The Thirteenth Century
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1201 By the time this century began, the number of Orthodox Christians in Egypt had been reduced to approximately 100,000.
1201 During the thirteenth century, the population of Rome never rose higher than 30,000.
1202 Crusaders sacked Zara on the Dalmatian coast (see 1204).
1202 Bishop Albert of Riga (in modern Latvia) formed a military/religious order, the Brothers of the Knighthood of Christ of Livonia, to provide a permanent military presence, in contrast to the seasonal or occasional crusading knights. They were commonly known as the Sword Brothers. Unlike the Templars who reported directly to the pope, the Sword Brothers were subject to Albert. He meant to use them to subject the Livonians by force, in order to bring them to Christ.
1203 Toulouse (Languedoc, France) agreed to persecute the Cathars.
1203 Under marshal threat from King Emmerich of Hungary, Kulin of Bosnia renounced the Bogomil (Patarene) faith and accepted papal supremacy in the presence of the papal legate, John de Casamaris. Altars and crosses were restored to the churches, and the Roman calendar was adopted.
1204 The Fourth Crusade resulted in the sack of Constantinople on April 13. Although not originally directed at Constantinople, the Venetians insisted on this new target. The city was pillaged, churches were desecrated, nuns were raped. The city remained under Western control until 1261. (Though originally aimed toward Egypt and Palestine, the Venetians directed the crusade initially against Zara, a city of Dalmatia on the Adriatic coast. When it was taken, Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) excommunicated the crusaders, both Venetians and Franks, but the excommunication of the Franks was lifted after they appealed for absolution. While they were at Zara, the crusaders formed a pact with Alexius Angelus, son of the deposed emperor Isaac, to attack Constantinople and restore Isaac (1185-95) to the throne. On his part, Alexius agreed to pay the crusaders a large sum of money and to subordinate the Orthodox Church to Rome. Innocent III issued an instruction that no further attacks (beyond those already perpetrated at Zara) were to be allowed against Christians unless they hindered the crusade. The failure on Innocent III's part to act more firmly and forcefully to prevent the sack of Constantinople was seen in the East as evidence of complicity. The Novgorod Chronicle states that the pope favored the plan to attack Constantinople, and the Chronica Regia Coloniensis indicates that he lifted the Franks’ excommunication for sacking Zara only after their intent to attack Constantinople became clear. (See Steven Runciman’s A History of the Crusades, Vol. 3, The Kingdom of Acre and the Later Crusades, Cambridge, 1979, especially pages 116-117.))
The conquerors deposed Greek-speaking bishops and abbots, replacing them with Latins. The church in Bulgaria was apparently under at least nominal control from Rome from 1204 to 1230.
The crusaders took the body of John Chrysostom, which had been returned to Constantinople in 438, and took it to Rome. It was placed in St. Peter’s basilica.
1205 Innocent III (1198-1216), bishop of Rome, appointed Stephen Langton Archbishop of Canterbury. King John (1199-1216) refused to allow him to enter England. Langton divided the Bible books into chapters.
1206 The Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, John Kamateros, died in exile. The Orthodox of Constantinople asked Innocent III’s permission to elect a new patriarch. Innocent refused, since there was already a Latin patriarch in place. The pope thus lost the chance to gain the loyalty of the church in Constantinople, which turned to the Theodore I Lascaris, emperor at Nicaea (1205-21).
1206 Innocent III reprimanded the clergy of the cathedral of Barcelona for their withholding of baptism from slaves who wished to convert to Christianity.
1206 A native Livonian priest, John, martyred at his mission station between Rigan and Uxkull (modern Latvia).
1207 Pope Innocent III encouraged the nobles of the north of France to enter into a crusade against those of the south who gave support to the Cathars. He offered the same indulgences as were given to crusaders going to the Holy Land. The northerners also wished to enrich themselves with the southern nobles’ lands.
1207 The Brothers of the Knighthood of Christ of Livonia against the Prussians formed by Bishop Christian, a Cistercian. They made their base at Dobrin (Dobrzyn), inland along the Vistula (modern Poland), and were known as the Knights of Dobrin.
1208 In March, at the request of the citizens of Constantinople, the Nicaean emperor Theodore Lascaris authorized the election of a new patriarch. Michael IV Autoreianos (1208-12) was selected.
1208 Innocent III placed England under interdict over the Langton affair.
1208 Albigensian crusade (directed against the Cathars of the south of France) began, led by Simon de Montfort and the papal legate, Arnald of Citeaux . (The crusade takes its name from the town of Albi, but the heretics were centered southwest of there, near Toulouse.)
1208 Francis of Assisi heard the gospel reading for the feast of St. Matthias (Feb 24), Matthew 10.9-11. Thereafter, though a layman, he began to preach and attract disciples.
1209 Twelve Franciscan friars traveled to Rome. Pope Innocent III gave oral approval to their rule.
1209 Pope Innocent III approved the establishment of a bishopric for southern Finland. It was eventually located at Turku (Abo).
1211 The Bulgarian council of Tirnovo (the Bulgarian capital) condemned the Bogomils and other heretics. The council stipulated that all such heretics be arrested. A penalty of imprisonment was established for those who were willing to repent, while the rest were to be exiled.
1211 Genghis Khan invaded China.
1212 The Childrens’ Crusade.
1212 King John resigned his kingship and received it back as a holding from the Roman legate. The interdict against England was consequently ended.
1213 The ruler of Epiros (Epirus), Michael Angelus (1204-15) called a synod to fill the vacant sees of Dyrrakhion and Larissa, both of which had escaped conquest by the crusaders and were under Michael’s control. John Apokaukos, metropolitan of Naupaktos, presided.
