Papacy - Timeline (Expand All)
33: Peter becomes first Pope, the vicar of Christ on Earth. The discourse of Christianity becomes rooted in the divine right to spread His Word to all nonbelievers. This mission is involved throughout history in the conquests of foreign lands and peoples. [Display Quote]
313: Constantine grants toleration to Christians, paving the way for Christianity to become the official religion of the Roman empire, which would, in turn, spur tension over whether pope or emperor held supreme power in secular as well as spiritual matters.
494: Pope Gelasius I argues for the primacy of papal power in a letter to Emperor Anastasius I [Display Quote]
800: Charlemagne is papally installed as Holy Roman Emperor, forwarding the vision of a unified Christian commonwealth under the ultimate rule of the vicar of Christ.
1049: Leo IX calls the Council of Rheims to combat such dangers to centralized Church autonomy as clerical marriage and simony, subordinating secular to spiritual, emperor to pope. [Display Quote]
1073: Gregory VII (1073-1085) excommunicates Henry IV -- who must then humble himself seeking pardon -- asserting unquestioned papal sovereignty over secular and spiritual matters. During his reign the most influential and progressive attempts at expanding the boundaries of Christianity are introduced to the Christian world. Gregory VII is credited with beginning the discourse on the need to educate non-believers in the Word of the Lord, which is later conducted through violence. [Display Quote]
1076: The Deposition of Worms includes both European kings and religious leaders who accuse Gregory VII of breaking the peace by forcing religion into the realm of imperial and secular rule. Kings and princes worry that the Pope will continue to usurp power over the common person, which might hinder foreign enterprises in Africa and, eventually, the New World.
1088: The reign of Urban II (1088-1099) is one of the most influential and controversial of all papal leaders for our purposes, for it is under Urban that holy war and the killing of infidels was finally accepted as a knight’s profession and the spreading of Christianity becomes the cloak for exploration of foreign lands. [Display Quote]
1095: Urban II’s speech at Clermont inaugurates the First Crusade, the first political campaign waged by a religious leader to condone the use of force to convert non-believers. With innuendos of Christian warriors in a battle to overcome sin, Urban effectively convinces men of all ranks to join the pilgrimage of the Holy Crusades [Display Quote]
1146: Crusade II begins after kings and Christian leaders assess the profits gained in the first Holy Wars against the Saracen Moslems. The successes of the first Crusade led papal and secular leaders to continue to wage war against infidels and conquer them for their lands. Once again, war is fought in the name of conversion of the nonbelievers. [Display Quote]
1154: Under Adrian IV the colonization of lands neighboring Europe becomes a common occurrence. Adrian continues Urban II’s legacy of recruiting men of all statuses to join in wars against non-believers.
1156: Adrian condones the conquest of Ireland by English in an effort to further expand Christian borders and to help troops practice for further expeditions and Holy Wars. The conquest of Irish lands and peoples are markedly brutal and bloody, but the wars continue to be condoned under the guise of defense against infidels in the future.
1158: Gratian, in Decretum, claims human law must be rational, upholding the pope’s power to create both religious and secular laws. [Display Quote]
1185: Crusade III begins as a recourse to continue bringing profits to a faltering religious community. Funding is being lost in campaigns to the Holy Lands, in rewarding and paying knights and the military, and in extravagant spending. The peoples conquered are seemingly of no consideration to leaders. [Display Quote]
1199: Innocent III (1198-1216) writes Quod super his concerning how Christians can dispose infidels of dominium. Innocent decides that if a non-believer refuses to accept and adopt the teachings of Christ, he is not truly a full human being and therefore is undeserving of humane treatment and subject to force. Being subject to force is an opening to violent means at conversion. See his summons to a crusade [Display Quote]
1204: Crusade IV begins, and the battle for Constantinople commences. It is with this Crusade that the papal legate is reprimanded for abusing its powers of force and influence over Christians and non-believers. As the use of force on others is questioned, the Church’s influence over colonization becomes shaky. [Display Quote]
1210: Uguccio, a cleric, proclaims that God wanted the spiritual and temporal offices separated, a sentiment that completely contradicts the papal striving for increased imperial power. Uguccio’s declaration reestablishes the debate over the role religious leaders should play in the making of national and secular decisions. [Display Quote]
1215: The founding of the Dominican Order, which marks the beginning of increased religious dissent over the treatment of infidels in conquered countries. The Dominicans make it their mission to travel to the Canary Islands and other lands colonized by European explorers. They discover and publicly share the brutality and gross negligence of the holy duty to Christianize non-believers proposed by the Holy See.
