The Popes at Avignon, 1305-1378

The Popes at Avignon, 1305-1378

The Popes at Avignon, 1305-1378

The Popes at Avignon, 1305-1378

Excerpt

The chronicler Ptolemy of Lucca reports that as soon as Bertrand de Got was elected pope, 'he determined to fix his residence in the Comtat-Venaissin and never to cross the Alps.' This is a misstatement. It is true that the cardinals' letters, giving notice of the election, were expressed in such a way as to deter Clement V from going to Italy. They depicted that country as given over to anarchy and the Papal States as devastated by war. Nevertheless, the pope announced his intention of going to Italy as soon as peace was made between the kings of England and France, and the crusade organised. He chose the place for his coronation on imperial soil, at Vienne in Dauphiné, a town on the main road to Italy. He invited only a limited number of cardinals to his coronation: two bishops, two priests and two deacons.

Although Clement V subsequently changed his plans, he still had every intention of leaving France, where circumstances had detained him. In 1306 the ambassador of Aragon wrote to James II: 'The pope signified [to the cardinals] that it was his intention to stay here until the coming month of March. For then he will give leave to the court to cross the Alps and will meet with the king of France at Poitiers, that he may persuade him to receive the cross and ratify the peace between himself and the king of England. And from that time forward, without tarrying in any other place, my said lord the pope will go to Italy.' According to the same ambassador, during the meeting at Poitiers in 1308, the supreme pontiff expressed his joy at encountering Philip the Fair, for it was his intention to go to Rome but to entertain the king before his departure. On 11 April 1308, Clement was considering the restoration of the ciborium to the high altar of St John Lateran and said: 'By the grace of God we propose . . .

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