|Bishop of Rome|
|Papacy began||8 January 1198|
|Papacy ended||16 July 1216|
|Ordination||21 February 1198|
|Consecration||22 February 1198|
|Created cardinal||September 1190|
by Clement III
|Birth name||Lotario de' Conti di Segni|
|Born||1160 or 1161|
Gavignano, Papal States
|Died||16 July 1216 (aged 55–56)|
Perugia, Papal States
|Other popes named Innocent|
|Papal styles of|
Pope Innocent III
|Reference style||His Holiness|
|Spoken style||Your Holiness|
|Religious style||Holy Father|
Pope Innocent III (Latin : Innocentius III; 1160 or 1161 – 16 July 1216), born Lotario dei Conti di Segni (anglicized as Lothar of Segni) reigned from 8 January 1198 to his death in 1216.
The Conti di Segni were an important noble family of medieval and early modern Italy originating in Segni, Lazio. Many members of the family acted as military commanders or ecclesiastical dignitaries, including many cardinals and four popes.
Pope Innocent was one of the most powerful and influential of the medieval popes. He exerted a wide influence over the Christian states of Europe, claiming supremacy over all of Europe's kings. He was central in supporting the Catholic Church's reforms of ecclesiastical affairs through his decretals and the Fourth Lateran Council. This resulted in a considerable refinement of Western canon law. He is furthermore notable for using interdict and other censures to compel princes to obey his decisions, although these measures were not uniformly successful.
Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Asia to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest and largest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration is the Holy See.
Canon law is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of a Christian organization or church and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law, or operational policy, governing the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the individual national churches within the Anglican Communion. The way that such church law is legislated, interpreted and at times adjudicated varies widely among these three bodies of churches. In all three traditions, a canon was originally a rule adopted by a church council; these canons formed the foundation of canon law.
Innocent greatly extended the scope of the crusades, directing crusades against Muslim Spain and the Holy Land as well as the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars in southern France. He organized the Fourth Crusade of 1202–1204, which ended in the disastrous sack of Constantinople. Although the attack on Constantinople went against his explicit orders, and the Crusaders were subsequently excommunicated, Innocent reluctantly accepted this result, seeing it as the will of God to reunite the Latin and Orthodox Churches. In the event, the sack of Constantinople and the subsequent period of Frankokratia heightened the hostility between the Latin and Greek churches. (The Byzantine empire was restored in 1261 but never regained its former strength, finally falling in 1453. )
The crusades were a series of religious wars sanctioned by the Latin Church. The best-known crusades are the campaigns in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries fought in the eastern Mediterranean, aimed at recovering the Holy Land from Muslim rule. The term crusade is now also applied to other church-sanctioned and even non-religious campaigns. These were fought for a variety of reasons including the suppression of paganism and heresy, the resolution of conflict among rival Roman Catholic groups, or for political and territorial advantage. At the time of the early crusades the word did not exist, and it only much later became the leading descriptive term in English.
The Holy Land is an area roughly located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea that also includes the Eastern Bank of the Jordan River. Traditionally, it is synonymous both with the biblical Land of Israel and with the region of Palestine. The term "Holy Land" usually refers to a territory roughly corresponding to the modern State of Israel, the Palestinian territories, western Jordan, and parts of southern Lebanon and of southwestern Syria. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all regard it as holy.
The Albigensian Crusade or the Cathar Crusade was a 20-year military campaign initiated by Pope Innocent III to eliminate Catharism in Languedoc, in southern France. The Crusade was prosecuted primarily by the French crown and promptly took on a political flavour, resulting in not only a significant reduction in the number of practising Cathars, but also a realignment of the County of Toulouse in Languedoc, bringing it into the sphere of the French crown and diminishing the distinct regional culture and high level of influence of the Counts of Barcelona.
