Pope Honorius IV

Pope Honorius IV (c. 1210 – 3 April 1287), born Giacomo Savelli, was Pope from 2 April 1285 to his death in 1287. During his pontificate he largely continued to pursue the pro-French political policy of his predecessor, Pope Martin IV.


Honorius IV
Papacy began2 April 1285
Papacy ended3 April 1287
PredecessorMartin IV
SuccessorNicholas IV
Created cardinal17 December 1261
by Urban IV
Personal details
Birth nameGiacomo Savelli
Bornc. 1210
Rome, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire
Died3 April 1287
Rome, Papal States
Previous post
Coat of armsHonorius IV's coat of arms
Other popes named Honorius
Papal styles of
Pope Honorius IV
C o a Onorio IV
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleNone

Early career

Giacomo Savelli was born in Rome into the rich and influential family of the Savelli.[1] His father was Luca Savelli, who died as Senator of Rome in 1266.[2] His mother Joanna belonged to the Aldobrandeschi family.[3] He studied at the University of Paris, and held a prebend and a canonry at the cathedral of Châlons-sur-Marne. Later he obtained the benefice of rector at the church of Berton in the Diocese of Norwich in England, a nation he never visited.

In 1261 he was created Cardinal Deacon of Santa Maria in Cosmedin by Pope Urban IV, who also appointed him papal prefect in Tuscany and captain of the papal army. Cardinal Savelli pursued a diplomatic career. Pope Clement IV sent him and three other cardinals to invest Charles of Anjou as King of Sicily at Rome on 28 July 1265. After the long deadlocked vacancy in the papal see after the death of Clement IV, when the see of Rome was vacant for three years, he was one of the six cardinals who finally elected Pope Gregory X "by compromise" (a technical procedure) on 1 September 1271 in a conclave held at Viterbo because conditions in Rome were too turbulent.

In 1274 he accompanied Gregory X to the Council of Lyon, where it was established that only four mendicant orders were to be tolerated: Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Carmelites. In July 1276, he was one of the three cardinals whom Pope Adrian V sent to Viterbo with instructions to treat with the German King, Rudolf I of Habsburg, concerning his imperial coronation at Rome and his future relations towards Charles of Anjou, whom papal policy supported. The death of Adrian V in the following month rendered the negotiations with Rudolf fruitless.

Savelli became Protodeacon of the Sacred College in November 1277 and as such, he crowned Popes Nicholas III on 26 December 1277 and Martin IV on 23 March 1281.

According to John Julius Norwich, he was the last pope to be married before ordination.[4]

Elected Pope

When Martin IV died on 28 March 1285, at Perugia, Cardinal Savelli was unanimously elected Pope on 2 April, on the first ballot, and took the name of Honorius IV. He remained at Perugia throughout April,[5] but, once negotiations were completed, he travelled to Rome and took up residence in the family palace next to Santa Sabina on the Aventine Hill.[6] He was ordained a priest by Cardinal Latino Malabranca Orsini on May 19, and was consecrated a bishop and crowned pope on Trinity Sunday, 20 May in St. Peter's Basilica.[7] Honorius IV was already advanced in age and so severely affected with gout (or arthritis) that he could neither stand nor walk. When saying Mass he was obliged to sit in a specially constructed chair, and at the elevation of the host his hands had to be raised by a mechanical contrivance.

Sicilian Conflict

Sicilian affairs required immediate attention from the new Pope. Previously, under Martin IV, the Sicilians had rejected the rule of Charles of Anjou, taking Peter III of Aragon as their king without the consent and approval of the Pope.

The massacre of 31 March 1282 known as the Sicilian Vespers had precluded any reconciliation. Martin IV put Sicily and Peter III under an interdict, deprived Peter III of the Crown of Aragon, and gave it to Charles of Valois, the younger of the sons of King Philip III of France, whom he assisted in his attempts to recover Sicily by force of arms. The Sicilians not only repulsed the attacks of the combined French and Papal forces, but also captured the Angevin heir, Charles of Salerno. On 6 January 1285, Charles of Anjou died, leaving his captive son Charles as his natural successor. Honorius IV, more peaceably inclined than Martin IV, did not renounce the Church's support of the House of Anjou, nor did he set aside the severe ecclesiastical punishments imposed upon Sicily.

On the other hand, he did not approve of the tyrannical government the Sicilians had been subject to under Charles of Anjou. This is evident from legislation embodied in his constitution of 17 September 1285 (Constitutio super ordinatione regni Siciliae), in which he stated that no government can prosper that is not founded on justice and peace. He passed forty-five ordinances intended chiefly to protect the people of Sicily against their king and his officials.

