Pope Innocent III

Pope Innocent III

Infobox pope
English name=Innocent III

birth_name=Lotario de' Conti di Segni
term_start=January 8, 1198
term_end=July 16, 1216
birthplace= Gavignano, Italy
birth_date=February 22, 1161
predecessor=Celestine III
successor=Honorius III
dead=dead|death_date=death date|1216|7|16|mf=y
deathplace=Perugia, Italy

Pope Innocent III (February 22, 1161 [ [http://www.knerger.de/Die_Personen/paepste_13/paepste_14/paepste_15/paepste_16/innozenzpaepste_16.html Religion / Kirche XVI ] ] – June 16, 1216), born Lotario de' Conti di Segni, was pope from January 8, 1198 until his death.


Early life and election to the Papacy

Lotario de' Conti di Segni was born in Gavignano, near Anagni. His father was Count Trasimund of Segni and was a member of a famous house that produced nine popes, including Pope Gregory IX (1227–1241), Pope Alexander IV (1254–1261) and Pope Innocent XIII (1721–1724). His uncle was Pope Clement III (1187–1191), and his mother, Claricia, belonged to the noble Roman family of Scotti.

Lotario studied in Rome, Paris (theology, under Peter of Corbeil), and Bologna (canon law, under Huguccio though this is contested). The latter's moderate doctrine on the relationship between spiritual and lay authorities was a constant influence in the future work of Innocent. He was considered an intellectual and one of the greatest canon lawyers of his time.

After the death of Pope Alexander III (1159–81), Lotario returned to Rome and held office during the short reigns of Lucius III (1181–1185), Urban III (1185–1187), Gregory VIII (1187), and Clement III (1187–1191, possibly a relative of the Segni), reaching the rank of Cardinal Deacon through his uncle Pope Clement III. During the reign of Pope Celestine III (1191–1198), a member of the House of Orsini, who were enemies of his family, Lotario left Rome to live in Anagni. During this period he wrote a series of theological works, including "On the Miserable Condition of Man" and "On the Mysteries of the Mass", both showing the ascetic-liturgical inspiration animating him.

On January 8, 1198, the day Celestine III was buried, Lotario was unanimously elected pope after only two ballots. His election was held in the ruins of the ancient Septizodium, near the Circus Maximus in Rome and is considered by some scholars as the first conclaveFact|date=August 2007. He took the name of Innocent III. He was only thirty-seven years old at the time. He was ordained a priest on February 21 and consecrated bishop of Rome the following day.

Reassertion of Papal power

Innocent III sought to assert and extend the prestige and plenitudo potestatis (absolute power) of the papacy throughout his entire career. He took advantage of the chaos that followed Henry VI's untimely death to undermine the link between Germany and Sicily. Germany was thrust into civil war when the leading Hohenstaufen candidate for the imperial throne, Philip of Swabia, Henry VI's brother, was challenged by Otto of Brunswick. Although Innocent crowned Otto in 1198, the latter's attempt to control Sicily prompted the pope to excommunicate him. (Damerow website)

The pope also made use of the weakness of Henry's son, King Frederick II of Sicily (who was only four years old), to reassert papal power in Sicily. Taking advantage of the last will of Frederick's mother, Constance of Sicily, which had named him as tutor of the young king, Innocent acknowledged Frederick as king only after the surrender of the privileges of the Four Chapters, which William I of Sicily had previously extorted from Pope Adrian IV (1154–59). The Pope then invested the young Frederick II as King of Sicily in November 1198. He also later induced Frederick II to marry the widow of King Emeric of Hungary in 1209. [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08013a.htm]

Involvement in Imperial elections

After the death of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI in 1197, two groups of electors had elected competing kings: Philip of Swabia of the Hohenstaufen family, and Otto of Brunswick of the Welf family. Since Philip had been excommunicated by Celestine III, and had not been crowned in Aachen, in 1201 the pope openly supported Otto; he threatened all those who refused to acknowledge Otto with excommunication. By the decree "Per Venerabilem" in May 1202 Innocent III made clear to the German princes his view of the relationship between the Empire and the papacy (this decree was afterwards embodied in the Corpus Juris Canonici). The decree asserted the papal rights to decide whether a king is worthy of the imperial crown and to arbitrate or to pronounce in favour of one of the claimants in case of a double election, which was the current situation in the Empire. He argued in his bull that the transition of the Roman Empire from Byzantium to the Holy Roman Emperor had taken place only under papal blessing, and therefore all blessing, coronation, and investiture of the emperor was dependent upon the pope.

