Christ's Faithful People
1187 - 1191 AD
Paul Scolari, who became Pope Clement III, was a native of Rome. A distinguished member of the Roman clergy, he was first archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major, then cardinal-bishop of Palestrina. He had been considered as a possible choice for pope before this, but his poor health had been regarded as an impediment. And indeed Paolo did suffer from heart trouble. Even now at the death of Gregory VIII the first choice of the cardinals was Theobald, cardinal-bishop of Ostia, but Theobald refused and then on December 19, 1157, the cardinals turned to Paolo, weak heart and all. On December 20 Paolo was crowned as Clement III.
The first Roman to be elected pope for some years, Clement was popular with his fellow citizens. A peace was patched up, and soon the Pope was settled in the Lateran. To enjoy peace at Rome, Clement consented to allow the walls of hated Tusculum to be torn down. A charter drawn up in 1188 regulated the rights of Pope and the commune.
Clement's chief interest, however, was to rescue Jerusalem. He continued and developed the policy of his predecessor, Gregory VIII: peace among Christians, war on the Moslem. The Pope did everything possible to favor Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and had the satisfaction of seeing the old hero lead a large army toward the Holy Land. He had less success in his efforts to make peace between Henry II of England and Philip Augustus of France; but after Henry's defeat and death, Richard the Lion-Hearted and Philip finally got started for Palestine. Clement III deserves great credit for his vigorous efforts to support the Third Crusade. By diplomacy, by encouragement, by financial aid, this farsighted Pope did everything possible to win back Jerusalem. The small result of this great effort was not the fault of the Pope and he died before the crusade had definitely failed.
The death of William II, Norman king of Sicily, presented Clement III and his successors with a thorny problem. The legitimate successor of William was Constance, wife of Henry of Germany. The Sicilians, not liking the idea of German rule, backed Tancred, an illegitimate relative of the Norman family. Clement, who had absolutely no desire to see Hohenstaufens on both sides of him, recognized Tancred as king of Sicily. But Henry VI had no intention of allowing his wife's magnificent inheritance escape him. Soon he was on his way south with a large army.
Clement III did not have to cope with the difficult situation. Before Henry reached Rome, Clement was dead. He died in March 1191. Scotsmen may well revere his memory, for Clement III definitely freed the Church in Scotland from ecclesiastical dependence on the English archbishop of York. This large-hearted Pontiff helped to redeem captives and protected the Jews.