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COUNCIL OF VIENNE

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 57 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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COUNCIL OF VIENNE, an ecclesiastical council, which in the Roman Catholic Church ranks as the fifteenth ecumenical synod. It met from October 16, 1311, to May 6, 1312, under the presidency of Pope Clement V. The transference of the Curia from Rome to Avignon (1309) had brought the papacy under the influence of the French crown; and this position Philip the Fair of France now endeavoured to utilize by demanding from the pope the dissolution of the powerful and wealthy order of the Temple, together with the introduction of a trial for heresy against the late Pope Boniface VIII. To evade the second claim, Clement gave way on the first. Legal trials and acts of violence against the Templars had begun as early as the year 1307 (see TEM'PLARS); and the principal object of the council was to secure a definite decision on the question of their continuance or abolition. In the committee appointed for preliminary consultation, one section was for the immediate condemnation of the order, and declined to allow it any opportunity of defence, on the ground that it was now superfluous and simply a source of strife. The majority of the members, however, regarded the case as non-proven, and demanded that the order should be heard on its own behalf; while at the same time they held that its dissolution was unjustifiable. Under pressure from the king, who was himself present in Vienne, the pope determined that, as the order gave occasion for scandal but could not be condemned as heretical bya judicial sentence (de jure), it should be abolished per modum provisions seu ordinationis aposlolicae; in other words, by an administrative ruling based on considerations of the general welfare. To this procedure the council agreed, and on the 22nd of March the order of the Temple was suppressed by the bull Vox clamantis; while further decisions as to the treatment of the order and its possessions followed later. In addition to this the discussions announced in the opening speech, regarding measures for the reformation of the Church and the protection of her liberties, took place; and a part of the Constitutions found in the Clementinuin, published in 1317 by John XXII., were probably enacted by the council. Still it is impossible to say with certainty what decrees were actually passed at Vienne. Additional decisions were necessitated by the violent disputes which raged within the Franciscan order as to the observance of the rules of St Francis of Assisi, and by the multitude of subordinate questions arising from this. Resolutions were also adopted on the Beguines and their mode of life (see BEGUINES), the control of the hospitals, the institution of instructors in Hebrew, Arabic and Chaldaic at the universities, and on numerous details of ecclesiastical discipline and law. See Mansi, Collectio Conciliorum, vol. xxv. ; Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, vol. vi. pp. 532-54.
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