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Eleven Papal Coronations in Avignon
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Papal Coronations in Avignon

Bernhard Schimmelpfennig

The Avignon period brought about significant changes in papal ceremonial, just as it did in many other aspects of the papacy. These changes were to a great extent connected with the fact that from 1316 the popes resided for six decades (if we add the Avignonian popes of the Schism, even for eight) in the selfsame town. Usually the Renaissance popes are believed to have started the tradition of papal "immobility," which lasted for centuries—actually, until the many travels of Pope John Paul II and his predecessor Paul VI—but in fact it is older: it goes back to Avignon.[1] The palaces in Rome were ever since the early Middle Ages important residences and places for papal ceremonial: until the twelfth century the Lateran and from the thirteenth onward the Vatican.[2] Papal ceremonies also emphasized the bishop of Rome's close connection with the clergy and people of the City through services in the town and processions in its streets. However, the frequent absences of popes from their see during and after the Investiture Contest reduced significantly their association with the city of Rome and even more with one specific palace. In this respect the Avignon epoch was a definite break and had long-lasting consequences.

The longer the return to Rome was delayed the more efforts were made to build a palace along the Rhône. While John XXII (1316–1334) seems to have been satisfied with the episcopal palace, in 1335 Benedict XII (1334–1342) began the construction of a new residence.[3] With additions under Clement VI (1342–1352) the Avignon palace received essentially the form in which we see it today. The long construction time explains why some of the most important spheres of papal government, such as the Chamber and the courts, did not move into the new palace until the late years of Clement VI. From that time onward the papal ceremonies came to be even more concentrated in the palace. Beginning with Innocent VI's (1352), papal coronations


were also moved here from the Dominican convent, where they had been held in 1335 and 1342.

There are, alas, no liturgical sources for this development. We have good information about the events surrounding papal coronations of the second half of the century from authors of papal lives[4] and from accounts of the Apostolic Chamber.[5] The latter also contain many interesting details, such as the fact that in 1352 six new locks were ordered for the doors behind which the wine for the coronation was kept to secure it from premature consumption.[6] But a coronation ordo that could be dated with certainty between 1352 and 1395 (Benedict XIII) had not been known to exist in the fairly rich collection of ceremonial texts from Avignon. All relevant texts that have survived are in collections that either predate the mid-fourteenth century or are later than the popes' stay in Avignon. It is, therefore, necessary to utilize the ordines from the age of the Great Schism, confront them with data from vitae and accounts[7] and thus try to reconstruct the sequence of events at an Avignon coronation.

Before turning to this enterprise, it might be useful to summarize the characteristics of pre-Avignonese papal coronations, so that continuities and changes can be more precisely analyzed.[8] Traditionally the ritual of the ascension of a new pope in Rome consisted of three stages: possession (possesso ) of the Lateran; consecration or benediction in St. Peter's, including enthronization; coronation in front of the church with the subsequent procession to the Lateran. However, the events of the Investiture Contest, the frequent need for the elevation of a pope outside of Rome, the III Lateran Council, and new ideas about church hierarchy under Innocent III changed the sequence and significance of these traditional acts.

One of the most consequential decisions for the universal Church was Canon 1 of the III Lateranum. It prescribes that the person who receives the votes of at least two-thirds of the cardinals present should be regarded the legitimate pope. With the establishment of this quorum future schisms were to be avoided and the exclusive right of the cardinals to elect the pope assured. Another passage, which granted the pope-elect full pontifical powers in the moment he accepted the legitimate election, minimized the significance of all subsequent acts. Even though this strict ruling was not immediately accepted without opposition,[9] it survived into present-day canon law and, gradually, reduced all ceremonies connected with the inauguration of the pope to mere pomp and circumstance, without any legal significance.

Soon after the III Lateranum the sequence of the acts was also changed. While traditionally the possesso of the Lateran Palace and Basilica had been the first act, signifying the close connection of the pope to the town whose lord and bishop he was, this act was now moved to the end of the ceremonies, after consecration in and coronation in front of St. Peter's. This change can be seen as underlining the pope's universal position as successor of the


apostle Peter, while relegating his urban role to second place. The same trend was enhanced under Innocent III by the order of the procession: the pope was followed and accompanied by representatives of the Church universal—abbots, bishops, archbishops, patriarchs, cardinals—instead of the secular and clerical officers of his palace, as was the rule in the earlier centuries.

