Felix V, Antipope
FELIX V, ANTIPOPE
Pontificate: (sometimes referred to as the pope of Basel) Nov. 5, 1439–April 7, 1449. Duke Amadeus VIII of Savoy was born in Chambéry on Dec. 4, 1383, and died in Geneva on Jan. 7, 1451. After he took over the family's estates in 1391, he expanded them to include the Piedmont and the Ligurian coast. His success brought him more wealth and influence. In 1416 the German king Sigismund (1410–37, emp. 1433) raised Savoy's status to a duchy, and in 1422 the same king granted Amadeus the county of Geneva. Amadeus was an extremely devout layman, and in October 1434, after the deaths of his wife, Maria of Burgundy (1422), and eldest son (1431) he appointed his second son, Ludovico, as regent. He then retired to Ripaille on Lake Geneva. Here, he and five other knights formed the Order of St. Maurice, leading a semi-eremitical life according to a rule written by Amadeus.
Amadeus lived peacefully at Ripaille until a small group of dissenters from the Council of basel began negotiating with him to be their pope. The majority of Basel's representatives recognized Pope eugene iv (1431–47) and had moved with him to Ferrara/Florence. The group that approached Amadeus had deposed Eugene and now sought a replacement. After much hesitation Amadeus accepted, and was elected on Nov. 5, 1439. He abdicated as Duke of Savoy on Jan. 6, 1440, was ordained priest, and consecrated Felix V (July 24, 1440) by Cardinal d'Allamand of Aries, the only cardinal remaining in Basel. This immediately created a new schism because Eugene had already excommunicated Amadeus on March 23, 1440 at the Council of florence. Felix's reign was only supported by a scattered group of secondary powers: Savoy, Switzerland, the Dukes of Austria, Tyrol, and Bayern-München, along with the Count of Simmern, various smaller orders (e.g., the Teutonic Knights and the Carthusians), and a few universities with allegiance to the Council of Basel (Cracow, Erfurt, Leipzig, Vienna). The antipope was also not successful in naming cardinals; most of those he nominated turned him down. However, some agreed, including Aeneas Sylvinus Piccolomini, later pius ii (1458–64), who was Felix's secretary for the first two years of his reign. Felix also had monetary problems. He argued with the Council of Basil over his right to claim various revenues and benefices as pope. In November 1442, Felix left Basel for Lausanne and then Geneva, where he could secure an income.
As the situation became more difficult for him and increasingly dangerous for the long-term security of his family's holdings, Felix looked for an amicable way to resign. Finally, through the mediation of Charles VII of France (1422–61), an arrangement was reached with Eugene's successor, nicholas v (1447–55), whereby Felix rescinded all actions and pronouncements he had made as pope. In exchange, Nicholas named Amadeus cardinal bishop of St. Sabina and papal vicar-general (and legate) for Savoy and several surrounding dioceses (Basel, Strasburg, et al.). The last of the antipopes, Felix abdicated on April 7, 1449. He lived in Geneva for another three years. He died there on Jan. 7, 1451, and was buried at Ripaille, where he had founded the Order of St. Maurice.
Bibliography: Bollario de Felice V, 8 v. manuscript in the Archivio di Stato in Turin. r. de maulde-la-claviÈre, Concordat ou Transaction passée entre le duc Amédée VIII et le clergé de Savoie, 1433 (Paris 1881). a. eckstein, Zur Finanzlage Felix' V. und des Basler Konzils (Berlin 1912; Aalen 1973). g. mollat, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques (Paris 1914) 2.1166–74. f. cognasso, Amadeo VIII (Turin 1930; Milan 1990). f. x. seppelt, Geschichte der Päpste von den Anfängen bis zur Mitte des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts (Munich 1956) 4.295–305. f. cognasso, Dizionario biografico degli Italiani (Rome 1960) 2.749–53. marie-josÉ, La Maison de Savoie: Amédée VIII. le duc qui devient pape (Paris 1962). s. edmunds, "The Missals of Felix V and Early Savoyard Illumination," Art Bulletin 46 (1964) 127–41. m. creighton, A History of the Papacy from the Great Schism to the Sack of Rome, v. 1 (London 1897; New York 1969). e. mongiano, "Privilegi concessi all' antipapa Felix V," Rivista de storia del diritto italiano 52 (1979) 174–87. h. schneider, "Die Halbbulle Felix' V: Zur Imitation kurialen Kanzleibrauchs in der Basler Konzilskanzlei," Annuarium historiae conciliorum 17 (1985) 457–63. j. n. d. kelly, The Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986) 243–44. j. helmrath, Das Basler Konzil, 1431–1449: Forschungsstand und Probleme (Cologne 1987) 153–57. e. mongiano, La cancelleria di un antipapa: il bollario de Felice V (Torino 1988). b. andenmatten, et al. Amédée VIII-Felix V, premier duc de Savoie et pape, 1383–1451: colloque international, Ripaille-Lausanne, 23–26 octobre 1990: études (Lausanne 1992).
[p. m. savage]