Pope Benedict XII

Pope Benedict XII (Latin: Benedictus XII; 1285 – 25 April 1342), born Jacques Fornier,[1] was Pope from 30 December 1334[2] to his death in April 1342.[3] He was the third Avignon Pope. Benedict was a careful pope who reformed monastic orders and opposed nepotism. Unable to remove his capital to Rome or Bologna, he started the great palace at Avignon. He decided against a notion of Pope John XXII by saying that souls may attain the "fulness [sic] of the beatific vision" before the Last Judgment.[4] Whilst being a stalwart reformer, he attempted unsuccessfully to reunite the Orthodox Church and Catholic Church, almost 3 centuries after the Great Schism; he also failed to come to an understanding with Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor.


Benedict XII
Papa Benedictus Duodecimus
Papacy began30 December 1334
Papacy ended25 April 1342
PredecessorJohn XXII
SuccessorClement VI
Created cardinal18 December 1327
by John XXII
Personal details
Birth nameJacques Fornier
Saverdun, Kingdom of France
Died25 April 1342 (aged 57)
Avignon, County of Provence
Coat of armsBenedict XII's coat of arms
Other popes named Benedict
Papal styles of
Pope Benedict XII
Coat of arms of Pope Benedict XII
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleNone

Early life

Little is known of the origins of Jacques Fournier. He is believed to have been born in Canté in the Comté de Foix around the 1280s to a family of modest means. He became a Cistercian[5] monk and left the countryside to study at the University of Paris. In 1311 he was made Abbot of Fontfroide Abbey and quickly became known for his intelligence and organizational ability. In 1317 he was made Bishop of Pamiers. There he undertook a rigorous hunt for Cathar heretics,[6] such as Guillaume Bélibaste, which won him praise from religious authorities, but alienated the local people.

His efforts against the Cathars of Montaillou in the Ariège were carefully recorded in the Fournier Register, which he took to Rome and deposited in the Vatican Library.[7] His transcription was edited by Jean Duvernoy and has been documented by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie's pioneering microhistory, Montaillou, village occitan.

In 1326, upon the successful rooting out of the last – it was believed – heretics of the south, he was made Bishop of Mirepoix in the Ariège, and, a year later, in 1327, he was made a cardinal.

Accession to Papacy

Fournier succeeded Pope John XXII as Pope, after being elected in the Conclave of 1334. The Conclave opened on 13 December, and it appeared that there might be a quick election. A two-thirds majority were prepared to elect Cardinal Jean-Raymond de Comminges, the Bishop of Porto, if he would only swear in advance to agree not to return the Papacy to Rome. Comminges refused to make any promises in order to get elected. The Conclave therefore ground on through lengthy discussions. As Fournier himself said, "... in the discussion held over the election of a future pope, they could certainly have agreed on others more conspicuous for the repute of their great merits...",[8] in other words, there were a number of possible candidates. The Cistercian cardinal, Jacques Fournier, was elected on the evening of 20 December 1334, after Vespers, on the eighth day of the Conclave.[9]

Papal policy and activity

Benedict XII was a reforming pope who did not carry out the policies of his predecessor. He chose to make peace with Holy Roman Emperor Louis IV, and as far as possible came to terms with the Franciscans, who were then at odds with the Roman See. He tried to curb the luxuries of the monastic orders, though without much success. He also ordered the construction of the Palais des Papes in Avignon.

Benedict spent most of his time working on questions of theology. He rejected many of the ideas developed by John XXII. In this regard, he promulgated an apostolic constitution, Benedictus Deus, in 1336. This dogma defined the Church's belief that the souls of the departed go to their eternal reward immediately after death, as opposed to remaining in a state of unconscious existence until the Last Judgment.[10][11] Though some claim that he campaigned against the Immaculate Conception, this is far from clear. He engaged in long theological debates with other noted figures of the age, such as William of Ockham and Meister Eckhart.

