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Gil Alvarez De Albornoz

Gil Alvarez De Albornoz, Spanish cardinal, was born at Cuenca[?] early in the 14th century. He was the son of Gil Alvarez de Albornoz and of Doña Teresa de Luna, sister of Kimeno de Luna, archbishop of Toledo. He was educated at Saragosa, while his uncle was bishop of that see, and studied law at Toulouse.

The powerful influence of his family opened him a public career early in life. He was made archdeacon of Calatrava[?], and became a member of the king's council while young. In 1337 he was chosen archbishop of Toledo in succession to his uncle by the favour of the king, Alfonso XI of Castile. At the battle of Tarifa[?] he fought against a great invasion from Africa in 1340, and at the taking of Algeciras in 1344 he led the armed levy of his archbishopric.

In 1343 he had been sent to Pope Clement VI at Avignon to negotiate a grant of a tax on the revenues of the Church for the Crusade. His military and diplomatic ability became known to the pope, who made him a cardinal in 1350. Albornoz left Spain on the death of the king Alfonso XI in that year, and never returned. It has been said, but not on contemporary evidence, that he fled from fear of Peter the Cruel.

In 1353 Innocent VI sent him as a legate into Italy, with a view to the restoration of the papal authority in the states of the Church. He was recalled in 1357, but was sent again to Italy after a brief interval, and in 1362 had paved the way for the return of Urban V to Rome.

As legate, Albornoz showed himself to be an astute manager of men and effective fighter. He began by making use of Rienzi, whose release from prison at Avignon he secured. After the murder of the tribune in 1354 Albornoz pursued his task of restoring the pope's authority by intrigue and force with remarkable success. As a mark of gratitude the pope appointed him legate at Bologna in 1367, but he died at Viterbo the same year. According to his own desire his remains were carried to Toledo, where Henry of Castile caused them to be entombed with almost royal honours.

A work by Albornoz on the constitution of the Church of Rome, first printed at Jesi in 1473, is now very rare. The college of St Clement at Bologna was founded by Albornoz for the benefit of Spanish students.

See "De Vita et Rebus Gestis Aegidii Albornotii," in Sepulveda's Opera Omnia, vol. iv. (1780).

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