Lucius III


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(1 Sept. 1181–25 Nov. 1185)

Successor to Alexander III, Ubaldo Allucingoli was born c.1110 at Lucca, received into the Cistercian order by Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153), made cardinal deacon of S. Adriano in 1138 and cardinal priest of Sta Prassede in 1141 by Innocent II, and then cardinal bishop of Ostia and Velletri by Hadrian IV in 1159. He was a leading negotiator in 1156 of the treaty of Benevento, and, as Alexander III's closest adviser, of the peace of Venice in 1177. He also enjoyed the confidence of Frederick I Barbarossa (1152–90), who nominated him to the commission for settling issues left open by the peace. Although elected in Rome, he deemed it prudent, having infuriated the citizens by refusing them the largesse they expected and by attempting to save Tusculum from their depredations, to be crowned at Velletri (6 Sept.) and, apart from Nov. 1181–Mar. 1182, to reside outside Rome, mostly at Velletri and Anagni.

Elderly, honest (one of only two cardinals judged by Thomas Becket to be unamenable to bribery), well-meaning, but weak, Lucius wanted peace; Emperor Frederick, too, was eager for a settlement on matters dividing church and empire. Chief among these was the inheritance of Countess Matilda of Tuscany (1046–1115), which the emperor had promised at Venice to restore to the church ‘saving the rights of the empire’; but Lucius felt obliged to reject Frederick's compromise proposals that the holy see should either waive its title in return for an annual income (spring 1182) or accept an exchange of territories (summer 1184). Eventually, by mutual agreement, the two met at Verona in Oct.–Nov. 1184. Here they first formulated a programme, embodied in the decretal Ad abolendum (4 Nov.) and sometimes called the charter of the Inquisition, for the repression of heretics: if judged recalcitrant, they were to be excommunicated by the church and then handed over to the secular arm for punishment. Then, in response to pleas from the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem and the grand masters of the military orders, Lucius urged a new crusade on the emperor, who undertook that preparations would be in hand by Christmas. Lucius, however, received no assurance of imperial help against the rebellious Romans, and on other issues they reached a deadlock. Thus the question of the Matildine estates had again to be postponed. On the matter of clergy schismatically ordained during Alexander III's reign, Lucius was at first disposed to grant Frederick's request for their restoration, but then ruled that this could only be decided by a general council. Thirdly, faced with a divided election to the see of Trier, he was initially inclined to consecrate the candidate whom the emperor favoured and had already invested, but then deferred a decision on the ground that the rival candidate had appealed to Rome. Lastly, after a show of willingness to grant it, he rejected Frederick's request that he should crown his son Henry (Emperor Henry VI: 1191–7), arguing that there could not be two emperors at the same time.


Subjects: Christianity.

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