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BONIFACE


668


BONIFACE


In the meantime there was brewing at Paris the storm in which the pontificate of Boniface was so disastrously to close. Philip concluded peace with England, temporized with the Flemings, and made concessions to his subjects. Boniface on liis side acknowledged, as aforesaid, the election of Albert of Austria, and brought to an end his hopeless con- flict with the Aragonese King of Sicily. Otherwise he seemed politically helpless, and could only trust, as he publicly stated, in his sense of right and duty. Later events showed that in his own household he could not count on loyalty. In an extraordinary session of the French Council of State (12 March, 130.3) Guillaume de Nogaret appealed to Philip to protect Holy Church against the intruder and false pope, Boniface, a sunonist, robber, and heretic, maintaining that the king, moreover, ought to call an assembly of the prelates and peers of France, through whose efforts a general council might be convoked, before which he would prove his charges. Such an assembly was called for 13 June, and met at the Louvre in Paris. The papal messenger with the aforesaid Briefs for the legate was seized at Troyes and imprisoned; Lemoine himself, after protesting against such violence, fled. At this assembly, packed with friends or creatures of Philip, the knight Guillaume de Plaisians (Du Plessis) submitted a solemn accusation against the pope in twenty-nine points, offered to prove the same, and begged the king to provide for a general council. The Colonna furnished the material for these infamous charges, long since adjudged calumnious by grave historians (Hefele, Conciliengesch., 2nd ed., VI, 460-63; Giovanni Villani, a contemporary, says that the Council of Vienne, in 1312, formally absolved him from the charge of heresy. Cf . Muratori, ' ' SS. Rer. Ital.", XIV, 454; Raynaldus, ad an. 1312, 15-16). Scarcely any possible crime was omitted — infidelity, heresy, simony, gross and unnatural immorality, idolatry, magic, loss of the Holy Land, death of Celestine V, etc. The king asserted that it was only to satisfy his conscience and to protect the honour of the Holy See that he would co-operate in the calling of a general council, asked the help of the prelates, and appealed (against any possible action of Boniface) to the future council, the future pope, and to all to whom appeal could be made. Five archbishops, twenty-one bishops, and some abbots sided with the king. The resolutions of the assembly were read to the people, and several hundred ad- hesions were secured from chapters, monasteries, and provincial cities, mostly through violence and intimidation. The Abbot of Citeaux, Jean de Pon- toise, protested, but was imprisoned. Royal letters were sent to the princes of Europe, also to the cardinals and bishops, setting forth the king's new- found zeal for the welfare of Holy Church.

In a public consistory at Anagni (August, 1303) Boniface cleared himself on his solemn oath of the charges brought against him at Paris and proceeded at once to protect the Apostolic authority. Citations before the Holy See were declared valid by the mere fact of being affixed to the church doors at the seat of the Roman Curia, and he excommunicated all who hindered such citations. He suspended Arch- bishop Gerhard of Nicosia (Cyprus), the first signa- tory of the schismatieal resolutions. Pending satis- faction to the pope, the University of Paris lost the right to confer degrees in theology and in canon and civil law. He suspended temporarily for France the right of election in all ecclesiastical bodies, re- served to the Holy See all vacant French benefices, repelled as blasphemies the calumnious charges of de Plaisians, saying, "Who ever heard that We were a heretic?" (Raynaldus, ad an. 1311, 40), and de- nounced the appeal to a future general council which could be convoked by none other than himself, the


legitimate pope. He declared tliat unless the king repented he would inflict on him the .severest punish- ments of the Church. The BuU "Super Petri solio" was ready for promulgation on 8 September. It contained in traditional form the solemn excommuni- cation of the king and the liberation of his subjects from their oath of fidelity. Philip, however, and his- counsellors had taken measures to rob this step of all force, or rather to prevent it at a decisive moment. It had long been their plan to seize the person of Boniface and compel him to abdicate, or, in case of his refusal, to Ijring him before a general council in France for condemnation and deposition. Since April, Nogaret and Sciarra Colonna had been active in Tuscany for the formation, at Philip's expense, of a band of mercenaries, some 2,000 strong, horse and foot. Very early on the morning of 7 September the band appeared suddenly before Anagni, under the lilies of France, shouting, ' ' Long live the King of France and Colonna!" FeUow-conspirators in the town admitted them, and they at once attacked the palaces of the pope and his nephew. The ungrateful citizens fraternized with the besiegers of tlie pope, who in the meanwhile obtained a truce until three in the afternoon, when he rejected the conditions of Sciarra, viz., restoration of the Colonna, alxlication, and delivery to Sciarra of the pope's pereon. About six o'clock, however, the papal stronghold was penetrated through the adjoining cathedral. The soldiers, Sciarra at their head, sword in hand (for he had sworn to slay Boniface), at once filled the- hall in which the pope awaited them with five of Us cardinals, among them his beloved nephew Francesco, all of whom soon fled; only a Spaniard, the Cardinal of Santa Sabina, remained at his side to the end.

In the meantime the papal palace was thoroughly plundered; even the archives were destroyed. Dino Compagni, the Florentine clironicler, relates that when Boniface saw that further resistance was use- less he exclaimed, ' ' Since I am betrayed like the Saviour, and my end is nigh, at least I shall die as Pope." Thereupon he ascended his throne, clad in the pontifical ornaments, the tiara on his head, the keys in one hand, a cross in the other, held close to his breast. Thus he confronted the angry men-at- arms. It is said that Nogaret prevented Sciarra Colonna from killing the pope. Nogaret himself made known to Boniface the Paris resolutions and threatened to take him in chains to Lyons, where he should be deposed. Boniface looked down at him, some say without a word, others that he replied: "Here is my head, here is my neck; I will patiently bear that I, a Catholic and lawful pontiff and vicar of Christ, be condemned and deposed by the Paterini [heretics, in reference to the parents of the Tolosan Nogaret]; I desire to die for Christ's faith and His Church." Von Reumont asserts that there is no- evidence for the physical maltreatment of the pope by Sciarra or Nogaret. Dante (Purgatorio, XX, 86) lays more stress on the moral violence, though his words easily convey the notion of physical wrong: "I see the flower-de-luce Anagni enter, and Christ in his own Vicar captive made; I see him yet another time derided; I see renewed the vinegar and gall, and between living thieves I see him slain." Boni- face was held three days a clo.se prisoner in the phmdered papal palace. No one cared to bring him food or drink, while the banditti quarrelled over his person, as over a valuable asset. By early morning of 9 September the burghers of Anagni had changed their minds, wearied perhaps of the presence of the soldiers, and ashamed that a pope, their townsman, should perish within their walls at the hands of the hated Francesi. They expelled Nogaret and his band, and confided Boniface to the care of the two Orsini cardinals, who had come from Rome with