Popes in a Year
#174 - Pope Clement III
Pope from December 19, 1187 - March 20, 1191
Lived: 1130 - March 20, 1191
Birth name: Paolo Scolari
Who was this guy before he was pope?
A native Roman, Paolo Scolari was serving as the Cardinal Bishop of Palestrina prior to his election as pope. Apparently a close advisor to his predecessors, Paolo is known to have been a signer of every papal bull written between the years of 1179 and 1187.
Give me the scoop on Clement III.
Elected just two days following Pope Gregory VIII’s death, Pope Clement III set to work immediately working out a reconciliation between the papacy and his own people, the Romans. For nearly a half century the two weren’t invited to the other's Christmas parties, but given Clement’s native status, he was able to forge a truce before long. Afterward, Rome could elect its own magistrates, but the pope reserved the right to appoint the Eternal City’s governor. Even better, the pope could safely reside in Rome once again.
In his three-and-a-half year reign, Clement also restocked the aging and depleted college of cardinals, picking newbies three different times. He helped the Scottish church and government settle who could appoint St. Andrew’s archbishop, while also making Scotland independent (canonically) from the Archdiocese of York. Clement died on March 20, 1191 and is buried in the Lateran Basilica in Rome.
What was he known for?
Though Gregory VIII was known for calling the Third Crusade, Pope Clement III was the organizer who set it in motion. Clement was also known for considerable skill in cat-herding, given his success in wrangling soldiers from multiple kingdoms, few of whom got along, to sally forth into battle. Stars of the Third Crusade included Richard the Lionheart, then the King of England, Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, and King Philip II of France. Crusaders found success in capturing several key cities and overturning many of Saladin’s conquests, but they fell short of recapturing Jerusalem for Christendom. They did, however, reach an agreement with the Saracens to allow Christians access to Jerusalem for three years.
Interestingly, Pope Clement III picked a convenient time to die. With the untimely death of Barbarossa in 1190 (Pro-tip: Avoid bathing in cold mountain water), the obvious successor was his son, Henry VI. The kicker, given Henry’s marriage to the daughter of King Roger II, was that a coronation would put the young claimant in charge of two of the pope’s biggest headaches: Germany and Sicily. Not wanting to risk it, Clement voted with the Sicilians and opted to crown Henry’s cousin-in-law, Tancred of Lecce. Henry,
a tad upset
, went to Rome to let Clement have it, but the pope died before his arrival.
What else was going on in the world at the time?
In 1190, Emo of Friesland, became the first foreign scholar to study at what would become known as the University of Oxford. Historians are unsure if he only wore black.
Coming tomorrow...Pope Celestine III
SOURCES (and further reading)
John, E. (1964). The Popes: A concise biographical history. New York: Hawthorn Books.
Guruge, A. (2010). The Next Pope. New Hampshire: WOWNH
Pope Clement III -
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Crash Course on the Crusades -
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Sent by Matthew Sewell on Thursday, August 24 at 2:00AM