Pope Sixtus V, born Felice Piergentile, was head of the Catholic Church from 24 April 1585 to his death. As a youth, he joined the Franciscan order, where he displayed talents as a scholar and preacher, and enjoyed the patronage of Pius V, who made him a cardinal. As a cardinal, he was known as Cardinal Montalto.
As Pope, he energetically rooted out corruption and lawlessness across Rome, and launched a far-sighted rebuilding programme that continues to provoke controversy, as it involved the destruction of antiquities. The cost of these works was met by heavy taxation that caused much suffering. His foreign policy was regarded as over-ambitious, and he excommunicated both Queen Elizabeth I of England and King Henry IV of France. He is recognized as a significant figure of the Counter-Reformation.