1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Nicholas (popes)

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NICHOLAS, the name of five popes, and one anti-pope.

Nicholas I., sometimes called The Great, and certainly the most commanding figure in the series of popes between Gregory I. and Gregory VII., succeeded Benedict III. in April 858. According to the annalist Prudentius of Troyes, “he owed his election less to the choice of the clergy than to the presence and favour of the emperor Louis II. and his nobles”—who can hardly have foreseen with what ability and persist ency the rights of the Holy See as supreme arbiter of Christendom were to be asserted even against themselves by the man of their choice. Of the previous history of Nicholas nothing is recorded. His pontificate of nine years and a half was marked by at least three memorable contests which have left their mark in history. The first was that in which he supported the claims of the unjustly degraded patriarch of Constantinople, Ignatius; the history of the conflict cannot be related here, but two of its incidents, the excommunication of Photius, the rival of Ignatius, by the pope in 863, and the counter-deposition of Nicholas by Photius in 867, were steps of serious moment towards the permanent separation between the Eastern and the Western Church. The second great struggle was that with Lothair, the king of Lorraine (second son of the emperor Lothair I., and brother of the emperor Louis II.), about the divorce of his wife Theutbcrga or Thietberga. The king, who desired to marry his mistress Waldrada, had brought a grave charge against the life of his queen before her marriage; with the help of Archbishops Gunther of Cologne and Thietgaud of Treves, a confession of guilt had been extorted from Thietberga, and, after the matter had been discussed at more than one synod, that of Aix-la-Chapelle finally authorized Lothair, on the strength of this confession, to marry again. Nicholas ordered a fresh synod to try the cause over again at Metz in 863; but Lothair, who was present with his nobles, anew secured a judgment favourable to himself, whereupon the pope not only quashed the whole proceedings, but excommunicated and deposed Gunther and Thietgaud, who had been audacious enough to bring to Rome in person the “ libellus ” of the synod. The archbishops appealed to Louis II., then at Benevento, to obtain the withdrawal of their sentence by force; but, although he actually occupied the Leonine city (864), he was unsuccessful in obtaining any concession, and had to withdraw to Ravenna. Thietberga herself was now induced to write to the pope a letter in which she declared the invalidity of her own marriage, and urged the cause of Lothair, but Nicholas, not without reason, refused to accept statements which had too plainly been extorted, and wrote urging her to maintain the truth steadfastly, even to the death if need were, "for, since Christ is the truth, whosoever dies for the truth assuredly dies for Christ.” The imminent humiliation of Lothair was prevented only by the death of Nicholas. The third great ecclesiastical cause which marks this pontificate was that in which the indefeasible right of bishops to appeal to Rome against their metropolitan was successfully maintained in the case of Rothad of Soissons, who had been deposed by Hincmar of Reims. It was in the course of the controversy with the great and powerful Neustrian archbishop that papal recognition was first given (in 865) to the False Decretals, which had probably been brought by Rothad to Rome in the preceding year (see Decretals). At an early period in his reign it also became necessary for Nicholas to administer discipline to John of Ravenna, who seems to have relied not only on the prestige of his famous see but also on the support of Louis II. After lying under excommunication for some time he made a full submission. Nicholas was the pope to whom Boris, the newly converted king of Bulgaria, addressed himself for practical instruction in some of the difficult moral and social problems which naturally arise during a transition from heathenism to Christianity. The pope's letter in replyto the hundred and six questions and petitions of the barbarian king is perhaps the most interesting literary relic of Nicholas I. now extant. He died on the 13th of November 867, and was succeeded by Adrian II.

The epistolae of Nicholas I. are printed in Migne, Patrologia Lat. vol. 119, p. 769 seq. See F. Gregorovius, Rome in the Middle Ages, vol. iii. (Eng. trans., London, 1900–1902); H. Lammer, Nikolaus I. und die byzantinische Staatskirche seiner Zeit (Berlin, 1857); J. Roy, Saint-Nicolas I. (Paris, 1900); J. Richterich, Papst Nikolaus I. (Bern, 1903); A. Greinacher, 'Die Anschauungen des Papstes Nikotaus I. über das Verhdltnis von Staat und Kirche (1909). (X.) 

