Pope Urban VI

Pope Urban VI

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Pope Urban VI born Bartolomeo Prignano, 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 1378 to 1389.

Biography


Born in Itri
Itri
Itri is a small city and comune in the central Italian region of Latium and the Province of Latina.Itri is an agricultural centre divided in two parts by a small river, the Pontone. It lies in a valley between the Monti Aurunci and the sea, not far from the Gulf of Gaeta...

, he was a devout monk
Monk
A monk is a person who practices religious asceticism, living either alone or with any number of monks, while always maintaining some degree of physical separation from those not sharing the same purpose...

 and learned casuist, trained at 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...

. On March 21, 1364, he was consecrated Archbishop of Acerenza in 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...

. He became Archbishop of Bari in 1377, and, on the death of Pope Gregory XI
Pope Gregory XI
Gregory XI was pope from 1370 until his death.-Biography:He was born Pierre Roger de Beaufort, in Maumont, in the modern commune of Rosiers-d'Égletons, Limousin around 1336. He succeeded Pope Urban V in 1370, and was pope until 1378...

 (1370–78), the Roman
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...

 populace, who surrounded the conclave
Papal conclave, 1378
The papal conclave from April 7 to 9, 1378 was the papal conclave which was the immediate cause of the Western Schism in the Catholic Church. The conclave was one of the shortest in the history of the Catholic Church. The conclave was also the first held in the Vatican and in Old St...

, clamorously demanded a Roman pope; the cardinals being under some haste and great pressure to avoid the return of the Papal seat to Avignon, Prignano was unanimously chosen (April 8, 1378) as acceptable as well to the disunited majority of French cardinals, taking the name Urban VI. Not being a Cardinal, he was not well known. Immediately following the conclave most of the cardinals fled Rome before the mob could learn that not a Roman (though not a Frenchman either), but a subject of 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....

, had been chosen.

Prignano had developed a reputation for simplicity and frugality, even austerity, a head for business when acting Vice-Chancellor and a penchant for learning, and, according to Cristoforo di Piacenza, he was without famiglia in an age of nepotism
Nepotism
Nepotism is favoritism granted to relatives regardless of merit. The word nepotism is from the Latin word nepos, nepotis , from which modern Romanian nepot and Italian nipote, "nephew" or "grandchild" are also descended....

, although once in the Papal chair he elevated four cardinal-nephews and sought to place one of them in control of Naples. His great faults undid his virtues: Ludwig Pastor summed up his character: "He lacked Christian gentleness and charity. He was naturally arbitrary and extremely violent and imprudent, and when he came to deal with the burning ecclesiastical question of the day, that of reform, the consequences were disastrous."

Though the coronation was carried out in scrupulous detail, leaving no doubt as to the legitimacy of the new pontiff, the French were not particularly happy with this move and began immediately to conspire against this pope from the Regno. Urban VI did himself no favors; whereas the cardinals had expected him pliant, he was considered arrogant and angry by many of his contemporaries. Dietrich of Nieheim
Dietrich of Nieheim
Dietrich of Nieheim , medieval historian, was born at Nieheim, a small town subject to the see of Paderborn.-Life:...

 considered that the cardinals concluded that his elevation had turned his head, and Froissart, Leonardo Aretino, Tommaso de Acerno and St. Antoninus of Florence recorded similar conclusions.

Immediately following his election, Urban began preaching intemperately to the cardinals (some of whom thought the delirium of power had made Urban mad and unfit for rule), insisting that the business of the curia should be carried on without gratuities and gifts, forbidding the cardinals to accept annuities from rulers and other lay persons, condemning the luxury of their lives and retinues, and the multiplication of benefice
Benefice
A benefice is a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services. The term is now almost obsolete.-Church of England:...

s and bishoprics in their hands. Nor would he remove again to Avignon, thus alienating Charles V of France
Charles V of France
Charles V , called the Wise, was King of France from 1364 to his death in 1380 and a member of the House of Valois...

