Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Pope Clement VI

Pope Clement VI

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Pope Clement VI'
Start a new discussion about 'Pope Clement VI'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Pope Clement VI born
Pierre Roger, the fourth of the Avignon Popes
Avignon Papacy
The Avignon Papacy was the period from 1309 to 1376 during which seven Popes resided in Avignon, in modern-day France. This arose from the conflict between the Papacy and the French crown....

, was pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 from May 1342 until his death in December of 1352. Clement is most notable in his papacy as the Pope that reigned during the time of the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 (1348-1350), during which time he granted remission of sins to all that died of the plague.

Biography


Clement was born in the village of Maumont, today part of the commune of Rosiers-d'Égletons
Rosiers-d'Égletons
Rosiers-d'Égletons is a commune in the Corrèze department in central France.-Population:-References:*...

, Corrèze
Corrèze
Corrèze is a department in south central France, named after the Corrèze River.The inhabitants of the department are called Corréziens or Corréziennes according to gender.-History:...

, in Limousin
Limousin (province)
Limousin is one of the traditional provinces of France around the city of Limoges. Limousin lies in the foothills of the western edge of the Massif Central, with cold weather in the winter...

, the son of the wealthy lord of Rosiers-d'Égletons.

He entered the Benedictine
Benedictine
Benedictine refers to the spirituality and consecrated life in accordance with the Rule of St Benedict, written by Benedict of Nursia in the sixth century for the cenobitic communities he founded in central Italy. The most notable of these is Monte Cassino, the first monastery founded by Benedict...

 order as a boy, studied at the College de Sorbonne
Collège de Sorbonne
The Collège de Sorbonne was a theological college of the University of Paris, founded in 1257 by Robert de Sorbon, after whom it is named. With the rest of the Paris colleges, it was suppressed during the French Revolution. It was restored in 1808 but finally closed in 1882. The name Sorbonne...

 in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, and became successively prior of St. Baudil, abbot of Fécamp, bishop of Arras, chancellor of France, archbishop of Sens and archbishop of Rouen
Archbishop of Rouen
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Rouen is an Archdiocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in France. As one of the fifteen Archbishops of France, the ecclesiastical province of the archdiocese comprises the majority of Normandy....

. He was made cardinal-priest of Santi Nereo e Achilleo
Santi Nereo e Achilleo
Santi Nereo e Achilleo is a fourth-century basilica church in Rome, Italy, located in via delle Termi di Caracalla in the rione Celio facing the main entrance to the Baths of Caracalla. The current Cardinal Priest of the Titulus Ss...

 and administrator of the bishopric of Avignon by Benedict XII in 1338, and was chosen to succeed him as pope at the conclave of 1342
Papal conclave, 1342
Papal conclave of May 5 to May 7, 1342 – the papal conclave convened after the death of Pope Benedict XII, it elected Cardinal Pierre Roger, who under the name of Clement VI became the fourth Pope of the period of Avignon Papacy.-Cardinal electors:...

.

Like his immediate predecessors, he was devoted to France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, and he demonstrated his French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 sympathies by refusing a solemn invitation to return to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 from the city's people, as well as from the poet Petrarch
Petrarch
Francesco Petrarca , known in English as Petrarch, was an Italian scholar, poet and one of the earliest humanists. Petrarch is often called the "Father of Humanism"...

. He however threw a sop to the Romans by reducing the Jubilee
Jubilee (Christian)
The concept of the Jubilee is a special year of remission of sins and universal pardon. In the Biblical Book of Leviticus, a Jubilee year is mentioned to occur every fifty years, in which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly...

 term from one hundred years to fifty. He also purchased the sovereignty of Avignon
Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

 from Queen Joan I of Naples
Joan I of Naples
Joan I , born Joanna of Anjou, was Queen of Naples from 1343 until her death. She was also Countess of Provence and Forcalquier, Queen consort of Majorca and titular Queen of Jerusalem and Sicily 1343–82, and Princess of Achaea 1373/5–81....

, for 80,000 crowns.