Though born a Frenchman, Benedict felt no patriotism towards France nor her king, Philip VI.[5] From the start of his papacy, relations between him and Philip were frigid.[5] After being informed of Philip's plan to invade Scotland, Benedict hinted that Edward III, King of England would most likely win, regardless.[5]

See also


  1. ^ George L. Williams, Papal Genealogy:The Families and Descendants of the Popes, (McFarland & Company Inc., 1998), 42.
  2. ^ Takashi Shogimen, Ockham and Political Discourse in the Late Middle Ages, (Cambridge University Press, 2007), 156.
  3. ^ Mike Carr, Merchant Crusaders in the Aegean, 1291-1352, (The Boydell Press, 2015), 103.
  4. ^ "Pope Benedict XII". www.nndb.com. Retrieved 2017-01-05.
  5. ^ a b c d Jonathan Sumption, Trial by Battle, Vol.1, (Faber and Faber, 1990), 152-153.
  6. ^ Lutz Kaelber, Schools of Asceticism: Ideology and Organization in Medieval Religious Communities, (The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998), 219.
  7. ^ Norman Davies, Europe: A History, (Oxford University Press, 1996), 411.
  8. ^ habito super electionis futuri papae celebratione tractatu, licet consentire potuissent in alios majorum meritorum claritate conspicuos, et plurium virtutum titulis insignatos: Baronio (ed. Theiner), Vol. 25, p. 21, under the year 1334, 46.
  9. ^ Martin Souchon, Die Papstwahlen von Bonifaz VIII bis Urban VI (Braunschweig: Benno Goeritz 1888), pp. 45-46. J. P. Adams, Sede Vacante 1334. Retrieved: 2016-06-26.
  10. ^ Benedictus Deus on Wikisource
  11. ^ "Benedictus Deus on". Papalencyclicals.net. Archived from the original on 2013-05-31. Retrieved 2013-06-23.


  • Baronio, Cesare (1872). Augustinus Theiner (ed.). Annales ecclesiastici: A. D. 1-1571 denuo excusi et ad nostra usque tempora perducti ab Augustino Theiner (in Latin). Tomus vigesimus quintus (25). Barri-Ducis: Typis et sumptibus Ludovici Guerin.[1333-1356]
  • Guillemain, B. (1952). La politique bénéficiale du Pape Benoît XII. Paris: École des Hautes Études.
  • Le Roy Ladurie, Emmanuel (1982). Montaillou, village occitan de 1294 à 1325. revised edition. Paris: Gallimard.
  • Le Roy Ladurie, Emmanuel. Barbara Bray (ed.) (1978). Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error. New York: George Braziller 1978. [abbreviated edition]
  • Mahn, J. B. (1950). Le Pape Benoit XII et les Cisterciens. Paris: École des Hautes études.
  • Otto, H. (1928). "Benedikt XII also Reformator des Kirchenstaates," Römische Quartalschrift 36 (1928), pp. 59-110.
  • Vidal, Jean-Marie (1905). "Notice sur les oeuvres du Pape Benoit XII." in: Revue d'histoire écclesiastique 6 (1905), pp. 557-565.

Further reading

Murphy, Cullen. God's Jury, - The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2012.

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
30 December 1334 – 25 April 1342
Succeeded by
Clement VI
Preceded by
Pilfort de Rabastens
Bishop of Pamiers
1317 – 1326
Succeeded by
Dominique Grenier
1334 papal conclave

The papal conclave of 1334 (13 December to 20 December) elected Jacques Fournier as Pope Benedict XII to succeed Pope John XXII.

1342 papal conclave

The papal conclave of 1342 (5 May to 7 May) – the papal conclave convened after the death of Pope Benedict XII, it elected Cardinal Pierre Roger, who became the fourth Pope of the period of Avignon Papacy under the name Clement VI.

Benedictus Deus (Benedict XII)

Benedictus Deus was the title of a papal bull issued in 1336 by Pope Benedict XII.

This dogma defined the Church's belief that the souls of the departed go to their eternal reward immediately after death, as opposed to remaining in a state of unconscious existence until the Last Judgment.

Cardinals created by Benedict XII

Pope Benedict XII (r. 1334–1342) created six new cardinals in one consistory celebrated on 18 December 1338:

Gozzio Battaglia, patriarch of Constantinople – cardinal-priest of S. Prisca (received the title on 12 May 1339), † 10 June 1348

Bertrand de Déaulx, archbishop of Embrun – cardinal-priest of S. Marco (received the title on 16 January 1339), then (4 November 1348) cardinal-bishop of Sabina, † 21 October 1355

Pierre Roger, O.S.B., archbishop of Rouen – cardinal-priest of SS. Nereo ed Achilleo (received the title on 12 May 1339), became Pope Clement VI on 7 May 1342, † 6 December 1352

Guillaume de Court, O.Cist., bishop of Albi – cardinal-priest of SS. IV Coronati (received the title on 16 January 1339), then (18 December 1350) cardinal-bishop of Tusculum, † 12 June 1361

Bernard d'Albi, bishop of Rodez – cardinal-priest of S. Ciriaco alle Terme (received the title on 2 August 1339), then (19 January 1349) cardinal-bishop of Porto e Santa Rufina, † 23 November 1350