, and, according to Urban's assessment, opening the Western Schism
Western Schism
The Western Schism or Papal Schism was a split within the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. Two men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope. Driven by politics rather than any theological disagreement, the schism was ended by the Council of Constance . The simultaneous claims to the papal chair...

.

The cardinals were mortally offended. Five months after his election, the French cardinals met at Anagni
Anagni
Anagni is an ancient town and comune in Latium, central Italy, in the hills east-southeast of Rome. It is a historical center in Ciociaria.-Geography:...

, inviting Urban, who realized that he would be seized and perhaps slain; in his absence they issued a manifesto of grievances (August 9), declaring the election invalid and claiming that they had been cowed by the mob into electing an Italian, followed by letters (August 20) to the missing Italian cardinals, declaring sede vacante
Sede vacante
Sede vacante is an expression, used in the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, that refers to the vacancy of the episcopal see of a particular church...

. Then at Fondi
Fondi
Fondi is a city and comune in the province of Latina, Lazio, central Italy, halfway between Rome and Naples. Before the construction of the highway between the latter cities in the late 1950s, Fondi had been an important settlement on the Roman Via Appia, which was the main connection from Rome to...

, secretly supported by the king of France, they proceeded to elect Robert of Geneva (September 20). Robert, a militant cleric who had succeeded Albornoz as commander of the papal troops, took the title of Clement VII
Antipope Clement VII
Robert of Geneva was elected to the papacy as Pope Clement VII by the French cardinals who opposed Urban VI, and was the first Avignon antipope of the Western Schism.-Biography:...

, beginning the Western Schism
Western Schism
The Western Schism or Papal Schism was a split within the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. Two men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope. Driven by politics rather than any theological disagreement, the schism was ended by the Council of Constance . The simultaneous claims to the papal chair...

 which divided Catholic Christendom until 1417.

Urban was declared excommunicated
Excommunication
Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

 by the French antipope and was called "the Antichrist
Antichrist
The term or title antichrist, in Christian theology, refers to a leader who fulfills Biblical prophecies concerning an adversary of Christ, while resembling him in a deceptive manner...

", while Catherine of Siena
Catherine of Siena
Saint Catherine of Siena, T.O.S.D, was a tertiary of the Dominican Order, and a Scholastic philosopher and theologian. She also worked to bring the papacy of Gregory XI back to Rome from its displacement in France, and to establish peace among the Italian city-states. She was proclaimed a Doctor...

, defending Pope Urban, called the cardinals "devils in human form." Coluccio Salutati
Coluccio Salutati
Coluccio Salutati was an Italian Humanist and man of letters, and one of the most important political and cultural leaders of Renaissance Florence.-Birth and Early Career:...

 identified the political nature of the withdrawal: "Who does not see," the Chancellor openly addressed the French cardinals, "that you seek not the true pope, but opt solely for a Gallic pontiff." Opening rounds of argument were embodied in John of Legnano
John of Legnano
John of Legnano was an Italian jurist, a canon lawyer at the University of Bologna and the most prominent defender of Urban VI at the outbreak of the Western Schism.-Biography:John was born in Legnano....

's defense of the election, De fletu ecclesiæ, written and incrementally revised between 1378 and 1380, which Urban caused to be distributed in multiple copies, and in the numerous rebuttals that soon appeared. Events overtook the rhetoric, however; 26 new cardinals were created in a single day, and by an arbitrary alienation of the estates and property of the church, funds were raised for open war. At the end of May 1379 Clement went to Avignon, where he was more than ever at the mercy of the king of France. Louis I, Duke of Anjou, was granted a phantom kingdom of Adria to be carved out of papal Emilia and Romagna, if he could unseat the pope at Rome.

Meanwhile the War of the Eight Saints
War of the Eight Saints
The War of the Eight Saints was a war between Pope Gregory XI and a coalition of Italian city-states led by Florence, which contributed to the end of the Avignon Papacy.-Causes:...