Besides the universalist emphasis, the popes' frequent absence from Rome had obvious impacts on the ceremonies. The possesso of the Lateran and the consecration in St. Peter's was often not possible because the new pope took office outside of Rome. After the Investiture Contest mostly bishops, who did not need to be consecrated, but received merely the sacramentally irrelevant benedictio were made popes. The inaugural rites were increasingly connected to portable insignia: the pallium , as sign of the plenitudo pontificalis officii , and the tiara tended to acquire the most important role among the insignia, and the coronation became the most significant act. Hence it is no wonder that, from the times of Innocent III on, a pope, to be identified as such, was usually depicted with the tiara on his head, even when shown as undressed and asleep. From the late thirteenth century onward, all events surrounding the papal ascension were termed, perhaps in emulation of the imperial inauguration, as coronatio .[10] This double meaning of the term—that is, the actual placing of the tiara on the new pope's head as well as the entire set of rites following the election—tended to confuse even near-contemporary historians. Papal lives from the fourteenth century[11] describe that their subject was "crowned" by the cardinal bishop of Ostia "in" the church, although in fact the Ostiensis was the main actor of the consecration or benediction inside the church, while the actual crowning, in front of the church, was done by the prior of the cardinal deacons.

These kinds of transformations are reflected in the ordines, compiled in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, which came to be of great importance for the Avignon inaugurations. Among these an ordo formulated on the behest of Pope Gregory X is most instructive[12] and should be introduced here. It contains seven parts that older texts (see fig. 11.1) mention only briefly or not at all: (1) acts immediately following the election; (2) administration of higher orders (deacon and priest) if the pope-elect did not have them; (3) consecration as bishop of Rome, without much notice about the benediction of a bishop elected to the papacy; (4) coronation in front of the church and procession to the palace; (5) entry to the papal palace, payment of the so-called presbyterium to cardinals and prelates, and coronation banquet. All these acts are designed to take place when the inauguration is not in Rome. Additional clauses include: (6) changes if the acts are performed in the City, including the ordination in St. Peter's, the procession through Rome, and the possesso of the Lateran; or, alternatively, (7) the entry of a pope in Rome who had been elected and consecrated elsewhere.


Figure 11.1.
Papal Coronation Ordines


The detailed prescriptions for parts one to five and seven suggest that it was seen as usual that a pope would be elected and ordained at some place other than Rome. This assumption reflected the reality of the thirteenth century, since most of the successors of Innocent III were in fact elected and inaugurated elsewhere: Honorius III in Perugia (1216); Innocent IV in Anagni (1243); Alexander IV in Naples (1254); Urban IV in Viterbo (1261); and Clement IV in Perugia (1265).[13] Actually the patron of this ordo, Gregory X, was elected in absentia in Viterbo in 1271, even though he was consecrated and crowned in Rome on 27 March 1272. The emphasis on the acts outside of Rome suggest that the ordo was composed after Greogry's arrival in Viterbo on 10 February 1272[14] but before the decision to proceed to Rome for the consecration ceremony. More important than the date is that for the first time an ordo had been compiled that prescribed inaugural acts as taking place outside of Rome. This does not mean, of course, that all passages were modeled on actual conditions; rather a series of sentences were borrowed from older ordines, mainly of the twelfth century. A point in case is the procession[15] in which such office holders are listed as the prefecti navales, scriniarii, advocati, iudices , offices that had long before ceased to play any role even in Rome. This dichotomy between literary tradition and actual reality is typical for most ordines, even those written after 1272.

One of the models for Gregory's ordo was of relatively recent origin.[16] It had been transmitted independently after 1272 and thus found its way in two versions into the Avignon ceremonials, the great compilation traditionally called since Mabillon Ordo Romanus XIV (see fig. 11.1).[17] It prescribed the rites in Rome from the benediction in St. Peter's down to the banquet in the Lateran. Because of its multiple transmission it had a greater influence on the knowledge of city-Roman traditions in Avignon than its derivate, the Gregory X ordo, which found its way in a third version into the Ordo Romanus XIV . Its importance is documented by an ordo that follows it to a great extent, written for the coronation of John XXII on 5 September 1316 in Lyons.[18] Although, as we have seen in the Gregory X ordo, the titles of the participants in the procession are usually left unaltered, this ordo is very much geared to the local conditions in Lyons. The entire ordo found its way into the compilation of the Ordo Romanus XIV , in all three of its versions, and shall be adduced for the Avignon coronations, especially for those of 1335 and 1342, because it is a fine example of how a text based on Roman conditions could be adapted for another location. Actually because these first two events took place before the completion of the papal palace, the Lyons ordo fitted well, its last passages even unchanged, for the banquet was held in both places in a Dominican convent.[19]

