Council of Vienne

The Council of Vienne was the fifteenth Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church that met between 1311 and 1312 in Vienne. Its principal act was to withdraw papal support for the Knights Templar on the instigation of Philip IV of France, after the French monarch attacked Rome and killed Pope Boniface VIII (Attack at Agnani).

Council of Vienne
Military and religious life in the Middle Ages and at the period of the Renaissance (1870) (14781914891)
Accepted byRoman Catholicism
Previous council
Second Council of Lyons
Next council
Council of Constance
Convoked byPope Clement V
PresidentPope Clement V
Attendance20 cardinals, 122 bishops, 38 abbots (several more were barred by Philip IV of France)
TopicsKnights Templar
Documents and statements
Knights Templar disbanded, King Philip absolved of actions against Pope Boniface VIII, crusade declared (but never carried out)
Chronological list of ecumenical councils


The Knights Templar were founded after the First Crusade of 1096 to ensure the safety of European pilgrims to Jerusalem. In the following centuries the order grew in power and wealth. In the early 14th century, Philip IV of France needed money urgently to continue his war with England and so he accused the Grand Master of the Templars, Jacques De Molay, of corruption and heresy. In 1307 Philip had many French Templars arrested, charged with heresies, and tortured by the French authorities until they allegedly confessed. This action released Philip from his obligation to repay loans from the Templars and allowed him to confiscate the Templars' assets in France.

Pope Clement V was under the control of Philip. One of the Pope's predecessors, Boniface VIII, had claimed supremacy over Philip and had attempted to excommunicate him when Philip disagreed. However Boniface was seized at Anagni by a party of horsemen under the command of Philip's men. Though he was later released, the elderly Boniface died shortly after. Boniface's successor, Pope Benedict XI, lasted less than a year before he too died, possibly poisoned by Philip's agent Guillaume de Nogaret. The Frenchman Pope Clement thereafter was strongly pressured to follow Philip's directions.

Calling of the Council

Pope Clement V caused the Council to meet by issuing the bulls Faciens misericordiam and Regnans in coelis in August 1308. The city chosen was Vienne, which is on the Rhône river in the south of modern France and at the time was outside the direct control of Philip IV. The neutral setting was intended to give the impression of independent action.

The main item on the agenda of the Council not only cited the Order of Knights Templar itself, but also "its lands", which indicated that further seizures of property were proposed. However the agenda also invited archbishops and prelates to bring proposals for improvements in the life of the Church.

Special notice were sent to the Templars directing them to send suitable defensores (defenders) to the Council. The Grand Master Jacques de Molay and others had also been commanded to appear in person. However, Molay was already imprisoned in Paris and trials of other Templars were already in progress. This delayed the opening of the Council, which finally convened on 16 October 1311. The attendees consisted of twenty cardinals, four patriarchs, about one hundred archbishops and bishops, plus several abbots and priors.

The decisions taken

Cathedral of Vienne

The acts of the Council have disappeared, with the exceptions of a fragment in a manuscript in the National Library in Paris, and of the financial documents of the Templars that were requisitioned. The work of the Council was not done in plenary session, but a commission was appointed to examine these official records concerning the order, with a smaller committee of archbishops and bishops presided over by the Archbishop of Aquileia, which was to examine exhaustively the official records and the abstracts. The pope and the cardinals negotiated with the members of this commission respecting the matter. A commission of cardinals was also appointed in order to investigate grievances and proposals advanced on the subject of church reform.

A majority of the cardinals and nearly all the members of the commission were of the opinion that the Order of Knights Templar should be granted the right to defend itself, and that no proof collected up to then was sufficient to condemn the order of the heresy of which it was accused by Philip's ministry, without straining canon law. The discussion of Knights Templar was then put in abeyance. The topic changed to the need for an expedition to the Holy Land and about the reform of ecclesiastical morals. The delegates of the King of Aragon wanted the city of Granada to be attacked, to attack the Muslims on the flank; others wanted a crusade to the east only.

