Boniface VIII

Boniface VIII


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Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303) didn't want to save your soul he wanted to rule your life. Boniface VIII was one of the most ardent supporters of papal authority. What started as a minor squabble with King Philip IV of France over a government's ability to tax clergy members escalated until Boniface VIII excommunicated the king and released a decree stating that "every human creature [was] subject to the Roman pontiff." Boniface VIII sent mercenaries to destroy other people's castles, declared all the prominent Italian Colonna family's property forfeited and proceeded to parcel their land out among his family members. In September 1303, an army led by the Colonna family kidnapped the Pope and demanded that he abdicate. Held in captivity for multiple days, the Pope refused. He survived the attack and returned to Rome only to die a month later.

Although Boniface VIII was still alive when Dante — who had been personally exiled by the Pope for supporting papal limitations — wrote his famous Divine Comedy, the Italian writer placed him in his version of Hell anyway.


13 most scandalous popes in Catholic church history

In the Roman Catholic Church, Popes, priests, nuns, bishops and cardinals take a vow of celibacy but some have been known to break this vow.

For centuries, the Catholic Church has elected a pope to rule the billions of adherents of the church across the globe.

Some of these Popes have been involved in several scandals, from mistresses and illegitimate children to shocking sex scandals, the Vatican sure has some dirty history.

Below are some of the most scandalous popes in history.

1. Pope Stephen VI (896 to 897)

Stephen VI dug up his predecessor's corpse and put it on trial

This Pope set out to get revenge on his predecessor, Pope Formosus, who he felt had wronged him. He exhumed the nine-month-old corpse of predecessor and put it on trial. Formosus corpse was found guilty of perjury and his body was tossed into the Tiber River. Later, it was recovered and given a proper burial.

READ ALSO: Rev Father undergoes 3 days dry fasting, gets flogged for hours (photos, video)

Pope Stephen VI was later arrested, locked in a dungeon and strangled to death by supporters of Formosus.

2. Pope John XII (955 to 964)

John XII was accused of "homicide, perjury, sacrilege"

He attained the title of pope at age 18 and was said to have turned his residence into a brothel by committing adultery with numerous women, including two widows and his own niece, as well as his father's long-term girlfriend. He was also gambled with church offerings and was accused of even castrating a cardinal. He was reported to have died at the age of 20 when a jealous husband caught him in bed with his wife and beat him up mercilessly. The pope died three days later.

3. Pope Benedict IX (1032 and 1048)

Benedict IX was "placed" into the papacy in 1032

He was a three-time pope and the nephew of both Pope John XIX and Pope Benedict VIII. He was not well liked and was described as "a demon from hell in the disguise of a priest." He reportedly stole, murdered and committed other, unspeakable deeds. He sold his holy title to his godfather for 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms) of gold.

4. Pope Boniface VIII (1294 - 1303)

Boniface VIII said pedophilia was no more problematic than "rubbing one hand against the other."

He said sleeping with boys was no more problematic than "rubbing one hand against the other." He erected statues of himself all over Rome and because of a personal political feud, the entire city of Palestrina was destroyed on his orders.

5. Pope Paul II (1464 - 1471)

Accounts of his death vary

He was a nephew of Pope Eugenius IV (1431–1447). Accounts of his death vary. Some said he died of stroke while being sodomized by a page boy. Some others claimed he had collapsed from severe indigestion after eating melon in excess.

6. Pope Sixtus IV (1471 - 1484)

He had an illegitimate child with his sister

This pope had six illegitimate children, including one with his sister. He created a church tax on prostitutes and charged priests for having mistresses. He made six of his nephews cardinals.

READ ALSO: Catholic priest seen with loaded rifle in Church

7. Pope Innocent VIII (1484 - 1492)

Innocent VIII had lots of illegitimate children

He acknowledged having eight illegitimate children, though he may have had more. He encouraged and blessed the act of witch hunting.

8. Pope Alexander VI (1492 to 1503)

Alexander VI bought his way into the papacy

He is one of the most memorable of the corrupt and secular popes. He bought his way into the papacy. His two dominant passions were love of women and greed of gold. He had a rollicking sex life and hosted an orgy in 1501 called the "Joust of Whores." He had several mistresses and fathered at least nine illegitimate children.

9. Pope Julius II (1503 to 1513)

Julius II had a bad case of syphilis

He reportedly had several mistresses and at least one illegitimate daughter. Despite his sacred oath of celibacy, he contracted syphilis, apparently via prostitutes, and on Good Friday in 1508 his feet were so covered by sores that the faithful could not kiss them.

