Elected on June 25, 1243, Innocent IV (Fieschi) undertook as his most important task the destruction of Frederick II, who had been excommunicated by his predecessor Gregory IX (Ugo dei Conti di Segni) on March 20, 1239. Forced to flee from Rome, he held a church council at Lyons with some 150 bishops and issued an order deposing Frederick from the Imperial throne. Louis IX of France attempted to mediate a peace, but was unsuccessful. Both parties wanted blood. There was even an assassination attempt against the life of Frederick, led by Tibaldo Francesco, former Podesta of Parma, who had been promised the Crown of Sicily. When Frederick discovered the plot, 150 people were executed. In May, 1246, a new King of the Romans was elected in opposition to Frederick with the active support of the Pope, Henry Raspe Landgraf of Thurungia. A new emperor, William of Holland, was likewise elected, in October of 1247. Frederick's best friend, Peter de la Vigne, was accused of attempting to assassinate Frederick through poison; he was tried and blinded, but before he could be confined for life (or worse), he committed suicide (1249). Frederick insisted that the moving force behind the plot had been the Pope. While campaigning in Italy, Frederick died of dysentery on December 13, 1250.
In his Will, Frederick left the crown of Sicily to his son Conrad IV, and, failing him, to his son Henry; or, if Henry was unavailable, in the last event to his legitimized son Manfred. In opposition to this disposition, Pope Innocent offered the crown of Sicily to Richard of Cornwall, the brother of King Henry III of England, both before and after the death of Conrad, and then to Charles d'Anjou, the brother of Louis IX of France. The two brothers, Conrad and Manfred, had different views on what was politically possible and desirable, however; Conrad always hoped to recover all of his father's territories (see Zeller, passim), and he intended to return to Germany; Manfred, was content with the Sicilian inheritance, in order to secure which he would have to come to terms with the Pope. Manfred managed to reconquer all of the Frederick's domains in the south which had been in rebellion, except for Naples. But his brother Conrad arrived in Italy in 1252, and in October, 1253, Naples fell to Conrad. But suspicion between brothers caused Conrad to strip Manfred of nearly all of his gains, except the Principality of Taranto, which Frederick had left him. It appeared that this dissention would ruin the Hohenstaufen cause in southern Italy, but Conrad died suddenly of malaria on May 21, 1254 (Baronius-Theiner, sub anno 1254, nos. 41-45, p. 466-468; Zeller, p. 93), leaving an infant son, Conradin (Corradino).
Manfred refused an offer to become King of Sicily, but did accept the Regency of young Conradin. This was directly confrontational with Pope Innocent, who had been named tutor of Conradin [Capasso, no. 150, p.75], and who claimed feudal overlordship [Baronius-Theiner, sub anno 1254, nos. 46-47, p. 468]. Fortunately, Manfred and the Pope were able to work out their differences, embodied in a treaty of September, 1245, in which the Pope acquired possession of Apulia [Baronius-Theiner, sub anno 1254, nos.48-59, p. 468-472; Capasso, no. 153, pp. 77-78]. But Manfred's suspicions were aroused against the Pope and his advisers by their behavior as they were traveling from Anagni to Capua [Nicolaus de Jamsilla, in Muratori RIS 8, 527-532; Baronius-Theiner, sub anno 1254, nos. 65-68, p. 473-474; Muratori, Annali d'Italia 18, 189-190; Capasso, pp. 72-73; Di Cesare, Storia di Manfredo, pp. 49-101], reaching Teano on October 16 [Capasso, no. 159, p. 79]. On October 23, 1254, for example, Innocent, who was at Capua at the time, detached Amalfi from their traditional obedience to the Kings of Sicily and received them directly into his own power. This was death by a thousand cuts [Capasso, no. 164, pp. 80-81; Di Cesare, p. 88 n. 23]:
sicut ex parte vestra fuit propositum coram nobis temporibus clarae memoriae omnium Regum Siciliae semper de demanio extitistis. Cum autem per speciales nuncios, propter hoc ad praesentiam nostram destinatos, nobis fidelitatis debitae praestiteritis juramentum, nos supplicationibus vestris annuentes praesentium auctoritate statuimus, ut vos, et praedicta civitas in devotione sedis apostolicae permanentes, de nostro et Ecclesiae romanae demansio, sicut fuistis temporibus eorundem Regum, in perpetuum existatis.
