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Biography - Pope Clement IV - The Papal Library

by Catherine Frakas 17 Mar 2021

Clement IV1265-1268 Guy Foulquois Clement IV, originally named Guy Foulquois, belonged to a noble family of Saint Gilles, on the Rhone. It is to be remarked here that a Frenchman succeeded a Frenchman. Guy was successively soldier, jurisconsult, secretary to Louis IX, married, father of a family, widowed, priest, canon, archdeacon, bishop, cardinal, and pope. Some authors state that Guy was also a Carthusian, but it seems they confound him with his father, who did really enter the order of Saint Bruno. Clement himself, if we may judge from a letter written at Viterbo on the 21st of November, in the fourth year of his pontificate, speaks of the entrance of his father into a monastery, but he does not say that he himself had ever been a monk. When Guy Foulquois embraced the ecclesiastical state, he contracted friendship with the holy doctors Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Bonaventure. Urban IV, who had great confidence in Guy, made him cardinal-bishop of Sabina, to reward the ability with which he had filled the office of legate to England, when sent there to appease the differences between the king, Henry III, and Simon de Montfort. The Cardinal-bishop of Sabina was absent when Urban IV died; nevertheless the Sacred College elected him pontiff. Being informed of his election, he repaired to Viterbo, and on his knees entreated the electors not to persist in their choice; but they were inflexible. He ascended the throne with the name of Clement IV, and was crowned on the 22nd of February, 1265, which was the year in which Dante Alighieri was born. That same year Clement, after expressly reserving the duchy of Benevento, gave to Charles of Anjou, brother of Louis IX, the investiture of the Two Sicilies. Charles received them in fief, without the Salic law, and promised an annual payment of eight thousand ounces of gold and one palfrey. The tribute was to be paid on Saint Peter's eve. The Church was to resume possession of the kingdoms should Charles leave no heir, or in case of any such heir leaving none. On the day of the Epiphany, Clement crowned Charles at the great altar of the Vatican Basilica. There is a painting of the ceremony in the Farnese Palace at Rome. After his coronation Charles advanced towards Naples to attack the army of Manfred. The courageous son of Frederic II did not decline battle, but was defeated on the 26th of February, 1266, and, rashly exposing himself, lost his life. After the death of Manfred, King of Sicily, another competitor refused to yield to the pretensions of Charles. This competitor was Conradine, son of King Conrad and grandson of the Emperor Frederic. Conradine, not contented with the title of King of Jerusalem, which the pontiff had left him, aimed also at being King of Sicily. Censured for this by Clement, Conradine levied an army, but was defeated by Charles, put to flight, and then betrayed by faithless nobles, who gave him up to Charles. When Charles had his rival in his hands, he took that stern and bitter vengeance which will forever be the subject of universal reprobation. Conradine, in his prison, was playing chess when his sentence was announced to him, and he was almost immediately led forth to execution. When he was in the hands of the executioner, he threw off his cloak, and remembering the piety and the tenderness of his mother, Elizabeth of Bavaria, who had been unwilling that he, so young, should engage in a terrible war, he knelt in prayer, and, as he rose, exclaimed: Oh, mother, how deeply grieved you will be when you have tidings of my death! Then he turned towards the spectators, and, hearing their pitying sobs, he proudly drew off one of his gloves and threw it among them. Clement, weakened by old age and sickness, but full of glory and of merits in the administration of Holy Church, died at Viterbo, on the 29th of November, 1268, and was interred in the church of the Dominicans. He was the first pontiff on whose tomb armorial bearings were placed. This pontiff, who never entered Rome, governed the Church three years, nine months, and twenty days. Clement IV would not allow his relations to be near him and he forbade them to make any recommendations to him. He married his niece to a simple knight, and promised only a moderate sum as her marriage portion. He showed no greater eagerness for the settlement in life of two daughters left him by his marriage; and they became nuns in the abbey of Saint Sauveur, at Nimes. Novaes is untiring in his admiration of Clement IV. He was, says that historian, an eloquent preacher and a consummate jurisconsult. Durand calls him 'light of the law, illustrious in penance, in prayer, in apostolic zeal, in modesty, and in morals, so that the higher he rose in dignity, the more he flourished in sanctity.' During his whole reign he undertook nothing of consequence without first consulting the Sacred College. This biographical data is from The Lives and Times of the Popes by The Chevalier Artaud De Montor. Published by The Catholic Publication Society of New York in ten volumes in 1911. The pictures, included in the volumes, were reproduced from Effigies Pontificum Romanorum Dominici Basae.

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