"the vengeful, almost insanely irascible Gian Petro Caraffa,"
Pope Paul IV by Onofrio Panvinio. Before 1568
Public DomainPope Paul IV by Onofrio Panvinio. Before 1568 - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Pope Paul IV, Gian Petro Caraffa, (1476-1559) was Pope from 1555 until his death.  Coming from a prominent Neapolitan family, he spent time in both England and Spain, where he apparently developed a detestation of all things Spanish.  While Archbishop of Naples, he organised the re-introduction of the Inquisition in Italy.  His severe, unbending views, and his hatred of Spain made him a surprise choice as Pope, as did his advanced years.  But it seems that because the Spanish Emperor Charles V was opposed to his appointment, Gian Petro Caraffa accepted.


His intolerance extended beyond Protestantism to all non-Catholics and, indeed, any Catholics that did not conform to his own views.  During his tenure as Pope, he created the Roman Ghetto where all Jews had to wear distinguishing colours and had to remain locked in at night.  The Inquisition was enforced to such an extent that even cardinals could not be assured of safety.  Amongst his other acts, such as ordering Michelangelo to cover up the nudes in his paintings (which he refused to do), Pope Paul also refused to acknowledge Elizabeth's claim to the English throne, thereby alienating Protestants in England.