Popes in the Middle Ages

Popes in the Middle Ages became central figures of power and influence. During this time many people from all walks of life flocked to the Holy Land to see the pope. The overly aggressive religious fanaticism of the popes and the promise of redemption of sin made the popes and the crusades popular.

In effect of this, the Catholic Church soon became the collective, uniting religious institution. Conflicts between church and state eventually weakened the Pope’s power. Also, the end of the feudal system and the Protestant Reformation led to a further weakening of the Pope’s power.

List of Popes in the Middle Ages

1061 – 1073: Pope Alexander II
1073 – 1085: Pope Gregory VII
1086 – 1087: Pope Victor III
1088 – 1099: Pope Urban II
1099 – 1118: Pope Paschal II
1118 – 1119: Pope Gelasius II
1119 – 1124: Pope Callistus II
1124 – 1130: Pope Honorius II
1130 – 1143: Pope Innocent II
1143 – 1144: Pope Celestine II
1144 – 1145: Pope Lucius II
1145 – 1153: Pope Eugene III
1153 – 1154: Pope Anastasius IV
1154 – 1159: Pope Adrian IV
1159 – 1181: Pope Alexander III
1181 – 1185: Pope Lucius III
1185 – 1187: Pope Urban III
1187: Pope Gregory VIII
1187 – 1191: Pope Clement III
1191 – 1198: Pope Celestine III
1198 – 1216: Pope Innocent III
1216 – 1227: Pope Honorius III
1227 – 1241: Pope Gregory IX
1241: Pope Celestine IV
1243 – 1254: Pope Innocent IV
1254 – 1261: Pope Alexander IV
1261 – 1264: Pope Urban IV
1265 – 1268: Pope Clement IV
1271 – 1276: Pope Gregory X
1276: Pope Innocent V
1276: Pope Adrian V
1276 – 1277: Pope John XXI
1277 – 1280: Pope Nicholas III
1281 – 1285: Pope Martin IV
1285 – 1287: Pope Honorius IV
1288 – 1292: Pope Nicholas IV
1294: Pope Celestine V
1294 – 1303: Pope Boniface VIII
1303 – 1304: Pope Benedict XI
1305 – 1314: Pope Clement V
1316 – 1334: Pope John XXII
1334 – 1342: Pope Benedict XII
1342 – 1352: Pope Clement VI
1352 – 1362: Pope Innocent VI
1362 – 1370: Pope Urban V
1370 – 1378: Pope Gregory XI
1378 – 1389: Pope Urban VI
1389 – 1404: Pope Boniface IX
1404 – 1406: Pope Innocent VII
1406 – 1415: Pope Gregory XII
1417 – 1431: Pope Martin V
1431 – 1447: Pope Eugene IV
1447 – 1455: Pope Nicholas V
1455 – 1458: Pope Callistus III
1458 – 1464: Pope Pius II
1464 – 1471: Pope Paul II
1471 – 1484: Pope Sixtus IV
1484 – 1492: Pope Innocent VIII

History of Popes in the Middle Ages

Gregory the Great- 540-604
Gregory reformed the church. Gregory had a family with a very old Roman heritage and customs and, as such, was a strict disciplinarian during his rule. His rule was representative of the shift from classical Roman rule to the new Medieval style. Gregory’s writings included many demons, angels, ghosts, dramatic miracles and the coming end of the world.

The Exarch of Ravenna
After Gregory, most popes were dominated by the Exarch of Ravenna. The Exarch of Revenna was the Byzantine emperor’s representation in Italy. The empire was weakened during this time, as it was in the midst of the Muslin expansion.

Because of this, the current pope, Pope Stephen II, no longer trusted the current emperor, Constantine V. Later, when Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor (circa 800 AD), he decided that no man, at least in the West, could be emperor without the pope’s anointment.

As far back as the 600s AD, most of the southern Mediterranean area had been conquered by the Islamic Caliphite. This was a threat to the Christians. Pope Urban II was asked to aid the current emperor, Alexius I, against Muslim invasions. At the council of Clermont, Urban called for the first crusade. He did this to assist the Byzantine Empire in regaining old Christian areas. The most important of these was Jerusalem.

Low point of the papacy- 867-1049

Popes in the Middle Ages came under political scrutiny from 867-1049. During this time, popes in the Middle Ages were starved, imprisoned, murdered, and forced to step down from their positions. One official controlled the papacy for half a century. Pope John XII, the great-grandson of this official, held numerous decadent and sinful parties in the Lateran palace. John was accused in an ecclesiastical court by Emperor Otto I of Germany and he was forced to step down from his position.

He was then replaced by layman Pope Leo VIII. Through malicious acts John made his way back into the position of pope. Conflicts continued between church and state to the point where popes were elected through monetary means almost openly by those in power.

Leo IX- 1049
Leo was the last pope with the ability to face the problems that popes in the Middle Ages were up against. He made appearances across Europe to deal with the conflicts between church and state directly. Two notable problems included concubines and marriage in the clergy. Through his patience and travel he was able to restore the authority and respect once shown to the papacy.

Monarchs and Popes in the Middle Ages

From 600’s AD onward it was common for European monarchies to invest in churches and the papacy. They also sometimes housed clergy in their manors or fiefdoms, though their personal beliefs and interests caused distaste among clergy members. The reason for this practice was that the clergy members were also participants in public life.T

This practice was seen as corruptive to the church and, as such, the church began to promote ecclesiastical reform. Centres were built for this purpose. A notable centre was the Abbey of Cluny. Pope Gregory VII, who was elected in 1073, promoted this movement further when he spread the Gregorian Reform. Gregorian Reform pushed celibacy, tried to restore clerical discipline, and preached against the abuse of civil power.

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