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When elected pope, Julius II (1443-1513) promised under oath that he would soon convoke a general council. However, as time progressed the promise was not fulfilled. Consequently, certain dissatisfied cardinals, urged by Emperor Maximilian and Louis XII of France, convoked a council at Pisamarker and fixed September 1, 1511, for its opening, but it was delayed until October 1. The four cardinals who met at Pisa came with proxies from three others. Several bishops and abbots were also present, as well as ambassadors from the King of France. In the last session of the Pope Julius II was suspended, and the council participants withdrew to Lyonmarker.

Julius II was quick to oppose this conciliabulum and convoked another council by a papal bull of July 18, 1511, which was to meet on 19 April 1512, in the Basilica di San Giovanni in Lateranomarker (the Fifth Council of the Lateran). The bull was not only a canonical document but polemical in content. Julius refuted the allegation by the cardinals for their Pisa "conciliabulum". He declared that his promise before his election as pope was sincere; that since he became pope he had always sought to call a council; that to prepare the council he had endeavoured to bring an end to quarrels between ruler; that subsequent wars had made calling the council inopportune. Julius then reproached the participants at Pisa for their lack of respect by calling a council without the pope who was supposed to lead. He also said that the three months of preparation for Pisa was not enough. Finally, he declared that no one should attach any significance to the statements made at Pisa.

A war of polemics was waged about the councils, pitting Cajetan, the Dominican Master General, on the papal side against the conciliarist arguments of Jacques Almain, the spokesman of the University of Parismarker.

The French victory of Ravennamarker (11 April 1512) hindered the opening of the council called by Julius and it finally met on May 3 at St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome. Participants included fifteen cardinals, the Latin patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch, ten archbishops, fifty-six bishops, some abbots and generals of religious orders, the ambassadors of King Ferdinand, and those of Venicemarker and of Florencemarker. After Julius' death, his successor Pope Leo X continued the council, and the last session was held on 16 March 1517. During the Fifth Council of the Lateran the ambassdor of the Holy Roman Emperor announced that Ferdinand has rejected the decisions made by those at Pisa and a similar announcement was made by the ambassador of the French King Louis XII.

Several decrees were published, including:
  • Inter Multiplices, a Bull published by Leo X on 4 May 1515, which sanctioned the Monti di pietà: financial institutions under strict ecclesiastical supervision which provided loans to the needy in the manner of pawn shops, and which had attracted both support and opposition from within the church since their establishment in the previous century;Umberto Benigni, ‘Montes Pietatis’, in The Catholic Encyclopedia, 15 vols (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907–14), X (1911).
  • Apostolici regiminis, on the immortality of the soul, usually believed to have been directed against Pietro Pomponazzi
  • One concerning the freedom of the Church and the dignity of bishops.
  • One requiring that before a book could be printed, the local bishop had to give permission.
  • One condemning the French Pragmatic Sanction which sought to prevent the papacy from extending its power.
  • The council promulgated a decree advocating war against the Turks in order to reclaim the Holy Land to be funded by the levying of taxes three years.


Little was done to put the work of the council into practice. Whether or not the Protestant Reformation could have been avoided if the reforms had been implemented is a matter of debate. Martin Luther's promulgation of the 95 theses occurred just seven months after the close of the Council.

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References

  • Conciliarism and Papalism, ed. J.H. Burns and Thomas M. Izbicki, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. ISBN 0521470897
  • Constant, Eric A., "A Reinterpretation of the Fifth Lateran Council Decree Apostolici regiminis (1513)," Sixteenth Century Journal 33 (2002): 353-379.
  • Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, trans. Norman P. Tanner, vol. 1 (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1990), pp. 593-606.
  • Tanner, Norman P., The Councils of the Church, Crossroad Publishing, 2001. ISBN 9780824519049



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