Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Antipope under the name of Benedict XIII, b. at Illueca, Aragon, 1328; d. at the Peñiscola, near Valencia, Spain, either 29 Nov., 1422, or 23 May, 1423. He was elected 28 Sept., 1394, deposed at the Council of Constance 26 July, 1417. Pedro Martini belonged to the family of de Luna; he studied law at Montpellier, where he obtained his doctor's degree, and later taught canon law at that university. On 30 Dec., 1375, Gregory XI made him cardinal deacon of S. Maria in Cosmedin. The pope was attracted to him by his noble lineage, his austere life, and great learning, as well as by his untiring energy and great prudence. Cardinal Pedro de Luna returned to Rome with Gregory XI, after whose death in 1378 he took part in the conclave which was attacked by the Romans, and which elected Urban VI, for whom he voted. He showed great courage at the unexpected attack upon the conclave, and would not take flight, declaring "Even if I must die, I will fall here". He was among the first cardinals to return to the Vatican on 9 April, in order to continue the election of Urban VI. At first he distinctly and decidedly took sides for this pope (Valois, "La France et le grand schisme d'occident", I, 72-74). About 24 June, 1378, he joined the other non-Italian cardinals at Anagni, where he became convinced of the invalidity of the vote for Urban VI . He took part in the election of Robert of Geneva (Clement VII) at Fondi on 20 Sept., 1378, and became a zealous adherent of this antipope whose legality he energetically defended, and to whom he rendered great service.

Clement VII sent him as legate to Spain for the Kingdoms of Castile, Aragon, Navarre, and Portugal, in order to win them over to the obedience of the Avignon pope. Owing to his powerful relations, his influence in the Province of Aragon was very great. In 1393 Clement VII appointed him legate to France, Brabant, Flanders, Scotland, England, and Ireland. As such he stayed principally in Paris, but he did not confine his activities to those countries that belonged to the Avignon obedience. He did not then oppose the union; on the contrary, he familiarized himself with the endeavours of the University of Paris , which strove to suppress the schism, in consequence of which, on his return to the Curia at Avignon, a coolness arose between Clement VII and himself. When the latter died, 16 Sept., 1394, Pedro de Luna was unanimously chosen, 28 Sept., to succeed him. His desire to put an end to the schism, even if he had to renounce the papal dignity ( via cessionis ) was a strong inducement for the cardinals of the Avignon obedience to unite their votes in his favour. After his election he solemnly renewed his promises given during the conclave, to work for the re-establishment of unity, and if necessary to renounce the papacy in order to put an end to the schism. As he was only a deacon, he was made a priest on 3 Oct., and on 11 Oct. was consecrated bishop and enthroned as pope. He took the name of Benedict XIII.

The choice of Cardinal de Luna was welcomed by the French court, and by the University of Paris ; they hoped that the new pope, who was much esteemed because of his austere life and personal ability, would by his own efforts restore Church unity. Nevertheless Benedict XIII sought to preserve entire freedom of action in his relations with the King of France and the University of Paris. The assembly of the French clergy which took place 3 Feb., 1395, and lasted until 18 Feb., in order to confer on a means of putting an end to the schism, agreed that the only way was for both popes to abdicate ( via cessiones ), and the French court believed it could arbitrarily put this expedient in practice. A brilliant embassy, headed by three of the most powerful French princes, brought this resolution to Benedict XIII, and sought to gain his consent. But the pope obstinately opposed it, in spite of the fact that the cardinals sided with the embassy. He insisted that personal negotiations between both popes was the best course to pursue ( via discussionis ), and tenaciously clung to his opinion. Upon which the French court and the University of Paris sought to win over the secular princes to the support of the via cessionis. But the different embassies of the year 1396 met with little success. Meanwhile Benedict XIII sought to enter into an alliance with the Roman pope Boniface IX . Ambassadors were sent from Avignon to Rome and vice versa; but Boniface IX refused to entertain the idea of resigning, being as firmly convinced as Benedict that he was the legitimate pope.

The Avignon pope had possessions in Italy, which he held on to with all his power; seeking not only to prejudice the kings and princes of Scotland, Castile, and Aragon who belonged to his obedience against the action of the French court, but to win them over to his own cause; he also tried to win back the King of France. Another assembly of the French clergy met 16 Aug., 1396. They again decided in favour of the abdication of both popes ; this time the ambassadors of the French court met with greater success at the foreign courts. However, neither the pope of Rome nor the pope of Avignon would consent to this way, so that the schism remained as heretofore, while general discontent reigned in all Christian countries. An embassy undertaken by Pierre d'Ailly, Bishop of Cambrai, to Benedict, by order of Charles VI of France, and Wenceslaus of Germany, accomplished nothing. In May, 1398, a third assembly of the French clergy took place, and they resolved to withdraw from the obedience of Benedict. This resolution was published 27 July, 1398, and immediately took effect. On 1 Sept., two royal commissioners publicly announced the withdrawal of the obedience at Villeneuve, near Avignon, inviting all the French clergy to leave Benedict's curia, under penalty of the forfeiture of their benefices in France. Also those who were not French lost their benefices in France if they still remained with the pope at Avignon On 2 Sept., seventeen cardinals left Avignon and took up their abode at Villeneuve, on French territory. They sent an envoy to Benedict, summoning him to agree to the via cessionis. But he declared that he would rather suffer death. Then eighteen cardinals left him and withdrew their obedience; only five cardinals remained faithful to him.