1213 Albigensian Crusade -- Catholic crusaders defeated the Cathari at Muret. The Cathari, numerous in the Languedoc region of France, were dualists, believing that Yahweh (the ruler of spirit) and Lucifer (of matter) were co-equal. In their view, the incarnation was an illusion, since matter is evil. The Cathars had two levels of perfection: for the perfecti, eating of flesh (or eggs) was forbidden, as was sexual intercourse. For the credentes, sexual immorality was permitted (or so their Catholic opponents claimed).
1213 Constantine Stilbes, metropolitan of Cyzicus in exile, wrote a tract against the Latin church. He was especially critical of the Western church’s love of war, citing the widespread belief among the crusaders that those who died in combat would be accounted as martyrs, the fact that a bishop carrying a cross had led the attack on Constantinople, and incidents where knights on war horses had ridden into churches and slaughtered the Orthodox who sought shelter there. Stilbes is also the first Byzantine on record to take notice of and denounce the granting of indulgences. He also characterized the Latins as untrustworthy, since the pope claimed the power to release them from oaths they might swear in the future.
1214 The Nicaean emperor Theodore Lascaris sent Nicholas Mesarites to Constantinople. Cardinal Pelagius, the papal legate since 1213, was persecuting the monasteries there, and the monks had appealed to the emperor for help. Pelagius told Mesarites that his persecution would have been more severe, but he had been lenient in the hope that Lascaris would submit to Rome.
1215 King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta.
1215 The Fourth Lateran Council was held in Rome, under Innocent III. Transubstantiation was defined and the later doctrine of Unum Sanctum was foreshadowed. On the sacraments:
“One indeed is the universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved, in which the priest himself is the sacrifice, Jesus Christ, whose body and blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar under the species of bread and wine; the bread (changed) into His body by the divine power of transubstantiation, and the wine into the blood, so that to accomplish the mystery of unity we ourselves receive from His (nature) what He Himself received from ours. And surely no one can accomplish this sacrament except a priest who has been rightly ordained according to the keys of the Church which Jesus Christ Himself conceded to the Apostles and to their successors. But the sacrament of baptism (which at the invocation of God and the indivisible Trinity, namely, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, is solemnized in water) rightly conferred by anyone in the form of the Church is useful unto salvation for little ones and for adults. And if, after the reception of baptism anyone shall have lapsed into sin, through true penance he can always be restored. Moreover, not only virgins and the continent but also married persons pleasing to God through right faith and good work merit to arrive at a blessed eternity.”
This council marked the end of paedocommunion in the West. Infants had been communicated by wine alone or bread dipped in wine. Since wine was no longer provided to the laity, this became impossible. The change in practice was bolstered by the argument then made that communion must be preceded by confession.
1216 St. Dominic secured Pope Honorius III's (1216-27) approval for a new religious order. By 1221 Dominicans had entered England.
1217 The ruler of Serbia received his crown from Rome, indicating some Latin influence over the historically Orthodox country.
1217 Demetrius Chomatianus patriarch in Ochrida (1217-34).
1218 John (Ivan) Asen II overthrew Boril and became tsar of Bulgaria (1218-41). John countered the policy enacted at Tirnovo in 1211 and tolerated heretics.
1218 The Fifth Crusade. The crusaders took Damietta on the Nile delta. The sultan of Egypt offered the crusaders Jerusalem in exchange for Damietta, but his offer was refused. In the end, the crusaders were forced to surrender the city.
1219 St. Sava (d. 1235) consecrated Archbishop of Serbia by Manuel I Sarantenos (1215-22), giving the Serbian church a measure of independence.
1219 Franciscans went as missionaries to Morocco in this year and again in 1227. They died as martyrs.
1219 King Valdemar II of Denmark and Archbishop Andrew of Lund led a crusade into Estonia. They founded a town, Tallinn, with a bishopric, then imported German settlers and Dominican friars.
1220 An Englishman named Thomas became bishop of Turku (see 1209). From there he actively evangelized the Finns.
1220 By this year Franciscans had entered Constantinople. They were soon followed by Dominicans.
The Nicaean patriarch, Manuel I Sarantenos (1215-22), intended
to hold a council at Easter to plan for possible discussions with the
reunion of the churches. John Apokaukos, metropolitan of
in Epiros, thought that such a step would be taken as a sign of
and would tempt the Latins to “close our churches, where they rule, and
to commit a thousand and one mischiefs against the Christians subject
them.” Concessions, he implied, could lead to schism within the
1220 On November 22, Pope Honorius III (1216-27) crowned Frederick II Hohenstaufen, king of Germany, Holy Roman Emperor (1220-50). Frederick was a grandson of Frederick Barbarosa. Honorius acceded to Frederick’s wish to unite Sicily with the empire.
1220+ As activity in the Holy Land dwindled, the Teutonic Knights (see 1190) became increasingly involved in Hungary and the Baltic region. They subdued the region between the Vistula and Niemen Rivers (western Poland, southern Lithuania). Bishoprics were established along the Vistula at Chelmno (Kulm) in 1232 and Marienwerder in 1243; and farther east at Konigsberg (Kaliningrad) in 1255.
