Sinibaldo Fieschi (Innocent IV) elected Pope
Pope Innocent IV, born Sinibaldo Fieschi, was pope from June 28, 1243, to December 7, 1254.
Born in Genoa (although some sources say Manarola) in an unknown year the boy, Sinibaldo was the son of Ugo Fieschi, Count of Lavagna, and his wife Brumisan di Grillo. The Fieschi were a noble family of Liguria. Sinibaldo received his education at the universities of Parma and Bologna and, for a time, taught canon law at Bologna. He was considered one of the best canonists of his time and was called to serve the Pope in the Roman Curia in the year 1226.
Bishop and Cardinal
Before his elevation to the papacy Sinibaldo was Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church (1226-1227), being created Cardinal Priest of San Lorenzo in Lucina on (September 18, 1227) by Pope Gregory IX, later serving as governor of the March of Ancona (1235 until 1240).
It is widely repeated from the 17th century on that he became bishop of Albenga in 1235, but this information is without foundation.
His immediate predecessor was Pope Celestine IV, elected October 25, 1241, whose reign lasted a mere fifteen days. The events of Innocent IV's pontificate are therefore inextricably linked to the policies dominating the reigns of popes Innocent III (1198-1216), Honorius III (1216-1227). and Gregory IX (1227-1241).
Gregory had been demanding the return of portions of the Papal States taken over by the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II (Hohenstauffen), when he died. The Pope had called a general council so he could depose the emperor with the support of Europe's spiritual leaders but Frederick had seized two cardinals traveling to the council in hopes of intimidating the other council fathers. The two prelates remained incarcerated, missing the conclave which had immediately elected Celestine. The conclave reconvening after his death fell into camps supporting contradictory policies about how to treat with the emperor.
New pope, same emperor
After a year and a half of contentious debate, arm twisting, and hand wringing, the conclave reached a unanimous decision. Cardinal de' Fieschi very reluctantly accepted election, taking the name Innocent IV (June 25, 1243). As Cardinal de' Fieschi, Sinibaldo had been on friendly terms with Frederick, even after his excommunication. The Emperor also greatly admired the cardinal's wisdom, having enjoyed discussions with him from time to time.
Following the election the always witty Frederick remarked that he had lost the friendship of a cardinal but made up for it by gaining the enmity of a pope.
His jest notwithstanding, Frederick's letter to the new pontiff was couched in respectful terms, offering Innocent congratulations and success, also expressing hope for an amicable settlement of the differences between the empire and the papacy. Negotiations leading to this objective began shortly afterwards but proved abortive. Innocent refused to back down from his demands, Frederick II refused to acquiesce, and the dispute continued, its major point of contention being the reinstatement of Lombardy to the Patrimony of St Peter.
The Emperor's machinations caused a good deal of anti-papal feeling to rise in Italy, particularly in the Papal States and imperial agents encouraged plots against papal rule. Realizing how untenable his position in Rome was growing Innocent IV secretly but hurriedly withdrew to Genoa, his birthplace, in the summer of 1244. Traveling in disguise Innocent made his way to Sutri and Civitavecchia, thence to France where the Pontiff was joyously welcomed. Making his way to Lyons Innocent was happily greeted by rulers of the city.
Finding himself now in secure surroundings Innocent summoned as many bishops as could get to Lyons to attend what became the 13th General (Ecumenical) Council of the Church, the first in Lyons. The bishops met for three public sessions, June 28, July 5, and July 17 in 1245. Their business was to put Frederick in his place.
