Honorius III

Pope from 1216. Born Cencio Savelli at Rome and well educated, he succeeded Innocent III after long experience in ecclesiastical administration, and his pontificate carried on an inherited policy with some changes. At once he found himself amid plans set by the Fourth Lateran Council, as initiated by Innocent, while his chief concern was a crusade to recover the Kingdom of Jerusalem. This was to be led by Emperor Frederick II, but it was not, and seeming political stability was attempted to launch it: aid given to Henry III (England’s nine-year-old monarch) and the attention of King Philip Augustus and his son, Louis VIII, redirected from England to Toulouse. A major concern was always the relationship with Frederick, who wanted for himself and his son Henry VII control of both the imperial and Sicilian crowns. This brought immense papal opposition, leading to a major struggle and finally a victory which ended his crusading interest.

The Fifth Crusade did proceed, but not happily. The crusade against the Albigenses* continued, and heresy was unrelentingly pursued; here were unmistakable shades of the Inquisition. Honorius formally approved and used the new mendicant orders, Dominicans and Franciscans. Among his many writings are Liber Censuum (1192); Compilatio quinta (1226); his decretals which have been considered the first official book of canon law; a life of Gregory VII; and a continuation of the Liber Pontificalis.