Bembo, a Venetian patrician and man of letters, had a close association with the printer Aldus. He enjoyed a rich life with illicit love affairs in the courts of Ferrara, Urbino, and finally Rome, where he was appointed Latin secretary to Leo X. Ten years later, ill and bored, Bembo left Rome for Padua with Morosina, the young sister of a Vatican courtesan. To guarantee a living he took vows of chastity, poverty and obedience in the aristocratic order of St John of Jerusalem, and then started a family. Bembo was active in education in Padua; and his great achievement was to have helped create a common language for Italy through the revival of medieval Tuscany in his poetry and prose. Appointed official historian of Venice, after Morosina's death he became a cardinal. An open mind, coupled with staunch support of the established church during the troubled years of the reformation, made him an asset to the papal curia. At the time of his accidental death in Rome in 1547 he was considered a likely successor to Paul III.
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