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John of Crema

John of Crema (Giovanni da Crema)[1] (died before 27 January 1137[2]) was an Italian papal legate and cardinal. He was a close supporter of Pope Callistus II.[3]


Giovanni, the son of Olricus and Rathildis, was a native of Crema, a town 17km northeast of Lodi in Lombardy.[4]

Giovanni became Cardinal around 1116.[5]

In 1116, the Emperor Henry V had given the bishopric of Verdun to Archdeacon Henry of Winchester, who had conveyed Mathilda, daughter of the king of England, to Germany, as a reward. Archbishop Bruno of Trier disapproved of such an imperial action, and vacated the appointment; the papal legate, Archbishop Guy of Vienne, also excommunicated the emperor. On the advice of Abbot Laurentius, the emperor sent a delegation to Rome to have the excommunication voided. The embassy was captured in the neighborhood of Milan, and brought to the legate, Cardinal Giovanni of San Crisogono. Bishop-elect Henry was absolved, consecrated, and sent back to Verdun, from which he was excluded by the angry locals.[6]

Cardinal Giovanni participated in the election of Cardinal Giovanni Gaetani as Pope Gelasius II on 24 January 1118.[7] The electoral meeting took place at the monastery of the Palladium (Santa Maria in Pallara, near the Arch of Titus and the Arch of Constantine) for reasons of security. Cardinal Giovanni da Crema was one of those present.[8] During the enthronement ceremony, Cencius Frangipani and his supporters broke into the monastery, seized and abused the pope and others, and carried Gelasius off to one of their prisons. He was rescued, but, on the approach of Henry V to Rome, he fled to Gaeta, to Capua, and then to Pisa. Cardinal Giovanni da Crema followed the pope to exile in Pisa.[9]

He probably crossed to France with the papal court at the end of 1118. He was certainly with the Pope, Cardinal Lamberto of Ostia, Cardinal Boso and Cardinal Corrado at St. Vallier (Sanctus Valerius), where he subscribed a peace agreement between the bishop of Gap and the monks of Cluny.[10] He was at Cluny with Pope Gelasius in January 1119, and, when the pope died on 29 January, Giovanni took part in the election which produced Pope Calixtus II (Guy de Bourgogne) on 2 February 1119.[11] He took part in the Council of Reims in October 1119, where he defended the conduct of Abbot Pons and the monks of Cluny.[12]

The papal court was at Pisa on 14 May 1120, where Cardinal Giovanni subscribed an agreement between the canons of Saint-Martin in Lucca and the canons of S. Frediano in Lucca.[13]

Cardinal Giovanni returned to Rome in June 1120.[14] From September to December 1120, the cardinal was with the papal court during Pope Calixtus' trip to south-central Italy. He was in Benevento in October, and at Capua in early December.[15]

The cardinal rebuilt his titular church of San Crisogono in Rome, beginning around 1120.[16] An oratory at the church was consecrated on 8 July 1123, by the bishops Petrus of Porto, Vitalis of Albano, and Guilgiemo of Praeneste, in the presence of six cardinals and the holder of the title. The completed church was dedicated in 1129.[17]

In April 1121, Cardinal Giovanni da Crema led the advance party to establish the siege of Sutri, where the failed antipope, Gregory VIII (Maurice Burdinus) had his headquarters, and from which he was conducting guerilla warfare on the neighborhood. Pope Calixtus followed along shortly thereafter, and, in an eight-day campaign, Sutri was forced to turn over the antipope and surrender.[18] On 27 April 1121, Pope Calixtus wrote to the bishops of France from Sutri, announcing the capture of Burdinus and the end of the siege.[19]

In January 1122, Pope Calixtus, traveling in the kingdom of Naples, held a synod at Cotrone to settle a boundary dispute between two dioceses. Cardinal Joannes Cremensis was in the papal party and was present at the negotiations.[20]


