Thursday, January 10, 2013

Gregory X

Today is the anniversary of the death of Pope Gregory X. He has already been mentioned in Daily Medieval, but let's take a closer look at his career.

Pope Gregory X is presented Kublai's letter by the Polos
His election as pope came after a three-year vacancy (1268-1271) in the position. The cardinals were split between French and Italian factions. Charles of Anjou, younger son of King Louis IX of France, had taken over Sicily and started to interfere with Italian politics. The French cardinals were fine with this; the Italian cardinals were not. The cardinals met in the town of Viterbo and vote after vote produced no clear candidate. Finally, the citizens of Viterbo locked them into the room where they met, removed the roof to expose them to the weather, and allowed them nothing but bread and water.

On the third day, they picked a pope.

Cardinal Teobaldo Visconti was Italian, but had lived most of his life in the extreme north and was unaffected by the recent Sicilian difficulties. He was chosen as a compromise candidate.

Visconti was not even aware that he was considered as a candidate; he wasn't there. He was with Edward I of England on the Ninth Crusade as a papal legate. While there, he had been met by the Polos, who had letters from Kublai Khan for the pope.

When word came to him that he was the new pope, his first act was to request aid for the Crusade. He then sailed for Italy and called the Second Council of Lyons to discuss the East-West Schism and corruption in the Church. He also heard from the Polos again, who pressed him (now that he was pope) on Khan's request for 100 priests to come east and explain Christianity. The new pope, who took the name Gregory X, could only offer a few Dominicans (who tarted out on the long journey, but lost heart and turned back).

Gregory did establish relations with the Mongols, however, when the Mongol ruler Abaqa Khan (12342-1282) sent a delegation to the Council of Lyons to discus military cooperation between the Mongols and Europe for a Crusade. Plans were made, money was raised, and then Gregory died on 10 January 1276. The project failed.

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