The death of Peter III on 11 November 1285 changed the Sicilian situation in that his kingdoms were divided between his two oldest sons: Alfonso III of Aragon, who received the crown of Aragon, and James II of Aragon, who succeeded as King of Sicily. Honorius IV acknowledged neither the one nor the other: on 11 April 1286, he solemnly excommunicated King James II of Sicily and the bishops who had taken part in his coronation at Palermo on 2 February. Neither the king nor the bishops concerned themselves about the excommunication. The king even sent a hostile fleet to the Roman coast and destroyed the city of Astura by fire.

Charles of Salerno, the Angevin pretender, who was still held captive by the Sicilians, finally grew tired of his long captivity and signed a contract on 27 February 1287 in which he renounced his claims to the kingdom of Sicily in favour of James II of Aragon and his heirs. Honorius IV, however, declared the contract invalid and forbade all similar agreements for the future.

While Honorius IV was inexorable in the stand he had taken towards Sicily, his relations towards Alfonso III of Aragon became less hostile. Through the efforts of King Edward I of England, negotiations for peace were begun by Honorius IV and King Alfonso III. The Pope, however, did not live long enough to complete these negotiations, which finally resulted in a peaceful settlement of the Aragonese as well as the Sicilian question in 1302 under Pope Boniface VIII.


Rome and the States of the Church enjoyed a period of tranquillity during the pontificate of Honorius IV, the like of which they had not enjoyed for many years. He had the satisfaction of reducing the most powerful and obstinate enemy of papal authority, Count Guido of Montefeltro, who for many years had successfully resisted the papal troops. The authority of the Pope was now recognized throughout the papal territory, which then comprised the Exarchate of Ravenna, the March of Ancona, the Duchy of Spoleto, the County of Bertinoro, the Mathildian lands, and the Pentapolis, i.e., the cities of Rimini, Pesaro, Fano, Senigallia, and Ancona. Honorius IV was the first Pope to employ the great family banking houses of central and northern Italy for the collection of papal dues.

The Romans were greatly elated at the election of Honorius IV, for he was a citizen of Rome and a brother of Pandulf, a senator of Rome. The continuous disturbances in Rome during the pontificate of Martin IV had not allowed that pope to live in Rome, but now the Romans cordially invited Honorius IV to make Rome his permanent residence. During the first few months of his pontificate he lived in the Vatican, but in the autumn of 1285 he removed to the magnificent palace he had just erected on the Aventine.


In his relations with the Holy Roman Empire, where no more danger was to be apprehended since the fall of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, Martin followed the moderate course taken by Gregory X. Rudolf I of Germany sent Bishop Henry of Basel to Rome to request coronation. Honorius IV appointed the envoy Archbishop of Mainz, fixed a date for the coronation, and sent Cardinal John of Tusculum to Germany to assist Rudolf I's cause. But general opposition showed itself to the papal interference; a council at Würzburg (16–18 March 1287) protested energetically, and Rudolf I had to protect the legate from personal violence, so that both his plans and the Pope's failed.

Other acts

Honorius IV inherited plans for another crusade, but confined himself to collecting the tithes imposed by the Council of Lyon, arranging with the great banking houses of Florence, Siena, and Pistoia to act as his agents.

The two largest religious orders received many new privileges from Honorius IV, documented in his Regesta. He often appointed them to special missions and to bishoprics, and gave them exclusive charge of the Inquisition.

He also approved the privileges of the Carmelites and the Augustinian hermits and permitted the former to exchange their striped habit for a white one. He was especially devoted to the order founded by William X of Aquitaine and added numerous privileges to those they had already received from Alexander IV and Urban IV. Besides turning over to them some deserted Benedictine monasteries, he presented them with the monastery of St. Paul at Albano, which he himself had founded and richly endowed when he was still cardinal.

Salimbene, the chronicler of Parma, asserted that Honorius IV was a foe to the religious orders. This may reflect the fact that he opposed the Apostolic Brethren, an order embracing evangelical poverty that had been started by Gerard Segarelli at Parma in 1260. On 11 March 1286 he issued a bull condemning them as heretics.

At the University of Paris he advocated the establishment of chairs for Eastern languages to teach these languages to those who would labour for the conversion of the Muslims and the reunion of the schismatic churches in the East.

He raised only one man to be cardinal, his cousin Giovanni Boccamazza, archbishop of Monreale, on 22 December 1285.

The tomb of Pope Honorius IV is in the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli in Rome.

