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Pope Clement V

Clement V, pope (1305-1314), (Bertrand de Goth, archbishop of Bordeaux, France) is memorable in history for his suppression of the order of the Templars, and as the pope who removed the seat of the Roman see to Avignon.

He was elected in June 1305, after a year's interregnum occasioned by the disputes between the French and Italian cardinals, who were nearly equally balanced in the conclave. According to Villani he had bound himself to subserviency towards the French monarch by a formal agreement previous to his elevation. Whether this was true or not, it is unquestionable that he conducted himself throughout his pontificate as the mere tool of that monarch. His first act was to create nine French cardinals.

The removal of the seat of the Papacy to Avignon (1308) might seem palliated by the factious and tumultuary condition of Rome at the period, but it proved the precursor of the long Babylonian captivity, in Petrarch's phrase, and marks the point from which the decay of the strictly Catholic conception of the Pope as universal bishop is to be dated.

The guilt or innocence of the Templars is one the most difficult of historical problems, the discussion of which belongs, however, to the history of that order. Clement may have acted conscientiously in his suppression of an order which had heretofore been regarded as a main bulwark of Christendom against the forces of Islam, but there can be little doubt that his principal motive was complaisance towards the king of France, or that the latter was mainly actuated by jealousy and cupidity.

Clement's pontificate was also disastrous for Italy. The Emperor Henry VII entered the country, established the Visconti in Milan, and was crowned by Clement's legates in Rome, but was unable to maintain himself there, and died suddenly, leaving a great part of Italy in a condition of complete anarchy. The dissensions of the Roman barons reached their height, and the Lateran palace was destroyed in a conflagration. Other remarkable incidents of Clement's reign are his sanguinary repression of the heresy of Fra Dolcino in Lombardy and his promulgation of the Clementine Constitutions in 1313. He died, leaving an inauspicious character for nepotism, avarice, and cunning, in April 1314. He was the first Pope who assumed the triple crown.


from the 9th edition (1876) of an unnamed encyclopedia

preceded by Pope Benedict XI (1303-1304)
succeeded by Pope John XXII (1316-1334)



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