VIEWS DURING THE THIRD PERIOD (750-1517 A.D.)
THE SUPREMACY OF THE POPE THE DECLINE OF THE PAPACY AND THE AVIGNON EXILE. A.D. 1294-1377.
The explanation of Philip’s violent animosity and persistent persecution is his cupidity. He coveted the wealth of the Templars. He robbed the bankers of Lombardy and the Jews of France, and debased the coin of his realm. A loan of 500,000 pounds which he had secured for a sister’s dowry had involved him in great financial straits. He appropriated all the possessions of the Templars he could lay his hands upon. Clement V’s subserviency it is easy to explain. He was a creature of the king. When the pope hesitated to proceed against the unfortunate order, the king beset him with the case of Boniface VIII. To save the memory of his predecessor, the pope surrendered the lives of the knights. Dante, in representing the Templars as victims of the king’s avarice, compares Philip to Pontius Pilate.
“I see the modern Pilate, whom avails
No cruelty to sate and who, unbidden,
Into the Temple sets his greedy sails.”
The house of the Templars in Paris was turned into a royal residence, from which Louis XVI, more than four centuries later, went forth to the scaffold.
The Council of Vienne, the fifteenth in the list of the ecumenical councils, met Oct. 16, 1311, and after holding three sessions adjourned six months later, May 6, 1312. Clement opened it with an address onPsalm 111:1, 2, and designated three subjects for its consideration, the case of the order of the Templars, the relief of the Holy Land and Church reform. The documents bearing on the council are defective. In addition to the decisions concerning the Templars and Boniface VIII, it condemned the Beguines and Beghards and listened to charges made against the Franciscan, Peter John Olivi (died 1298). Olivi belonged to the, Spiritual wing of the order. His books had been ordered burnt, 1274, by one Franciscan general, and a second general of the order, Bonagratia, 1279, had appointed a commission which found thirty-four dangerous articles in, his writings. The council without pronouncing against Olivi, condemned three articles ascribed to him, bearing on the relation of the two parties in the Franciscan order, the Spirituals and Conventuals.
The council has a place in the history of biblical scholarship and university education by its act ordering two chairs each, of Hebrew, Arabic, and Chaldee established in Paris, Oxford, Bologna, and Salamanca.
While the proceedings against Boniface and the Templars were dragging on in their slow course in France, Clement was trying to make good his authority in Italy. Against Venice he hurled the most violent anathemas and interdicts for venturing to lay hands on Ferrara, whose territory was claimed by the Apostolic See. A crusade was preached against the sacrilegious city. She was defeated in battle, and Ferrara was committed to the administration of Robert, king of Naples, as the pope’s vicar.
All that he could well do, Clement did to strengthen the hold of France on the papacy. The first year of his pontificate he appointed 9 French cardinals, and of the 24 persons whom he honored with the purple, 23 were Frenchmen. He granted to the insatiable Philip a Church tithe for five years. Next to the fulfillment of his obligations to this monarch, Clement made it his chief business to levy tributes upon ecclesiastics of all grades and upon vacant Church livings. He was prodigal with offices to his relatives. This was a leading feature of his pontificate. Five of his kin were made cardinals, three being still in their youth. His brother he made rector of Rome, and other members of his family received Ancona, Ferrara, the duchy of Spoleto, and the duchy of Venaissin, and other territories within the pope’s gift. The administration and disposition of his treasure occupied a large part of Clement’s time and have offered an interesting subject to the pen of the modern Jesuit scholar, Ehrle. The papal treasure left by Clement’s predecessor, after being removed from Perugia to France, was taken from place to place and castle to castle, packed in coffers laden on the back of mules. After Clement’s death, the vast sums he had received and accumulated suddenly disappeared. Clement’s successor, John XXII, instituted a suit against Clement’s most trusted relatives to account for the moneys. The suit lasted from 1318-1322, and brought to light a great amount of information concerning Clement’s finances. Ehrle the Jesuit scholar, calculates that Clement’s yearly income was between 200,000 and 250,000 gold florins, and that of this amount he spent 100,000 for the expenses of his court and saved the remainder, 100,000 or 150,000.
His fortune Clement disposed of by will, 1312, the total amount being 814,000 florins; 300,000 were given to his nephew, the viscount of Lomagne and Auvillars, a man otherwise known for his numerous illegitimate offspring. This sum was to be used for a crusade; 314,000 were bequeathed to ether relatives and to servants. The remaining 200,000 were given to churches, convents, and the poor. A loan of 160,000 made to the king of France was never paid back.
Clement’s body was by his appointment buried at Uzeste. His treasure was plundered. At the trial instituted by John XXII, it appeared that Clement before his death had set apart 70,000 florins to be divided in equal shares between his successor and the college of cardinals. The viscount of Lomagne was put into confinement by John, and turned over 300,000 florins, one-half going to the cardinals and one-half to the pope. A few months after Clement’s death, the count made loans to the king of France of 110,000 florins and to the king of England of 60,000.