10. Pope Leo X (1513 to 1521)

Leo X allowed the faithful to buy their way into heaven

Leo X was very corrupt and allowed worshippers to buy their way into heaven. He had the habit of putting prices on others' sins and requiring them to give him money in return for absolving their wrongdoings. He threatened them that their souls would not be able to enter heaven if they didn't pay up. Upon his death, he left the papacy close to bankruptcy.

11. Pope Julius III (1550–1555)

He was accused of having a love affair with his nephew

He allegedly had a long love affair with Innocenzo Ciocchi del Monte, his adoptive nephew, which was a cause of public scandal. The Venetian ambassador at that time reported that Innocenzo shared the pope's bed.

He created a Jewish ghetto in Rome

He was unusually rigid and intolerant. Some of Rome's synagogues were destroyed under his reign. He was best known for his horrific acts of anti-Semitism. He created a Jewish ghetto in Rome, inside which Jews were obligated to identify themselves with a yellow head-covering. He was so hated that Paul IV was so hated that people ran through Rome and destroyed statues of him upon his death in 1559.

13. Pope Urban VIII (1623 t - 1644)

He incurred massive debts during his reign

He expanded the papal territory by force of arms and advantageous politicking. He practiced nepotism on a grand scale as he enormously enriched various members of his family. He incurred massive debts which greatly weakened his successors. During his reign, he was involved in a controversy with famed scientist Galileo and his theory on heliocentrism.


Article #30

Boniface VIII becomes pope in 1294. He is not known for holiness, but he does understand the uses of power. Cardinal Llanduff writes of him, &ldquoHe is all tongue and eyes, and the rest of him is all rotten.&rdquo Upon defeating the Colonna family of Italy in a crusade (not all crusades went east against the Muslims!), Boniface promises these rivals that if they will surrender the city of Palestrina, he will spare it. Instead he razes the city, destroys its historic buildings and artifacts, and salts the ground. He reduces Albert of Hapsburg to submission on terms favorable to the papacy. Scotland yields itself as a fief to him in return for protection from England (which England ignores). He continues his show of power with interdicts of Sicily and Florence, intending to shut down most church functions in both places until they meet demands he has made on them.

So hated is Boniface in Florence that even before he is dead, Dante (a Florentine) relegates him to endless torment in the eighth circle of hell, where he is to be planted on his head in a stone crevice, feet aflame, suffering among other popes who bought their holy office with money.

Philip IV of France doesn&lsquot get along with Boniface at all. He attempts to extract gold from France&rsquos clergy to finance war with England. In 1296 Boniface responds with a bull (a formal letter with the pope&rsquos seal on it). Clericis laicos forbids the clergy to contribute to the civil authorities.

Philip IV retaliates by outlawing the export of jewels and gold and forbidding French merchants to stay in Italy. This cuts off a huge source of papal revenue. Suffering financially, Boniface calls a jubilee, pretending this has been a custom of the church for centuries. He promises spiritual benefits to anyone who will visit the tombs of Peter and Paul in Rome. So many pilgrims show up that Boniface&rsquos coffers are fully replenished.

Philip arrests one of the pope&rsquos legates (i.e., a papal agent) for inciting an insurrection. The French justice system condemns and imprisons the man. This is a direct affront to papal claims, for the church insists on the right to try all its own clergymen. Boniface orders the clergy to suspend payments to the king, demands the release of his legate, and issues a bull, insisting the French king obey the &ldquoVicar of Christ.&rdquo Philip burns the bull. He calls a States-General (the French parliament) in which nobles, clergy, and commoners are represented, and they back his action.

Boniface counters with a council of his own. Philip forbids French bishops to attend, although several do anyhow. Immediately after the close of the council, Boniface issues two new bulls in such a manner that it appears they proceed from the council, although there is no record they do. One of them, Unam sanctam (1302), will be perhaps the most controversial declaration issued by a medieval pope because it seems to deny salvation to Eastern Orthodox Christians or any other people not subservient to Rome.

For centuries, popes have been making increasingly grandiose claims for their office. Boniface accepts such claims and surrounds himself with theorists who push for even greater privileges. Boniface now carries papal assertions beyond anything seen before. In Unam Sanctam, the pope claims to be head over kings and emperors and to have a lock on salvation. The bull closes with this bald assertion, &ldquoFurthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff.&rdquo

Philip counters by drawing up a formal indictment of Boniface as an adulterer, embezzler, infidel, murderer, sodomite, sorcerer, and tyrant, calling for a church council to remove him from office. He specifically repudiates the pope&rsquos claim that submission to a pontiff is necessary for salvation, saying the church has never taught this before.

