Showing posts with label Pope Urban VI. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pope Urban VI. Show all posts

2 June 2024

Battle of Marino

Bloody fight that entrenched rival factions in Catholic Church

Robert of Geneva, rival pope to Urban VI
Robert of Geneva, rival
pope to Urban VI
Giacomo Orsini, a member of the Orsini family of Rome that produced five popes between the eighth and 18th centuries, stormed the Castle of Marino - in the area south of Rome known as the Castelli Romani - on this day in 1379, bringing a decisive conclusion to a military battle that would end any hopes that the 1378 split in the Catholic Church might be quickly resolved.

The Battle of Marino was fought between armies loyal to Pope Urban VI, the former Archbishop of Bari who had been elected as successor to Pope Gregory XI, and the antipope Clement VII, who had set up rival courts a year earlier following the split that became known as the Great Schism or Western Schism.

The papacy had only just been returned to Rome by Gregory XI from Avignon in France following a fragmentation that had occurred 70 years earlier but the election of Bartolomeo Prignano to rule as Urban VI reignited the division.

Urban VI was hostile toward the French cardinals who had gained significant power during the Avignon years and wanted the papal court to remain in the city in southeastern France.

Those cardinals, fearing that they would become marginalised, responded by declaring that Urban VI’s election was invalid due to having taken place in a climate of fear and instead elected Robert of Geneva to lead the church as Pope Clement VII.

The two rival factions assembled armies. The troops backing Urban VI were mainly Italian mercenaries under the command of Alberico da Barbiano, while the anti-papal army consisted of French mercenaries led by the Count of Montjoie.

The scene of the Battle of Marino, fought to the  south of Rome, as it looks in the present day
The site of the Battle of Marino, fought to the 
south of Rome, as it looks in the present day
They faced each other in the Battle of Marino, fought in the valley east of the town that is now known as the Valley of the Dead, perhaps on account of the bloody battle fought there.

Victory went to the Italians, the battle concluded when the Castle of Marino - on the site of  which the Palazzo Colonna now stands - was besieged by papal troops. The fact that the castle was commanded by Giordano Orsini, a supporter of the antipope, yet the papal soldiers who took it on June 2, 1379 were led by Giordano's son Giacomo, illustrates how the split in the church also divided families. 

Following the defeat of his army, Clement VII, who had based himself in Anagni, 72km (45 miles) southeast of Rome, felt vulnerable and fled Anagni first for Sperlonga, then Gaeta, finally landing in  Naples.

He was received well by Queen Joanna I of Naples, who afforded him great respect, but in the streets he found himself confronted by angry mobs declaring their support for “Papa Urbano". He returned to Gaeta, where he boarded a ship that would ultimately take him to Avignon.

The Western Schism, also known as the Great Schism, would last from 1378 to 1417, a tumultuous period in which there were two - later three - rival popes, each claiming to be the legitimate pontiff.

The division was finally ended by The Council of Constance, which met over a period of four years between 1414 and 1418, eventually finding a mutually acceptable pope in Oddone Colonna, a Roman, who was elected as Pope Martin V. 

Via Roma in Marino, looking  towards Palazzo Colonna
Via Roma in Marino, looking
 towards Palazzo Colonna
Travel tip:

Marino today is a town in Lazio, set among the Alban Hills, 21 km (13 miles) southeast of Rome, with a population of 37,684. It is bounded by the towns of Castel Gandolfo, Albano Laziale, Rocca di Papa, Grottaferrata, and Ciampino.  Marino is famous for its white wine, and for its Grape Festival, which has been celebrated since 1924.  Marino suffered extensive damage during World War Two. In 1944 it was heavily bombed by aircraft from the United States Air Force and in the spring of 1945 it was the scene of heavy fighting between troops of the British Indian Army and Axis troops which caused much of the city to be destroyed.  As well as the Palazzo Colonna, built on the site of the former castle, Marino's  main sights include the Basilica of San Barnaba, built in Baroque style, with an imposing façade dating to 1653. Among other works of art, it houses the Martyrdom of St. Bartholomew by Guercino and a bust of St. Anthony Abbot by Ercole Ferrata.

