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CLEMENT (POPES)

Histoire de la papauté pendant le XIVe siècle, vol. ii. (Paris, 1853); also article by L. Küpper in the Kirchenlexikon (2nd ed.).  (C. H. Ha.) 


Clement VII. (Robert of Geneva), (d. 1394), antipope, brother of Peter, count of Genevois, was connected by blood or marriage with most of the sovereigns of Europe. After occupying the episcopal sees of Thérouanne and Cambrai, he attained to the cardinalate at an early age. In 1377, as legate of Pope Gregory XI. in the Romagna, he directed, or rather assisted in, the savage suppression of the revolt of the inhabitants of Cesena against the papal authority. In the following year he took part in the election of Pope Urban VI. at Rome, and was perhaps the first to express doubts as to the validity of that tumultuous election. After withdrawing to Fondi to reconsider the election, the cardinals finally resolved to regard Urban as an intruder and the Holy See as still vacant, and an almost unanimous vote was given in favour of Robert of Geneva (20th of September 1378), who took the name of Clement VII. Thus originated the Great Schism of the West.

To his high connexions and his adroitness, as well as to the gross mistakes of his rival, Clement owed the immediate support of Queen Joanna of Naples and of several of the Italian barons; and the king of France, Charles V., who seems to have been sounded beforehand on the choice of the Roman pontiff, soon became his warmest protector. Clement eventually succeeded in winning to his cause Scotland, Castile, Aragon, Navarre, a great part of the Latin East, and Flanders. He had adherents, besides, scattered through Germany, while Portugal on two occasions acknowledged him, but afterwards forsook him. From Avignon, however, where he had immediately fixed his residence, his eyes were always turned towards Italy, his purpose being to wrest Rome from his rival. To attain this end he lavished his gold—or rather the gold provided by the clergy in his obedience—without stint, and conceived a succession of the most adventurous projects, of which one at least was to leave a lasting mark on history.

By the bait of a kingdom to be carved expressly out of the States of the Church and to be called the kingdom of Adria, coupled with the expectation of succeeding to Queen Joanna, Clement incited Louis, duke of Anjou, the eldest of the brothers of Charles V., to take arms in his favour. These tempting offers gave rise to a series of expeditions into Italy carried out almost exclusively at Clement’s expense, in the first of which Louis lost his life. These enterprises on several occasions planted Angevin domination in the south of the Italian peninsula, and their most decisive result was the assuring of Provence to the dukes of Anjou and afterwards to the kings of France. After the death of Louis, Clement hoped to find equally brave and interested champions in Louis’ son and namesake; in Louis of Orleans, the brother of Charles VI.; in Charles VI. himself; and in John III., count of Armagnac. The prospect of his briliant progress to Rome was ever before his eyes; and in his thoughts force of arms, of French arms, was to be the instrument of his glorious triumph over his competitor.

There came a time, however, when Clement and more particularly his following had to acknowledge the vanity of these illusive dreams; and before his death, which took place on the 16th of September 1394, he realized the impossibility of overcoming by brute force an opposition which was founded on the convictions of the greater part of Catholic Europe, and discerned among his adherents the germs of disaffection. By his vast expenditure, ascribable not only to his wars in Italy, his incessant embassies, and the necessity of defending himself in the Comtat Venaissin against the incursions of the adventurous Raymond of Turenne, but also to his luxurious tastes and princely habits, as well as by his persistent refusal to refer the question of the schism to a council, he incurred general reproach. Unity was the crying need; and men began to fasten upon him the responsibility of the hateful schism, not on the score of insincerity—which would have been very unjust,—but by reason of his obstinate persistence in the course he had chosen.

See N. Valois, La France el le grand schisme d’occident (Paris, 1896).  (N. V.) 


Clement VII. (Giulio de’ Medici), pope from 1523 to 1534, was the son of Giuliano de’ Medici, assassinated in the conspiracy of the Pazzi at Florence, and of a certain Fioretta, daughter of Antonia. Being left an orphan he was taken into his own house by Lorenzo the Magnificent and educated with his sons. In 1494 Giulio went with them into exile; but, on Giovanni’s restoration to power, returned to Florence, of which he was made archbishop by his cousin Pope Leo X., a special dispensation being granted on account of his illegitimate birth, followed by a formal declaration of the fact that his parents had been secretly married and that he was therefore legitimate. On the 23rd of September 1513 the pope conferred on him the title of cardinal and made him legate at Bologna. During the reign of the pleasure-loving Leo, Cardinal Giulio had practically the whole papal government in his hands and displayed all the qualities of a good administrator; and when, on the death of Adrian VI.—whose election he had done most to secure—he was chosen pope (Nov. 18, 1523), his accession was hailed as the dawn of a happier era. It soon became clear, however, that the qualities which had made Clement an excellent second in command were not equal to the exigencies of supreme power at a time of peculiar peril and difficulty.

Though free from the grosser vices of his predecessors, a man of taste, and economical without being avaricious, Clement VII. was essentially a man of narrow outlook and interests. He failed to understand the great spiritual movement which was convulsing the Church; and instead of bending his mind to the problem of the Reformation, he from the first subordinated the cause of Catholicism and of the world to his interests as an Italian prince and a Medici. Even in these purely secular affairs, moreover, his timidity and indecision prevented him from pursuing a consistent policy; and his ill fortune, or his lack of judgment, placed him, as long as he had the power of choice, ever on the losing side.

Clement’s accession at once brought about a political change in favour of France; yet he was unable to take a strong line, and wavered between the emperor and Francis I., concluding a treaty of alliance with the French king, and then, when the crushing defeat of Pavia had shown him his mistake, making his peace with Charles (April 1, 1525), only to break it again by countenancing Girolamo Morone’s League of Freedom, of which the aim was to assert the independence of Italy from foreign powers. On the betrayal of this conspiracy Clement made a fresh submission to the emperor, only to follow this, a year later, by the Holy League of Cognac with Francis I. (May 22, 1526). Then followed the imperial invasion of Italy and Bourbon’s sack of Rome (May 1527) which ended the Augustan age of the papal city in a horror of fire and blood. The pope himself was besieged in the castle of St Angelo, compelled on the 6th of June to ransom himself with a payment of 400,000 scudi, and kept in confinement until, on the 26th of November, he accepted the emperor’s terms, which besides money payments included the promise to convene a general council to deal with Lutheranism. On the 6th of December Clement escaped, before the day fixed for his liberation, to Orvieto, and at once set to work to establish peace. After the signature of the treaty of Cambrai on the 3rd of August 1529 Charles met Clement at Bologna and received from him the imperial crown and the iron crown of Lombardy. The pope was now restored to the greater part of his temporal power; but for some years it was exercised in subservience to the emperor. During this period Clement was mainly occupied in urging Charles to arrest the progress of the Reformation in Germany and in efforts to elude the emperor’s demand for a general council, which Clement feared lest the question of the mode of his election and his legitimacy should be raised. It was due to his dependence on Charles V., rather than to any conscientious scruples, that Clement evaded Henry VIII.’s demand for the nullification of his marriage with Catherine of Aragon, and so brought about the breach between England and Rome. Some time before his death, however, the dynastic interests of his family led him once more to a rapprochement with France. On the 9th of June 1531 an agreement was