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Born:1160 or 1161Campagna di RomaItaly...(Show more)Died:July 16, 1216PerugiaItaly...(Show more)Title / Office:pope (1198-1216)...(Show more)Subjects the Study:papal primacy...(Show more)Role In:Albigensian CrusadeFourth CrusadeFourth Lateran Council...(Show more)

Innocent III, original name Lothar of Segni, Italian Lotario di Segni, (born 1160/61, Gavignano Castle, Campagna di Roma, Papal claims —died July 16, 1216, Perugia), the most significant pope of the middle Ages. Elected pope on January 8, 1198, chaste III reformed the roman inn Curia, reestablished and expanded the pope’s authority end the Papal States, operated tirelessly to launch campaigns to recuperate the holy Land, dealt with heresy in Italy and also southern France, shaped a an effective and initial doctrine that papal strength within the church and in secular affairs, and in 1215 presided over the fourth Lateran Council, i m sorry reformed countless clerical and also lay techniques within the church.

Early life and also career

The boy of Trasimund, count of Segni, and Claricia dei Scotti, the daughter the a noble roman inn family, Lothar began his education and learning in Rome, maybe at the Schola Cantorum. After his early education in Rome, he traveled north in the late 1170s or 1180 to study in Paris, the leading center of theological studies. Although small is known around his remain in Paris, what is recognized is suggestive. His teachers, Peter the Corbeil and Peter the Chanter, to be the most completed theologians in Europe. Stephen Langton, who Lothar together Pope Innocent later on appointed archbishop the Canterbury, and Robert the Courson, who he appointed as a papal legate and later raised to the cardinalate, were amongst his fellow students. In Paris Lothar learned to use the bible as a device for understanding and solving problems. His theological training shame his thought and his language for the remainder of his life and detailed a foundation for his outlook and his policies.


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After Paris Lothar learned in Bologna, whose college was the preeminent one because that the examine of canon and also civil law. Although that may have pursued law for an ext than 2 or 3 years (the chronology of his life currently is uncertain), that did not come to be the self-control that shaped his worldview or his vision the the papacy. Throughout the 1190s Lothar wrote three theological tracts: De miseria condicionis humane (On the Misery that the human Condition), De missarum mysteriis (On the Mysteries of the Mass), and De quadripartita specie nuptiarum (On Four types of Marriage). The an initial was enormously well-known in the center Ages, and also the others demonstrate that he was a competent, if not gifted, theologian. All three tracts show his ability to usage the bible to know Christian organizations in creative and initial ways. They additionally reveal the his endure in Paris shaped his worldview much more than his stay in Bologna.

Lothar probably entered clerical assignment in Rome when he was a young boy. ~ his research studies in Paris, Lothar to be made a subdeacon by Pope Gregory VIII in so late 1187. Pope Clement III elevated him come the office that cardinal deacon the SS. Sergius and Bacchus in December 1189 or January 1190. He operated in the papal curia throughout the 1190s yet neither received important commissions nor held far-reaching positions. Despite his youth and lack of administrative experience, the cardinals easily elected Lothar pope ~ above the very same day that the aged pope Celestine III died (January 8, 1198). That was offered or took the name chaste III, was ordained a monk on February 21, 1198, and was consecrated as bishop that Rome the next day, on the feast day of St. Peter’s Chair. Innocent undoubtedly chose the job of his consecration carefully. The wrote many sermons after ~ he ended up being pope, numerous of i m sorry commemorated the feast day of his consecration. As soon as Innocent reflect on the an initial pope and Peter’s tradition in these sermons, he presented a luminous vision the the papal office and also the pope’s duty in Christendom.


Early pontificate

At the start of his pontificate, Innocent confronted several major problems. Emperor Henry VI had actually died, and there were 2 candidates because that the royal throne: Henry’s brother, Philip the Swabia, and also Otto of Brunswick. The German princes were separated over the succession, southern Italy was in political shambles, and the Christian claims in the divine Land to be in the hand of the Muslims. In the second fifty percent of the 12th century, heresy had become a grave problem in southerly France. Papal government in the city the Rome and over the Papal States had disintegrated, and also the papal curia needed reform. Innocent faced all these troubles simultaneously.

