Innocent VIII, Pope 1484-1492

Muntoni 3; Berman 497, PCGS graded MS-65

Rome. INNOCEN-TIVS PP VIII, arms of Pope Innocent VIII within quadrilobe. Reverse: SANCTVS PETRVS ALMA ROMA, St. Peter fishing from a boat.

On August 29, 1484, Giovanni Battista Cibo was elected as Pope Innocent VIII through Borgia influence during the conclave. Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia convinced the cardinals to vote for Cibo in return for benefices as a means of blocking the election of his rival, Marco Barbo. Although Pope Innocent VIII was ignored when he preached a new Crusade against the Ottoman Empire, he gained a valuable tool when Cem, the captured brother of Sultan Bayezid II, was handed over by the Knights of St. John in 1489. Thus every time Bayezid II prepared a new campaign against Christian Europe, the Pope quashed it by threatening to release Cem. In return for keeping the Sultan’s brother under lock and key, Pope Innocent VIII was also able to extort 120,000 crowns, a relic of the Holy Lance, and an annual stipend of 45,000 ducats out of Beyezid II. Despite this influx of wealth from the Ottoman Empire, his building program, which included the Vatican Belvedere, and other extravagances left him with a constantly depleted treasury. This he attempted to refill through the creation and sale of new offices to the highest bidder.