Contacts with the Mongols

The Mongol ruler Arghun sent an embassy and a letter to Pope Honorius IV in 1285, a Latin translation of which is preserved in the Vatican. It mentions the links to Christianity of Arghun's family, and proposes a combined military conquest of Muslim lands:

As the land of the Muslims, that is, Syria and Egypt, is placed between us and you, we will encircle and strangle ("estrengebimus") it. We will send our messengers to ask you to send an army to Egypt, so that us on one side, and you on the other, we can, with good warriors, take it over. Let us know through secure messengers when you would like this to happen. We will chase the Saracens, with the help of the Lord, the Pope, and the Great Khan.

— Extract from the 1285 letter from Arghun to Honorius IV, Vatican Archives[8]

Honorius IV was hardly capable of acting on this invasion and could not muster the military support necessary to achieve this plan.

See also


  1. ^ Ingrid Baumgartner, "Savelli," Die grossen Familien Italiens (ed. Volker Reinhardt) (Stuttgart 1992), 480-534.
  2. ^ Luigi Pompili Olivieri, Il senato Romano I (Roma 1886), p. 197.
  3. ^ Bernhard Pawlicki, Papst Honorius IV. Eine Monographie (Münster 1896), p. 4.
  4. ^ Norwich, John Julius, Absolute Monarchs, London: 2011, page 196, footnote
  5. ^ Augustus Potthast, Regesta pontificum Romanorum II (Berlin 1875), 1795-1796.
  6. ^ Maria Floriani Squarciapino, "Aventino pagano e cristiano. La zona di Santa Sabina e del palazzo Savelli," Scavi e ricerche archeologiche degli anni 1976-1979 2 (1985), 257-259. Pierre-Yves Le Pogam, "Cantieri e residenze dei papi nella seconda meta del XIII secolo. Il caso del castello Savelli sull'Aventino," Domus et splendida palatia. Residenze papali e cardinalizie a Roma fra XII e XV secolo. Atti della giornata di studi... 23 novembre 2002 (ed. Alessio Monciatti) (Pisa 2004), 77-87.
  7. ^ Potthast, p. 1797.
  8. ^ Rene Grousset, p. 700.


  • F. Gregorovius, History of Rome in the Middle Ages, Volume V.2 second edition, revised (London: George Bell, 1906) 491-515.
  • Grousset, René (1935). Histoire des Croisades III, 1188-1291 (in French). Editions Perrin. ISBN 978-2-262-02569-4.
  • Venditelli, Marco, "Onorio IV," Enciclopedia dei papi (Roma 2000) I, pp. 449-455.

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Martin IV
2 April 1285 – 3 April 1287
Succeeded by
Nicholas IV
1285 in Italy

Events in Italy in 1285:

September 4 - Battle of Les Formiguestook place probably in the early morning of 4 September 1285 near Les Formigues Islands, about 85 km northeast of Barcelona, when a Catalan-Sicilian galley fleet commanded by Roger of Lauria defeated a French and Genoese galley fleet commanded by Guilhem de Lodeva, Henry di Mari, and John de Orrea.

Rucellai Madonna painted for the Church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence

Jacopo Savelli becomes Pope Honorius IV upon election, succeeding Pope Martin IV

1285 papal election

The papal election of 1285, convened in Viterbo after the death of Pope Martin IV, elected Cardinal Giacomo Savelli, who took the name of Honorius IV. Because of the suspension of the Constitution Ubi periculum by Adrian V in 1276, this election was technically, perhaps, not a papal conclave. In fact, for the first time since the tedious Election of 1268–1271, the meetings were dominated neither by the Hohenstaufen nor Charles I of Naples (who had died on January 7, 1285). It may even be that the cardinals proceeded so swiftly to an election with the intention of forestalling any intervention from Naples.

1287–88 papal election

The papal election of 1287–88 (April 4 – February 22) was the deadliest papal election in the history of the Roman Catholic Church, with six (or five) of the sixteen (or fifteen) cardinal electors perishing during the deliberations. Eventually, the cardinals elected Girolamo Masci, O.Min. as Pope Nicholas IV, almost a year after the death of Pope Honorius IV, who died on April 3, 1287. Nicholas IV was the first Franciscan pope.The cardinals' deaths are usually attributed to malaria. After the deaths of the six cardinals, the remaining electors—with the exception of Masci—left Rome and reassembled on 15 February 1288. When the Cardinals reassembled in February, 1288, there were seven electors left: Latino Malabranca, Bentivenga de Bentivengis, Girolamo Masci, Bernard de Languissel, Matteo Rosso Orsini, Giacomo Colonna, and Benedetto Caetani. Upon finding that Masci had remained at Santa Sabina in Rome the reassembled cardinals immediately elected him, but he refused until he was re-elected on February 22. It was thought at the time that Masci had survived by keeping a fire burning in his room to "purify" the pestilential vapors, or mal aria thought to cause the disease.