Clement VI issued the Bull Unigenitus, January 27, 1343, to justify the power of the pope and the use of indulgences. This document was also used in the defence of indulgences after Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 pinned his 95 Theses
95 Theses
The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences , commonly known as , was written by Martin Luther, 1517 and is widely regarded as the primary catalyst for the Protestant Reformation...

 to a church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517.

Clement VI reigned during the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

. This pandemic
Pandemic
A pandemic is an epidemic of infectious disease that is spreading through human populations across a large region; for instance multiple continents, or even worldwide. A widespread endemic disease that is stable in terms of how many people are getting sick from it is not a pandemic...

 swept through Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 (as well as Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

) between 1347–1350, and is believed to have killed between a third and two-thirds of Europe's population
Medieval demography
This article discusses human demography in Europe during the Middle Ages, including population trends and movements. Demographic changes helped to shape and define the Middle Ages...

. During the plague, he sought the insight of astronomers for explanation. Jehan de Murs was among the team "of three who drew up a treatise explaining the plague of 1348 by the conjunction of Saturn
Saturn
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturn, equated to the Greek Cronus , the Babylonian Ninurta and the Hindu Shani. Saturn's astronomical symbol represents the Roman god's sickle.Saturn,...

, Jupiter
Jupiter
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

, and Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

 in 1341" (Tomasello, 15). Clement VI's physicians advised him that surrounding himself with torches would block the plague. However, he soon became skeptical of this recommendation and stayed in Avignon supervising sick care, burials, and the pastoral care of the dying (Duffy, 167). He never contracted the disease. One of his physicians, Gui de Chauliac, later wrote the Chirurgia magna
Chirurgia magna
Chirurgia magna , completed in 1363, is a guide of surgery and practical medicine. Its title indicates that it is a reference for surgery . Guy de Chauliac, Pope Clement VI's attending physician, compiled the information from his own field experience and research of historical medical texts...

.


Popular opinion blamed the Jews for the plague, and pogroms erupted throughout Europe. Clement issued two papal bulls in 1348 (July 6 and Sept 26) which condemned the violence and said those who blamed the plague on the Jews had been "seduced by that liar, the Devil." He urged clergy to take action to protect Jews as he had done.

Clement continued the struggle of his predecessors with the Emperor Louis IV
Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Louis IV , called the Bavarian, of the house of Wittelsbach, was the King of Germany from 1314, the King of Italy from 1327 and the Holy Roman Emperor from 1328....

. He excommunicated him after protracted negotiations on April 13, 1346, and directed the election of Charles IV
Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles IV , born Wenceslaus , was the second king of Bohemia from the House of Luxembourg, and the first king of Bohemia to also become Holy Roman Emperor....

, who received general recognition after the death of Louis in October 1347, ending the schism which had long divided Germany. Clement proclaimed a crusade in 1343, but nothing was accomplished beyond a naval attack on Smyrna
Smyrna
Smyrna was an ancient city located at a central and strategic point on the Aegean coast of Anatolia. Thanks to its advantageous port conditions, its ease of defence and its good inland connections, Smyrna rose to prominence. The ancient city is located at two sites within modern İzmir, Turkey...

 (29 October 1344). He also had a role in the Hungarian invasion
Neapolitan Campaigns
The Neapolitan campaigns of Louis the Great, also called the Neapolitan Adventure in Hungarian, was a war between the Kingdom of Hungary, led by Louis the Great, and the Kingdom of Naples. It was fought from 1347 until 1352....

 of the Kingdom of Naples
Kingdom of Naples
The Kingdom of Naples, comprising the southern part of the Italian peninsula, was the remainder of the old Kingdom of Sicily after secession of the island of Sicily as a result of the Sicilian Vespers rebellion of 1282. Known to contemporaries as the Kingdom of Sicily, it is dubbed Kingdom of...

, namely a Papal fief; the contest between Louis I of Hungary and Joan I of Naples
Joan I of Naples
Joan I , born Joanna of Anjou, was Queen of Naples from 1343 until her death. She was also Countess of Provence and Forcalquier, Queen consort of Majorca and titular Queen of Jerusalem and Sicily 1343–82, and Princess of Achaea 1373/5–81....

