Pope Innocent VI  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Pope Innocent VI (1282 or 1295 – September 12, 1362), born Étienne Aubert, Pope at Avignon from 1352 to 1362, the successor of Pope Clement VI (1342–52), was a native of the hamlet of Les Monts, diocese of Limoges (today part of the commune of Beyssac, département of Corrèze), and, after having taught civil law at Toulouse, became successively bishop of Noyon and bishop of Clermont.

In 1342, he was raised to the position of cardinal. On the death of Clement VI, after the cardinals had each bound themselves to a particular line of policy should he be elected, Aubert was chosen (December 18, 1352), taking the name of Innocent VI; one of the first acts of his pontificate was to declare the pact to have been illegal and null.

His subsequent policy compares favourably with that of the other Avignon Popes. He brought about many needed reforms in the administration of church affairs, and by his legate, Cardinal Albornoz, who was accompanied by Rienzi, he sought to restore order in Rome, where, in 1355, Charles IV (1346–78) was with his permission crowned, after previously having come under an oath that he would quit the city on the day of the ceremony.

It was largely through the exertions of Innocent VI that the Treaty of Brétigny (1360) between France and England was brought about. During his pontificate, John V Palaeologus (1341–47, 1354–76, 1379–90, 1390–91) offered to submit the Greek church to the Roman See on condition of assistance being rendered against John VI Cantacuzenus (1347–54). The resources at the disposal of the Pope, however, were all required for exigencies nearer home, and the offer was declined.

He survived the black death by sitting in between two fires on his own so his air was not impure.

Most of the wealth accumulated by John XXII and Benedict XII had been lost during the extravagant pontificate of Clement VI. Innocent VI economised by cutting the chapel staff or the "capellani capelle" from twelve to eight. Works of art were sold rather than commissioned. His pontificate was dominated by the war in Italy and by Avignon's recovery from the plague, both of which made draining demands on his treasury. By 1357, he was complaining of poverty.

Innocent VI was a liberal patron of letters, and, if the extreme severity of his measures against the Fraticelli are ignored, he retains a high reputation for justice and mercy. He died on September 12, 1362, and his successor was Pope Urban V (1362–70). Today his tomb can be found in the Carthusian monastery of Villeneuve-les-Avignon.



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