In February 1312 envoys from the Philip IV negotiated with the Pope without consulting the Council, and Philip held an assembly in Lyon to put further pressure on the Pope and the Council. Philip IV went to Vienne on 20 March. Clement was forced to adopt the expedient of suppressing the Order of Knights Templar, not by legal method (de jure), but on the grounds of the general welfare of the Church and by Apostolic ordinance (per modum provisionis seu ordinationis apostolicae). The Pope gave to the commission of cardinals for approval the bull to suppress the Templars in Vox in excelso (A voice from on high), dated 22 March 1312. This bull was approved by the Council on 3 April 1312 and the Pope announced a future crusade.

The bulls Ad providam of 2 May and Nuper in concilio of 16 May confiscated Templar property. The fate of the Templars themselves was decided by the bull Considerantes of 6 May. In the bulls Licet dudum (18 Dec. 1312), Dudum in generali concilio (31 Dec. 1312) and Licet pridem (13 Jan. 1313), Clement V dealt with further aspects of the Templars' property.

In return, Philip IV dropped the threatened charges of heresy against the late Pope Boniface VIII. Nevertheless, an earlier decree was renewed, whereby the King of France was absolved from all responsibility for whatever he had done against Boniface, though the notorious "Outrage" at Anagni was never actually mentioned.

At the third and final formal session, held 6 May, a letter from the King of France was read aloud, in which he promised to take up the cross, together with his sons and large numbers of the nobility, and to begin a crusade within six years. If he should die before this time, his eldest son would undertake the expedition. Philip IV died the following year. The usual reaction to such a declaration was to lay a church tithe: the tax was levied throughout Christendom for six years for this purpose, but in France the revenues drawn from the six years of tithe were held by the king, who in fact used the funds to wage war against Flanders. The crusade never took place.

The written suggestions for discussion by the Council as to the reform of the Church did not aim to improve morals, but instead tried to specify what constituted "poverty" for the clergy and to protect the Church's independence of action (an urgent question, in the circumstances). These matters were also dealt with in the third session of the Council by the approval of an unknown number of draft constitutions. These were revised and further constitutions were added after the Council had ended, but they were not finalised until after Pope Clement's death in 1314. They were published in 1317 by Clement's successor Pope John XXII as the collection of canon law called the Constitutiones Clementinae. Giovanni Villani discussed the Council of Vienne in his Chronicles, IX, XXII.

In 1311, the Council ordered the disbandment of the Beguine movement. The Beguines were a group of women all over Northern Europe, eventually spreading to the Low Countries (France and Germany). They were persecuted and eventually deemed as heretics and disbanded. According to the Council, members of this movement were deemed heretics because of their stance taken concerning the perfectability of the human person in this life, and the privileges accorded to such persons permanently and absolutely perfected (such as remaining seated before the consecrated Eucharist).

University chairs

The Council also decreed the establishment of chairs (professorships) of Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic at the Universities of Avignon, Paris, Oxford, Bologna and Salamanca, although the chairs of Arabic were not actually set up.[1]


  1. ^ Irwin, Robert. For lust of knowing, Penguin, 2007 pp47-8. ISBN 978-0-14-028923-7.

External links


Year 1311 (MCCCXI) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

Apostolici Regiminis

Not to be confused with Regiminis Apostolici

Apostolici Regiminis was a papal bull issued 19 December 1513, by Pope Leo X, in defence of the Roman Catholic doctrine concerning the immortality of the soul.

Its object was to condemn a two-fold doctrine then current: That the soul of man is of its nature mortal, and that it is one and the same soul which animates all men. Others, prescinding from the teaching of revelation, held that doctrine to be true according to natural reason and philosophy.

Leo X condemned the doctrine in itself and from every point of view. He refers to the definition of the Council of Vienne (1311) published by Pope Clement V (1305–14) which taught that the soul is "really, of itself, and essentially, the form of the body"; and then declares that it is of its own nature immortal, and that each body has a soul of its own.

This doctrine is said to be clear from those words of the Gospel, "But he cannot kill the soul", and "he who hates his soul in this world preserves it for eternal life". Moreover, if the condemned doctrine were true, the Incarnation would have been useless, and we should not need the Resurrection; and those who are the most holy would be the most wretched of all.

