Pope Innocent III

[coat of arms of Pope Innocent III] Born c.1160 in Anagni, Italy as Lotario de' Conti; ascended to the papacy 8 January 1198; died in 16 June 1216 in Perugia, Italy. He was a theologian, jurist, and cardinal-deacon. One of the greatest of the popes he opened his pontificate by restoring the papal power in Rome and in the Papal States, and wresting Italian possessions from the German knights. He reasserted the papal suzerainty over Sicily, which he ruled conscientiously during the minority of his ward Frederick II; was arbiter in Germany between Otto and Philip of Swabia; secured the election of Frederick II, 1211; and formed a truce between France and England. He asserted his papal rights in every large European country at the time, particularly in England, where King John accepted the lawfully-elected Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton. He promoted the Fourth Crusade in which Constantinople was captured against his wishes. He first sent missionaries to, and when they proved obstinate, a crusade against, the Albigenses; he convened the Fourth Lateran Council, encouraged missionary work, and left many important writings. His labors in the government of the Church, while subordinate when compared with his great political achievements, contributed their share to the glory of his pontificate. He died at Perugia on his way to conciliate Genoa and Pisa to further the interests of the Crusades.

New Catholic Dictionary

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