Clement VI, Pope
CLEMENT VI, POPE
Pontificate: May 7, 1342, to Dec. 6, 1352; b. Pierre Roger, Corrèze, France, c. 1291; d. Avignon. A Benedictine of chaise-dieu since 1301, he received a doctorate in theology before becoming abbot of fÉcamp and Chaise-Dieu. He was bishop of Arras (1328), archbishop of Sens (1329) and of Rouen (1330), and cardinal priest (1338). His learning, eloquence, amiable manner, and diplomatic skill won him the favor of King Philip VI of France and Pope john xxii. Having been elected successor to Pope benedict xii, he was crowned May 19, 1342, at Avignon (see avignon papacy).
During his pontificate the Church became markedly centralized. In 1344 he decreed that all churches, dignities, offices, and ecclesiastical benefices were subject to papal provision. The bishops objected but to no avail. Edward III of England retaliated in 1345 by seizing all benefices in his country held by foreigners. Philip VI followed his example in 1347, and the pope's remonstrances resulted only in an exception being made for cardinals, the curialists, and the pope's official family. By contrast, there were almost no difficulties in Aragon over the conferring of benefices. Conflicts there with Pedro IV centered upon the seizure of the estates of deceased bishops and the exercise of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. But in the political arena, the kingdom of Majorca was reunited to the crown despite Clement's objections. Clement opposed the franciscan spirituals.
In spite of his diplomatic skill, Clement never succeeded in ending the hostilities of the Hundred Years' War. Likewise, in Italy he had only disappointments, e.g., the revolution in Rome of cola di rienzi, the regicide of the husband of Jeanne I of Sicily. Within the Empire, Clement ended the long quarrel between the Church and Emperor Louis IV of Bavaria by deposing him and favoring the election of Charles IV of Luxembourg as emperor (1347).
Clement was buried at Chaise-Dieu, where his tomb still remains. Political enemies, especially petrarch, vilified his memory, reproaching him for the ostentatious pomp of his court, which was the most sophisticated court of the day. The incriminations against his moral conduct are unfounded.
Bibliography: clement vi, Lettres closes, patentes et curiales se rapportant à la France, ed. e. dÉprez et al. (Paris 1901–); Lettres … intéressant les pays autres que la France, ed. e. dÉprez and g. mollat (Paris 1960–). É. baluze, Vitae paparum Avenionensium, ed. g. mollat, 4 v. (Paris 1914–27). g. mollat, The Popes at Avignon, 1305–1378, tr. j. love (New York 1963); Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des inscriptions et belles-lettres (1957) 412–419; Mélanges d'archéologie et d'histoire 71 (1959) 377–380; ibid. 73 (1961) 375–389; Journal des savants (1959) 16–27; ibid. (1963) 191–195; ibid. (1960) 122–129; Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique 55 (1960) 5–24. a. pÉlissier, Clement VI le Magnifique, premier pape limousin (Brive, France 1951). r. j. loenertz, "Ambassadeurs grecs auprès du pape C. VI," Orientalia Christiana periodica 19 (1953) 178–196. h. s. offler, "A Political Collatio of Pope C. VI, O.S.B.," Revue Bénédictine 65 (1955) 126–144. a. h. burne, The Crecy War (New York 1955). f. giunta, "Sulla politica orientale di C. VI," Studi di storia medievale e moderna in onore di ettore Rota, ed. p. vaccari, and p. f. palumbo (Rome 1958) 149–162. j. n. d. kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986) 291. p. hutton, "Clement VI," The Dictionary of Art (New York 1996) 7:411. a. paravicini bagliani, "Clemente VI e il giubileo del 1350," Storia dei Giubilei, 1:270–277.