Vienne, Council of
VIENNE, COUNCIL OF
The Ecumenical Council of Vienne, in session from Oct. 16, 1311, to May 6, 1312, was convoked by clementv at a particularly critical period in the history of the Church. Its complete acts have been lost.
History. The trial of the Knights templars played a dominant role in the convocation of the Council, but this serious affair was not the only problem facing the new Pope, the former archbishop of Bordeaux, upon his election (June 5, 1305). philip iv the Fair, King of France, had brought pressure to bear on the new Pope to initiate a trial of the deceased boniface viii; the idea of a crusade to the Holy Land was again emergent, and it seemed generally clear that the Church was in serious need of internal reform. These were the reasons motivating the convocation of a general council; the bull Regnans in caelis, promulgated at Poitiers, Aug. 12, 1308, set the opening date as Oct. 1, 1310. Vienne (Department of Isère, France) was chosen as the site of the Council because it was easily accessible and especially because of its location in a province of the Empire, the Dauphiné de Viennois, a little state still practically independent; it was not acquired by the Kingdom of France until 1349.
The protracted trial of the Templars, however, delayed the Council, and on April 4, 1310, by the bull Alma mater a new opening date was fixed for Oct. 1, 1311. The sessions were held in the cathedral, and the number of prelates present included 20 cardinals, four patriarchs, 39 archbishops, 79 bishops, and 38 abbots. There were three sessions, in the course of which the Council examined the three points proposed by the Pope. These three points were the major preoccupation not only of the Pope but of the whole of Christendom.
The affair of the Templars had already been the subject of many provincial synods, both in France, where the proceedings had gone against the order, and in the other kingdoms of Europe, where the innocence of the knights had been accepted in the majority of cases. A plenary session of the special conciliar commission named to study the affair closed in December 1311 with a vote favorable to the order; but the arrival in Vienne on March 20, 1312, of Philip the Fair forced the Pope to pronounce a sentence, which had been prepared with the active participation of the archbishops of Reims, Sens, and Rouen and of William of Nogaret and Enguerrand of Marigny. On March 22 Clement V promulgated the bull Vox in excelso (Conciliorum oecumenicorum decreta (Bolgna-Freiburg 1962) 312–19), abolishing the Order of the Templars, not indeed de jure but per viam provisionis. This bull, given solemn reading at the second session, was followed by Ad providam, dated May 2, which handed over to the knights of malta the goods of the Templars; but the Pope on May 6 reserved to himself the judgment of the grand master of the Templars, jacques de molay. On the other hand, the Council refused to comply with the French King's demand to condemn the memory of Pope Boniface VIII.
An expedition to the Holy Land was discussed at the second and third sessions; the Kings of France, England, and Navarre promised to take part within a year. But the Council's consideration to the reform of the Church received greater attention and was the subject of protracted discussion. This reform was treated under two aspects:(1) clerical morals and (2) protection of the freedoms of the Church. In each case there was a statement of the gravamina, i.e., of the injury to which the Church was being exposed, and a list of remedia, remedies to be applied. Debate on the various points followed the definitive vote on the affair of the Templars and occupied the last session of the Council. The decrees approved by the Council and the subsequent constitutions published by the Pope were collected by him into a volume published by his successor john xxii in 1327 under the title, clementinae. It was in this form that the proceedings and decisions of the council were known to its contemporaries. There is now a better knowledge of them from MS Paris Bib. nat. lat. 1450, which is a statement of the grievances presented by the prelates and examined by the commission presided over by Cardinals Nicholas of Fréauville and Napoleon Orsini. The grievances concerned especially the encroachments of the civil power on ecclesiastical jurisdiction and the statement of the remedies proposed.
Decrees. The decrees adopted at Vienne number 38 (?) in all, of which only 19 were published in the Clementinae. They condemned the doctrine that the substance of the rational or intellectual soul is not vere et per se the form of the human body, attributed to peter john olivi, a leading figure of the Franciscan Spirituals, who was not, however, formally condemned. The decrees (c.37–38) further prepared the way for the reconciliation of the two opposing factions among the franciscans, the Spirituals and the Conventuals. They also defined the pastoral activities of the mendicant orders in the Church (c.10), condemned the beguines and beghards (c.16, 28), who had become widespread in the Low Countries and in northern Germany and France, laid down rules for the operation of hospitals (c.17), ordered the creation of chairs of Hebrew, Arabic, and Chaldean at the universities of Bologna, Oxford, Paris, and Salamanca (c.24), and legislated (c.26) against the encroachments by inquisitors (see inquisition) by making more precise the rules to be followed for their designation. The decrees also curbed usury (c.29) and violence committed against the person of clerics (c.33–34). The decrees of the Council's third session, whose number and text are unknown, were published May 6, 1312, by Clement V, who on May 2 had already left to return to Avignon.
Bibliography: j. hardouin, Acta conciliorum et epistolae decretales ac constitutiones summorum pontoficum (34–1714), 11 v. in 12 (Paris 1715) v.7. j. d. mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, 31 v. (Florence-Venice 1757–98); reprinted and continued by l. petit and j. b. martin, 53 v. in 60 (Paris 1889–1927; repr. Graz 1960–) v.25. Continuatio chronici Guillelmi de Nangis in m. bouquet, Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France (Rerum gallicarum et francicarum scriptores), 24 v. (Paris 1738–1904) v.20. g. villani, Historie fiorentine, l. a. muratori, Rerum italicarum scriptores, 500–1000, 25 v. in 28 (Milan 1723–51); continued by g. m. tartini and n. g. mittarelli (1748–71) 13:454–55. c. baronius, Annales ecclesiastici, ed. j. d. mansi et al., 38 v. (Lucca 1738–59) v.23. f. ehrle, "Zur Vorgeschichte des Concils von Vienne," h. denifle and f. ehrle, eds., Archiv für Literaturund Kirchengeschichte des Mittelalters, 7 v. (Berlin Freiburg-1886) 353–416; "Ein Bruchstück der Acten des Concils von Vienne," ibid. 4 (1888) 361–470. g. lizerand, Clément V et Philippe le Bel (Paris 1911). c. j. von hefele, Histoire des conciles d'apreès les documents originaux, tr. and continued by h. leclercq, 10 v. in 19 (Paris 1907–38) 6.2:643–719. g. mollat, The Popes at Avignon, 1305–1378, tr. j. love (New York 1963). e. mÜller, Das Konzil von Vienne, 1311–1312 (Münster 1934). h.j. schroeder, Disciplinary Decrees of the General Councils (St. Louis 1937) 365–442. j. leclercq, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 1903–50) 15.2:2973–79. Conciliorum oecumenicorum decreta (Bologna-Freiburg 1962) 309–77, and bibliog. m. mollat, Le councile de Vienne: concordance, index, listes de frequence, tables comparatives (Louvain-la-Neuve 1978).