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 or 1519-1561)

Birth. March 29, 1517 (or 1519), Naples. Third son of Giovanni Alfonso Carafa, count of Montorio, and Caterina Cantelmo. His older brothers were Giovanni and Antonio. Nephew of Pope Paul IV. Other cardinals of the family were Filippo Carafa (1378); Oliviero Carafa (1467); Gianvincenzo Carafa (1527); Diomede (1555); Alfonso Carafa (1557); Antonio Carafa (1568); 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. He was page at the service of Cardinal Pompeo Colonna. He had a very unruly life, first with a dubious career as a mercenary soldier in Italy and Germany and then for his exile from Naples due to murder and brigandage. He was also accused of provoking the massacre of Spanish soldiers in a hospital in Corsica. In 1534, Pope Paul III named him knight of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem and prior of Naples.

Sacred orders. Received the diaconate from Scipione Rebiba, bishp of Mottola, April 15, 1557.

Cardinalate. Created cardinal deacon in the consistory of June 7, 1555; received the red hat and the deaconry of Santi Vito, Modesto e Crescenzia, August 23, 1555. Cardinal nipote.

Diaconate. Received the diaconate from Scipione Rebiba, bishp of Mottola, April 15, 1557. Named secretary of State in 1559. His government was very unhappy because the Papacy had to suffer a humiliating defeat by Philip II's Spain (Salt War). It seems that his policy was, in fact, pro-French in order to obtain a lordship in Tuscany, probably in the southern part of the region. Instead it arrived at the peace of Cave (1557) which established the Spanish dominion over these areas. His government was very unpopular in Rome above all for his avarice, cruelty and licentiousness; he was often accused by his contemporaries of homosexuality, so much so that in January 1559, POpe Paul IV removed him from the position of cardinal nipote and replaced him with Cardinal Alfonso Carafa. Administrator of the see of Comminges, France (1556-1561). Opted for the deaconry of S. Nicola in Carcere, January 31, 1560.

Death. March 5 (or 4), 1561, strangled in Castel Sant'Angelo. The body of the cardinal was taken to the church of S. Maria in Traspontina and from there to the Carafa Chapel in the church of S. Maria sopra Minerva. The judicial investigation had been entrusted to Girolamo Federici, governor of Rome, and to the tax attorney Alessando Pallantieri. During the pontificate of Pope Pius V, Cardinal Carafa was rehabilitated and on June 17, 1571, Alessandro Pallantieri was decapitated. 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, cols.1065-1066; Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1793, IV, 342-344; 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. 1622-1623; 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, 67, 154 and 314.

Webgraphy. Biography by Adriano Prosperi, in Italian, Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 19 (1976), Treccani; his engraving, arms and biography, in Italian, Wikipedia; his engraving and arms, Araldica Vaticana; Le cardinal Carlo Carafa, 1519-1561; étude sur le pontificat de Paul IV by Georges Duruy. Paris : Librairie Hachette, 1882, digitized by University of Toronto, archive.org; La Fine di Carlo e Giovanni Carafa sotto il Papato di Pio IV nei Dispacci di Marcantonio da Mula, 30 aprile 2011; ultimo aggiornamento: 30 novembre 2011, storiadivenezia.net.

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