Friday, September 23, 2011
Papal Profile: Pope Clement V
Another reason for the move was the on-going Hundred Years War between England and France which the Pope hoped to bring to an end. Given the subsequent actions of Clement V, it is understandable that he would be seen as partisan in this, but the facts are not so simple. As Archbishop of Bordeaux he had been an English subject, and throughout the infamous clash between the King of France and Pope Boniface VIII he had remained faithful to the Pope despite being friendly with Philip the Fair as the French king was called. Some could say he had bad omens from the start of his papacy. Crowned in Lyons with King Philip looking on, a crashing wall caused him to fall from his horse during the procession, his brother was killed and the papal tiara was destroyed. Nevertheless, by being present in France Clement V was bound to be influenced by King Philip.
The driving force behind the French monarchy was his thirst for vengeance against the late Pope Boniface VIII, which Clement tried to placate without dishonoring his papal predecessor. Nevertheless, Philip persisted, Clement tried to put him off by saying that only a formal council could rule on the actions of Boniface VIII, but the King refused to abandon his quest for long and eventually succeeded in brow-beating Clement into calling for a formal trial. The Pope reiterated his belief in the complete innocence of Boniface VIII, and eventually the difficulty of the trial process and Clement's pronouncements that France still held an honored place in the Church, assuring the dignity and authority of the King, seemed to bring the matter to a close.
However, considering the circumstances around him, this is mostly unfair and in other matters Clement showed himself willing to stand up to the secular powers. He nominated Henry of Luxembourg to be Holy Roman Emperor and re-emphasized Papal Supremacy over the Emperor in Pastoralis cura. He also founded a number of universities, encouraged learning and earned quite a bit of displeasure from Scotland when he excommunicated their hero Robert the Bruce for his role in the murder of John Comyn during mass. It is, therefore, easy to see that Pope Clement V was an upright man, who understood and applied the full authority of the Papacy when it was at all possible. Even when dealing with the French king, under whose thumb he rested, he tried his best every time to divert and discourage or at least soften the blow of his demands. He died on April 20, 1314 at Roquemaure after reigning for 8 years, 10 months and 14 days.