Saturday, May 20, 2017

Origin of Roman Catholic Church - 47

Continues from the previous post –

Continues from previous post –

Sicily, linked politically to the southern region of Italy, is an area of profound concern to the papacy - this kingdom is Rome's southern neighbor. Rome therefore takes seriously the vacancy on the Sicilian throne in 1254, caused by the death of Frederick II's son Conrad IV. Admittedly, there are claimants from Frederick's Hohenstaufen line. There is his illegitimate son Manfred. And there is the legitimate heir, Conrad IV's son Conradin. But Conradin is only two years old. Conrad's family belonged to German heritage and so Germany was interested in the matter. Pope having anxiety of German rulers wanted to get rid of that linage. However, Pope could not openly show that for obvious reasons.

In the circumstances the papacy feels it right to intervene. The kingdom of Sicily is a
vassal of the Holy See, and a sympathetic ruler needs to be found. The crown is first offered in 1255 to one of the sons of Henry III, king of England.

The English knowing the smart trick of Pope showed little interest in that offer. Meanwhile, in 1258, Manfred arranges for his own coronation in Sicily. This move leads to prolonged negotiations with Rome which finally break down in 1263. The pope then offers the crown of Sicily and Naples to Charles of Anjou - a younger brother of Louis IX, the king of France. In 1263 it is a French pope, Urban IV, who selects Louis' younger brother Charles of Anjou to rule the kingdom of Naples and Sicily. This is an example that shows how Pope's emotional attachment to his links with his heritage was influencing his decisions.

Charles brings a French army to Italy and kills Manfred in battle near Benevento in 1266. Two years later the 15 year-old Conradin is captured and handed over to Charles, who has him executed in a public ceremony in Naples. Thus, finally German linage to throne is removed permanently. This touches German power and they become sensitive of Pope and French act of Charles.

Sicily and southern Italy are now in French hands, to the satisfaction of Rome. The French and the papacy share a profound hostility to the German empire - a rivalry expressed in Italian terms in the opposition of the papal party of the Guelphs to the Ghibellines, the supporters of the empire. The Popes are therefore delighted to have enemies of the Germans as their southern neighbors.

The Sicilians, however, are less enchanted by the arrival of French nobles (to whom large tracts of Sicilian land are distributed as feudal territories) and by high taxes imposed on them to pay for the military campaigns of Charles of Anjou; with consent of Pope.

The resentment against Angevin rule erupts in the Sicilian Vespers of 1282. Southern Italy enters two centuries of turmoil. The opponents are the French Angevin and the papacy on one side and the Spanish Aragonese, with frequent support from the German empire, on the other.

The Popes are often on the losing side. Even more harmful perhaps is a new perception resulting from all this military activity. Popes come to seem almost indistinguishable from temporal princes, taking sides (usually with France) in Italy and Europe's patchwork canvas of warfare. The resulting loss of Vatican's spiritual authority and creditability is a feature of the next two centuries. Pope continued to indulge in every political activity. Jesus became less important and Popes became more important for Roman Catholic Church. We observe that Lord Jesus seems to have no place at all in any of the papal activities.

Continues in the next post –

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