Honorius IV, Pope
HONORIUS IV, POPE
Pontificate: April 2, 1285, to April 3, 1287; b. Jacobus (Giacomo) savelli, Rome, 1210. Of aristocratic Roman lineage, his family supported the guelf party. His granduncle was honorius iii, whose name he adopted upon his election to the Holy See. As a student at the University of Paris, he obtained a prebend and a canonry at the cathedral of Châlons sur Marne, to which was later added a benefice at the church of Bert in the diocese of Norwich. martin iv nominated him cardinal-deacon of Santa Maria in Cosmedin (1261). In this new capacity, he served as papal prefect in Tuscany and captain of the apostolic army. In 1274 he participated in the Second Council of Lyons (see lyons, councils of). Giacomo was actively engaged in papal diplomacy, especially in the negotiations concerning Sicily, and was a member of the apostolic delegation that invested Charles of Anjou with the Sicilian crown (July 28, 1265). He also took part in the papal negotiations with the German king, Rudolf I of Habsburg, over his imperial coronation and his dealings with Charles of Anjou in Sicily (July 1276). The imminent death of Pope adrian v, however, postponed the conclusion of the deliberations.
Only four days after the death of Martin IV, the cardinal of Santa Maria in Cosmedin was unanimously elected to the See of Peter in spite of his advanced age and deteriorated health (crippled by arthritis, he could neither stand nor walk). The conclave's speed, which was unprecedented in the history of the papacy, was meant to avoid both external, (i.e., Charles of Anjou's) interference and any prolonged interregnum in the face of the Sicilian crisis. As son of a prestigious Roman family, Honorius was auspiciously accepted in Rome, where he was crowned shortly afterwards (May 20)—a privilege that had been denied to his immediate predecessor. Elected senator for life, Honorius commissioned his brother Pandulf—having being elected himself the preceding summer as an annual senator of Rome—to restore order in the city. The pope further annulled the interdict placed upon Venice by Martin IV (March 16, 1286), and canceled anticlerical legislation in Florence and Bergamo. Honorius's conciliatory methods, together with his strong hand, brought about the pacification of Rome and the recognition of papal authority over an extensive territory, which included the Exarchate of Ravenna, the March of Ancona, the Duchy of Spoleto, the County of Bertinoro, the Mathildian lands, and the cities of Rimini, Pesaro, Fano, Sinigaglia, and Ancona (the Pentapolis). Once again, the pope was able to reside in Rome, where he built a magnificent palace on the Aventine.
A great supporter of the mendicant orders, whose privileges he enlarged, Honorius IV promoted their members to the highest Church positions and entrusted them with the inquisition. He also confirmed the privileges of the carmelites and the augustinian hermits and improved the living conditions and privileges of the Williamites, an order founded by St. William of Aquitaine (d.1156). On the other hand, he solemnly condemned the socalled apostolici or False Apostles (March 11, 1286). Established by Gerald Segarelli at Parma about 20 years earlier, the sect drew its inspiration from the Franciscan teaching on poverty, but in open defiance of ecclesiastical norms.
As a means of facilitating the union with the Eastern Church and the mission among the Muslims, Honorius encouraged the study of Oriental languages at Paris. On the other hand, the crusade announced by gregory x languished during his pontificate; the funds raised for the Holy Land were diverted to finance papal conflicts in Europe, especially in Aragon and Sicily, which he labeled a crusade.
Honorius's pontificate, indeed, was devoted to seeking a solution for the Kingdom of Sicily, where papal suzerainty had been seriously jeopardized as a result of the Sicilian Vespers (March 30, 1282). The brutal massacre of the French led to Charles of Anjou's loss of the kingdom, the crown of which was bestowed on Peter III of Aragon as Manfred's heir. Upon Honorius's accession to the papacy, the Sicilians cherished the hope that the pope would change the pro-French, Angevin policy fostered by Martin IV. Although the new pope was more conciliatory, he never renounced papal claims on the island, a policy that in actual practice meant the reestablishment of the House of Anjou. Still, aware of the oppressive rule of the Angevins and the many vicissitudes of the Sicilian people, the pope, as overlord, tried to pave the way for a more reliable and peaceful government, while giving all inhabitants the right of appeal to the Holy See. The 45 ordinances of the Constitutio super ordinatione regni Siciliae (Sept. 17, 1285) defined in detail the rights and limitations of royal administration vis-à-vis the local population, the clergy included. The constitution was a partial fulfillment of an earlier papal pledge to reestablish the laws of William II (d. 1189), whose reign was considered the golden age of Sicilian justice.
Still, beyond a benign policy in the long term, Honorius's most imperative ambition was to recover the kingdom as a papal fief for the Angevins. Under the influence of his family's links and the pro-French faction in the college, he pushed the policy of his predecessor, who had instigated an open conflict with King Peter III. The pope also rejected the mediation efforts of King Edward I of England. In order to force the withdrawal of the Aragonese from Sicily, Honorius called upon philip iii of france to invade Aragon, while conferring upon the campaign all the spiritual and financial advantages of a crusade. Ravaged by disease, however, the French army was forced to withdraw, and both Philip and Peter died in the course of the year. Desolated by his allies' failure, and after a long captivity in Aragon, Charles of Anjou's son, Charles II of Salerno, renounced the Angevin claim to Sicily in return for his release (Feb. 27, 1287). Although Honorius refused to endorse the agreement— which actually meant the renunciation of papal control over the island—the kingdom of Sicily was lost to the Angevins. On the other hand, Honorius began negotiations with Peter's successor, Alfonso III of Aragon, but these did not bear fruit because of the pope's death.
With regard to the empire, as well, papal diplomacy did not encounter much success. Honorius reopened negotiations with the German king, Rudolf of Habsburg, in an attempt to bring about his coronation at Rome, an act that his predecessor had postponed time and again. The fixed date (Feb. 2, 1287), however, had to be postponed because of Rudolf's inability to make the Romfahrt owing to his own conflicts in Germany. A papal legate, Cardinal John of Tusculum, was sent to hasten the king's journey to Rome and to facilitate its implementation. The pope's envoy found a very obstructive audience at the Diet of Würzburg (March 16–18, 1287), with German prelates and princes uniting in an effort to safeguard their election prerogatives against any papal interference. The imperial coronation was postponed yet again, and never materialized. The question of whether this failure should be laid at the pope's door remains open to further research.
On the whole, Honorius's two-year pontificate, neither ambitious nor innovative, continued the aims and premises set by his predecessors.
Bibliography: Les registres d'Honorius IV, ed. m. prou (Paris 1888). b. pawlicki, Papst Honorius IV (Münster 1896). e. jordan, Les Origines de la domination angevine en Italie (Paris 1909). s. runciman, The Sicilian Vespers (Cambridge, Eng. 1958). j. r. eastman, "Relating Martin Luther to Giles of Rome: How to Proceed!" Medieval Perspectives 8 (1993) 41–52. p. herde, "I papai tra Gregori X e Celestino V: il papato e gli Angiò," Storia della Chiesa, ed. d. quaglioni, v. 11 (San Paolo 1994) 23–91. t. graafen and v. m. pundt, "Ein Appellationsverfähren an der päpstlichen Kurie gegen die Trierer Familie Systapp im 13. Jahrhundert," Liber amicorum necnon et amicarum für Alfred Heit (Trier 1996) 97–109.