The reign of Alexander III was one of the most laborious pontificates of the Middle Ages. Then, as in 1139, the object was to repair the evils caused by the schism of an antipope. Shortly after returning to Rome (12 March, 1178) and receiving from its inhabitants their oath of fidelity and certain indispensable guarantees, Alexander had the satisfaction of receiving the submission of the antipope Callistus III (John de Struma). The latter, besieged at Viterbo by Christian of Mainz, eventually yielded and, at Tusculum, made his submission to Pope Alexander (29 August, 1178), who received him with kindness and appointed him Governor of Beneventum. Some of his obstinate partisans sought to substitute a new antipope, and chose one Lando Sitino, under the name of Innocent III . For lack of support he soon gave up the struggle and was relegated to the monastery of La Cava. In September, 1178, the pope in agreement with an article of the Peace of Venice, convoked an ecumenical council at the Lateran for Lent of the following year and, with that object, sent legates to different countries. This was the eleventh of the ecumenical councils. It met in March, 1179. The pope presided, seated upon an elevated throne, surrounded by the cardinals, and by the prefects, senators, and consuls of Rome. The gathering numbered three hundred and two bishops, among them several Latin prelates of Eastern sees. There were in all nearly one thousand members. Nectarius, abbot of the Cabules, represented the Greeks. The East was represented by Archbishops William of Tyre and Heraclius of Caesarea, Prior Peter of the Holy Sepulchre, and the Bishop of Bethlehem. Spain sent nineteen bishops ; Ireland, six; Scotland, only one- England, seven; France, fifty nine; Germany, seventeen- Denmark and Hungary, one each. The bishops of Ireland had at their head St. Laurence, Archbishop of Dublin. The pope consecrated, in the presence of the council, two English bishops, and two Scottish, one of whom had come to Rome with only one horse the other on foot. There was also present an Icelandic bishop who had no other revenue than the milk of three cows, and when one of these went dry his diocese furnished him with another.
Besides exterminating the remains of the schism the council undertook the condemnation of the Waldensian heresy and the restoration of ecclesiastical discipline, which had been much relaxed. Three sessions were held, on 5, 14, and 19 March, in which twenty-seven canons were promulgated, the most important of which may be summarized as follows:
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