The election was held near Santa Sabina on Aventine Hill in the Savelli palace, Corte Savella, which Honorius IV had built and used as the de facto papal residence. According to Smith, Nicholas IV was, like his predecessor, "an undisguised partisan of the French interest" and "another example of the dishonest use of spiritual authority for political ends, by releasing Charles II of Naples from an inconvenient oath to Alfonso III of Aragon".

Castel Savelli

Castel Savelli (also Castel Savello) was a castle near Albano Laziale, in the Lazio region of central Italy. The Savelli family had owned the estate since the 1160s, and build the castle during the papel reign of Pope Honorius III (1216–1227) and Pope Honorius IV (1285–1287). The castle was razed by the forces of cardinal Giovanni Vitelleschi in 1435, and never rebuilt.

Gervais Jeancolet de Clinchamp

Gervasius Giançolet de Glincamp (in Latin: Gervasius de Clinio Campo) was born (perhaps around 1218) in the diocese of Mans, son of Gervais, great-grandson of Eudes, chevalier and seigneur de Groestel. He was a Roman Catholic cardinal and diplomat. He had a brother, Jean de Glincamp, who became Abbot of S. Remi in Reims (died April 1297). Another relative, a first-cousin, Robert de Glincamp, was bishop of Mans (1298-1309).

Giacomo Savelli (cardinal)

Not to be confused with Pope Honorius IV (d. 1287), who was also named Giacomo Savelli.Giacomo Savelli (1523–1587) was an Italian Roman Catholic cardinal and bishop.

Giordano Orsini (died 1287)

Giordano Orsini (Rome, thirteenth century - Rome, 8 September 1287) was an Italian cardinal.

Giovanni Battista Savelli

Giovanni Battista Savelli (1422, Rome - September 18, 1498, Castel Gandolfo) was an Italian cardinal from the 15th century. Of the noble Savelli family to which belonged Pope Honorius III (1216–1227) and Pope Honorius IV (1285–1287) and Cardinals: Bertrando Savelli, Silvio Savelli, Giulio Savelli, Fabrizio Savelli, Paolo Savelli and Domenico Savelli. He was called the Cardinal Savelli.

Glusiano de Casate

Comes Glusiano de Casate (Latin: Comes Glusianus de Casate; Italian: Cosmo or Cosimo Giussiano; born in Milan, date unknown; died in Rome, 8 April 1287) was an Italian ecclesiastical lawyer and Roman Catholic Cardinal. He came from an important family, de magno sanguine natus (born from high blood), as his funeral monument states. He was learned in the law, "tu sapiens pectus iuris vexilla ferebas."He was Archdeacon of the Church of Milan.

Guido I da Montefeltro

Guido da Montefeltro (1223 – September 29, 1298) was an Italian military strategist and lord of Urbino. He became a monk late in life, and was condemned by Dante Alighieri in his Divine Comedy for giving false or fraudulent counsel.

Isa Kelemechi

Isa Tarsah Kelemechi (Mongolian: Isa Khelmerchi (Isa the Interpreter); Chinese: Ai-hsüeh) was an Assyrian Nestorian Christian scientist, and official at the Yuan court of Kublai Khan's Mongol Empire in the 13th century.

Margherita Colonna

Blessed Margherita Colonna, (c.1255 – 30 December 1280 ) was a member of the Italian Colonna family, which was notable in Italian history for centuries. She lived as a nun, with her followers.

She was beatified by Pope Pius IX after the approval of her cult in 1847.

Pandolfo Savelli

Pandolfo Savelli (died 1306) was a member of the Savelli family, a son of Luca Savelli and brother of Pope Honorius IV. He held the office of podestà of Viterbo in 1275 and was on several occasions a Roman senator. In 1297 he strove in vain to mediate peace between Pope Boniface VIII and the Colonna.

Perugia Papacy

Perugia was a long-time papal residence during the 13th century. Five popes were elected here: Pope Honorius III (1216–1227), Pope Clement IV (1265–1268), Pope Honorius IV (1285–1287), Pope Celestine V (1294), and Pope Clement V (1305–1314). These elections took place in the Palazzo delle Canoniche adjoining the Perugia Cathedral.

