Alexander IV, Pope

views updated


Pontificate: Dec. 12, 1254 to May 25, 1261; b. Rainaldo dei Conti di Segni. His illustrious family had produced two earlier popes, innocent iii and gregory ix. He was named cardinal deacon (1227) by his uncle, Gregory IX, and became cardinal bishop of Ostia in 1231. Although by nature devout and peaceful, Alexander IV nevertheless prosecuted the war begun by his predecessor, innocent iv, against the heirs of Emperor frederick ii in Germany, Italy, and Sicily. He allocated Sicily to Alfonso of Castile, and Conradin's heritage he assigned to Edmund, son of Henry III of England. Alexander spent much of his pontificate outside Rome, because of the guelfghibelline struggles in central Italy and Manfred's war against the states of the church. During the interregnum in Germany, Alexander at first supported the claims of William of Holland to the imperial throne; after 1257 he switched his support to Richard of Cornwall. In negotiations with the Byzantine Emperor Theodore II Lascaris, Alexander attempted to reunite the Greek and Latin Churches. In Cyprus he successfully settled the rival claims of the two churches. In Syria he made the head of the recently reconciled Maronites patriarch of Antioch. A patron of the franciscans, Alexander restored to them many privileges that his predecessor had suppressed. He died at Viterbo and is buried in the cathedral.

Bibliography: alexander iv, Les Registres, ed. c. bourel de la ronciÈre et al., 3 v. (Paris 190253). a. potthast, Regesta pontificum romanorum inde ab a. 1198 ad a. 1304 (Graz 1957) 2:12861473, 212429. f. tenckhoff, Papst Alexander IV (Paderborn 1907). j. haller, Das Papsttum (Stuttgart 195053) 4:272296. g. schwaiger, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765) 1:316317. m. groten, "Konrad von Hochstaden und die Wahl Richards von Cornwall," in Kön. Stadt und Bistum in Kirche und Reich des Mittelalters. Festschrift für Odilo Engels zum 65 Gebürstag (Böhlau 1993) 483510. h.-e. hilpert, "Richard of Cornwall's Candidacy for the German Throne and the Christmas 1256 at Westminister," Journal of Medieval History 6 (Amsterdam 1980) 18598. f. a. c. mantello, "Letter CXXX of Bishop Robert Grosseteste: A Problem of Attribution," Medieval Studies 56 (Toronto 1974) 1459. j. n. d. kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986) 194.

[j. a. brundage]

About this article

Alexander IV, Pope

Updated About content Print Article