Pisa a city of Northern Italy, the recent capital of Tuscany, with a population of about 22,000, is noted in ecclesiastical history as the seat of several important Church councils.
I. The first council here (Concilium Pisanum) was convoked by pope Innocent II in 1134, who presided at the head of a large assembly of the bishops of France, Germany, and Italy. St. Bernard assisted at their deliberations. By this body the excommunication of the anti-pope Anacletus was renewed, together with his abettors. Several canons were published.
1. Directs that priests shall be separated from their wives, and nuns from their pretended husbands; and both parties put to penance.
6. Forbids, under pain of excommunication, to violate the sanctuary of a church or churchyard. See Labbe, Concil. 10, 989.
II. But far more important was the council convened here March 25, 1409. Its object was the conciliation of the pope and anti-pope, and the ending of so dangerous a schism as then existed. It was proposed to judge between the two competitors for the papacy, and elect one of them to the throne, or set both aside and choose a third party. The council was called under the protection of king Charles VI of France, and was attended by the cardinals of both rivals to the papal chair-Benedict XIII (q.v.) and Gregory XII (q.v.). Benedict, by the advice of several bishops, sent seven legates to the council; but Gregory, on the other hand, refused to appear either in person or by deputy, although summoned in due form. The assembly was one of the most august and numerous ever seen in the Church: there were present 22 cardinals; the Latin patriarchs of Alexandria (Simon), Antioch (Wenceslaus), Jerusalem (Hugo), and Grade (Francis Lando); 12 archbishops were present in person, and 14 by their proctors; 80 bishops, and the proctors of 102 absent; 87 abbots, and the proctors of 200 others; besides priors; generals of orders; the grand-master of Rhodes with 16 commanders; the prior-general of the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher; the deputy of the grand-master and Knights of the Teutonic Order; the deputies of the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, Florence, Cracow Vienna, Prague, and many others; more than 300 doctors in theology; and ambassadors from the kings of England, France, Portugal, Bohemia, Sicily, Poland, and Cyprus; from the dukes of Burgundy, Brabant, etc.
The following was the action of each session of this council:
Session 1. The order of precedency to be observed by the members of the council was laid down.
Sess. 2. After the usual prayer and sermon, the archbishop of Pisa read the decree of Gregory X upon the procession o f the Holy Spirit, to which the Greeks had agreed in the Council of Lyons, A.D. 1274, and the canon of Toledo relating to the proper order of ecclesiastical councils. After this the necessary officers were appointed, the letter of convocation read, and the two rival popes summoned at the gates of the church; no one, however, appearing for them.
Sess. 3. A fresh citation was made, and no one having appeared, the two popes, Pedro of Luna and Angelo Corrario, were declared contumacious by a sentence which was affixed to the church door.
Sess. 4. Bishop Ulric, the ambassador of Robert, king of the Romans, addressed the assembly, endeavoring to frustrate the object of the council.
Sess. 5. The two contending parties were again declared contumacious, and the promoter of the council produced against them thirty-seven articles, containing the whole history of the schism, and showing the badness of their cause. Although the facts contained in this accusation were sufficiently notorious, commissioners were appointed to prove their truth.
Sess. 6. The bishop of Salisbury showed that it was necessary for the cause that there should be a general, and not merely a partial, withdrawal from the obedience of the popes, and declared that he had authority from the king of England to follow out the scheme for unity, and to consent to whatever the council should determine.
Sess. 7. The difficulties started by the ambassador of the king of the Romans were answered.
Sess. 8. The bishops of Salisbury and Evreux showed that the union of the two colleges of cardinals could not be effected while those of the party of Benedict continued to obey him, and that the withdrawal from obedience must be universal. Whereupon the council declared the union of the two colleges to be lawful, and the council itself duly convoked; and a decree was passed to the effect that each one might and ought to' withdraw from the obedience both of Gregory and Benedict; since both of them had by their artifices eluded the solemn cession of office which they had promised upon oath to make.
Sess. 9. Was employed in the reading of the decree of the preceding session.
Sess. 10. The two contending parties were again cited at the door of the church, in order that they might hear the testimony of the witnesses. -Then thirty-seven articles, containing their deposition, were read; and it was; noted down by how many witnesses each article was proved.
