Pope Innocent III (1160 or 1161 – 16 July 1216) was Pope from 8 January 1198 until his death. His birth name was Lotario dei Conti di Segni, sometimes anglicised to Lothar of Segni.
Early life and election to the Papacy
Lotario de' Conti was born in Gavignano, near Anagni. His father was Count Trasimund of Segni and was a member of a famous house, Conti, which produced nine Popes, including Pope Gregory IX (1227–1241), Pope Alexander IV (1254–1261) and Pope Innocent XIII (1721–1724). Although Lotario is commonly identified as the nephew of Pope Clement III (1187–1191), that error arises from the similarity between Clement's family name, Scolari, with that of Scotti, the noble Roman family of Lotario's mother, Clarice.
Lotario received his early education in Rome, studied theology in Paris, and jurisprudence in Bologna. As Pope, Lotario was to play a major role in the shaping of canon. He became one of the greatest jurists of his time.
Shortly after the death of Alexander III (30 August 1181) Lotario returned to Rome and held various ecclesiastical offices during the short reigns of Lucius III, Urban III, Gregory VIII, and Clement III, reaching the rank of Cardinal-Deacon in 1190. He subscribed the papal bulls between 7 December 1190 and 4 November 1197.
As a cardinal, Lotario wrote On the Misery of the Human Condition. The work was very popular for centuries, surviving in about 500 manuscripts. He never returned to the complementary work he intended to write, On the Dignity of Human Nature.
Celestine III died on January 8, 1198. Before his death he had urged the College of Cardinals to elect Giovanni di San Paolo as his successor; but Lotario de' Conti was elected pope, at Rome, on the very day on which Celestine III died. He accepted the tiara with reluctance and took the name of Innocent III. He was only thirty-seven years old at the time.
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