Cosim de' Migliorati (Innocent VII) elected Pope
Pope Innocent VII, born Cosimo de' Migliorati (c. 1336 – November 6, 1406), was briefly Pope at Rome, from 1404 to his death, during the Western Schism (1378–1417) while there was a rival Pope, antipope Benedict XIII (1394–1423), at Avignon.
Migliorati was born to a simple family of Sulmona in the Abruzzi. He distinguished himself by his learning in both civil and Canon Law, which he taught for a time at Perugia and Padua. His teacher Giovanni da Legnano sponsored him at Rome, where Pope Urban VI (1378–89) took him into the Curia, sent him for ten years as papal collector to England, made him bishop of Bologna in 1386, at a time of strife in that city, and archbishop of Ravenna in 1387.
Pope Boniface IX (1389–1404) made him cardinal-priest of S. Croce in Gerusalemme (1389) and employed him as legate in several delicate and important missions. When Boniface IX died, there were present in Rome delegates from the rival Pope at Avignon, Benedict XIII. The Roman cardinals asked these delegates if their master would abdicate, if the cardinals refrained from holding an election. When they were bluntly told that Benedict XIII would never abdicate (indeed he never did), the cardinals proceeded to an election. First, however, they all undertook a solemn oath to leave nothing undone, if needs be even to lay down the tiara, in order to terminate the schism.
Migliorati was unanimously chosen – by eight cardinals – (October 17, 1404) and took the name of Innocent VII. There was a general riot by the Ghibelline party in Rome when news of his election got out, but peace was maintained by the aid of King Ladislaus of Naples (1399–1414), who hastened to Rome with a band of soldiers to assist the Pope in suppressing the insurrection. For his services the King extorted various concessions from Innocent VII, among them the promise that he would not reach any accommodation with the rival Pope in Avignon that would compromise Ladislas' claims to Naples, which had been challenged until very recently by Louis II of Anjou. That suited Innocent VII, who had no intention of reaching an agreement with Avignon that would compromise his claims to the Papal States, either. Thus Innocent VII was laid under embarrassing obligations, from which he freed himself at the earliest possible moment.
Innocent VII had made the great mistake of elevating his highly unsuitable nephew, Ludovico Migliorati – a colorful condottiere formerly in the pay of Giangaleazzo Visconti of Milan, most of whose violent career as a soldier of fortune lay ahead of him – to the cardinalate, an act of nepotism that cost him dearly. In August 1405, the cardinal waylaid eleven members of the obstreperous Roman partisans on their return from a conference with the Pope, and had them assassinated in his own house and their bodies thrown from the windows of the hospital of Santo Spirito into the street. There was an uproar. Pope, court and cardinals, with the Migliorati faction, fled towards Viterbo. Ludovico took the occasion of driving off cattle that were grazing outside the walls, and the Papal party were pursued by furious Romans, losing thirty members, whose bodies were abandoned in the flight, including the Abbot of Perugia, struck down under the eyes of the Pope.
His protector Ladislaus sent a squad of troops to quell the riots, and by January 1406 the Romans once again acknowledged Papal temporal authority, and Innocent VII felt able to return. (In March, Innocent VII made Ludovico a marchese and conte di Fermo.) But Ladislas, not content with the former concessions, desired to extend his authority in Rome and the Papal States. To attain his end he aided the Ghibelline faction in Rome in their revolutionary attempts in 1405. But a squad of troops which King Ladislaus had sent to the aid of the Colonna faction was still occupying the Castle of Sant' Angelo, ostensibly protecting the Vatican but making frequent sorties upon Rome and the neighbouring territory. Only after Ladislaus was excommunicated did he yield to the demands of the Pope and withdraw his troops.