This ordo could also be used for coronations in the papal palace, as evidenced in an ordo recently published for the first time by Marc Dykmans.[20] While a note in this unique manuscript suggests that it was used for the


coronation of Pope Martin V on 21 December 1417 in Constance, in contrast to Dykmans, I believe that it was not written for this occasion but rather compiled still in Avignon. Let me present my reason for the alternative dating, which would mean that this is the only known ordo written during the period when the popes were crowned in the new palace of Avignon. That it was not composed for a specific occasion but written before 1417 is indicated by the fact that no name is used in most of the formulae and only in a single instance[21] has the name Martinus been inserted above the usual "N." For the acts following the investiture with the pallium[22] the order of 1316 was copied almost verbatim, but the references to locations in Lyons[23] are incomplete, suggesting that the ordo was to be amended for every particular situation. Only once are the Constance conditions considered: it was there that the pope resided not, as in Lyons, in the Dominican, but in the Augustinian convent.[24] However, this reference proves merely that the version retained in the only known manuscript was prepared for 1417, but not that its original text was of that date. Indeed, several corrupt and misunderstood words in the extant manuscript point to a lost, older original.

The possibility exists that the text originated in Rome during the Great Schism, but the first thirty-nine paragraphs contradict such a hypothesis: they are only marginally related to the older, above mentioned ordines and contain much new material. The most telling are the first few paragraphs, according to which the pope leaves his chambers and enters the palace chapel called capella magna , where he receives liturgical dress.[25] The subsequent acts are also performed in this chapel. Although there was such a chapel in the Vatican Palace since Urban V,[26] it was not used in the papal coronation; the Roman popes of the Schism were consecrated or blessed in St. Peter's and crowned on its steps, following old Roman tradition.[27] The architecture implied in the ordo—procession from living quarters through a door to the altar of the chapel and then across to the end of it—conforms best with that of the Avignon palace (see fig. 11.2). The ordo foresaw a pope who was a priest but not a bishop; hence no priestly ordination (as in 1371 for Gregory XI) but an episcopal consecration is contained in it. These facts point to the consecration and coronation of Urban V (on 6 November 1362) who indeed was a priest but not a bishop. Even if the exact date is not stringently proven by these considerations, I hope to have demonstrated that this ordo should be seriously considered in the reconstruction of Avignonese coronations.

It is best to start with the coronation before 1352 and then examine the changes that were caused by the transfer of the ceremonies into the new palace. As already mentioned, Benedict XII and Clement VI were crowned in 1335 and 1342, respectively, not in and in front of the cathedral, but in the convent of the Dominicans. This location is surprising since their predecessors, Clement V in 1305 and John XXII in 1316, chose the cathedral church


Figure 11.2.
The Papal Palace in Avignon
(by B. Schimmelpfennig after the plan of S. Gagnières)


of Lyons for their coronations. The cathedral in Avignon with the adjacent episcopal-papal palace would have nicely paralleled the Roman set-up with St. Peter's and the Vatican. The size of the convent could not have been decisive, as we are told that parts of the convent were torn down to make room for the events and had to be restored later.[28] Also, the papal chapel, used after 1352, was by no means larger than the cathedral. With our present knowledge we cannot explain this choice.

Following the centuries-old liturgical tradition for episcopal consecration, both popes received their benediction on a Sunday. Benedict had already moved the day before[29] into the convent, perhaps for mere comfort, and thus had made it a temporary papal residence. According to the ordo of 1316, the pope-elect proceeded on Sunday morning to the church of the Dominicans. After a first prayer on a faldistorium , in front of the main altar or in the center of the church, he received the first reverence of the cardinals and prelates and subsequently prayed the tierce with the capellani . While the chaplains sang the closing psalms, a subdeacon and an acolyte dressed the pope's feet in socks and sandals.