1227: Gregory IX (1227-1241) is widely criticized for not being able to reign in the Teutonic Knights from their expeditions in Prussia. The knights liberally use their papal support to violently abuse non-believers, and Gregory does little to curb their activities. These knights use the excuse of spreading Christianity to pillage and intimidate, fully embodying all that had become corrupt in the Church’s attempt to increase its numbers of followers through spreading the Word by means of violence. [Display Quote]
1243: Innocent IV (1243-1254) officially questions whether or not infidels have the right to freedom and the possession of land. Under Innocent’s reign, the power of the Church to influence Christian kings becomes incredibly unstable because kings want to continue to abuse and exploit infidels and their resources. [Hide Quote]
He was also the first pope to claim the right to dispose of benefices by papal provision simply and solely by reason of his plentitude of power.
Geoffrey Barraclough. The Medieval Papacy. London: Thames and Hudson, 1968: 114.
1245: Innocent IV writes Commentaria Doctissima in Quinque Libros Decretalium, which states the rights of infidels to rule themselves. This document helps to reestablish the Church as a moral and ethical entity but effectively separates the religious and secular offices. While the pope still possesses a great deal of influence and power over Christian nations, kings begin to question whether or not the pope will support all campaigns to earn riches and land at the expense of non-believers. Innocent IV makes it known to all European explorers and crusaders that all non-believers must be treated fairly and humanely because they can be potential Christians. [Display Quote]
1268: Hostiensis writes Lectura quinque decretalium, which claims non-Christians had no rights to land because, without Christ, they can not be worthy of land or rights. Hostiensis’s commentary disputes the papal stance on infidel rights, and it marks the most public attempt by a religious man to refute the position of the pope. [Display Quote]
Thomas Aquinas writes On the Truth of the Catholic Faith in which he proposes that Christians convert infidels using arguments and not force. His proposal is far reaching because it uses Scripture passages to support the acceptance and patience of non-believers. [Display Quote]
1295: Marco Polo writes The Book of Ser Marco Polo documenting his trip to Asia and ignites the desire to find lands lying farther than European borders. The possibility of riches and discovery outweigh the possibilities of danger and war. All people and things had the potential to be Catholic, and it is in the name of the Lord that such lands be rescued from the grip of infidels.
1302: Pope Boniface VIII in Unam Sanctum declares "that it is altogether necessary to salvation that every human creature to be subject to the Roman pontiff" -- a vision of universal papal jurisdiction. [Display Quote]
1414: Paulus Vladimir writes Opinio Hostiensis stating that infidels have no right to possess land. This document directly questions the proposals of Innocent IV and calls into question the discoveries and conquests being conducted by the Portuguese and Spanish. Their expeditions had been approved by the papal see, and questioning of the pope’s decree throws his influence over followers into question. [Display Quote]
1431: Eugene IV (1431-1447) must deal with the decisions made by previous popes concerning the right of Portugal to colonize in Africa and the Canary Islands. In 1436 King Duarte I of Portugal writes to Eugene IV requesting that the Canary Island conquests be returned to Portugal. This request not only questions the pope's ability and right to determine who should and should not explore Africa and southern portions of the New World, but it also signifies the belief that infidels can be treated poorly without serious consequences. [Display Quote]
1453: A revised version of Romanus Pontifex originally written by Eugene IV distinctly draws the lines of exploration between Spain and Portugal. This bull helps to define which lands can and cannot be conquered, while preserving rights in favor of the Portuguese crown. This bull is the first of many directly signifying the intentions and favoritism of popes toward their home lands. [Display Quote]
1492: Columbus “discovers” America and the riches she promises to Europe.
1493: Alexander VI issues the most famous of all bulls concerning New World exploration. His Inter caetera bulls give Spain the right to colonize all of the Americas that Portugal has not yet conquered. (see essay by Melissa Morris) [Display Quote]
1494: Treaty of Tordesillas redraws lines demarkation of conquest for Spain and Portugal because of the unfairness created in Inter caetera divinai, I, and Inter caetera II. This treaty does not grant a great deal more land to Portugal because it leaves the lines at 370 leagues west from Cape Verde to east, but it effectively names the nation as a representative in the New World and deserving of recognition. [Display Quote]
1530: Vittoria begins to scathingly deny the pope’s right to rule the entire globe, pointing to the atrocities inflicted upon the Native Americans of the New World, the role Christians play in the mistreatment of infidels, and the support they receive from kings and the pope himself. He proclaims that the inhabitants of the Americas had rights to freedom and that the pope should not possess the right to decide where and when nations could colonize. [Display Quote]