Pierre Roger (Clement VI) elected Pope
Pope Clement VI (1291 – December 6, 1352), born Pierre Roger, the fourth of the Avignon Popes, was pope from May 1342 until his death.
Clement was born in the village of Maumont, today part of the commune of Rosiers-d'Égletons, Corrèze, in Limousin, the son of the wealthy lord of Rosiers-d'Égletons.
He entered the Benedictine order as a boy, studied at the College de Sorbonne in Paris, and became successively prior of St. Baudil, abbot of Fécamp, bishop of Arras, chancellor of France, archbishop of Sens and archbishop of Rouen. He was made cardinal-priest of Santi Nereo e Achilleo and administrator of the bishopric of Avignon by Benedict XII in 1338, and was chosen to succeed him as pope at the conclave of 1342.
Like his immediate predecessors, he was devoted to France, and he demonstrated his French sympathies by refusing a solemn invitation to return to Rome from the city's people, as well as from the poet Petrarch. He however threw a sop to the Romans by reducing the Jubilee term from one hundred years to fifty. He also purchased the sovereignty of Avignon from Queen Joan I of Naples, for 80,000 crowns. The money was never paid, but Clement VI may have deemed that he gave the queen a full equivalent by absolving her from the murder of her husband.
Clement VI issued the Bull Unigenitus, January 27, 1343, in order to justify the power of the pope and the use of indulgences. This document was also used in the defence of indulgences after Martin Luther pinned his 95 Theses to a church in Wittenburg on October 31, 1517.
Clement VI reigned during the Black Death. This pandemic swept through Europe (as well as Asia and the Middle East) between 1347–1350, and is believed to have killed between a third and two thirds of Europe's population. During the plague, he sought the insight of astronomers for explanation. Jehan de Murs was among the team "of three who drew up a treatise explaining the plague of 1348 by the conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars in 1341" (Tomasello, 15). Clement VI's physicians advised him that surrounding himself with torches would block the plague. However, he soon became skeptical of this recommendation and stayed in Avignon supervising sick care, burials, and the pastoral care of the dying (Duffy, 167). He never contracted the disease. One of his physicians, Gui de Chauliac, later wrote the Chirurgia magna.
Pope Clement VI cameo.
Popular opinion blamed the Jews for the plague, and pogroms erupted throughout Europe. Clement issued two papal bulls in 1348 (July 6 and Sept 26) which condemned the violence and said those who blamed the plague on the Jews had been "seduced by that liar, the Devil." He urged clergy to take action to protect Jews as he had done.
Clement continued the struggle of his predecessors with the Emperor Louis IV. He excommunicated him after protracted negotiations on April 13, 1346, and directed the election of Charles IV, who received general recognition after the death of Louis in October 1347, putting an end to the schism which had long divided Germany. Clement proclaimed a crusade in 1343, but nothing was accomplished beyond a naval attack on Smyrna (29 October 29, 1344). He also had a role in the Hungarian invasion of the Kingdom of Naples, namely a Papal fief; the contest between Louis I of Hungary and Joan I of Naples, accused to have ordered the assassination of the former's brother, was ended in 1352 by a trial held in Avignon, by which she was acquitted from any charge. Among the other benefits, Clement took advantage of the situation to obtain by her the rights over the city of Avignon.
The other chief incidents of his pontificate were his disputes with Edward III of England on account of the latter's encroachments on ecclesiastical jurisdiction, as well as with the kings of Castile and Aragon; his fruitless negotiations for reunion with the Armenians and with the Byzantine emperor, John VI Kantakouzenos; and the commencement of Cola di Rienzo's agitation at Rome. He had appointed Cola to a civil position at Rome, and, although at first approving the establishment of the tribunate, he later sent a legate who excommunicated him and, with the help of the aristocratic faction, drove him from the city in December 1347. Clement also excommunicated Casimir III of Poland and made Prague an archbishopric in 1344.
Clement VI died in December 1352, leaving the reputation of "a fine gentleman, a prince munificent to profusion, a patron of the arts and learning, but no saint" (Gregorovius; see also Gibbon, chap. 66).
Unlike the Cistercian Benedict XII, Clement VI was devoted to lavish living, and the treasury which he inherited made that lifestyle possible. Upon election as pope he exclaimed as he looked forward to a reign of regal self-indulgence, "My predecessors did not know how to be pope". He claimed to have "lived as a sinner among sinners", in his own words. During his pontificate, he added a new chapel to the Papal Palace and dedicated it to St. Peter. He commissioned the artist Matteo Giovanetti de Viterbo to paint common hunting and fishing scenes on the walls of the existing papal chapels, and purchased enormous tapestries to decorate the stone walls. In order to bring good music to the celebrations, he recruited musicians from northern France, especially from Liège and of the Ars Nova style. He liked music so much that he kept composers and theorists close to him throughout his entire pontificate, Philippe de Vitry being among the more famous. The first two payments he made after his coronation were to musicians (Tomasello, 12-20).