Appointed by Callistus II (who died in 1124) and confirmed by his successor Pope Honorius II, Giovanni undertook a significant papal mission to Henry I of England in 1124–5. At this time, England was generally closed to papal diplomats.[21] Of nine legates to England appointed during Henry's reign (1100—1135), Giovanni was the only one to be able to use his authority.[22] On 1 June 1124, the legate was at Rouen, awaiting permission to cross the Channel to England.[23] In a letter of 13 April 1125, Pope Honorius reminded Giovanni that the English should "receive him as though he were the vicar of St. Peter." He was also to undertake a legatine visit to Scotland, and Honorius wrote to King David to that effect.[24]

A modern historian has speculated[25] that this permission was a quid pro quo after Callistus had annulled the marriage to Sibylla of Anjou of William Clito, who was struggling against Henry in Normandy. John, with Peter Pierleone and Gregory of San Angelo, had upheld the annulment.[26] Fulk V of Anjou, Sibylla's father, took this badly, and in late 1124 a stand-off developed. Fulk imprisoned the papal legates and treated them roughly, and was excommunicated. Shortly Fulk submitted, and William Clito's position deteriorated in consequence.[27]

Having reached England, the legate Giovanni headed north, crossed the Tweed, and reached King David of Scotland at Roxburgh. There he carried out the pope's mandate, to settle the disputes between the archbishop of York and the bishops of Scotland over jurisdiction, by holding a council. Nothing, however, was settled.[28]

Giovanni held a legatine council at Westminster Abbey on 9 September 1125.[29] Here he claimed precedence over the archbishop of Canterebury, William of Corbeil,[30] and therefore the council was presided over by Giovanni da Crema, in association with Archbishop William of Canterbury and Archbishop Thurstan of York. Twenty bishops and around forty abbots attended. Seventeen canons were promulgated.[31]

One of John's tasks related to enforcement of the celibacy of the clergy.[32] A contemporary story, a rumour, put about by Henry of Huntingdon,[33] and then mentioned in Roger of Hoveden's compilation,[34] and repeated in David Hume's history,[35] reports that the legate Giovanni had been surprised in bed with a woman, perhaps supplied by the bishop of Durham.[36]


Cardinal Petrus Pisanus reports that Cardinal Giovanni da Crema was suspended from his cardinalatial office by Pope Honorius II, but then restored.[37] Honorius had known Giovanni for many years, had shared Pope Gelasius' exile with him, had participated with him in the papal election of 1119 at Cluny, and had followed the new pope, Calixtus II, with him as a leader of the curia. What was charged against Giovanni da Crema must have been very serious as to cause his suspension.[38]

From March 1126 through May 1128, Giovanni is attested in Rome, at the papal court.[39] In August and September 1128, he was with the pope in a visit to Benevento.[40]

Legate in Lombardy

In 1129, as legates in Lombardy, he and Cardinal Petrus of S. Anastasia presided over synods in Piacenza and in Pavia.[41] In October 1129, he was in Bergamo.[42]

Pope Honorius died around sunset on 13 February 1130.[43] While he was still alive, a group of cardinals met, and decided that the election of his successor would be carried out by a committee of eight cardinals. Giovanni da Crema was not one of them.[44] But that meeting never took place. Instead, a clandestine nighttime meeting, within a few hours of the pope's death, elected Gregory Papareschi of the deaconry of S. Angelo in Pescheria as Pope Innocent II. Eight cardinals participated in the election, including bishops Willelmus Praenestinus and Conradus Sabinensis; Petrus Rufus Sancti-Martini in Montibus, Gregorius Papareschi of S. Angelo in Pescheria, and Haimericus Deacon of S. Mariae Novae. Giovanni of Crema is not mentioned.[45] Ferdinand Gregorovius noted: "The proceeding was entirely contrary to law, and Gregory's action was altogether uncanonical."[46] The name of the cardinal of S. Crisogono does appear, however, in a list of the supporters of Pope Innocent.[47]

