Gabriele Condulmet (Eugene IV) elected Pope
Pope Eugene IV (1383 – February 23, 1447), born Gabriele Condulmer, was Pope from March 3, 1431, to his death.
He was born in Venice to a rich merchant family, a Correr on his mother's side. Condulmer entered the Order of Saint Augustine at the monastery of St. George in his native city. At the age of twenty-four he was appointed by his uncle Pope Gregory XII (1406–15), as Bishop of Siena, and came into prominence. In Siena, the political class objected to a 24-year old bishop who was a foreigner. Therefore, the issue was not pressed, and he resigned the appointment, becoming instead his uncle's papal treasurer, protonotary and Cardinal Priest of San Clemente. Pope Martin V named him Cardinal Priest of Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere.
He made himself useful to Pope Martin V (1417–31) and was quickly elected to succeed him. Eugene was crowned as Eugene IV at St. Peter's, March 11, 1431. By a written agreement made before his election he agreed with the cardinals to distribute to them one-half of all the revenues of the Church and promised to consult with them on all questions of importance, both spiritual and temporal. Upon taking the Papal Chair, Eugene IV took violent measures against the numerous Colonna relations of his predecessor, Pope Martin V (Ottone Colonna), who had rewarded his numerous clan with castles and lands. This at once involved him in a serious contest with the powerful house of Colonna that nominally supported the local rights of Rome against the interests of the Papacy. A truce was soon arranged.
But by far the most important feature of Eugene IV's pontificate was the great struggle between the Pope and the Council of Basel, commonly referred to as the Council of Florence, (1431–39), part of the historic Conciliar movement. On July 23, 1431, his legate, Giuliano Cesarini, opened the council, which had been convoked by Martin V, but, distrustful of its purposes and emboldened by the small attendance, the pope issued a bull on December 18, 1431, dissolving the council and calling a new one to meet in eighteen months at Bologna. The council resisted this premature expression of papal prerogative, as it appeared to the majority of them. Eugene IV's action gave some weight to the contention that the Curia was opposed to any authentic measures of reform. The council refused to dissolve; instead they renewed the resolutions by which the Council of Constance had declared a council superior to the Pope, and cited Eugene IV to appear at Basel. A compromise was arranged by Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor, who had been crowned emperor at Rome on May 31, 1433. By its terms the Pope recalled his bull of dissolution, and, reserving all the rights of the Holy See, acknowledged the council as ecumenical (December 15, 1433). The pope agreed to name presidents to lead the council on his behalf.
These concessions also were due to the invasion of the Papal States by the former Papal condottiero Niccolò Fortebraccio and the troops of Filippo Maria Visconti led by Niccolò Piccinino, in retaliation to Eugene's support to Florence and Venice against Milan (see also Wars in Lombardy). This situation led also to establishment of an insurrectionary republic at Rome, controlled by the Colonna family. In early June, disguised in the robes of a Benedictine monk, he was rowed down the center of the Tiber, pelted by stones from either bank, to a Florentine vessel waiting to pick him up at Ostia. The city was restored to obedience by Giovanni Vitelleschi, the militant Bishop of Recanati, in the following October. In August of 1435 a peace treaty was signed at Ferrara by the various belligerents. The Pope moved to Bologna in April of 1436. His condottieri Francesco Sforza and Vitelleschi in the meantime reconquered much of the Papal States. Traditional papal enemies such as the Prefetti di Vico were destroyed, while the Colonna were reduced to obedience after the destruction of their stronghold in Palestrina (August, 1436).
Meanwhile the struggle with the council sitting at Basel broke out anew. Eugene IV at length convened a rival council at Ferrara on January 8, 1438, and excommunicated the prelates assembled at Basel. The result was that the Council of Basel suspended him on January 24, 1438, then formally deposed him as a heretic on June 25, 1439, and in the following November elected the ambitious Amadeus VIII, Duke of Savoy, antipope under the name of Felix V. The conduct of France and Germany seemed to warrant this action, for Charles VII of France had introduced the decrees of the Council of Basel, with slight changes, into France through the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges (July 7, 1438), and the Diet of Mainz had deprived the Pope of most of his rights in the Empire (March 26, 1439).
At Florence, where the council of Ferrara had been transferred on account of an outbreak of the plague, a union with the Eastern Orthodox Church was effected in July, 1439, which, as the result of political necessities, proved but a temporary bolster to the papacy's prestige.
This union was followed by others of even less stability. Eugene IV signed an agreement with the Armenians on November 22, 1439, and with a part of the Jacobites in 1443, and in 1445 he received the Nestorians and the Maronites. He did his best to stem the Turkish advance, pledging one-fifth of the papal income to the crusade which set out in 1443, but which met with overwhelming defeat at Varna. Cardinal Cesarini, the papal legate, perished in the rout.
