Patronage and indebtedness: Portugal, Castile and the papal Court around the year 1300

Patronage and indebtedness: Portugal, Castile and the papal Court around the year 1300

By Peter Linehan

Historia, instituciones, documentos, No. 34 (2007)

Abstract: Based on previously unexamined documentation at Lisbon, Braga and Vatican, this paper considers two separate but related matters for the history of Portugal: the role of the Cardinal Giacomo Colonna in the foundation of the Lisbon Studium Generale, and the use of Portuguese gold at the court of the Pope Boniface VIII to purchase the dispensation for the marriage of Fernando IV of Castile to Constança of Portugal. It also demonstrates the bankrupt state of the Castilian crown after ten years of Fernando IV´s rule.

Introduction: In the standard biographies of Boniface VIII consideration of Portuguese affairs has been largely ignored, with Boase for example, in his still valuable study, limiting himself to the observation that negotiation of the 40 articles of the Portuguese Church (‘a piece of work that raised problems and formed opinions’, and one in which the then Cardinal Benedetto Caetani was involved) ‘must be given no small place in the genesis of Clericis laicos and unam sanctam’. Such is the context, but not the content, of the present note.

At the time of Nicholas IV’s election in February 1288, for thirteen long years the king and kingdom of Portugal had been suffering the consequences of excommunication and interdict, as specified in ‘De regno Portugalie’, Gregory X’s ‘constitution, ordinance and provision’ of September 1275. The gravity of these consequences was described by the pope in various communications to King Dinis, on the one hand the cumulative effects of deprivation of the sacraments, on the other the abuses reportedly inflicted upon ecclesiastics by laymen who, under cover of custom (‘which it were better to call corruption’), were claiming that their patronal rights entitled them and their families to force themselves upon churches and monasteries, demanding hospitality, flooding the cloisters with dubious company, and robbing the men of religion not only of the contents of their larders but also of the solace of their beds.

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