1221 Acontius, chaplain to pope Honorius III, reported from Bosnia that the Patarene heretics were still thriving.
1222 John Apokaukos, metropolitan of Naupaktos in Epiros, responded to criticism he had received from the patriarch of Constantinople in exile. Apokaukos had been involved in the ordination of bishops in Epiros who had been promoted without the patriarch’s permission (see 1213). While acknowledging the patriarch’s authority, Apokaukos argued that the church in Epiros should be autonomous, and that the patriarch should welcome Theodore Angelus’s efforts to preserve the Orthodox Church in the West.
1222 St. Germanicus the New (1222-1240), Ecumenical Patriarch (in exile, in Nicaea), reportedly wrote the Synodicon of the Holy Spirit. This synodicon was patterned on the Synodicon of Orthodoxy (see 843 above) and traditionally was read on the Second Day of Pentecost, the Monday of the Holy Spirit. It anathematizes:
those who amend or distort the Symbol of Faith of the First and Second
A condemnation of the teachings of the Uniate patriarch John Becchus (1275-82) [Becus, Beccus] was later appended. The condemnation addresses Beccus' arguments in favor of the filioque.
1222 An English deacon was burned at the stake for apostatizing to Judaism.
1223 When Neophytos, the Greek archbishop of Cyprus, fled into exile and the Latins appointed an alternate patriarch, the Greeks on the island sent a bishop to Nicaea to seek advice. Should they submit to the Latins, or resist? After hearing from the Greeks of Constantinople, who had stood firm in the Orthodox faith under Latin persecution, patriarch Germanos II encouraged resistance. However, since the church in Cyprus was autocephalous, Neophytos was upset with Germanos’s interference.
1224 First Order Franciscans reached England.
1224 In the autumn, Theodore Angelus, ruler of Epiros (Epirus), captured Thessalonica from the Latins. Theodore now claimed to be emperor (in rivalry to the emperor John III Ducas Vetatzes (1222-54) in exile in Nicaea), and was coronated in Thessalonica by Demetrius Chomatianos, archbishop of Ohrid, in 1226/27. Germanos II was not pleased, since this act was a usurpation of patriarchal power.
1225 Ugolin, archbishop of Kolosz, agreed to fund a crusade against the Patarenes of Bosnia if he were permitted to add the territory to his ecclesiastical jurisdiction. The pope agreed, and Ugolin hired John Angelus, son of the Roman (Byzantine) emperor Isaac Angelus and nephew to King Andrew of Hungaria, to lead the crusade. But John disappeared with the advance payment of 200 silver marks, and no crusade occurred.
1225 The bishops of Epiros warned patriarch Germanos II that if he failed to respect the autonomy of the church in Epiros, Theodore Angelus might reconcile with Rome.
1225 Cathars burned Catholic churches in Brescia, Lombardy.
1225 Antony of Padua converted the Cathar arch-heretic Bonivillus in Rimini. Bonivillus had been active in the Cathar cause for 30 years.
1226 The German emperor Frederick II (1220-50) gave Hermann von Salza’s Teutonic Knights territorial rights over Prussia.
1226 Albigensian Crusade -- King Louis VIII (1223-26) of France led an army of crusaders into the south of France to crush the southern nobles. He captured Avignon. The southern nobles submitted, signed the treaty of Meaux (April, 1227), and agreed to persecute the Cathars. The Inquisition was established in Toulouse, Narbonne, and Albi, and many heretics were burned.
1227 The Sword Brothers (see 1202) conquered Osel Island at the mouth of the Gulf of Riga. The natives were baptized. See 1260.
Pope Gregory IX (1227-41) excommunicated the German
emperor Frederick II (1220-50) for failing to fulfill his vow
on crusade. This was a political move, to prevent Frederick from
subduing opposition in Lombardy. As Frederick was also king of
Sicily, consolidation of his power in northern Italy also would have
endangered the papacy’s political independence.
Pope Gregory IX (1227-41) canonized Francis of Assisi, who had
been dead less than 2 years.
1229 Without actually engaging in combat, Frederick II succeeded in returning Jerusalem to Christian control. The Ayoubite sultan of Egypt, Al-Kamil, gave Frederick Jerusalem and a land corridor to Jaffa in exchange for peace. This allowed Al-Kamil to concentrate on the threat from An-Nasr, the sultan of Damascus, his nephew. Ten years later, Jerusalem again fell to the Saracens.
1229 Abu Sa’id, who had been governor of Valencia, converted to Christianity. Abu took the Christian name of Vincent. He financed the re-establishment of the see of Seville.
1229 In an address to the church in Cyprus, the patriarch of Constantinople in exile, Germanos II, urged continuing resistance, counseling lay people to separate from clergy who had submitted to Rome. He criticized the pope for setting himself above the other four patriarch, and for demeaning the ecumenical councils for adding the filioque to the creed. The monasteries on Cyprus were the center of resistance to the Western conquerors.
1229 A council meeting in Valencia, Spain decreed, “We prohibit also permitting the laity to have books of the Old and New Testament, unless anyone should wish, from a feeling of devotion, to have a psalter or breviary for divine service, or the hours of the blessed Mary. But we strictly forbid them to have the above-mentioned books in the vulgar tongue.”
1230 Theodore Angelus, emperor of Epiros, was defeated and captured by John Asen, tsar of Bulgaria.
The Spanish Dominican Ramon de Penafort produced a collection of canon
law. His work was sponsored by Pope Gregory IX (1227-41).
1231 The Latin authorities on Cyprus martyred 13 monks of the Kantariotissa monastery. The controversy that led to their deaths involved the question of azymes and was initiated by a Dominican. Germanos II thought that Neophytos, the archbishop of Cyprus who had determined to make peace with the Latins, was complicit in their deaths.