His rival, Felix V, meanwhile, obtained small recognition, even in the Empire. Eventually Frederick III, king of the Romans, moved toward acceptance of Eugene. The king's ablest adviser, the humanist Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini, who was later to be Pope Pius II, made peace with Eugene IV in 1442. The Pope's recognition of the claim to Naples of King Alfonso V of Aragon (treaty of Terracina, signed by Eugene at Siena somewhat later) withdrew the last important support from the council of Basel. In 1442 Eugene, Alfonso and Visconti sent Niccolò Piccinino to reconquer the March of Ancona from Francesco Sforza, but the defeat of the allied army at the Montolmo pushed the Pope to reconcile with Sforza.
So enabled, Eugene IV made a victorious entry into Rome on 28 September 1443, after an exile of nearly ten years.
His protests against the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges were ineffectual, but by means of the Concordat of the Princes, negotiated by Piccolomini with the electors in February, 1447, the whole of Germany declared against the antipope. This agreement was finalized only after Eugene's death.
Christianity had gained many converts in the Canary Islands by the early 1430s however the ownership of the lands had been the subject of dispute between Portugal and the Kingdom of Castille. The lack of effective control had resulted in periodic raids on the islands to procure slaves. Pope Eugene IV was concerned that the enslavement of newly baptized Christians would impede the spread of Christianity and therefore issued a Papal Bull, "Creator Omnium", on 17 December 1434.
Eugene excommunicated anyone who enslaved newly converted Christians but no protection was offered to those who declined to become a Christian. Historian Richard Raiswell sees this as a significant turning point because prior to this Canon Law had only sanctioned slavery in the context of a just war and un-baptized captives, but with the issuing of this bull the only protection offered was if the person became a Christian.
Portuguese soldiers continued to raid the islands during 1435 and Eugene issued a further edict Sicut Dudum that prohibited wars being waged against the islands and affirming the ban on enslavement. Eugene condemned the enslavement of the peoples of the newly colonized Canary Islands and, under pain of excommunication, ordered all such slaves to be immediately set free. Joel S Panzer (2008) views "Sicut Dudum" as a significant condemnation of slavery, issued sixty-years before the Europeans found the New World. The prohibitions and ecclesiastical sanctions of Sicut Dudum related to the newly converted. Eugene tempered "Sicut Dudum" with another bull (15 September 1436) due to the complaints made by King Duarte of Portugal, now allowing the Portuguese to conquer any unconverted parts of the Canary Islands. According to Raiswell (1997) any Christian would be protected by the earlier edict but the un-baptized were implicitly allowed to be enslaved. Luis N. Rivera (1992) argues that Eugenes subsequent bull assumes that all Africans are pagans or Saracens and are therefore "enemies of God", language that Nicholas V would reflect later in Romanus Pontifex in which the same groups are described as "enemies of Christ", that they should be reduced to "perpetual servitude" and therefore the black slave market begins with Papal blessing.
Following the arrival of the first African slaves in Lisbon during 1441 Prince Henry asked Eugene to designate Portugal's raids along the West African coast as a crusade, a consequence of which would be the legitimization of enslavement for captives taken during the crusade. On 19 December 1442 Eugene replied by issuing "Illius qui" in which he granted full remission of sins to those who took part in any expeditions against the Saracens. Davidson (1961) asserts that "In Christianity as in Islam...the heathen was expendable.
Richard Raiswell argues that the bulls of Eugene helped in some way the development of thought which perceived the enslavement of Africans by the Portuguese and later Europeans "as dealing a blow for Christendom".
Death and legacy
Although his pontificate had been so stormy and unhappy that he is said to have regretted on his deathbed that he ever left his monastery, nevertheless Eugene IV's victory over the council of Basel and his efforts on behalf of church unity contributed greatly to the breakdown of the conciliar movement and restore the papacy to the dominant position it had held before the Western Schism (1378–1417).
Eugene IV was dignified in demeanour, but inexperienced and vacillating in action and excitable in temper. Bitter in his hatred of heresy, he nevertheless displayed great kindness to the poor. He laboured to reform the monastic orders, especially the Franciscans, and was never guilty of nepotism. Although austere in his private life, he was a sincere friend of art and learning, and in 1431 he re-established the university at Rome. Eugene was buried at Saint Peter's by the tomb of Pope Eugene III, the former pupil of Bernard of Clairvaux. Later his tomb was transferred in San Salvatore in Lauro-a parish church on the other bank of the Tiber river.