Boniface prepares to interdict France, but before he can do so, one of the surviving Colonnas, outfitted by Philip and thirsting for vengeance, bursts into Boniface&rsquos palace at Anagni with two thousand mercenaries. He strikes the old man in the face, fastens him backward on a horse, and parades him through the streets for all to see. For three days the pope&rsquos captors starve him until locals come to his rescue and return him to Rome where he soon dies.

Centuries later, when Boniface&rsquos bull becomes an embarrassment to the Roman Church, some of its apologists will insist it has been misunderstood and that it does not really require everyone to submit to the pope for salvation. Noted historians such as Philip Schaff will reject this view as historically unsound.


Conflict with France

Philip IV of France

Although England largely supported the proclamation, France proved more resistant. Unlike Edward I, Philip IV scoffed at the idea of a pope having more authority than him. The French king believed that he had the legal right to taxation, whether clergy or not. In retaliation, Philip prevented the exportation of money and goods from France to Rome. As a result, Boniface lost substantial French revenues.

In an attempt at peace with Philip IV, Boniface VIII canonized the king’s grandfather, Louis IX, in 1297. During his reign, Louis had exemplified saintly qualities. Philip idolized his grandfather and had actively sought for him to be declared a saint. Although this action pleased the king, the peace between both men proved short-lived.

Renewed Hostilities

In 1301, Philip IV imprisoned a French bishop named Bernard Saisset for treason. The bishop had allegedly insinuated that Louis IX burned in hell. Since kings couldn’t prosecute clergy, Boniface took offense to Philip’s disregard for papal authority. In response, the pope issued a bull called Ausculta Fili (Listen Son) demanding the bishop’s release. Due to this incident, a permanent breach occurred between Boniface and Philip.

In November 1302, Boniface VIII issued a bull called Unam Sanctum (One Holy). Within the bull, the pope outlined the supremacy of spiritual authority over temporal authority. Despite this powerful proclamation, Philip IV refused to back down. Instead, the French king began conspiring against Boniface.

During spring 1303, Philip IV called for a government assembly to discuss the pope. The king claimed that Boniface VIII had killed Celestine V and couldn’t be a valid pope. As the meeting progressed, Philip and his advisors issued a series of accusations against Boniface. These accusations included charges of heresy, simony, and blasphemy. In Rome, the pope began preparing a document to excommunicate Philip for his actions.


Conflict with Philip IV

In 1296, however, another problem had arisen, one which touched the very center of papal and temporal power: the question of taxation. The Church had long authorized, in certain cases, the collection of taxes on Church income and property by temporal authorities. The Church itself also collected taxes, and by the late 13th-century these early instances of taxation had become lucrative necessities to both the kings and the ecclesiastical powers who collected them. The taxes had begun as crusade subsidies, but they had become part of the financial transformation of 13th-century political and ecclesiastical organizations. The demand for a new tax on ecclesiastical revenues by King Philip IV of France elicited from Boniface VIII the bull (letter) Clericis laicos, in which the Pope not only forbade the collection of taxes from the clergy by laymen but also denied the French king authority over the clergy within his own realm.

Philip IV retaliated by forbidding the export of all money from France, and in 1297 Boniface came to terms with Philip by recognizing the technicality known as "necessity of state" as reason for emergency taxation, even of clergy, by an imperiled secular government. The position of France in Boniface's conflict with the Colonna cardinals and their allies, the Spiritual Franciscans, also contributed to the settlement between Boniface and Philip IV.

By 1300 Boniface had so successfully restored papal prestige that he proclaimed the first jubilee year. The crowds who flocked to Rome to receive the indulgences that accompanied a papal blessing must have received the impression that the Church and the papacy were indeed at the greatest point of their power in history.

In 1301 another phase of the quarrel between Boniface and Philip IV began. Philip arrested the bishop of Pamiers on charges of heresy and treason and demanded that the Pope recognize the legality of his act. Boniface responded by denouncing Philip's act, calling a council which would meet in 1302 to consider the state of the Church in France, and addressing Philip with a second admonitory letter, Ausculta fili, in which he outlined the traditional superiority of popes to kings and emperors. In 1302 Philip called an assembly of all ranks of French society at Paris, the first meeting in history of a representative Estates General, at which his supporters presented a distorted version of Boniface's letter and urged further royal action against the Pope.