Nicholas II., pope from December 1058 to July 1061, was a Burgundian named Gerard, who at the time of his election was bishop of Florence. He was set up by Hildebrand, with the support of the empress-regent Agnes and of the powerful Duke Godfrey of Lorraine, against Benedict X., the nominee of the Roman nobles, and was crowned at Rome, after the expulsion of Benedict, on the 24th of January 1059; His pontificate was signalized by the continuance of the policy of ecclesiastical reform associated with the name of Hildebrand (afterwards Gregory VII.). To secure his position he at once entered into relation with the Normans, now firmly established in southern Italy, and later in the year the new alliance was cemented at Melfi, where Nicholas II., accompanied by Hildebrand, Cardinal Humbert and the abbot Desiderius of Monte Cassino, solemnly invested Robert Guiscard with the duchies of Apulia, Calabria and Sicily, and Richard of Aversa with the principality of Capua, in return for oaths of fealty and the promise of assistance in guarding the rights of the Church. The first fruits of this arrangement, which was based on no firmer foundation than the forged “Donation of Constantine” (q.v.), but destined to give to the papacy a position of independence towards both the Eastern and Western Empires, was the reduction in the autumn, with Norman aid, of Galera, where the anti-pope had taken refuge, and the end of the subordination of the papacy to the Roman nobles.

Meanwhile, Peter Damian and Bishop Anselm of Lucca had been sent by Pope Nicholas to Milan to adjust the difference between the Patarenes and the archbishop and clergy. The result was a fresh triumph for the papacy, Archbishop Wido, in face of the ruinous conflict in the Church of Milan, being forced to submit to the terms proposed by the legates, which involved the principle of the subordination of Milan to Rome; the new relation was advertised by the unwilling attendance of Wido and the other Milanese bishops at the council summoned to the Lateran palace in April 1059. This council not only continued the Hildebrandine reforms by sharpening the discipline of the clergy, but marks an epoch in the history of the papacy by its famous regulation of future elections to the Holy See (see Lateran Councils, and Conclave). Its most important immediate result was the revival of strained relations with the empire, due to the fact that the emperor's traditional rights in the matter of papal elections had been completely ignored. Stephen, cardinal priest of S. Chrysogonus, was sent to the German court to attempt to allay the consequent ill-feeling, but was not received. Pope Nicholas, moreover, had offended the German bishops by what they regarded as arbitrary interference with their rights: he had refused to send the pallium of Archbishop Siegfried of Mainz; he had sent a sharp letter of admonition to Archbishop Anno of Cologne. The resulting opposition culminated in a synod of German bishops, perhaps early in 1061 (its date and place of meeting are unknown), at which the decrees of the pope, including the new electoral law, were annulled, while he himself was deposed and his name ordered to be expunged from the canon of the Mass. That these resolutions were not followed by any further action was due to the war of parties in Germany, which enabled the papacy to ignore a demonstration of opinion to which no effect could be given.

Nicholas II. died at Florence in July 1061. Personally he was one of the least important of the popes, and the great importance of the events of his pontificate is due to the fact that, as Peter Damian wrote (Epist. i. 7), he possessed in Hildebrand, Cardinal Humbert and Bishop Boniface of Albano acutissimi et perspicacis oculi.

His Diplomata, epistolae, decreta are in Migne, Patrolog. Lat. 143, pp. 1301-1366. See the article “Nikolaus II.” by C. Mirbt in Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopädie (3rd ed., Leipzig, 1904), with bibliography. Other lists of authorities are in Potthast, Biblioth. Hist. Med. Aev. (2nd ed., Berlin, 1896), p. 854; and Ulysse Chevalier, Répertoire des sources hist. biobibliogr. (Paris, 1905), vol. 3347, s. v. “Nicolas II.”  (X.) 

Nicholas III. (Giovanni Gaetano Orsini), pope from the 25th of November 1277 to the 22nd of August 1280, was a Roman nobleman who had served under eight popes, been made cardinal-deacon of St Nicola in carcere Tulliano by Innocent IV., protector of the Franciscans by Alexander IV., inquisitor-general by Urban IV., and succeeded John XXI., largely through family influence, after a six-months' vacancy in the Holy See. His brief pontificate was marked by several important events. A born politician, he greatly strengthened the papal position in Italy. He concluded a concordat with Rudolph of Habsburg in May 1278, by which the Romagna and the ex arch ate of Ravenna were guaranteed to the pope; and in July he issued an epoch making constitution for the government of Rome, which forbade foreigners taking civil office. Nicholas issued the bull Exiit on the 14th of August 1279 to settle the strife within the Franciscan order between the parties of strict and loose observance. He repaired the Lateran and the Vatican at enormous cost, and erected a beautiful country house at Soriano near Viterbo. Nicholas, though a man of learning and strength of character, brought just reproach on himself for his efforts to found principalities for his nephews and other relations. He died from a stroke of apoplexy and was succeeded by Martin IV.

