#34 Brunelleschi & The Dome V
November 23, 2018
#36 The Avignon Popes – Part II
December 8, 2018

#35 The Avignon Popes – Part I

  • We want to go back and discuss the political situation in Italy in the 14th century.
  • We mentioned in an earlier episode that in 1309, Pope Clement V moved the Papacy from Rome to Avignon.
  • He was French.
  • The former bishop of Bordeaux.
  • And King Philip IV of France, who arrested Pope Boniface VIII, and almost starved him to death, was the guy who made Clement the new Pope.
  • Clement knew he wasn’t safe in Rome.
  • And most of the “Sacred College” was now made up of French cardinals.
  • They also didn’t feel safe in Italy
  • So they all moved to Avignon.
  • Which wasn’t actually controlled by France at the time.
  • Provence was actually controlled by the King Of Naples.
  • So Clement tried to keep a little distance.
  • For centuries, the Popes had tried to subordinate the kings of Europe to the papacy.
  • But it had failed.
  • France, Florence, Venice, Lombardy, Naples had all rejected papal control.
  • Rome had twice tried to bring back a republic.
  • We talked in an earlier episode about Rienzo.
  • But that was later, in 1346.
  • In the other Papal States, a series of feudal magnates had supplanted the Church.
  • For centuries, the church had been able to demand homage and tribute from the kings of Europe.
  • On threat of excommunication.
  • And now, with the Papacy basically run by the French king, Germany, Italy, England and Bohemia saw it as a hostile power.
  • And they increasingly started to ignore it, including excommunications and prohibitions.
  • They could sell it to their people as a fake news papacy.
  • Clement V tried to keep his head up.
  • He bowed as little as possible to Philip IV.
  • Despite Philip’s threats to hold a post-mortem inquest into the private conduct and beliefs of Boniface VIII.
  • In 1302, Boniface issued a papal bull saying “Popes are the boss of the kings.”
  • that it is “absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman pontiff”.
  • Even more than the Popes who came before him, he claimed to have temporal as well as spiritual power over every human.
  • Philip decided to tax the church in France and Boniface told him to get fucked and excommunicated him.
  • So Philip had him arrested and tortured.
  • He was released but died weeks later.
  • His successor, Pope Benedict XI, only lasted 8 months before he also died, probably poisoned – and Philip forced a deadlocked conclave to elect the French Clement V as Pope in 1305.
  • Clement lead a fairly clean and frugal life.
  • But the Papacy was also short on funds so he sold ecclesiastical benefices to the highest bidder
  • And suffered from a painful disease—lupus (malfunctioning immune system, skin rashes, joint and muscle pain and fatigue)
  • And probably a fistula
  • Caused by fisting.
  • Almost immediately after being elected Pope, Clement withdrew the bull of Boniface VIII that asserted papal supremacy over secular rulers.
  • He’s also remembered for suppressing the order of the Knights Templar and allowing the execution of many of its members.
  • On Friday, 13 October 1307, hundreds of the Knights Templar were arrested in France.
  • Apparently motivated by Philip’s desire to take control of their wealth and get rid of his debt to them.
  • They were the papal bankers and protectors of pilgrims in the East
  • From the very day of Clement V’s coronation, the king charged the Templars with usury, credit inflation, fraud, heresy, sodomy, immorality, and abuses.
  • The order was founded in 1119.
  • After Europeans in the First Crusade captured Jerusalem in 1099, many Christians made pilgrimages to various sacred sites in the Holy Land.
  • Bandits and marauding highwaymen preyed upon pilgrims, who were routinely slaughtered, sometimes by the hundreds, as they attempted to make the journey.
  • In 1119, the French knight Hugues de Payens approached King Baldwin II of Jerusalem and Warmund, Patriarch of Jerusalem, and proposed creating a monastic order for the protection of these pilgrims.
  • The king granted the Templars a headquarters in a wing of the royal palace on the Temple Mount in the captured Al-Aqsa Mosque.
  • The Temple Mount had a mystique because it was above what was believed to be the ruins of the Temple of Solomon.
  • The Crusaders therefore referred to the Al-Aqsa Mosque as Solomon’s Temple, and from this location the new order took the name of Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, or “Templar” knights.
  • The order, with about nine knights including Godfrey de Saint-Omer and André de Montbard, had few financial resources and relied on donations to survive.
  • They didn’t stay poor for long.
  • They got the support of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, who founded the Cistercian Order of monks and was the nephew of André de Montbard, one of the founding knights.
  • Bernard was the guy who called for the Second Crusade in Vezelay in 1146.
  • Louis VII of France, his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine were both there.
  • I’ve been to that church.
  • Heard a polyphonic mass.
  • Anyway, the Templars ended up being one of the most popular charities in Europe.
  • Then 1139, Pope Innocent II’s papal bull Omne Datum Optimum exempted the order from obedience to local laws.
  • This ruling meant that the Templars could pass freely through all borders, were not required to pay any taxes, and were exempt from all authority except that of the pope.
  • They were receiving money, land, businesses, and noble-born sons from families who were eager to help with the fight in the Holy Land.
  • The Templars were often the advance shock troops in key battles of the Crusades, as the heavily armoured knights on their warhorses would set out to charge at the enemy, ahead of the main army bodies, in an attempt to break opposition lines.
  • Although the primary mission of the order was militaristic, relatively few members were combatants.
  • The others acted in support positions to assist the knights and to manage the financial infrastructure.
  • The Templar Order, though its members were sworn to individual poverty, was given control of wealth beyond direct donations.
  • A nobleman who was interested in participating in the Crusades might place all his assets under Templar management while he was away.
