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Avignon Popes

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The Avignon Popes

A severe disagreement between Pope Boniface VIII and France's Capetian King Philip IV, the Fair (kings), led to the election of a French Pope in 1305.

1. Clement V (1305-1314), was Bertrand de Got, Archbishop of Bordeaux. Pope Clement V moved to Avignon in 1309. Avignon at that time was a vassal city of Saint Siège and the Holy See and bordered the Comtat Venaissin. Clement V stayed in the Dominican Monastery on his occasional visits to Avignon.

2. Jean XXII (1316-1334), was Jacques Duèse, a former bishop from Avignon and a native of Cahors. At the time he was selected, the Sacred College was dominated by French cardinals. Jean XXII moved to Avignon because of upheavals in Italy and the troubles in Rome, settling in the Episcopal Palace near the Cathedral. He had the Palace enlarged, improved and fortified; he also built the "summer palace" in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

3. Benedict XII (1334-1342), was Jacques Fournier, a former Cistercian monk. Jean XXII's Palace wasn't up Benedict's standards. Benedict XII had it torn down and a new one built in its place, designed by the architect Pierre Poisson. This was a huge, powerful fortress, in the severe style of the Cistercian monks.

4. Clement VI (1342-1352), was Pierre Roger, a rich aristocrat. Clement didn't think this palace was up to his standards. He had architect Jean de Louvres design a new, more ostentatious palace to attach to the old one, roughly doubling the overall size. In 1348, Clement VI also bought the city of Avignon from Queen Jeanne of Naples.

5. Innocent VI (1352-1362), was Etienne Aubert. Innocent VI worked on restoring peace in the Italian territories belonging to the Holy See. He completed the enormous building project on the Palace begun by Clement VI.

6. Urban V (1362-1370), was Guillaume Grimoard. His Palace achievement was extending the papal gardens, creating works knows as La Roma. The gardens are long gone.

7. Gregory XI (1370-1378), was Pierre Roger de Beaufort. Gregory XI devoted his rule to restoring the Papacy to Rome, which he achieved in 1376.

The last two popes lived in the Avignon Palace during the Great Schism of the Western World.
8. Clement VII (1378-1394), was Robert de Genève.
9. Benedict XIII (1394-1423), was Pedro de Luna. Benedict (Benoît) XIII fled Avignon in 1407 and took refuge in the castle of Châteaurenard, a few km to the south.

Avignon was abandoned definitively as the Papal seat in 1403, following a five-year siege.

The First French Pope

Gerbert * was born about 940 in Auvergne, somewhere near Aurillac. Gerbert was a scholar and a churchman who became archbishop and, in the year 999, Pope Sylvester II. It was a sensitive time to become Pope, for there was a strong feeling in Europe that the world was coming to an end in 1000.

As a scholor, Gerbert reintroduced the abacus in mathematiclal calculation and may have picked up the use of Arabic numerals, but without the zero. He was famous enough as a scholar to be suspected of wizardry.

  * Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology - 1975

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