1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Innocent/Innocent VI
Innocent VI. (Étienne Aubert), pope from the 18th of December 1352 to the 12th of September 1362, was born at Mons in Limousin. He became professor of civil law at Toulouse and subsequently chief judge of the city. Having taken orders, he was raised to the see of Noyon and translated in 1340 to that of Clermont. In 1342 he was made cardinal-priest of Sti Giovanni e Paolo, and ten years later cardinal-bishop of Ostia and Velletri, grand penitentiary, and administrator of the bishopric of Avignon. On the death of Clement VI., the cardinals made a solemn agreement imposing obligations, mainly in favour of the college as a whole, on whichever of their number should be elected pope. Aubert was one of the minority who signed the agreement with the reservation that in so doing he would not violate any law, and was elected pope on this understanding; not long after his accession he declared the agreement null and void, as infringing the divinely-bestowed power of the papacy. Innocent was one of the best Avignon popes and filled with reforming zeal; he revoked the reservations and commendations of his predecessor and prohibited pluralities; urged upon the higher clergy the duty of residence in their sees, and diminished the luxury of the papal court. Largely through the influence of Petrarch, whom he called to Avignon, he released Cola di Rienzo, who had been sent a prisoner in August 1352 from Prague to Avignon, and used the latter to assist Cardinal Albornoz, vicar-general of the States of the Church, in tranquillizing Italy and restoring the papal power at Rome. Innocent caused Charles IV. to be crowned emperor at Rome in 1355, but protested against the famous “Golden Bull” of the following year, which prohibited papal interference in German royal elections. He renewed the ban against Peter the Cruel of Castile, and interfered in vain against Peter IV. of Aragon. He made peace between Venice and Genoa, and in 1360 arranged the treaty of Bretigny between France and England. In the last years of his pontificate he was busied with preparations for a crusade and for the reunion of Christendom, and sent to Constantinople the celebrated Carmelite monk, Peter Thomas, to negotiate with the claimants to the Greek throne. He instituted in 1354 the festival of the Holy Lance. Innocent was a strong and earnest man of monastic temperament, but not altogether free from nepotism. He was succeeded by Urban V.