|Bishop of Rome|
|Papacy began||25 June 1243|
|Papacy ended||7 December 1254|
|Consecration||28 June 1243|
|Created cardinal||18 September 1227|
by Gregory IX
|Birth name||Sinibaldo Fieschi|
Genoa or Manarola, Republic of Genoa
|Died||7 December 1254 (aged 59)|
Naples, Kingdom of Sicily
|Previous post(s)||Cardinal-Priest of San Lorenzo in Lucina (1227-1243)|
Fieschi was born in Genoa and studied at the universities of Parma and Bologna. He was considered in his own day and by posterity as a fine canonist. On the strength of this reputation, he was called to the Roman Curia by Pope Honorius III. Pope Gregory IX made him a cardinal and appointed him governor of the March of Ancona in 1235. Fieschi was elected pope in 1243 and took the name Innocent IV. As pope, he inherited an ongoing dispute over lands seized by the Holy Roman Emperor, and the following year he traveled to France to escape imperial plots against him in Rome. He returned to Rome after the death in 1250 of the Emperor Frederick II.
Born in Genoa (although some sources say Manarola) in an unknown year, Sinibaldo was the son of Beatrice Grillo and Ugo Fieschi, Count of Lavagna. The Fieschi were a noble merchant family of Liguria. Sinibaldo received his education at the universities of Parma and Bologna and may have taught canon law, for a time, at Bologna. It is pointed out however, that there is no documentary evidence of such a professorship. From 1216 to 1227 he was a canon of the Cathedral of Parma. He was considered one of the best canonists of his time, and his learning was to give to the world an Apparatus in quinque libros decretalium, a commentary on papal decretals. He was called to serve Pope Honorius III in the Roman Curia where he had a lightening career. He was Auditor causarum, from 11 November 1226 to 30 May 1227. He was then quickly promoted to the office of Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church (from 31 May to 23 September 1227), though he retained the office and the title for a time after he was named Cardinal.
While vice-Chancellor, Fieschi was soon created Cardinal-Priest of San Lorenzo in Lucina on 18 September 1227 by Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241). He later served as papal governor of the March of Ancona, from 17 October 1235 until 1240.
It is widely repeated, from the 17th century on, that he became Bishop of Albenga in 1235, but it has been argued that there is no foundation to this claim, there being no attestation of this in any of the contemporary sources while on the other hand there is evidence that the see of Albenga was occupied by a certain Bishop Simon from 1230 until 1255.
Innocent's immediate predecessor was Pope Celestine IV, elected on 25 October 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, Honorius III and Gregory IX.
At the time of his death, Gregory IX had been demanding the return of territories belonging to the Papal States and which had been seized by the Emperor Frederick II. In pursuit of this, the Pope had called a general council so he could depose the emperor with the support of Europe's Church leaders. However, in the hope of intimidating the Curia, Frederick had seized two cardinals traveling to the council. Being incarcerated, the two missed the conclave which quickly elected Celestine IV. The conclave that not long afterwards reconvened after Celestine's death fell into camps supporting contrasting policies about how to treat with the Emperor.
After a year and a half of contentious debate and coercion, the papal conclave finally reached a unanimous decision. The choice fell upon Cardinal Sinibaldo de' Fieschi, who very reluctantly accepted election as Pope on 25 June 1243, taking the name Innocent IV. As a cardinal, Sinibaldo had been on friendly terms with Frederick, even after the latter's excommunication. The Emperor also greatly admired the cardinal's wisdom, having enjoyed discussions with him from time to time.
Following the election the 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 wishing him success, as also expressing hope for an amicable settlement of the differences between the empire and the papacy. Negotiations aimed at this objective began shortly afterwards, but proved unavailing. Innocent refused to back down from his demands, Frederick refused to acquiesce, and the dispute continued, its major point of contention being the restitution of Lombardy to the Patrimony of St Peter.