Lotario de' Conti was born in Gavignano, Italy, near Anagni.His father Count Trasimund of Segni was a member of a famous house, Conti di Segni (Earl of Segni), which produced nine popes including Gregory IX, Alexander IV and Innocent XIII. Lotario was the nephew of Pope Clement III; his mother, Claricia Scotti (Romani de Scotti), was from the same noble Roman family.
Gavignano is a town in the Metropolitan City of Rome, Lazio, central Italy. Gavignano is approximately 50 km south east of Rome, on a hill in the Lepini Mountains.
Anagni is an ancient town and comune in the province of Frosinone, Latium, central Italy, in the hills east-southeast of Rome. It is a historical and artistic center of the Latin Valley.
Pope Alexander IV was Pope from 12 December 1254 to his death in 1261.
Lotario received his early education in Rome, probably at the Benedictine abbey of St Andrea al Celio, under Peter Ismael;he studied theology in Paris under the theologians Peter of Poitiers, Melior of Pisa, and Peter of Corbeil, and (possibly) jurisprudence in Bologna, according to the Gesta (between 1187 and 1189). As Pope, Lotario was to play a major role in the shaping of canon law through conciliar canons and decretal letters.
Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.
Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zürich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018.
Peter of Poitiers was a French scholastic theologian, born at Poitiers or in its neighbourhood about 1130. He died in Paris, probably in 1215
Shortly after the death of Alexander III (30 August 1181) Lotario returned to Rome and held various ecclesiastical offices during the short reigns of Lucius III, Urban III, Gregory VIII, and Clement III, reaching the rank of Cardinal-Deacon in 1190.
Pope Alexander III, born Roland of Siena, was pope from 7 September 1159 to his death in 1181.
Pope Lucius III, born Ubaldo Allucingoli, reigned from 1 September 1181 to his death in 1185.
Pope Urban III, born Uberto Crivelli, reigned from 25 November 1185 to his death in 1187.
As a cardinal, Lotario wrote De miseria humanae conditionis (On the Misery of the Human Condition).The work was very popular for centuries, surviving in more than 700 manuscripts. Although he never returned to the complementary work he intended to write, On the Dignity of Human Nature, Bartolomeo Facio (1400–1457) took up the task writing De excellentia ac praestantia hominis.
Celestine III died on 8 January 1198. Before his death he had urged the College of Cardinals to elect Giovanni di San Paolo as his successor, but Lotario de' Conti was elected pope in the ruins of the ancient Septizodium, near the Circus Maximus in Rome after only two ballots on the very day on which Celestine III died. He was only thirty-seven years old at the time.He took the name Innocent III, maybe as a reference to his predecessor Innocent II (1130–1143), who had succeeded in asserting the Papacy's authority over the emperor (in contrast with Celestine III's recent policy).
As pope, Innocent III began with a very wide sense of his responsibility and of his authority. During the reign of Pope Innocent III, the papacy was at the height of its powers. He was considered to be the most powerful person in Europe at the time.In 1198, Innocent wrote to the prefect Acerbius and the nobles of Tuscany expressing his support of the medieval political theory of the sun and the moon. His papacy asserted the absolute spiritual authority of his office, while still respecting the temporal authority of kings.
The Muslim recapture of Jerusalem in 1187 was to him a divine judgment on the moral lapses of Christian princes. He was also determined to protect what he called "the liberty of the Church" from inroads by secular princes. This determination meant, among other things, that princes should not be involved in the selection of bishops, and it was focused especially on the "patrimonium" of the papacy, the section of central Italy claimed by the popes and later called the Papal States. The patrimonium was routinely threatened by Hohenstaufen German kings who, as Roman emperors, claimed it for themselves. The Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI expected to be succeeded by his infant son Frederick as king of Sicily, king of the Germans, and Roman Emperor, a combination that would have brought Germany, Italy, and Sicily under a single ruler and left the patrimonium exceedingly vulnerable.