, carried on with spates of unprecedented cruelty to civilians, was draining the resources of Florence, though the city ignored the interdict
Interdict
The term Interdict may refer to:* Court order enforcing or prohibiting a certain action* Injunction, such as a restraining order...

 placed upon it by Gregory, declared its churches open, and sold ecclesiastical property for 100,000 florins to finance the war. Bologna had submitted to the Church in August 1377, and Florence signed a treaty at Tivoli on 28 July 1378, at a cost of 200,000 florins indemnity extorted by Urban, the restitution of church properties, receiving in return the papal favor and the lifting of the disregarded interdict.

Urban's erstwhile patroness, 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....

, deserted him in the late summer of 1378, in part because her former archbishop had become her feudal suzerain
Feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...

, and Urban now lost sight of the larger issues and began to commit a series of errors. He turned upon his powerful neighbor, excommunicated her as an obstinate partisan of Clement, and permitted a crusade to be preached against her. Soon her enemy and cousin, the "crafty and ambitious" Charles of Durazzo, representing the Sicilian Angevin line, forgetting his French blood, was invested in the sovereignty 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...

 (June 1, 1381), declared to be forfeited by Joan — whom he murdered in 1382 — and was crowned by Urban. "In return for these favours, Charles had to promise to hand over Capua
Capua
Capua is a city and comune in the province of Caserta, Campania, southern Italy, situated 25 km north of Naples, on the northeastern edge of the Campanian plain. Ancient Capua was situated where Santa Maria Capua Vetere is now...

, Caserta
Caserta
Caserta is the capital of the province of Caserta in the Campania region of Italy. It is an important agricultural, commercial and industrial comune and city. Caserta is located on the edge of the Campanian plain at the foot of the Campanian Subapennine mountain range...

, Aversa
Aversa
Aversa is a town and comune in the Province of Caserta in Campania southern Italy, about 15 kilometres north of Naples. It is the centre of an agricultural district, the agro aversano, producing wine and cheese...

, Nocera
Nocera Inferiore
Nocera Inferiore, formerly Nocera dei Pagani, is a town and comune in Campania, Italy, in the province of Salerno, at the foot of Monte Albino, 20 km east-south-east of Naples by rail.-History:...

, Amalfi
Amalfi
Amalfi is a town and comune in the province of Salerno, in the region of Campania, Italy, on the Gulf of Salerno, c. 35 km southeast of Naples. It lies at the mouth of a deep ravine, at the foot of Monte Cerreto , surrounded by dramatic cliffs and coastal scenery...

 to the pope's nephew, a thoroughly worthless and immoral man."

Once ensconced at Naples, Charles found his new kingdom invaded by Louis of Anjou and Amadeus VI of Savoy; hard-pressed, he reneged on his promises. In Rome the Castel Sant'Angelo
Castel Sant'Angelo
The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as the Castel Sant'Angelo, is a towering cylindrical building in Parco Adriano, Rome, Italy. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family...

 was besieged and taken, and Urban forced to flee; Urban in the fall of 1383 determined to go to Naples and press Charles in person. There he found himself virtually a prisoner. After a first reconciliation, with the death of Louis (20 September 1384), Charles found himself freer to resist Urban's feudal pretensions, and relations took a turn for the worse; Urban was shut up in Nocera
Nocera Inferiore
Nocera Inferiore, formerly Nocera dei Pagani, is a town and comune in Campania, Italy, in the province of Salerno, at the foot of Monte Albino, 20 km east-south-east of Naples by rail.-History:...

, from the walls of which he daily fulminated his anathema
Anathema
Anathema originally meant something lifted up as an offering to the gods; it later evolved to mean:...

s against his besiegers, with bell, book and candle
Bell, Book and Candle
Bell, Book and Candle is a romantic comedy directed by Richard Quine based on the hit Broadway play by John Van Druten. It starred James Stewart and Kim Novak in their second on-screen pairing . The film, adapted by Daniel Taradash, was Stewart's last film as a romantic lead...

; a price was set on his head.

Rescued by two Neapolitan barons who had sided for Louis, Raimondello Orsini and Tommaso di Sanseverino, after six months of siege he succeeded in making his escape to Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

 with six galleys sent him by doge
Doge of Genoa
The Republic of Genoa, in what is now northern Italy, was technically a communal republic in the early Middle Ages, although it was actually an oligarchy ruled by a small group of merchant families, from whom were selected the Doges of Genoa.- History :...

