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Pope Boniface VIII

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Boniface VIII
Papacy beganDecember 24, 1294
Papacy endedOctober 11, 1303
PredecessorPope Celestine V
SuccessorPope Benedict XI
Personal details
Birth nameBenedetto Caetani
Anagni, Papal States
DiedOctober 11, 1303
Other Popes named Boniface

Pope Boniface VIII (Latin: Bonifacius OctavusLua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'Module:Category handler/data' not found.; 1235 – October 11, 1303), born Benedetto Caetani, was an Italian cleric of the Roman Catholic Church and the 194th Pope from 1294 to 1303.[1]

Early life

Benedetto Caetani was born in 1235 at Anagni in Italy.[2] Caetani studied at Todi and at Spoleto where he earned a degree in law.[2] He came from a very noble family.[3] His family was in government.

In 1265, Caetani traveled with Cardinal Ottobuono Fieschi to England.[2]


In 1281, Pope Martin IV raised Caetani to the rank of cardinal. In 1291, Pope Nicholas IV made him Cardinal of SS. Silvestro e Martino ai Monti.[2]


Cardinal Caetani was elected in 1294;[4] and he chose to be called Boniface VIII.[5]

Pope Boniface confirmed the decree of Pope Celestine V that any pope can freely resign.[6]

Boniface was involved in Italian and European political disputes.[2]

Boniface VIII made a rule that if a ruler (king) fined people taxes without the church or popes' permission that the ruler would be excluded from the church. He would make rash decisions without consideration. He was known to be harsh, mean, cruel, and did not listen to other people's recommendations. For example, He declared a very rash papal law that all people, not just Christians, must follow him if they want to go to heaven. He believed as the Pope, all rulers should bow down to him and respect him.[7]

After his death

Dante mentions Boniface in The Inferno. He identifies the pope as "the Prince of the new Pharisees."[8]

Related pages


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The Coat of Arms of Boniface VIII
  1. "List of Popes," Catholic Encyclopedia (2009); retrieved 2011-11-29.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Pope Boniface VIII", Catholic Encyclopedia; retrieved 2011-11-29.
  3. Watts, Tim. "Boniface VIII." World History: Ancient and Medieval Eras. ABC-CLIO, 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.
  4. Penny Cyclopaedia of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. C. Knight. 1836. p. 154. 
  5. Note on ordinal numbering: Popes Boniface VIII–IX are really the 7th and 8th popes with that name. This is because Boniface VII is now classed as an antipope; but during the reign of Boniface VIII, this was not recognized. The "true" or actual seventh pope Boniface identified himself with the ordinal number VIII. In other words, the numbering of popes after the 7th Boniface needs to be explained -- compare Popes Benedict XI–XVI.
  6. "Abdication," Catholic Encyclopedia; retrieved 2013-2-11.
  7. Pennington, Kenneth. "Boniface VIII." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2013.
  8. Chisholm, Hugh (1910). The Encyclopedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information. Encyclopedia Britannica Company. p. 207. 

Other reading

  • Boase, Thomas Sherrer Ross. (1933). Boniface VIII. London: Constable. OCLC 1387650

Other websites

Media related to Bonifacius VIII at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
Celestine V
Succeeded by
Benedict XI