Innocent IV.

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Innocent IV at the Council of Lyon (illustration from the 13th century)

Innocent IV , actually Sinibaldo de Fieschi , (* around 1195 in Genoa ; † December 7, 1254 in Naples ) was Roman Pope from 1243 to 1254 .

Early years and papal election

He came from one of the first families of the Genoese upper class, the Fieschi , and after studying in Parma and Bologna was one of the most important canonists of his time.

Sinibaldus has been a magister and papal subdeacon since December 5, 1223, and in 1226 he became a canon in the cathedral chapter of Parma, where his uncle Obizzo Fieschi was bishop. In Rome he belonged to the family of Cardinal Hugolinus. Since November 1226 Sinibaldus can be verified as an auditor litterarum contradictarum , at the end of May 1227 Gregor IX appointed him . as Vice Chancellor of the Roman Church and thus head of the papal chancellery . On September 18, 1227, he was appointed cardinal priest of San Lorenzo in Lucina , five days later Sinibaldus was vice-chancellor for the last time.

His immediate predecessor was Celestine IV , who only held the pontificate for 17 days. After a sedis vacancy of 19 months, Cardinal Fieschi was finally elected Pope by a conclave meeting in Anagni . With the election of Innocent on June 25th and his enthronement as Pope on June 28th 1243, the friendship of the Roman-German Emperor Frederick II with a cardinal turned into enmity with a Pope. In the letter to the Curia , however, he respectfully expressed the expectation that the differences between the Kingdom and the Holy See could be amicably resolved. The negotiations that began a short time later showed, however, that neither the emperor nor the new pope wanted to abandon their claims.

The Mongol problem

At the beginning of Innocent IV's tenure, the acute phase of the Mongol storm had already subsided, because the Mongols, who had been charging against south-eastern Europe up to now, had surprisingly withdrawn to the area of ​​the Golden Horde on the Volga in early 1242 . But they still posed a pre-eminent threat to Christianity. For this reason, the Franciscan Johannes de Plano Carpini was commissioned by Innocent IV in 1245 to visit the Mongolian Great Khan on an official mission as head of a legation. The diplomatic background was that after the devastating Mongol storm of 1241 further military expeditions to Europe were to be excluded, while Innocent IV tried to win the Mongols as allies against the advancing Islam and to secure the crusader states . After an audience with the newly elected Khan Göjük , during which a letter from the Pope should have been presented to him (whether the letter was actually handed over or whether the embassy failed to do so for tactical reasons), the embassy returned and met him June 1247 returned to Kiev with a letter from the Great Khan to the Pope . Since the unsolicited appearance of a delegation from the opposing side, according to Mongolian tradition, meant for the Khan that one wanted to submit to him, the new Mongol ruler called on the Pope in this document with an added, hidden threat to come to him immediately together with the other kings come to submit to him personally. It is not known for certain whether this document was actually delivered to the Pope.

1252 was now in the entourage of King Louis IX. already in the Holy Land are currently looking Dende Minoritenmönch William of Rubruck in Acre by Pope Innocent IV commissioned. to visit the Great Khan also an official mission. After the Mongols had not resumed their attacks on south-eastern Europe, the Pope was even interested this time in their Christianization and in intensive diplomatic contacts with the Mongol empire, as he still hoped to win them as allies against Islam. However, he did not live to see the return of his ambassador, unsuccessful in this regard.

The conflict with the emperor

Innocent IV felt unsafe in Rome both from the people and from the emperor. In a dispute over the city ​​of Viterbo , which belongs to the patrimony of Petri , the two first appeared as opponents. The Pope avoided the meeting desired by the Emperor and secretly fled to Genoa in the summer of 1244 and from there to Lyon . Here he claimed that the emperor had wanted to betray him, and in 1245 convened a general council , the XIII. ecumenical. In front of mainly French and Spanish participants, he accused Frederick in a detailed indictment of breaking the oath, heresy, sacrilege and the suppression of ecclesiastical freedom. The emperor, who just had Viterbo plundered, was found guilty on all counts, banned anew, and obedience to him was forbidden.

Since Frederick II refused to recognize his deposition, the Pope renewed the doctrine of the supremacy of the papacy over the empire in connection with the Donation of Constantine and called against Frederick to crusade , for which he granted the same privileges as for a procession to the holy Country .

During the hostilities that then broke out in Europe, he supported the opposing kings Heinrich Raspe and Wilhelm von Holland . In Italy in particular there were persistent and bloody clashes between the supporters of the Pope and those of the Emperor ( Guelphs and Ghibellines ). Emperor Friedrich declared Pope Innocent IV responsible for two unsuccessful assassinations against him. Even after the death of Frederick II in 1250, Innocent continued the fight against the Hohenstaufen . The Pope first returned to Perugia and later to Rome in 1253.

From now on Innocent IV feuded King Conrad IV and, after his death, Manfred , the illegitimate son of Frederick II, whom the nobility and the estates recognized as his father's successor. On his sick bed in Naples Innocent IV heard of Manfred's victory at Foggia . A short time later Innocent IV died on December 7th, 1254. His successor was Alexander IV.

In addition to Emperor Frederick II and his successors, he also declared King Sancho II of Portugal and King James I of Aragon to be deposed.


In 1251 Innocent IV canonized Margaret of Scotland for her services to the Church. With the Apparatus in quinque libros decretalium he wrote an important commentary on the canon law of his time.

The persecution of heretics was another major concern of the Pope. In this context he issued the bull Ad Extirpanda on May 15, 1252 , which soon became the generally accepted norm for the inquisition procedure . From secular law , the bull adopted torture, which was previously unusual in heresy trials, as a means of establishing the truth.


See also

Web links

Commons : Innocent IV.  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hansgerd Göckenjan: The Western Campaign (1236-1241) from a Mongolian perspective . In: Schmilewski: Wahlstatt 1241. Contributions to the Mongol battle near Liegnitz and its aftermath . Lorch / Württ. 1991.
predecessor Office successor
Celestine IV. Pope
Alexander IV