The Bull enjoins on all professors of philosophy in universities to expound for their pupils the true doctrine and refute the false one. To prevent such errors in future, the Bull makes it obligatory on all ecclesiastics, secular and regular, in holy orders, who devote their time to the study of philosophy and poetry for five years after the study of grammar and dialectic, to study also theology or canon law.

Beguines and Beghards

The Beguines and the Beghards were Christian lay religious orders that were active in Northern Europe, particularly in the Low Countries in the 13th–16th centuries. Their members lived in semi-monastic communities but did not take formal religious vows. That is, although they promised not to marry "as long as they lived as Beguines," to quote one of the early Rules, they were free to leave at any time. Beguines were part of a larger spiritual revival movement of the thirteenth century that stressed imitation of Christ's life through voluntary poverty, care of the poor and sick, and religious devotion.

Brethren of the Free Spirit

The Brethren of the Free Spirit were adherents of a loose set of beliefs deemed heretical by the Catholic Church but held (or at least believed to be held) by some Christians, especially in the Low Countries, Germany, France, Bohemia and northern Italy between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. The movement was first identified in the late thirteenth century. It was not a single movement or school of thought, and it caused great unease among Church leaders at the time. Adherents were also called Free Spirits.

The set of errors condemned in the bull Ad nostrum at the Council of Vienne (1311–12) has often been used by historians to typify the core beliefs, though there was great variation during the period over how the heresy was defined, and there is great debate over how far the individuals and groups accused of holding the beliefs (including Marguerite Porete, beguines, beghards, and Meister Eckhart) actually held the views attributed to them.The meaning of the term has in more recent times been extended to apply to the beliefs of other Christian individuals and groups, active both before and after the core period of the late Middle Ages.

Catholic ecumenical councils

Catholic ecumenical councils include 21 councils over a period of some 1900 years. While definitions changed throughout history, in today's Roman Catholic understanding ecumenical councils are assemblies of Patriarchs, Cardinals, residing Bishops, Abbots, male heads of religious orders and other juridical persons, nominated by the Pope. The purpose of an ecumenical council is to define doctrine, reaffirm truths of the Faith, and extirpate heresy. Council decisions, to be valid, are approved by the popes. Participation is limited to these persons, who cannot delegate their voting rights.

Ecumenical councils are different from provincial councils, where bishops of a Church province or region meet. Episcopal conferences and plenary councils are other bodies, meetings of bishops of one country, nation, or region, such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This article does not include councils of a lower order or regional councils. Ecumenical in the Catholic view does not mean that all bishops attended the councils, which was not even the case in Vatican II. Nor does ecumenical imply the participation of or acceptance by all Christian communities and Churches. Ecumenical refers to "a solemn congregations of the Catholic bishops of the world at the invitation of the Pope to decide on matters of the Church with him". The ecumenical character of the councils of the first millennium was not determined by the intention of those who issued the invitations. The papal approval of the early councils did not have a formal character, which was characteristic in later councils. The Catholic Church did not officially declare these councils to be ecumenical. This became theological practice. Different evaluations existed between and within Christian communities. Today 21 councils are accepted in the Catholic church as ecumenical councils.Not all of the twenty-one councils were always accepted as ecumenical within the Catholic Church. For example, the inclusion of the First Lateran Council and the Council of Basel were disputed. A 1539 book on ecumenical councils by Cardinal Dominicus Jacobazzi excluded them as did other scholars. The first few centuries did not know large-scale ecumenical meetings; they were only feasible after the Church had gained freedom from persecution through Emperor Constantine.


In religion, ensoulment is the moment at which a human being gains a soul. Some religions say that a soul is newly created within a developing child and others, especially in religions that believe in reincarnation, that the soul is pre-existing and added at a particular stage of development.

In the time of Aristotle, it was widely believed that the human soul entered the forming body at 40 days (male embryos) or 90 days (female embryos), and quickening was an indication of the presence of a soul. Other religious views are that ensoulment happens at the moment of conception; or when the child takes the first breath after being born; at the formation of the nervous system and brain; at the first brain activity (e.g., heartbeat); or when the fetus is able to survive independently of the uterus (viability).The concept is closely related to debates on the morality of abortion as well as the morality of contraception. Religious beliefs that human life has an innate sacredness to it have motivated many statements by spiritual leaders of various traditions over the years. However, the three matters are not exactly parallel, given that various figures have argued that some kind of life without a soul, in various contexts, still has a moral worth that must be considered.