On October 26, Manfred fled from Teano [Jamsilla, 522-527; Capasso, no. 167, p. 82] to his loyal Saracens in the town of Lucera, where he had access to the Imperial treasury, and led an army, principally composed of Germans (and deserters from the papal army), against the papal army, led by Cardinal Guilelmus Fieschi, the Pope's nephew. The papal army was soundly defeated at the Battle of Foggia, which took place on December 2, 1254, four days before the death of Innocent himself.
Tantus autem cardinalibus et aliis de Romana curia ex illa victoria principis timor accessit, quod viso legato et marchione omnes voluere de Neapoli recedere, et in Campaniam redire: ad magnam autem instantiam et reconfortationem marchionis ipsius steterunt in unum collecti ad electionem novi Summi Pontificis....
That loss may have had a disastrous effect on the Fieschi creature in the Sacred College, especially on Guilelmus' prospects to succeed his uncle.
Another problem entirely had been growing for a number of years. There was an outburst of religious piety in the 12th and 13th century that showed itself in the creation of new religious orders. The various branches of the Benedictines had been brought under control and regulation. But the new orders (Dominicans, Franciscans, Servants of Mary) were causing trouble with the secular clergy and with the Universities. Their monasteries and convents attracted the attention of pilgrims and of local inhabitants both, anyone looking for an obvious expression of religious devotion. The monks were thought of as being nearer heaven than the parish priest, and the faithful wished their intercession and instruction. This began to interfere with the good operation of diocesan life. Parish churches went unattended, the secular clergy heard fewer and fewer confessions; the churches of the Orders were full, and the members of the Orders ('regulars") were sought as confessors. Monasteries became places for funerals and burials. These orders claimed the same privileges that had been given to monastery after monastery for six hundred years—exemption from the authority of the local bishop—and they often received it from one pope or another. Complaints from bishops and the secular clergy grew louder and louder.
The Universities, too, were angry, particularly Paris, which was the only university that granted advanced degrees in Theology. The monks, who did not need to worry about benefices and incomes and residences, had time for study, and they quickly recognized the value of a degree. Masters and Doctors from the Orders began to appear, and they quickly began to demand, and to receive, preferment in the awarding of Professorships at the Universities, to the disadvantage of secular priests and other clerics. There was, after all, an entire Order with their Patrons behind a Monk, and often no one supporting a secular priest but his bishop and family, and often not even these. [See Hastings Rashdall, The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages I (Oxford 1895), 369-392]. But they claimed exemptions of all sorts from University regulations. The outbreak of the struggle against the mendicants at Paris began in 1251, for example, among the pauperes studentes in Theologia, led by Guillaume de St. Amour, Professor of Theology and Canon of Beauvais. He was the author of several attacks on the Franciscans and Dominicans, De Periculis novissimorum temporum and De valido mendicante. In 1253 the struggle intensified and the Papal Legate, Albert of Parma, intervened, provoking appeals to the Pope. A deeper cause was town-gown violence. In addition the Dominicans and the Franciscans fought among each other [Du Boulay, Historia Universitatis Parisiensis III (Parisiis 1665), pp. 240 ff., esp. 244]
The Franciscans were a particular problem. Brother Elias, the first Minister General after St. Francis himself, had just died (1253), and Innocent IV had begun taking steps to regulate the way the University of Paris treated the privileges and pretensions of that Order. On the subject of stealing masses from the parish clergy, the Pope was not sympathetic. Fra Salimbene, OFM, notes:
Sacerdotes et clerici saeculares conquesti sunt domino papae Innocentio quarto, quod non poterant habere oblationes in Missis, quia ita bene isti duo ordines celebrant Missas suas, quod totus populus vadit ad eos; quapropter petimus de eis justitiam nobis fieri. Quibus Papa respondit: cum aliqui celebrent summo diluculo, aliqui in media tertia, aliqui post tertiam jam cantatam, non video qua hora isti possint dicere Missas suas, si audio vocem vestram; quia post prandium celebrare non debent, neque post nonam, neque quando debent dicere officium vespertinum, et ideo audiendi non estis. Verumtamen Papa volens satisfacere clericis, qui nimis eum de hoc negotio sollicitabant, et quia fratres Minores postea sperabat absolvere, contra ambos ordines dedit litteras, ut saltem diebus sollemnibus a mane usque post tertiam ecclesiarum januas minime aperirent, ne sacerdotes, parochiales et matrices ecclesiae oblationibus fraudarentur.
