INTRODUCTION:The papacy of Pope Lucius II was wrought with peril at home in Rome and great success elsewhere throughout Europe. His brief pontificate marked the demarcation line of the beginning of the end of medieval times with the rise of communes in Italy that would eventually spread throughout Europe. Though Lucius had been elected to bring his friend Roger of Sicily into line, efforts backfired and Roger retaliated. The results threw Rome once again into chaos with the Pope in the thick of it as the Roman families reared their ugly heads to clean up the spoils and regain the prestige and power they once held. Lucius would play right into their hands and for his efforts, end up another victim on the battlefield of the Roman streets. It seemed that the more things changed, the more they remained the same.

chapter forty four

Pope Lucius II: Last hurrah for feudalism as Romans rebell

         The sudden death of Pope Celestine II brought the conclave together again to choose the one hundred sixty sixth successor of Peter. Within four days of Celestine's death, they had chosen from among their ranks Cardinal Gherardo Caccianemici a Bologna-born prelate who had been the canon of San Frediano in Lucca, the most influential of the canons regular in all of Italy. In this position Caccianemici became one of the most prominent cardinals under Pope Innocent II and Celestine. Therefore, he was a natural choice of the College of Cardinals. Following in his predecessors' footsteps, he chose the name of one of the early martyred popes. Thus he became Pope Lucius II on March 12, 1144. Like Celestine he was older and wise, but, like many of his predecessors, he had no clue how to handle the problems of southern Italy even though he had been godfather to one of the children of King Roger of Sicily while stationed at Benevuto as a canon. This is one of the main reasons the cardinals elected him, hoping to draw up a treaty of peace and understanding with this ambitious ruler to the south who was infringing on Roman politics. Lucius had been a master at negotiations, working as Pope Honorius II's legate in Germany and supporting the election of Lothair III as emperor in 1125. He was a confidante of Cardinal Aimeric in backing Innocent II and had grown close to Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and the Abbot Peter the Venerable of Cluny. His influence in Europe would bode well for him throughout Europe but not, unfortunately, in his own backyard. Lucius sent papal legates to Spain, Portugal, France and Switzerland. He confirmed Toledo in Spanish land as the primate throughout the Iberian Peninsula and played a major role in Portugal becoming forever Catholic by convincing the Portuguese king Alfonso Henriquez to pledge his loyalty to the Pope as did the Lord of Pringins Humbert in Switzerland, then part of Germany. The city of Corneto returned into the fold of papal territory, as well. The Pope brought Tours back to prestige by restoring Tours in France to its metropolitan jurisdiction over Brittany. Throughout the continent Lucius was hailed, but not in his own backyard for many had the impression he was more interested in solving problems abroad rather than at home. Romans had originally been encouraged with his election because of his connections to the Norman ruler to the south and many thought it would be a breeze bringing Roger into line. The two met at Ceprano in the summer and to everyone's horror, the meeting ended abruptly with nothing accomplished. Some historians blame Roger's sons for the impasse, while others point to the fact the cardinals and all of Rome vented overt anti-Norman sentiments towards the delegates from the south which drew the latters' wrath. Roger retaliated by launching his heavily armed troops against Lucius and Rome, bringing them into submission. The defeated Romans turned the blame on Lucius. Turning their backs on the Papal States, they formed their own republic, electing the brother of the deceased antipope Anacletus -one Geordano Pierleoni from the once powerful Pierleoni family as head Patrician. This action resurrected the times of power within the Roman clans and gave them hope that Rome could be restored to grandeur and power and they could once again control the papacy. They aligned with Arnold of Brescia who was a rogue, creating much disorder throughout Italy. Needless to say, their growing strength gave credence to Lucius' fears. The Pope begged the new emperor of Germany Conrad III for assistance but the Hohenstaufen king, embroiled in his own problems, refused, despite St. Bernard's personal pleas. With that alliance cut off, Lucius turned in self-defense to the Frangipani family - bitter enemy of the Pierleoni clan. This would lead to Lucius ultimate mortal downfall. Within months Rome was a war zone once again with families clashing. The Pierleonis, under Giordano, had cemented themselves solidly in the Capitol area, while the Frangipani held down the area around the Circus Maximus. Aligning with the Frangipani troops, the Pope personally placed himself as the military leader and foolishly undercompensated for the strength of his foe. Thus, in February 1145 he led an attack on the Capitol but the Frangipani were waiting and the battle took its toll with many of the latter fleeing, bloodshed everywhere, and a pontiff who lay dying in the streets from a fusilage of stones that struck him in battle. He was not to recover from the blows and on February 15, 1145, after having been dragged by his beleagered troops to the monastery of San Gregario, he succumbed to the fatal injuries.

While Lucius' reign lasted one month short of a year, his papacy marked a transition in European history for it signaled the beginning of the end for the middle ages as Rome became a republic and the rise of Communes throughout Italy ushered in the sharing of the arts which would lead three centuries later to the beginning of the Renaissance period in Italy, and ultimately all of Europe. In the next installment we shall cover the pontificate of Lucius' successor, Blessed Eugene III who initiated the construction of the Papal Palace.

October 13, 1997 volume 8, no. 20         History of the Mass and Holy Mother Church