Saturday, 2 November 2013

The Disputed Papal Election of 1159

During the 12th century the Papal States were a kind of buffer state situated between two huge European powers: the Holy Roman Empire and the Norman Kingdom of Sicily. Following the Concordat of Worms (1122) the Papacy was generally allied with the Holy Roman Empire rather than with Normans.  However, under pope Adrian IV, relations worsened with the emperor and eventually broke off, and a new treaty was signed between the Papacy and the Kingdom of Sicily, the Treaty of Benevento (1156), which was brokered by Cardinal Roland. This change in papal foreign policy resulted in a division within the College of Cardinals into supporters and opponents of the new policy, which was not resolved by the time Pope Adrian IV died in September 1159. A schism developed following the election of his successor. Two popes were elected, the pope elected by the majority of the cardinals, Alexander III, and  Victor IV, the Ghibelline candidate who became antipope, the latter generally representing the interests of the Holy Roman emperor, Frederick Barbarossa. 

The 1159 Papal Election according to pope Alexander III [former  Cardinal Roland Bandinelli of Siena]

Our predecessor, Adrian IV, of blessed memory, died September 1, while we were at Anagni, and his body was brought to Rome and honorably buried in the customary manner in St. Peter’s Church, on September 4. Nearly all the cardinals were present, and after the burial they began to take steps to elect his successor. After three days of discussion all the cardinals except three elected us, although we are not sufficient for this burden and not worthy of so high an office. The three who opposed our election were Octavian [Ottaviano of S. Cecilia - Antipope Victor IV] , John of St. Martin’s, and Guido of Crema. God is our witness that we are telling the exact truth when we say that all the others unanimously elected us, and the other clergy and the people of Rome assented to it. But two, John and Guido, voted for Octavian and stubbornly insisted on his election. The prior of the cardinal deacons was putting the papal mantle on us in the customary manner, although we were reluctant to receive it because we saw our insufficiency for the high office. When Octavian saw this he was almost beside himself with rage, and with his own hands snatched the mantle from our neck and took it away. This caused a great tumultuous outbreak. Some of the senators were present and saw it, and one of them, inspired by the spirit of God, snatched the mantle from the hands of Octavian, who was now raging. Then Octavian, with angry face and fierce eye, turned to one of his chaplains who had come prepared for this, upbraided him, and ordered him hastily to fetch him the mantle which he had brought with him. The mantle was brought without delay, and while all the cardinals were trying to get out of the room, Octavian removed his hat, bowed his head, and received the mantle from his chaplain and another clergyman. And because there was no one else there, he had to assist them himself to put it on him. But the condemnation of God was seen in the fact that he put the mantle on with the wrong side in front. Those who were present saw it and laughed. And as he was of a crooked mind and intention, so the mantle was put on crooked as an evidence of his condemnation. When this was done, the doors of the church, which had been closed, were opened and bands of armed men with drawn swords entered and made a great noise. But they had been hired by Octavian to do this. And because that pestilential Octavian had no cardinals and bishops he surrounded himself with a band of armed knights.

After the above fiasco, in February 1160 Frederick Barbarossa assembled a Synod at Pavia, which decided that Victor IV had been elected as pope. 

Epistola Minor of the Council of Pavia, Feb. 6-11, 1160 A.D. (Encyclic.)

Inasmuch as the turmoil in which the apostolic see has
been involved has exceedingly wounded the hearts of
Christians, we, who have congregated at Pavia to heal the
schisms and to restore the peace of the church, have
thought best fully to intimate to all of you the nature of
the case and the manner of procedure and the ruling
of the holy council. We do this in order that the facts
shown forth simply and truly in the present writing may
forcibly .expel any false impressions which the hearers may
have conceived, and that henceforth they may not be de-
ceived by schismatic writings.

