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Innocent III


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Pope from 1198. In making the right of the Papacy to interfere in secular affairs depend upon its duty to control the moral conduct of rulers and upon the theory of Papal feudal overlordship, Innocent was enabled by the circumstances of the age and his own personality to make theory and practice coincide to an extent unparalleled before or since. The Emp. Henry VI having died in 1197, Innocent pressed claims to examine as well as to crown the person elected as Emperor; he then supported rival candidates in turn; Frederick II was elected on condition that he did homage to the Pope for Sicily. In France Innocent compelled Philip Augustus to be reconciled to his Queen. The quarrel over the appointment of Stephen Langton to the see of Canterbury led to the submission of King John of England, who recognized Innocent as his feudal overlord. Elsewhere also the Pope extended his influence. He patronized the new orders of friars, the Franciscans and the Dominicans. The Lateran Council of 1215 was the culminating event of his reign. He was the first Pope regularly to use the title ‘Vicar of Christ’.

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