Guillaume d'Aure, O.S.B., abbot of Montolieu – cardinal-priest of S. Stefano al Monte Celio (received the title on 16 January 1339), † 3 December 1353Several later authors claimed that cardinal-priest of S. Stefano created in this consistory was Raymond de Montfort, O. de M., who died before the news of his promotion reached him, and it was only in January 1339 when Pope Benedict XII promoted Guillaume d'Aure in his place. Even Eubel (1913) still accepted this story. However, the contemporary Vitae Benedicti XII, and especially the documents from the registers of Benedict XII clearly deny this legend. Guillaume d'Aure is mentioned among the six newly created cardinals from the very beginning, and the alleged promotion of Montfort is not mentioned at all. As early as on 22 December 1338 Guillaume d'Aure is explicitly referred to as cardinal of the Holy Roman Church.

Fournier Register

The Fournier Register is a set of records from the inquisition into heresy run by Jacques Fournier, Bishop of Pamiers between 1318 and 1325. Fournier was later to become Pope Benedict XII.

Francesco II Ordelaffi

Francesco II Ordelaffi (c. 1300–1374), also known as Cecco II, was a lord of Forlì, the son of Sinibaldo Ordelaffi (died 1337, brother of Scarpetta and Francesco) and Orestina Calboli, and the grandson of Teobaldo I Ordelaffi.

Initially he ruled the city with his uncle Francesco, but in 1332 the two were ousted by a Papal Army, remaining in control of Forlimpopoli only. The following year, however, he became the Ghibelline leader in Romagna, receiving the seigniories of Cesena and Bertinoro and establishing a firm rule on Forlì.

In 1337 Francesco imprisoned the Archbishop of Ravenna and was excommunicated by the Pope Benedict XII: however, the struggle ended with the Ordelaffi victorious, since the Pope named him vicar of Forlì, Cesena and Folimpopoli, in exchange of an annual payment. The excommunication was later renewed when he sided for Emperor Louis IV of Bavaria in order to avoid the tribute, being named imperial vicar. Around 1347 he hosted Giovanni Boccaccio in Forlì.

In 1350 Francesco conquered Bertinoro, Meldola, Fontanafredda and Ghiaggiolo, but had to face the opposition of the strong Papal general Gil de Albornoz, supported by the Malatesta of Rimini, as well as another excommunication. Despite the strong resistance of his wife Cia degli Ubaldini and his son Ludovico, Cesena fell on June 21, soon followed by Bertinoro. Francesco and Forlì fell on July 4, 1359, and he was to content of the title of vicar of Forlimpopoli and Castrocaro thenceforth. Later he fought for Bernabò Visconti against the Papal armies, and tried unsuccessfully to reconquer Forlì. He died in Venice in 1374.

His son Sinibaldo was later lord of Forlì.


Galvanus may refer to:

PeopleGalvanus de Bettino (c. 1335–c. 1394), also called Galvanus de Bononia, Galvanus Becchini, Italian religious scholar

Galvanus de Levanto (fl. 14th century), also called Galvanus Januensis, Galvanus of Genoa, and Galvano de Gines), Italian theologian, physician to Pope Benedict XIIOtherGalvanus, an alternate name for Gawain

Lamp of Galvanus, sometimes called lamp of Galvanus Marlianus, an artifact described in the 1658 work Hydriotaphia, Urn Burial by Thomas Browne

Silentium Galvanus, a bogus homeopathic medicine named in an internet meme; see Galvão Bueno#Cala a boca Galvão (Internet meme)

Galvanus de Levanto

Galvanus de Levanto (died c. 1340), also called Galvanus Januensis, Galvanus of Genoa, and Galvano de Gines, was a Genoese physician and priest who served as physician to Pope Benedict XII. He became a priest in 1338. His work survives in an illuminated manuscript, written in double columns with large margins.

Guillaume Bélibaste

Guillaume Bélibaste (occitan: Guilhèm Belibasta) is said to have been the last Cathar parfait in Languedoc. He was burned at the stake in 1321, as a result of the Inquisition at Pamiers led by Jacques Fournier (afterwards Pope Benedict XII). Much of Bélibaste's biography can be found in the pages of Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie's Montaillou; although Bélibaste never lived at Montaillou, he is frequently mentioned in the interrogations of suspected heretics from Montaillou.

He was the son and namesake of Guillaume Bélibaste, a rich farmer at Cubières. After killing a shepherd, he had to leave Cubières and became a shepherd himself, and, in due course, a parfait. As a Cathar preacher, he was the pupil of Pierre and Jacques Authié.