Pope Gregory IX (1227-41) incorporated into canon law imperial
legislation requiring that heretics be burned by the secular power.
Pope Gregory IX (1227-41) instituted the Papal Inquisition for
the apprehension and trial of heretics. The Cathari and Waldenses
were in view. The pope put the friars, especially the Dominicans,
in charge of the Inquisition. They were referred to as Domini canes, "hounds of the Lord
1231/32 The first direct contact between the patriarch in exile in Nicaea and the Franciscans. A party of five friars had fallen into troubles as they crossed Anatolia and had come under the protection of the emperor John Vatatzes. Initially, patriarch Germanos was favorably impressed: these Latins were humble and anything but warlike.
1232 The Patarenes of Bosnia deposed Stephan, son of Kulin, who was a Catholic, in favor of Matthew Ninoslav. Ninoslav restored Patarenism as the state religion.
1232 The Lord of Perelle gave the Cathars of southern France Montsegur as a stronghold.
1232 The bishops of Epiros submitted to the authority of the patriarch Germanos II, thus assuring unity with the Orthodox in Nicaea. In 1238, the patriarch sent the metropolitan of Ancyra to Epiros to consecrate the bishops who had been ordained without patriarchal approval.
1233 A large number of Cathars burned at the stake in Pisa.
1233 Frederick II of Germany (reigned 1220-50) tranferred 20,000 Muslim inhabitants of Sicily to Italy in the wake of a Muslim revolt on the island.
Two Franciscans and two Dominicans traveled from Rome to Nicaea to
debate the Orthodox on the doctrine of the procession of the Holy
Spirit. They quoted St. Cyril of Alexandria as condemning those
who denied that the Spirit through which Christ performed his miracles
was his own Spirit, and seemed convinced that the quotation was
relevant. The Orthodox viewpoint
was defended by Nicephorus Blemmydes. Futile discussions
the question of azymes followed in March at Nymphaion near
As the fruitless discussions broke up, the papal envoys are said to
told the emperor, “Know this, that the Lord Pope and the Roman church
not abandon a single iota of their faith.”
Pope Gregory IX (1227-41) published the Liber extra, the first complete collection of papal
decretals authorized by the papacy.
1235 George Bardanes, metropolitan of Corfu, traveled to Italy on a diplomatic expedition. In his notes on a debate held with a Franciscan, Bardanes makes the first reference among Byzantine theologians to the Latin doctrine of purgatory. He found the notion very strange and somewhat disturbing, since it is similar to Origen’s notion that hell is finite in duration and purgative in nature.
1235 Cathars murdered the Catholic bishop of Mantua, Lombardy.
1236 The Sword Brothers (see 1202) were extinguished as a separate military order after their decisive defeat by the Lithuanians. Their remnants were absorbed by the Teutonic Knights (see 1190).
1237 Mongols devastated Kievan Russia. Kiev itself was sacked.
1239 Jerusalem again taken by the Saracens. (See 1229.)
1240 Alexander Nevsky, Prince of Novgorod (died 1267), defeated the Swedes in battle. Faced with Western aggressors on one front and the Tartars (Mongols) on another, Nevsky decided to pay tribute to the Tartars. He did this because thelatter did not interfere with the Orthodox Church, while the Westerners, particularly the Teutonic Knights, like the crusaders in Constantinople, were determined to destroy Orthodoxy. Nevsky is reported to have replied to messengers from the pope with the words: “Our doctrines are those preached by the Apostles ... The tradition of the Holy Fathers of the seven ecumenical councils we scrupulously keep. As for your words, we do not listen to them and we do not want your doctrine.”
1240 Robert Grosseteste translated the works of the Pseudo-Dionysius into Latin and produced a commentary on them.
1240 Pope Gregory IX required the Archbishop of Canterbury and the bishops of Lincoln and Salisbury to provide for 300 Romans. No English clergyman could be given a parish until the Roman clergy were seen to. This practice was common in France as well. Absentee Italians profited from the benefices so gained, paying local priests to fulfill their duties. This arrangement was deeply resented by the native clergy.
1240 A large number of Cathars burned at the stake in Milan.
1241 The Mongols under Batu invaded Europe, penetrating as far as Silesia and Hungary. Russia and Poland were devastated. The Germans and Bohemians checked the Mongols at the battles of Leignitz and Olmutz respectively. Upon hearing of the death of Ogdai, the Great Khan, Batu withdrew, keeping southern Russia in subjugation.
1241/42 Frederick II of Germany (1220-50) and John III Ducas Vatatzes, the emperor of Nicaea (1122-54), formed an alliance against the papacy and sealed it when John married Frederick’s bastard daughter, Costanza Lancia.
1242 Cathars from Montsegur (France, see 1232) and Avignonet slaughtered a troop of Inquisitors who were on their way to the latter town.
1242 Nevsky defeated the Teutonic Knights.
1242 A Russian, Cyril (1242-81), was appointed metropolitan of Russia. It is possible that the fourteenth century practice of alternating Russians and Greeks as metropolitan began with Cyril’s appointment.
1243/44 The Inquisition in southern France burned a large number of Cathar heretics, including several noblemen and women. Many Cathari fled to the Pyrenees, Lombardy, or Bosnia. The leaders concentrated at Montsegur. In March 1244 Montsegur fell, and thereafter about 200 of the Cathari leaders, known as “Perfects,” perished in the inquisitorial flames without trial.
1244 A Mongol raiding party descended on Jerusalem and massacred Moslems and Christians alike. They also destroyed a force of crusaders in Gaza the following year.