Gabriello Condulmaro, or Condulmerio, b. at Venice, 1388; elected 4 March, 1431; d. at Rome, 23 Feb., 1447. He sprang from a wealthy Venetia family and was a nephew, on the mother's side, of Gregory XII. His personal presence was princely and imposing. He was tall, thin, with a remarkably winning countenance. Coming at an early age into the possession of great wealth, he distributed 20,000 ducats to the poor and, turning his back upon the world, entered the Augustinian monastery of St. George in his native city. At the age of twenty-four he was appointed by his uncle Bishop of Siena; but since the people of that city objected to the rule of a foreigner, he resigned the bishopric and, in 1408, was created Cardinal-Priest of St. Clement. He rendered signal service to Pope Martin V by his labours as legate in Picenum (March of Ancona) and later by quelling a sedition of the Bolognesi. In recognition of his abilities, the conclave, assembled at Rome in the church of the Minerva after the death of Martin V, elected Cardinal Condulmaro to the papacy on the first scrutiny. He assumed the name of Eugene IV, possibly anticipating a stormy pontificate similar to that of Eugene III. Stormy, in fact, his reign was destined to be; and it cannot be denied that many of his troubles were owing to his own want of tact, which alienated all parties from him. By the terms of the capitulation which he signed before election and afterwards confirmed by a Bull, Eugene secured to the cardinals one-half of all the revenues of the Church, and promised to consult with them on all questions of importance relating to the spiritual and temporal concerns of the Church and the Papal States. He was crowned at St. Peter's, 11 March, 1431.
Eugene continued on the throne his simple routine of monastic life and gave great edification by his regularity and unfeigned piety. But his hatred of nepotism, the solitary defect of his great predecessor, led him into a fierce and sanguinary conflict with the house of Colonna, which would have resulted disastrously for the pope, had not Florence, Venice, and Naples come to his aid. A peace was patched up by virtue of which the Colonnesi surrendered their castles and paid an indemnity of 75,000 ducats. Scarcely was this danger averted when Eugene became involved in a far more serious struggle, destined to trouble his entire pontificate. Martin V had convoked the Council of Basle which opened with scant attendance 23 July, 1431. Distrusting the spirit which was reigning at the council, Eugene, by a Bull dated 18 Dec., 1431, dissolved it, to meet eighteen months later in Bologna. There is no doubt that this exercise of the papal prerogative would sooner or later have become imperative; but it seems unwise to have resorted to it before the council had taken any overt steps in the wrong direction. It alienated public opinion, and gave colour to the charge that the Curia was opposed to any measures of reform. The prelates at Basle refused to separate, and issued an encyclical to all the faithful in which they proclaimed their determination to continue their labours. In this course they had the assurance of support from all the secular powers, and on 15 Feb., 1432, they reasserted the Gallican doctrine of the superiority of the council to the pope (see COUNCIL OF CONSTANCE). All efforts to induce Eugene to recall his Bull of dissolution having failed, the council, on 29 April, formally summoned the pope and his cardinals to appear at Basle within three months, or to be punished for contumacy. The schism which now seemed inevitable was for the time averted by the exertions of Sigismund, who had come to Rome to receive the imperial crown, 31 May, 1433. The pope recalled the Bull and acknowledged the council as æcumenical, 15 Dec., 1433. In the following May, 1434, a revolution, fomented by the pope's enemies, broke out in Rome. Eugene, in the garb of a monk, and pelted with stones, escaped down the Tiber to Ostia, whence the friendly Florentines conducted him to their city and received him with an ovation. He took up his residence in the Dominican convent of Santa Maria Novella, and sent Vitelleschi, the militant Bishop of Recanati, to restore order in the States of the Church.
The prolonged sojourn of the Roman Court in Florence, then the centre of the literary activity of its age, gave a strong impetus to the Humanistic movement. During his stay in the Tuscan capital, Eugene consecrated the beautiful cathedral, just then finished by Brunelleschi. Meanwhile, the rupture between the Holy See and the revolutionists at Basle, now completely controlled by the radical party under the leadership of Cardinal d'Allemand, of Arles, became complete. This time our sympathies are entirely on the side of the pontiff, for the proceedings of the little coterie which assumed the name of authority of a general council were utterly subversive of the Divine constitution of the Church. By abolishing all sources of papal revenue and restricting in every way the papal prerogative, they sought to reduce the head of the Church to a mere shadow. Eugene answered with a dignified appeal to the European powers. The struggle came to a crisis in the matter of the negotiations for union with the Greeks. The majority at Basle were in favour of holding a council in France or Savoy. But geography was against them. Italy was much more convenient for the Greeks; and they declared for the pope. This so provoked the radical party at Basle that on 3 July, 1437, they issued a monitum against Eugene, heaping all sorts of accusations upon him. In reply the pope published (18 Sept.) a Bull in which he transferred the council to Ferrara. Though the council declared the Bull invalid, and threatened the pope with deposition, yet the Bull dealt a deadly blow to the adversaries of papal supremacy. The better disposed leaders, notably Cardinals Cesarini and Cusa, left them and repaired to Ferrara, where the council convened by Eugene opened, 8 Jan., 1438, under the presidency of Cardinal Albergati.