Faciens misericordiam

Faciens misericordiam (Granting forgiveness) was a papal bull issued by Pope Clement V on August 12, 1308, as part of the trial against the Knights Templar. It called for a new Ecumenical council to be held in 1310, and set out some structure for the collection of depositions from the arrested Templars.

H. Bricmore

H. Bricmore, Brichemore, or Brydgemoore (14th century), surnamed Sophista, was a Scottish scholastic philosopher. Bricmore is stated by John Leland to have lived at Oxford, and to have written commentaries on some of the works of Aristotle. He is probably the same person as Brichemon, of whom Leland gives a very similar description. The only account of his life comes from Thomas Dempster who states that Bricmore was one of a number of Scots sent to the University of Oxford by decree of the council of Vienne, and that he was a canon of Holy Rood, Edinburgh. Dempster adds, implausibly, that he died in England in 1382.

Hugh of Chalon (archbishop of Besançon)

Hugo III of Chalon (c. 1260 – c. 1312) was a cleric from Free County of Burgundy.

Hugues was a son of Jean "the old" of Chalon (1190 – 1267), Sire of Salins and his third wife Laura of Commercy (d. 1275), sister of Simon IV, Count of Saarbrücken. His nephew Jean of Châlon (1300 - c.1334), son of Jean I, Seigneur of Châlon-Arlay, the Bishop of Basel, and Bishop of Langres and Peer of France.

He studied theology in Paris and was an archdeacon in Laon. From 1295 to 1301 he was prince-bishop of Liège, appointed by Pope Boniface VIII. Jean played a role in the conflict between Awans and Waroux (fr) (1297-1335), and supported with the siege of Awans until their surrender. Hugues could not prevent military action from both sides and the war continued for decades. There were other conflicts around Liège too, with the Count of Namur and rebels on one side, and the Duke of Brabant and the Count of Loon on the other side with the bishop.

In 1300 he defended himself before the Roman curia in Rome against charges from the cathedral chapter and others, that he had defrauded his brother John I of Chalon-Auxerre and that he had sold off ecclesiastical possessions for benefits and allegiances. Pope Boniface VIII removed him from his bishopric at Liège and instead made him Archbishop of Besançon.

Hugues participated in the Council of Vienne (1311-1312) convoked by Pope Clement V, where he contracted an illness and died, probably around 22 February 1312.

Keele University

Keele University, officially known as the University of Keele, is a public research university located about 3 miles (5 km) from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, England. Keele was granted university status by Royal Charter in 1962 and was founded in 1949 as the University College of North Staffordshire. A science park and a conference centre complements the academic buildings, making it the largest campus university in the UK. The university's School of Medicine operates the clinical part of its courses from a separate campus at the Royal Stoke University Hospital. The School of Nursing and Midwifery practice is based at the nearby Clinical Education Centre.

The university occupies a 625-acre (250 ha) rural campus close to the village of Keele and consists of extensive woods, lakes and Keele Hall set in Staffordshire Potteries. The estate was originally given by King Henry II of England to the Knights Templars in 1180. When the Templars were condemned and dissolved by the Council of Vienne in 1311, their possessions were annexed by the Knights Hospitallers until their dissolution by Henry VIII. The estate was purchased from the Crown by the Sneyd family and remained their property until acquisition by the Stoke-on-Trent Corporation in 1948.

List of excommunicable offences in the Catholic Church

This is a list, in chronological order, of present and past offences to which the Roman Catholic Church has attached the penalty of excommunication; the list is not exhaustive. In most cases these were "automatic excommunications", wherein the violator who knowingly breaks the rule is considered automatically excommunicated from the church regardless of whether a bishop (or the pope) has excommunicated them publicly. However, in a few cases a bishop would need to name the person who violated the rule for them to be excommunicated.