Born 1291 in the castle of Maumont, department of Corrèze, France, elected pope, 7 May, 1342, at Avignon, where he died 6 December, 1352. At the age of ten he entered the Benedictine monastery of La Chaise-Dieu (Haute- Loire), where he made his religious profession. After devoting some time to study at Paris, he graduated as doctor and became professor in that city. Subsequent to his introduction to Pope John XXII by Cardinal Pierre Grouin de Mortemart, he rapidly rose from one ecclesiastical dignity to another. At first prior of Saint-Baudile at Nîmes, then Abbot of Fécamp in Normandy, he became Bishop of Arras and Chancellor of France in 1328, was promoted to the Archbishopric of Sens in 1329, and to that of Rouen the following year. In the latter city a provincial council, which promulgated several disciplinary decrees, was held under his presidency in 1335. He was created cardinal (1338) by Benedict XII, whom he succeeded as pontiff. One of the characteristic traits of his policy as head of the Universal Church was his excessive devotion to the interests of France and those of his relatives. His French sympathies impeded his efforts to restore and maintain peace between England and France, although his mediation led to the conclusion of a short general truce (Malestroit, 1343). Most of the twenty-five cardinals whom he created were French, and twelve of them were related to him. The King of France was given permission (1344) to Communicate under both kinds. Clement accepted the senatorial dignity offered him as "Knight Roger" by a Roman delegation, which numbered Petrarch as one of its members. He also granted their request for the celebration of a jubilee every fifty, instead of every hundred, years (Bull "Unigenitus", 1343), but declined their invitation to return to Rome. Greater permanency seemed to be assured to the papal residence abroad by his purchase of the sovereignty of Avignon for 80,000 florins from Joanna of Naples and Provence (9 June, 1348). About the same time he also declared this princess innocent of complicity in the murder of her husband. The pope's success in Roman affairs is evidenced by his confirmation of the ephemeral but then unavoidable rule of Cola di Rienzi (20 May to 15 Dec., 1347). His later condemnation of this arrogant tribune was largely instrumental in bringing about his fall from power. Shortly after these events the jubilee year of 1350 brought an extraordinarily large number of pilgrims to the Eternal City. In his attempt to strengthen the Guelph party in Italy the pope met with failure, and was constrained to cede the city of Bologna to the Archbishop of Milan for a period of twelve years.
Clement took up with ardour the long-standing conflict between the Emperor Louis the Bavarian and the papacy. The former had offended the religious feelings of many of his adherents by arbitrarily annulling the marriage of Marguerite Maultasch, heiress of Tyrol, and John Henry, Prince of Bohemia. The popular discontent was still further intensified when the emperor authorized his own son to marry the same princess. Louis consequently was ready to make the greatest concessions to the pope. In a writing of September, 1343, he acknowledged his unlawful assumption of the imperial title, declared his willingness to annul all his imperial acts and to submit to any papal penalty, but at the same time wished to be recognized as King of the Romans. Clement demanded as further conditions that no law should be enacted in the empire without papal sanction, that the binding force of Louis's promulgated royal decrees should be suspended until confirmation by the Holy See, that he should depose all bishops and abbots named by himself, and waive all claim to the sovereignty of the Papal States, Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica. Louis submitted the pope's demands to the consideration of the German princes, at a time when anti-papal feeling ran very high in Germany, as a result of the separation of the Archbishopric of Prague from the ecclesiastical province of Mainz (30 April, 1344). The princes declared them unacceptable, but also spoke of the necessity of electing a new king in place of Louis, whose rule had been so disastrous to the empire. The pope on 7 April, 1346, deposed Henry of Virneburg, Archbishop of Mainz and an ardent partisan of the reigning emperor, and named the twenty-year-old Gerlach of Nassau to the see. On 13 April of the same year he launched a severe Bull against the emperor, in which he requested the electors to give him a successor. Charles of Luxemburg, the pope's candidate and former pupil, was elected King of Germany (11 July, 1346), by his father, John of Bohemia, by Rudolf of Saxony, and the three ecclesiastical electors. Charles IV (1346- 78) substantially accepted the papal demands, but his authority was not immediately recognized throughout Germany. The country was on the verge of civil war, when Louis the Bavarian suddenly died while engaged in a boar-hunt near Munich (11 October, 1347). The opposition of Günther of Schwartzenburg (d. 14 June, 1349) to Charles was but of short duration. Left without a protector, through the death of Louis, William of Occam and the schismatical Friars Minor now made their submission to the pope. About 1344 Clement VI granted the sovereignty of the Canary Islands to the Castilian Prince Louis de la Cerda, on condition that no other Christian ruler had acquired any right to their possession. The new sovereign, who was accorded the title of Prince of Fortunia, agreed to introduce Christianity into the islands and to pay tribute to the Holy See. He could not, however, take effective possession of the territory, which was not permanently converted at this time, even though a special bishop (the Carmelite Bernard) was named for the islands in 1351. The pope's attempts to reunite the Greeks and Armenians with the Roman Church led to no definite results. The East desired not so much a return to doctrinal unity as assistance against the Turks. A crusade against the latter, which was undertaken in 1344, ended in a barren truce.