The new pope’s vigour and also resolve have the right to be checked out in the letters of the papal registers and in a chronicle, Gesta Innocentii III (“The Deeds of innocent III”), written around 1208 by an anonymous member the Innocent’s curia who reportedly knew the pope an extremely well. In among his very first letters, chaste ordered King Philip Augustus that France come take earlier his wife, whom the king had abandoned. With this mandate chaste signaled his on purpose to prolong papal jurisdiction and authority into the marital affairs of Christian princes.

From the start of his pontificate, Innocent additionally sought to establish papal temporal authority end Rome and the Papal States. Instantly after his consecration, he received homage native the leader of the roman nobility. In bespeak to conquer the city of Rome, chaste ordered the building and construction of the Torre dei’Conti, a enormous military fortification in the middle of the city, i m sorry he inserted under the command the his brothers Richard. Earlier popes had confined their insurance claims of sovereignty end the Papal states (Patrimony of St. Peter) to the area immediately roughly Rome, but Innocent offered the power vacuum created by the fatality of the emperor to make much much more expansive claims. He systematically sent papal legates come the urban of central Italy come secure their loyalty. Within a remarkably short time, no only adjacent cities but additionally some as far away as Ancona, Assisi, Perugia, and also Spoleto had declared their allegiance come the pope. Through October 30, 1198, Innocent sent a letter come the rectors of those cities that had actually submitted come papal lordship. In the he fashioned a striking photo of papal authority the he would repeat throughout his pontificate. Papal authority was stood for by the Sun, and also the Moon signified the strength of put princes. Both strength were established by God, he explained, but, just as the Moon got its splendour indigenous the Sun, imperial power acquired its greatness and also dignity indigenous papal authority.

Innocent’s an imaginative and passionate rhetoric ended up being a component of his ruling style, and his deeds matched his rhetoric. He established a much bigger papal territory than any of his predecessors had actually controlled, and, indigenous his pontificate on, the pope worked as vital secular prince in central Italy. Innocent interpreted the dangers of a pope exercising secular power, however. In the Gesta, his biographer commented the the more Innocent wished to complimentary himself indigenous secular affairs, the better they burdened him. Innocent, the wrote, had regularly remarked, “Who touch tar is dirtied through it” (Ecclesiasticus 13:1).

Innocent was consumed by a passion to reconquer Jerusalem and also the holy Land, which had actually been lost complying with the fight of Ḥaṭṭīn in 1187. On august 15, 1198, he sent letters come the kings and bishops the Christendom, imploring lock to take it up the cross and also launch a brand-new Crusade. The promised Crusaders a brand-new papal indulgence, took them under papal protection, and also imposed a taxes on the clergy to help pay for the expedition. Regardless of Innocent’s best efforts, the 4th Crusade (1202–04) lacked strong leadership and also was chronically brief of money. The Venetians constructed a fleet to carry a huge army, however the French and German contingents were just one-third of their projected size and could not satisfy their contractual duties to pay the Venetians because that transport. The result was a disaster for the papacy and for the byzantine Empire. The Venetians encouraged the army to divert the Crusade come Constantinople because they want to depose one emperor and replace him with another. Outraged, innocent excommunicated the Venetians, yet he might not thwart your plans. The fleet come in Constantinople, and after a siege the city fell into Latin hands (April 12, 1204). Innocent welcomed the result, mistakenly believing that the conquest of Constantinople would reunite the Latin and also Greek churches. Instead, the Latins ruled over a truncated realm until 1261 and also irrevocably weakened it. After the Greeks regained regulate of the oriental Empire and church, castle rejected papal authority, and the 2 churches have remained divided.

Innocent’s an initial year to be also significant by his efforts to create his vision that papal monarchical power and also authority within the church. Combine a streak that hardheaded practicality through an intellectual’s attention in ideas, Innocent revolutionized the concept of papal monarchy and pushed the papacy in brand-new directions. His most an innovative rhetorical statements on papal strength were express in letters that broadened the government of the pope end emperor, kings, princes, and bishops. He asserted that the pope “has the authority since he does no exercise the office the man, yet of the true God on earth.” Moreover, he applied this vision in a number of ways. The writer of the Gesta painted a portrait the a pope that had great skill in righteousness affairs and also who participated personally in some of the legal cases that the papal court accepted on appeal. By reforming the papal curia and reorganizing the papal righteousness system, chaste strengthened the hierarchical structure the the church. He likewise mandated the subordination of the bishops to the pope and insisted that only the pope can approve episcopal translations, resignations, and also depositions. In ~ the exact same time, Innocent brushed up away nearly all the older, decentralized organizations that were characteristic that the church in the at an early stage Middle Ages.