At this point we already find ourselves asking a few questions. Who were the capellani ? Benedict XII had founded a new college at the beginning of his pontificate: the capella intrinseca . The new chaplains were to concern themselves above all with the private divine services of the pope.[30] Hence, it is possible that the tierce was sung by this new college in 1342 or perhaps already in 1335. A second question relates to the pope's footgear, which has not been sufficiently researched for the Middle Ages.[31] Third, it would be important to know which psalter was used: Psalm 83, regularly sung at tierce, is quoted in the traditional texts, including the ordo of 1316, as Quam amabilia according to the Psalterium Romanum, but since about 1340 as Quam dilecta , following the Psalterium gallicanum .[32] The change of the psalter suggests the same kind of Gallicanization of papal liturgy as the growing influence of the Pontificale of Guillaume Durand,[33] an important process that remained characteristic also after the Schism.

After the tierce the pope, assisted by the senior of the cardinal bishops, washed his hands and donned a particularly precious liturgical dress, the color of which reflected the actual day in the church calendar. He was helped by the senior cardinal deacon and a subdeacon supported by acolytes. The cardinal deacon finally placed a mitra pretiosa on the pope's head; the cardinal bishop, who in the meanwhile had similarly taken liturgical vestments, put the bishop's ring, and a cubicularius the Ring of the Fisherman on the pope's finger. A brief note on this cardinal deacon (prior of the cardinal deacons): he plays a decisive role in the ceremonies, for he, successor of the archdeacon, orgnizes the different processions and, just as he places the miter on the pope's head before, he also crowns him after the mass with the tiara. At the accession of Benedict XII this office was held by the old Napoleon Orsini,


who had also crowned Clement V and John XXII, having been very influential in their elections as well.[34]

The first procession arranged by the cardinal deacon led from the dressing area to the main altar. In contrast to the later coronation procession, this time only clergy participated. Their arrangement still reflected Roman conditions of pre-Investiture Contest times. They were clearly divided in two groups. The first consisted of the representatives of the Church universal: behind the subdeacon carrying the processional cross followed the abbots, bishops, and archbishops in pluviale and simple miter and, behind them, in similar regalia, the cardinal priests and bishops. In the second group we find the pope's liturgical servants and his spiritual court (the cardinal deacons): first two acolytes with censer and incense boat, then seven subdeacons with candles, surrounding the two subdeacons in charge of the Greek and Latin Epistle, followed by the deacon of the Greek Gospel, the cardinal deacon of the Latin Gospel accompanied by two cardinal deacons, and finally the pope under a baldachine, flanked by two other cardinal deacons. At the altar he was received by three cardinal priests with whom he exchange the kiss of peace. They kissed the pope's chest and one of them straightened his chasuble.

Before we turn to the mass that was to follow, a digression is in order about the question of the famous burning of the flax (stupa). It has been customary down to our own times that at the papal coronation mass a cleric burns flax in front of the pope, at the alter or at three different places, with the words: Pater sancte, sic transit gloria mundi , which is supposed to remind the pontiff of the temporality of even his power. The question is, since when has this practice been part of the coronation mass? It is not only that all ordines usually quoted for this practice originate from the times of the Great Schism,[35] but the first papal coronation at which it is explicitly mentioned was that of Gregory XII on 19 December 1406,[36] also during the Schism. According to these data, the burning of the flax would go back no further than to early fifteenth-century Rome. However, we know that the pope himself burnt flax ever since the twelfth century upon entering the presbytery of St. Peter's on feast days.[37] The so called "Ordination of the Roman curia," probably from the pontificate of Innocent III, mentions this act.[38] The pope lit the flax himself at the beginning of feast-day masses, and the symbology was understood as pointing to the passing of this world. The meaning began to be transferred to the mortality of papal power as early as the late thirteenth century, for example by Alexander of Roes, and was referred to in this sense by Alvaro Pelayo, a favorite theologian of John XXII.[39] It is, therefore, possible that in consequence of this reinterpretation the act was restricted to the pope's first festive mass, namely that of his coronation; logically, the candidate could not light the fire himself any more. Although the ordines of the Ordo Romanus XIV do not mention it, the new practice may very well have


started in Avignon. There is a hint at this change in the ordo dated by Dykmans to 1417 (but most likely from the pontificate of Urban V), which contains the description of the burning of stupa at the altar of the papal chapel and reports the "opinion of some" that greater impact could be achieved if it were done outside the chapel at the catafalque (to be discussed below). If my dating of Dykmans's ordo and my identification of the chapel are correct, than the burning of flax at the coronation mass began in Avignon, in 1352 at the latest. But if we read Pelayo's comment as a reference to this act, then the famous sentence may have first been uttered much earlier, while flax was being burned, when the consecration still took place in the Dominican church.