  • Accumulating wealth in this manner throughout Christendom and the Outremer, the order in 1150 began generating letters of credit for pilgrims journeying to the Holy Land: pilgrims deposited their valuables with a local Templar preceptory before embarking, received a document indicating the value of their deposit, then used that document upon arrival in the Holy Land to retrieve their funds in an amount of treasure of equal value.
  • This innovative arrangement was an early form of banking and may have been the first formal system to support the use of cheques; it improved the safety of pilgrims by making them less attractive targets for thieves, and also contributed to the Templar coffers.
  • They acquired large tracts of land, both in Europe and the Middle East; they bought and managed farms and vineyards; they built massive stone cathedrals and castles; they were involved in manufacturing, import and export; they had their own fleet of ships; and at one point they even owned the entire island of Cyprus.
  • The Order of the Knights Templar arguably qualifies as the world’s first multinational corporation.
  • Then the Crusades started to go badly for the Europeans, and they lost Jerusalem in 1244.
  • Western Europe didn’t get control back until 1917.
  • So the Templars became less important as a military unit.
  • The Templars still managed many businesses, and many Europeans had daily contact with the Templar network, such as by working at a Templar farm or vineyard, or using the order as a bank in which to store personal valuables.
  • King Philip, who was already deeply in debt to the Templars from his war with the English, decided to seize upon rumours spread by an ex-Templar for his own purposes.
  • He began pressuring the church to take action against the order, as a way of freeing himself from his debts.
  • In the dawn of Friday, 13 October 1307 (a date sometimes linked with the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition)   King Philip IV ordered de Molay and scores of other French Templars to be simultaneously arrested.
  • The arrest warrant started with the phrase: “Dieu n’est pas content, nous avons des ennemis de la foi dans le Royaume” [“God is not pleased.
  • We have enemies of the faith in the kingdom”].
  • Claims were made that during Templar admissions ceremonies, recruits were forced to spit on the Cross, deny Christ, and engage in indecent kissing; brethren were also accused of worshipping idols, and the order was said to have encouraged homosexual practices.
  • The Templars were charged with numerous other offences such as financial corruption, fraud, and secrecy.
  • Many of the accused confessed to these charges under torture, and their confessions, even though obtained under duress, caused a scandal in Paris.
  • Pope Clement then issued the papal bull Pastoralis praeeminentiae on 22 November 1307, which instructed all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest all Templars and seize their assets.
  • in 1312, he issued a series of papal bulls, including Vox in excelso, which officially dissolved the order, and Ad providam, which turned over most Templar assets to the Hospitallers.
  • As for the leaders of the order, the elderly Grand Master Jacques de Molay, who had confessed under torture, retracted his confession.
  • Geoffroi de Charney, Preceptor of Normandy, also retracted his confession and insisted on his innocence.
  • Both men were declared guilty of being relapsed heretics, and they were sentenced to burn alive at the stake in Paris on 18 March 1314.
  • De Molay reportedly remained defiant to the end, asking to be tied in such a way that he could face the Notre Dame Cathedral and hold his hands together in prayer.
  • According to legend, he called out from the flames that both Pope Clement and King Philip would soon meet him before God.
  • His actual words were recorded on the parchment as follows : “God knows who is wrong and has sinned. Soon a calamity will occur to those who have condemned us to death”.
  • Pope Clement died only a month later, and King Philip died in a hunting accident before the end of the year.
  • The remaining Templars around Europe were either arrested and tried under the Papal investigation (with virtually none convicted), absorbed into other Catholic military orders such as the Knights Hospitaller, or pensioned off and allowed to live out their days peacefully.
  • By papal decree, the property of the Templars was transferred to the Knights Hospitaller aka Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem.
  • So how is all of this relevant to the Renaissance?
  • WELL….
  • They Papacy now needed new bankers.
  • And it explains how the Pope’s were the bitches of the French king in the 14th century.
  • Clement V’s pontificate was also a disastrous time for Italy.
  • The Papal States were entrusted to a team of three cardinals, but Rome, the battleground of the Colonna and Orsini factions, was ungovernable.
  • In 1310, the Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII entered Italy, established the Visconti as vicars in Milan, and was crowned by Clement V’s legates in Rome in 1312 before he died near Siena in 1313.
  • Henry was the first emperor since Frederick II had died in 1250.
  • At this stage, the Holy Roman Empire consisted of Germany, Italy, Bohemia and Burgundy.
  • He was crowned by Clement with the understanding that he would support the Papal States and the Pope and go on a crusade.
  • He intended to restore the glory of the Holy Roman Empire – but after 60 years without an Emperor, things had changed.
  • There had been decades of warfare and strife.
  • The Guelphs and The Ghibellines and other local non-noble bourgeoisie had become used to having the power to govern without someone above them.
  • Of course, those battles also had losers who were always looking for a king, emperor or Pope to come and help them defeat their enemies.
  • Clement V had also preached a crusade against the Venetians in May 1309, declaring that Venetians captured abroad might be sold into slavery, like non-Christians.
  • Clement died on 20 April 1314.
  • According to one account, while his body was lying in state, a thunderstorm arose during the night and lightning struck the church where his body lay, setting on fire.
  • The fire was so intense that by the time it was extinguished, the Pope’s body had been all but destroyed.

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