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Pope Boniface VIII
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Pope Boniface VIII

Boniface VIII, né Benedict Gaetano (ca. 1235 - October 11, 1303) was Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 1294 to 1303. Boniface's given name was either Benedict Cajetan or Benedetto Gaetano. He was regarded as a man of great ability, and was elected in 1294 after Celestine V was persuaded to resign.

Boniface VIII meddled incessantly in foreign affairs, and put forward some of the strongest claims to temporal as well as spiritual supremacy of any pope. He issued the very last word in Papal Supremacy in his Bull of 1302, Unam Sanctam, in which he stated that it "is necessary for salvation that every living creature be under submission to the Roman pontiff". His bitterest quarrels were with the emperor Albert I of Habsburg, with the powerful family of the Colonnas, and with Philip the Fair of France, whom he excommunicated in 1303. He was about to lay all France under an interdict when he was seized at Anagni by a party of horsemen under Philippe de Nogaret, an agent of Philip and Sciarra Colonna. After three days' captivity he was released by the town's people, but the agitation he had undergone caused his death soon after, on October 11, 1303.

In 1300 Boniface instituted the jubilees, which afterwards became such a source of profit and of scandal to the church.

Dante portrayed Boniface VIII, though alive at the date of his vision, as destined for the Inferno in his Divine Comedy.

Preceded by:
Pope Celestine V
Pope
- chronological list
Succeeded by:
Pope Benedict XI

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Initial text after the 9th edition (1880s) of a public domain encyclopedia. Please update as needed.