Clement VI. (Pierre Roger), pope from the 7th of May 1342 to the 6th of December 1352, was born at Maumont in Limousin in 1291, the son of the wealthy lord of Rosières, entered the Benedictine order as a boy, studied at Paris, and became successively prior of St Baudil, abbot of Fécamp, bishop of Arras, chancellor of France, archbishop of Sens and archbishop of Rouen. He was made cardinal-priest of Sti Nereo ed Achilleo and administrator of the bishopric of Avignon by Benedict XII. in 1338, and four years later succeeded him as pope. He continued to reside at Avignon despite the arguments of envoys and the verses of Petrarch, but threw a sop to the Romans by reducing the Jubilee term from one hundred years to fifty. He appointed Cola di Rienzo to a civil position at Rome, and, although at first approving the establishment of the tribunate, he later sent a legate who excommunicated Rienzo and, with the help of the aristocratic faction, drove him from the city (December 1347). Clement continued the struggle of his predecessors with the emperor Louis the Bavarian, excommunicating him after protracted negotiations on the 13th of April 1346, and directing the election of Charles of Moravia, who received general recognition after the death of Louis in October 1347, and put an end to the schism which had long divided Germany. Clement proclaimed a crusade in 1343, but nothing was accomplished beyond a naval attack on Smyrna (29th of October 1344). He also carried on fruitless negotiations for church unity with the Armenians and with the Greek emperor, John Cantacuzenus. He tried to end the Hundred Years’ War between England and France, but secured only a temporary truce. He excommunicated Casimir of Poland for marital infidelity and forced him to do penance. He successfully resisted encroachments on ecclesiastical jurisdiction by the kings of England, Castile and Aragon. He made Prague an archbishopric in 1344, and three years later founded the university there. During the disastrous plague of 1347–1348 Clement did all he could to alleviate the distress, and condemned the Flagellants and Jew-baiters. He tried Queen Joanna of Naples for the murder of her husband and acquitted her. He secured full ownership of the county of Avignon through purchase from Queen Joanna (9th of June 1348) and renunciation of feudal claims by Charles IV. of France, and considerably enlarged the papal palace in that city. To supply money for his many undertakings Clement revived the practice of selling reservations and expectancies, which had been abolished by his predecessor. Oppressive taxation and unblushing nepotism were Clement’s great faults. On the other hand, he was famed for his engaging manners, eloquence and theological learning. He died on the 6th of December 1352, and was buried in the Benedictine abbey at Auvergne, but his tomb was destroyed by Calvinists in 1562. His successor was Innocent VI.
The chief sources for the life of Clement VI. are in Baluzius, Vitae Pap. Avenion., vol. i. (Paris, 1693); E. Werunsky, Excerpta ex registris Clementis VI. et Innocentii VI. (Innsbruck, 1885); and F. Cerasoli, Clemente VI. e Giovanni I. di Napoli—Documenti inedite dell’ Archivio Vaticano (1896, &c).
See L. Pastor, History of the Popes, vol. i., trans, by F. I. Antrobus (London, 1899); F. Gregorovius, Rome in the Middle Ages, vol. vi. trans. by Mrs G. W. Hamilton (London, 1900–1902); J. B. Christophe, Histoire de la papauté pendant le XIV e siècle, vol. ii. (Paris, 1853); also article by L. Küpper in the Kirchenlexikon (2nd ed.). (C. H. Ha.)