When, therefore, all of the orthodox congregated at
Pavia in the name of the Lord had taken their seats, the
case was lawfully and canonically tried and diligently in-
vestigated during 7 successive days. And it was suffi-
ciently and canonically proved in the eyes of the council
through capable witnesses, that, in the church of St Peter,
our lord pope Victor and no other had been elected and
solemnly enmantled by the sounder part of the cardinals —
at the request of the people and with the consent and
at the desire of the clergy ; and that, Roland the former
chancellor being present and not objecting, he was placed
in the chair of St Peter ; and that there, by the clergy of
Eome and the cardinals, a grand Te Deum was sung to him ;
and that thence, wearing the stoles and other papal Insignia,
he was led to the palace.

And the clergy and people being asked according to
custom by the notary if they agreed, replied thrice with a
loud voice : " We agree."

It was proved also that Roland, on the twelfth day after
the promotion of pope Victor, going forth from Rome was
first enmantled at Cisterna wtere once the emperor Nero,
an exile from the city, remained in hiding. It was proved
that Roland, being interrogated by the rectors of the
Roman clergy and the clergy of his cardinalate as to
whether they were to obey pope Victor, expressly con-
fessed that he himself had never been enmantled, and ex-
pressly said : Go and obey him whom you shall see to be

Then the venerable bishops Hermann of Verden, Daniel
of Prague and Otto count Palatine, and master Herbert,
provost, whom the lord emperor, by the advice of 22
bishops and the Cistercian and Clairvaux abbots and other
monks there present, had sent to Rome to summon the
parties before the council at Pavia, gave testimony in the
sight of the council that they had summoned before the
presence of the church congregated at Pavia, through three
edicts at intervals, peremptorily and solemnly, all secular
influence being removed, Roland the chancellor and his
party ; and that Roland the chancellor and his party with
loud voice and with their own lips manifestly declared that
they were unwilling to accept any judgment or investi-
gation from the church

Being sufficiently instructed, therefore, from all these
things, and the truth being fully declared on both sides, it
pleased the reverend council that the election of pope
Yictor, who, lite a gentle and innocent lamb had come to
humbly receive the judgment of the church, should be
approved and confirmed, and the election of Roland should
be altogether cancelled. And this was done.

The election of pope Victor, then, after all secular
influence had been removed and the grace of the Holy
Spirit invoked, being confirmed and accepted, — the most
Christian emperor, last, after all the bishops and after all
the clergy, by the advice and petition of the council,
accepted and approved the election of pope Victor. And,
after him, all the princes and an innumerable multitude of
men who were present, being asked three times if they
agreed, replied, rejoicing with loud voice: " We agree."

0n the following day - that is, on the first Saturday in
Lent - pope Victor was led with honour in procession from
the church of St. Salvatore without the city, where he had
been harboured, to the universal churcli. There the most
holy emperor received him before the gates of the church,
and, as he descended from his horse, humbly held his
stirrup, and, taking his hand, led him to the altar and
kissed his feet. And all of us (the patriarch, the arch-
bishops, bishops and abbots and all the princes as well as
the whole multitude that was present) kissed the feet of
the pope. And on the next day, the Sabbath, namely  a
general council being held, the lord pope and we with him,
with blazing candles anathematized Roland the chancellor
as schismatic, and likewise his chief supporters ; and we
handed him over to Satan unto the death of the flesh, that
his spirit might be safe at the day of the Lord.

We wish, moreover, that it be not hidden from your
prudent discernment that Roland the chancellor and cer-
tain cardinals of his following had formed a conspiracy
while pope Adrian was still alive. The tenor of this con-
spiracy was, moreover, that if pope Adrian should happen
to die while they were still living, they should elect one
Cardinal from those who were banded together in that

For the rest, on the part of Almighty God, and of the
blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, and
of the orthodox men who have come together by the divine
will to heal the schism, we humbly implore and admonish
all of you in Christ, that, all doubt and ambiguity being
removed, you will irrefragably confirm and hold fast those
things which the church of God congregated at Pavia has
faithfully ordained for the honour of the Creator and for
the tranquillity of your mother the holy Roman church and
for the salvation of all Christians. And we pray that our
Redeemer Christ Jesus may long preserve the universal
pontiff, our pope Victor, in whose sanctity and religion we
altogether trust ; and that He will grant to him all tran-
quillity and peace, so that, through him, Almighty God
shall be honoured and the Roman church and the whole
Christian religion may receive an increase pleasing to God.
In order, moreover, that our action may have more weight
with those who read this we have thought best to subscribe
the consent and the names of all of us. I, Peregrin,
patriarch of Aquileija, etc. etc.

