Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio

Born: c. 1471

Milan, Italy

Died: July 25, 1539 (Age c. 68)

Campeggio in History

Lorenzo Campeggio's original plan in life was not to lead a life of celibacy within the Catholic church. Receiving his doctorate in canon and civil law from the University of Bologna (1500), he married one Francesca Guastvillani, whom he sired five children with. However, when Francesca died in 1509, Campeggio began a life in the church under Pope Julius II. Campeggio rapidly rose within the church, being made a judge at the papal court; being given several bishoprics; and serving as an envoy to places such as Germany and, most importantly, England; he was made a cardinal in 1517. First journeying to England in 1518, Campeggio became acquainted with fellow cardinal Thomas Wolsey (the top adviser to King Henry VIII) and was given a number of important positions within the English church over the following years, including protector of England (1523) and bishop of Salisbury (1524), all while maintaining an influential status at the papal court. When Rome was sacked (1527) by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Pope Clement VII was forced to flee, Campeggio stayed behind (though he lost most of his possessions) as papal legate, before he began the task he would become most known for. In 1528, Campeggio once again set sail for England where he was assigned by the pope to mediate the divorce proceedings between Henry VIII and his wife, Catherine of Aragon.

The king desperately wanted an annulment so that he could marry his new love, Anne Boleyn, and all parties were put in an awkward situation. Campeggio was ordered by Pope Clement to stall the proceedings, hoping they would ultimately subside, and Clement was under the firm control of Charles V, Catherine's nephew, who was opposed to the divorce. The cardinal left England in 1529 doing just what he been assigned to do: stall the situation. This severely damaged England's relationship with the papacy and paved the way to their ultimate separation. Henry VIII, to retaliate, dismissed Campeggio as protector (1531) and as bishop of Salisbury (1534), causing the cardinal to declare the king's marriage to Katherine completely valid, and leading to the king's excommunication in 1535 (officially declared in 1538). Despite his virtual exile from English politics, Campeggio remained influential in the papal court and other nations, holding a number of important offices (including protector of Germany) until his death in 1539.

Campeggio in Shakespeare

Appears in: Henry VIII

Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio appears within Henry VIII as the character Cardinal Campeius, whose main function is to act as a judge and papal representative in the divorce case between Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Campeius works with Cardinal Wolsey in an attempt to convince Katherine to agree to annul the marriage, but clearly does not trust Wolsey, informing the cardinal of the rumors that he sabotaged the king's previous secretary in order to replace him with his own choice, Stephen Gardiner. Just before Wolsey's downfall, it is announced that Campeius has returned to Rome to inform the pope of Wolsey's disreputable actions.


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