Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The death of Pope Gregory XI in 1378

Today is the 635th anniversary of the death of Pope Gregory XI in 1378. It was to prove an event which can be seen as marking a significant historic landmark in the history of the Papacy and of later medieval Europe.

Gregory XI

Pope Gregory XI - a later portrait now in the Palace of the Popes in Avignon

Image: hoocher.com

Born as Pierre Roger de Beaufort  in 1329/30  he was the nephew of Pope Clement VI (1342-52) and had been elected to the throne of St Peter in 1370, having been a cardinal since 1348. Srrongly supported in his resolve to do so by St Catherine of Siena, as in her Letter to Pope Gregory XI ,and against considerable opposition, he insisted, now that it was deemed safe amd practicable, on returning from Avignon to resume papal residence in Rome in 1377, entering Rome on January 17th. 

St Catherine of Siena and Pope Gregory XI

Painting of circa 1460/61 by Giovanni di Paolo (1403-1482)
Museo Thyssen Bornemisza, Madrid

Image: Wikipedia

He was the second of the Avignonese Popes to return to Rome, his predecessor Pope Urban V having lived there from 1367 until 1370 when he returned  to Avignon and died shortly afterwards.

Fichier:07 Grégoire XI (Avignon) 01.jpg

Pope Gregory XI returns to Rome in 1377 

A detail from a painting by Girolamo di Benvenuto (1470-1525) in  the Hospital of Santa-Maria della Scala Siena


However Pope Gregory died on this day in 1378. This was to set in motion the events that led to the Great Schism of that year, as I will show in future posts. It is not clear if Gregry might. like Urban V before  him have returned to Avignon, but his death in Rome and subsequent events bled to the return of the papacy to its historic base, even if that was not firmly re-established until after 1447.

Tomb of Gregory XI in the Papal Palace, Avignon

A reproduction in the Papal Palace at Avigon of the tomb of Pope Gregory XI in Rome

Image: corbisimages.com

There is an online life of Pope Gregory here, and there are also online lives of his cousins the brothers Pierre de Murat de Cros and Jean de Murat de Cros, which give further insights into the era. Pope Gregory XI was to be the last French occupant to date of the Papacy.

The arms of Pope Gregory XI

Image: Wikipedia

1 comment:

Joel Raupe said...

I very much appreciated your illuminations with regard to Gregory XI, encountered while reading Barbara Tuchman's "Distant Mirror," for a third time in as many decades, along with Sigrid Undset's biography, "Catherine of Siena."