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Pope Nicholas IV

Nicholas IV
Papacy began 22 February 1288
Papacy ended 4 April 1292
Predecessor Honorius IV
Successor Celestine V
Consecration 1281
Created Cardinal 12 March 1278
by Nicholas III
Personal details
Birth name Girolamo Masci
Born (1227-09-30)30 September 1227
Lisciano, Marche, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire
Died 4 April 1292(1292-04-04) (aged 64)
Rome, Papal States
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Coat of arms Nicholas IV's coat of arms
Other popes named Nicholas
Papal styles of
Pope Nicholas IV
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style None

Pope Nicholas IV (Latin: Nicholaus IV; 30 September 1227 – 4 April 1292), born Girolamo Masci, Pope from 22 February 1288 to his death in 1292. He was the first Franciscan to be elected pope.[1]


Early life

Masci was born at Lisciano, near Ascoli Piceno. He was a pious, peace-loving friar with no ambition save for the Church, the crusades and the extirpation of heresy. Originally a Franciscan friar, he had been legate to the Greeks under Pope Gregory X in 1272, to invite their participation in the Second Council of Lyons. He succeeded Bonaventure as Minister General of his religious order in 1274. He was made Cardinal Priest of Santa Pudenziana and Latin Patriarch of Constantinople in 1278 by Pope Nicholas III, and Cardinal Bishop of Palestrina by Pope Martin IV.[2]


Papal conclave

After the death of Pope Honorius IV on 3 April, 1287, the conclave held at Rome was for a time hopelessly divided in its selection of a successor. When fever had carried off six of the electors, the others, with the sole exception of Girolamo, left Rome. It was not until the following year that they reassembled and February 1288, unanimously elected him to the papacy. He became the first Franciscan pope and chose the name Nicholas IV in remembrance of Nicholas III.[2]


In regard to the question of the Sicilian succession, as feudal suzerain of the kingdom, Nicholas annulled the treaty, concluded in 1288 through the mediation of Edward I of England, which confirmed James II of Aragon in the possession of the island of Sicily. In May 1289 he crowned King Charles II of Naples and Sicily after the latter had expressly recognized papal suzerainty, and in February 1291 concluded a treaty with Kings Alfonso III of Aragon and Philip IV of France looking toward the expulsion of James from Sicily.[2]

The loss of Acre in 1291 stirred Nicholas IV to renewed enthusiasm for a crusade. He sent missionaries, among them the Franciscan John of Monte Corvino,[1] to labour among the Bulgarians, Ethiopians, Mongols, Tatars and Chinese.

Nicholas IV issued an important constitution on 18 July 1289, which granted to the cardinals one-half of all income accruing to the Holy See and a share in the financial management, thereby paving the way for that independence of the College of Cardinals which, in the following century, was to be of detriment to the papacy.


Nicholas IV died 4 April 1292 in the palace, which he had built. He was buried in the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.[3]


The 1291–92 Taxatio he initiated, which was a detailed valuation for ecclesiastical taxation of English and Welsh parish churches and prebends, remains an important source document for the mediaeval period. An edition was reprinted by the Record Commission in 1802 as Taxatio Ecclesiastica Angliae et Walliae Auctoritate.[4]


  1. ^ a b McBrien, Richard P., Live of the Popes, p.226, Harper Collins, 2000
  2. ^ a b c Weber, Nicholas. "Pope Nicholas IV." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 29 Jan. 2015
  3. ^ Richard P. McBrien, Live of the Popes, 226.
  4. ^ The Taxatio Project, Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Minister General
of the Order of Friars Minor

Succeeded by
Bonagratia de San Giovanni in Persiceto
Preceded by
Pope Honorius IV
22 February 1288 – 4 April 1292
Succeeded by
Pope Celestine V

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