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Popes of the 14th Century

History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church

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Below is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the fourteenth century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church.

 

194. Boniface VIII: December 24, 1294 - October 11, 1303 (8 years, 9 months)
Boniface VIII made strong claims to both religious and political power, something which did not sit well with other rulers in Europe. In 1302 he issued the Papal Bull Unam Sanctam ("One Holy") which was one of the boldest statements of papal supremacy ever issued.

195. Blessed Benedict XI: October 22, 1303 - July 7, 1304 (8 months)
A Domician who was born to a working-class family, Pope Benedict XI has become known in history as having had an especially weak papacy. In particular, he proved unable to stand up to the demands of King Philip IV (the Fair) of France.

196. Clement V: June 5, 1305 - April 20, 1314 (8 years)
Clement V was the first pope of the so-called "Babylonian Captivity," also known as the "Avignon Exile" because the seat of the papacy was set in Avignon, France instead of Rome. Indeed, Clement never even set foot in Rome - he spent all of his time in France.

197. John XXII: August 7, 1316 - December 4, 1334 (18 years)
Pope John XXII is known for centralizing church power (through the appointment of bishops) and centralizing church finances (through the imposition of papal taxes). Because of his desire to gain greater power and autonomy for the Catholic Church, he predictably was also characterized by regular conflict with the dominant secular authority at the time, emperor Louis of Bavaria.

198. Benedict XII: December 20, 1334 - April 25, 1342 (7 years)
A Cistercian monk, Pope Benedict XII focused himself on ways to reform aspects of the church, in particular some of the luxuries enjoyed by the monastic orders and the ways in which clergy were failing to live up to the standards set for them. Unfortunately, these efforts largely failed.

199. Clement VI: May 7, 1342 - December 6, 1352
Clement VI would become the most "French" of the popes ruling from Avignon, appointing mostly Frenchmen to the position of cardinal when openings occurred. He also "ruled" in a very secular manner, holding a richly ordained court in a vastly enlarged palace.

200. Innocent VI: December 18, 1352 - September 12, 1362 (9 years, 8 months)
One of the popes who ruled from Avignon, Innocent VI was a reform-minded administrator who tried to reverse some of the excesses of his predecessor, Clement VI, and reign in financial extravagance. He even sold off various paintings and jewelry in order to raise funds.

201. Blessed Urban V: September 28, 1362 - December 19, 1370 (8 years, 2 months, 23 days)
A Benedictine monk who once taught theology, Urban V, was something of disciplinarian who eschewed the pomp and festival which other popes seemed to enjoyed.

202. Gregory XI: December 30, 1370 - March 27, 1378 (7 years)
The election of Gregory XI was the last time anyone from France would hold the papal throne. He could be considered a "hopeful" pope - he hoped to move the papal residence from Avignon back to Rome, he hoped to reunite the Western Latin and Eastern Orthodox Churches, and he hoped to launch a Crusade against the Turks.

203. Urban VI: April 8, 1379 - October 15, 1389 (11 years, 6 months)
Urban VI was elected by French Cardinals at the behest of a Roman populace which demanded that an Italian once again sit on Peter's throne. This would not prove to be a good choice for them because Urban really wanted to reform the clergy - in particular, he wanted to limit the extravagant lifestyles which the cardinals had come to enjoy.

204. Boniface IX: November 2, 1389 - October 1, 1404 (14 years, 11 months)
Pope Boniface IX was the second pope during the Great Western Schism and his failure to do much to end this rift causes most to regard his papacy as something of a failure.

 

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