Sess. 11. The reading of the depositions was continued.
Sess. 12. A decree was published declaring the council to be ecumenical, and all contained in the preceding depositions to be true, public, and notorious.
Sess. 13. One of the deputies from the University of Paris showed that Pedro of Luna was a heretic and schismatic, and that he had forfeited the papacy; and this he declared to be the opinion of the French universities. The bishop of Navarre also declared that all the doctors in the council, to the number of three hundred, agreed in this view.
Sess. 14. A declaration was made that the council represented the Roman Catholic Church that the cognizance of the matter before it of right belonged to it, as being the highest authority on earth; also an act of general withdrawal from the obedience of the two contending parties was drawn up,
Sess. 15. The definitive sentence was pronounced in the presence of the whole council and of the people who were permitted to enter. The sentence was to the effect that the holy ecumenical synod, representing the Catholic Church, to which it appertained to take cognizance of and to decide the question, after having examined everything which had been done concerning the union of the Church, declared Pedro of Luna, called Benedict XIII, and Angelo Corrario, called Gregory XII, to be both of them schismatical, abettors of schism, heretics, and guilty of perjury; that they had given offence to the whole Church by their obstinacy, that they had forfeited every dignity, and were, ipso facto, separated from the Church. It forbade all the faithful, under pain of excommunication, to recognize them or support their cause. It annulled all that they had done against the promoters of unity, and declared the last promotion of cardinals made by them to be null and void.
Sess. 16. A paper was read, in which the cardinals present all promised that, in the event of any one of them being elected to the papal chair, he would continue the present council, until the Church should be reformed in its head and in its members; and if one of those then absent or any other not belonging to the college of cardinals, were elected, that they would compel him to make the same promise before publishing his election. Afterwards the council ratified the sentence against Angelo and Pedro.
Sess. 17. Certain preliminaries concerning the election were settled.
Sess. 18. A solemn procession was made to implore of the Almighty the grace necessary to guide their election.
Sess. 19. The cardinals, to the number of twenty-four, entered into conclave under the guard of the grand-master of Rhodes, and at the end of ten days' confinement, they unanimously elected Peter of Candia, cardinal of Milan, of the order of Franciscan friars, a man seventy years of age, who took the name of Alexander V. As soon as he was elected, John Gerson, chancellor of the University of Paris, delivered a discourse, exhorting him to the faithful discharge of his duty, etc.
Sess. 20. The new pope presided and delivered a discourse. The decree of his election was then read, and on the following Sunday he was crowned.
Sess. 21. A decree was read on the part of the pope, approving and ratifying all the dispensations of marriage, and those relating to the penitentiary, which had been granted by Benedict or Gregory.
Sess. 22. A decree was published on the part of the pope and council, confirming all collations, provisions, translations, etc., made canonically by the two rival popes.
Sess. 23. A decree was read, ordering metropolitans to convoke provincial councils, and the generals of orders to hold chapters, having presidents of the pope's appointment. Finally, Alexander ratified all that the cardinals had done since May 3, 1408, and especially what had passed at Pisa. With regard to Church reform, as many of the prelates had left the council, the pope declared that the subject should be deferred until the following council, which he appointed to be held in 1412; then he dismissed the assembly, giving plenary indulgence to all who had assisted at it, and to all who had adhered to it.
See Hardouin, Acta, 7, 1929 sq.; 8:1 sq.; Mansi, Concil. 26, 1131 sq.; 27, 1-522; Labbe, Concil. 11, 2114; Lenfant, Hist. du Cone. de Pisa (Amsterd. 1724, 4to); Wessenberg, Die Allgemeinen Concil. des 15 u. 16 Jahrh. 2, 48 sq.; Hefele, Conciliengesch. vol. 5. For the imbecile conduct of papal affairs under the newly chosen candidate we refer the reader to the art. SEE ALEXANDER V, and the history of his successor, John XXIII (s.v.). In this place we may simply add that the schism, instead of being closed, continued, with three popes in the room of two. The effort also to reduce the rank of the pope to a constitutional instead of an absolute monarch, by giving to the councils of the Church the supreme tribunal, to which the pope himself is subordinate and amenable, failed. SEE INFALLIBILITY; SEE PAPAL SUPREMACY.
