Eugene IV, Pope
Eugene IV, Pope
EUGENE IV, POPE
Pontificate: March 3, 1431 to Feb. 23, 1447. b. Gabriel Condulmaro, Venice, c. 1383. Condulmaro was a monk who followed the rule of St. augustine. Having been brought to the papal court by his uncle gregory xii and made cardinal (1408), he went to Constance at his uncle's abdication, July 4, 1415. Under Martin V he governed the March of Ancona and Bologna for a time. As Pope, Eugene confirmed the convocation of the Council of basel, but soon prorogued it. The fathers refused to obey, adopted and extended the principle of conciliarism enunciated at the Council of constance, and finally forced Eugene to withdraw his dissolution (Dec. 17, 1433). Meantime, continuing his predecessor's negotiations with the Greeks, he agreed to hold a council of union in Constantinople, but yielded to Basel's insistence that it be held in the West. When Basel split on the question of the site (May 7, 1437), Eugene undertook to implement the agreement with the Greeks, hired a fleet, and brought the Emperor, the patriarch, and a retinue of 700 to Ferrara, which he had named as the site (Sept. 18 and Dec. 30, 1437) of the transferred Council of Basel. The council opened on Jan. 8, 1438.
A popular insurrection forced Eugene to abandon Rome. He came to Florence (June 4, 1434), traveled to Bologna (April 22, 1436), and reached Ferrara (Jan. 24, 1438). The Greeks arrived in early March. The council was solemnly inaugurated on April 9, but the doctrinal sessions did not begin until October 8, at the demand of the Greek Emperor, although informal (and inconclusive) discussions on purgatory were held in June and July. In 14 sessions, from October 8 to December 13, there was free debate on the legality of the addition of the filioque to the Creed, without agreement. In the meantime Eugene, responsible for the upkeep of the Byzantine delegation, was in arrears with his payments and in financial straits. On Jan. 10, 1439, by arrangement with the Greeks, the council moved to florence, which offered better financial conditions. In March, eight sessions on the doctrine of the Procession of the Holy Spirit produced no agreement, and various other expedients were equally ineffective. On May 27 Eugene spiritedly exhorted the Greeks, thereby giving a new impulse that resulted in agreement on the Procession (June 8) and on purgatory, the primacy, and the Eucharist in the following weeks. Union of the two Churches was proclaimed in Laetentur caeli on July 6, 1439. Thereafter Armenians, Copts of Egypt, Syrians, and the Chaldeans and Maronites of Cyprus were in turn united with the Holy See. Basel had "suspended" Eugene on Jan. 24, 1438, and "deposed" him on June 25, 1439. The Pope replied in Moyses vir Dei (Sept. 4, 1439), challenging the ecumenicity of the earlier phases of Constance and condemning Basel. At Eugene's death, even though Basel and its antipope felix v still continued in schism, most of the Christian West supported him.
Eugene always retained the ideals of a religious and as pope lived a simple, regular, and abstemious life. He was charitable to the needy of all classes and readily supported Observant reforms in various religious orders. He was loyal to his ideals in resisting the conciliarism of Basel; to his helpers, even if some of them were less worthy; and to his obligations—supporting René of Anjou at the cost of Aragon's hostility and promoting the crusade against the Turks that ended in defeat at Varna (Nov. 10, 1444). Intelligent without being learned, he was more concerned with rebuilding Rome than with beautifying it. Typically, he desired an unostentatious tomb. He died a poor man. The union with the Greeks achieved by his council was shortlived, but it set the principle for all unions—identity of faith with freedom in matters of rite. It also checked the rabid conciliarism of Basel that threatened to alter the traditional constitution of the Church.
Bibliography: j. gill, The Council of Florence (Cambridge, Eng. 1959), and literature there cited; Eugenius IV: Pope of Christian Union (Westminster, Md. 1961). d. bornstein, "Giovanni Dominici, the Bianchi, and Venice: Symbolic Action and Interpretive Grids," The Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 23 (1993) 43–171. a. esch, "Überweisungen an die Apostolische Kammer aus den Diözesen des Reiches unter Einschaltung italienischer und deutscher Kaufleute und Bankiers. Regesten der vatikanischen Archivalien 1431–1475," Quellen und Forchungen aus Italienischen Archiven und Bibliotheken 78 (1998) 262–387. r. kay, "The Concilliar 'Ordo' of Eugenius IV," Councils and Clerical Culture in the Medieval West 16 (1997). ph. luisier, "La letter du Partiarche Copte Jean XI au Pape Eugèene IV," Orientalia Christiana Periodica 60 (1994) 87–129. l. schmugge, "Salmanticensia Poenitentiariae," in Life, Law, and Letters: Historical Studies in Honour of Antonio García y García (Rome 1998) 779–93. m. spremic, "La Serbia gli Stati italiani e la crociata del XV secolo," Clio 32 (1998) 467–78. j. n. d. kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986) 241.