The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Paul IV (1555-1559)
Consistory of June 7, 1555 (I)


(1) 1. CARAFA, Carlo (1517-1561)

Birth. March 29, 1517, Naples. Son of Giovanni Alfonso Carafa, count of Montorio, and Caterina Cantelma. Nephew of Pope Paul IV (1555-1559). His last name is also listed as Caraffa. Brother of Cardinal Antonio Carafa (1568). Other cardinals of the family were Filippo Carafa (1378); Oliviero Carafa (1467); Gianvincenzo Carafa (1527); Diomede Carafa (1555); Alfonso Carafa (1557); Decio Carafa (1611); Pier Luigi Carafa, seniore (1645); Carlo Carafa della Spina (1664); Fortunato Ilario Carafa della Spina (1686); Pierluigi Carafa, iuniore (1728); Francesco Carafa della Spina (1773); Marino Carafa di Belvedere (1801); and Domenico Carafa della Spina (1844).

Education. (No information found).

Early life. Very young, he entered the household of Cardinal Pompeo Colonna and later, that of Pierluigi Farnese, duke of Castro. Entered the military, for which he had a natural inclination, and fought under the marquis of Vasto in Lombardy and Piedmont; and under Ottavio Farnese, duke of Parma, in Flanders and Germany. Due to an offense (1) that he received from the Spaniards, he decided to abandon their service, join the forces of Pietro Strozzi and fight in the war of Siena. Entered the Sovereign Order of Malta and was named bailiff of Naples. As soon as his uncle was elevated to the papacy in 1555, he entered the ecclesiastical state, became a Roman cleric and was promoted to the cardinalate.

Sacred orders. (No information found).

Cardinalate. Created cardinal deacon in the consistory of June 7, 1555. Legate in Fermo, August 13, 1555. Governor of Civita Castellana, August 13, 1555 until March 12, 1559. Received the red hat and the deaconry of Ss. Vito e Modesto, August 23, 1555. Regent of the Apostolic Chancery. Legate in Bologna, with the superintendency of the entire State of the Church, August 30, 1555; deprived of the legation, January 27, 1559. Governor of Cereto, September 19, 1555. Governor perpetuo of Ancona Fano, and Rimini, January 13, 1556. Seconded the resentment of his uncle the pope against the Spaniards; twice went to France as legate to negotiate with King Charles II; in 1556, exploded a war against the Spaniards caused by the Colonnas, family protected by Spain and persecuted by the pope; peace was obtained the following year by the cardinal himself, who went to Madrid as legate. Nominated by the king of France administrator of the diocese of Cominges; confirmed by the pope in spite of the opposition of two Spanish cardinals, July 6, 1556. Governor of Gualdo, November 9, 1556. Named legate a latere in Spain to negotiate the peace with King Felipe II; later, legate before the King of France Charles II to obtain the peace between that country and Spain. At his return from Madrid in 1557, he and his brothers governed so tyrannically that the pope relegated them to different places; in 1559, he was sent to Civitalavini and from there, to Marino, where he got reunited with his mother. Participated in the conclave of 1559, which elected Pope Pius IV. Opted for the deaconry of S. Nicola in Carcere Tulliano, January 31, 1560. On June 7, 1560, when he was leaving the consistory, the cardinal was arrested and sent to Castelo Sant'Angelo; together with him were arrested the Duke of Palliano, his brother; the Count of Aliste, and Leonardo Cardini. A commission of eight cardinals was named to discuss and examine the cause against the arrested; the process of Girolamo Federici, bishop of Sagona, governor of Rome, was read in consistory and without hearing the opinion of the cardinals or taking their votes, by means of a brief report given to the pope by the governor, the definitive sentence was pronounced: guilty of a lengthy series of crimes from homicide to heresy; deprived of the cardinalitial dignity and of all his honors and benefices and sentenced to death; the cardinal was strangled and the other three were beheaded.

Death. March 4 (2), 1561, executed, Castello Sant'Angelo, Rome. Buried in the church of S. Maria in Traspontina, Rome; later, his body was transferred to his family's tomb in the church of S. Maria sopra Minerva, Rome. On September 26, 1567, the sentence was declared unjust by Pope St. Pius V (3). The memory of the victims was vindicated and their estates restored.

Bibliography. Berton, Charles. Dictionnaire des cardinaux, contenant des notions générales sur le cardinalat, la nomenclature complète ..., des cardinaux de tous less temps et de tous les pays ... les détails biographiques essentiels sur tous les cardinaux ... de longues études sur les cardinaux célèbre ... Paris : J.-P. Migne, 1857 ; Facsimile edition. Farnborough ; Gregg, 1969, col. 624-625; Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1793, IV, 337-342; Chacón, Alfonso. Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificvm Romanorum et S. R. E. Cardinalivm ab initio nascentis Ecclesiæ vsque ad Vrbanvm VIII. Pont. Max. 2 volumes. Romae : Typis Vaticanis, 1630, II, col. 1621-1622; Donata Chiomenti-Vassalli, Paolo IV e il processo Carafa. Milan : Mursia, 1993; Eubel, Conradus and Gulik, Guglielmus van. Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi, Münich : Sumptibus et Typis Librariae Regensbergianae, 1935; reprint, Padua : Il Messagero di S. Antonio, 1960, III, 34, 75, 76 and 177; Weber, Christoph. Legati e governatori dello Stato Pontificio : 1550-1809. Roma : Ministero per i beni culturali e ambientali, Ufficio centrale per i beni archivistici, 1994. (Pubblicazioni degli archivi di Stato. Sussidi; 7) pp. 114, 149, 212, 233, 240, 349 and 550.

Webgraphy. Le cardinal Carlo Carafa, 1519-1561: étude sur le pontificat de Paul IV by Georges Duruy (click on "Ttitle Page - vii", on the right side of the page); brief biographical data, in English; and his genealogy, A7 B2 C1 D5.

(1) According to Cardella, Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa, IV, 337, a soldier of the forces of the Duke of Alba, who had been captured by Carafa, was taken away by a knight of the Manriquez family, without Carafa's permission. When he could not obtain justice in the imperial court for this action, which he considered prejudicial and injurious, he went to Italy to dare the knight to a duel. By order of Emperor Charles V he was detained in Trent and deprived of liberty for some months. He was not freed until he desisted of his intention to seek justice.
(2) According to Cardella, Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa, IV, 341-342, the Marquis of Montebello, brother of the cardinal, asked Pope Pius V to reexamine the cause. After several months, a complete and exact relation was presented in consistory with the purpose of showing the cardinals that they had been misinformed during the process in the pontificate of Pope Pius IV. In the same consistory, Pope Pius V pronounced a sentence, after having assured the cardinals that he had seen and examined both processes, by which he solemnly declared that Cardinal Carlo Carafa had been unjustly and iniquitously condemned and that he was vindicating his memory and restoring his estate to his heirs. In addition, Alessandro Pallantieri, the fiscal of the first process, was jailed for having deceived Pope Pius IV. The pope had solemn exequies celebrated in the tomb of the cardinal, and also elevated his brother Antonio Carafa to the cardinalate.
(3) This is according to Eubel, Hierarchia Catholica Medii et Recentioris Aevi, III, 34; the same source, III, 75, indicates that other sources, not mentioned, say that he died on March 6, 1561; Cardella, Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa, IV, 341, also indicates that his execution occurred on March 4, 1561; his genealogy, linked above, indicates that he died on March 9, 1561, and does not mention anything about his execution.

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