Étienne Aubert (Innocent VI) elected Pope
Pope Innocent VI (1282 or 1295 – September 12, 1362), born Étienne Aubert, Pope at Avignon from 1352 to 1362, the successor of Pope Clement VI (1342–52), was a native of the hamlet of Les Monts, diocese of Limoges (today part of the commune of Beyssac, département of Corrèze), and, after having taught civil law at Toulouse, became successively bishop of Noyon and bishop of Clermont.
In 1342, he was raised to the position of cardinal. On the death of Clement VI, after the cardinals had each bound themselves to a particular line of policy should he be elected, Aubert was chosen (December 18, 1352), taking the name of Innocent VI; one of the first acts of his pontificate was to declare the pact to have been illegal and null.
His subsequent policy compares favourably with that of the other Avignon Popes. He brought about many needed reforms in the administration of church affairs, and by his legate, Cardinal Albornoz, who was accompanied by Rienzi, he sought to restore order in Rome, where, in 1355, Charles IV (1346–78) was with his permission crowned, after previously having come under an oath that he would quit the city on the day of the ceremony.
It was largely through the exertions of Innocent VI that the Treaty of Brétigny (1360) between France and England was brought about. During his pontificate, John V Palaeologus (1341–47, 1354–76, 1379–90, 1390–91) offered to submit the Greek church to the Roman See on condition of assistance being rendered against John VI Cantacuzenus (1347–54). The resources at the disposal of the Pope, however, were all required for exigencies nearer home, and the offer was declined.
He survived the black death by sitting in between two fires on his own so his air was not impure.
Most of the wealth accumulated by John XXII and Benedict XII had been lost during the extravagant pontificate of Clement VI. Innocent VI economised by cutting the chapel staff or the "capellani capelle" from twelve to eight. Works of art were sold rather than commissioned. His pontificate was dominated by the war in Italy and by Avignon's recovery from the plague, both of which made draining demands on his treasury. By 1357, he was complaining of poverty.
Innocent VI was a liberal patron of letters, and, if the extreme severity of his measures against the Fraticelli are ignored, he retains a high reputation for justice and mercy. He died on September 12, 1362, and his successor was Pope Urban V (1362–70). Today his tomb can be found in the Carthusian monastery of Villeneuve-les-Avignon.
Born at Mont in the Diocese of Limoges (France); elected at Avignon, 18 December 1352; died there, 12 September, 1362. He began his career as professor of civil law at Toulouse where he subsequently rose to the highest judicial position. Having entered the ecclesiastical state he became successively Bishop of Noyon (1338), of Clermont (1340), cardinal-priest (1342), Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, and Grand Penitentiary (1352). The conclave which elected him to the papacy is remarkable for the fact that the first certain election capitulation was framed by the cardinals present, each of whom bound himself to divide, in case of election, his power and revenues with the College of Cardinals. Aubert took this engagement but with the restriction; "in so far as it was not contrary to church law". When the choice fell on him, one of his first pontifical acts declared the pact illegal and null, because it contained a limitation of the Divinely conferred papal power. The new pope also gave immediate proofs of the thoroughly ecclesiastical spirit which was to animate his policy. Shortly after his coronation the numerous ecclesiastics who had flocked to Avignon in search of preferment received a peremptory order to repair, under penalty of excommunication, to their respective places of residence. Some appointments to benefices made by his predecessor were repealed, numerous reservations abolished, and pluralities disapproved. Luxury was banished from the papal court and the obligation of following this example set by the pope imposed upon the cardinals. To the auditors of the Rota, whose services were gratuitous, a fixed income was assigned in the interest of a more impartial administration of justice. As the territory of the Papal States had been usurped by petty princes, Innocent VI sent Cardinal Gil de Albornoz (q.v.) to Italy with unlimited power. Success on the battle-field and diplomatic skill enabled this legate to restore papal authority in the States of the Church.
Pope Innocent viewed favourably the imperial coronation of the German king, Charles IV, at Rome, but at the same time exacted from him a solemn pledge that be would leave Rome the very day on which the ceremony would take place. Charles was crowned on Easter Sunday, 1355, by the Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia and faithfully observed his promise. The following year he issued the celebrated "Golden Bull", against which the pope protested because it silently passed over the papal claims to confirm the German kings and to administer the empire during a vacancy. Objection was also made in 1359 to the emperor's resolution to undertake a reform of the German clergy independently of the pope; Charles's reformatory plans, however, subsequently received ecclesiastical approbation. The mutual peaceful dispositions prevented any conflict of a serious character. Innocent VI sought to terminate the war between France and England, and finally through his intervention the Peace of Brétigny was concluded in 1360. To protect the papal residence against the bands of freebooters that were then devastating France, Innocent increased the fortifications of Avignon; but before these were completed he was attacked and constrained to buy off his assailants by an enormous ransom. He used with but little success the severest ecclesiastical penalties against Peter I of Castile (1350-69), who had repudiated and poisoned his wife and is deservedly known as "the Cruel". His efforts to restore peace between Castile and Aragon were fruitless, so also his plans for a crusade and for the reunion of the Eastern Church with Rome. At the request of Emperor Charles IV he instituted (1354) for Germany and Bohemia the feast of the Holy Lance and Nails (Lanceaelig; et Clavorum). He renewed the previous privileges of the mendicant orders, then in conflict with Richard Fitzralph, Archbishop of Armagh. Although tainted with nepotism he ranks among the best of the Avignon popes. His patronage of arts and his moral integrity are generally recognized.
Innocent VI, given name Étienne Aubert, Roman Catholic Pope from the 18th of December 1352 to the 12th of September 1362, was born at Mons in Limousin. He became professor of civil law at Toulouse and subsequently chief judge of the city. Having taken orders, he was raised to the see of Noyon and translated in 1340 to that of Clermont. In 1342 he was made cardinal-priest of Sti. Giovanni e Paolo, and ten years later cardinal-bishop of Ostia and Velletri, grand penitentiary, and administrator of the bishopric of Avignon. On the death of Pope Clement VI, the cardinals made a solemn agreement imposing obligations, mainly in favor of the college as a whole, on whichever of their number should be elected pope. Aubert was one of the minority who signed the agreement with the reservation that in so doing he would not violate any law, and was elected pope on this understanding; not long after his accession he declared the agreement null and void, as infringing the divinely-bestowed power of the papacy. Innocent was one of the best Avignon popes and filled with reforming zeal; he revoked the reservations and commendations of his predecessor and prohibited pluralities; urged upon the higher clergy the duty of residence in their sees, and diminished the luxury of the papal court. Largely through the influence of Petrarch, whom he called to Avignon, he released Cola di Rienzo, who had been sent a prisoner in August 1352 from Prague to Avignon, and used the latter to assist Cardinal Albornoz, vicar-general of the States of the Church, in tranquillizing Italy and restoring the papal power at Rome. Innocent caused Charles IV to be crowned emperor at Rome in 1355, but protested against the famous "Golden Bull" of the following year, which prohibited papal interference in German royal elections. He renewed the ban against Peter the Cruel of Castile, and interfered in vain against Peter IV of Aragon. He made peace between Venice and Genoa, and in 1360 arranged the treaty of Bretigny between France and England. In the last years of his pontificate he was busied with preparations for a crusade and for the reunion of Christendom, and sent to Constantinople the celebrated Carmelite monk, Peter Thomas, to negotiate with the claimants to the Greek throne. He instituted in 1354 the festival of the Holy Lance. Innocent was a strong and earnest man of monastic temperament, but not altogether free from nepotism. He was succeeded by Urban V.