The Emperor's machinations aroused a good deal of anti-papal feeling 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 and hurriedly withdrew, fleeing Rome on 7 June 1244. Traveling in disguise, he made his way to Sutri and then to the port of Civitavecchia, and from there to Genoa, his birthplace, where he arrived on 7 July. On 5 October, he fled from there to France, where he was joyously welcomed. Making his way to Lyon, where he arrived on 29 November 1244, Innocent was greeted cordially by the magistrates of the city.
Innocent now found himself in secure surroundings and out of the reach of Frederick II. In a sermon preached on 27 December 1244, he summoned as many bishops as could get to Lyon (140 bishops eventually came) to attend what became the 13th General (Ecumenical) Council of the Church, the first to be held in Lyon. The bishops met for three public sessions: 28 June, 5 July, and 17 July 1245. Their principal business was to subjugate the Emperor Frederick II.
The First Council of Lyon of 1245 had the fewest participants of any General Council before it. However three patriarchs and the Latin emperor of Constantinople attended, along with about 150 bishops, most of them prelates from France and Spain. They were able to come quickly, and Innocent could rely on their help. Bishops from the rest of Europe outside Spain and France feared retribution from Frederick, while many other bishops were prevented from attending either by the invasions of the Mongols (Tartars) in the Far East or Muslim incursions in the Middle East.
In session, Frederick II's position was defended by Taddeo of Suessa, who renewed in his master's name all the promises made before, but refused to give the guarantees the pope demanded. Unable to end the impasse Taddeo was horrified to hear the fathers of the Council solemnly depose and excommunicate the Emperor on 17 July, while absolving all his subjects from allegiance.
The political agitation over these acts convulsed Europe. The turmoil relaxed only with Frederick's death in December 1250, which removed the proximate threat to Innocent's life and permitted his return to Italy. He departed Lyon on 19 April 1251, and arrived in Genoa on 18 May. On 1 July, he was at Milan, accompanied by only three cardinals and the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople. He stayed there until mid-September, when he began an inspection tour of Lombardy, heading for Bologna. On 5 November he reached Perugia. From 1251–53 the Pope stayed at Perugia until it was safe for him to bring the papal court back to Rome. He finally saw Rome again in the first week of October, 1253. He left Rome on 27 April 1254, for Assisi and then Anagni. He immediately threw himself into the problems surrounding the succession to the possessions of Frederick II, both as German Emperor and as King of Sicily. In both cases, Innocent continued Pope Gregory IX's policy of opposition to the Hohenstaufen, supporting whatever opposition there could be found to that House. This papal stance embroiled Italy in one conflict after another for the next three decades. Innocent IV himself, following after the papal army which was seeking to destroy Frederick's son Manfred, died in Naples on 7 December 1254.
While in Perugia, on 15 May 1252, Innocent IV issued the papal bull Ad extirpanda, composed of thirty-eight 'laws', and advised civil authorities in Italy to treat heretics as criminals, and proscribed parameters limiting the use of torture to compel disclosures "as thieves and robbers of material goods are made to accuse their accomplices and confess the crimes they have committed."
As Innocent III had before him, Innocent IV saw himself as the Vicar of Christ, whose power was above earthly kings. Innocent, therefore, had no objection to intervening in purely secular matters. He appointed Afonso III administrator of Portugal, and lent his protection to Ottokar, the son of the King of Bohemia. The Pope even sided with King Henry III against both nobles and bishops of England, despite the king's harassment of Edmund Rich, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of All England, and the royal policy of having the income of a vacant bishopric or benefice delivered to the royal coffers, rather than handed over to a papal Administrator (usually a member of the Curia) or a Papal collector of revenue, or delivered directly to the Pope.
In the case of the Mongols, too, Innocent maintained that he, as Vicar of Christ, could make non-Christians accept his dominion and even exact punishment should they violate the non-God centered commands of the Ten Commandments. This policy was held more in theory than in practice and was eventually repudiated centuries later.
