Benedict XIII, Antipope
BENEDICT XIII, ANTIPOPE
Pontificate (Avignon obedience): Sept. 28, 1394 to July 26, 1417. Born Pedro de Luna in 1342 at Illueca, Aragon. His parents, both of important Aragonese families, were Juan Martínez de Luna and Maria Pérez de Gotor. He was elected pope Sept. 28, 1394, deposed by the Council of Pisa June 5, 1409, and again deposed at the Council of Constance (summer 1417). He considered himself to be the rightful pope until his death at Peñíscola (near Valencia) on Nov. 22, 1422. The date of his death
is uncertain; according to some it was kept secret from his followers until the most commonly cited date of May 23, 1423.
Before pursuing the study of canon law, de Luna served in the court of Henry II Trastámara, who would become king of Castile (1369–79). In the 1370s he became a doctor of canon law at Montpellier, where he also taught. During this time he entered holy orders, was a canon in Vich, Tarragona, Huesca, and Majorca, and obtained prebends in the churches of Tarragona, Zaragoza, Valencia, and Tortosa. In December 1375, Pope Gregory XI made him cardinal deacon of St. Maria in Cosmedin. He was among the cardinals who returned to Rome with Gregory (ending the Babylonian Captivity), and was part of the conclave that elected Urban VI (1378–1389), for whom he voted. Nonetheless, he was later part of the faction that elected Clement VII pope, thus beginning the Great Schism.
De Luna was an important member of Clement's curia. As legate to Castile (1381), Aragón (1387), Navarre (1390), and Portugal he was central to securing those areas' allegiance to Avignon (though Portugal remained loyal to Urban). In 1393 Clement appointed de Luna legate to France, Flanders, England, Scotland, and Ireland. He was based in Paris, where he appeared to support the position that both popes should abdicate (the via cessionis ), then popular at the University of Paris. However, most scholars question de Luna's devotion to the cause, especially in light of his later position. He returned to Avignon in 1394. When Clement died later that year there was pressure from the French crown to postpone an election in the hope that the schism could be ended. Instead, the 21 cardinals held an election and swore that whoever won would resign when the majority of their college determined it appropriate. Cardinal de Luna (still a deacon) was then unanimously elected pope on Sept. 28, 1394. On October 3 he was consecrated priest; on October 11 he was made a bishop and then took the name Benedict XIII.
Benedict was heavily involved in political and conciliar battles from the outset. After his election he sent a letter to Paris that referred vaguely to a desire for church unity, but at a synod in the spring of 1395 King Charles VI of France (1380–1422) and the University of Paris (over the objection of its chancellor, Pierre d'Ailly) demanded that Benedict resign as pope. Missions to Avignon from France, England, and some German territories followed over the next two years, but they could not bring Benedict actively to support a via cessionis policy. By 1398, France, its ally Castile, Navarre, and England supported such a policy. Benedict argued that a papal abdication was not canonical and may be sinful; he had been rightly elected, would work for compromise, but would not submit to king, university, or church council. On July 28, 1398 Charles VI formally proclaimed that France withdrew its obedience from Benedict; Navarre, Castile, and some smaller territories did the same. These moves significantly reduced Benedict's revenues and his political prestige. To make matters worse, on September 1 royal officials declared that any clergy in Benedict's curia would forfeit their French benefices if they remained at Avignon. At this, 18 of Benedict's 23 cardinals left for French territory, and Charles began a four and a half year siege of the papal palace at Avignon.
Benedict managed to escape from Avignon the night of March 11, 1403 and soon regained the backing of the French government and many cardinals. He was able to do this through the influence of his ally Louis, Duke of Orléans, the king's brother and an important French governmental advisor. In addition, there were others, including Jean Gerson and Nicholas de Clémanges, who questioned the validity of the French withdrawal of obedience. At this time Benedict also began negotiations with the Roman pope so that they might end the schism through papal compromise (the so-called via discussionis ). Benedict sent a delegation to Rome in September 1404 to this end, but neither pope appears to have been truly interested in such a solution. Proposed meetings between Benedict and Gregory XII in Savona (1407) and in Tuscany (1408) never took place. In the meantime, Gregory's cardinals were losing confidence in his leadership; some deserted and even joined Benedict's cardinals. In 1408, after the murder of the duke of Orléans, France again withdrew its obedience from Benedict and all parties embraced their own vision of a council.
Benedict called a council in Perpignan (his new base in Aragón); the majority of cardinals (both Benedict's and Gregory's) called a council in Pisa; and Gregory XII held his own sparsely attended council in Cividale (near his Venetian power base). Of the three councils, Pisa was by far the most widely attended, but it lacked strong political support and thus only succeeded in creating a third pope, Alexander V (1409–10). Even though Pisa had deposed Benedict, Scotland, Aragon, Castile and Sicily continued to recognize him. In a few years, with the ascension of a new German king, Sigismund (1410–37), and a new Pisan pope, John XXIII (1410–15), there was broader political support for a new council to end the schism; it would meet in Constance. Sigismund negotiated with Castile and Aragon to pressure Benedict XIII to send representatives, but he never did. On July 26, 1417 the Council of Constance deposed Benedict. This council's decision had far greater effect on the antipope than Pisa because it was made with the cooperation of the Spanish kingdoms. No important political entity now recognized Benedict, and the council's new pope, Martin V (1417–31), was widely acclaimed and received cardinals from all three obediences.