, accused to have ordered the assassination of the former's brother, was ended in 1352 by a trial held in Avignon, by which she was acquitted from any charge. Among the other benefits, Clement took advantage of the situation to obtain by her the rights over the city of Avignon
Avignon
Avignon is a French commune in southeastern France in the départment of the Vaucluse bordered by the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 94,787 inhabitants of the city on 1 January 2010, 12 000 live in the ancient town centre surrounded by its medieval ramparts.Often referred to as the...

.

The other chief incidents of his pontificate were his disputes with Edward III of England
Edward III of England
Edward III was King of England from 1327 until his death and is noted for his military success. Restoring royal authority after the disastrous reign of his father, Edward II, Edward III went on to transform the Kingdom of England into one of the most formidable military powers in Europe...

  as a result of the latter's encroachments on ecclesiastical jurisdiction, as well as with the kings of Castile
Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...

 and Aragon
Aragon
Aragon is a modern autonomous community in Spain, coextensive with the medieval Kingdom of Aragon. Located in northeastern Spain, the Aragonese autonomous community comprises three provinces : Huesca, Zaragoza, and Teruel. Its capital is Zaragoza...

; his fruitless negotiations for reunion with the Armenians and with the Byzantine emperor, John VI Kantakouzenos
John VI Kantakouzenos
John VI Kantakouzenos or Cantacuzenus was the Byzantine emperor from 1347 to 1354.-Early life:Born in Constantinople, John Kantakouzenos was the son of a Michael Kantakouzenos, governor of the Morea. Through his mother Theodora Palaiologina Angelina, he was a descendant of the reigning house of...

; and the commencement of Cola di Rienzo
Cola di Rienzo
Cola di Rienzo was an Italian medieval politician and popular leader, tribune of the Roman people in the mid-14th century.-Early career:Cola was born in Rome of humble origins...

's agitation at Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

. He had appointed Cola to a civil position at Rome, and, although at first approving the establishment of the tribunate, he later sent a legate who excommunicated him and, with the help of the aristocratic faction, drove him from the city in December 1347. Clement also excommunicated Casimir III of Poland
Casimir III of Poland
Casimir III the Great , last King of Poland from the Piast dynasty , was the son of King Władysław I the Elbow-high and Hedwig of Kalisz.-Biography:...

 and made Prague an archbishopric in 1344.

Clement VI died in December 1352, leaving the reputation of "a fine gentleman, a prince munificent to profusion, a patron of the arts and learning, but no saint" (Gregorovius
Ferdinand Gregorovius
Ferdinand Gregorovius was a German historian who specialized in the medieval history of Rome. He is best known for Wanderjahre in Italien, his account of the walks he took through Italy in the 1850s, and the monumental Die Geschichte der Stadt Rom im Mittelalter , a classic for Medieval and early...

; see also Gibbon
Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon was an English historian and Member of Parliament...

, chap. 66).

Unlike the Cistercian Benedict XII, Clement VI was devoted to lavish living, and the treasury which he inherited made that lifestyle possible. Upon election as pope he exclaimed as he looked forward to a reign of regal self-indulgence, "My predecessors did not know how to be pope". He claimed to have "lived as a sinner among sinners", in his own words. During his pontificate, he added a new chapel to the Papal Palace and dedicated it to St. Peter. He commissioned the artist Matteo Giovanetti de Viterbo to paint common hunting and fishing scenes on the walls of the existing papal chapels, and purchased enormous tapestries to decorate the stone walls. To bring good music to the celebrations, he recruited musicians from northern France, especially from Liège and of the Ars Nova
Ars nova
Ars nova refers to a musical style which flourished in France and the Burgundian Low Countries in the Late Middle Ages: more particularly, in the period between the preparation of the Roman de Fauvel and the death of the composer Guillaume de Machaut in 1377...

 style. He liked music so much that he kept composers and theorists close to him throughout his entire pontificate, Philippe de Vitry
Philippe de Vitry
Philippe de Vitry was a French composer, music theorist and poet. He was an accomplished, innovative, and influential composer, and may also have been the author of the Ars Nova treatise...

 being among the more famous. The first two payments he made after his coronation were to musicians (Tomasello, 12-20).

External links