III. Another council was convened at Pisa in 1511, at the instigation of the emperors Maximilian and Louis XII of France, who having just cause of complaint against pope Julius II (q.v.), persuaded the cardinals of St. Croix, Narbonne, and Cosenzi to convoke a council, whose object was set forth to be the reform of the Church in its head and in its members, and to punish various notorious crimes which for a long time had scandalized the whole Church. It was further stated that there was urgent need of such councils, that Julius had not only neglected to convoke one, but had done all in his power to hinder it; and, finally, the pope was in respectful terms cited to appear at the council. Besides this, in answer to the complaint made against them by Julius, they published an apology for their conduct, in which they justified the convocation of the Council of Pisa: first, by a decree passed in the thirty-ninth session of the council; secondly, by the pope's own vow, according to which he had promised to hold a council; thirdly, by the oath of the cardinals, and by the necessity of avoiding so great scandal. They further showed that the canons, which vest the power of convoking such councils in the pope, are to be understood as speaking of the ordinary state of things, but that cause may arise in which councils may be called and assembled by others than the sovereign pontiff. The pope, in order to parry the blow, convoked a rival council to Rome, and cited the three above-mentioned cardinals to appear there within a certain time, under pain of deprivation. The Council of Pisa, however, proceeded, and was opened Nov. 1, 1511. Four cardinals attended, and the proctors of three who were absent, also fourteen French bishops and two archbishops, together with a few abbots and doctors; deputies from the universities of France, and the ambassadors of Louis XII. The following is an account of each session's transactions:
Sess. 1. Cardinal St. Croix presided. The convocation of the Council of Pisa, having for its object the reformation of the Church, was pronounced to be just and lawful, and all that had been or might be done to its prejudice declared null and void.
Sess. 2. All that related to the order of the assembly was settled; the canon of Toledo read, and officers appointed. A decree was made to the effect that the present council could not be dissolved until the reformation of the Church should have been effected. The decrees of the Council of Constance, relating to the authority of ecumenical councils, were renewed.
Sess. 3. At this time, the pope having entered into a league with Ferdinand and the Venetians, began to attack the state of Florence, and the fathers judged it expedient to transfer the council to Milan; which accordingly was done; and on Jan. 4, 1512, the fourth session was held at Milan.
Sess. 4. The assembly was more numerous, the cardinals of St. Severin and St. Angelo joined themselves to the others. The proctor-general of the Order of Premonstrants made a long discourse upon the disorders which ravaged the Church; then certain decrees were read, by which thirty days were given to the pope, within which time to determine himself to reform abuses in the Church, or else to assemble an ecumenical council, or to unite with that already assembled.
Sess. 5. The decree of the Council of Constance was renewed against those who troubled and maltreated persons coming to the council.
Sess. 6. A deputy from the University of Paris delivered a discourse, after which the pope Julius was again cited in the usual form; and upon his non- appearance a demand was made that he should be declared contumacious. Several decrees were also published, among other subjects upon the exemplary life which ecclesiastics ought to lead; also upon the order to be observed in councils, with regard to sessions and congregations. The convocation of a council to Rome, made by Julius, was declared null and void.
Sess. 7. The promoters of the council required that Julius should be declared, through his contumacy, to have incurred, ipso facto, suspension from all administration of the pontifical office. Consequently he was called upon three times from the foot of the altar, and at the church door: the settlement of the question was then deferred till the next session.
Sess. 8. After mass, sung by the bishop of Maguelonue (now Montpellier), a decree was made suspending Julius, and the council, after reciting all that had been done in order to obtain his protection, exhorted all cardinals, bishops, princes, and people no longer to recognize Julius as pope, he having been declared contumacious, the author of schism, incorrigible and hardened, and having as such incurred the penalties denounced in the decrees of Constance and Basle.
Sess. 9. This was the last session of the council, for the French being obliged to abandon the Milanese, the bishops were compelled to quit Milan; they made an attempt to continue the council at Lyons, but without effect.
See Landon, Conc. 13, 1486; Dupin, Comp. Hist. 4, 4; Hefele. Conciliengesch.