In 1302, when his council to discuss religion in France proved a failure, Boniface issued Unam sanctam, perhaps the most famous papal letter ever written. In this document Boniface presented the traditional ecclesiastical view of papal authority in the Church and in the world: "Therefore, if the earthly power errs, it shall be judged by the spiritual power, if a lesser spiritual power errs it shall be judged by its superior, but if the supreme spiritual power errs it can be judged only by God not by man, as the apostle witnesses, 'The spiritual man judgeth all things and he himself is judged by no man."'

In 1303 Philip's minister Guillaume de Nogaret met Boniface at Anagni there he held the Pope prisoner and insulted and abused him. Released by the local inhabitants, Boniface proceeded to Rome, where he died several weeks later.


Bible Encyclopedias

VIII. (Benedetto Gaetano), pope from 1294 to 1303, was born of noble family at Anagni, studied canon and civil law in Italy and possibly at Paris. After being appointed to canonicates at Todi (June 1260) and in France, he became an advocate and then a notary at the papal court. With Cardinal Ottoboni, who was to aid the English king, Henry III., against the bishops of the baronial party, he was besieged in the Tower of London by the rebellious earl of Gloucester, but was rescued by the future Edward I., on the 27th of April 1267. Created cardinal deacon in 1281, and in 1291 cardinal priest (SS. Sylvestri et Martini), he was entrusted with many diplomatic missions and became very influential in the Sacred College. He helped the ineffective Celestine V. to abdicate, and was himself chosen pope at Naples on the 24th of December 1294. Contrary to custom, the election was not made unanimous, probably because of the hostility of certain French cardinals. Celestine attempted to rule in extreme monastic poverty and humility not so Boniface, who ardently asserted the lordship of the papacy over all the kingdoms of the world. He was crowned at Rome in January 1295 with great pomp. He planned to pacify the West and then recover the Holy Land from the infidel but during his nine years' reign, so far from being a peacemaker, he involved the papacy itself in a series of controversies with leading European powers. Avarice, lofty claims and frequent exhibitions of arrogance made him many foes. The policy of supporting the interests of the house of Anjou in Sicily proved a grand failure. The attempt to build up great estates for his family made most of the Colonna his enemies. Until 1303 he refused to recognize Albert of Austria as the rightful German king. Assuming that he was overlord of Hungary, he declared that its crown should fall to the house of Anjou. He humbled Eric VI. of Denmark, but was unsuccessful in the attempt to try Edward I., the conqueror of Scotland, on the charge of interfering with a papal fief for parliament declared in 1301 that Scotland had never been a fief of Rome. The most noted conflict of Boniface was that with Philip IV. of France. In 1296, by the bull Clericis laicos, the pope forbade the levying of taxes, however disguised, on the clergy without his consent. Forced to recede from this position, Boniface canonized Louis IX. (1297). The hostilities were later renewed in 1302 Boniface himself drafted and published the indubitably genuine bull Unam sanctam, one of the strongest official statements of the papal prerogative ever made. The weight of opinion now tends to deny that any part of this much-discussed document save the last sentence bears the marks of an infallible utterance. The French vice-chancellor Guillaume de Nogaret was sent to arrest the pope, against whom grave charges had been brought, and bring him to France to be deposed by an oecumenical council. The accusation of heresy has usually been dismissed as a slander but recent investigations make it probable, though not quite certain, that Boniface privately held certain Averroistic tenets, such as the denial of the immortality of the soul. With Sciarra Colonna, Nogaret surprised Boniface at Anagni, on the 7th of September 1303, as the latter was about to pronounce the sentence of excommunication against the king. After a nine-hours' truce the palace was stormed, and Boniface was found lying in his bed, a cross clasped to his breast that he was sitting in full regalia on the papal throne is a legend. Nogaret claimed that he saved the pope's life from the vengeful Colonna. Threatened, but not maltreated, the pope had remained three days under arrest when the citizens of Anagni freed him. He was conducted to Rome, only to be confined in the Vatican by the Orsini. He died on the 11th or 12th of October 1303, not eighty-six years old, as has commonly been believed, but perhaps under seventy, at all events not over seventy-five. "He shall come in like a fox, reign like a lion, die like a dog," is a gibe wrongly held to be a prophecy of his unfortunate predecessor. Dante, who had become embittered against Boniface while on a political mission in Rome, calls him the "Prince of the new Pharisees" ( Inferno, 27, 85), but laments that "in his Vicar Christ was made a captive," and was "mocked a second time" ( Purgatory, 20, 87 f.). Aunumu IEs. - Digard, Faucon and Thomas, Les Registres de Boniface VIII (Paris, 1884 ff.) Wetzer and Welte, Kirchenlexikon, vol. ii. (2nd ed., Freiburg, 1883), 1037-1062 Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopddie, vol. iii. (3rd ed., Leipzig, 1897), 291-300, contains an elaborate bibliography J. Loserth, Geschichte des spdteren Mittelalters (Munich, 1903), 206-232 H. Finke, Aus den Tagen Bonifaz VIII. (Munster, 1902) is dreary but epoch-making Gottingische gelehrte Anzeigen, Jahrgang 166, 857-869 (Berlin, 1904) R. Scholz, Die Publizistik zur Zeit Philipps des Schonen and Bonifaz VIII. (Stuttgart, 1903) K. Wenck, "War Bonifaz VIII. ein Ketzer?" in von Sybel's Historische Zeitschrift, vol. xciv. (Munich, 1905), 1-66. Special literature on Unam Sanctam: C. Mirbt, Quellen zur Geschichte des Papsttums (2nd ed., Tubingen, 1901), 148 f. Kirchenlexikon, xii. (1901), 229-240, an exhaustive discussion H. Finke, 146-190 J. H. Robinson, Readings in European History, vol. i. (Boston, 1904), 34 6 ff. On Clericis laicos: Gee and Hardy, Documents Illustrative of English Church History (London, 1896), 87 ff. (W. W. R.*)