But the Orders had their defenders, and they were clever enough to honor one or another Cardinal at the Curia with their humble service in exchange for his patronage. Even the newest of the orders, the Franciscans, had their patron in Cardinal Rinaldo dei Conti, the Bishop of Ostia. Fra Salimbene makes another interesting observation:
Cum autem frater Johannes de Parma generalis minister misisset ad eum fratrem Hugonem Zapoldum de Placentia, qui erat bonus physicus et lector in theologia in ordine fratrum Minorum, et morabatur cum nepote Papae domino Octobono [Fieschi, Cardinal deacon of S. Adriano (1251-1276)], qui fuit postea et ipse Papa Adrianus tertius [quintus !], ut rogaret Papam, quod amore Dei et beati Francisci et etiam pro honore et bono suo, totius populi christiani salute litteras illas destrueret, non exaudivit eum . . . et ita erat gravatus ad mortem Papa Innocentius quartus; et erant ibi duo fratres Minores theotonici, qui dixerunt Papae: certe, domine Papa, nos stetimus in terra ista multis mensibus volentes bovis loqui, et vobiscum nostra negotia ordinare; sed ostiarii vestri nos non permittebant intrare, ut faciem vestram videre possemus: modo non curant de custodia vestra quia amplius a vobis nihil habere expectant. Verumtamen nos lavabimus corpus vestrum . . . Post paucos vero dies factus est Papa Alexander quartus, qui fuerat fratrum Minorum cardinalis protector, gubernator et corrector; et statim destruxit litteras illas.
Not even his own nephew, Cardinal Ottobono Fieschi, could deter Innocent IV from his decisions about the Regulars. Cardinal Guilelmus Fieschi protected the the Servites (Servants of Mary)—who were not yet recognized by the Papacy, the Umiliati, and the Hermits of S. Augustine. Cardinal Fieschi's protection might not have been all that powerful. His uncle the Pope had embarked on a campaign against the disorder of the Orders, especially of the Franciscans, in the University The business of settling the matter, however, fell to his successor. The conflict, however, continued into the reign of Clement IV and beyond. Innocent IV's successor, Alexander IV, also intervened against the Franciscans at Paris, in his bull Quasi lignum of April 14, 1255 [Bullarium Romanum 3 Turin edition (1858), no. xi, pp. 607].
As Innocent was making his way to Naples, he began to suffer a sharp pain in his side. Matthew of Paris, who is our only source on this, remarks
Direxerat autem Papa iter illis diebus versus Neapolim, licet in latere quasi pleuresi infirmatus vel lancea sauciatus. Nec potuit ei cardinalis albi [Johannes de Toledo] phisica sufragari.
Matthew's narrative, however, attributes the Pope's illness to the fact that he had ordered the bones of Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln (who had died on October 9, 1253), thrown out of his tomb. Bishop Robert visited the Pope in a dream, and wounded him in the side with his episcopal staff. The truth of this cannot be verified.
A few weeks later, Innocent IV died in Naples in the house that had once belonged to Petrus de Vineis. It was the Feast of S. Ambrose, Monday, December 7, around the time of Vespers [Nicolaus de Curbio, in Capasso, no. 184, p. 90-91; Alexander IV's Electoral Manifesto: Baronius-Theiner, sub anno 1254 no. 69, p. 475; Bullarium Romanum III, 593-594] The Franciscans, Dominicans and secular clergy held a Wake during the night. Next morning, Tuesday, December 8, the Cardinals and prelates and a great number of clergy and laity escorted the body to the Cathedral, where he was buried [Nicolas de Curbio, ch. 42]:
de carnis ergastulo exiens in festo Sancti Ambrosii, circa horam vespertinam, ad caelestem patriam emigravit. Tandem fratres Minores, Praedicatores, et alii religiosi quamplurimi, necnon et clerici saeculares circa ipsius patris feretrum pernoctantes, ac divinis etiam laudibus, et orationibus assistentes, mane sequenti Domini Cardinales et Praelati pariter universi cum magno clieri et populi comitatu, cum reverentia et honore non tamen doloris expertes et effusione multimoda lacrymarum, ipsum detulerunt ad majorem Ecclesiam tumulandum, apud quam elegerat sepulturam. Et eo ibidem sepulto in speciosa et celebri sepultura, obsessi a morbis validis et languoribus variis per divinam operationis clementiam liberantur, et omnes qui ibidem puro corde implorant auxilium salubrem suae petitionis effectum.
