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Palace of the Popes - Avignon

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 Palace of the Popes - Avignon

The popes in Avignon


1305 - 1314

The violent quarrel which opposed, at the beginning of the century, the king of France Philippe IV the Fair to Pope Boniface VIII involved in 1305 the election to the throne of Saint Peter of a French prelate, Bertrand de Got, archbishop of Bordeaux, who took the name of Clément V. Various reasons, including the affair of the Templars, brought him in 1309 to Avignon. “Pope Clément!… Chevalier Guillaume!… King Philippe!… Before a year, I am summoning you to appear in God's tribunal to receive your just judgment! Cursed! Cursed! Cursed! All cursed until the thirteenth generation of your races! "On March 19, 1314, from his burning pyre, Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Order of the Temple, anathematized his judges and executioners, Clement V and Philip IV the Fair. The curse of the grand master would prove to be correct: Clement V died on April 20, 1314 of suffocation. Philippe le Bel died on the night of November 26 to 27, 1314 of a cerebral stroke; his three sons will die in the next 12 years, leaving no male descendants, thus ending the line of the direct Capetians.



He invests the episcopal residence, which adjoins the cathedral and transforms it into a pontifical residence. Nearby, he had a courtroom erected, of which the remains in the main courtyard are the only witnesses. The present palace of the popes is mainly the work of the two pontiffs who succeed John XII: Benoit XII and Clement VI. They will build the largest Gothic palace in nearly twenty years.


1334 - 1342

Carried by a brilliant ecclesiastical career, Jaques Fournier acceded to the pontificate under the name of Benoit XII in a relatively peaceful climate. The beginnings of the Hundred Years' War, combined with the persuasive speeches of his cardinals, encouraged him to stay in Avignon. He continued the reorganization of the papal court initiated by John XXII and increased the revenues of the Church. Thanks to this financial windfall, he had Pierre Poisson erected a richly decorated pontifical palace more suited to the needs of the centralized government of the Church.


1342 - 1352

Pierre Roger, an exceptional man, recognized for his intellectual qualities, his eloquence, his sense of diplomacy and his theological culture, was unanimously elected under the name of Clement VI. A great lord, statesman, lover of art, his largesse sets him apart from his predecessors, whom he says "could not be Pope". After a sumptuous coronation, a gigantic banquet is served to more than five thousand guests, in the presence of the princes of the blood, this great patron made Avignon a cultural melting pot and a hotbed of European exchanges. He embellished the palace of Benoit XII and enlarged it by adding the opus novum (new palace). In 1348, in order to be definitively master of the place, he bought the city from Queen Joan of Naples, Countess of Provence.


1352 - 1362

Etienne Aubert, an eminent jurist, will strongly weaken the treasury through his activities as a diplomat and builder. He is a great reformer but often brutal: he reminds religious orders to observe their rules, breaks resistance by resorting to force, imprison and condemn to the stake to overcome the faithful. He earmarked large sums for fruitless wars in Italy and the construction of new ramparts around Avignon to protect the city from the Hundred Years War. It strengthens the defense and solidity of the palate and facilitates movement in the building. Finally, we owe him the Chartreuse de Villeneuve built on the site of his former cardinal palace. He is buried there in a splendid tomb.


1362 - 1370

Guillaume Grimoard is distinguished by his modesty which encourages him to limit the excesses of the curia. He devotes his time to prayer and shows a certain distrust of his cardinals. It was against their advice that in April 1367 he returned to Rome. However, he remains threatened by political unrest. In 1370, the resumption of hostilities between France and England convinced him to return to Avignon, where he died shortly after his return. In the palace gardens, the remains of Roma remain, a ceremonial gallery he had built.


1370 - 1378

Pierre Roger de Beaufort is the nephew of Pope Clement VI. Cultivated and skilful diplomat, he gave back all their importance to the cardinals by naming many members of his family. He returned to Rome at the beginning of 1377.

Visit the surroundings

France - Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur - Vaucluse - Avignon