Shortly after his accession in 1404 Innocent VII took steps to keep his oath by proclaiming a council. These troubles furnished him with a pretext, of which he was not unwilling to avail himself, for postponing the meeting, which was being urged by Charles VI of France (1380–1422), theologians at the University of Paris, like Pierre d'Ailly and Jean Gerson, who were developing the theory that popes were subject to councils, and Rupert III (1400–10), King of the Germans, as the only means of healing the Schism which had prevailed so long. Under the current circumstances, Innocent VII could not guarantee safe passage to Benedict XIII in the event he came to the council in Rome. His rival, antipope Benedict XIII, made it appear that the only obstacle to the termination of the Western Schism was the unwillingness of Innocent VII. It is hardly necessary to say that he showed no favour to the proposal that he as well as Benedict XIII should resign in the interests of peace.
It is said that Innocent VII planned the restoration of the Roman University, but his death brought an end to such talk.
He died so suddenly at Rome, November 6, 1406, that there were rumors of foul play, which have been denied ever since: there is no evidence for the truth of the allegation that his death was not due to natural causes. His successor was Pope Gregory XII (1406–15).
Born of humble parents at Sulmona, in the Abruzzi, about 1336; died 6 November, 1406. He studied at Perugia, Padua, and finally at Bologna, where he graduated under the famous jurist Lignano. After teaching jurisprudence at Perugia and Padua for some time, he accompanied his former professor, Lignano, to Rome, where he was received into the Curia by Urban VI (1378-89). Shortly after his arrival in Rome, Urban sent him as papal collector to England, where he remained about ten years. Upon his return to Rome he became Bishop of Bologna in 1386, and on 5 December, 1387, Archbishop of Ravenna. The latter see he held until 15 September, 1400. In 1389, Boniface IX created him Cardinal-Priest of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, and sent him as legate to Lombardy and Tuscany in 1390. He was universally esteemed for his piety and learning, and was an able manager of financial affairs. On 17 October, 1404, he was elected and took the name of Innocent VII. His reign fell in the time of the Western Schism; the rival pope was Benedict XIII (1394-1423). Previous to his election, Innocent VII, like the other cardinals, had taken the oath to leave nothing undone, if needs be even to lay down the tiara, in order to terminate the schism. Shortly after his accession he took steps to keep his oath by proclaiming a council, but the disturbances which occurred in Rome brought the pope's good intentions to naught. The revolutionary element among the Romans rose up against the temporal authority of the pope, and King Ladislaus of Naples hastened to Rome to assist the pope in suppressing the insurrection. For his services the king extorted various concessions from Innocent, among them the promise that he would not make any agreement with the rival pope without stipulating that the king's rights over Naples should remain intact. Not content with these concessions, which Innocent made for the sake of peace, Ladislaus desired to extend his rule over Rome and the ecclesiastical territory. To attain his end he aided the Ghibelline faction in Rome in their revolutionary attempts in 1405. Innocent had made the great mistake of elevating his unworthy nephew, Ludovico Migliorati, to the cardinalate. This act of nepotism is the one blemish in the short reign of the otherwise virtuous pope. But it cost him dear. The cardinal, angered because the Romans rebelled against his uncle, waylaid a few of the most influential among them on their return from a conference with the pope, and had them brought to his house in order to murder them. The people were highly incensed at this cruel deed, and the pope had to flee for his life, although he was in no way responsible for his nephew's crime. He took up his abode in Viterbo until the Romans requested him to return in 1406. They again acknowledged his authority, but a squad of troops which King Ladislaus of Naples had sent to the aid of Colonna was still occupying the Castle of Sant' Angelo and made frequent sorties upon Rome and the neighbouring territory. Only after Ladislaus was excommunicated did he yield to the demands of the pope and withdraw his troops. In the midst of these political disturbances Innocent neglected what was then most essential for the well-being of the Church, the suppression of the schism. His rival, Benedict XIII, made it appear that the only obstacle to the termination of the schism was the unwillingness of Innocent VII. The reasons why Innocent did practically nothing for the suppression of the schism were: the troubled state of affairs in Rome, his mistrust in the sincerity of Benedict XIII, and the hostile attitude of King Ladislaus of Naples. Shortly before his death he planned the restoration of the Roman University, but his death brought the movement to a standstill.