Today in Catholic History – Benedict XI excommunicates Guillaume de Nogaret

On 7 June 1304, Pope Benedict XI excommunicated Guillaume de Nogaret, the minister of French king Philip IV, and several Italians who had played a part in the seizure and abuse of Pope Boniface VIII in the bull Flagitiosum scelus. Boniface and Philip had come into serious conflict regarding the power of the papacy versus the power of the secular ruler. This conflict had led Boniface to issue the bull Unam Sanctum proclaiming that salvation required that one be subject to the Roman pontiff and Philip to send Guillaume and his army to arrest Boniface in the hopes of putting him on trial. While Boniface had escaped, he died soon after regaining his freedom.

Benedict after a pontificate of only eight months and while there was some suspicion that Guillaume may have had him poisoned, there is no direct evidence for this. After Benedict’s death, Clement V will become pope and under French pressure will lift the excommunication of Guillaume de Nogaret. Guillaume will also be very active in Philip IV’s persecutions of the Knights Templar.

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