When Giulio de' Medici was elected pope as Clement VII, Ippolito ruled Florence on his behalf. After the siege of Florence (1529-1530), however, Clement favored his other illegitimate nephew Alessandro, and made Ippolito first archbishop of Avignon and then cardinal instead (1529), sending him as Papal legate to Hungary, where he evidenced a talent for soldiering.
He was a friend to, and possibly had a liaison with Giulia Gonzaga, the Countess of Fondi.
In 1535 he acted as Florentine ambassador to emperor Charles V. Ippolito died from malaria in Itri, in southern Lazio, although there were rumours that he had been poisoned by Alexander, whose abuses he was going to denounce.
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