See “Les Registres de Nicolas III.,” published by Jules Gay in Bibliothèque des écoles françaises d’Athènes et de Rome (Paris, 1898–1905); A. Potthast, Regesta pontif. Roman. vol. 2 (Berlin, 1875); A. Demski, “ Papst Nikolaus III.” in Kirchengeschichte Studien (Münster, 1903); F. Gregorovius, Rome in the Middle Ages, vol. 5, trans. by Mrs G. W. Hamilton (London, 1900–1902); Fr. Wertsch, Die Beziehungen Rudolfs von Habsburg zur röm. Kurie bis zum Tode Nikolaus III. (Bochum, 1880); G. Palmieri, Introiti ed esiti di Papa Niccolò III. (Rome, 1889).  (C. H. Ha.) 

Nicholas IV. (Girolamo Masci), pope from the 22nd of February 1288 to the 4th of April 1292, a native of Ascoli and a Franciscan monk, had been legate to the Greeks under Gregory X. in 1272, succeeded St Bonaventura as general of his order in 1274, was made cardinal-priest of Sta Prassede and Latin patriarch of Constantinople by Nicholas III., cardinal-bishop of Palestrina by Martin IV., and succeeded Honorius IV. after a ten-months' vacancy in the papacy. He was a pious, peace loving monk with no ambition save for the church, the crusades and the extirpation of heresy. He steered a middle course between the factions at Rome, and sought a settlement of the Sicilian question. In May 1289 he crowned Charles II. king of Naples and Sicily after the latter had expressly recognized papal suzerainty, and in February 1291 concluded a treaty with Alphonso III. of Aragon and Philip IV. of France looking toward the expulsion of James of Aragon from Sicily. The loss of Ptolemais in 1291 stirred the pope to renewed enthusiasm for a crusade. He sent the celebrated Franciscan missionary, John of Monte Corvino, with some companions to labour among the Tatars and Chinese. He issued an important constitution on the 18th of July 1289, which granted to the cardinals one-half of all income accruing to the Roman see and a share in the financial management, and thereby paved the way for that independence of the college of cardinals which, in the following century, was to be of detriment to the papacy. Nicholas died in the palace which he had built beside Sta Maria Maggiore, and was succeeded by Celestine V.

See “Les Registres de Nicolas IV.,” ed. by Ernest Langlois in Bibliothèque des écoles françaises d’Athènes et de Rome (Paris, 1886–1893); A. Potthast, Regesta ponlif. Roman. vol. 2 (Berlin, 1875); F. Gregorovius, Rome in the Middle Ages, vol. 5, trans. by Mrs G. W. Hamilton (London, 1900–1902); O. Schiff, “Studien zur Geschichte Papst Nikolaus IV.” in Historische Studien (1897); W. Norden, Das Papsttum u. Byzanz (Berlin, 1903); R. Röhricht, Geschichte des Königreichs Jerusalem (Innsbruck, 1898); J. B. Sägmüller, Die Thätigkeit u. Stellung der Kardinäle bis Papst Bonifaz VIII. (Freiburg-i.-B., 1896); J. P. Kirsch, “Die Finanzverwaltung des Kardinalkollegiums im 13. u. 14. Jahrhunderte” in Kirchengeschichtliche Studien (1895). (C. H. Ha.) 

Nicholas V. (Tomaso Parentucelli or Tomaso da Sarzana), pope from the 6th of March 1447 to the 24th of March 1455, was born at Sarzana, Where his father was a physician, in 1398. He early studied at Bologna, where the bishop, Nicholas Albergati, was so much struck with his ardour for learning that he gave him the chance to pursue his studies further, by sending him on a tour through Germany, France and England. He distinguished himself at the council of Ferrara-Florence, and in 1444 was made bishop of Bologna by Pope Eugenius IV., who soon afterwards named him as one of the legates charged to negotiate at the convention of Frankfort an understanding between the Holy See and the Empire with regard to the reforming decrees of the council of Basel. His successful diplomacy was rewarded, on his return to Rome, with the title of cardinal priest of Sta Susanna (December 1446). He was elected pope in succession to Eugenius IV. on the 6th of March of the following year, taking the name of Nicholas in honour of his early benefactor.