He was not, as Platina and Pavinio say, buried in San Lorenzo. His remains were transferred to the new Cathedral in 1320 [G. Di Cesare, Storia di Manfredo, p. 101 n. 41].
The entry of Martinus Polonus in his Chronicle states [p. 151 ed. Klimeš (Pragae 1859)]: Hic sedes cardinalium a multo tempore vacuas de personis ex diversis mundi partibus electis restauravit. In his eleven year reign he created fifteen cardinals; five of them died during his reign [Eubel I, p. 7].
Onuphrio Panvinio [Epitome, p. 163-164] gives the number of cardinals who were present at the Election of December, 1254 as thirteen. But he has made many mistakes: an Otho who was allegedly Bishop of Porto, who had died in 1251; another Otho, who was supposed to be Bishop of Sabina; Stephen of S. Callisto, who had died the day after the Pope; Pietro Capocci, who was in Germany. He misses Guilelmus Fieschi, who was really present.
One subscription to a papal bull late in the reign of Innocent IV records the following cardinals present in Consistory on June 23, 1253 at Assisi:
Ego Stephanus sancte Marie Transtiberim tituli Calixti presbiteri cardinalis subscripsi.
Ego frater Johannes tituli sancti Laurencii in Lucina presbiter cardinalis subscripsi.
Ego Raynardus Ostiensis et Velletrensis episcopus subscripsi.
Ego Jacobus Portuensis et Sancte Rufine episcopus subscripsi.
Ego Richardus sancti Angeli diaconus cardinalis subscripsi.
Ego Octavianus sancte Marie in Via lata diaconus cardinalis subscripsi.
Ego Petrus, sancti Georgii ad velum diaconus cardinalis, subscripsi.
Ego Johannes, sancti Nicolai in carcere Tulliano diaconus cardinalis subscripsi.
Ego Willelmus sancti Eustachii diaconus cardinalis subscripsi.
Ego Ottobonus sancti Adriani diaconus cardinalis subscripsi.
Cardinal Stephanus of S. Callisto, however, died the day after Pope Innocent, on December 8, 1254. Cardinal Jacobus was already dead by January 3, 1254, when an administrator of the diocese of Porto is noted [Eubel I, p. 36 n. 3]
Cardinals not attending: [Eubel I, p. 7 n. 7]
According to Fra Salimbene of Parma, as soon as the Pope was dead, the Podesta of the city of Naples, Beretholinus Tavernerius, who was a fellow Parmesan, had the gates of the city closed, so that the Cardinals could not go off anywhere else but that they should elect a pope without delay (This was not yet a Conclave, but the reaction of a magistrate to an emergency situation). This is hardly a surprise, considering that the Battle of Foggia had taken place four days earlier, and the future of Naples and the Cardinals was very much in doubt. According to Fra Nicolaus de Curbis (chapter xliii), the news was brought to Ariano to Cardinal Guilelmus and Pope Innocent's other relatives by certain of the Cardinals (Would it be too much to conjecture that Cardinal Ottobono Fieschi was one?) that the Pope was dead. Had these Cardinals escaped Beretholinus' watchful eye, or did they head for Ariano before Beretholinus closed the gates? Was their disappearance perhaps the very reason why Beretholinus closed the gates? The Cardinals suggested to Cardinal Guilelmus Fieschi [his tomb in S. Lorenzo fuori le mure at right] that they should proceed to an election of a new pope as soon as possible. They therefore left their secure fortress and hastened to Naples:
Nuntiata vero Domini Guillelmo Cardinali, et aliis nepotibus Domini Papae existentibus Ariani a quibusdam cardinalibus morte ejusdem Domini, cum dolore, ac eidem suggerentibus cardinalibus, ut ad electionem Summi futuri Pontificis festinaret, statim idem Cardinalis cum suis omnibus civitatem munitam relinquens, Neapolim properavit ad ejusdem sui patroni sepulturam, ubi cum aliquandiu oravisset, Neapolitani cives eum, cum dolore tamen et lacrymis, ad domum ubi Papa decesserat, ubi etiam alios concluserunt Cardinales, curialiter deduxerunt. Ipso namque cum lacrymis suscepto ab aliis, statim in diei mane Veneris subsequentis, Sancti Spiritus Missa cantata de electione coeperunt tractare Romani Pontificis. Et cum illa die per formas varias procedentes, nihil penitus complevissent, die Sabbati post multos et varios tractatus convenientes in unum, hora quasi tertia, Dominum R. Ostiensem Episcopum in Summum elegerunt Pontificem, quem statim, Te Deum Laudamus decantando, ad majoris Ecclesiae Episcopium adduxerunt, ac est ibidem a clero et populo civitatis receptus, ac praestita omnibus solemni benedictione papali, ad domum, ubi fuerat creatus Episcopus, sub nomine rediit Alexandri IV.