The deliberations with the Greeks lasted for over a year, and were concluded at Florence, 5 July, 1439, by the Decree of Union. Though the union was not permanent, it vastly enhanced the prestige of the papacy. The union with the Greeks was followed by that of the Armenians, 22 Nov., 1439, the Jacobites, 1443, and the Nestorians, 1445. Eugene exerted himself to the utmost in rousing the nations of Europe to resist the advances of the Turks. A powerful array was formed in Hungary, and a fleet was despatched to the Hellespont. The first successes of the Christians were followed, in 1444, by the crushing defeat at Varna. In the mean time, the dwindling conventicle at Basle proceeded on the path of schism. On 24 Jan., 1438, Eugene was pronounced suspended, and this step was followed by his deposition on 25 June, 1439, on the charge of heretical conduct towards a general council. To crown their infamy, the sectaries, now reduced to one cardinal and eleven bishops, elected an antipope, Duke Amadeus of Savoy, as Felix V. But Christendom, having recently experienced the horrors of a schism, repudiated the revolutionary step, and, before his death, Eugene had the happiness of seeing the entire Christian world, at least in theory, obedient to the Holy See. The decrees of Florence have since been the solid basis of the spiritual authority of the papacy.
Eugene secured his position in Italy by a treaty, 6 July, 1443, with Alfonso of Aragon, whom he confirmed as monarch of Naples, and after an exile of nearly ten years he made a triumphant entry into Rome, on 28 Sept., 1443. He devoted his remaining years to the amelioration of the sad condition of Rome, and to the consolidation of his spiritual authority among the nations of Europe. He was unsuccessful in his efforts to induce the French court to cancel the anti-papal Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges (7 July, 1438), but, by prudent compromises and the skill of Æneas Silvius, he gained a marked success in Germany. On the eve of his death he signed (5, 7 Feb., 1447) with the German nation the so-called Frankfort, or Princes', Concordat, a series of four Bulls, in which, after long hesitancy and against the advice of many cardinals, he recognized, not without diplomatic reserve, the persistent German contentions for a new council in a German city, the mandatory decree of Constance (Frequens) on the frequency of such councils, also its authority (and that of other general councils), but after the manner of his predecessors, from whom he declared that he did not intend to differ. On the same day he issued another document, the so-called "Bulla Salvatoria", in which he asserted that notwithstanding these concessions, made in his last illness when unable to examine them with more care, he did not intend to do aught contrary to the teachings of the Fathers, or the rights and authority of the Apostolic See (Hergenröther-Kirsch, II, 941-2).
Born wealthy. Nephew of Pope Gregory XII. He was described as tall, thin, princely and imposing. Coming into his inheritance, he gave a fortune to the poor, then entered the Augustinian monastery in Venice, Italy. Bishop of Siena at age 24, but he resigned when his flock objected to being led by a foreigner. Cardinal-priest in 1408. Papal legate to Picenum for Pope Martin V. 207th pope.
Eugene continued his life of simple, straightforward, monastic piety as pope, which served as an excellent example; his lack of concern over politics, nepotism, tactfulness, and the standard financial concerns of his predecessors served to disrupt relations with those in high office, civil and ecclesiastical. On 18 December 1431, Eugene dissolved the Council of Basle. It has been called by Pope Martin V, and had done very little, but the dissolution was seen as an attempt to block reforms. The attendees refused to leave, and on 15 February 1432 issued a statement asserted the authority of a council over a pope. Supported by secular authorities, on 29 April 1432 the Council issued a command for the Pope and his cardinals to appear before them. Schism seemed inevitable, but the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund managed to bring them together, and on 15 December 1433, Eugene acknowledged the Council's legitimacy.
In May 1434 some of Eugene's enemies stirred up a popular revolt against him in Rome, and the pope was forced to flee to Florence. His gratitude to the Florentines led to papal support of many of their artists and writers, which in turn led to strengthening of the Humanist movement. Meanwhile, the Council, which still sat, and which was under the leadership of Cardinal d'Allemand of Arles, confiscated all sources of Eugene's income, and issued statements stripping him of power. Eugene appealled to the thrones of Europe for support, and issued an order for the Council to transfer to Ferrara, Italy. Some of the members ignored the order, and threatend to depose Eugene, but others acknowledged that the pope still had such authority, and moved to Ferrara. There they reconvened on 8 January 1438 under the leadership of Cardinal Albergati where they debated over a year on re-union with the Greek Church. The result was the Decree of Union on 5 July 1439 and a resurgence in the power and prestige of Pope Eugene. The twelve remaining members of the Council at Basle continued to meet, and on 25 June 1439 they claimed to have deposed Eugene; they then elected the anti-pope Felix V, but they were generally ignored. Decrees of re-union were negotiated with the Armenians on 22 November 1439, with the Jacobites in 1443, and with the Nestorians in 1445.