Pope Innocent IV
Pope Innocent IV born Sinibaldo Fieschi, was pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 from June 25, 1243 until his death in 1254.

Early life

Born in Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

 (although some sources say Manarola
Manarola is a small town, a frazione of the comune of Riomaggiore, in the province of La Spezia, Liguria, northern Italy...

) in an unknown year the boy, Sinibaldo was the son of Ugo Fieschi, Count of Lavagna
Lavagna is a fishing port city of c. 13,000 inhabitants in the curving stretch of the Italian Riviera di Levante called the gulf of Tigullio, in the province of Genoa in Liguria. The borgo of Lavagna was an important Ligurian cultural center in the Middle Ages...

, and his wife Brumisan di Grillo. The Fieschi were a noble merchant family of Liguria
Liguria is a coastal region of north-western Italy, the third smallest of the Italian regions. Its capital is Genoa. It is a popular region with tourists for its beautiful beaches, picturesque little towns, and good food.-Geography:...

. Sinibaldo received his education at the universities of Parma
Parma is a city in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna famous for its ham, its cheese, its architecture and the fine countryside around it. This is the home of the University of Parma, one of the oldest universities in the world....

 and Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

 and, for a time, taught canon law at Bologna. He was considered one of the best canonists of his time and was called to serve the Pope in the Roman Curia in the year 1226.


Before his elevation to the papacy Sinibaldo was Vice-Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church (1226–27), being created Cardinal Priest of San Lorenzo in Lucina
San Lorenzo in Lucina
The Church of St Lawrence's at Lucina is a Roman Catholic parish and titular church and minor basilica in Rome, Italy, dedicated to Saint Lawrence, Roman deacon and martyr. The name Lucina comes from the Roman matron owner of the house on which the church was built.The current Cardinal Priest of...

 on (September 18, 1227) by Pope Gregory IX, later serving as governor of the March of Ancona
March of Ancona
The March of Ancona or marca Anconitana was a frontier march centred on the city of Ancona and, then, Macerata in the Middle Ages...

 (1235 until 1240).

It is widely repeated from the 17th century on that he became bishop of Albenga
Albenga is a city and comune situated on the Gulf of Genoa on the Italian Riviera in the Province of Savona in Liguria, northern Italy.left|thumb|220px|Towers of Albenga.The economy is mostly based on tourism, local commerce and agriculture-History:...

 in 1235, but this information is without foundation.

His immediate predecessor was Pope Celestine IV
Pope Celestine IV
Pope Celestine IV , born Goffredo da Castiglione, was pope from October 25, 1241 to November 10, 1241.Born in Milan, Goffredo or Godfrey is often referred to as son of a sister of Pope Urban III , but this information is without foundation...

, elected October 25, 1241, whose reign lasted a mere fifteen days. The events of Innocent IV's pontificate are therefore inextricably linked to the policies dominating the reigns of popes Innocent III (1198–1216), Honorius III (1216–27). and Gregory IX (1227–41).

Gregory had been demanding the return of portions of the Papal States taken over by the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II (Hohenstauffen)
Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick II , was one of the most powerful Holy Roman Emperors of the Middle Ages and head of the House of Hohenstaufen. His political and cultural ambitions, based in Sicily and stretching through Italy to Germany, and even to Jerusalem, were enormous...

, when he died. The Pope had called a general council so he could depose the emperor with the support of Europe's spiritual leaders but Frederick had seized two cardinals traveling to the council in hopes of intimidating the other council fathers. The two prelates remained incarcerated, missing the conclave
Papal conclave
A papal conclave is a meeting of the College of Cardinals convened to elect a Bishop of Rome, who then becomes the Pope during a period of vacancy in the papal office. The Pope is considered by Roman Catholics to be the apostolic successor of Saint Peter and earthly head of the Roman Catholic Church...

 which had immediately elected Celestine. The conclave reconvening after his death fell into camps supporting contradictory policies about how to treat with the emperor.

New pope, same emperor

After a year and a half of contentious debate, arm twisting, and hand wringing, the conclave reached a unanimous decision. Cardinal de' Fieschi very reluctantly accepted election, taking the name Innocent IV (June 25, 1243). As Cardinal de' Fieschi, Sinibaldo had been on friendly terms with Frederick, even after his excommunication. The Emperor also greatly admired the cardinal's wisdom, having enjoyed discussions with him from time to time.

Following the election the always witty Frederick remarked that he had lost the friendship of a cardinal but made up for it by gaining the enmity of a pope.