Geoffroy Boucicout occupied Avignon with troops, and besieged the pope in his palace, but failed to take the papal fortress by storm. Benedict was at last obliged to treat with his enemies; in an understanding with his cardinals he pledged himself to renounce the papacy if the Roman pope would do likewise. Nevertheless on 9 May, 1399, the pope had a notary, in the presence of two witnesses, draw up a protest opposing these stipulations as obtained from him by force, which proceedings he repeated later on. The negotiations as to the custodians of the pope in his palace at Avignon were long drawn out, owing to Benedict's clever policy; at last Louis of Orléans was chosen. Meanwhile a change took place in the public opinion in favour of the pope who was considered to be ill-used. Advances were made between the latter and the cardinals, and many theologians, among them Gerson and Nicholas de Clémanges, began to attack as unlawful the aforesaid withdrawal of the French obedience. The negotiations which France had carried on with the different princes in order to end the schism met with no success. On 12 March, 1403, Benedict secretly took flight from Avignon, and reached territory belonging to Louis II of Anjou, where he was safe. Avignon immediately submitted again to him, and his cardinals likewise recognized him, so that in a short time his obedience was re-established in the whole of France.

Benedict XIII now renewed the interrupted negotiations with the Roman pope, and in 1404 sent four envoys to Rome, to suggest to Boniface IX that some safe spot should be chosen for a meeting between the two popes and both colleges of cardinals, and thus by mutual agreement put an end to the schism. To this proposition Boniface would not listen. After the latter's death (1 Oct., 1404) Benedict's envoys continued to parley with the Roman cardinals. These however on 17 Oct., elected Innocent VII, who also declined any further negotiations. Meanwhile Benedict XIII was trying to strengthen his position through extension of his obedience. In May, 1405, he went to Genoa, in order to enter into new negotiations with Innocent VII , but again without results. Benedict understood how to gain new adherents, and now hoped with their aid to drive his adversary from Rome and thus keep the field as the only pope. However, his position in Italy again became critical. While his attitude in France caused great dissatisfaction, partly because of his taxation of benefices, and partly because of his indifference to the restoration of ecclesiastical unity; also because of his departure from Avignon. He returned to Marseilles by way of Nice, and declared himself ready to assemble a council of the Avignon obedience. Another assembly of the French clergy took place at the end of 1406; they wished to revoke the pope's right to tax the French benefices. Though Benedict was severely censured, he also found zealous partisans. But no palpable results were obtained.

When Innocent VII died, 6 Nov., 1406, it was hoped, in case a new pope was not chosen at Rome, that Benedict would at last fulfil his promise of abdication, so as to open the way for a new and unanimous election; but as he gave only evasive answers to such suggestions, Gregory XII was chosen pope 30 Nov., at Rome. The latter wrote immediately to Benedict, and announced that he was ready to abdicate on condition that Benedict would do likewise, and that afterwards the cardinals of Avignon would unite with those of Rome for a unanimous papal election. Benedict replied 31 Jan., 1407, accepting the proposition. Further endeavours were now made, in order to induce both popes to secede, and for this purpose a meeting was planned at Savona between Benedict and Gregory. But it never took place. Benedict, indeed, arrived at Savona, 24 Sept., but Gregory did not appear. The position of the Avignon pope grew worse; on 23 Nov., 1407, his principal protector in France, Louis of Orléans, the king's brother, was murdered. The pope no longer received any revenues from French benefices, and when he wrote a threatening letter to King Charles VI, the latter tore it up. On 25 May, 1408, the king declared that France was neutral towards both papal pretenders. Soon a number of cardinals belonging to both obediences met for the purpose of convening a universal council ( see COUNCIL OF PISA ). Benedict XIII fled to Roussillon, and on his side called a council at Perpignan which opened on 21 Nov., 1408. Both popes were deposed at the Council of Pisa. The delegation that Benedict sent thither arrived too late. In spite of this, the Avignon pope was still recognized by Scotland, Aragon, Castile, and the Island of Sicily.

The territory of Avignon was seized in 1411 for the Pisan pope ( Alexander V ). Since 1408 Benedict had resided at Perpignan. Emperor Sigismund went there, 19 Sept., 1415, from the Council of Constance , in order to urge the abdication of Benedict, but without avail. Later it was decided to hold a conference at Narbonne in Dec., 1415, between the representatives of those countries who until then had acknowledged Benedict, for the purpose of withdrawing their obedience on account of his obstinacy. Thereupon, Benedict retired to the castle of Peñiscola (near Valencia, in Spain ) which belonged to his family. An embassy to him from the Council of Constance failed to soften his stubbornness, and he was deposed by the council 27 July, 1417. He never submitted to the decision of the council, but continued to consider himself the only legitimate pope, and compared Peñiscola to Noah's Ark. Four cardinals who remained with him, later acknowledged Martin V as rightful pope. Benedict maintained that in 1418 one of the latter's ambassadors had tried to poison him. The date of Pedro de Luna's death has never been ascertained. It is difficult to decide between 29 Nov., 1422, and 23 May, 1423; the date generally given [1424] is incorrect. His few adherents gave him a successor, Muñoz, who for a time continued the schism. Pedro de Luna wrote one or two treatises on canon law ("De concilio generali"; "De novo schismate") edited only in part (Ehrle in "Archiv für Literatur- und Kirchengeschichte des Mittelalters", VII, 515 sqq.).


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 14:1-3, 4-5
1 Next in my vision I saw Mount Zion, and standing on ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:1-4
1 Looking up, he saw rich people putting their ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 24th, 2014 Image

St. Andrew Dung Lac
November 24: Through the missionary efforts of various religious families ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter