Sunday, April 29, 2007

One Hundred Eighty-eighth Pope: Nicholas III - 0 comments

Nicholas III held the seat from 1277-1280, but he's most famous for appearing in Dante's Inferno. Dante and Virgil find him in the eighth circle of hell, filled with Simoniacs, people who have committed the crime of simony. Their particular punishment, of course, is to be placed upside-down in holes, while flames are applied to the soles of their feet.

While Nicholas III talks with Dante, he mentions that he expects successor popes Boniface VIII and Clement V to join him shortly.

One Hundred Eighty-seventh Pope: John XXI - 0 comments

John XXI seems a bit out of order; did we miss John XX and John XIX? As usual this kind of mixup is due to some confusion with antipopes; when you strike an antipope from the list of valid popes, it's difficult to keep everybody's numbers in order. John XXI yielded to the advice of contemporary historians and just chose the next undisputed number.

His reign was a short one, also passed in Viterbo. He was elected on September 13, 1276, and almost immediately started building a new wing of the papal palace. He was too excited to see it finished, however, and moved in before the building was sound. Part of it fell in on top of him while he was asleep and gave him a mortal wound to the head; he died on May 20, 1277.

Friday, April 27, 2007

One Hundred Eighty-sixth Pope: Adrian V - 0 comments

Adrian's reign was even shorter - from July to August.

One Hundred Eighty-fifth Pope: Innocent V - 0 comments

Innocent only held the seat for six months, from January to June of 1276.

One Hundred Eighty-fourth Pope: Gregory X - 0 comments

Gregory X had a really interesting election: at the time there was a split in the College of Cardinals, who elect the Pope. The French half were lobbying for a French Pope, the Italians wanted to elect one of theirs. The seat sat empty for three years while they argued, and they only reached a decision under extreme duress. During one of their conferences, the exasperated citizens of Viterbo (where they were meeting) locked them in, demanded they elect a Pope, and ripped the roof off the building where they were meeting, so they could keep an eye on them. The cardinals were only allowed bread and water, and the managed to reach agreement in only three days.

One Hundred Eighty-third Pope: Clement IV - 0 comments

Before his ascension to the papal throne, Clement IV was known as Guy Foulques the Fat. Seriously. He was not a professional churchman; before he got into Religion he was a soldier and lawyer.

During his turbulent papacy (1265-1268), he was forced to live in Viterbo, travel in disguise, and stay the heck away from Rome.

One Hundred Eighty-second Pope: Urban IV - 0 comments

One of the few popes to come from humble backgrounds, Urban IV was born Jacques Pantaleon to a French cobbler. He studied theology and law, rose through the ranks of the church, and for a while held the troubled position of Patriarch of Jerusalem. (If you're keeping track, you'll remember that at this point the Holy Land is controlled by the Muslim Saracens, and at least two crusades have failed to reestablish control).

His return to Italy coincided with Alexander's death, and Urban was elected in his stead. He spent most of his three-year reign working out shaky peaces with the European monarchs.

One Hundred Eighty-first Pope: Alexander IV - 0 comments

Alexander IV, who reigned from 1254 to 1261, is described as, " a stout man, kindly, cheerful, but of no great brilliancy."

One Hundred Eightieth Pope: Innocent IV - 0 comments

Innocent IV, elected unanimously after his predecessor's very short reign, spent most of his 11-year term fighting against Manfred, the son of HRE Frederick II. As usual, this didn't go very well. When Innocent heard the news of a particularly decisive victory of Manfred's, he died of shock.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

One Hundred Seventy-ninth Pope: Celestine IV - 0 comments

Oh, remember those long reigns as pope? Here's a quick exception. After a long election struggle, Celestine IV only held the chair for seventeen days. He died of old age before he could even be consecrated.

One Hundred Seventy-eighth Pope: Gregory IX - 0 comments

Have you noticed that the average length of the papacy is growing pretty rapidly at this point in history? Two hundred years ago the average reign was 2, maybe 3 years, and many only held the seat for a few days or months before dying, abdicating, or running for their lives. But by the middle of the thirteenth century, we've reached a fairly stable time. Gregory's rule was fairly short compared to his time - about 14 years from 1227 to 1241.

One Hundred Seventy-seventh Pope: Honorius III - 0 comments

Honorius III was pope from 1216 to 1227, and also spent much of his time trying to launch a Crusade to recapture the Holy Land. His hopes rested on his close relationship with Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor. Frederick had promised to go, but never really got around to it, even after marrying the woman who stood to inherit the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Honorius' other big legacies are his approval of the Dominicans and Franciscans.

One Hundred Seventy-sixth Pope: Innocent III - 0 comments

Innocent III was pope from 1198 to 1216, making him our first pope of the thirteenth century. His long reign was marked primarily by reestablishing papal power over the Holy Roman Empire, and calling for the Fourth Crusade to recapture Jerusalem. This didn't really go as planned, however: Innocent only called nobles and knights to the crusade, instead of appealing directly to the monarchs that ruled them. It took a while for the nobles to gather momentum, but when they finally did gather as a fairly leaderless bunch, they were turned astray from their goal. Boniface of Montferrat led them to attack nearby rich Christian cities - Zara and Constantinople.

Monday, April 23, 2007

One Hundred Seventy-fifth Pope: Celestine III - 0 comments

Celestine ruled for nearly 7 years. Before his death he intended to resign and name his own successor, to prevent the kind of squabbling that usually happens at papal election time. But the College of Cardinals, who actually choose the next Pope, would have none of that.

Incidentally, Celestine bears a striking resemblance to French actor Dominique Pinon. You know, from Amelie and every Jean-Pierre Jeunet movie ever?

One Hundred Seventy-fourth Pope: Clement III - 0 comments

Clement, born Paulino Scholari, was a peacemaker. He temporarily settled the long disputes between the papal office and the local Romans, patched things up with Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, and eased some troubles with the Scottish church. He died in 1191.

One Hundred Seventy-third Pope: Gregory VIII - 0 comments

Gregory only ruled as pope for a few months before dying of fever. Before he died, however, he issued a papal bull calling for the official beginning to the Third Crusade.

One Hundred Seventy-second Pope: Urban III - 0 comments


Urban III, who held the seat from 1185 to 1187, also spent most of his time with Italian politics. His really notable story involves the Crusades, however. Europe was just now sending batches of soldiers to start the Third Crusade, mostly to defend King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem.** When Urban heard about the defeat at the Battle of Hattin, he reportedly died of grief.

*Portrait today by Erika! Not really a blind contour, but I'll bend the rule for a pretty girl.
**Yeah, did you know there were European Kings of Jerusalem? Crazy Crusades.

One Hundred Seventy-first Pope: Lucius III - 0 comments

Lucius ruled from 1181 to 1185, and spent most of his time mucking about in Italian politics. As we've learned from the last few hundred popes, this doesn't usually work out well.

One Hundred Seventieth Pope: Alexander III - 0 comments

Compared to his predecessors', Alexander had an extremely long reign as Pope, ruling in relative peace and stability from 1159 to 1181. He was instrumental in setting down some operating laws for the church, including rules about how Popes are elected, that still stand today.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

One Hundred Sixty-ninth Pope: Adrian IV - 0 comments

Adrian holds the distinction of being the only British Pope. He was born in Hertfordshire.

One Hundred Sixty-eighth Pope: Anastasius IV - 0 comments

Anastasius IV had a fairly uneventful year and a half as pope; he brokered a modest peace during his tenure.

One Hundred Sixty-seventh Pope: Eugene III - 0 comments

Eugene III was renowned for his "innocence and simplicity;" after his predecessor's violent death, some would say only a fool would take the job. Despite that simplicity, Eugene managed to string together eight relatively peaceful years on the seat, mostly by staying the heck out of Rome. While the Romans always acknowledged the Pope's spiritual authority, they were fighting against any temporal and political power that threatened their new constitution as a Republic. Eugene spent his time in France and Germany, mostly, and in parts of Italy a safe distance from Rome. He died in 1153.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

One Hundred Sixty-sixth Pope: Lucius II - 0 comments

Lucius, pope from 1144 until his death in February '45, spent most of his papal energies fighting for power with the local Romans. By this point, the Romans were attempting to establish a new Republic - they set up a Senate, styled themselves Patricians. As you might expect, there's not much room for a Pope in this picture.

The Romans tried to strip Lucius of his temporal power - and defeated him pretty soundly. During one of the skirmishes, he was hit on the head by a brick. He died from that injury.

One Hundred Sixty-fifth Pope: Celestine II - 0 comments

Pope Celestine II once studied under the famous Peter Abelard.