The reception of the pope by the three cardinal priests followed the burning of the flax. While Introit and Kyrie were sung—maybe already in polyphony—the pope took off the miter, said the Confiteor , received again the miter, and took his seat on a faldistorium, close to the altar, facing it. Now the three cardinal bishops of Albano, Porto, and Ostia approached him and spoke, in this order, three prayers of benediction over him. The text of these were traditional long before, fixed at least since the twelfth century. Benediction, in contrast to consecration, has no sacramental character; hence the bishops did not hold their hands over the pope's head. They asked for him in three prayers, first, God's blessing; second, God's pietas and the grace of the Holy Ghost; and third, that he, who, as successor of St. Peter, held the primate be granted to his high office rich blessings of virtues so that he might bear the burden of the church universal, with God's help. Clearly, there is a crescendo in these supplications, which explains why the senior suburban bishop, that of Ostia, spoke the last one, just as he did at a consecration. Subsequently the pope received the cardinals and prelates to do the second reverence consisting this time of a kiss on the mouth and on the foot.

Meanwhile the prior of the chaplains had laid out the pallium on the altar. After the reverence the pope ascended the altar where the two most senior cardinal deacons held the pall. The senior one—in 1334 Orsini—placed it around the neck of the pope and called upon him to take with this sign also the plenitude of episcopal office on him. Whereupon, assisted by a subdeacon, he fastened the pallium with three golden pins to the chasuble of the pope.

This vesting of the pope concluded for the time being the constitutive acts. At the altar the pope burned incense and then retired to the throne in the apse. In St. Peter's this was the marble throne placed there by Gregory the Great. For 1335 and 1342 we have to imagine that a special cathedra was placed under the arch of the choir, decorated with precious cloths.[41] Here the pope received the cardinals and prelates to do the third reverence, once more a kiss on the mouth and foot. Then, standing up, he intoned the Gloria , followed by the oratio which the pope usually augmented by a silent prayer.


Having resumed his seat on the throne, the pope received the festive laudes sung under the lead of the prior of the cardinal deacons. Probably borrowed from the imperial coronation,[42] these acclamations belonged since the twelfth century to every festive papal mass, including the coronation. The names of saints, such as the inclusion of St. Basil and St. Sabas, suggest an even older origin in the ninth or tenth centuries. The laudes hailed the pontiff as the lord of the diocese and city of Rome. As an acclamation by his clerical subjects, these were originally presented by the pope's staff: the deacons, subdeacons, scriniarii , and iudices . Just like the old saint's names, these titles also survived to the end of the Middle Ages. Only rarely were attempts made at updating them, as for example in a text probably prepared for the coronation of Celestine V (1294) according to which[43] the laudes were to be sung by capellani et alii . In reference to Avignon that would have meant that the two groups of chaplains, the commensales and the intrinseci , who would have offered the laudes standing in two rows in front of the altar.

Since the coronation mass essentially followed the general practice of papal festive masses, including the reading of Gospel and Epistle in Greek and Latin, we may leave it aside and continue with the acts following it. All participants changed their vestments to precious white ones, according to their rank; the pope wore not only the mitra pretiosa , pallium, and bishop's ring, but also gloves. This "white procession" moved now to the portal of the church in front of which the pope, flanked by the cardinals and high secular dignitaries, took his place on a profusely decorated seat on a temporary wooden structure, the catafalque. Older texts[44] speak of a folding chair covered with velvet on a small pedestal. A higher construction, the red catafalque, is first mentioned in the ordo of 1316. It may have become necessary because the papal seat was not, as in Rome, on the top of steps, and the pontiff would have otherwise not been seen by the multitude. That was why such a construction was built in 1335 and in 1342 and became even more necessary after 1352, when the people gathered in the court of the new palace could not behold the enthroned pope unless he was seated on such a contraption. The cameral accounts dutifully register the expenses for the catafalque.[45]