At a council in Lyons, Pope Innocent IV (1243-54) deposed
the German emperor, Frederick II (1220-50). The council
of perjury, breaking the peace, sacrilege, heresy, and murder.
council also dealt with clerical sin, the loss of Jerusalem in 1244,
Mongol invasion of Europe, and the woes of the Latin kingdom of
English noblemen complained to the council about the practice of
French and Italian clergy to English benefices. (Seldom did the
foreign clergy actually come to England. Rather, the foreign
income from the benefice, which he had purchased or another had
for him from the pope. Rather than pay their salaries, kings
sought benefices for their civil servants, who were most often
1246 Robert of Torote, bishop of Liege, ordered that a feast of Corpus Christi be celebrated. After a former archdeacon at Liege, Jacques Pantaleon, became Pope Urban IV (1261-64), it was celebrated throughout the West (1264).
1248 Louis IX of France launched a crusade. He attacked Egypt in the spring of 1249 and took Damietta that summer. His forces marched up the Nile, were cut off, and Louis himself was captured. His wife, Queen Margaret, rallied the defenses at Damietta, then ransomed Louis.
Louis sent an envoy, William of Rubroek, to a debate hosted by the Mongols at Karakorum. Nestorians, Buddhists, and Moslems were also represented. Louis remained in the East until 1254.
1248 Ferdinand III forced all Muslim inhabitants of Seville out of that city after his forces captured it.
1249 Toward the end of the year, a council met at Nymphaion to discuss possible reunion of the churches of East and West. The Nicaean emperor John Vatatzes offered to agree to acknowledge papal plenitudo potestatis in exchange for an agreement from the pope to cease supporting the Latins in Constantinople. Nicephorus Blemmydes contested the Latin view of the procession of the Holy Spirit. Afterwards, a delegation traveled to Rome to continue the discussion. Innocent IV appeared willing to reconcile, even to recognize Manuel II (1243-54) as rightful patriarch of Constantinople, but he died before any real progress was made.
1250 When Ninoslav died in this year, the Bosnian church was still Patarene. Pope Innocent IV described it as “totally fallen into heresy.”
Thomas Aquinas (1225-72), author of the Summa
Theologica, flourished. In contrast to Aquinas’s integration
of Aristotle within his theological system, Aquinas’s contemporary,
Bonaventure (1221-74), reasserted the Platonic-Augustinian system
against the Aristotelian. That is, in Bonaventure, universals are
real, and it is they which individuate matter, and not the matter
itself. Bonaventure placed will (and love) above intellect.
Both notions are antithetical to Thomism. Bonaventure was a
Franciscan, while Thomas was a Dominican.
1250 In this year, the legend of Pope Joan appeared in interpolations in the Chronicon pontificum et imperatorum (“The Chronicle of the Popes and Emperors”), written by Martin of Troppau, a Dominican. In its mature form, the legend held that Joan was pope from 855 to 858, when she died in childbirth. The legend of Pope Joan was widely believed in the later Middle Ages; the Council of Constance (1415) took it for granted. In 1647, David Blondel, a Calvinist, proved that there had never been a Pope Joan.
1251 Grand Duke Mindaugas (1219-63) of Lithuania accepted Christianity from Pope Innocent IV (1243-54) in this year. It was a strategic move to divide his enemies - the Teutonic Knights and the Russians of Galacia-Volynia. Mindaugas went so far as to build a cathedral in Vilnius. But he apostatized in 1261, razed the cathedral, and replaced it with a pagan temple.
1252 Pope Innocent IV (1243-54) authorized the use of torture to obtain confessions and the names of other heretics.
1253 Gerald of Borgo published his Introduction to the Everlasting Gospel. His analysis of the contemporary situation showed that the signs Joachim of Flore (see 1177) had predicted were then present, indicating that the new age would begin in 1260.
1254 Pope Innocent IV (1243-54) sought to deprive the German emperor Conrad of control over the Kingdom of Sicily. Conrad called the pope a heretic and a usurper, and the pope excommunicated the emperor. Conrad died in April, Innocent on 7 December. By 1255, Conrad’s half-brother Manfred was in control of southern Italy and Sicily. Conrad’s son, Conrad II (known as Conradin) was two at the time of his father’s death, and Manfred acted as his regent in southern Italy and Sicily. The papacy considered the king of Sicily a vassal, since the papacy had permitted the Normans to settle there in 1059.
1254 A few weeks before his death, Innocent IV (1243-54), bishop of Rome, sent a letter to Cardinal Eudes of Chateauroux, the legate to the Orthodox on Cyprus. In the letter, the pope asked the Orthodox to accept this definition of purgatory:
“Since the Truth asserts in the Gospel that, if anyone blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, this sin will not be forgiven either in this world or in the next: by which we are given to understand that certain faults are pardoned in the present time, and others in the other life; since the Apostle also declares that the work of each man, whatever it may be, shall be tried by fire and that if it burns the worker will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet as by fire; since the Greeks themselves, it is said, believe and profess truly and without hesitation that the souls of those who die after receiving penance but without having had the time to complete it, or who die without mortal sin but guilty of venial (sins) or minor faults, are purged after death and may be helped by the suffrages of the Church; we, considering that the Greeks assert that they cannot find in the works of their doctors any certain and proper name to designate the place of this purgation, and that, moreover, according to the traditions and authority of the Holy Fathers, this name is purgatory, we wish that in the future this expression be also accepted by them. For, in this temporary fire, sins, not of course crimes or capital errors, which could not previously have been forgiven through penance, but slight or minor sins, are purged; if they have not been forgiven through existence, they weigh down the soul after death.”