The former palace of Boniface VIII in the town of Anagni, which has produced four popes
The former palace of Boniface VIII in the
town of Anagni, which has produced four popes
Travel tip:

Anagni is an ancient town in the province of Frosinone in Lazio, built on a hillI above the Sacco Valley, southeast of Rome. It is in an area known as Ciociaria, named after the primitive footwear - ciocie - favoured for many years by people living in the area. It was a papal residence in the Middle Ages and the birthplace of no fewer than four popes: Innocent III, Gregory IX, Alexander IV, and Boniface VIII. With the death of Boniface VIII, the power of the town declined. The mediaeval Palace of Boniface VIII is near the Cathedral. Among sights worth seeking out is the majestic cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata, built with a mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles and completed in 1104, which stands out as a city’s symbol and seat of the local diocese, with a steeple about 30m (98ft) high. The crypt of San Magno is sometimes called the 'Sistine Chapel of the Middle Age', owing to its  fresco cycle with images telling about the genesis of the world, the creation of humans and their salvation, as well as the lives and miracles of the Saint and other martyrs.

Also on this day: 

1882: The death of unification hero Giuseppe Garibaldi

1957: The birth of cycle racer Roberto Visentini

Festa della Repubblica 


25 March 2021

Saint Catherine of Siena

Pious woman from ordinary family helped the Pope reorganise the church

Tiepolo's 1746 painting of St Catherine, in  the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna
Tiepolo's 1746 painting of St Catherine, in
 the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna
Caterina Benincasa, who was one day to be canonized as Saint Catherine of Siena, a patron saint of Rome, Italy and Europe, was born on this day in 1347 in Siena in Tuscany.

She is remembered for her writings, all of which were dictated to scribes, as she did not learn to write until late in life. While carrying out Christ’s work in Italy, she wrote about 380 letters, 26 prayers, and four treatises of Il libro della divina dottrina, better known as The Dialogue. These works were so influential and highly regarded she was later declared a Doctor of the Church.

Caterina was the youngest of 25 children born to Lapa Piagenti, the daughter of a poet, and Jacopo di Benincasa, a cloth dyer. She is said to have had her first vision of God when she was just five years old and at the age of seven, Caterina vowed to give her whole life to God.

She refused to get married when her parents tried to arrange it, cut off her hair to make herself look less attractive and began to fast. She did not want to take a nun’s veil, but to live an active life full of prayer in society, following the model of the Dominicans.

When she was in her early 20s, Caterina said she had experienced a spiritual espousal, or mystical marriage, to Christ, and she began serving the poor and sick in Siena and attracted a group of followers.

Alessandro Franchi's 19th century painting depicts a young Caterina cutting off her long hair
Alessandro Franchi's 19th century painting depicts
a young Caterina cutting off her long hair
She started to travel around Italy to promote church reform. She strongly believed the return of Pope Gregory XI to Rome was the best way to bring peace to Italy and she went to Avignon to be an unofficial advocate of this. She was then sent by him to negotiate peace with Florence.

In 1377 she founded a women’s monastery of strict observance in an old fortress outside Siena.

The next Pope, Urban VI, invited Caterina to Rome to help reorganise the church. She lived at the court meeting individual nobles to convince them to support the Pope and sending letters to other princes and cardinals urging them to obey him.

She tried to win back the support of Queen Joan I of Naples for the papacy, although Urban VI had previously excommunicated the queen for supporting the antipope. Being trusted by the Pope with such important work was rare for a woman in the Middle Ages.

By the time Caterina was 33 her habit of extreme fasting, eventually living just off the daily Eucharist, had made her ill. She became unable to eat and drink at all and lost the use of her legs. She died on 29 April, 1380 following a stroke. Her last words had been: ‘Father, into Your Hands I commend my soul and my spirit.’

Lorenzo Lotto's 1533 painting, St Catherine with the
Holy Family,
is in the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo
Pope Urban VI celebrated her funeral and her burial in the Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva near the Pantheon in Rome. Her head and thumb were later entombed in the Basilica of San Domenico in Siena, where they remain.

Caterina had a spiritual adviser and friend from about 1374 until her death named Raymond of Capua. He wrote what is known as the Legenda Major: a Life of Caterina, which was completed in 1395.

Tommaso Caffarini, also known as Thomas of Siena, wrote an account of Caterina’s life and compiled a set of documents with testimony from many of her disciples as part of the process for her canonisation. An anonymous Florentine wrote Miracoli della Beata Caterina, about the miracles she performed.