In May 1130, unable to withstand the universal rejection of his cause by the clergy, nobility, and citizens of Rome (even the Frangipani had deserted him for Anacletus II), Innocent boarded ship with all the cardinals who still supported him, and sailed for Pisa. He left behind only Cardinal Conrad of Sabina, who was to serve as his vicar in the city of Rome.[48] He did not return to Rome until 30 April 1133, though he was forced to withdraw again by August, this time to Siena and then Pisa.[49]

In 1131, Giovanni da Crema was in Langres, where he arbitrated a dispute between the abbots of Luxeuil and of Bèze.[50] At the end of the same year, he was in Germany as papal legate along with Cardinal Willelmus of Palestrina and Cardinal Guido of the deaconry of S. Maria in Via Lata.[51]

He was back at the papal court, which was staying at the abbey of Cluny, where he subscribed a bull for Pope Innocent on 2 February 1132.[52] On 8 March 1132, Giovanni was one of eight cardinals who subscribed Innocent II's letter, written at Valence, to the abbot of Cluny about his controversy with the abbey of S. Aegidius.[53] There is no further evidence concerning the cardinal; it is not known whether he returned to Rome.

Notes and references

  1. ^ Giovanni da Crema, Johannes Cremensis.
  2. ^ Hüls, p. 177, with note 61. On that date, a successor as Cardinal priest of San Crisogono was already in place.
  3. ^ Mary Stroll (2004), Calixtus II (1119-1124): A Pope Born to Rule (Leiden and New York: Brill), p. 164.
  4. ^ Hüls, p. 176.
  5. ^ Zenker, p. 59, states that Giovanni was a cardinal "vor 1116". Hüls, p. 176. Freund, "Giovanni da Crema." Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani.
  6. ^ Laurentius de Leodio, "Historia Virdunensium Episcoporum," (ed. D.G. Waitz), in: Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Scriptores Tomus X (Hannover: Hahn 1881), p. 505. Zenker, p. 59, with note 37.
  7. ^ Pandulphus Pisanus, in: Caesaris S. R. E. Cardinalis Baronii, Od. Raynaldi et Jac. Laderchii Annales Ecclesiastici denuo excusi et ad nostra usque tempora perducti ab Augusto Theiner Tomus Octavusdecimus 1094-1146 (Barri-Ducis: Ludovicus Guerin 1869), sub anno 1118, no. 4, p. 286
  8. ^ Watterich II, p. 94.
  9. ^ Ferdinand Gregorovius (1896), History of Rome in the Middle Ages. Volume IV. 2, second edition (London: George Bell, 1896), p. 378. J.B.M. Watterich (1862). Pontificum Romanorum qui fuerunt inde ab exeunte saeculo IX usque ad finem saeculi XIII vitae: ab aequalibus conscriptae (in Latin). Vol. Tom. II. Leipzig: G. Engelmann. p. 102.
  10. ^ Hüls, p. 176. Alexandre Bruel, Recueil des chartes de l'abbaye de Cluny, Tome V (Paris: Imprimerie nationale 1894), pp. 287-288; the document is undated, but the editor places it in December 1118.
  11. ^ Hüls, p. 176.
  12. ^ J.D. Mansi (ed.), Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, editio novissima, Tomus XXI (in Latin) (Venice: A. Zatta 1776), pp. 242-244.
  13. ^ Hüls, p. 176. U. Robert (1891), Bullaire du Pape Calixte II, Tome I (Paris: Imprimerie nationale), pp. 256-257.
  14. ^ Hüls, p. 176. On 16 June, four cardinals, including Giovanni da Crema, entered drew up a promissory note with two merchants from Genoa. P.F. Kehr (1908), Italia pontificia Vol. III (Berlin: Weidmann), p. 322, no. 14.
