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Carlo Carafa (29 March 1517 - 6 March 1561) was an Italian cardinal.

He was born at Naplesmarker into one of the city's most ancient and distinguished families. His father was Giovanni Alfonso Carafa, count of Montorio, and his mother Caterina Cantelma. He was subsequently Cardinal Nephew of Pope Paul IV from 1555-9. His brother was Giovanni Carafa, Duke of Paliano.

He had a long and dubious career as a mercenary soldier in Italymarker and Germanymarker. He was exiled from Naples for murder and banditry and was alleged to have perpetrated the massacre of Spanishmarker soldiers as they recuperated in a hospital in Corsicamarker. His tenure as Cardinal Nephew was not a great success as he and Paul IV brought the Papacy to a humiliating defeat against the Spanish that nearly resulted in another Sack of Rome. Carlo's government was unpopular in Rome and he developed a reputation for avarice, cruelty and licentiousness. In January 1559, Paul IV finally hearing of the wickednesses of his nephews banished them from Rome and replaced Carlo as Cardinal Nephew with Carlo's own nephew Alfonso Carafa.

In June 1560, Paul's successor, Pope Pius IV arrested the leading members of the family on a range of charges relating to abuses of power during Paul's reign. After a nine month trial, the cardinal was condemned along with his brother Giovanni and was executed by strangulation on the night of 6 March 1561.

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