A papal envoy met with the Nicaean emperor Theodore II Lascaris
(1254-58) and patriarch Arsenius Autoreianos (1254-60, 61-65)
in Thessalonica. The papal envoy had very detailed instructions
and could not compromise,
so no progress was made. Before becoming emperor, Theodore
had been the leader of the anti-Latin party in the Nicaean court.
1258 The last Abbasid Caliph, al-Mustasim, died along with an estimated 500,000 of his subjects when the Mongols sacked Baghdad.
1258 On 18 December, Pope Alexander IV (1254-61) rescinded his grant of the Kingdom of Sicily to Prince Edmund of England (son of King Henry IV). The papacy had hoped to use England to unseat Manfred. As it turned out, the pope still gained 60,000 marks from the English from the broken deal.
1259 The Battle of Pelagonia (a plain between Thessalonica and Constantinople). Forces under Michael, despot of Epiros, Manfred of Sicily, and William of Achaea met a smaller force under John Paleologus (the Nicaean emperor Michael’s brother). The Epirotes fled in the night before the battle was joined, and the Nicaeans were victorious. The battle settled the contest for leadership between Epiros and Nicaea, two rival fragments of the Roman (Byzantine) empire.
1260 The advance of the Mongol empire toward Egypt was checked by the Mamelukes at the battle of Ain Gelat. Mameluke rule extended from Egypt through Syria.
1260 The Teutonic Knights suffered defeat in the battle of Durbe, where 150 knights were slain. The inhabitants of Osel apostatized (see 1227), then slaughtered the Christians in their territory.1260 In a concordat dated to this year, the Metropolitan of Trebizond recognized the Patriarch of Constantinople as his superior. The concordat also excused the Metropolitan of Trebizond from attending patriarchal elections, mandatory for other metropolitans. Trebizond, along with Nicaea and Epiros, was a fragment of the Roman (Byzantine) Empire, destroyed by the sack of Constantinople in 1204.
1261 The Romans (Byzantines) under Michael VIII Palaeologus conquered Constantinople, taking it back from the crusaders. Before the Latin conquest, patriarchs of Constantinople were invested in the Palace of Magnaura. But from this date, the ceremony occurred in the triclinium of the Palace of Blachernae.
1261 A certain John of Cocleria, posing as a resurrected emperor Frederick II, led a rebellion against Manfred in Sicily (see 1254).
1263 During the summer, Pope Urban IV (1261-64)
concluded a treaty with Charles of Anjou. In
for rights to the Sicilian kingdon, then held by Manfred, Charles was
pay the pope 10,000 ounces of gold annually.
1263 Pope Urban IV (1261-64) sent Cardinal Guy
Foulques as legate to England to assist King Henry III against his
1265 During his tenure, Pope Clement IV (1265-68)
reserved to himself the right to appoint to the benefices of any
incumbents who died while in Rome.
1265 Arsenios Autoreianos, patriarch of Constantinople, deposed by the emperor Michael VIII and sent in exile to Prokonessos in Propontis. Arsenios had excommunicated Michael for having the legitimate heir, John IV Laskaris, blinded. Arsenios’s removal from office was the beginning of the Arsenite Schism, which did not end until 1310, sixteen years after his death.
1266 Alfonso X of Castile constructed a wall between the Christian and Muslim quarters of Murcia, a city in southeastern Spain.
1266 On 26 February, in a battle near Benevento, Charles of Anjou defeated Manfred. Manfred died. Sicily then fell to Charles, in accordance with papal wishes.
1266 Charles of Anjou gained control over Corfu (a base for attacks on the Albanian coast and, he hoped, Constantinople).
1268 The battle of Tagliacozzo. Conrad II (Conradin) had invaded Italy, in part to take Sicily from Charles of Anjou. Their forces battled on 23 August. Charles was victorious, and some time thereafter Conradin was captured. He was beheaded on 29 October.
1268 Charles of Anjou, with papal blessing, planned an expedition to capture Constantinople. This expedition was delayed in part due to the efforts of Pope Gregory X (1271-76) to reconcile with the Orthodox.
1270 The bishop of Paris condemned thirteen propositions found in or derived from the writings of Aristotle, among them: that God knows nothing of our world, and that the world itself is eternal. The condemnation was directed largely at philosophers in the University of Paris.
1270 The Tunisian crusade. King Louis of France died, but the expedition was victorious, largely due to assistance rendered by Charles of Anjou. Charles had opposed the crusade since it interfered with the assault on Constantinople he had planned for this year.
The Roman populace tore the roof off the palace where a conclave was
to elect a new pope. The cardinals had been taking too long to
a decision. From this time, the cardinals’ food was decreased
to hasten the papal election.
In February, a minority of Eastern church officials signed a synodal
to the pope agreeing to reunion. The Roman (Byzantine) emperor
Michael VIII Paleologus (1259-82) had assured these leaders that they
to only three terms: papal primacy, appellate jurisdiction, and
commemoration (in the liturgy). No other issues were in view.
First attempt at reconciliation between East and West. The Roman
(Byzantine) emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus, being hard-pressed
militarily by Charles of Anjou, monarch of Sicily, needed the
protection of the papacy.
At the council of Lyons, the Orthodox representatives agreed to
papal claims to supremacy and the addition of the filioque to
the creed. The reunion was subsequently rejected by the
overwhelming majority of Orthodox clergy and laity, and was repudiated
by Michael’s successor. Of the agreement, Michael’s sister said,
“Better my brother’s empire should perish than the purity of the
patriarch of Constantinople was invited to the council, but he did not
attend. None of the other three Eastern patriarchs was
represented. The senior Eastern church leader present was
Theophanes, metropolitan of Nicea.