For his part, Benedict had retired to a family castle at Peñíscola as early as 1415. He had four remaining cardinals, but they went over to Martin V soon after Constance. He nonetheless considered himself the legitimate pope, and created four new cardinals on Nov. 27, 1422. At his death his followers elected a successor who took the name Clement VIII (1423–29). Benedict's crosier and chalice can still be seen in the church at Peñíscola, but his grave in Illueca was desecrated in 1811 by French troops.
Benedict XIII was arguably the most qualified man to call himself pope during the Great Schism; he was immensely capable in political affairs and as a canon lawyer. In addition, he was widely considered a morally upright man of austere life and broad learning. Nicholas de Clémanges called him "a great, a laudable, indeed a holy man." St. Vincent Ferrer served in Cardinal de Luna's court, was at Benedict's papal court from 1395 to 1399, and remained a friend, even pleading with the antipope to abdicate after the Council of Constance. Pedro de Luna's written work in theology and canon law shows a man who thought carefully about a broad range of ecclesiastical and intellectual matters. His work includes treatises on church councils (De concilio generali ), the schism (De novo schismate ), and the controversial Tractatus contra Iudaeos, which has been connected to Spanish efforts to convert the Jews during his lifetime. The better-known Speculum Sapientiae vel Libri XV de consolatione theologica is now generally ascribed to John of Dambach.
Bibliography: l. duchesne, ed. Liber Pontificalis (Paris 1886–92; repr. 1955–57) 2.507–40, 545, 554. pedro de luna, Libro de las consolaciones de la vida humana ed. p. de gayangos (Madrid 1860). Lettres de Benoit XIII (1394–1422), ed. j. payebourgeois (Brussels 1983). dietrich of niem, De schismate (Leipzig 1890). É. baluze, Vitae paparum Avenionensium, ed. g. mollat (Paris 1914–1927) 1.421–542, 597–98; 2.699–711 and passim; 4.177ff, 254ff, 360, 367. martin de alpartil, Chronica actitatorum temporibus domini Benedicti XIII, ed. f. ehrle (Paderborn 1906). h. denifle, ed., Chartularium Universitatis Parisiensis (Paris 1880–97) 4.1–164. É. amman, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique (Paris 1903–50) 12.2020–9. s. puig y puig, Pedro de Luna: ultimo papa de Aviñón, 1387–1430 (Barcelona 1920). f. baix and l. jedin, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques (Paris 1935) 8.135–63. g. pillement, Pedro de Luna dèrnier Pape d'Avignon (Paris Grasset, 1955). a. glasfurd, The Antipope Peter de Luna, 1342–1423 (New York 1965). h. jedin and j. dolan, eds. Handbook of Church History (New York 1965–81) 4.401–473 passim. c. m. d. crowder, Unity, Heresy, and Reform: 1378–1460 (London 1977). a. canellas, Diccionario de Historia Eclesiastica de España (Madrid 1972–75) 2.1368–1370. Also j. goÑi, Diccionario de Historia Eclesiastica de España, Suplemento I (Madrid 1987) 128–58 for an overview of the Schism with an emphasis on Spain. f. mcgurk, Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotlan of Benedict XIII of Avignon, 1394–1419 (Edinburgh 1976). w. brandmÜller, Lexikon des Mittelalters (Munich 1979) 1.1862–1864 for additional bibliography. o. cuella esteban, Aportaciones culturales y artísticas del Papa Luna (Zaragoza 1984). f. de moxÓ y montoliu, El Papa Luna: un imposible empeño, estudio político-económico (Zaragoza 1986). j. a. parrilla and j. a. muÑiz, Benedicto XIII: la vida y el tiempo del Papa Luna (Zaragoza 1987). m. h. j. de pommerol, La bibliothèque pontificale a Avignon et à Peñiscola (Rome 1991). b. schimmelphennig, The Papacy (New York 1992) 219–236. a. sesma muÑoz, Benedicto XIII, el Papa Luna: muestra de documentación histórica aragonesa en conmemoración del sexto centenario de la elección papal de Don Pedro Martínez de Luna (Aviñón, 28 septiembre 1394): Sala Corona de Aragón, Edificio Pignatelli, 28 de septiembre–31 de octubre, 1994 (Zaragoza 1994). Jornadas de estudio: VI Centenario del Papa Luna. Calatayud-Illueca, 1994 (1996). p. linehan, "Papa Luna in 1415, a proposal by Benedict XIII for the ending of the Great Schism," English Historical Review 113(1998) 91–8. b. pereira pagÁn, El Papa Luna: Benedicto XIII (Madrid 1999). h. millet, Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, ed. a. vauchez (Chicago and London 2000) 1.165.
[p. m. savage]