It was on the catafalque that the coronation proper took place: the oftmentioned prior of the cardinal deacons took the miter off the pope's head and replaced it by a tiara, accompanied by the "Kyrie eleison" of the assembled populus thus acclaiming on its part the new sovereign. Subsequently the prior of the cardinal bishops announced a pardon granted by the pope the extent of which was chosen by the pontiff. Aside from the relatively new addition of the indulgence, the papal coronation was in comparison to that of an emperor a short and liturgically not particularly elaborate matter.[46] The difference is understandable if one considers that traditionally the crowning had been merely the opening of the great papal procession from St. Peter's to


the Lateran which presented the new pontiff as ruler and lord of Rome and of the Patrimony of St. Peter. Hence it sounds only logical that in the ninth century it was a lay official, the Master of the Stables, who placed the crown on the pope's head. The coronation became gradually sacralized after the Investiture Contest, beginning with Nicholas II who had been crowned at a synod by the archdeacon Hildebrand with a corona regalis . This function remained in the hands of the archdeacon and his successor, the prior of the cardinal deacons, into modern times. It is unclear how old the acclamation of "the people" was; the first record comes from the ordo of Gregory X. A more elaborate liturgy was added to the coronation in the sixteenth century. Perhaps in response to challenges from secular rulers and Protestant churches, a prayer was added, in which the tiara was interpreted as the sign of the pope's being not only Vicar of Christ but also pater principum et regum and thus rector orbis .

The actual appearance of the tiara is rather uncertain save that it had three crown bands since Benedict XII's pontificate. It is therefore most likely that Clement VI was crowned in 1342 with such a tiara. However, we do not know whether the new type of papal crown was a newly made headgear or merely a middle crown-ring was added to the traditional tiara that already had a kind of diadem at the bottom and a crown-like band at the top. The solution to this problem would be important because, although the popes seem to have owned several tiaras, one of them enjoyed a privileged position and was seen as late as the fifteenth century as the crown granted to Pope Sylvester I. This one was specifically taken to Lyons in 1305 for the coronation of Clement V; was stolen from Pope Urban VI in 1378 by the Chamberlain Pierre de Cros who handed it to Clement VII; and finally in 1429 reluctantly was released by the last Avignon pope, Clement VIII, in favor of the new universal pope, Martin V.[47] It was this very tiara the crowning ruby of which was lost in 1305 and seen as a bad omen for Clement V. That Clement VI in 1342 was crowned with this insigne or with one modeled after it is implicitly mentioned in two vitae .[48] According to these, the pope crowned on Sunday of Pentecost rode on the next day in a festive cortège back to the papal palace wearing a tiara which had a carbunculus on its top radiating like fire.

Both reports and an additional source for 1335 suggest that Benedict XII and Clement VI, in contravention of all ordines, postponed the coronation procession to the following day. Since the coronation banquet was to be held in the Dominican convent, a procession through town between coronation and feast may have been seen as too cumbersome and difficult.[49]

At the banquet the pope sat alone at a table, dressed in mass vestments without chasuble, pallium and gloves, miter on his head. Cardinal bishops and priests sat at a table to his right, cardinal deacons to his left. Other high guests dined further away or in adjacent rooms, while "the people" were


served in the courtyard of the convent. The pope was waited upon by the highest noblemen present; Clement VI, for example, by Jean Dauphin of France. The highest ranking served the first course to the pontiff and then took his assigned place, other lay dignitaries poured his wine, cut the meat, and served the other dishes. Charging Christian princes, even kings, with table service was to indicate, just as at the coronation banquet of the emperor, the high status of the patron, that is of the pope, as being above all clergy and even secular rulers. This elevated status of the pontiff was also demonstrated by the seating order of the laymen, for even the highest of them—the emperor or kings—were placed below the senior cardinals.[50] The cameral accounts for the banquet of Clement VI suggest[51] that the rank of the guests defined even their menu: sweet mustard was served only to the pope; of fruits, the higher ranks received pears, others only apples. (The menus would be worth a special study.)

The next morning, after having had a restful night, the pope set out on his ride to the palace. The subordination of the universal Church and the whole Christian society to the summus pontifex is more apparent here than anywhere else. This procession, too, was arranged by the prior of the cardinal deacons, but it was much more elaborate than the previous one, for now the laity was also included. The emphasis on the pope as head of the Church universal was most conspicuous.[52] According to the ordo of 1316, one of the pope's richly decorated riderless horses and the cross-bearing subdeacon were to be followed by the first group: twelve flagbearers, reminding us of the twelve regions of Rome, and two men carrying the standards with cherubim. A miniature from the fifteenth century[53] suggests that these were purple banners with cherubim painted in gold; the twelve flags displayed the coat of arms of the Roman Church,[54] tiara and crossed keys, similarly in gold on purple. They were probably made anew for every coronation.[55] The second group comprised the representatives of spiritual and secular Rome and the papal court. Just as with the laudes, the titles of the participants were traditional. We cannot tell who in fact rode under the obsolete titles of iudices, advocati , and scriniarii , probably middle-rank officers of the Curia, members of the papal familia, such as clerics of the Chamber, auditors, and the like. The mysterious prefecti navales may have been replaced by two noblemen. The third group consisted of the liturgical personnel of the coronation mass: the choir with the subdeacons who had read the Gospel and Epistle. They were followed by the fourth detachment, clergy representing the universal and the Roman Church: abbots, bishops, archbishops, patriarchs, cardinal bishops, cardinal priests, and cardinal deacons. That the latter rode immediately in front of the pope reflects in their traditional position as the initially highest group of papal clerics.