The early death of Henry VI left his 3-year-old son Frederick II as king. Henry VI's widow Constance of Sicily ruled over Sicily for her young son before he reached the age of majority. She was as eager to remove German power from the kingdom of Sicily as was Innocent III. Before her death in 1198, she named Innocent as guardian of the young Frederick until he reached his maturity. In exchange, Innocent was also able to recover papal rights in Sicily that had been surrendered decades earlier to King William I of Sicily by Pope Adrian IV. The Pope 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.
Innocent was concerned that the marriage of Henry VI and Constance of Sicily gave the Hohenstaufens a claim to all the Italian peninsula with the exception of the Papal States, which would be surrounded by Imperial territory.
After the death of Emperor Henry VI, who had recently also conquered the Kingdom of Sicily, the succession became disputed: as Henry's son Frederick was still a small child, the partisans of the Staufen dynasty elected Henry's brother, Philip, Duke of Swabia, king in March 1198, whereas the princes opposed to the Staufen dynasty elected Otto, Duke of Brunswick, of the House of Welf. King Philip II of France supported Philip's claim, whereas King Richard I of England supported his nephew Otto.
In 1201, the pope openly espoused the side of Otto IV, whose family had always been opposed to the house of Hohenstaufen.
It is the business of the pope to look after the interests of the Roman empire, since the empire derives its origin and its final authority from the papacy; its origin, because it was originally transferred from Greece by and for the sake of the papacy...its final authority, because the emperor is raised to his position by the pope who blesses him, crowns him and invests him with the empire....Therefore, since three persons have lately been elected king by different parties, namely the youth [Frederick, son of Henry VI], Philip [of Hohenstaufen, brother of Henry VI], and Otto [of Brunswick, of the Welf family], so also three things must be taken into account in regard to each one, namely: the legality, the suitability and the expediency of his election......Far be it from us that we should defer to man rather than to God, or that we should fear the countenance of the powerful....On the foregoing grounds, then, we decide that the youth should not at present be given the empire; we utterly reject Philip for his manifest unfitness and we order his usurpation to be resisted by all....since Otto is not only himself devoted to the church, but comes from devout ancestors on both sides.....therefore we decree that he ought to be accepted and supported as king, and ought to be given the crown of empire, after the rights of the Roman church have been secured."Papal Decree on the choice of a German King, 1201"
The confusion in the Empire allowed Innocent to drive out the imperial feudal lords from Ancona, Spoleto and Perugia, who had been installed by Emperor Henry VI.On 3 July 1201, the papal legate, Cardinal-Bishop Guido of Palestrina announced to the people, in the cathedral of Cologne, that Otto IV had been approved by the pope as Roman king and threatened with excommunication all those who refused to acknowledge him. At the same time, Innocent encouraged the cities in Tuscany to form a league, called the League of San Genesio against German imperial interests in Italy, and they placed themselves under Innocent's protection.
In May 1202, Innocent issued the decree "Venerabilem", addressed to the Duke of Zähringen, in which he explained his thinking on the relation between the papacy and the Empire. This decree was afterwards embodied in the "Corpus Juris Canonici", contained the following items:
Despite papal support, Otto could not oust his rival Philip until the latter was murdered in a private feud. His rule now undisputed, Otto reneged on his earlier promises and now set his sights on reestablishing Imperial power in Italy and claiming even the Kingdom of Sicily. Given the papal interest to keep Germany and Sicily apart, Innocent now supported his ward, King Frederick of Sicily, to resist Otto's advances and restore the Staufen dynasty to the Holy Roman Empire. Frederick was duly elected by the Staufen partisans.
The conflict was decided by the Battle of Bouvines on 27 July 1214, which pitted Otto, allied to King John of England against Philip II Augustus. Otto was defeated by the French and thereafter lost all influence. He died on 19 May 1218, leaving Frederick II the undisputed emperor. Meanwhile, King John was forced to acknowledge the Pope as his feudal lord and accept Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury.
