Innocent VI, Pope

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Pontificate: Dec. 18, 1352 to Sept. 12, 1362; b. Stephen Aubert, date uncertain; d. Avignon. A professor of civil law at Toulouse, he became bishop of Noyons in 1338, of Clermont in 1340, and was made cardinal in 1342. In the conclave in Avignon the cardinals agreed that whoever was elected should divide the papal authority and revenues with the College of Cardinals. In 1353 Innocent declared the preelection capitulations invalid. He corrected numerous abuses in the Papal Curia, condemned plurality of benefices, and ordered all prelates who had no business at Avignon to return to their benefices. He was unable to restrain the cruelties of Pedro I of Castile or to restore peace between Aragon and Castile; but in 1360 he effected the Peace of Brétigny between England and France. When Charles IV published his Golden Bull, Innocent did not protest against its disregard of papal rights. Using the military skill of Cardinal Gil albornos, he defeated the usurpers who had seized the states of the church. A Greek proposal for reunion of the Churches ended when it became clear that Innocent could not raise an army to fight the Turks. Though tainted with nepotism and enfeebled by old age, Innocent was otherwise a good pope. The religious decline throughout Europe was not his fault; it had begun a century earlier and was aggravated by the Hundred Years' War and the Black Death. Despite his rigid economies, the war to regain the Papal States bankrupted him. In desperation, he increased the taxation of various countries, thereby provoking greater hostility against the papacy. Death thwarted his plan to return to Rome; he was buried in the Charterhouse of VilleneuvelesAvignon, built by him.

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[w. r. bonniwell]