When chaste was elevated to the papacy, the political instance in Italy and Germany to be precarious due to the fact that of Philip that Swabia’s and Otto of Brunswick’s competing cases for the royal throne. The struggle for the sequence to the throne would certainly be the most daunting problem Innocent confronted in his an initial years together pope and would be complicated further through imperial and also papal connections with southern Italy and also Sicily. By the time of his death in 1197, Emperor Henry VI had subjected virtually the entire Italian peninsula, including most of the Papal States, and also Sicily to his rule. Henry’s insurance claim to the south—the Norman kingdom that Sicily, a papal fief subject to the government of the pope—was strengthened through his marriage to Constance, the daughter of King roger II the Sicily. The legit heir come the kingdom that Sicily to be Henry’s three-year old son, the future emperor Frederick II. Constance advocated Frederick’s interests by putting him under the defense of Innocent, that thus ended up being regent. The pope’s challenge was come mediate the imperial succession while preserving the civil liberties of Frederick and, especially, maintaining the truth of the Papal States and also papal power.

Faced through these challenges, Innocent moved quickly and effectively to recoup the Papal says and additionally attempted to practice his legal rights as feudal overlord of the kingdom of Sicily. In his dealings through the claimants come the imperial throne, chaste sought to separate Sicily from the realm because any type of ruler that possessed both crowns was a danger to the Papal States. The exacted promises from both Otto and Philip to respect the limits of papal territory, however both candidates betrayed his trust. The importance and seriousness the the difficulty can be checked out in the Gesta, i beg your pardon devotes numerous pages come the dispute, and in the special papal register that Innocent’s curia preserved for maintaining a document of that (Super negotio Romani imperii; “Concerning the organization of the roman Empire”). Fearing the ambitions that the Hohenstaufen Philip, Innocent supported Otto until the killing of Philip in 1208, at which suggest Otto violated his agreements through the pope. In 1212 chaste was compelled to revolve to Henry’s son, Frederick, whose ascendancy the pope had hoped to border to the Sicilian kingdom. Although forced to support a candidate versus his much better judgment, Innocent offered the conflict to establish the pope’s ideal to evaluate imperial candidates in a disputed election. Per venerabilem (“Through ours Venerable Brother”), the decretal letter he created in 1202 reserving this right, quickly became part of canon law, even though Innocent’s claim was without precedent.

At the beginning of his 2nd year together pope, innocent turned his fist to the trouble of heresy within the boundaries of Christendom. In a decretal letter, Vergentis in senium (March 25, 1199), that he sent to Viterbo, a city in ~ the Papal States, Innocent asserted that heresy was treason versus God. Consequently, in pursuing heretics, he applied the sanctions and employed the procedural standards used in ancient Roman treason trials. This started Innocent’s long campaign to eradicate heresy, i m sorry lasted till the end of his pontificate and also culminated in the Albigensian Crusade. Cathar (Albigensian) heretics had end up being prevalent in southern France. As early as 1199 the pope sent out legates to address these heretics and also their supporters, and also in 1206 St. Dominic began to preach come the heretics with Innocent’s support. These initiatives produced few results. Finally, in 1208, adhering to the assassination that the papal legate, Innocent released a Crusade versus the heretics and gave the participants full Crusader indulgences and also privileges. The battle lasted until after Innocent’s death. Even after a politics settlement carried the fighting to an end, the Cathar heresy prospered in the region until the beginning of the 14th century. Innocent’s Crusade was significant, despite the survive of Catharism, because with that the pope started the exercise of using the Crusade come combat papal adversaries wherever they to be found. Later popes dubbed for Crusades versus disobedient Christian rulers and even cardinals that the church.

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At the very same time the was sustaining St. Dominic, Innocent permitted St. Francis the Assisi to proceed recruiting brothers and gave restricted approval to the Franciscan religious life in 1210.