His jest notwithstanding, Frederick's letter to the new pontiff was couched in respectful terms, offering Innocent congratulations and success, also expressing hope for an amicable settlement of the differences between the empire and the papacy. Negotiations leading to this objective began shortly afterwards but proved abortive. Innocent refused to back down from his demands, Frederick II refused to acquiesce, and the dispute continued, its major point of contention being the reinstatement of Lombardy
Lombardy is one of the 20 regions of Italy. The capital is Milan. One-sixth of Italy's population lives in Lombardy and about one fifth of Italy's GDP is produced in this region, making it the most populous and richest region in the country and one of the richest in the whole of Europe...

 to the Patrimony of St Peter.

The Emperor's machinations caused a good deal of anti-papal feeling to rise in Italy, particularly in the Papal States and imperial agents encouraged plots against papal rule. Realizing how untenable his position in Rome was growing Innocent IV secretly but hurriedly withdrew to Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

, his birthplace, in the summer of 1244. Traveling in disguise Innocent made his way to Sutri
Sutri is a town and comune in the province of Viterbo, about 50 km from Rome, and about 30 km south of Viterbo. It is picturesquely situated on a narrow tuff hill, surrounded by ravines, a narrow neck on the west alone connecting it with the surrounding country.thumb|220px|Entrance to the...

 and Civitavecchia
Civitavecchia is a town and comune of the province of Rome in the central Italian region of Lazio. A sea port on the Tyrrhenian Sea, it is located 80 kilometers west-north-west of Rome, across the Mignone river. The harbor is formed by two piers and a breakwater, on which is a lighthouse...

, thence to France where the Pontiff was joyously welcomed. Making his way to Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

s Innocent was happily greeted by rulers of the city.

Finding himself now in secure surroundings Innocent summoned as many bishops as could get to Lyons to attend what became the 13th General (Ecumenical) Council of the Church, the first in Lyons. The bishops met for three public sessions, June 28, July 5, and July 17 in 1245. Their business was to put Frederick in his place.

Council of Lyons

This gathering had the fewest participants of any General Council before it. However three patriarchs and the Latin emperor of Constantinople attended, along with 150 or so bishops, most of them prelates from France and Spain. They were able to come quickly and Innocent could rely on their help. Bishops from the rest of Europe outside Spain and France feared retribution from Frederick while many other bishops were prevented from attending either by the invasions of the Tartars in the Far East and Muslim incursions in the Middle East.

In session Frederick II's position was defended by Taddeo of Suessa who renewed in his master's name all the promises made so many times before, but refused to give the guarantees the pope demanded. Unable to end the impasse Taddeo was horrified to hear the fathers of the Council solemmly depose and excommunicate the Emperor on July 17, while absolving all his subjects from allegiance to the Hohenstauffen. The political agitation over these acts convulsed Europe. The turmoil relaxed only with Frederick's death in December 1250, removing the proximate threat to Innocent's life and thus permitting his triumphant return to Italy. From 1251–53 the Pope stayed at Perugia
Perugia is the capital city of the region of Umbria in central Italy, near the River Tiber, and the capital of the province of Perugia. The city is located about north of Rome. It covers a high hilltop and part of the valleys around the area....

 until it was safe for him to finally bring the papal court back to Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...


Ruler of princes and kings

As had Innocent III before him, Innocent IV saw himself as the Vice-regent of the Almighty, Whose power was above earthly kings. Innocent, therefore, saw no problem intervening in purely secular matters. He appointed Alfonso III administrator of Portugal, and lent his protection to Ottocar, the son of the King of Austria. The Pope even sided with King Henry III against both nobles and bishops of England, despite the king's harassment of St Edmund Rich and his policy of having church money collected in vacant benefices delivered to the royal coffers.

The warlike tendencies of the Tartars also concerned the Pope and he send a papal nuncio to the Mongol Empire in an attempt to strike an agreement. Innocent decreed that he, as Vicar of Christ, could make non-Christians accept his dominion and even exact punishment should they violate the non-God centered commands of the Ten Commandments. This policy was held more in theory than in practice and was eventually repudiated centuries later.

Vicar of Christ

The papal preoccupation with imperial matters and secular princes caused the spirituality of the Church to suffer. Papal taxation increased in the Papal States and the complaints of the inhabitants grew loud and hot.