 Antoniotto Adorno. Several among his cardinals who had been shut up in Nocera
Nocera Inferiore
Nocera Inferiore, formerly Nocera dei Pagani, is a town and comune in Campania, Italy, in the province of Salerno, at the foot of Monte Albino, 20 km east-south-east of Naples by rail.-History:...

 with him and had followed him in Genoa determined to make a stand: they determined that a pope, who by his incapacity or blind obstinacy might be put in the charge of one of the cardinals. Urban had them seized, tortured and put to death, "a crime unheard of through the centuries" the chronicler Egidio da Viterbo remarked.

His support had dwindled to the northern Italian states, Portugal, England, and Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor
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 brought with him the support of most of the princes and abbots of Germany.

On the death of Charles of Naples (24 February 1386), Urban moved to Lucca
Lucca
Lucca is a city and comune in Tuscany, central Italy, situated on the river Serchio in a fertile plainnear the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is the capital city of the Province of Lucca...

 in December of that year. The Kingdom of Naples was contended between a party favouring his son, Ladislaus, and Louis II of Anjou and Urban devised to take advantage of the anarchy which had ensued (as well as of the presence of the feeble Maria as Queen of Sicily
Kingdom of Sicily
The Kingdom of Sicily was a state that existed in the south of Italy from its founding by Roger II in 1130 until 1816. It was a successor state of the County of Sicily, which had been founded in 1071 during the Norman conquest of southern Italy...

) to seize Naples for his nephew Francesco Moricotti Prignani
Francesco Moricotti Prignani
Francesco Moricotti Prignani was an Italian bishop and Cardinal. A cardinal-nephew, he was created Cardinal in 1378 by his uncle Pope Urban VI....

. In the meantime he was able to have Viterbo
Viterbo
See also Viterbo, Texas and Viterbo UniversityViterbo is an ancient city and comune in the Lazio region of central Italy, the capital of the province of Viterbo. It is approximately 80 driving / 80 walking kilometers north of GRA on the Via Cassia, and it is surrounded by the Monti Cimini and...

 and Perugia
Perugia
Perugia is the capital city of the region of Umbria in central Italy, near the River Tiber, and the capital of the province of Perugia. The city is located about north of Rome. It covers a high hilltop and part of the valleys around the area....

 return under the Papal control.

In August 1388 Urban moved from Perugia with thousands of troops. To raise funds he had proclaimed a 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...

 to be held in 1390. At the time of the proclamation, only 38 years had elapsed since the previous Jubilee, which was celebrated under Clement VI
Pope Clement VI
Pope Clement VI , bornPierre Roger, the fourth of the Avignon Popes, was pope from May 1342 until his death in December of 1352...

. During the march, Urban fell from his mule at Narni
Narni
Narni is an ancient hilltown and comune of Umbria, in central Italy, with 20,100 inhabitants, according to the 2003 census. At an altitude of 240 m , it overhangs a narrow gorge of the Nera River in the province of Terni. It is very close to the Geographic center of Italy...

 and had to recover in early October in Rome, where he was able to oust the communal rule of the banderesi and restore the Papal authority. He died soon afterwards, likely of injuries caused by the fall, but not without rumors of poisoning. It is noteworthy that during the reconstruction of Saint Peter's Basilica, Urban's remains were almost dumped out to be destroyed so his sarcophagus could be used to water horses. The sarcophagus was saved only when church historian Giacomo Grimaldi
Giacomo Grimaldi
Giacomo Grimaldi was an Italian historian and Vatican archivist, who lived in the early 17th century.His principal surviving works deal with the Roman Catholic Church. Several Papal tombs that were destroyed during the rebuilding of Saint Peter's Basilica are only known through illustrations by...

 arrived and, realizing its importance, ordered it preserved.

His successor was Pope Boniface IX
Pope Boniface IX
Pope Boniface IX , born Piero Tomacelli, was the second Roman Pope of the Western Schism from November 2, 1389, until October 1, 1404...

 (1389–1404).

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