Philip, however, gained momentum at the expense of Otto, and in 1205 received a more regular coronation at Aachen from the Archbishop of Cologne, Germany's main religious authority. Considering Otto the losing party, in 1207 Innocent III changed his mind and declared in favour of Philip, sending cardinals to Germany to induce Otto to renounce his claims to the throne. But Philip was murdered on June 21, 1208 (probably by Otto's agents), and, at the Diet of Frankfurt of November 11, 1208, Otto was acknowledged as emperor. The pope invited him to Rome and the two met at Viterbo, with Otto swearing to renounce to any claim to Mathilda of Canossa's heritage and the former exarchate of Ravenna (Romagna). He was then crowned as Emperor Otto IV, in St. Peter's Basilica, on October 4, 1209.

Otto IV had also promised to leave the Church in possession of Spoleto and Ancona and to grant the freedom of ecclesiastical elections, unlimited right of appeal to the Pope, and the exclusive competency of the hierarchy in spiritual matters. He had also promised to assist in the destruction of heresy (in what is known as the stipulation of Neuss, a promise that he repeated at Speyer in 1209). But soon after being crowned, Otto IV seized Ancona, Spoleto, and other territories claimed by the Church, giving them to his vassals. He also invaded the Kingdom of Sicily. As a result, Otto IV was excommunicated on November 18, 1210.

At the Diet of Nuremberg in September 1211, the pope convinced some imperial princes to renounce the excommunicated emperor and to elect Frederick II of Sicily. Frederick II made the same promises as Otto IV; he was reelected by most of the princes on December 5, 1212, and, his election being ratified by Innocent III, he was crowned at Aachen on July 12, 1215.

Feudal power over Europe

Innocent's personal strength and personality made him the most prominent political figure in Europe: he had King John "Lackland" of England, younger brother of Richard I (the "Lionheart"), declare himself vassal of the Church (1213); received the feudal homage of Peter II of Aragon, Ottokar I of Bohemia, Alfonso IX of Leon and Sancho I of Portugal; and forced Philip II Augustus of France (1180–1223) to be reconciled with his wife, Ingeborg of Denmark. Philip II thereby became Innocent III's ally in the struggle over Otto IV. Otto allied himself with England (he was the nephew of King John) to fight Philip II Augustus, but he was defeated in the Battle of Bouvines in what is now Belgium, on July 27, 1214. Thereafter Otto IV lost all influence and died on May 19, 1218, leaving Frederick II the undisputed emperor. Innocent III played further roles in the politics of France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Spain, and especially England.

In England, there was controversy over the appointment of Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury, a decision that had been made in Rome (without consultation) by Innocent himself and which was opposed by King John and by the majority of the monks of Canterbury Cathedral. The king was eventually forced to acknowledge the pope as his feudal lord and accept Langton, after Innocent stirred up John's former enemy, the French king, to invade England. Innocent also declared the Magna Carta invalid at King John's request, on the grounds that it had been obtained by force and that as John was the pope's feudal vassal he was unable to enter into binding contracts of this nature without papal permission. This papal tampering in the internal affairs of a sovereign state was to have significant consequences later in English history: at the time of the Henrician Reformation in the early sixteenth century this case was cited by the king's men of law as evidence of unwarranted papal interference in English affairs and helped to bolster the popular case for casting off Rome.

Innocent intervened regularly in the affairs of Sardinia, sometimes at the invitation of the local "giudicati" and sometimes as part of his own agendum. At the beginning of his pontificate, he recognized the suzerainty of the Archdiocese of Pisa over Sardinia. Innocent intervened in the wars between the Giudicato of Cagliari and the Giudicato of Logudoro to establish a peace and tried to sort out the accusations William I of Cagliari and Comita III of Torres levelled at one another. He ordered the island prelates to investigate the legality of the marriages of the "giudici" (probably to gather ammunition against them if necessary) and even called William and Comita to Rome, but the Republic of Pisa, of which they were both citizens, refused to allow them to appear before a "foreign" tribunal. This sparked a conflict with Pisa. Innocent threatened to deprive the Pisan Archbishop Ubaldo of his legatine rights on the basis that "he who abuses his power, deserves to lose his privilege." Innocent tried to extract an oath of homage from William to the Holy See, but the Pisan archbishop refused to absolve William from previous oaths to himself. Innocent also tried to verify the accusations made against Giusto, Archbishop of Arborea, who had been removed from his see by Ubaldo and William, but failed to have him reinstated.