The Cathedral contained the tombs of Pope Innocent III (1198–1216), Pope Urban IV (1261–1264), and Pope Martin IV (1281–1285). These were destroyed by Gérard du Puy, the cardinal-nephew of Pope Gregory XI (1370–1378).During du Puy's tenure as papal governor during the War of the Eight Saints he pillaged the Duomo construction site for materials for his private fortress. According to Heywood, due to du Puy's construction, "so certain did it appear that the Papal Curia was about to be transferred to Perugia that foreign merchants began to negotiate for the hire of shops and warehouses in the city." The tomb of Pope Benedict XI (1303–1304) is still extant in S. Domenico.

Pope Honorius

Honorius has been the name of four Roman Catholic Popes and one Antipope. The name is of Latin origin, derived from honōrō ("honor, respect").

Pope Honorius I (625-638)

Antipope Honorius II (1061-1072)

Pope Honorius II (1124-1130)

Pope Honorius III (1216-1227)

Pope Honorius IV (1285-1287)

Savelli (surname)

Savelli is an Italian surname that may refer to:

Alessandro Savelli (1905–1930), Italian football player

Antonello Savelli (c. 1450–1498), Italian condottiero, member of the Savelli family

Fabrizio Savelli (1607–1659), Italian military leader, member of the Savelli family

Federico Savelli (died 1649), Italian military commander, member of the Savelli family

Giacomo Savelli (cardinal) (1523–1587), Italian Roman Catholic cardinal and bishop, member of the Savelli family

Giovanni Battista Savelli (1422–1498), Italian cardinal, member of the Savelli family

Guy Savelli, American martial artist

Jean-Marc Savelli (born 1955), French pianist

Luca Savelli (1190–1266), Roman senator

Pandolfo Savelli (died 1306), member of the Savelli family

Pope Honorius III (Cencio Savelli, 1150–1227), Pope and member of the Savelli family

Pope Honorius IV (Giacomo Savelli, c.1210–1287), Pope and member of the Savelli family

Silvio Savelli (died 1515), Italian condottiero, member of the Savelli family

Savelli family

The Savelli (de Sabellis in documents) were a rich and influential Roman aristocratic family who rose to prominence in the 13th century and became extinct in the main line with Giulio Savelli (1626–1712).The family, who held the lordship of Palombara Sabina, took their name from the rocca (castle) of Sabellum, near Albano, which had belonged to the counts of Tusculum before it passed to the Savelli. Early modern genealogies of the Savelli, such as the unpublished manuscript "eulogistic treatise" compiled by Onofrio Panvinio, drew connections to Pope Benedict II, a possible but undocumentable connection, and even to the cognomen Sabellius of Antiquity.

They provided at least two popes: Cencio Savelli, Pope Honorius III (1216–1227) and Giacomo Savelli, Honorius IV (1285–1287). His father, Luca Savelli, was a Roman senator and sacked the Lateran in 1234. Luca's decision to side for Emperor Frederick II against Honorius III's successor, Gregory, gained the family large possessions in the Lazio. Honorius' brother, Pandolfo Savelli, was the podestà of Viterbo in 1275.

Later members include the condottieri Silvio and Antonello Savelli. Savelli Cardinals include Giovanni Battista Savelli (1471 in pectore, 1480); Giacomo Savelli (1539); Silvio Savelli (1596); Giulio Savelli (1615); Fabrizio Savelli (1647); Paolo Savelli (1664); and Domenico Savelli (1853). The last member of the family left in Rome was Giulio Savelli, who died in 1712. A collateral line, the Giannuzzi Savelli ('Giannuzzi' adopted later on) represent descendants of Antonio Savelli of Rignano who moved to the Kingdom of Naples in 1421 to fight as a condottiero. The title principe di Cerenzia has been held in that family since Ercole Giannuzzi Savelli dei baroni di Pietramala inherited it in 1769 from his mother Ippolita Rota, last of her house. The republican patriot Luigi Giannuzzi Savelli dei principi di Cerenzia was shot 3 April 1799 by orders of Cardinal Ruffo, and the feudal lands of Prince Tommaso Giannuzzi Savelli of Cerenzia were confiscated: Cerenzia, Casino (Castelsilano) Montespinello (Spinello) Belvedere Malapezza, and Zinga.By the 17th century, the Savelli had fallen on lean times. Castel Gandolfo had been relinquished under terms of Pope Clement VIII's "bull of the barons" to the Apostolic Camera in return for a mere 150,000 scudi in 1596, and in 1650 Albano, with its princely title, was turned over to Giambattista, the only son of Camillo Pamphili.

Thomas St Leger

Thomas St Leger, Archdeacon of Kells, was elected Bishop of Meath before 5 November 1282, but was not successful and took his claim to Rome where eventually appointed by Pope Honorius IV on 12 July 1286. He was consecrated on 3 November 1287; and died in office in December 1320.

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