Innocent III played further roles in the politics of Norway,France, Sweden, Bulgaria, Spain and England. At the request of England's King John, Pope Innocent III declared the Magna Carta annulled, resulting in a rebellion by the English Barons who did not accept this action.
Innocent III was a vigorous opponent of religious heresy and undertook campaigns against it. At the beginning of his pontificate, he focused on the Albigenses, also known as the Cathars, a sect that had become widespread in southwestern France, then under the control of local princes, such as the Counts of Toulouse. The Cathars rejected the Christian authority and the teachings of the Catholic Church, claiming it corrupt.In 1198, Innocent III dispatched a monk named Rainier to visit France with the power to excommunicate heretics, and orders to local temporal authorities to confiscate the lands of heretics or to "as became Christians to deal with them more severely."
The murder of Pierre de Castelnau – Innocent's legate – in 1208, by unknown assailants commonly believed to be friends of Count Raymond of Toulouse (who was not a Cathar himself but was seen as supportive of them), caused Innocent to change his methods from words to weapons. Innocent called upon King Philip II Augustus of France to suppress the Albigenses. The Crusade was prosecuted primarily by the French crown and soon took on a political flavor, resulting in a significant reduction in the number of practising Cathars and realignment of the County of Toulouse in Languedoc, bringing it into the sphere of the French crown and diminishing the distinct regional culture and high level of influence of the Counts of Barcelona. Under the leadership of Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester, a campaign was launched. The Albigensian Crusade, which led to the deaths of approximately 20,000 men, women and children, Cathar and Catholic alike,and brought the region firmly under the control of the king of France. It was directed not only against heretical Christians, but also the nobility of Toulouse and vassals of the Crown of Aragon. King Peter II of Aragon was directly involved in the conflict, and was killed in the course of the Battle of Muret in 1213. The conflict largely ended with the Treaty of Paris of 1229, in which the integration of the Occitan territory in the French crown was agreed upon.
Pope Innocent III spent a majority of his tenure as Pope (1198–1216) preparing for a great crusade on the Holy Land. His first attempt was the Fourth Crusade (1202–1204) which he decreed with the papal bull Post miserabile in 1198.Unlike past popes, Innocent III displayed interest in leading the crusade himself, rather than simply instigating it and allowing secular leaders to organize the expedition according to their own aspirations.
Innocent III's first order of business in preaching the crusade was to send missionaries to every Catholic state to endorse the campaign. Innocent III sent Peter of Capua to the kings of France and England with specific instructions to convince them to settle their differences. As a result, in 1199, Innocent was successful in forging a truce of five years between the two nations. The intent of the truce between the kings was not to allow them to lead the crusade, but rather to improve the likelihood that they would provide assistance. For the army's leadership, Innocent aimed his pleas at the knights and nobles of Europe.The pleadings were successful in France, where many lords answered the pope's call, including the army's two eventual leaders, Theobald of Champagne and Boniface, marquis of Montferrat. Innocent III's calls to action were not received with as much enthusiasm in England or Germany. For this reason, the Fourth Crusade became mainly a French affair.
The Fourth Crusade was an expensive endeavor. Innocent III chose to raise funds with a new approach: requiring all clergy to give one fortieth of their income in support of the Crusade. This marked the first time a pope ever imposed a direct tax on his clerical subjects. The pope faced many difficulties with collecting this tax, including corrupt tax collectors and disregard in England. He continued in his attempt to garner funds for his crusade by sending envoys to King John of England and King Philip of France, who pledged to contribute to the campaign.[ citation needed ] John also declared that the tax would be collected throughout England as well. The other source of funds for the crusade was the crusaders themselves. Innocent declared that those who took the vow to become crusaders but could no longer perform the tasks that they had promised to complete, could be released of their oaths by a contribution of funds to the original cause. The pope put Archbishop Hubert Walter in charge of collecting these dues.
