Showing posts with label Itri. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Itri. Show all posts

20 September 2018

Election of Pope Clement VII

Appointment that sparked split in Catholic Church

Pope Clement VII, a portrait by the 19th century French painter Henri Serrur
Pope Clement VII, a portrait by the 19th
century French painter Henri Serrur
The election of Robert of Geneva as Pope Clement VII by a group of disaffected French cardinals, prompting the split in the Roman Catholic Church that became known as the Western Schism or the Great Schism, took place on this day in 1378.

The extraordinary division in the hierarchy of the church, which saw two and ultimately three rival popes each claiming to be the rightful leader, each with his own court and following, was not resolved until 1417.

It was prompted by the election in Rome of Urban VI as the successor to Gregory XI, who had returned the papal court to Rome from Avignon, where it had been based for almost 70 years after an earlier dispute.

The election of Cardinal Bartolomeo Prignano as Urban VI followed rioting by angry Roman citizens demanding a Roman be made pope. Prignano, the former Archbishop of Bari was not a Roman - he was born in Itri, near Formia in southern Lazio - but was seen as the closest to it among those seen as suitable candidates.

His appointment was not well received, however, by some of the powerful French cardinals who had moved from Avignon to Rome, who claimed the election should be declared invalid because it was made under fear of civil unrest. They decided to leave Rome and set up a rival court at Anagni, the city 70km (43 miles) southeast of Rome famous for producing four popes during the 13th century and a popular summer residence for popes through several centuries.

Pope Urban VI was elected after Roman  citizens rioted in the streets
Pope Urban VI was elected after Roman
 citizens rioted in the streets 
They chose Robert of Geneva, who had been living in England as rector of Bishopwearmouth in County Durham, having previously been Archdeacon of Dorset.

He had acquired the unfortunate nickname of ‘butcher of Cesena’ following his decision to command troops lent to the papacy by the condottiero John Hawkwood to put down a rebellion there. Between 3,000 and 8,000 civilians were killed.

Yet he had the support of Queen Joanna of Naples and Charles V of France and set up his court in Avignon.

The double election was a disaster for the church. The followers of the two popes tended to be divided along national lines, and thus reinforced the political antagonisms of the time.  France, Aragon, Castile and León, for example, recognised Clement VII, but the German-dominated Holy Roman Empire sided with Urban VI.  England pledged its allegiance to Urban VI, but Scotland and Wales saw Clement VII as the legitimate pope.

The spectacle of rival popes denouncing each other in public was enormously damaging for the papacy but resolving the split took almost 40 years.

The election of Pope Martin V in 1417 ended the schism
The election of Pope Martin V
in 1417 ended the schism
Pope Boniface IX succeeded Urban VI in 1389 and Benedict XIII followed Clement VII in reigning from Avignon from 1394. A request from Rome on the death of Pope Boniface in 1404 that Benedict resign was rejected and the Roman faction elected Pope Innocent VII.

In 1409, after 15 sessions, a church council convened at Pisa attempted to solve the schism by deposing both Pope and antipope but added to the problem by electing a second antipope, Alexander V, who was succeeded by antipope John XXIII.

Finally, a council was convened by John XXIII in 1414 at Constance, which secured the resignations of John XXIII and Pope Gregory XII. Benedict XIII refused to step down but was excommunicated. The Council elected Pope Martin V in 1417, essentially ending the schism.

The line of Roman popes is now recognized as the legitimate line. Gregory XII's resignation was the last time a pope resigned until Benedict XVI, who stepped down in 2013, aged 86, on the grounds of advancing years.

The remains of Itri's castle are worth a visit
The remains of Itri's castle are worth a visit
Travel tip:

Itri is a small city in the province of Latina, Lazio, about 100km (62 miles) north of Naples and 150km (96 miles) south of Rome. It lies in a valley between the Monti Aurunci and the sea, not far from the Gulf of Gaeta.  Although the city suffered damage during the Second World War, the remains of its castle, which commands the valley, are worth visiting. On March 19 of each year, the people of Itri celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph, at which traditionally large bonfires are ignited, around which people dance and sing and eat the traditional “zeppole di San Giuseppe”, cakes formed from a dough made with sugar and eggs which is fried and coated with honey.

The Palazzo dei Papi in Agnani was the summer  residence of many popes
The Palazzo dei Papi in Agnani was the summer
residence of many popes
Travel tip:

Anagni is an ancient town in the province of Frosinone in Lazio. It is southeast of Rome in an area known as Ciociaria, named after the primitive footwear - ciocie - favoured for many years by people living in the area. Boniface VIII was the fourth Pope produced by Anagni but after his death the power of the town declined as the papal court was transferred to Avignon. The medieval Palace of Boniface VIII is near the Cathedral.

