Gregorio Papreschi became Pope Innocent III. He was a Roman from the section of Trestavere. And his family was friends with the notorious, two-faced Frangipani family. Born in 1082, he quickly moved up the ranks from a canon at the Lateran to an abbot to a cardinal deacon, appointed by Pope Pascal II in 1116.
Selected by Pope Callixtus II for difficult missions, Gregorio was sent to Germany to conclude the Concordat of Worms in 1122. He then went to meet Emperor Henry V to broker a peace accord. And then he went to France to broker another peace accord with King Louis VI. When Callixtus died in 1124, Gregorio was chosen as a close advisor to the new Pope Honorius.
Pope Honorius died on the evening of 13 February 1130. He had moved to a monastery where news could not get out easily. A commission of six cardinals quietly elected Gregorio the new pope and he was consecrated by morning. Three hours later, Pietro Pierleone was nominated and elected pope in Rome. The cardinals insisted that a nighttime election was not canonical. Pietro, now “Pope Anacletus II”, had powerful friends who were foes of the Frangipani. And, then the Frangipani deserted Gregory.
Anacletus now controlled Rome. The big city was no longer a safe place. Innocent took a ship to Pisa, then Genoa and, finally, France. With the assistance of St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Norbert, the nobles and clergy of France recognized him as the true pope.
For the next two years, Innocent was acknowledged by King Lothar of Germany and the bishops at the synod of Wurzburg. Months later, Innocent met with King Henry I of England at Chartres. In March 1131, Innocent met again with Lothar and induced him to fight Anacletus for him.
In August, 1132, King Lothar came to Rome. He had two goals. One was to set aside Anacletus and put Innocent at St. Peter’s. The other was to be crowned emperor by the pope. Emperor Henry V had died in 1125 and Lothar still had not been honored. Unfortunately, Anacletus, and his supporters, controlled access to St. Peters. So, after much useless maneuvering, Lothar had his celebration at the Lateran on June 4 1133, almost a year after his arrival. In exchange, Innocent gave Lothar all the territories that Matilda of Tuscany had owned, in exchange for one hundred pounds of silver annually. Anacletus’ forces pushed Lothar out of Rome and Innocent fled to Pisa, again.
Holding the Council of Pisa in May of 1135, Innocent claimed Anacletus and his followers to be excom-municated. This gave Lothar the push he needed to try to get rid of Anacletus once and for all. He could not. But he was able to expel King Roger of Sicily out of Calabria. This left a hole in the Duchy of Apulia. Shockingly, after an argument with Pope Innocent over the future of Apulia, Lothar died December 3, 1137.
Less than two months later, Anacletus died. A new “antipope” was elected, who took the name Victor IV. St. Bernard was able to talk him into resigning in May of the same year. Innocent was free to be the only pope.
Back in Rome, Innocent called for Lateran Council II to open in March 1139. It is said that one thousand bishops and prelates attended. Some interesting statements came out of the council sessions. Innocent declared the Knights Templar to be answerable only to the Pope. The Council banned the use of crossbows, slings and bows against Christians. The Council also supported King Stephen over Empress Matilda (widow of Emperor Henry V and daughter of King Henry I) as ruler of England. Then, King Roger II was excommunicated.
Two months later, Roger III of Apulia (son of Roger II) ambushed the papal troops at Gallucio. The pope was captured. Three days later, Innocent was forced to acknowledge Roger’s kingship and possessions with the Treaty of Mignano. Young Roger became Duke of Apulia.
Unfortunately, Innocent’s attempts to undo problems in Rome coming from a long schism, were not very successful. He quarreled with King Louis VII over the candidate for archbishop of Bourges. France was placed under a years-long interdict until the king relented. In a struggle with the small city of Tivoli, Roman factions took up arms against Innocent.
Innocent’s legacy includes having rebuilt St. Maria in Trastavere, using columns from other monuments, and getting two nephews and a brother to become cardinals.
As Innocent was dying, the commune of Rome began the process of reinstating the Senate. He died 24 September 1143.