He eventually settled in the Kingdom of Valencia at Sant Mateu and then Morella in the Maestrazgo, where he made baskets and carding combs and became a mentor to a community of Cathars, some of whom had fled persecution in the Languedoc. Others migrated regularly between the two regions. One of the latter was Pierre Maury, a native of Montaillou.

When, in 1320, his lover, Raymonde Piquier, became pregnant, Bélibaste persuaded Pierre Maury to marry her. Then, a few days later, he dissolved the marriage and salvaged his own reputation by making it appear the child was Maury's. Eventually he was betrayed by the spy Arnaud Sicre in the service of the Inquisition. Bélibaste was taken to Villerouge Termenes and burnt at the stake there.

Guillaume Court

Guillaume Court (died 1361) was a French Cistercian theologian and Cardinal.He was briefly bishop of Nîmes, and then bishop of Albi, in 1337, but only for a year, as Pope Benedict XII shortly elevated him to the cardinalate. He was the nephew of Benedict, who as Jacques Fournier had been a bishop of Mirepoix active in hunting heresy in south-west France; and in any case was a countryman and supporter in these activities.

Subsequently he investigated several cases of Franciscan spirituals under suspicion. The major work Liber secretorum eventuum of Joannes de Rupescissa was written to his order. In decisions of an Avignon theological tribune he headed in 1354, Joannes de Rupescissa was cleared; John of Castillon and Francis of Arquata were condemned and burned.

Hugh of Vaucemain

Hugh of Vaucemain (died 1341) was a French Dominican, who became head of his order in 1333. He was a Burgundian.His time as Master-General was marked by a conflict with Pope Benedict XII. Benedict, a Cistercian, was attempting a reform of the monastic orders. Hugh's position as the head of a mendicant order was apparently not against the reform as such, but derived from the feeling that the mendicants' position would then be threatened.The Order numbered around 12,000 at this time, according to a census of 1337. This was a decade before the Black Death, which caused a general fall in population.

John Wishart (bishop)

John Wishart († 1338) was a 14th-century bishop of Glasgow. He was archdeacon of Glasgow from 1321 or earlier. After the death of Bishop John de Lindesay in 1335, John was elected to succeed him at Glasgow, and was consecrated in February 1337 at the orders of Pope Benedict XII at Avignon by Annibald de Ceccano, bishop of Tusculum. His episcopate was extremely brief. His exact death date is not known, but we know that the see was again vacant on 11 May 1338. He was succeeded by William Rae.

List of French popes

Seventeen popes have had French ancestry, all in the second half of the medieval era. The seven popes of the Avignon Papacy were French and are bolded. Since the end of the Avignon Papacy, no French person has been elected pope.

French is the most common non-Italian papal ancestry.

Pope Silvester II, 999–1003: Gerbert of Aurillac

St. Pope Leo IX, 1049–1054: Bruno, Count of Dagsbourg

Pope Stephen IX, 1057–1058: Frederick of Lorraine

Pope Nicholas II, 1058–1061: Gerard of Burgundy

Bl. Pope Urban II, 1088–1099: Otho of Lagery (or Otto or Odo)

Pope Callistus II, 1119–1124: Guido of Vienne

Pope Urban IV, 1261–1264: Jacques Pantaléon

Pope Clement IV, 1265–1268: Guy Foulques

Bl. Pope Innocent V, 1276: Pierre de Tarentaise

Pope Martin IV, 1281–1285: Simon de Brie

Pope Clement V, 1305–1314: Bertrand de Got

Pope John XXII, 1316–1334: Jacques d'Euse

Pope Benedict XII, 1334–1342: Jacques Fournier

Pope Clement VI, 1342–1352: Pierre Roger

Pope Innocent VI, 1352–1362: Stephen Aubert

Bl. Pope Urban V, 1362–1370: Guillaume de Grimoard

Pope Gregory XI, 1370–1378: Pierre Roger de Beaufort

Maol Choluim de Innerpeffray

Maol Choluim de Innerpeffray was a 14th-century bishop-elect of Dunkeld. He was a canon from Strathearn. After the death of bishop William Sinclair, the canons of Dunkeld held an election, which was held late in the year 1337 or early 1338. The result was disputed. Maol Choluim's election was challenged by Richard de Pilmor.

The dispute was taken to the papal court. Pope Benedict XII passed the question on to Bertrand Lagier, Cardinal Bishop of Ostia, for judgment. The cardinal declared the election of both null and void, but appointed Richard to the bishopric. Although we know that Richard died just three years later, Maol Choluim's death is unknown.