The devotion to Caterina di Siena grew rapidly after her death. She was canonised in 1461 by Pope Pius II, who was himself from Siena and her feast day was established on 29 April. She was declared patron saint of Rome in 1866 and of Italy, together with St Francis of Assisi, in 1939. She was proclaimed patron saint of Europe in 1999 by Pope John Paul II.

Caterina’s Dialogue, letters and prayers have given her a prominent place in the history of Italian literature.

Caterina's home in Siena is now a shrine which houses a museum dedicated to her life
Caterina's home in Siena is now a shrine, which
houses a museum dedicated to her life
Travel tip:

Siena in Tuscany, where Caterina was born and lived for much of her life, has made a shrine out of the house she lived in with her parents. It has a museum dedicated to her life and is open to visitors in Vicolo di Tiratolo off Costa Sant’Antonio.  The nearby Basilica of San Domenico has a Cappella Santa Caterina where her head and thumb are housed. Siena is the venue for the historic horse race, the Palio di Siena. The race is contested in Siena’s Piazza del Campo, a shell-shaped open area which is regarded as one of Europe’s finest medieval squares. It was established in the 13th century as an open marketplace on a sloping site between the three communities that eventually merged to form the city of Siena.

Hotels in Siena by

The Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome, which houses Catherine's remains
The Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
in Rome, which houses Catherine's remains
Travel tip:

Caterina was buried in the Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, which is in Piazza Minerva, close to the Pantheon in Rome. The basilica is the only surviving Gothic church structure left in Rome and has the original, arched vaulting inside. A sarcophagus containing the remains of Saint Catherine of Siena can be seen behind the high altar.  Among the works of art in the church are Michelangelo's statue Cristo della Minerva (1521) and the late 15th-century (1488–93) cycle of frescoes in the Carafa Chapel by Filippino Lippi. The basilica also houses the tomb of the 15th century the Dominican friar Fra Giovanni da Fiesole (Blessed John of Fiesole, born Guido di Piero) better known as the painter Fra Angelico.

Also on this day:

1541: The birth of Francesco I, Grand Duke of Tuscany

1546: The birth of courtesan and poet Veronica Franco

1927: The birth of ground-breaking politician Tina Anselmi

1940: The birth of Mina, Italy’s all-time best-selling female pop singer

(Picture credits: Caterina's house in Siena by Gryffindor; Basilica by sonofgroucho via Wikimedia Commons)


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


28 April 2018

Baldus de Ubaldis – lawyer

Legal opinions have stood the test of time

Baldus de Ubaldis wrote more than 3,000 legal opinions during his career
Baldus de Ubaldis wrote more than 3,000
legal opinions during his career
An expert in medieval Roman law, Baldus de Ubaldis, died on this day in 1400 in Pavia.

De Ubaldis had written more than 3,000 consilia - legal opinions - the most to remain preserved from any medieval lawyer.

His work on the law of evidence and gradations of proof remained the standard treatment of the subject for centuries after his death.

De Ubaldis was born into a noble family in Perugia in 1327. He studied law and received the degree of doctor of civil law when he was 17.

He taught law at the University of Bologna for three years and was then offered a professorship at Perugia University where he remained for 33 years.

De Ubaldis subsequently taught law at Pisa, Florence, Padua, Pavia and Piacenza.

He taught Pierre Roger de Beaufort, who became Pope Gregory XI, whose immediate successor, Urban VI, summoned De Ubaldis to Rome in 1380 to consult with him about the anti-pope, Clement VII. The lawyer’s view on the legal issues relating to the schism are laid down in his Questio de schismate.

One of the best works of De Ubaldis is considered to be his commentary on the Libri Feudorum, a compilation of feudal law provisions.

The old Roman aqueduct in Perugia is now a street
The old Roman aqueduct in Perugia is now a street
Travel tip:

Perugia, where De Ubaldis was born, the capital of the region of Umbria, is a large city on a hill, established during the Etruscan period. The University of Perugia, where De Ubaldis taught law, today welcomes many foreign students. The city hosts an annual jazz festival and an annual chocolate festival.

The facade of the Certosa in Pavia
The facade of the Certosa in Pavia
Travel tip:

Pavia, where De Ubaldis died, is a city in Lombardy, about 46km (30 miles) south of Milan, known for its ancient university, which was founded in 1361, and its famous Certosa, a magnificent monastery complex north of the city that dates back to 1396. A pretty covered bridge over the River Ticino leads to Borgo Ticino, where the inhabitants claim to be the true people of Pavia and are of Sabaudian origin.