A letter on the subject of purgatory, written by Pope Clement IV (1265-68) in 1267, was incorporated, with slight changes, into the council’s decree Cum sacrosancta: “However, owing to various errors that have been introduced by the ignorance of some and the malice of others, (the Roman Church) states and proclaims that those who fall into sin after baptism must not be rebaptized, but that through a genuine penitence they obtain pardon for their sins. That if, truly penitent, they die in charity before having, by worthy fruits of penance, rendered satisfaction for what they have done by commission or omission, their souls, as brother John has explained to us, are purged after their death, by purgatorial or purificatory penalties, and that, for the alleviation of these penalties, they are served by the suffrages of the living faithful, to wit, the sacrifice of the mass, prayers, alms, and other works of piety that the faithful customarily offer on behalf of others of the faithful according to the institutions of the Church. The souls of those who, after receiving baptism, have contracted absolutely no taint of sin, as well as those who, after contracting the taint of sin, have been purified either while they remained in their bodies or after being stripped of their bodies are, as was stated above, immediately received into heaven.” This appears to have been the first dogmatic definition of purgatory by the Roman Catholic church.At the council, Pope Gregory X (1271-76) called for a new crusade. However, Charles of Anjou and Philip III of France blocked it. Although Gregory invited the kings of France, England, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Hungary, Bohemia, Castile, Aragon, Navarre, and Armenia, only James of Aragon attended.
The council also dealt with procedures for papal elections. Cardinals were to wait a maximum of ten days for absent colleagues to arrive before meeting in conclave (out of contact with the outside world). The cardinals would receive no pay until a new pope was elected.
Sixteen ambassadors from the Ilkhan of the Mongols of Persia attended the council of Lyons in hope of arranging an alliance against the Mameluks (see 1260). The Genoese, who had a monopoly on trade with the Mongols in the Black Sea region and northern Syria, supported the alliance. The Venetians (natural enemies of Genoa) were opposed, as were the Templars, who were profiting as bankers in the East and who favored an alliance with the Mameluks. Charles of Anjou, King of Sicily, was allied with Venice and relied on the Templars, so he opposed the Mongol alliance also.
1274 The Emperor Michael Paleologus’s army captured the Berat fortress and Butrino, a port on the Albanian coast. The attack heightened Charles of Anjou’s desire to mount an expedition against Constantinople.
The Ecumenical Patriarch Joseph was deposed. Joseph opposed the
with Rome. He wrote, “Why should the pope have authority over
We do not take part in electing him and he should not interfere in our
affairs” and “According to the Gospel we have only one master, and that
1275 The Emperor Michael Paleologus VIII appointed John Becchus (or Beccus), Ecumenical Patriarch 1275-82, to establish the union of the Council of Lyons. Becchus’s doctrines were anathematized in the Synodicon of the Holy Spirit (see 1222 above). Joseph’s followers (see 1275 above) considered the appointment of John Becchus as his successor irregular. Like the Arsenites, they opposed Michael VIII’s attempts to restore union with the papacy.
1275 A one-year truce between the Emperor Michael Paleologus and Charles of Anjou began. Pope Gregory X urged this arrangement, since the schism had ended (apparently).
1277 Pope John XXI (Sep 1276 - May 1277) ordered Etienne Tempier, bishop of Paris, to investigate the tension between philosophy and theology in the University of Paris. Tempier ended by condemning 219 propositions, including the 13 that had already been condemned in 1270. Other condemned propositions include: species (such as humans) had no beginning, but are eternal; nothing happens by chance; God cannot produce anything new; and God cannot make an accident exist without a subject (important for its implications for transubstantiation).
1277 Pope John XXI died after the new ceiling in his palace at Viterbo collapsed. It was common in this era for the popes to reside in Viterbo, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north-northwest of Rome.
1277 In response to the Union of Lyons, Duke John of Neopatras convened a synod fo the clergy of Greece. The synod excommunicated the pope, the patriarch, and the emperor.
1279 The Tartar Khan Mangu-Temir granted the Orthodox Church exemption from taxes and declared Church lands off limits to Tartars.
1279 Pope Nicholas III (1277-80) sent a delegation to Constantinople to demand that the Eastern Church include the filioque in the creed. The emperor Michael VIII and patriarch John Becchus were unable to force the majority of prelates to comply. Michael attempted to suppress opposition to the Union of Lyons by imprisoning or exiling the most prominent opponents, including members of the imperial family.
1279 Nicephoros, despot of Epiros, repudiated the Union of Lyons. Aided by widespread opposition to the Union, he wrested Butrinto from Emperor Michael.
1280 First reference to the spinning wheel in Europe, at Speyer on the Rhine.A provincial council meeting in Cologne set the minimum age for confirmation to seven. In contrast, before this century, the church in the West had been concerned with setting the greatest allowable separation in time between baptism and confirmation.
1281 On 22 February, Simon of Brie, a Frank, was elected Pope Martin IV. Martin, a strong proponent of Frankish imperialism, broke off negotiations with Emperor Michael Paleologus over church union.