This is not to say that the Pope, himself, the Vicar of Christ
Vicar of Christ
Vicar of Christ is a term used in different ways, with different theological connotations throughout history...

 on earth, neglected the Faith. He celebrated Mass
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

 daily and devoutly. In August 1253, after much worry about the order's insistence on absolute poverty, Innocent finally approved the rule of the 2nd Order of the Franciscans, the Poor Clares, founded by St Clare of Assisi
Clare of Assisi
Clare of Assisi , born Chiara Offreduccio, is an Italian saint and one of the first followers of Saint Francis of Assisi...

, the great friend of St Francis.

In 1246 Edmund Rich
Edmund Rich
Edmund Rich was a 13th century Archbishop of Canterbury in England...

, former Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

 (died 1240), was named a saint. In 1250 Innocent proclaimed the pious Queen Margaret of Edinburgh
Saint Margaret of Scotland
Saint Margaret of Scotland , also known as Margaret of Wessex and Queen Margaret of Scotland, was an English princess of the House of Wessex. Born in exile in Hungary, she was the sister of Edgar Ætheling, the short-ruling and uncrowned Anglo-Saxon King of England...

 (died 1093) wife of the Scottish king, Malcolm III, a saint of God. Dominican priest, Peter of Verona
Peter of Verona
Saint Peter of Verona O.P. , also known as Saint Peter Martyr, was a 13th century Italian Catholic priest. He was a Dominican friar and a celebrated preacher...

, martyred by Albigensian heretics in 1252 was raised to the altars, as was Stanislau, the great Polish Archbishop of Cracow, both in 1253.

Relations with the Portuguese

Innocent IV was responsible for the eventual deposition of Sancho II, at the request of his brother Afonso (later Afonso III, King of Portugal). One of the arguments he used against Sancho II in his Grandi non immerito text was his status as a minor upon inheriting the throne from his father Afonso II.

Contacts with the Mongols

In 1245, Innocent IV issued bulls and sent an envoy in the person of Giovanni da Pian del Carpine
Giovanni da Pian del Carpine
Giovanni da Pian del Carpine, or John of Plano Carpini or John of Pian de Carpine or Joannes de Plano was one of the first Europeans to enter the court of the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. He is the author of the earliest important Western account of northern and central Asia, Rus, and other...

 (accompanied by Benedict the Pole) to the "Emperor of the Tartars". The message asked the Mongol
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 ruler to become a Christian and stop his aggression against Europe. The Khan Güyük
Guyuk may refer to:*Guyuk, Nigeria, a town*Uğurtaş, a town in Turkey, formerly called Güyük*Güyük Khan , the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire...

 replied in 1246 a letter written in Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 that still rests in the Vatican Library
Vatican Library
The Vatican Library is the library of the Holy See, currently located in Vatican City. It is one of the oldest libraries in the world and contains one of the most significant collections of historical texts. Formally established in 1475, though in fact much older, it has 75,000 codices from...

, demanding the submission of the Pope and the other rulers of Europe.

In 1245 Innocent had sent another mission, through another route, led by Ascelin of Lombardia, also bearing letters. The mission met with the Mongol ruler Baichu near the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 in 1247. The reply of Baichu was in accordance with that of Güyük, but it was accompanied by two Mongolian envoys to the Papal seat in Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

, Aïbeg and Serkis
Aïbeg and Serkis
Aïbeg and Serkis, also Aibeg and Sergis or Aïbäg and Särgis, were two ambassadors sent by the Mongol ruler Baichu to Pope Innocent IV in 1247–1248...

. They met with Innocent IV in 1248, who again appealed to the Mongols to stop their killing of Christians.

Innocent IV would also send other missions to the Mongols in 1245: the mission of André de Longjumeau, the possibly aborted mission of Laurent de Portugal, and mission of Giovanni da Pian del Carpine
Giovanni da Pian del Carpine
Giovanni da Pian del Carpine, or John of Plano Carpini or John of Pian de Carpine or Joannes de Plano was one of the first Europeans to enter the court of the Great Khan of the Mongol Empire. He is the author of the earliest important Western account of northern and central Asia, Rus, and other...

, which left on April 16, 1245 and would reach the Mongol capital Karakorum
Karakorum was the capital of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, and of the Northern Yuan in the 14-15th century. Its ruins lie in the northwestern corner of the Övörkhangai Province of Mongolia, near today's town of Kharkhorin, and adjacent to the Erdene Zuu monastery...