Excommunication is an ecclesiastical penalty placed on a person to encourage the person to return to the communion of the church. An excommunicated person cannot receive any sacraments or exercise an office within the church until the excommunication is lifted by a valid authority in the church (usually a bishop). Previously, other penalties could also be attached. In cases where excommunication is reserved for the apostolic see, only the bishop of Rome (the pope) has the power to lift the excommunication. Before 1869, the church distinguished "major" and "minor" excommunication; a major excommunication was often marked by simply writing, "Let them be anathema" in council documents. Only offences from the 1983 Code of Canon Law still have legal effect in the church.

List of excommunicated cardinals

Only a few dozen cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church have been excommunicated. A cardinal is a Roman Catholic priest, deacon, or bishop entitled to vote in a papal election. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals. Excommunication—literally, the denial of communion—means that a person is barred from participating in the Sacraments or holding ecclesiastical office. Ne Romani (1311), promulgated by Pope Clement V during the Council of Vienne, extended suffrage in papal election to excommunicated cardinals in an attempt to limit schisms.This list includes only cardinals who have been explicitly excommunicated by a pope or ecumenical council, rather than those who (depending on one's interpretation) may have been excommunicated latae sententiae. For example, several precepts of papal election law prescribed automatic excommunication, such as Licet de vitanda of the Lateran Council which prohibited election by one-third, and Pope Pius X's Commissum Nobis, which made the exercise of the jus exclusivae by any cardinal punishable by excommunication. It also does not include excommunicated quasi-cardinals (cardinals elevated by antipopes) or clerics excommunicated before receiving the red hat.

Many excommunicated cardinals reconciled (most often with the successor of their excommunicator) and had their offices restored. Some would later be elected pope; for example, Formosus and Sergius III.

October 16

October 16 is the 289th day of the year (290th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. 76 days remain until the end of the year.

Pope Boniface VIII

Pope Boniface VIII (Latin: Bonifatius VIII; born Benedetto Caetani, c. 1230 – 11 October 1303) was pope from 24 December 1294 to his death in 1303. Caetani was of baronial origin with family connections to the papacy. He spent his early career abroad in diplomatic roles.

He succeeded Pope Celestine V, a Benedictine, who had resigned from the papal throne. In the College of Cardinals, Boniface discriminated not only against the Benedictines but also members of the Colonna family, some of whom had contested the validity of the 1294 papal conclave that elected him following the unusual resignation of Pope Celestine V. The dispute resulted in battles between troops of Boniface and his adversaries and the deliberate destruction and salting of the town of Palestrina, despite the pope's assurances that the surrendering city would be spared.

Boniface VIII was a pope who put forward some of the strongest claims of any pope to temporal as well as spiritual power. He involved himself often with foreign affairs, including in France, Sicily, Italy and the First War of Scottish Independence. These views, and his chronic intervention in "temporal" affairs, led to many bitter quarrels with Albert I of Germany, Philip IV of France, and Dante Alighieri, who wrote his treatise De Monarchia to dispute Boniface's claims of papal supremacy and placed the pope in the Eighth Circle of Hell in his Divine Comedy, among the simoniacs.

Boniface systematized canon law by collecting it in a new volume, Liber Sextus (1298), which continues to be important source material for canon lawyers. He organized the first Catholic "jubilee" year to take place in Rome in order to gain political clout over Philip IV of France or make up for loss of funds from him. Boniface had first entered into conflict with Philip IV of France in 1296 when the latter sought to reinforce the nascent nation state by imposing taxes on the clergy and barring them from administration of the law. The conflict escalated when the French arrested and convicted papal legate Bernard Saisset for insurrection. The pope issued a bull, Ausculta Fili, in which he declared that both spiritual and temporal power were under the pope's jurisdiction, and that kings were subordinate to the power of the Roman pontiff. Philip disobeyed and had Ausculta Fili publicly burnt in Paris in 1302. Boniface excommunicated Philip and all others who prevented French clergy from traveling to the Holy See, after which the king sent his troops to attack the pope's residence in Anagni on 7 September 1303 and capture him. Boniface was held for three days and beaten badly.

