1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Saisset, Bernard

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SAISSET, BERNARD (d. c. 1314), French bishop, was abbot of Saint Antonin de Pamiers in 1268. Boniface VIII., detaching the city of Pamiers from the diocese of Toulouse in 1295, made it the seat of a new bishopric and appointed Saisset to the see. Of a headstrong temperament, Saisset as abbot energetically sustained the struggle with the counts of Foix, begun two centuries before, for the lordship of the city of Pamiers, which had been shared between the counts and abbots by the feudal contract of pariage. The struggle ended in 1297 by an agreement between the two parties as to their common rights, and when the pope raised the excommunication incurred by the count, Saisset absolved him in the refectory of the Dominican monastery in Pamiers (1300). Saisset is, however, famous in French history for his opposition to King Philip IV. As an ardent Languedocian he hated the French, and spoke openly of the king in disrespectful terms. But when he tried to organize a, general rising of the south, he was denounced to the king, perhaps by his old enemies the count of Foix and the bishop of Toulouse. Philip IV. charged Richard Leneveu, archdeacon of Auge in the diocese of Lisieux, and Jean de Picquigni, vidame of Amiens, to make an investigation, which lasted several months. Saisset was on the point of escaping to Rome when the vidame of Amiens surprised him by night in his episcopal palace. He was brought to Senlis, and on the 24th of October 1301 appeared before Philip and his court. The chancellor, Pierre Flotte, charged him with high treason, and he was placed in the keeping of the archbishop of Narbonne, his metropolitan. Philip IV. tried to obtain from the pope the canonical degradation of Saisset. Boniface VIII., instead, ordered the king in December 1301 to free the bishop, in order that he might go to Rome to justify himself. At the same time, he sent the famous bulls Salvator mundi, a sort of repetition of Clericis laicos, and Ausculta fili, which opened a new stage of the quarrel between the pope and king. In the heat of the new struggle Saisset was forgotten. He had been turned over in February 1302 into the keeping of Jacques des Normands, the papal legate, and was ordered to leave the kingdom at once. He lived at Rome until after the incident at Anagni. In 1308 the king pardoned him, and restored him to his see. He died, still bishop of Pamiers, about 1314.

There is no proof for the legend that Bernard Saisset earned Philip IV.'s hatred in 1300-1301 by boldly sustaining the pope's demand for the liberation of the count of Flanders, and by publicly proclaiming the doctrine of papal supremacy.

See Dom Vaissete, Histoire générale de Languedoc, ed. Privat, t. ix. pp. 216-310; Histoire littéraire de la France, t. xxvi. pp. 540-547; E. de Rozière, Le Passage de Pamiers, in Bibliothèque de l'École des Chartes (1871); Ch. V. Langlois in Lavisse's Histoire de France, t. iii., pt. ii., pp. 142-146.