiansGuillermo Fatás y Guillermo Redondo, Alberto Montaner Frutos, Faustino Menéndez Pidal de Navascués...

 and the House of Anjou
House of Valois-Anjou
The Valois House of Anjou, or the Younger House of Anjou, was a noble French family, deriving from the royal family, the House of Valois. They were monarchs of Naples, as well as various other territories....

, the Papal States
Papal States
The Papal State, State of the Church, or Pontifical States were among the major historical states of Italy from roughly the 6th century until the Italian peninsula was unified in 1861 by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia .The Papal States comprised territories under...

 were at this time troubled by rebellious barons and marauding condottieri
Condottieri
thumb|Depiction of [[Farinata degli Uberti]] by [[Andrea del Castagno]], showing a 15th century condottiero's typical attire.Condottieri were the mercenary soldier leaders of the professional, military free companies contracted by the Italian city-states and the Papacy, from the late Middle Ages...

, whom he gradually, though momentarily, abated. The Neapolitan War was also concluded by the success of the Pope's ally the Aragonese Ferdinand. In particular, the pope engaged for most of his reign in what looked a personal war against Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, lord of Rimini, with the result of the almost complete submission of that condottiero. Pius II tried also mediation in the Thirteen Years' War between Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 and the Teutonic Knights
Teutonic Knights
The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem , commonly the Teutonic Order , is a German medieval military order, in modern times a purely religious Catholic order...

, but, when he failed to achieve success, cast an anathema
Anathema
Anathema originally meant something lifted up as an offering to the gods; it later evolved to mean:...

 over Polish and Prussians both. Pius II was also engaged in a series of disputes with the Bohemian King George of Podebrady
George of Podebrady
George of Kunštát and Poděbrady , also known as Poděbrad or Podiebrad , was King of Bohemia...

 and the Sigismund of Austria
Sigismund, Archduke of Austria
Sigismund of Austria, Duke, then Archduke of Further Austria was a Habsburg archduke of Austria and ruler of Tirol from 1446 to 1490....

 (who was excommunicated for having arrested Nicholas of Cusa
Nicholas of Cusa
Nicholas of Kues , also referred to as Nicolaus Cusanus and Nicholas of Cusa, was a cardinal of the Catholic Church from Germany , a philosopher, theologian, jurist, mathematician, and an astronomer. He is widely considered one of the great geniuses and polymaths of the 15th century...

, bishop of Brixen).

In July 1461, Pius II canonized Saint Catherine of Siena
Catherine of Siena
Saint Catherine of Siena, T.O.S.D, was a tertiary of the Dominican Order, and a Scholastic philosopher and theologian. She also worked to bring the papacy of Gregory XI back to Rome from its displacement in France, and to establish peace among the Italian city-states. She was proclaimed a Doctor...

, and in October of the same year he gained at first what appeared to be a brilliant success by inducing the new King of France, Louis XI
Louis XI of France
Louis XI , called the Prudent , was the King of France from 1461 to 1483. He was the son of Charles VII of France and Mary of Anjou, a member of the House of Valois....

 (1461–1483), to abolish the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges
Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges
The Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, issued by King Charles VII of France, on July 7, 1438, required a General Church Council, with authority superior to that of the pope, to be held every ten years, required election rather than appointment to ecclesiastical offices, prohibited the pope from...

, by which the Pope's authority in France had been grievously impaired. But Louis XI had expected that Pius II would in return espouse the French cause in Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

, and when he found himself disappointed he virtually re-established the Pragmatic Sanction by royal ordinances.

The crusade for which the Congress of Mantua had been convoked made no progress. The Pope did his best: he addressed an eloquent letter to the sultan
Sultan
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

 urging him to become a Christian, a letter that probably never was sent. Not surprisingly, if it was delivered, this invitation was not successful. A public ceremony was staged to receive the relics of the head of Saint Andrew
Saint Andrew
Saint Andrew , called in the Orthodox tradition Prōtoklētos, or the First-called, is a Christian Apostle and the brother of Saint Peter. The name "Andrew" , like other Greek names, appears to have been common among the Jews from the 3rd or 2nd century BC. No Hebrew or Aramaic name is recorded for him...

 when it was brought from the East to Rome. Pius II succeeded in reconciling the Emperor and the King of Hungary, and derived great encouragement as well as pecuniary advantage from the discovery of mines of alum
Alum
Alum is both a specific chemical compound and a class of chemical compounds. The specific compound is the hydrated potassium aluminium sulfate with the formula KAl2.12H2O. The wider class of compounds known as alums have the related empirical formula, AB2.12H2O.-Chemical properties:Alums are...

 in the papal territory at Tolfa
Tolfa
Tolfa is a town and comune of the province of Rome, in the Lazio region of central Italy; it lies to the ENE of Civitavecchia by road.It is the main center in the Monti della Tolfa, an extinct volcanic group between Civitavecchia and the Lake of Bracciano....

