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The History of the Church 122 The Attack at Anagni In the beginning of the thirteenth century, the neverending conflicts between the French monarchy and the papacy over the matter of competence took a dramatic turn. In 1301, Philip the Fair imprisoned the bishop of Pamiers, who had been plotting to have the county of Toulouse secede from France. Philip decided to have the traitor prosecuted by a civil court instead of an ecclesiastical court. In response, Pope Boniface VIII convened a council and threatened the king with excommunication, a bewildering prospect that would expel from the church the grandson of Saint Louis, whom the same pope had just canonized! Supported by a good portion of the high-ranking clergy of France, Philip the Fair decided to convene a council depose the pope. He sent his minister, Guillaume de Nogaret, to Italy to seize the person of the pontiff, and as Nogaret had only a small escort with him, he hired the henchmen of the Colonna family upon arriving in Rome. The Colonnas were in longstanding rivalry with the family of the pope. Arriving at the palace located in the pope’s native town of Anagni, the band forced his door open. There ensued a tumultuous scene; one of the attackers even tried to slap the pontiff’s face. However, the local peasantry rose in defense of the pope, and the attempted abduction was thwarted. But for Boniface VIII, it had been too much. He died of humiliation and pain a few days later. French Illumination (Great Chronicles of France, end of the fourteenth century) Death of Boniface VIII after the Attempt at Anagni British Library, London ...


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