Councils of Lyons

Two general church councils were held at Lyons. The First Council of Lyons, or Thirteenth Ecumenical Council, met in 1245 and held three sessions. It was summoned by Innocent IV, who told the assembled prelates that five problems tormented him: the sins of the priests; the loss of Jerusalem; the dangerous situation in the Byzantine Empire; the Mongol attacks on Europe; and Emperor Frederick II's* persecution of the church and pope. Although the council recommended a new crusade, nothing actually happened. Its main concern was with the dispute between Frederick II and the pope, a conflict which had its origins in Gregory IX's* excommunication of Frederick because he had not gone on crusade as promised. Frederick naturally forbade the imperial prelates to attend the council and blocked the routes to Lyons, and only 150 bishops, mainly French and Spanish, participated. The formal deposition was announced on the grounds of perjury, sacrilege, heresy, and felony, and the Franciscans and Dominicans were deputed to promulgate the decision throughout Europe.

The Second Council of Lyons, or Fourteenth Ecumenical Council, met in 1274. It held six sessions and voted seventeen canons. Some 1,600 ecclesiastics attended, including 500 bishops. Its convener, Gregory X,* wanted to organize a general crusade, but only one king came-and he soon left, convinced like many other European rulers that Gregory's plans were impractical in the current political climate. Gregory's efforts to obtain general peace in Europe, an obvious precondition for a crusade, were not entirely successful either. All he really achieved was a six-year tithe for financing such a future crusade. The council also strove for reunion between the Roman and Byzantine churches. Agreement would reopen a crusading route across Anatolia, guarantee the Eastern emperor Michael VIII against attack from Charles of Anjou, and make possible joint action against the Saracens. The council also decreed that in future, on the deaths of popes, the cardinals were to wait only ten days for absent colleagues before going into conclave, and in an effort to avoid long interregnums, they were to receive no salaries or emoluments until after the election. Further, the council suppressed a number of recent Mendicant orders, but specially commended the Franciscans and Dominicans.