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Pope Clement IV

Clement IV
Papacy began 5 February 1265
Papacy ended 29 November 1268
Predecessor Urban IV
Successor Gregory X
Consecration 1258
Created Cardinal 17 December 1261
by Urban IV
Personal details
Birth name Gui Foucois le Gros
Born 23 November 1190-1200
Saint-Gilles-du-Gard, Languedoc, Kingdom of France
Died 29 November 1268(1268-11-29)
Viterbo, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire
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Coat of arms }
Other popes named Clement
Papal styles of
Pope Clement IV
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style None

Pope Clement IV (Latin: Clemens IV; 23 November 1190/1200 – 29 November 1268), born Guy Foucois[1] called in later life le Gros (Guy Foulques the Fat; Italian: Guido Fulcodi il Grosso), was Pope from 5 February 1265 to his death in 1268.

He was elected in an election held at Perugia that lasted four months while cardinals argued over whether to call in Charles of Anjou, the youngest brother of King Louis IX of France to carry on the papal war against the imperial house of Hohenstaufen.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life 1.1
    • Pontificate 1.2
  • Notes 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Early life

Guy was born in Saint-Gilles-du-Gard in the Languedoc region of France. After reaching adulthood, he was an unlikely candidate for holy orders: widowed and the father of two young women before taking orders, he was successively a soldier and a lawyer, and in the latter capacity had acted as secretary to King Louis IX, to whose influence he was chiefly indebted for his elevation to the cardinalate. Upon the death of his wife, he followed his father's example and gave up secular life for the Church.

His rise was rapid: in 1257, he was appointed Bishop of Le Puy; in 1259, he was appointed Archbishop of Narbonne; and in December 1261, he became the first cardinal created by Pope Urban IV, for the See of Sabina. He was the papal legate in England between 1262 and 1264. He was named grand penitentiary in 1263.


In this period, the Holy See was engaged in a conflict with Manfred of Sicily, the illegitimate son and designated heir of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen, but whom papal loyalists, the Guelfs, called "the usurper of Naples". Clement IV, who was in France at the time of his election, was compelled to enter Italy in disguise. He immediately took steps to ally himself with Charles of Anjou, his erstwhile patron's brother, the impecunious French claimant to the Neapolitan throne. Charles was willing to recognize the Pope as his feudal overlord (a bone of contention with the Hohenstaufens) and was crowned by cardinals in Rome, where Clement IV, permanently established at Viterbo, dared not venture, since the anti-papal Ghibelline party was so firmly in control there.

Then, fortified with papal money and supplies, Charles marched into Naples. Having defeated and slain Manfred in the great Battle of Benevento, Charles established himself firmly in the kingdom of Sicily at the conclusive Battle of Tagliacozzo, in which Conradin, the last of the house of Hohenstaufen, was taken prisoner. Clement IV is said to have disapproved of the cruelties committed by his protégé, but there seems no foundation for the statement by Gregorovius that Clement IV became an accomplice by refusing to intercede for the unfortunate Conradin whom Charles had beheaded in the marketplace of Naples.

Within months Clement IV was dead as well, and was buried at the Dominican convent, Santa Maria in Gradi, just outside Viterbo, where he resided throughout his pontificate.[2] In 1885, his remains were transferred to the church, San Francesco alla Rocca, in Viterbo.[3] Owing to irreconcilable divisions among the cardinals, the papal throne remained vacant for nearly three years.

Clement IV's private character was praised by contemporaries for his asceticism, and he is especially commended for his indisposition to promote and enrich his own relatives. He also ordered the Franciscan scholar Roger Bacon to write the Opus maius, which is addressed to him.

In 1264, Clement IV renewed the prohibition of the Talmud promulgated by Gregory IX, who had it publicly burnt in France and in Italy. Clement, though he did not assign to the stake those who harboured copies of it,[4] and, responding to a denunciation of the Talmud by Pablo Christiani,[5] assigned a Talmud censorship committee and ordered that the Jews of Aragon submit their books to Dominican censors for expurgation.[6]

In February 1265 Clement summoned Thomas Aquinas to Rome to serve as papal theologian.[7] It was during this period that Aquinas also served as regent master for the Dominicans at Rome.[8] With the arrival of Aquinas the existing studium conventuale at Santa Sabina, which had been founded in 1222, was transformed into the Order's first studium provinciale featuring the study of philosophy (studia philosophiae) as prescribed by Aquinas and others at the chapter of Valenciennes in 1259, an intermediate school between the studium conventuale and the studium generale. This studium was the forerunner of the 16th century College of Saint Thomas at Santa Maria sopra Minerva and the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum. In 1267–68 Clement engaged in correspondence with the Mongol Ilkhanate rule Abaqa. The latter proposed a Franco-Mongol alliance between his forces, those of the West, and the Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Palaeologos (Abaqa's father-in-law). Pope Clement welcomed Abaqa's proposal in a non-committal manner, but did inform him of an upcoming Crusade. In 1267, Pope Clement IV and King James I of Aragon sent an ambassador to the Mongol ruler Abaqa in the person of Jayme Alaric de Perpignan.[9] In his 1267 letter written from Viterbo, the Pope wrote:

"The kings of France and Navarre, taking to heart the situation in the Holy Land, and decorated with the Holy Cross, are readying themselves to attack the enemies of the Cross. You wrote to us that you wished to join your father-in-law (the Greek emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos) to assist the Latins. We abundantly praise you for this, but we cannot tell you yet, before having asked to the rulers, what road they are planning to follow. We will transmit to them your advice, so as to enlighten their deliberations, and will inform your Magnificence, through a secure message, of what will have been decided."
—1267 letter from Pope Clement IV to Abaqa[10]

Although Clement's successors continued to engage in diplomatic contacts with the Mongols for the rest of the century, they were never able to coordinate an actual alliance.[11]


  1. ^ Damian J. Smith, Crusade, Heresy and Inquisition in the Lands of the Crown of Aragon, (c. 1167 - c.1276), (BRILL, 2010), 66.
  2. ^ Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, (HarperCollins, 2000), 218.
  3. ^ Richard P. McBrien, 218.
  4. ^ As reported, for example in Arsene Damestetter, The Talmud, 1897:94..
  5. ^ Shlomo Simonsohn, The Apostolic See and the Jews (Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies) 1991:311.
  6. ^ Popper, William (1889). The Censorship of Hebrew Books. Knickerbocker Press. pp. 13–14. .
  7. ^ A Biographical Study of the Angelic Doctor, by Placid Conway, O.P., Longmans, Green and Co., 1911, Part III: Evening, Chapter VI - His Writings: Second Period, Accessed October 27, 2012
  8. ^ Acta Capitulorum Provincialium, Provinciae Romanae Ordinis Praedicatorum, 1265, n. 12, in Corpus Thomisticum, Accessed 4-8-2011
  9. ^ Runciman, p. 330–331
  10. ^ Quoted in Grousset, p. 644
  11. ^ "Despite numerous envoys and the obvious logic of an alliance against mutual enemies, the papacy and the Crusaders never achieved the often-proposed alliance against Islam". Atwood, "Western Europe and the Mongol Empire" Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire, p. 583


  • Runciman, Steven (1958). The Sicilian Vespers. Cambridge University Press.  
  • Grousset, René (2006). Histoire des croisades et du royaume franc de Jérusalem: 1131-1187, l'équilibre. Perrin. 

External links

  • "Pope Clement IV" in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.
  • "Le pape, le roy et l'alchimiste : Clémént IV – saint Louis – Roger Bacon" by Laurent Ryder
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Urban IV
Succeeded by
Gregory X
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