Count of Lavagna, born at Genoa, date unknown; died at Naples, 7 December, 1254. He was educated at Parma and Bologna. For some time he taught canon law at Bologna, then he became canon at Parma and in 1226 is mentioned as auditor of the Roman Curia. On 23 September,1227, he was created Cardinal-Priest of San Lorenzo in Lucina; on 28 July, 1228, vice-chancellor of Rome; and in 1235 Bishop of Albenga and legate in Northern Italy. When Celestine IV died after a short reign of sixteen days, the excommunicated emperor, Frederick II, was in possession of the States of the Church around Rome and attempted to intimidate the cardinals into electing a pope to his own liking. The cardinals fled to Anagni and cast their votes for Sinibaldo de Fiesehi, who ascended the papal throne as Innocent IV on 25 June, 1243, after an interregnum of 1 year, 7 months, and 15 days. Innocent IV had previously been a friend of Frederick II. Immediately after the election the emperor sent messengers with congratulations and overtures of peace. The pope was desirous of peace, but he knew from the experience of Gregory IX how little trust could be put in the emperor's promises. He refused to receive the latter's messengers, because, like the emperor himself, they were under the ban of the Church. But two months later he sent Peter, Archbishop of Rouen, William of Modena, who had resigned his episcopal office, and Abbot William of St. Facundus as legates to the emperor at Melfi with instructions to ask him to release the prelates whom he had captured while on their way to the council which Gregory IX had intended to hold at Rome. The legates were furthermore instructed to find out what satisfaction the emperor was willing to make for the injuries which he had inflicted upon the Church and which caused Gregory IX to put him under the ban. Should the emperor deny that he had done any wrong to the Church, or even assert that the injustice had been done on the side of the Church, the legates were to propose that the decision should be left to a council of kings, prelates, and temporal princes. Frederick entered into an agreement with Innocent on 31 March, 1244. He promised to yield to the demands of the Curia in all essential points, viz., to restore the States of the Church, to release the prelates, and to grant amnesty to the allies of the pope. His insincerity became apparent when he secretly incited various tumults in Rome and refused to release the imprisoned prelates. Feeling himself hindered in his freedom of action on account of the emperor's military preponderance, and fearing for his personal safety, the pope decided to leave Italy. At his request the Genoese sent him a fleet which arrived at Civitavecchia while the pope was in Sutri. As soon as he was notified of its arrival, he left Sutri in disguise during the night of 27-28 June and hastened over the mountains to Civitavecchia, whence the fleet brought him to Genoa. In October he went to Burgundy, and in December to Lyons, where he took up his abode during the following six years. He at once made preparations for a general council, which on 3 January, 1245, he proclaimed for 24 June of the same year. Innocent had nothing to fear in France and proceeded with great severity against the emperor.
At the Council of Lyons the emperor was represented by Thaddeus of Suessa, who offered new concessions if his master were freed from the ban; but Innocent rejected them, and having brought new accusations against the emperor during the second session, on 5 July, solemnly deposed him at the third session, on 17 July. He now ordered the princes of Germany to proceed to the election of a new king, and sent Philip of Ferrara as legate to Germany to bring about the election of Henry Raspe, Landgrave of Thuringia. The pope's candidate was elected on 22 May, 1246, at Veitshochheim on the Main. Most of the princes, however, had abstained from voting and he never found general recognition. The same may be said of the incapable William of Holland, whom the papal party elected after Henry Raspe died on 17 February, 1247. But Innocent IV was determined upon the destruction of Frederick II and repeatedly asserted that no Hohenstaufen would ever again be emperor. All attempts of St. Louis IX of France to bring about peace were of no avail. In 1249 the pope ordered a crusade to be preached against Frederick II, and after the emperor's death (13 December, 1250), he continued the struggle against Conrad IV and Manfred with unrelenting severity. On 19 April, 1251, Innocent IV set out for Italy and entered Rome in October, 1253. The crown of Sicily devolved upon the Holy See at the deposition of Frederick II. Innocent had previously offered it to Richard of Cornwall, brother of Henry III of England. Upon his refusal, he tried Charles of Anjou and Edmund, son of Henry III of England. But after some negotiation they also refused owing to the difficulty of dislodging Conrad IV and Manfred who held Sicily by force of arms. After the death of Conrad IV, 20 May, 1264, the pope finally recognized the hereditary claims of Conrad's two-year-old son Conradin. Manfred also submitted, and Innocent made his solemn entry into Naples, 27 October, 1254, but Manfred soon revolted and defeated the papal troops at Foggia (2 Dec., 1254).
In England, Innocent IV made his power felt by protecting Henry III against the lay as well as the ecclesiastical nobility. But here and in other countries many just complaints arose against him on account of the excessive taxes which he imposed upon the people. In Austria, he confirmed Ottocar, the son of King Wenzel, as duke, in 1252, and mediated between him and King Béla of Hungary in 1254. In Portugal, he appointed Alfonso III administrator of the kingdom, because the people were disgusted at the immorality and the tyranny of his father, Sancho III. He favoured the missions in Prussia, Russia, Armenia, and Mongolia, but owing to his continual warfare with Frederick II and his successors he neglected the internal affairs of the Church and allowed many abuses, provided they served to strengthen his position against the Hohenstaufen. He approved the rule of the Sylvestrines on 27 June, 1247, and that of the Poor Clares on 9 August, 1253. The following saints were canonized by him: Edmund Rich, Archbishop of Canterbury, on 16 December, 1246; William, Bishop of St-Brieuc, in 1247; Peter of Verona; Dominican inquisitor and martyr, in 1253; Stanislaus, Bishop of Cracow, in the same year. He is the author of "Apparatus in quinque libros decretalium", which was first published at Strasburg in 1477, and afterwards reprinted; it is considered the best commentary on the Decretals of Gregory IX. The registers of Innocent IV were edited by Elie Berger in four volumes (Paris, 1881-98) and his letters, 762 in number, by Rodenberg in "Mon. Germ. Epp. sæculi XIII", II (1887), 1-568.