. But France was estranged; the Duke of Burgundy
Duke of Burgundy
Duke of Burgundy was a title borne by the rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy, a small portion of traditional lands of Burgundians west of river Saône which in 843 was allotted to Charles the Bald's kingdom of West Franks...

 broke his positive promises; Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

 was engrossed with the attempt to seize Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

; Florence cynically advised the Pope to let the Turks and the Venetians
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 wear each other out. Pius II was unaware he was nearing his end, and his malady probably prompted the feverish impatience with which on June 18, 1464, he assumed the cross and departed for Ancona
Ancona
Ancona is a city and a seaport in the Marche region, in central Italy, with a population of 101,909 . Ancona is the capital of the province of Ancona and of the region....

 to conduct the crusade in person.

Slavery


Pius condemned slavery of newly baptised Christians as a "great crime" in an address (1462) to the local ruler of the Canary Islands. Pius instructed bishops to impose penalties on transgressors. Pius did not condemn the concept of trading in slaves, only the enslavement of the recently baptised who represented a very small minority of those captured and taken to Portugal. Pope Urban VIII in his bull dated 22 April 1639 describes these grave warnings of Pius (7 October 1462, Apud Raynaldum in Annalibus Ecclesiasticis ad ann n.42) as relating to "neophytes". According to British diplomatic papers Pius's letter was addressed to Bishop Rubeira and confirms Urban's observation that the condemnation relates to new converts being enslaved.

Illness and death


In spite of suffering from a fever, Pope Pius II left Rome for Ancona in the hopes of increasing the morale of the crusading army. However, the crusading army melted away at Ancona for want of transport, and when at last the Venetian fleet arrived, the dying Pope could only view it from a window. He expired two days afterwards, August 14, 1464, and was succeeded by Pope Paul II
Pope Paul II
Pope Paul II , born Pietro Barbo, was pope from 1464 until his death in 1471.- Early life :He was born in Venice, and was a nephew of Pope Eugene IV , through his mother. His adoption of the spiritual career, after having been trained as a merchant, was prompted by his uncle's election as pope...

 (1464–71). Pius II's body was buried in Sant'Andrea della Valle
Sant'Andrea della Valle
Sant'Andrea della Valle is a basilica church in Rome, Italy, in the rione of Sant'Eustachio. The basilica is the general seat for the religious order of the Theatines.-Overview:...

, while an empty cenotaph was built in St. Peter's Basilica
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

. Later, the cenotaph was moved to Sant'Andrea as well.

Reputation



Pius II had a sincere, loving nature, frank and naïve even in his aberrations and defects. The leading trait of Pius II's character was his extreme impressionableness. Chameleon-like, he took colour from surrounding circumstances, and could always depend on being what these circumstances required him to be. As, therefore, his prospects widened and his responsibilities deepened, his character widened and deepened too; and he who had entered upon life a shifty character quit it a model chief shepherd. While he vied with any man in industry, prudence
Prudence
Prudence is the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason. It is classically considered to be a virtue, and in particular one of the four Cardinal virtues .The word comes from Old French prudence , from Latin...

, wisdom, and courage, he excelled most men in simplicity of tastes, constancy of attachments, kindly playfulness, magnanimity
Magnanimity
Magnanimity is the virtue of being great of mind and heart. It encompasses, usually, a refusal to be petty, a willingness to face danger, and actions for noble purposes. Its antithesis is pusillanimity...

, and mercy. As chief of the church he was able and sagacious, and showed that he comprehended the conditions on which its monopoly of spiritual power could for a season be maintained; his views were far-seeing and liberal; and he was but slightly swayed by personal ends.

Pius II was a versatile and voluminous author, one of the best and most industrious of his period. His most important and longest work is his autobiography Commentaries in 13 books, first published in 1584 by Cardinal Francesco Bandini Piccolomini, a distant relative. Piccolomini altered it to some extent, removing words, phrases and whole passages that were unflattering to his relative. Piccolomini published it under the name of scribe Gobellinus, who was then misattributed as the author, a natural mistake because Pius II chose to write Commentaries from the third-person perspective. Pius II was also the author of numerous erotic poems and an obscene comedy titled Chrysis (such ethics were not unusual for his period).

His Epistles, which were collected by himself, are also an important source of historical information. The most valuable of his minor historical writings are his histories of Bohemia and of the Emperor Frederick III, the latter partly autobiographical. He sketched biographical treatises on Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, and in early and middle life produced numerous tracts on the political and theological controversies of his day, as well as on ethical subjects. Pius II was greatly admired as a poet by his contemporaries, but his reputation in belles lettres rests principally upon his The Tale of the Two Lovers, which continues to be read to this day, partly from its truth to nature, and partly from the singularity of an erotic novel being written by a Pope. He also composed some comedies, one of which alone is extant. All these works are in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

. Pius was not an eminent scholar: his Latin is frequently incorrect, and he knew little Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

; but his writings have high literary qualities.

Pope Pius II inaugurated an unusual urban project, perhaps the first city planning exercise in modern Europe. He refurbished his home town which is now by his name called Pienza
Pienza
Pienza, a town and comune in the province of Siena, in the Val d'Orcia in Tuscany , between the towns of Montepulciano and Montalcino, is the "touchstone of Renaissance urbanism."...

 (province of Siena
Province of Siena
The Province of Siena is a province in the Tuscany region of Italy. Its capital is the city of Siena.It has an area of 3,821 km² , and a total population of 252,288 . There are 36 comuni in the province...

, Tuscany
Tuscany
Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

). A cathedral and palaces were built in the best style of the day to decorate the city. They survive to this day.

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