Shortly after Innocent IV's election to the papacy, the Teutonic Order sought his consent for the suppression of the Prussian rebellion and for their struggle against the Lithuanians. In response the Pope issued on 23 September 1243 the papal bull Qui iustis causis, authorizing crusades in Livonia and Prussia. The bull was reissued by Innocent and his successors in October 1243, March 1256, August 1256 and August 1257.
The papal preoccupation with imperial matters and secular princes caused other matters to suffer. On the one hand, the internal governance of the Papal States was neglected. Taxation increased and in proportion the discontent of the inhabitants. On the other hand, the spiritual condition of the Church raised concerns. Innocent attempted to give attention to the latter by a number of interventions.
In 1246 Edmund Rich, former Archbishop of Canterbury (died 1240), was declared a saint. In 1250 Innocent similarly proclaimed the pious Queen Margaret (died 1093), wife of King Malcolm III of Scotland, a saint. The Dominican priest Peter of Verona, martyred by Albigensian heretics in 1252, was canonized, as was Stanislaus of Szczepanów, the Polish Archbishop of Cracow, both in 1253.
In August 1253, after much worry about the order's insistence on absolute poverty, Innocent finally approved the rule of the Second Order of the Franciscans, the Poor Clares nuns, founded by St. Clare of Assisi, the friend of St Francis.
In a development which undoubtedly had considerable impact on the emerging religious orders, Innocent IV is often credited with helping to create the idea of legal personality, persona ficta as it was originally written, which has led to the idea of corporate personhood. At the time, this allowed monasteries, universities and other bodies to act as a single legal entity, facilitating continuity in their corporate existence. Monks and friars pledged individually to poverty could be part nonetheless of an organization that could own infrastructure. Such institutions, as "fictive persons", could not be excommunicated or considered guilty of delict, that is, negligence to action that is not contractually required. This meant that punishment of individuals within an organization would reflect less on the organization itself than if the person running such an organization was said to own it rather than be a constituent of it, and hence the concept was meant to provide institutional stability.
Possibly prompted by the persistence of heretical movements such as the Albigensians, an earlier pope, Gregory IX (1227-1241), had issued letters on 9 June 1239, ordering all the bishops of France to confiscate all Talmuds in the possession of the Jews. Agents were to raid each synagogue on the first Saturday of Lent 1240, and seize the books, placing them in the custody of the Dominicans or the Franciscans. The Bishop of Paris was ordered to see to it that copies of the Pope's mandate reached all the bishops of France, England, Aragon, Navarre, Castile and León, and Portugal. On 20 June 1239, there was another letter, addressed to the Bishop of Paris, the Prior of the Dominicans and the Minister of the Franciscans, calling for the burning of all copies of the Talmud, and any obstructionists were to be visited with ecclesiastical censures. On the same day the Pope wrote to the King of Portugal ordering him to see to it that all copies of the Talmud be seized and turned over to the Dominicans or Franciscans. On account of these letters, King Louis IX of France held a trial in Paris in 1240, which ultimately found the Talmud guilty of 35 alleged charges. 24 cartloads of copies of the Talmud were burned.
Initially, Innocent IV continued Gregory IX's policy. In a letter of 9 May 1244, he wrote to King Louis IX, ordering the Talmud and any books with Talmudic glosses to be examined by the Regent Doctors of the University of Paris, and if condemned by them, to be burned. However, an argument was presented that this policy was a negation of the Church's traditional stance of tolerance toward Judaism. On 5 July 1247, Pope Innocent wrote to the Bishops of France and of Germany to say that because both ecclesiastics and lay persons were lawlessly plundering the property of the Jews, and falsely stating that at Eastertime they sacrificed and ate the hearts of little children, the bishops should see to it that the Jews not be attacked or molested for these or other reasons. That same year 1247, in a letter of 2 August to King Louis IX of France, the Pope reversed his stance on the Talmud, ordering that the Talmud should be censored rather than burned. Despite opposition from figures such as Odo of Châteauroux, Cardinal Bishop of Tusculum and former Chancellor of the University of Paris, Pope Innocent IV's policy was nonetheless continued by subsequent popes.
