Benedict XIII (anti-pope) - Encyclopedia


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BENEDICT XIII. (Pedro de Luna), (c. 1328-1422 or 1423), anti-pope, belonged to one of the most noble families in Aragon. His high birth, his legal learning - he was for a long time professor of canon law at Montpellier - and the irreproachable purity of his life, recommended him to Pope Gregory XI., who created him cardinal in 1375. He was almost the only one who succeeded in making a firm stand in the tumultuous conclave of 1378; but the deliberation with which he made up his mind as to the validity of the election of Urban VI. was equalled, when he took the side of Clement VII., by the ardour and resourcefulness which he displayed in defending the cause of the pope of Avignon; it was mainly to him that the latter owed his recognition by Castile, Aragon and Navarre. When elected pope, or rather anti pope, by the cardinals of Avignon, on the 28th of September 1 394, it was he who by his astuteness, his resolution, and, it may be added, by his unswerving faith in the justice of his cause, was to succeed in prolonging the lamentable schism of the West for thirty years. The hopes he had aroused that, by a voluntary abdication, he would restore unity to the church, were vain; though called upon by the princes of France to carry out his plan, abandoned by his cardinals, besieged and finally kept under close observation in the palace of the popes (1398-1403), he stood firm, and tired out the fury of his opponents. Escaping from Avignon, he again won obedience in France, and his one thought was how to triumph over his Italian rival, if necessary, by force. He yielded, however, to the instances of the government of Charles VI., and pretending that he wished to have an interview with Gregory XII., with a view to their simultaneous abdication, he advanced to Savona, and then to Porto Venere. The failure of these negotiations, for which he was only in part responsible, led to the universal movement of indignation and impatience, which ended, in France, in the declaration of neutrality (1408), and at Pisa, in the decree of deposition against the two pontiffs (1409). Benedict XIII., who had on his part tried to call together a council at Perpignan, was by this time recognized hardly anywhere but in his native land, in Scotland, and in the estates of the countship of Armagnac. He remained none the less full of energy and of illusions, repulsed the overtures of Sigismund, king of the Romans, who had come to Perpignan to persuade him to abdicate, and, abandoned by nearly all his adherents, he took refuge in the impregnable castle of Peniscola, on a rock dominating the Mediterranean (1415). The council of Constance then deposed him, as a perjurer, an incurable schismatic and a heretic (26th July 1417), After struggling with the popes of Rome, Urban VI., Boniface IX., Innocent VII. and Gregory XII., and against the popes of Pisa, Alexander V. and John XXIII., Pedro de Luna, clinging more than ever to that apostolic seat which he still professed not to desire, again took up the struggle against Martin V., although the latter was recognized throughout almost all Christendom, and, before his death (29th November 1422, or 23rd May 1423), he nominated four new cardinals in order to carry the schism on even after him.

See Fr. Ehrle, Archiv fiir Lit. and Kirchengesch. vols. v., vi., vii.; N. Valois, La France et le grand schisme d'occident (4 vols., Paris, 1896-1902); Fr. Ehrle, "Martin de Alpartils chronica actitatorum temporibus domini Benedicti XIII." (Quellen and Forschungen aus dem Geb. der Gesch., Gorres-Gesellschaft, Paderborn, 1906). (N. V.)

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