More reading:

Pope Gregory XI returns the papacy to Rome

The kidnapping in Anagni of Pope Boniface VIII

Baldus de Ubaldis - legal adviser to the popes

Also on this day:

1870: Soldiers storm the walls of Rome to complete Italian unification

1934: The birth of actress Sophia Loren


10 August 2017

Ippolito de' Medici – Lord of Florence

Brief life of a Cardinal, soldier and patron of the arts

Ippolito de' Medici, as portrayed by Titian  between 1532 and 1534, in Hungarian dress
Ippolito de' Medici, as portrayed by Titian
between 1532 and 1534, in Hungarian dress
Ippolito de' Medici, who ruled Florence on behalf of his cousin, Giulio, after he became Pope Clement VII, died on this day in 1535 in Itri in Lazio.

At the age of 24, Ippolito was said to have contracted a fever that turned into malaria, but at the time there were also rumours that he had been poisoned.

There were two possible suspects. The fatal dose could have been administered on behalf of Alessandro de' Medici, whose abuses he was just about to denounce, or on behalf of the new pope, Paul III, who was believed to want Ippolito’s lucrative benefices for his nephews.

Ippolito was born in 1509 in Urbino, the illegitimate son of Giuliano de' Medici. His father died when Ippolito was seven and he came under the protection of his uncle, Pope Leo X. When he died five years later, Ippolito’s cousin, Giulio, who had become Pope Clement VII, sent him to Florence to become a member of the government, destined to rule the city when he was old enough.

Ippolito ruled Florence on his behalf between 1524 and 1527 but then Clement VII chose his illegitimate nephew, Alessandro, to take charge of Florence instead.

He created Ippolito a Cardinal in 1529 and named him archbishop of Avignon, which gave him a considerable income. Although there is no evidence that he was ever ordained as a priest or consecrated as a bishop, Ippolito was named Cardinal Priest of Santa Prassede and then Papal Legate in Perugia.

The ancient castle at Itri in Lazio, where Ippolito died
The ancient castle at Itri in Lazio, where Ippolito died
But Ippolito wanted to be the ruler of Florence rather than a cleric and was to spend the rest of his short life trying to depose his cousin, Alessandro.

In August 1529 Ippolito was one of the three Cardinals who met Emperor Charles V in Genoa to conduct him in state to Bologna for his coronation as Emperor.

In 1530 Clement VII granted Ippolito a half share of the annual papal income from the town and territory of Clusium for his lifetime.

Ippolito was sent to Hungary as Papal Legate in 1532 where he led 8,000 soldiers against the Ottoman Turks.

That same year he was named vice chancellor of the Holy Roman Church, the most lucrative office in the church, and he was transferred to the church of San Lorenzo in Damaso.

Jacopo Pontormo's portrait of Alessandro
Jacopo Pontormo's portrait of Alessandro
After Ippolito’s cousin, Clement VII, died, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese was elected Pope and took the name of Paul III.

Ippolito acted as Florentine ambassador to Emperor Charles V, passing on to him complaints about the administration of Alessandro de' Medici.

When he became ill with a fever and subsequently died on 10 August 1535 he was on his way to north Africa to present his case against Alessandro to the Emperor, who was on a military campaign there. It was rumoured he had either been poisoned by Alessandro de' Medici to prevent him from denouncing him, or by the new pope, Paul III, who wanted his posts in the church for his own nephews.

Ippolito had been a generous patron of the arts, which was acknowledged by Giorgio Vasari in his writing, and he was painted by Titian wearing Hungarian costume in 1533.

He was unsuitable for the church because of his friendship with a Venetian courtesan and his love for Guilia Gonzaga, who was painted by artist Sebastiano del Piombo, who also enjoyed Ippolito’s patronage.

But Ippolito enjoyed the lavish lifestyle his position in the church gave him. Clement VII had reputedly once tried to sack members of his household, which Ippolito had resisted on the grounds that although he probably did not need them, they needed him.

The Church of San Michele Arcangelo in Itri
The Church of San Michele
Arcangelo in Itri
Travel tip:

Itri in Lazio, where Ippolito died en route to Africa, is a small town in the province of Latina. It lies in a valley between the mountains and the sea near the Gulf of Gaeta. It has an ancient castle in the upper part of the town and the local people speak Itrano, a variation of the Naples dialect. The film Two Women, starring Sofia Loren, was filmed in Itri.

Travel tip:

Urbino, where Ippolito was born, is a beautiful city on a steep hill inland from Pesaro in the Marche region. The Ducal Palace, made famous by Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier, is one of the most important monuments in Italy and is listed as a Unesco World Heritage site.