1281 On 3 July, Charles of Anjou, the titular Latin Emperor of Constantinople, and the Venetians agreed to a treaty “for the restoration of the Roman Empire usurped by Paleologus.” They planned to set out in April 1282. Martin IV issued a bull for the Emperor Michael Paleologus, demanding that hand the empire over to him by 1 May 1282, or he would be deposed by force.1282 Sanctioned by Pope Martin IV (1281-85), Charles of Anjou assembled a force at Messina with the goal, “the restoration of the Roman empire usurped by Paleologus.” In essence, this was a crusade intended for the capture of Constantinople, claimed by Charles of Anjou as part of his inheritance. The Roman (Byzantine) Emperor Michael Paleologus maneuvered to upset Charles’s expedition by fomenting civil unrest in Sicily.
The Sicilian Vespers: the Sicilians rebelled against Charles, massacred a number of Frenchmen during Easter of this year, and offered the throne of Sicily to King Peter of Aragon. The Vespers thus upset Charles of Anjou's plan to restore the Latin Empire of Constantinople.
1282 On 30 Aug, King Peter of Aragon and his army landed in Sicily, turning the Sicilian rebellion into a war between Peter and Charles of Anjou.1282 On 12 November, Pope Martin IV (1281-85) excommunicated the Roman (Byzantine) emperor Michael VIII.
1283 Pope Martin IV (1281-85) blessed a crusade against Peter of Aragon, whom he blamed for siding with the Sicilians against Charles of Anjou.
1283 Gregory of Cyprus (1283-89), a professor, became patriarch of Constantinople. He disagreed with the union of the council of Lyons, though he was sympathetic to the idea of reunion. Gregory presided over the council of Blakhernae, where the Roman (Byzantine) “latinophrones” were condemned. Theologically, he spoke of the “eternal manifestation” of the Spirit by the Son.
1285 A Tome published by the Council of 1285 clarified the Orthodox doctrine of the procession of the Spirit in this way: “It is recognized that the very Paraklete shines and manifests Itself eternally by the intermediary of the Son, as light shines from the sun by the intermediary of rays ...; but that does not mean that It comes into being through the Son or from the Son.” In an officially sanctioned commentary on the Tome, a monk named Mark gave a more general meaning to the term ekporeusis, which was used specifically to designate the mode of origin of the Spirit. It was felt that the terminological change would cause confusion in the doctrine of the Trinity. Since the commentary was written under the patriarch Gregory of Cyprus’s authority, he was criticized by other orthodox bishops. John Chilas of Ephesus, Daniel of Cyzicus and Theoleptus of Philadelphia ceased mentioning his name during the liturgy. Gregory subsequently distanced himself from Mark.
1285 On 7 January, Charles of Anjou died.
Death of William of Moerbeke, a friend of Thomas Aquinas and a
Dominican. Moerbeke translated most of the works of Aristotle and
Archimedes directly from Greek into Latin.
Nicholas IV (1288-92) became the first Franciscan to be elected pope.
1289 Athanasius I (1289-93, 1303-9) became patriarch of Constantinople. He was a moral reformer who intervened in secular politics in favor of Christian principles. Athanasius worked for increased discipline in the monasteries, and chastised bishops who drew large incomes from churches. Athanasius used funds confiscated from monasteries to feed the poor in the city during a famine. It is also thought that Athanasius approved of the sequestering of church property for the benefit of the state.
1290 The Livonian Rhymed Chronicle composed, a story of the war against the pagans in Latvia and Estonia.
1290 King Edward I forced the Jews out of England.
1290 An outbreak of plague in Kiev killed roughly 7000 people.
On 18 May, the Crusaders lost control of Acre, their last
foothold in Palestine.
1292 To improve discipline, the Roman (Byzantine) Emperor Andronicus II (1282-1328) placed Mount Athos (see 963) under the direction of the patriach Athanasius I. Prior to this time, the mountain had been under imperial control.
1293 In Egypt, a Copt on horseback was seen leading a Muslim debtor bound with a rope. A Muslim mob murdered the Copt, then proceeded to massacre Copts and loot their homes.
1293 The synod of Constantinople deposed the patriarch Athanasius I because of his severity. Athenasios was re-elected about 11 years later.
Peter Murrone, an ancient and illiterate hermit, was
Pope Celestine V. He abdicated after six months. His
successor, Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303),
sought him out, then kept him in prison until he died at age 90.
Boniface's family had long been in conflict with the Colonna
family. As pope,
Boniface offered the spiritual benefits typically offered to crusaders
anyone who joined in his struggle against the Colonna.
The cost of the war between England and France caused the kings of both
countries to tax the church. This action led eventually to the
issuance of Unum Sanctum (see 1302).
1295 The Roman (Byzantine) Emperor
Andronicus II abolished the kanonikon (kanonikon), a tax new priests paid their
bishops at ordination. Though illegal, the tax was still commonly
1296 Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303) issued the bull Clericos Laicos, forbidding clergy from paying taxes to secular authorities. He later modified this position in his Ineffabilis Amor, which permitted clergy to pay taxes in a national emergency. His Etsi de Statu (1297) clarified that the king himself could decide when the situation constituted an emergency.
Death of the Lithuanian prince Daumantas. He had become ruler of
Pskov in Russia, converted to Orthodoxy, and became known as Saint
Andronicus II's Ekthesis from this year lists 112 metropolitanates,
most of which had less than two suffragans.
1300 Dante Aligheri (1265-1321), author of the Divine Comedy, flourished.
The Oxford Franciscan Duns Scotus (1266-1308) developed a nominalist philosophy, designed to insure that revelation was safeguarded as the sole source of knowledge of the divine being. His design was to protect the majesty of God and freedom of the will from Thomistic determinism.
1300 Approximately two million pilgrims came to Rome
during this Jubilee year. Two priests stood before the altar in
St. Peters, literally raking in the money.