Boniface IX

Pope from 1389. Pietro Tomacelli was born in Naples of a poor but ancient family. Created cardinal-deacon of St. George while still a young man, he was made cardinal-priest of St. Anastasia (1385) by Urban VI. His election to the papacy came in the middle of the Great Schism.* More amiable than his predecessor, he was nevertheless convinced of his papal rights and excommunicated the Avignon pope, Clement VII; declared sinful the proposal to end the Schism through a general council (1391); and successfully resisted Anglo-French and German pressure to abdicate. He regained control of the Papal States* (lost by Urban) and reestablished papal authority in Rome. His authority was tenuous, however, and weakened by the neutrality of much of Europe and the loss of Sicilian and Genoese support. Because they had sided with him against Avignon, Boniface was forced to support Ladislaus as king of Naples, and Rupert of Bavaria as German emperor. To raise funds for these political activities he had to resort to indulgences and simony, and in 1399 transformed the annates* into a permanent tax. In this he was assisted by Baldassare Cossa, later antipope John XXIII, whom he made cardinal. His pontificate was called “the crooked days of Boniface IX.”