The worst pope in the history: Boniface VIII

Pope Boniface VIII (born Benedetto Caetani) c.1230-1303. was the worst pope in the world. He was cynical, despotic and believed magic and some other things. So he was superstitious. The picture of him was painted as the egg-shaped helmet on his head. This pope was the very bad thing for the church. But the question is why this particular pope was mentioned as the worst thing for the church but was he worse than some Borgia? Why was this pope so denigrated and hated? Did he make something, what made the leaders of the church to force the people to deny the relationship about this man? Also, other popes were lived in sinful life, and they didn’t denigrate by the church?


Did this cynical man found something in the Vatican, what caused the force to deny his personality? By the way, I must ask one question, was the crime of that pope, that he was not some fanatic or otherwise the people, who seemed like “real believer? And what made him untouchable during his life? In that time if there were problems with some pope, that person would be poisoned or otherwise murdered. So why this unpopular pope didn’t face that fate? And was Boniface VIII so unpopular during his life? This man got votes from the conclave to rise as the most powerful man in the Catholic church in 1294. He was in his office almost nine years until his death in the year 1303.


Boniface VIII was quite old when he died, even if the birth year of this man were not marked exactly sharp. The age of over 70 was quite much at that time, there were no antibiotics and other conditions of life were not at the same level than today. The reason for the denigration of this pope could not be that this man persecuted somebody. In that time there were lots of people for persecuting, and if the pope mentioned somebody by name, could his enemies find those persons and they might ask what those people made for the most powerful man in Europe?


All heads of the Catholic church came from noble families in the medieval time. The noble status protected them against ordinary people, who were scared by religious and superstition afraid of the Roman Catholic church more than anything else, and sometimes the priests made the sin. And those children were, of course, perfect persons for the high ranking officials for that system. The parents were well known and the church could control the growth of the child. The noble families were perfect places for those children because they were so powerful, that Catholic church could use them as the shield, what covers it secrets from normal or ordinary people.


Separating fact from fiction in 'Knightfall'

All historical epics are a mix of faithful representation of true events and some creative licence to create an engaging, coherent narrative. SBS’s new big budget actioner, Knightfall from the History Channel, follows suit, striving for authenticity weaved into an entertaining yarn.

"Much of our content is true to the historical record, and while we take some liberties for the purposes of drama and intrigue, history gives us at least the framework,” explains Knightfall showrunner Dominic Minghella to Bustle. “And – since the Templar story is so rich – often much more!"

So what’s fact and fiction in the show?

The Siege of Acre

Knightfall begins with the bloody Siege of Acre in 1291, Israel. Acre had been the stronghold of the infamous order of warrior monks, the Knights Templar, who served as protectors of the Holy Land and Christianity. Spearheaded by Mamluk sultan Egypt Al-Ashraf Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Khalīl, the city was taken in 1291 by an army of 10,000 soldiers.