The pope rode on a grey horse, covered by a scarlet caprison. A serviens (armorum) carried behind him the ceremonial umbrella, a subdeacon held a


towel ready, to dry off sweat and dust. Probably already in Avignon, the pope was followed by the highest officers of his staff who were not cardinals: chamberlain, corrector, auditor contradictarum , marshal of justice. As noted for the coronation of Clement VI, this group also included high-ranking laymen, among them the Dauphin.[55] The marshal of justice was in charge of throwing coins among the people at certain spots, but it is uncertain whether this was done in Avignon.

The route of the coronation procession in Rome is fairly well known,[57] and the ordo of 1316 suggests that in Lyons the stations were neatly adjusted to the city's topography. But there is no information available for the processions of 1335 and 1342. We know only the final stop, the papal palace; it is, however, likely that the cathedral was one of the stations, as it was Innocent's in 1352.[58] Also, probably somewhere along the route, as foreseen for 1316, the pope met the Jewish community, received their laudes in grace, and damned their teachings as obsolete. It is also likely that the streets through which the pope and his entourage rode had been well cleaned in advance, as recorded for 1352. But since we have no details, we had best let the pope enter the palace and rest from the fatigue of the ride through the throngs. Our ride through the ceremonial history is also about to end.

As a last point, let us establish what changed in 1352, once the main buildings of the palace were completed. Most significant, all acts with the exception of the coronation procession were held within the palace complex.[59] If, as in the case of Urban V, the procession was cancelled because the pope wanted to avoid untoward events (fastum vitens), the entire sequence of events was held behind the palace walls. In that case the pope was seen only during the short coronation with the tiara, on the height of the catafalque. The palace chapel, built by Clement VI, was used for the coronation because of its size and perhaps also because of its dedication to St. Peter, just as the coronation church in Rome was. As mentioned before, and noted in figure 11.2, the new ordo[60] prescribed that the pope enter the Clementine chapel from his living quarters and receive benediction or consecration and pallium there. The catafalque was now placed in front of the main portal of the palace chapel, and the crowned pontiff was visible through the so-called indulgence window. The coronation procession went to the cathedral and other unknown stations in town, while the banquet was held in the halls of the palace, all decorated, some even remodeled, for the event. The pope, the cardinals, and high-ranking guests were served in the large dining hall, the entries to which were fenced so that no uninvited person might enter. All other large halls, including even the older palace chapel built by Benedict XII, were used to feed the guests on benches and tables. The huge kitchen built under Clement VI, the size of which still impresses the visitor, was not sufficient; the courtyard was also used to prepare the food, with 126 men working at the spits alone.


Henceforth the palace served almost fully as the frame for the popes' lives. This arrangement was retained by the Roman successors of the Avignonese popes as well, with the exception of the coronation[61] which was again held in and in front of St. Peter's with the procession crossing the town to the Lateran. However, the heritage of Avignon was quite conspicuous: the ever-increasing number of curiales and, even more, of noble laymen and bodyguards gradually pushed back the representatives of the universal Church, whom Innocent III had placed so conspicuously up front in the ceremonies, to second place. The pope was shown first and foremost as a monarch, and his people were guarded by arms. Just as the coronation procession in Avignon remained often unmentioned—or even canceled, as by Urban V—it began to lose significance in Rome as well. Julius II (1503–1512), for example, postponed it for two days after his coronation. Thus in Rome, too, the ceremonies tended to concentrate on the Vatican Palace and on St. Peter's, as palace church. The alienation of the pope from Church and people, as demonstrated in the Avignonese ceremonial, was in this way transmitted to the Renaissance popes and their successors, to be broken down only in our own day.[62]

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Eleven Papal Coronations in Avignon
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