At the onset of the crusade, the intended destination was Egypt, as the Christians and Muslims were under a truce at the time.An agreement was made between the French Crusaders and the Venetians. The Venetians would supply vessels and supplies for the crusaders and in return, the crusaders would pay 85,000 marks (£200,000). Innocent gave his approval of this agreement under two conditions: a representative of the pope must accompany the crusade, and the attack of any other Christians was strictly forbidden. The French failed to raise sufficient funds for payment of the Venetians. As a result, the Crusaders diverted the crusade to the Christian city of Zara at the will of the Venetians to subsidize the debt. This diversion was adopted without the consent of Innocent III, who threatened excommunication to any who took part in the attack. A majority of the French ignored the threat and attacked Zara, and were excommunicated by Innocent III, but soon were forgiven so as to continue the crusade. A second diversion then occurred when the crusaders decided to conquer Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. This diversion was taken without any knowledge by Innocent III, and he did not learn of it until after the city had been captured.
Innocent viewed the capture of Constantinople as a way to reunite the schismatic Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. The pope excommunicated the Crusaders who attacked Christian cities, but was unable to halt or overturn their actions. Erroneously, he felt that the Latin presence would bring about a reconciliation between the Eastern and Western Churches. His tactics ultimately failed due to the significant differences between the two churches. The crusade did lead to the start of the Latin Empire's rule of Constantinople, which lasted for the next sixty years.
In 1209, Francis of Assisi led his first eleven followers to Rome to seek permission from Pope Innocent III to found a new religious Order, which was ultimately granted.Upon entry to Rome, the brothers encountered Bishop Guido of Assisi, who had in his company Giovanni di San Paolo, the Cardinal Bishop of Sabina. The Cardinal, who was the confessor of Pope Innocent III, was immediately sympathetic to Francis and agreed to represent Francis to the pope. Reluctantly, Pope Innocent agreed to meet with Francis and the brothers the next day. After several days, the pope agreed to admit the group informally, adding that when God increased the group in grace and number, they could return for an official admittance. The group was tonsured. This was important in part because it recognized Church authority and protected his followers from possible accusations of heresy, as had happened to the Waldensians decades earlier. Though Pope Innocent initially had his doubts, following a dream in which he saw Francis holding up the Basilica of St. John Lateran (the cathedral of Rome, thus the 'home church' of all Christendom), he decided to endorse Francis's Order. This occurred, according to tradition, on 16 April 1210, and constituted the official founding of the Franciscan Order. The group, then the "Lesser Brothers" (Order of Friars Minor also known as the Franciscan Order), preached on the streets and had no possessions. They were centered in Porziuncola, and preached first in Umbria, before expanding throughout Italy.
On 15 November 1215 Innocent opened the Fourth Lateran Council, considered the most important church 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. Canon 18 forbade clergymen to participate in the practice of the judicial ordeal, effectively banning its use.
In order to define fundamental doctrines, the council reviewed the nature of the Eucharist, the ordered annual confession of sins, and prescribed detailed procedures for the election of bishops. The council also mandated a strict lifestyle for clergy. Canon 68 states: Jews and Muslims shall wear a special dress to enable them to be distinguished from Christians so that no Christian shall come to marry them ignorant of who they are.Canon 69 forbade "that Jews be given preferment in public office since this offers them the pretext to vent their wrath against the Christians." It assumes that Jews blaspheme Christ, and therefore, as it would be "too absurd for a blasphemer of Christ to exercise power over Christians", Jews should not be appointed to public offices.
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 maritime cities of Pisa and Genoa by removing the excommunication cast over Pisa by his predecessor Celestine III and concluding a pact with Genoa.
Innocent III, however, died suddenly at Perugiaon 16 June 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.
His Latin works include De miseria humanae conditionis , a tract on asceticism that Innocent III wrote before becoming pope, and De sacro altaris mysterio, a description and exegesis of the liturgy.
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