Gregory IX (Ugolino, Count of Segni), Pope
Gregory IX (Ugolino, Count Of Segni), Pope, was a native of Anagni, and a relative of Innocent III. He succeeded Honorius III, March 19, 1227. He followed carefully in the footsteps of Gregory VII and of Innocent III, upholding the see of Rome as the master of all empires and superior to all kings. His consecration took place with unusual magnificence: he celebrated mass at St. John Lateran in vestments covered with gold and precious stones; then, mounting a richly-harnessed horse, and surrounded by cardinals clothed in purple and gold, he made a triumphant procession through the streets of Rome, which were decked with carpets and flowers for the occasion. The emperor Frederick II had a powerful party devoted to him in Rome; it became desirable to remove him from too close proximity with that city, and in order to achieve this, Gregory reminded him of his vow of visiting the Holy Land, and commanded him to go at once. At the moment of embarking Frederick fell sick at Otranto, but Gregory, who believed his illness to be feigned, excommunicated him, and notified all the churches of it. Frederick, on the other hand, wrote to all the princes complaining of the pope's proceedings. Gregory, in return, excommunicated him again, and threatened to take the empire from him. Frederick, disregarding this absurd threat, excited the Romans to revolt against Gregory, who, insulted even when saying mass, was obliged to retire first to Rieto, then to Spoleto, and finally to Perugia. Frederick, leaving Raynald at Rome to treat with the pope, embarked now for Palestine against the orders of Gregory. Raynald, in the mean time, having organized an army, invaded the papal states. Gregory put his forces under the orders of Roger of Aquila, and war began in earnest in 1228. Such, it is said, is the origin of the two factions, afterwards so celebrated, of the Guelphs and Ghibellines, the former acting for the pope, the latter for the emperor. Frederick, forestalled in Palestine by the emissaries of Gregory, badly seconded by the Christians of Syria, and, besides, being desirous of returning to Italy, where Raynald had been defeated by the papal troops, concluded a ten years' truce with the sultan of Egypt, and, though excommunicated, caused himself to be crowned king of Jerusalem, after which he returned to Europe. The pope, on hearing of his arrival, excommunicated him anew, and released his subjects from their allegiance. Frederick offered to submit, and asked for absolution; peace was in consequence concluded Aug. 28, 1230. The Romans again drove away the pope (July 20, 1232). He succeeded in going back to Rome in 1235. War soon broke out again. Frederick, having taken Sardinia, gave it to his natural son, Henry; the pope claimed it for himself. Neither had any right to it, and neither would give it up to the other. Frederick was excommunicated a fourth time in 1239. Frederick marched against Rome, but Gregory died before he reached it, Aug. 20, 1241. The principal traits of Gregory's character were pride and haughtiness; he aimed at extending the privileges of the Church at any cost. In this he received no help except from the king of England, who gave tithes to the see of Rome in exchange for the deposition of a bishop. St. Louis, even when threatened with excommunication, refused to free the clergy from their responsibility to civil jurisdiction. Gregory was well acquainted with civil and canon law, and in 1234 published a collection of decretals which were often reprinted: Nova Compilatio Decretalium, cum glossa (lst ed. Mentz, 1473, fol.). There are also 31 letters and 191 fragments of his writings in Labbe, Concil. 11:310; 56 letters in Ughelli, Italia Sacra; 9 in Vossius; 1 bull in Duchesne, Historiae, v, 861; and 1 in Mabillon, p. 421, No. 106. — Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Genesis 21:814 sq.