Innocent IV was responsible for the eventual deposition of King Sancho II of Portugal at the request of his brother Afonso (later King Afonso III of Portugal). One of the arguments he used against Sancho II in the Bull Grandi non immerito was Sancho's status as a minor upon inheriting the throne from his father Afonso II.
The warlike tendencies of the Mongols also concerned the Pope, and in 1245, he issued bulls and sent a papal nuncio in the person of Giovanni da Pian del Carpine (accompanied by Benedict the Pole) to the "Emperor of the Tartars". The message asked the Mongol ruler to become a Christian and stop his aggression against Europe. The Khan Güyük replied in 1246 in a letter written in Persian that is still preserved in the Vatican Library, demanding the submission of the Pope and the other rulers of Europe.
In 1245 Innocent had sent another mission, through another route, led by Ascelin of Lombardia, also bearing letters. The mission met with the Mongol ruler Baichu near the Caspian Sea in 1247. The reply of Baichu was in accordance with that of Güyük, but it was accompanied by two Mongolian envoys to the Papal seat in Lyon, Aïbeg and Serkis. In the letter Guyuk demanded that the Pope appear in person at the Mongol imperial headquarters, Karakorum, in order that "we might cause him to hear every command that there is of the jasaq". In 1248 the envoys met with Innocent, who again issued an appeal to the Mongols to stop their killing of Christians.
Despite other concerns, the later years of Innocent's life were largely directed to political schemes for encompassing the overthrow of Manfred of Sicily, the natural son of Frederick II, whom the towns and the nobility had for the most part received as his father's successor. Innocent aimed to incorporate the whole Kingdom of Sicily into the Papal States, but he lacked the necessary economic and political power. Therefore, after a failed agreement with Charles of Anjou, he invested Edmund Crouchback, the nine-year-old son of King Henry III of England, with that kingdom on 14 May 1254.
In the same year, Innocent excommunicated Frederick II's other son, Conrad IV, King of Germany, but the latter died a few days after the investiture of Edmund. Innocent spent the spring of 1254 in Assisi and then, at the beginning of June, moved to Anagni, where he awaited Manfred's reaction to the event, especially considering that Conrad's heir, Conradin, had been entrusted to Papal tutelage by King Conrad's testament. Manfred submitted, although probably only to gain time and counter the menace from Edmund, and accepted the title of papal vicar for southern Italy. Innocent could therefore enjoy a moment in which he was the acknowledged sovereign, in theory at least, of most of the peninsula. Innocent overplayed his hand, however, by accepting the fealty of the city of Amalfi directly to the Papacy instead of to the Kingdom of Sicily on 23 October. Manfred immediately, on 26 October, fled from Teano, where he had established his headquarters, and headed to Lucera to rejoin his Saracen troops.
Manfred had not lost his nerve, and organized resistance to papal aggression. Supported by his faithful Saracen troops, he began using military force to make rebellious barons and towns submit to his authority as Regent for his nephew.
Realizing that Manfred had no intention of submitting to the Papacy or to anyone else, Innocent and his papal army headed south from his summer residence at Anagni on 8 October, intending to confront Manfred's forces. On 27 October 1254 the Pope entered the city of Naples. It was there, on a sick bed, that Innocent heard of Manfred's victory at Foggia on 2 December against the Papal forces, led by the new Papal Legate, Cardinal Guglielmo Fieschi, the Pope's nephew. The tidings are said to have precipitated Pope Innocent's death on 7 December 1254 in Naples. From triumph to disaster had taken only a few months.
Shortly after Innocent's election as pope, his nephew Opizzo had been appointed Latin Patriarche of Antioch. In December 1251 Innocent IV himself appointed another nephew, Ottobuono, Cardinal Deacon of S. Andriano. Ottobuono was subsequently elected Pope Adrian V in 1276.
Upon his death, Innocent IV was succeeded by Pope Alexander IV (Rinaldo de' Conti).
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