Pope Eugene IV

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Pope Eugene IV (1383 – February 23, 1447), born Gabriele Condulmer, was Pope from March 3, 1431, to his death.



He was born in Venice to a rich merchant family, a Correr on his mother's side. Condulmer entered the Order of Saint Augustine at the monastery of St. George in his native city. At the age of twenty-four he was appointed by his uncle Pope Gregory XII (1406–15), as Bishop of Siena, and came into prominence. In Siena, the political class objected to a 24-year old bishop who was a foreigner. Therefore, the issue was not pressed, and he resigned the appointment, becoming instead his uncle's papal treasurer, protonotary and Cardinal Priest of San Clemente. Pope Martin V named him Cardinal Priest of Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere.

He made himself useful to Pope Martin V (1417–31) and was quickly elected to succeed him. Eugene was crowned as Eugene IV at St. Peter's, March 11, 1431. By a written agreement made before his election he agreed with the cardinals to distribute to them one-half of all the revenues of the Church and promised to consult with them on all questions of importance, both spiritual and temporal. Upon taking the Papal Chair, Eugene IV took violent measures against the numerous Colonna relations of his predecessor, Pope Martin V (Ottone Colonna), who had rewarded his numerous clan with castles and lands. This at once involved him in a serious contest with the powerful house of Colonna that nominally supported the local rights of Rome against the interests of the Papacy. A truce was soon arranged.

Conciliar reform

But by far the most important feature of Eugene IV's pontificate was the great struggle between the Pope and the Council of Basel (1431–39), the final embodiment of the Conciliar movement. On July 23, 1431, his legate, Giuliano Cesarini, opened the council, which had been convoked by Martin V, but, distrustful of its purposes and emboldened by the small attendance, the pope issued a bill on December 18, 1431, dissolving the council and calling a new one to meet in eighteen months at Bologna. The council resisted this premature expression of papal prerogative, as it appeared to the majority of them. Eugene IV's action gave some weight to the contention that the Curia was opposed to any authentic measures of reform. The council refused to dissolve; instead they renewed the resolutions by which the Council of Constance had declared a council superior to the Pope, and cited Eugene IV to appear at Basel. A compromise was arranged by Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor, who had been crowned emperor at Rome on May 31, 1433. By its terms the Pope recalled his bull of dissolution, and, reserving all the rights of the Holy See, acknowledged the council as ecumenical (December 15, 1433). The pope agreed to name presidents to lead the council.

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