Clement’s relatives showed their appreciation of his liberality by erecting to his memory an elaborate sarcophagus at Uzeste, which cost 50,000 gold florins. The theory is that the pope administers moneys coming to him by virtue of his papal office for the interest of the Church at large. Clement spoke of the treasure in his coffers as his own, which he might dispose of as he chose.
Clement’s private life was open to the grave suspicion of unlawful intimacy with the beautiful Countess Brunissenda of Foix. Of all the popes of the fourteenth century, he showed the least independence. An apologist of Boniface VIII, writing in 1305, recorded this judgment: “The Lord permitted Clement to be elected, who was more concerned about temporal things and in enriching his relatives than. was Boniface, in order that by contrast Boniface might seem, worthy of praise where he would otherwise have been condemned, just as the bitter is not known except by the sweet, or cold except by heat, or the good except by evil.” Villani, who assailed both popes, characterized Clement “as licentious, greedy of money, a simoniac, who sold in his court every benefice for gold.” Villani tells the story that at the death of one of Clement’s nephews, a cardinal, Clement, in his desire to see him, consulted a necromancer. The master of the dark arts had one of the pope’s chaplains conducted by demons to hell, where he was shown a palace, and in it the nephew’s soul lay on a bed of glowing fire, and near by a place reserved for the pope himself., He also relates that the coffin, in which Clement was laid, was burnt, and with it the pope’s body up to the waist.
By a single service did this pope seem to place the Church in debt to his pontificate. The book of decretals, known as the Clementines, and issued in part by him, was completed by his successor, John XXII.
The Pontificate of John XXII. 1316-1334.
Clement died April 20, 1314. The cardinals met at Carpentras and then at Lyons, and after an interregnum of twenty-seven months elected John XXII, 1316-1334, to the papa1 throne. He was then seventy-two, and cardinal bishop of Porto. Dante had written to the conclave begging that it elect an Italian pope, but the French influence was irresistible.
Said to be the son of a cobbler of Cahors, short of stature, with a squeaking voice, industrious and pedantic, John was, upon the whole, the most conspicuous figure among the popes of the fourteenth century, though not the most able or worthy one. He was a man of restless disposition, and kept the papal court in constant commotion. The Vatican Archives preserve 59 volumes of his bulls and other writings. He had been a tutor in the house of Anjou, and carried the preceptorial method into his papal utterances. It was his ambition to be a theologian as well as pope. He solemnly promised the Italian faction in the curia never to mount an ass except to start on the road to Rome. But he never left Avignon. His devotion to France was shown at the very beginning of his reign in the appointment of eight cardinals, of whom seven were Frenchmen.
The four notable features of John’s pontificate are his quarrel with the German emperor, Lewis the Bavarian, his condemnation of the rigid party of the Franciscans, his own doctrinal heresy, and his cupidity for gold.
The struggle with Lewis the Bavarian was a little after play compared with the imposing conflicts between the Hohenstaufen and the notable popes of preceding centuries. Europe looked on with slight interest at the long-protracted dispute, which was more adapted to show the petulance and weakness of both emperor and pope than to settle permanently any great principle. At Henry VII’s death, 1313, five of the electors gave their votes for Lewis of the house of Wittelsback, and two for Frederick of Hapsburg. Both appealed to the new pope, about to be elected. Frederick was crowned by the archbishop of Treves at Bonn, and Lewis by the archbishop of Mainz at Aachen. In 1317 John declared that the pope was the lawful vicar of the empire so long as the throne was vacant, and denied Lewis recognition as king of the Romans on the ground of his having neglected to submit his election to him.
The battle at Muhldorf, 1322, left Frederick a prisoner in his rival’s hands. This turn of affairs forced John to take more decisive action, and in 1323 was issued against Lewis the first of a wearisome and repetitious series of complaints and punishments from Avignon. The pope threatened him with the ban, claiming authority to approve or set aside an emperor’s election. A year later he excommunicated Lewis and all his supporters.
In answer to this first complaint of 1323, Lewis made a formal declaration at Nurnberg in the presence of a notary and ether witnesses that he regarded the empire as independent of the pope, charged John with heresy, and appealed to a general council. The charge of heresy was based on the pope’s treatment of the Spiritual party among the Franciscans. Condemned by John, prominent Spirituals, Michael of Cesena, Ockam and Bonagratia, espoused Lewis’ cause, took refuge at his court, and defended him with their pens. The political conflict was thus complicated by a recondite ecclesiastical problem. In 1324 Lewis issued a second appeal, written in the chapel of the Teutonic Order in Sachsenhausen, which again renewed the demand for a general council and repeated the charge of heresy against the pope.