Innocent XII. (Antonio Pignatelli), pope from 1691 to 1700 in succession to Alexander VIII., was born in Naples on the 13th of March 1615, was educated at the Jesuit College in Rome, entered upon his official career at the age of twenty, and became vice-legate of Urbino, governor of Perugia, and nuncio to Tuscany, to Poland and to Austria. He was made cardinal and archbishop of Naples by Innocent XI., whose pontificate he took as a model for his own, which began on the 12th of July 1691. Full of reforming zeal, he issued ordinances against begging, extravagance and gambling; forbade judges to accept presents from suitors; built new courts of justice; prohibited the sale of offices, maintaining the financial equilibrium by reducing expenses; and, an almost revolutionary step, struck at the root of nepotism, in a bull of 1692 ordaining that thenceforth no pope should grant estates, offices or revenues to any relative. Innocent likewise put an end to the strained relations that had existed between France and the Holy See for nearly fifty years. He adjusted the difficulties over the regalia, and obtained from the French bishops the virtual repudiation of the Declaration of Gallican Liberties. He confirmed the bull of Alexander VIII. against Jansenism (1696); and, in 1699, under pressure from Louis XIV., condemned certain of Fénelon’s doctrines which Bossuet had denounced as quietistic (see Fénelon). When the question of the Spanish succession was being agitated he advised Charles II. to make his will in favour of the duke of Anjou. Innocent died, on the eve of the great conflict, on the 27th of September 1700. Moderate, benevolent, just, Innocent was one of the best popes of the modern age.
See Guarnacci, Vitae et res gestae Pontiff. Rom. (Rome, 1751), i. 389 sqq.; Ranke, Popes (Eng. trans., Austin), iii. 186 sqq.; v. Reumont, Gesch. der Stadt Rom. iii. 2, p. 640 sqq.; and the Bullarium Innoc. XII. (Rome, 1697). (T. F. C.)