Ostasio I da Polenta

Ostasio I da Polenta (died November 14, 1346) was lord of Ravenna from 1322 until his death.

He was the son of Bernardino da Polenta, lord of Cervia. On September 20, 1322 he profited from the absence of Guido Novello da Polenta to seize power in Ravenna, killing the archbishop Rinaldo da Polenta. Four years later Ostasio had his uncle Bannino da Polenta, who held power in Cervia, killed, assuming thenceforth the lordship of that city also.

Ostasio was also a patron of the arts, and housed Giovanni Boccaccio in his court (1345–1346).

Pope Benedict XII legitimised his power with the title Papal vicar, but soon afterwards Ostasio died, allegedly assassinated by his son Bernardino.

Pennal Letter

The Pennal Letter was a historical letter by Owain Glyndŵr to Charles VI, King of France . Owain composed the letter in Latin, in Pennal, in the north of Wales, in 1406, and set out his vision of an independent Wales.The letter is regarded as unique as the only surviving written documentation detailing secular and religious policies for a potential independent Wales in the Middle Ages.

The letter was briefly exhibited at the National Library of Wales in 2000, and a campaign has been founded for its permanent return and display at the National Assembly in Cardiff.

Within the letter Owain pledges obedience to Antipope Benedict XIII of Avignon, supported by Charles VI during the Avignon Papacy as opposed to the Province of Canterbury and Pope Boniface VIII, the pope in Rome, who was supported by the English king Henry IV. He describes the English government as "the barbarous Saxons, who usurped to themselves the land of Wales" and calls for Pope Benedict XII to try and punish the English king Henry IV as a heretic for the burning of many church buildings and the execution of members of the [Welsh] church.

Pope Benedict

Benedict has been the regnal name of sixteen Roman Catholic popes. The name is derived from the Latin benedictus, meaning "blessed"

Pope Benedict I (575–579)

Pope Benedict II (684–685)

Pope Benedict III (855–858)

Pope Benedict IV (900–903)

Pope Benedict V (964)

Pope Benedict VI (972–974)

Pope Benedict VII (974–983)

Pope Benedict VIII (1012–1024)

Pope Benedict IX (1032–1044, 1045–1046 & 1047–1048)

Pope Benedict XI (1303–1304)

Pope Benedict XII (1334–1342)

Pope Benedict XIII (1724–1730)

Pope Benedict XIV (1740–1758)

Pope Benedict XV (1914–1922)

Pope Benedict XVI (2005–2013) – Now pope emeritus (born 1927)Additionally, four antipopes have used the name Benedict:

Antipope Benedict X (1058–1059) – Several cardinals alleged that his election was irregular and he was deposed. His papacy, though later declared illegitimate, has been taken into account in the conventional numbering of subsequent Popes who took the same name.

Antipope Benedict XIII (1394–1423)

Antipope Benedict XIV (1424–1429) & (1430–1437) – Two individuals

Richard de Pilmuir

Richard de Pilmuir [Pilmor, Pylmore] (died 1347) was a 14th-century bishop of Dunkeld. He was a brother of John de Pilmor, bishop of Moray. He was precentor of the bishopric of Moray when, following the death of bishop William Sinclair, the canons of Dunkeld held an election. This happened in the year 1337. The result was disputed. Richard's election was challenged by Maol Choluim de Innerpeffray. The dispute was taken to the papal court. Pope Benedict XII passed the question on to Cardinal Bertrand du Pouget, bishop of Ostia, for judgment. In July 1344 the cardinal declared the election of both null and void, but appointed Richard to the bishopric. Richard, as bishop of Dunkeld, maintained connections with Moray. On 20 October 1345 he is found along with his brother at Elgin Cathedral. Along with other Scottish bishops, he signed a letter addressed to the pope asking requesting legitimation of Robert Stewart's marriage to Elizabeth Mure. He died sometime in November 1347.

William Rae (bishop)

William Rae (died 1376) was a 14th-century bishop of Glasgow. His background is obscure, although it is known that before ascending to the bishopric he was a precentor of the diocese of Glasgow. On the death of John Wishart in 1338, William was elected to the see. His election was confirmed by Pope Benedict XII, who on 11 February 1339 ordered Annibald de Ceccano, bishop of Tusculum, to consecrate William. William was consecrated at Avignon a short while later. Curiously, his predecessor Wishart had been consecrated by the same man, in the same location. William's episcopate was comparatively long, and he died on 27 January 1367. He was succeeded by Walter Wardlaw.

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