Later life and death

The remainder of his life was largely directed to schemes for compassing the overthrow of Manfred
Manfred of Sicily
Manfred was the King of Sicily from 1258 to 1266. He was a natural son of the emperor Frederick II of Hohenstaufen but his mother, Bianca Lancia , is reported by Matthew of Paris to have been married to the emperor while on her deathbed.-Background:Manfred was born in Venosa...

, the natural son of Frederick II, whom the towns and the nobility had for the most part received as his father's successor. Innocent aimed to incorporate the whole Kingdom of Sicily
Kingdom of Sicily
The Kingdom of Sicily was a state that existed in the south of Italy from its founding by Roger II in 1130 until 1816. It was a successor state of the County of Sicily, which had been founded in 1071 during the Norman conquest of southern Italy...

 into the Papal States
Papal States
The Papal State, State of the Church, or Pontifical States were among the major historical states of Italy from roughly the 6th century until the Italian peninsula was unified in 1861 by the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia .The Papal States comprised territories under...

, but he lacked the necessary economic and political power. Therefore, after a failed agreement with Charles of Anjou, he invested that kingdom to Edmund, the nine year old son of Henry III of England
Henry III of England
Henry III was the son and successor of John as King of England, reigning for 56 years from 1216 until his death. His contemporaries knew him as Henry of Winchester. He was the first child king in England since the reign of Æthelred the Unready...

 (May 14, 1254).

In the same year he excommunicated Frederick II's other son, Conrad IV, King of Germany, but the latter died a few days after the investiture of Edmund. Innocent therefore moved to Anagni
Anagni is an ancient town and comune in Latium, central Italy, in the hills east-southeast of Rome. It is a historical center in Ciociaria.-Geography:...

 to wait for Manfred's reaction to the event, especially as Conrad's heir, Conradin
Conrad , called the Younger or the Boy, but usually known by the diminutive Conradin , was the Duke of Swabia , King of Jerusalem , and King of Sicily .-Early childhood:Conradin was born in Wolfstein, Bavaria, to Conrad...

, had been entrusted to the Papal tutorage by the King's testament. Manfred submitted, although probably only to gain time and counter the menace from Edmund, and received the title of Papal vicar for southern Italy. Innocent could therefore live a period in which he was the effective sovereign of most of the peninsula, and on October 27, 1254 he celebrated the feat by entering the city of Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...


However, Manfred had not lost his time and organized a resistance, supported by his faithful Saracen troops, setting riots against the new authority. It was on a sick bed at Naples that Innocent IV heard of Manfred's victory at Foggia
Foggia is a city and comune of Apulia, Italy, capital of the province of Foggia. Foggia is the main city of a plain called Tavoliere, also known as the "granary of Italy".-History:...

 against the Papal forces: the tidings are said to have precipitated his death on December 7, 1254, in Naples.

His learning gave to the world an Apparatus in quinque libros decretalium. He is also remembered for issuing the papal bull
Papal bull
A Papal bull is a particular type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church. It is named after the bulla that was appended to the end in order to authenticate it....

 Ad extirpanda, which authorized the use of torture by the Inquisition
The Inquisition, Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis , was the "fight against heretics" by several institutions within the justice-system of the Roman Catholic Church. It started in the 12th century, with the introduction of torture in the persecution of heresy...

 for eliciting confessions from heretics.

He was succeeded by Pope Alexander IV
Pope Alexander IV
Pope Alexander IV was Pope from 1254 until his death.Born as Rinaldo di Jenne, in Jenne , he was, on his mother's side, a member of the de' Conti di Segni family, the counts of Segni, like Pope Innocent III and Pope Gregory IX...

 (1254–61). Innocent was also the uncle of Adrian V
Pope Adrian V
Pope Adrian V , born Ottobuono de' Fieschi, was pope in 1276.-Biography:Ottobuono belonged to a feudal family of Liguria, the Fieschi, Counts of Lavagna....


In popular culture

Innocent was namechecked on the US comedy programme 30 Rock
30 Rock
30 Rock is an American television comedy series created by Tina Fey that airs on NBC. The series is loosely based on Fey's experiences as head writer for Saturday Night Live...

(episode "Season 4
Season 4 (30 Rock)
"Season 4" is the first episode of the fourth season of the American television comedy series 30 Rock, and the 59th episode overall. It was written by the series creator, executive producer and lead actress, Tina Fey and directed by series producer Don Scardino. The episode originally aired on the...

"). His picture had apparently been torn up on television in protest against his taxation policy.
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