Pope Pius II

Pope Pius IIAlso known as

  • Ænea Silvio Piccolomini
  • Ænea Silvio de’ Piccolomini
  • Æneas Sylvius
  • Gobelinus


Born to an impoverished noble family, the eldest of eighteen children of Silvio de’ Piccolomini and Vittoria Forteguerra. Studied literature in Florence, Italy, and civil law in Siena, Italy. When he heard Saint Bernardine of Siena preach in 1425, he was drawn to monastic life, but was talked out of it by friends. Teacher in Siena. Novelist who also wrote on politics. Secretary to the bishop of Fermo, Italy. He moved to Basle with the bishop, and over the next few years worked as secretary to the bishop of Freising, Germany, then to the bishop of Novara, Italy, and finally to Cardinal Albergati. Travelled to Scotland and England in 1435 on a secret diplomatic mission that has been described several ways but never really explained. During the trip he developed the gout that would plague him the rest of his life, fathered an illegitimate child in Scotland, and wrote an account of his travels.

Returning to the continent, he became involved in the conflicts of the Council of Basle with the Pope Eugene IV; he even supported anti-pope Felix V. He became involved with the artistic and literary world of Basle, led something of a dissolute life. In 1442 he abandoned the Council and sought the protection of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III at Vienna, Austria. Secretary to the imperial chancery in January 1443. Imperial poet laureate. Father of a second illegitimate child in Strasbourg, France. In 1445 he travelled to Rome to ask Pope Eugene to convoke a new council, and while there reconciled with the legitimate papacy. He negotiated the reconciliation of the German imperial electors with Pope Eugene which left the anti-pope and the Council with no support.

This constant re-thinking of his position to the Church and papacy led to re-thinking his personal life, and he not only reconciled to the pope, but changed his personal, moral and spiritual life. Ordained a sub-deacon in March 1466 at Vienna. Bishop of Trieste, Italy in 1447. In 1450 he negotiated the marriage of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick to Princess Leonora of Naples. Bishop of Siena in 1450. Diplomat for Frederick to Bohemia and to the papacy of Calistus III. Created cardinal on 18 December 1456. Bishop of Warmia. 210th pope in 1458.

Pius worked throughout his papacy for Crusade against the Turks, to push them out of Europe, but he could not obtain any commitment from European powers, and it came to nothing. He established the Knights of Our Lady of Bethlehem as part of the preparations, but it is unclear if there were ever any members. He moved court for a while to Siena, just because he missed his homeland, but domestic troubles brought him back to Rome. He tried to mediate in the war between Poland and the Teutonic Knights, and when he failed, he cursed both sides. He obtained the abolition of the Pragmatic Sanction which limited papal authority in France, but when he did not support French King Louis XI in his war over Naples, effectively re-established the Sanction. Pius mediate reconciliation between the emperor and the king of Hungary. He instituted a commission to reform of the Roman court. He worked for monastic reform and discipline. He defended the Church doctrine against the writings of ex-bishop Reginald Peacock, published a papal Bull explaining and renouncing his own errors when working with the Council of Basle, and wrote other historical treatises. He has left us the only autobiography by a Pope. Toward the end of his life, Pius felt compelled to personally lead the Crusade against the Turks, and he marched to the staging area of Ancona, Italy. However, the army deserted along the way, and fever killed him before he could take other action.


Papal Ascension


MLA Citation

  • “Pope Pius II“. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 February 2019. Web. 26 February 2021. <>