Boniface VIII (Dictionary of World Biography: Middle Ages)
Article abstract: Though pope for only nine years, Boniface represents both the zenith and nadir of papal power and papal monarchy. In his clash with the secular rulers of Western Europe, Boniface insisted upon the ultimate earthly authority of the Papacy.
Boniface VIII, probably born in Anagni in 1235 and christened Benedict Caetani, was one of the younger sons of Roffred Caetani and his wife, Emilia, the niece of Pope Alexander IV. His family seems to have been moderately wealthy, owning some land, and well-connected to the Church. Very little is known of Benedict’s life before 1275. In the 1250’s and 1260’s, however, he apparently joined his uncle Peter, who had been made Bishop of Todi in 1252, and studied civil law there with Master Bartolus, traveling on occasion to Spoleto to study with other masters. In 1263 or 1264, he probably studied law for a short time at the great law school in Bologna. At about the same time, Benedict embarked on his career in the Church, first working as a secretary of Cardinal Simon of Brie and, from 1265 to 1268, accompanying Cardinal Ottoboni Fieschi on a diplomatic mission to England. When Ottoboni became Pope Adrian V in 1276, Benedict was appointed to supervise the collection of certain papal taxes in France. Achieving this post marks the beginning of Benedict’s rapid ascent through the ranks of the growing papal bureaucracy. From tax supervisor to papal notary...
(The entire section is 2174 words.)
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