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Martin IV

Pope from 1281. Simon de Brie, a native of Touraine, was appointed chancellor of France by Louis IX in 1260, and in 1261 he was created cardinal of St. Cecilia and papal legate by Urban IV. As legate he negotiated the advancement to the Sicilian throne of Louis’s brother, Charles of Anjou. In 1281 he was elected pope through pressure exerted by Charles, whose tool he remained. He restored Charles to the position of Roman senator of which he had been deprived by Pope Nicholas III. With a view toward aiding Charles’s projected attack on the Eastern Empire, Martin excommunicated Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus, thus destroying the union of the Latin and Byzantine churches achieved at the Council of Lyons in 1274. The “Sicilian Vespers,”* the anti-French rebellion in Sicily in 1282, forced Charles to abandon his plans to reconquer Constantinople. Pleas by the Sicilians for papal suzerainty were refused by Martin, so they turned to Peter of Aragon. Martin thereupon excommunicated the Sicilians and organized a crusade against Peter under Philip III of France, but it failed dismally. Deeply interested in the Franciscan Order, he extended their privileges in the bull Ad fructus uberes in 1281. Martin’s pontificate marked the decline of papal political power.