Innocent III

Innocent III
   Innocent was born Giovanni Lotario de’ Conti and was educated at the Universities of Paris and Bologna. In 1190 he was made a Cardinal-Deacon and, at the age of thirty-seven, he was unanimously elected Pope. He is generally regarded as one of the greatest of the mediaeval Popes. He was the author of the widely read ascetical treatise De Miseria Humanae Conditionis. He reorganised the administration of the city of Rome and expanded the Papal States. He launched the Fourth Crusade in 1202 and managed to establish the Latin Kingdom of Constantinople.
   He did not succeed, however, in uniting the Eastern and Western Churches. He supported Otto of Brunswick in his quest to become Holy Roman Emperor. Then when Otto invaded Sicily, he excommunicated him and put his weight behind Frederick II. He reconciled King Philip Augustus of France to his wife and he excommunicated John, King of England, for refusing to accept Stephen langton as Archbishop of Canterbury. However, he is mainly remembered for summoning the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. The suppression of the Albigensian heresy, the approval of the term ‘transubstantiation’, the necessity of the payment of tithes and the encouragement of the foundation of schools, were among its many decrees. The Council thus did much to shape the policy of the Church in the later Middle Ages.
   C.R. Chesney, Pope Innocent 111 and England (1976);
   S.R. Packard, Europe and the Church under Innocent 111 (1968);
   H. Tillman, Pope Innocent 111 (1980).

Who’s Who in Christianity . 2014.

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