Boniface died a month later, on 11 October 1303, of high fever and was buried in a special chapel. Philip IV pressured Pope Clement V of the Avignon Papacy into staging a posthumous trial to Boniface. He was accused of heresy and sodomy. Pope Clement V referred the process to the 1311 Council of Vienne, where two knights challenged the claim to a trial by combat. With no one willing to fight them, the Council declared the matter closed. His body was accidentally exhumed 1605 and was found to be in relatively good condition, dispensing the legend that he had become frenzied, gnawing his hands and bashing his brains out against the wall.

Pope Clement V

Pope Clement V (Latin: Clemens V; c. 1264 – 20 April 1314), born Raymond Bertrand de Got (also occasionally spelled de Guoth and de Goth), was Pope from 5 June 1305 to his death in 1314. He is remembered for suppressing the order of the Knights Templar and allowing the execution of many of its members, and as the Pope who moved the Papacy from Rome to Avignon, ushering in the period known as the Avignon Papacy.

Reginald of Bar (bishop of Metz)

Reginald of Bar (Renaud de Bar, d. 1316) was bishop of Metz from 1302.

Reginald was the son of Theobald II, Count of Bar, and his wife Joan of Toucy. He was made canon at Rheims, Laon, Verdun and Cambrai and then, before 1298, archdeacon of Brussels. He then became archdeacon of Besançon in 1299 before being made canon and 'princier' of Metz in 1301 and provost of la Madeleine in Verdun in 1302. In mid-1302, he was elected bishop of Metz, but the election was considered irregular since the pope held the privilege of name the holder of this bishopric. To solve the problem, appease the clergy at Metz, and save face, Pope Boniface VIII vetoed the election but then immediately named Reginald as his choice for the bishopric. He was the only prelate from the archdiocese of Trier to assist at the council of Vienne, called by pope Clement V to suppress the Templars. Reginald fought against Theobald II, Duke of Lorraine, then against the magistrates of Metz.

He was forced to retire in the messine campaign and died on 4 May 1316, apparently poisoned.


Transiturus de hoc mundo is the incipit of the papal bull issued on 11 August 1264 by Pope Urban IV in which the feast of Corpus Christi (festum corporis) was declared throughout the entire Latin Rite. This was the very first papally sanctioned universal feast in the history of the Latin Rite.Thomas Aquinas contributed substantially to the bull, mostly in parts concerned with the liturgical text the new feast.

Aquinas composed the sequence Tantum ergo sacramentum for this purpose.

The successors of Urban IV did not uphold the decree, and the feast was suspended until 1311, when it was reintroduced by Clement V at the Council of Vienne.

Vienne, Isère

Vienne (French pronunciation: ​[vjɛn]; Arpitan: Vièna) is a commune in southeastern France, located 35 kilometres (22 mi) south of Lyon, on the river Rhône. It is only the fourth largest city in the Isère department, of which it is a subprefecture, but was a major center of the Roman Empire.

Before the arrival of the Roman armies, Vienne was the capital city of the Allobroges, a Gallic people. Transformed into a Roman colony in 47 BC under Julius Caesar, Vienne became a major urban center, ideally located along the Rhône, then a major axis of communication.

It was to Vienne in 7 AD that Augustus banished King Herod Archelaus, so the Herodian family may have had land there.The town later became a Roman provincial capital. Numerous remains of Roman constructions are still visible in modern Vienne. The town was also an important early bishopric in Christian Gaul. Its most famous bishop was Avitus of Vienne. At the Council of Vienne, convened there in October 1311, Pope Clement V abolished the order of the Knights Templar. During the Middle Ages, Vienne was part of the kingdom of Provence, dependent on the Holy Roman Empire, while the opposite bank of the Rhône was French territory, thus making it a strategic position.Today, the town is a regional commercial and industrial center specializing in the food industry. Tourism is also a major part of the town's economy. Indeed, there are many important historical monuments that draw the crowds, but the annual Jazz à Vienne festival in July also makes it a popular tourist destination. It was mentioned multiple times in the book "The Day of the Jackal", by Frederick Forsyth.

William Greenfield

William Greenfield (died 6 December 1315) served as both the Lord Chancellor of England and the Archbishop of York. He was also known as William of Greenfield.

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