During the second year of his papacy Alexander remained in Rome. However, the emperor invaded the papal lands, and in fear of his life he fled to the Kingdom of Sicily. In 1162, he and his court sailed to France in ships furnished by king William of Sicily. After a delay caused by a shipwreck, he finally arrived in France and established his court at Sens, and was to remain there from 1163 to 1165.


Oliver J. Thatcher (1905), A Source Book for Mediaeval History. Selected Documents Illustrating the History of Europe in the Middle Age
Online Library of Liberty - 105-107. The Disputed Papal Election of 1159. 
Papal election, 1159 - Wikipedia.

Death of Pope Adrian IV History Today

Ian Stuart Robinson (1990). The Papacy, 1073-1198: Continuity and Innovation. Cambridge University Press. pp. 81–5. ISBN 978-0-521-31922-5.
Ian Stuart Robinson (1990). The Papacy, 1073-1198: Continuity and Innovation. Cambridge University Press. pp. 474–9. ISBN 978-0-521-31922-5.

The English, Norman, and French Councils Called to Deal with the Papal Schism of 1159
by Frank Barlow
The English Historical Review Vol. 51, No. 202 (Apr., 1936), pp. 264-268 Internet History Sourcebooks Project
The Struggle Between Frederick Barbarossa and Alexander III 1160-1177

[Copy at Select historical documents of the middle ages]

Ferdinand Gregorovius. History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press. pp. 563–. ISBN 978-1-108-01504-2.

Kampers, F. (1909). Frederick I (Barbarossa). In The Catholic Encyclopedia. 

Ua Clerigh, A. (1907). Pope Adrian IV. In The Catholic Encyclopedia.

Loughlin, J. (1907). Pope Alexander III. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. 

Paschal III. (1911). In The Catholic Encyclopedia. 

Gardner, E. (1910). Guelphs and Ghibellines. In The Catholic Encyclopedia.

Imperialpolitik König Heinrichs' II. von England
by Friedrich Hardegen
H. W. C. Davis
The English Historical Review
Vol. 21, No. 82 (Apr., 1906), pp. 363-367

Brenda Bolton; Anne Duggan (2003). Adrian IV, the English Pope, 1154-1159: Studies and Texts. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-0-7546-0708-3.

Charles W. Previte-Orton (1975). The Later Roman Empire to the Twelfth Century. CUP Archive. pp. 568–. ISBN 978-0-521-09976-9.

Anura Guruge (2010). The Next Pope. Anura Guruge. pp. 101–. ISBN 978-0-615-35372-2.

E. Glenn Hinson (1995). The Church Triumphant: A History of Christianity Up to 1300. Mercer University Press. pp. 378–. ISBN 978-0-86554-436-9.

Brenda Bolton; Anne Duggan (2003). "Anne J. Duggan: Totius christianitatis caput: The Pope and the Princes,"Adrian IV, the English Pope, 1154-1159: Studies and Texts. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 104–8. ISBN 978-0-7546-0708-3.

Third Lateran Council

Leclercq, H. (1910). Third Lateran Council (1179). In The Catholic Encyclopedia.

 Fanciful References

Doctor Faustus at Rome
by Clifford Davidson
Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900
Vol. 9, No. 2, Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama (Spring, 1969), pp. 231-239

Niccolò Machiavelli (1990). Florentine Histories. Princeton University Press. pp. 29–. ISBN 978-0-691-00863-9.

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