About Giovanni Battista Pamphilj
Pope Innocent X, Giovanni Battista Pamphili, Pope from 1644 to 1655, was born in Rome, attained the dignity of cardinal in 1629. With the help of French influence Cardinal Pamphili was chosen to succeed Urban VIII as Pope on September 15, 1644. Trained as a lawyer, he was one of the most politically shrewd Pontifs of the era, and much increased the temporal power of the Vatican.
The conclave for the election of a successor to Urban VIII was long and stormy, from August 9 to September 15, 1644. The French faction objected to the Spanish candidate, as an enemy of Cardinal Mazarin who guided French policy, but found Pamphili an acceptable compromise. Soon after his accession, Innocent initiated legal action against the Barberini for misappropriation of public funds, an easily demonstrated crime in 17th-century courts anywhere. Antonio and Francesco Barberini fled to Paris, where they found a powerful protector in Mazarin. Innocent confiscated their property, and on February 19, 1646, issued a Bull ordaining that all cardinals who might leave the Papal States for six months without express papal permission, should be deprived of their benefices and eventually of their cardinalate itself. The French parliament declared the papal ordinance void in France, but Innocent did not yield until Mazarin prepared to send troops to Italy. Henceforth the papal policy towards France became more friendly, and somewhat later the Barberini were rehabilitated.
According to the text from the 9th edition of an 1880 encyclopedia:
Throughout his reign the influence exercised over him by Olympia Maidalchina, his deceased brother's wife, was very great, and such as to give rise to gross scandal, for which, however, there appears to have been no adequate ground. He naturally enough objected to the conclusion of the Peace of Westphalia, against which his nuncio in his name vainly protested, and against which he issued the bull Zelo Domus Dei in November 1648. The most important of his doctrinal decisions was his condemnation of the five Jansenist propositions in 1653. The avarice of his female counsellor gave to his reign a tone of oppression and sordid greed which probably it would not otherwise have shown, for personally he was not without noble and reforming impulses.
A measure of the rivalry between two arriviste papal families, the Barberini and the Pamphili, can be judged from Guido Reni's painting of the Archangel Michael, trampling Satan (illustration, right) in which the features of the Cardinal Giambattista Pamphili are immediately recognized. The less-than-subtle political statement still hangs in a side chapel of the Capuchin friars' Church of the Conception (Sta Maria della Concezione) in Rome. During the papacy of Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini, 1568-1644), whose princely rival among the College of Cardinals was Giovanni Battista Pamphili. Antonio Barberini, the pope's brother, was a Cardinal who had begun his career with the Capuchin brothers. About 1635, at the height of the Thirty Years War between Protestants and Catholics in Germany, in which the Papacy was intricately involved, Cardinal Antonio commissioned a painting of the combattive archangel Michael, trampling Satan (the source of heresy and error) for the church of his old Order.
The legend that the high-living patrician painter Guido Reni, whose personal dash was at least as great as his brilliant drawing and brushwork, had been insulted by rumors circulated, he thought, by Cardinal Pamphili, serves to place on the painter's shoulders the vengeful act that could not have been overlooked— or discouraged— by his Barberini patron. Though when a few years later Pamphili was raised to the Papacy, Antonio Barberini fled to France on the embezzlement charges that have been mentioned, the Capuchins held fast to their chapel altarpiece.
Innocent X died January 5, 1655, and was succeeded by Alexander VII.