The eight years of his pontificate were important in the political, scientific and literary history of the world. With the German king, Frederick III., he made the Concordat of Vienna, or Aschaffenburg (February 17, 1448), by which the decrees of the council of Basel against papal annates and reservations were abrogated so far as Germany was concerned; and in the following year he secured a still greater triumph when the resignation of the anti-pope Felix V. (April 7), and his own recognition by the rump of the council of Basel, assembled at Lausanne, put an end to the papal schism. The next year, 1450, Nicholas held a jubilee at Rome; and the offerings of the numerous pilgrims who thronged to Rome gave him the means of furthering the cause of culture in Italy, which he had so much at heart. In March 1452 he crowned Frederick III. as emperor in St Peter’s, the last occasion of the coronation of an emperor at Rome.

Under the generous patronage of Nicholas humanism made rapid strides. He employed hundreds of copyists and scholars, giving as much as ten thousand gulden for a metrical translation of Homer, and founded a library of nine thousand volumes. Nicholas himself was a man of vast erudition, and his friend Aeneas Silvius (later Pope Pius II.) said of him that “what he does not know is outside the range of human knowledge.” He was compelled, however, to add that the lustre of his pontificate would be for ever dulled by the tragic fall of Constantinople, which the Turks took in 1453. The pope bitterly felt this catastrophe as a double blow to Christendom and to Greek letters. “It is a second death,” wrote Aeneas Silvius, “to Homer and Plato.” Nicholas preached a crusade, and endeavoured to reconcile the mutual animosities of the Italian states, but without much success.

Nicholas conceived great plans for beautifying and developing Rome. He restored the walls and numerous churches, and began the rebuilding of the Vatican and St Peter’s. In undertaking these works Nicholas was moved by no vulgar motives, his idea being “to strengthen the weak faith of the people by the greatness of that which it sees.” The Romans, however, appreciated neither his motives nor their results, and in 1452 a formidable conspiracy for the overthrow of the papal government, under the leadership of Stefano Porcaro, was discovered and crushed. This revelation of disaffection, together with the fall of Constantinople, darkened the last years of Nicholas; “As Thomas of Sarzana,” he said, “I had more happiness in a day than now in a whole year.” He died on the 24th of March 1485.

See Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche, vol. xiv. (1904), with full references; Cambridge Modern History, i. 76-78; and M. Creighton, History of the Papacy (London, 1882), vol. ii.

Nicholas V. (Pietro Rainalducci), antipope in Italy from 1328 to 1330 during the pontificate of John XXII. at Avignon, was a native of Corbara in the Abruzzi. He joined the Franciscan order after separating from his wife in 1310, and became famous as a preacher. He was elected through the influence of the excommunicated emperor, Louis the Bavarian, by an assembly of priests and laymen, and consecrated at St Peter’s on the 12th of May 1328 by the bishop of Venice. After spending four months in Rome, he withdrew with Louis to Viterbo and thence to Pisa, where he was guarded by the imperial vicar. He was excommunicated by John XXII. in April 1329, and sought refuge with Count Boniface of Donoratico near Piombino. Having obtained assurance of pardon, he presented a confession of his sins first to the archbishop of Pisa, and then (25th of August 1330) to the pope at Avignon. He remained in honourable imprisonment in the papal palace until his death in October 1333.

See F. Gregorovius, Rome in the Middle Ages, vol. 6, trans. by Mrs G. W. Hamilton (London, 1900–1902); Baluzius, Vitae paparum Avenionensium, vol. 1 (Paris, 1693); J. B. Christophe, Histoire de la papauté pendant le XIV ième siècle, vol. 1 (Paris, 1853); E. Marcour, Anteil der Minoriten am Kampfe zwischen König Ludwig IV. von Bayern und Papst Johann XXII. (Emmerich, 1874); Eubel, “Der Gegenpapst Nicolaus V. u. seine Hierarchie,” in Hist. Jahrbuch, vol. 12 (1891).  (C. H. Ha.)