In 1202, when the Archdiocese of Torres became vacant, Innocent appointed a member of his own "curia", Biagio, archbishop to carry out his personal orders on the island. In 1203, Barisone II of Gallura died, leaving his widow and heiress, Elena, in the care of Innocent, who charged the other "giudici" with her protection and gave Biagio the job of finding her a suitable marriage. The pope tried to arrange a marriage with his relative Trasimondo, but Elena rebuffed this attempt and instead married a Pisan, Lamberto Visconti. Innocent's policies in Sardinia were stiffly opposed and when he died the island was under Pisan hegemony.

Crusades and suppression of heresy

Innocent III was a vigorous opponent of heresy, and undertook campaigns against it.

At the beginning of his pontificate, he focused on the Albigenses, a sect that had been growing in southern France. Two Cistercian monks were sent to Albigenses in France to teach them the faith and dispute their teachings. However, when the papal legate was assassinated, an act of war, Innocent called upon France to suppress the Albigenses. Under the leadership of Simon of Montfort a campaign was launched, but this was soon turned by the northern French barons into a war of conquest.

Innocent also decreed the Fourth Crusade of 1198, intended to recapture the Holy Land. The pope directed his call towards the knights and nobles of Europe rather than to the kings; wishing that neither Richard I of England (1189-99) nor Philip II of France, (who were still engaged in war), nor especially his German enemies, should participate in the crusade. Innocent III's call was generally ignored until 1200, when a crusade was finally organized in Champagne. The Venetians then redirected it into the sacking of Zara (Zadar) in 1202 and of Constantinople in 1204. Innocent III was horrified by the attack on the Byzantines, and excommunicated those involved. Prior to the launching of the Crusade he had insisted that no Christian cities be attacked.

On November 15, 1215 Innocent opened the convocation of the Fourth Lateran Council, considered the most important council of the Middle Ages. By its conclusion it issued seventy reformatory decrees. Among other things, it encouraged creating schools and holding clergy to a higher standard than the laity. It also forbade clergymen to participate in the practice of the judicial ordeal, effectively banning its use.

Death and legacy

The Council had set the beginning of the Fifth Crusade for 1217, under the direct leadership of the Church. After the Council, in the spring of 1216, Innocent moved to northern Italy in an attempt to reconcile the mariner cities of Pisa and Genoa, whose ships were necessary to new enterprise, but also to imbue them of more religious and commercial motivations.

Innocent III, however, died suddenly at Perugia on June 16, 1216. He was buried in the cathedral of Perugia, where his body remained until Pope Leo XIII had it transferred to the Lateran in December 1891. Although the papal power over kings that Innocent III established would be short-lived, he sincerely attempted to turn theological principles into actual powers. Two of his Latin works are still widely read: De Miseria Humanae Conditionis, a tract on asceticism that Innocent III wrote before becoming pope, and De Sacro Altaris Mysterio, which is a description and exegesis of the liturgy.


*cite book|first=Félix Jr.|last=Lavergne |title=The Glory of Christendom|publisher=Christendom Press|year=1993
*cite book|first=Claudio|last=Rendina|title=I papi - Storia e segreti|location=Rome|publisher=Newton Compton|year=1983
*cite book|first=Geoffrey|last=Barraclough|title=The Medieval Papacy|location=London|publisher=Thames and Hudson|year=1968
*Moore, John C. " [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0038-7134%28198701%2962%3A1%3C81%3APIISAT%3E2.0.CO%3B2-U Pope Innocent III, Sardinia, and the Papal State.] " "Speculum", Vol. 62, No. 1. (Jan., 1987), pp 81–101.
*The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08013a.htm]
*Papal Monarchy. August 27, 2007. Union County College . October 12, 2007 [http://faculty.ucc.edu/egh-damerow/papal_monarchy.htm] .

External links

* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6926278 Find-A-Grave]
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08013a.htm Innocent III] at the Catholic Encyclopedia
* [http://www.paradoxplace.com/Perspectives/Italian%20Images/Single%20frames/Portraits/Innocent_III.htm Adrian Fletcher’s Paradoxplace - Portrait (Subiaco) and Tomb (Lateran) of Innocent III]
* [http://www.documentacatholicaomnia.eu/01_01_1198-1216-_Innocentius_III.html Innocent III's Opera Omnia]

NAME=de' Conti di Segni, Lotario
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Innocent III (English); Innocentius III (Latin
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Pope, r. 1198-1216: height of mediaeval church's power
DATE OF BIRTH=ca. 1161
PLACE OF BIRTH=Gavignano, near Anagni, modern Italy
DATE OF DEATH=16 June, 1216
PLACE OF DEATH=Perugia, modern Italy

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