Boniface VIII

(c. 1234–1303)
   Pope.
   Boniface was born Benedict Gaetani in Angani, Italy. He was appointed Notary Apostolic to the Curia in 1276; he became a Cardinal in 1291 and he was elected Pope in 1294. His reign was dominated by the need for peace in Europe after the wars of the thirteenth century and by the problem of the Turkish occupation of the Holy Land. Boniface did little to solve either problem. He became locked in conflict with Philip the Fair of France by refusing to allow the King to impose extraordinary taxation on his clergy. During the course of the struggle, Boniface issued the bull Unam Sanctam which declared that there was but one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and that there was no salvation outside that Church. Furthermore, the Pope had been granted the authority of spiritual power and for a secular power to oppose that power was tantamount to opposing God. In 1303, Boniface took steps to excommunicate Philip, but he was taken prisoner by a band of French mercenaries before the bull could be delivered. Although he was soon rescued from their clutches, he died soon afterwards. The reign of Boniface VIII illustrates the growth of national feeling in the late thirteenth century and the inevitable diminution of the Pope’s secular powers in consequence.
   T.S.R. Boase, Boniface VIII (1933);
   C.T. Wood (ed.), Philip the Fair and Boniface VIII: State versus Papacy (1967).

Who’s Who in Christianity . 2014.

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