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Pope Urban IV (c. 1195 in Troyesmarker, Francemarker – October 2, 1264 in Perugiamarker), born Jacques Pantaléon, was Pope, from 1261 to 1264. He was not a cardinal, and there have been several Popes since him who have not been Cardinals, including Urban V and Urban VI.

Biography

Urban IV was the son of a cobbler of Troyes, France. He studied theology and common law in Parismarker, and was appointed a canon of Laonmarker and later Archdeacon of Liègemarker. At the First Council of Lyon (1245) he attracted the attention of Pope Innocent IV (1243-1254) who sent him on two missions in Germany. One of the missions was to negotiate the Treaty of Christburg between the pagan Prussians and the Teutonic Knights. He became the bishop of Verdun in 1253. In 1255, Pope Alexander IV (1254-1261) made him Patriarch of Jerusalem.

He had returned from Jerusalem, which was in dire straits, and was at Viterbomarker seeking help for the oppressed Christians in the East when Alexander IV died, and after a three-month vacancy Pantaléon was chosen by the eight cardinals of the Sacred College to succeed him, on August 29, 1261, taking the name of Urban IV.

The Latin Empire of Constantinople came to an end with the capture of the city by the Greeks (led by their Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos) a fortnight before Urban IV's election; Urban IV endeavoured without success to stir up a crusade to restore the Latin Empire. The festival of Corpus Christi ("the Body of Christ") was instituted by Urban IV in 1264.

Italy commanded Urban IV's full attention: the long confrontation with the late Hohenstaufen Frederick II had not been pressed during the mild pontificate of Alexander IV, while it devolved into interurban struggles between nominally pro-Imperial Ghibellines and even more nominally pro-papal Guelf factions, in which Frederick II's heir Manfred was immersed. Urban IV's military captain was the condottiere Azzo d'Este, nominally at the head of a loose league of cities that included Mantuamarker and Ferraramarker. Any Hohenstaufen in Sicily was bound to have claims over the cities of Lombardy, and as a check to Manfred, Urban IV introduced Charles of Anjou into the equation, to place the crown of the Two Sicilies in the hands of a monarch amenable to papal control. Charles was Comte de Provence in right of his wife, maintaining a rich base for projecting what would be an expensive Italian war. For two years Urban IV negotiated with Manfred regarding whether Manfred would aid the Latins in regaining Constantinople in return for papal confirmation of the Hohenstaufen rights in the regno. Meanwhile the papal pact solidified with Charles, a promise of papal ships and men, produced by a crusading tithe, and Charles' promise not to lay claims on Imperial lands in northern Italy, nor in the Papal Statesmarker. Charles promised to restore the annual census or feudal tribute due the Pope as overlord, some 10,000 ounces of gold being agreed upon, while the Pope would work to block Conradin from election as King of the Germans.

Before the arrival in Italy of his candidate Charles, Urban IV died at Perugia, on October 2, 1264. His successor was Pope Clement IV (1265-1268), who immediately took up the papal side of the arrangement.

Legend of Tannhäuser

Tannhäuser, a prominent German Minnesänger and poet, was a contemporary of Pope Urban IV - the pope died in 1264, and the minnesänger died shortly after 1265. Two centuries later, the pope became a major character in a legend which grew up about the minnesänger, which is first attested in 1430 and propagated in ballads from 1450.

The legendary account makes Tannhäuser a knight and poet who found the Venusberg, the subterranean home of Venus, and spent a year there worshipping the goddess. After leaving the Venusberg, Tannhäuser is filled with remorse and travels to Romemarker to ask Pope Urban IV if it is possible to be absolved of his sins. Urban replies that forgiveness is as impossible as it would be for his papal staff to blossom. Three days after Tannhäuser's departure Urban's staff blooms with flowers; messengers are sent to retrieve the knight, but he has already returned to Venusberg, never to be seen again.

There is no historical evidence for the events in the legend. Urban IV was evidently inserted into the legend since he was Pope during Tannhäuser's lifetime.

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