Fra Salimbene of Parma has an interesting detail, that there was a deadlock, and that the Cardinals proceeded to an election by compromise:
Et quia dominus Bertholinus Tavernerius de Parma erat tunc temporis Neapolitanus Potestas, clausit civitatem, et retinuit cardinales, ne possent ire quoquam, sed sine mora eligerent Papam; et quia per voces concordare non poterant, elegerunt per compromissum. Et dominus Octavianus diaconus cardinalis imposuit mantum meliori homini de curia, ut dixit, scilicet domino Raynaldo episcopo ostiensi; et dictus est Papa Alexander quartus, circa Nativitatem Domini factus, ita quod in festo sancti Thomae Cantuariensis Ferrariae rumores audivimus.
It may be, as the language of Fra Salimbene could suggest, that the burden of making the choice—since there were only ten Cardinals present—was put upon Cardinal Ottaviano Ubaldini, and he selected the Bishop of Ostia, Cardinal Rinaldo dei Conti di Segni. Cardinal Rinaldo was the senior Cardinal Bishop, and the second most senior cardinal (the senior creatura of Gregory IX). It is a heavy burden to put on Fra Salimbene, who is our only source for the internal operations of this Election. He has a tendency to exaggerate, his piety leads him into gullibility, and his material is not always accurate. Does he actually mean, when he says that Cardinal Octavianus the Cardinal Deacon placed the mantle on the better man of the Curia, that Octavianus made the choice? Octavianus was not the Protodeacon, and was not the person who simply carried out the investiture with the Papal mantle; there were two cardinal deacons present who were his senior. This would mean that Octavianus was the Compromisor. He may have been chosen because he was the second Bishop in seniority and the majority of cardinals wanted him to name the first in seniority (Rinaldo dei Conti di Segni). Was the choice between two candidates (meliori: "the better"), one from each party? Or is this the standard language from the canons, about the larger and better group (maior et melior) prevailing in a disputed election? The party of resistance to the Hohenstaufen must have been headed by Cardinal Guilelmus Fieschi, and he may well have been their candidate. This is the first example of a pope being elected by compromise (the next being in 1272), and it seems unlikely that Fra Salimbene or anyone else would simply have made up the fact. It must have been the pressure of the loss of the Battle of Foggia that made an immediate decision necessary.
Alexander IV (Rinaldo dei Conti di Segni), who had a record as a person who could compose differences, was elected on Saturday, December 12, 1254. He was a nephew of Gregory IX, and had been named a Cardinal Deacon in 1227, and Cardinal Bishop of Ostia in 1231.
He was crowned on Sunday, December 20, 1254, in the Cathedral of Naples.
