Pope Celestine III

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Pope Celestine III (ca. 1106 – January 8, 1198), born Giacinto Bobone,[1] was elected Pope on March 21, 1191, and reigned until his death. He was born into the noble Orsini family in Rome, though he was only a cardinal deacon before becoming Pope.[2] He was ordained a priest on April 13, 1191, ruled the church six years, nine months, and nine days (though believed to have been about eighty five when elected), died January 8, 1198, and was buried at the Lateran.



Considered by the Curia as an expert on Spain, Giacinto, as Cardinal Deacon of St.Maria at Cosmedin, conducted two legatine missions to Spain in (1154–55) and (1172–75).[3]


He crowned the Emperor Henry VI (1190–97) on the day after his election with a ceremony symbolizing his absolute supremacy, as described by Roger of Hoveden, who is believed (more reasonably as it would seem) by Baronius, but discredited by Natalis Alexander. He subsequently excommunicated the same Henry VI for wrongfully keeping Richard I of England (1189–99) in prison.[4] He place Pisa under an interdict, which was lifted by his successor Innocent III in 1198.[5] He condemned Alfonso IX's marriage to Teresa of Portugal on the grounds of consanguinity. Then, in 1196, he excommunicated Alfonso IX for making peace with the Muslims while making war on Castile. Following the marriage between Alfonso and Berenguela of Castile, Celestine excommunicated Alfonso and placed an interdict over Leon.[6]

In 1198, he confirmed the statutes of the Teutonic Knights as a military order.[7]

He would have resigned the Papacy, and recommended a successor (Cardinal Giovanni di San Paolo, OSB) shortly before his death, but was not allowed to do so by the cardinals.



  • Clarke, Peter D., The interdict in the thirteenth century: a question of collective guilt, Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • Moore, John Clare, Pope Innocent III (1160/61–1216): to root up and to plant, BRILL, 2003.
  • Sikes, Thomas Burr, History of the Christian Church, from the first to the fifteenth century, Eliott Stock, 1885.
  • The New Cambridge Medieval History, Vol.1, Ed. David Luscombe, Jonathan Riley-Smith, Cambridge University Press, 2004.
  • Urban, William, The Teutonic Knights, Greenhill Books, 2003.
  • Pope Celestine III (1191-1198): Diplomat and Pastor, ed. Damian J. Smith, John Doran, Ashgate Publishing, 2008.

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