“There are scenes that are astonishingly faithful to the known events and historical sources,” historian and Knightfall consultant Dan Jones tells Black Girl Nerds. “The detail of the Siege of Acre 1291, which opens the first episode, for example, is drawn extensively from the so-called Templar of Tyre’s eyewitness account of that amazing urban battle.”

The Holy Grail

You may be surprised by this verdict, but Jones believes the Grail and its storied mystery are a romantic fiction.

“All of this was high fantasy, which people in the Middle Ages would have recognised as such: the Holy Grail was no more real than SPECTRE in today’s James Bond films,” writes Jones in his book The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God’s Holy Warriors. “Bogus pseudo-history became confused with the real history of Christianity, and of crusading. But the Holy Grail myth is a brilliant starting point for fiction.”

Whether you believe it to be a myth or elusive truth, if you’re making a series about the Knights Templar, the storied hunt for the Grail is inextricably linked to them. It’s a narrative drive any TV writing room would be mad to ignore.

Queen Joan of France and Navarre

Queen Joan’s (Olivia Ross) power lay not only in her influence as queen consort of Philip IV (played in the series by Ed Stoppard). As the heir of Henry I, King of Navarre, the Queen also had serious sway by enhancing the monarchy with the rights to the Kingdom of Navarre, and the regions of Champagne and Brie.

But there was one hitch for the makers of Knightfall – the Queen died in 1305 and that didn’t fit with the show’s narrative timeline. So, according to Jones, the writers incorporated the Queen into the story some years past her historical death. Also, her steamy affair with Templar Landry (Tom Cullen) in the story has been added as a piece of juicy creative licence.

Templar Landry

It seems the protagonist of Knightfall,Templar Landry (Tom Cullen), is a fiction. But it’s a good bet he’s based on a blend of historical figures, such as Templar leaders like founder Hugues de Payens, Bernard de Tremelay, Gérard de Ridefort and Jacques de Molay, who was burned at the stake in 1314 when King Phillip IV orchestrated the order’s demise.

Pope Boniface VIII

In history, Pope Boniface VIII (played by Jim Carter in the series) was involved in a bitter clash with King Phillip IV of France, as the King undermined the French Papacy and demanded the clergy pay taxes. Pope Boniface excommunicated Phillip, and the King orchestrated a campaign to discredit him.

Knightfall paints Pope Boniface as “warm and avuncular - but also a seasoned politician” and “a stabilising, incorruptible force within a corrupt medieval world”.

Again, the writers faced a significant problem, with Pope Boniface dying in 1303, which didn’t fit with what they wanted to achieve in Knightfall’s narrative. So, again, they tinkered with time.

In the end, says Jones, historical drama “works best when it draws inspiration from history, plays knowingly with its material, but never forgets that its currency is entertainment, not slavish fidelity to chronology. If you don’t believe me, go read all of Shakespeare’s history plays.”

Knightfall premieres Thursday 1 February at 8.30pm on SBS and continues Thursdays at 9.30pm. SBS On Demand will have a sneak preview of episode one available from 25 January. Then, all episodes will be available after broadcast anytime, anywhere, for free via SBS On Demand.


The crowd at the feet of Pope Boniface VIII: pilgrimage, crusade and the first Roman Jubilee (1300)

Inaugurated by Boniface VIII in response to popular enthusiasm, the Jubilee was one of the greatest papally-instigated revivals of the Middle Ages. Between the first anno santo in 1300 and 1500 there were no fewer than seven papally authorized, Roman Jubilees (or eight, depending upon the status of the disputed 1423/1425 Holy Year). Firmly linked to the crusade tradition, the Jubilee was a new kind of pilgrimage. If the circumstances surrounding the birth of the first Jubilee of 1300 remain shadowy, fin-de-siècle prophecy and the expectation of lavish pardons were crucial to its inception. An unusual influx of pilgrims into Rome around Christmas 1299 (the beginning of the New Year) prompted a papal investigation, leading to Boniface's promulgation of the anno santo on 22 February, 1300. From all over Christendom, socially diverse crowds of pilgrims flocked to Rome, intent upon gaining the Jubilee indulgence. An artist, possibly Giotto, painted a lost fresco cycle for Boniface VIII's newly constructed loggia di benedizione at the Lateran. Until recently interpreted as depicting a crowd of Jubilee pilgrims at the Pope's feet, a drawing of the fresco yields valuable iconographic evidence of papal ideology of the populus christianus.


Watch the video: Boniface VIII - The rise of Benedetto Caetani