Spiritual & Religious Leaders
Died At Age: 50
Also Known As: Raymond Bertrand de Got
Born Country: France
Born in: Villandraut, Gascony, Kingdom of France
Famous as: Spiritual Leader
father: Béraud de Got
mother: Ida di Blanquefort
siblings: Bérard de Got
Died on: April 20, 1314
place of death: Roquemaure, Kingdom of France
Pope Clement V was the ruler of the Papal States and the head of the ‘Catholic Church’ in the early 14th century. He was best known for moving the Papal territories from Rome to Avignon. He was born in Villandraut, Aquitaine, to the Lord of Villandraut. Growing up in a noble family, he had no dearth of comforts as a child. He completed his education in Toulouse, Orléans, and Bologna. Following this, he became the deputy of his brother, who was the archbishop of Lyon. Clement later became the bishop of ‘St.-Bertrand-de-Comminges’ and the archbishop of Bordeaux. As part of his role, he had to serve the king of England. Instead, his loyalty lay with the king of France, Philip the Fair. When the pope died in 1305, King Philip played a big role in making Clement the new pope. Clement is remembered as a weak pope and a puppet of Philip. On his insistence, he condemned Pope Boniface VIII, the pope before him, and suppressed the ‘Templars.’ However, given the difficult conditions for the papacy at that time, his actions are now justified by many as attempts to safeguard the institution of the church. His decision to move the Papal States from Rome to Avignon, in 1309, was also one such action.
Childhood & Early Life
Pope Clement V was born Raymond Bertrand de Got, in 1264, in Villandraut, Aquitaine, Southwestern France. His father, Berard, the Lord of Villandraut, was a nobleman. As a child, he was an admirer of the arts and studied art at Toulouse. He later learned canon and civil law in Orléans and Bologna.
Belonging to a noble French family, he had the freedom to choose whatever he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to pursue arts, and as a teenager, he was also interested in winemaking.
However, back then, noblemen often became religious leaders. His elder brother, Berard de Got, had been a successful wine merchant prior to his association with the church. He later became a bishop.
Clement followed in his brother’s footsteps and quit everything to dedicate himself to the service of Christianity. He moved to Bordeaux and became a canon and sacristan, at the ‘Cathedral of Saint-Andre.’ His brother was the archbishop of Lyon back then, and Clement moved there to serve as the vicar general to his brother.
His brother was made Albano’s cardinal-bishop and a papal legate to France in 1294. Clement was later instated as the bishop of ‘St.-Bertrand-de-Comminges.’ As the bishop, his job was to expand the church and embellish it. Pope Boniface VIII had been observing Clement for a while and liked his dedication. Thus, he made Clement a cardinal.
The pope later made him the archbishop of Bordeaux in 1297. As an archbishop, he was to work with the king of England, but France’s King Philip IV, also known as Philip the Fair, had quite an influence over Clement. Being from a noble French family, Clement had been friends with King Philip since his childhood.
However, the reason behind this promotion was said to be the pope’s eagerness to increase the number of French cardinals. Cardinals are a group of priests chosen by the pope himself to ensure smooth running of the ‘Roman Catholic Church.’ Cardinals also have the right to choose the new pope.
However, Boniface was wrong about Clement and would later be criticized for his decision.
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The king of France, Philip IV, had his share of disagreements with Pope Boniface. In 1303, the Pope suffered from high fever and passed away shortly after.
King Philip wanted to make the church his ally and wanted it to follow his orders undisputedly. He began interfering in the selection of the new pope. As the religion and state worked hand in hand, it was crucial for Philip to have the pope’s permission for a lot of work.
The Italian cardinals were well aware of this, and ignoring Philip’s interference, they elected Benedict XI as the new pope. However, within a few months of being elected, Benedict was poisoned and thus passed away. Philip became more desperate and created a divide between the Italian and the French cardinals. He did this to make sure he had the upper hand in the election of the new pope.
Finally, after a lot of hassles, Clement V was instated as the new pope in 1305.
Clement was an unpopular pope and was especially disliked by the cardinals since the beginning of his term. This dislike was further enhanced by the fact that he insisted on having his coronation in Lyon, instead of Rome, the holy land of Christians.
Since the beginning of his tenure as the pope, he was criticized over his appeasement of Philip. He elected nine new French cardinals so that Philip could have control over the number of cardinals in Italy.
Philip asked Clement to revise several bulls that Pope Boniface had issued for keeping Philip’s arrogance and unlawful ambitions in check. One of them was the ‘Clericis Laicos,’ which exempted the clergy from paying taxes. On Philip’s insistence, Clement stated that the bull did not apply to a king as great as Philip and it was thus removed.
the ’Unam Sanctam’ was another bull imposed on Philip by Boniface, which instated the church’s authority over the royal crown of France. Clement adhered to Philip’s wishes, and this bull was also taken back.
However, Philip ambitions went further than the revocation of some bulls. He disliked Pope Boniface and wanted Clement to tarnish the former pope’s reputation. Clement was an admirer of Boniface and avoided adhering to Philip’s demands for a long time. however, he eventually agreed. This action brought Clement a lot of flak. A revolt erupted in Venice, but it was suppressed by Philip.
In October 1307, another disastrous action was taken, against the ‘Knights Templar,’ a Catholic military order. Several ‘Templar’ knights were arrested in France. The decision was known to be motivated by the money and power that the king of France would gather. Philip’s riches were dwindling, and this action by Clement was supposed to fill the royal treasury, as the ‘Knights Templar’ had procured riches by selling relics and alms from the Holy Christian lands.
The knights were innocent, and Clement knew that. The trial began, and the prisoners were charged with various crimes, such as practicing Paganism and sodomy. Clement avoided taking the blame for the wrongful act of convicting them and sent several cardinals to trial. He must have also tried to save the prisoners, but he was a little slow and they had been proven guilty by then.
Philip’s plan succeeded, and he became rich. Clement committed many acts somewhat unwillingly. He asked Philip to move the papacy from Rome to Avignon in France. This was done because Rome was considered unstable and unsafe.
Death & Legacy
Pope Clement V passed away on April 20, 1314. He was 50 years old at the time of his death.
Clement did not have a respectful legacy. He is remembered as one of the weakest and cunning popes to have ever lived, who paved way for the state to overtake the authorities of the faith.
However, there are many sources that are a bit kind toward him. It is believed that he had tried to oppose Philip’s intentions of tarnishing Pope Boniface’s reputation posthumously and that of the arrest of the ‘Templars,’ too. However, he was helpless, as he did what he had to, for the survival of the papacy.