Alexander IV (Pope)

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Alexander IV , originally Count Rainald von Segni , also Rinaldo Conti , (* around 1199 in Anagni ; † May 25, 1261 in Viterbo ) was Pope from December 12, 1254 to May 25, 1261 . He was the son of Count Philip V von Jenne .

Clerical career

Gregory IX. elevated his nephew Alexander, who, like himself, came from the Conti family, in 1227 as cardinal deacon of S. Eustachio and on August 11, 1231 as cardinal-bishop- Elekt of Ostia and Velletri . He retained the office of cardinal deacon until the beginning of 1235 and was ordained bishop only before May 5, 1235 . He was also the papal chamberlain from 1227 to 1231. On December 12, 1254, he was determined by the cardinals in Naples by compromissum as the successor to Innocent IV and enthroned on December 20, 1254 .


Confrontation with the Hohenstaufen

Alexander IV was a gentle, indecisive Pope who evaded every decision. Therefore he was powerless and unsuccessful during his pontificate . Like his predecessor, Innocent IV, he was the guardian of the last, orphaned, Hohenstaufen Konradin , and since 1254 Duke of Swabia , King of Sicily and Jerusalem , but he refused this guardianship. However , the Pope was unable to assert himself against his uncle, Manfred , who was the governor of Sicily. In 1255 Alexander unsuccessfully urged all feudal people and nobles in the Duchy of Swabia to renounce Konradin.

On March 25, 1255 he excommunicated the governor Manfred and enfeoffed instead of him on April 9, 1255 the ten-year-old Edmund von Lancaster , a son of Henry III. of England , with Sicily . However, the island was not seized by the English because the English parliament rejected the candidacy because of the harsh papal conditions. Then Alexander turned to Charles I of Anjou , who also refused. The rejection came under pressure from King Ludwig IX. of France, who still regarded the Hohenstaufen as legitimate kings of Sicily.

In the German interregnum, Alexander IV preferred the Roman-German King Wilhelm of Holland , who had been set up against the Hohenstaufen as an anti -king. But he was killed on January 28, 1256 in the war against the Frisians . After his death, the Pope forbade the election of Staufer Konradin of Swabia as German king and also opposed the election of Ottokar II of Bohemia. Instead, both the Englishman Richard of Cornwall , a brother of Henry III. elected by England , which Alexander IV supported temporarily, as well as Alfons X of Castile , a grandson of the Roman-German King Philip of Swabia .

When Manfred was crowned King of Sicily in Palermo on August 10, 1258 and thus usurped the throne against the rights of his nephew Conradin and the suzerainty of the Pope in Sicily, he became a serious opponent of the Pope. Manfred, who wanted to become King of Italy and then pursue a purely national-Italian policy, was excommunicated for the second time by Pope Alexander. Regardless of the papal excommunication and the ecclesiastical punishments (1259–60) against him and his followers, King Manfred continued to pursue his previously successful policy, and large parts of the papal state were lost. At the end of his pontificate, Pope Alexander had to flee from Rome to Viterbo before King Manfred and died there in 1261. In France, however, the attitude of Louis IX slowly changed. and after the French Urban IV was elected to succeed Alexander, Charles I of Anjou was sent to Italy.

Church politics

Alexander IV spoke out against the beginning of the witch hunt . In his view, the church should limit itself to fighting heretics like the Cathars and Waldensians . Therefore, on January 20, 1260, Pope Alexander IV warned the inquisitors of the Dominican Order founded at the beginning of the century :

The cause entrusted to you [namely the fight against heresies and heretics] is so important that you must not allow yourself to be deterred by pursuing other types of crimes. Therefore, you should only bring proceedings against divination and sorcery if they are evidently caused by the heresy; in all other cases they have to be left with the [secular] judges who have been appointed for this since ancient times "

- ( CIC , Liber Sextus 5,2,8)


In 1256, Alexander joined Rome's hermit societies through a general chapter to form a society that was elevated to the order of "Hermit of St. Augustine" ( Augustinian Hermits ) on April 9, 1256 , and for this purpose published the bull Licet ecclesiae catholicae .

In his last years Alexander tried to establish a union with Byzantium and ran a crusade to repel the " Tatars " known as the " Tatars " of the Turkish - Mongolian horsemen of the Golden Horde . He achieved success with the Union of the Latin and Greek Churches, which concerned the coexistence between Latins and Greeks in Cyprus. He also elevated the city of Riga to the Archdiocese of Riga . In addition, he endeavored to remedy church grievances, such as a period of only six months between election and ordination, the obligation to "visitatio ad limina" , through the Constitution Execrabilis , and the repeal of all general dispensations and the restriction of the allocation of commissions by the bull Licet ecclesia (April 9, 1256).

Alexander IV was a cardinal protector of the Franciscans and the Poor Clares for many years (de facto since 1227), and as Pope retained his fondness for the mendicant orders . He expanded the powers of the Inquisition , had Clare of Assisi canonized and lifted the pastoral care restrictions for the mendicant orders by overriding his predecessor's provisions through the Bull Nec insolitum (December 22, 1254). In spite of fierce opposition, he also ensured the right of the mendicants to teach at the University of Paris in the bull Quasi lignum vitae (April 14, 1255). Likewise, however, he condemned the attacked Liber introductorius of Gerhard von Borgo San Donnino on October 23, 1255 and forbade disputations between lay people and heretics.

See also


  • Ex Alexandri IV registro. In: Epistolae saeculi XIII e regestis pontificum Romanorum selectae . Part 3. Edited by Karl Rodenberg. Berlin 1894, pp. 314–473 ( Monumenta Germaniae Historica , digitized version )


  • Franz Tenckhoff: Pope Alexander IV. Schöningh, Paderborn 1907 (plus dissertation Münster 1907)
  • Josef Maubach: The cardinals and their politics around the middle of the 13th century under the Popes Innocent IV., Alexander IV., Urban IV., Clemens IV .: (1243-1268) . Bonn 1902.
  • Georg Schwaiger : Alexander IV. In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages (LexMA). Volume 1, Artemis & Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1980, ISBN 3-7608-8901-8 , Sp. 373.

Web links

Commons : Alexander IV.  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  1. Vones, Ludwig: Alexander IV. In: Walter Kasper (ed.) Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche (LThK), Volume 1 A bis Barcelona, ​​3rd edition, Freiburg 1993–2001, column 368–370 ISBN 3451220121 .
  2. ^ Georg Schwaiger: Alexander IV. In: Lexikon des Mittelalters (LexMA). Volume 1, Artemis & Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1980, ISBN 3-7608-8901-8 , Sp. 373.
  3. : Pope Benedict XVI. makes a pilgrimage to St. Augustine April 21, 2007
predecessor Office successor
Innocent IV. Pope
Urban IV.
Ugolino dei Conti di Segni Cardinal Dean
Enrico Bartolomei
Ugolino dei Conti di Segni Bishop of Ostia
Enrico Bartolomei