Cardinal Guglielmo Fieschi did not return to the papal army; he is not heard of again, and died in 1256. He was replaced by Cardinal Ottaviano Ubaldini. Immediately thereafter Pope Alexander undertook to deal with the question of Manfred. Invitations were issued to Manfred to come to the Papal Court and purge himself of his responsibilty for the murder of Count Burellus de Anglone on October 20, 1254. At the same time Alexander IV commissioned Cardinal Ottaviano Ubaldini, Vicar in Calabria and Sicily and Papal Legate, to gather an army and make war against Manfred (Capasso, no. 194, p. 96; 196, p. 97; 205, p. 101, from Jamsilla). Naturally Manfred was not eager to come to the papal court, viewing Alexander's overtures as a deceptive charade. When the grace period established by Alexander ended in the middle of Lent, Alexander prepared other measures. On Holy Thursday, he issued a Bull rehearsing Manfred's misdeeds, excommunicating him and his followers, and putting Manfred personally under the Interdict. On April 8, 1255, Alexander was writing to Edmund of England as the new King of Sicily (Edmund finally renounced his pretensions in 1263 because England couldn't afford the expense: F.A. Gasquet, Henry the Third and the Church [London 1905] pp. 350-375). Pope Urban IV tried to sell the Kingdom of Sicily to Edward of Cornwall, without success. The Guelphs, it seemed, would never make peace with the Hohenstaufen. Manfred faced Cardinal Ottaviano's papal army and crushed it (1257).
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A. Parravicini Bagliani, Cardinali di curia e "familiae" cardinaliste, dal 1227 al 1254 Volume II (Padua 1972)
W. H. Bliss (editor), Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland. Papal Letters. Volume I (London 1893). W.W. Shirley (editor), Royal and Other Historical Letters illustrative of the Reign of Henry III Volume II. 1236-1272 (London: Longmans 1866). Abbot Francis Aidan Gasquet, Henry the Third and the Chruch (London 1905).
On Cardinal John of Toledo, see Hermann Grauert, "Meister Johann von Toledo," Stizungsberichte der philosophisch-philologischen und der historischen Klasse. königl. bayer. Akademie der Wissenschaften 1901 (München 1902) 111-325. On the Annibaldi: Fedele Savio, SJ, "Gli Annibaldi di Roma nel secolo XIII," Studi e documenti di storia e diritto 17 (1896) 353-363. Francis Roth, OESA, "Il Cardinale Riccardo Annibaldi, Primo Prottetore dell' Ordine Agostiniano," Augustiniana 2 (1952) 26-60. M. Dikmans, "D' Innocent III à Boniface VIII. Histoire des Conti et des Annibaldi," Bulletin de l' Institut historique belge de Rome 45 (1975) 19-211. Guido Levi, "Il Cardinale Ottaviano degli Ubaldini, secondo il suo carteggio ed altri documenti," Archivio della Società Romana di storia patria 14 (1891), 231-303. Albert Hauss, Lebensgeschichte des kardinals Oktavian Ubaldini bis zum Ausgang seiner erften lombardischen Legation (1251) (Diss. Ruprecht-Karls Universitat 1912). Albert Hauss, Kardinal Oktavian Ubaldini: Ein Staatsmann des XIII Jahrhunderts (Heidelberg: Winter 1913). Federico Federici, Della famiglia Fiesca trattato (Genova: Giovanni Maria a Faroni 1605).
On Cardinal Orsini: Augustin Demski, Papst Nikolaus III, Eine Monographie (Münster 1903) 34-37. Richard Sternfeld, Der Kardinal Johann Gaetan Orsini (Papst Nikolaus III.) 1244-1277 (Berlin: E. Ebering 1905).
Giuseppe di Cesare, Storia di Manfredi. re di Sicilia e di Puglia I (Napoli: Raffaele di Stefano 1837).151-197. Michael Döberl, "Berthold von Vohburg-Hohenburg, der letzte Vorkampfer der Deutschen Herrschaft in Konigreiche Sicilien," Deutsche Zeitschrift fur Geschichtswissenschaft 12 (1894/1895 [Freiburg i.B. 1896]) Band II, 201-278. E. Miller, Konradin von Hohenstaufen (Berlin 1897). August Karst, Geschichte Manfreds vom Tode Friedrichs II. bix zu seiner Krönung (1250-1258) (Berlin: E. Ebering 1897) [Historische Studien, Heft VI.].
Conradus Eubel, OFM Conv., Hierarchia Catholici Medii Aevi...ab anno 1198 usque ad annum 1431 perducta editio altera (Monasterii 1193) 7-8.
© 2009 John Paul Adams, CSUN