More of a temporal prince than an ecclesiastical ruler, Clement was munificent to profusion, a patron of arts and letters, a lover of good cheer, well-appointed banquets and brilliant receptions, to which ladies were freely admitted. The heavy expenses necessitated by such pomp soon exhausted the funds which the economy of Benedict XII had provided for his successor. To open up new sources of revenue, in the absence of the ordinary income from the States of the Church, fresh taxes were imposed and an ever-increasing number of appointments to bishoprics and benefices was reserved to the pope. Such arbitrary proceedings led to resistance in several countries. In 1343 the agents of two cardinals, whom Clement had appointed to offices in England, were driven from that country. Edward III vehemently complained of the exactions of the Avignon Court, and in 1351 was passed the Statute of Provisors, according to which the king reserved the right of presentation in all cases of papal appointments to benefices. The memory of this pope is clouded by his open French partisanship and by the gross nepotism of his reign. Clement VI was nevertheless a protector of the oppressed and a helper of the needy. His courage and charity strikingly appeared at the time of the Great Pestilence, or Black Death, at Avignon (1348-49). While in many places, numerous Jews were massacred by the populace as being the cause of the pestilence, Clement issued Bulls for their protection and afforded them a refuge in his little State. He canonized St. Ivo of Tréguier, Brittany (d. 1303), the advocate of orphans (June, 1347), condemned the Flagellants, and in 1351 courageously defended the Mendicant friars against the accusations of some secular prelates. Several sermons have been preserved of this admittedly learned pope and eloquent speaker. He died after a short illness, and, according to his desire, was interred at La Chaise-Dieu. In 1562 his grave was desecrated and his remains burned by some Huguenots.
Clement VI, given name Pierre Roger, Roman Catholic Pope from the 7th of May 1342 to the 6th of December 1352, was born at Maumont in Limousin in 1291, the son of the wealthy lord of Rosières, entered the Benedictine order as a boy, studied at Paris, and became successively prior of St. Baudil, abbot of Fécamp, bishop of Arras, chancellor of France, archbishop of Sens and archbishop of Rouen. He was made cardinal-priest of Sti. Nereo ed Achilleo and administrator of the bishopric of Avignon by Benedict XII in 1338, and four years later succeeded him as pope. He continued to reside at Avignon despite the arguments of envoys and the verses of Petrarch, but threw a sop to the Romans by reducing the Jubilee term from one hundred years to fifty. He appointed Cola di Rienzo to a civil position at Rome, and, although at first approving the establishment of the tribunate, he later sent a legate who excommunicated Rienzo and, with the help of the aristocratic faction, drove him from the city (December 1347). Clement continued the struggle of his predecessors with the emperor Louis the Bavarian, excommunicating him after protracted negotiations on the 13th of April 1346, and directing the election of Charles of Moravia, who received general recognition after the death of Louis in October 1347, and put an end to the schism which had long divided Germany. Clement proclaimed a crusade in 1343, but nothing was accomplished beyond a naval attack on Smyrna (29th of October 1344). He also carried on fruitless negotiations for church unity with the Armenians and with the Greek emperor, John Cantacuzenus. He tried to end the Hundred Years' War between England and France, but secured only a temporary truce. He excommunicated Casimir of Poland for marital infidelity and forced him to do penance. He successfully resisted encroachments on ecclesiastical jurisdiction by the kings of England, Castile and Aragon. He made Prague an archbishopric in 1344, and three years later founded the university there. During the disastrous plague of 1347-48 Clement did all he could to alleviate the distress, and condemned the Flagellants and Jew-baiters. He tried Queen Joanna of Naples for the murder of her husband and acquitted her. He secured full ownership of the county of Avignon through purchase from Queen Joanna (9th of June 1348) and renunciation of feudal claims by Charles IV of France, and considerably enlarged the papal palace in that city. To supply money for his many undertakings Clement revived the practice of selling reservations and expectancies, which had been abolished by his predecessor. Oppressive taxation and unblushing nepotism were Clement's great faults. On the other hand, he was famed for his engaging manners, eloquence and theological learning. He died on the 6th of December 1352, and was buried in the Benedictine abbey at Auvergne, but his tomb was destroyed by Calvinists in 1562. His successor was Pope Innocent VI.