  15. ^ Hüls, p. 176, with notes 22—25.
  16. ^ Peter Cornelius Claussen, Die Kirchen der Stadt Rom in Mittelalter 1050-1300 (2002), p. 387.
  17. ^ V. Forcella (1873), Iscrizioni delle chiese e d'altri edificii di Roma Vol. 2 (Roma: Fratelli Bencini), p. 169. (in Latin)
  18. ^ Gregorovius IV, part 2, pp. 395-396.
  19. ^ U. Robert, Bullaire du papa Calixte II Tome I (Paris: Imprimerie nationale 1891), pp. 337-338.
  20. ^ Hüls, p. 233. "Chronica Trium tabernarum", in: E. Caspar, Quellen und Forschungen 10 (1907), p. 52 "Haec nomina et eorum, qui huic examinationi interfuerunt, uidelicet Gregorius archiepiscopus sanetae Seuerinae, Atbanasius episcopus Cotroni, Policronius episcopus Genocastrensis episcopus in fide, Dimitius episcopus Tusculanae cardinalis, Gualterius archiepiscopus Barensis, episcopus Aquensis, Ioannes episcopus Ceracensis, Ubertus abbas sanetae Eufemiae, Lambertus magister heremitarum, Rogerius saneti Iuliani abbas, Grisogonus cancellarius cardinalis, Adoaldus cardinalis, Ioannes Cremensis cardinalis, Stefanus praefati frater cardinalis, Ionathas cardinalis, Robertus Parisiacensis cardinalis, Gregorius cardinalis, Gregorius abbas sanetae Catherinae, Barnabas abbas saneti Leonardi et Sabba frater eius et multi alii."
  21. ^ Stroll, p. 165.
  22. ^ A. L. Poole, Domesday Book to Magna Carta (1955 edition), p. 184.
  23. ^ Hüls, p. 176, with note 38.
  24. ^ Cesare Baronius (ed. Augustinus Theiner), Annales Ecclesiastici Tomus XVIII (Bar-le-Duc: Guerin 1869), p. 375: "...ut eum tanquam S. Petri vicarium reverentes suscipiant." Philipp Jaffé (1885). G. Wattenbach (ed.). Regesta pontificum romanorum: ab condita ecclesia ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII (in Latin). Vol. Tomus I (2nd ed.). Leipzig: Veit. p. 825, nos. 7203-7204.
  25. ^ C. Warren Hollister, "War and Diplomacy in the Anglo-Norman World: the reign of Henry I," in: Reginald Allen Brown (editor), Anglo-Norman Studies VI: Proceedings of the Battle Conference 1983 (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press 1984), p. 86.
  26. ^ I. S. Robinson, The Papacy 1073-1198 (Cambridge UP 1990), p. 158.
  27. ^ C. Warren Hollister, Henry I (2001), p. 305.
  28. ^ Simeon of Durham, in: Thomas Arnold (ed.), Symeonis monachi opera omnia. Historia regum. Eadem historia ad quintum et vicesimum annum continuata, per Joannem Hagulstadensem Tomus II (London: Longmans 1885), pp. 277-278). David Dalyrmple, Annals of Scotland third edition, Vol. III (Edinburgh: Constable; Fairbairn & Anderson; Hurst & Robinson, 1819), p. 225.
  29. ^ Edward Carpenter (1997), Cantuar: The Archbishops in Their Office (London: Mowbray), p. 116.
  30. ^ Hollister, pp. 378-9.
  31. ^ Carl Joseph, Hefele (1872). Histoire des Conciles d'après les documents originaux (in French). Vol. Tome septième. Paris: Adrien Leclere. pp. 192–194. J. D. Mansi (ed.), Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, editio novissima, Tomus XXI (in Latin) (Venice: A. Zatta 1776), pp. 327-342.
  32. ^ Unholy Mother Archived 16 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ Hollister, p. 11 and p. 307-308. Thomas Forester, The chronicle of Henry of Huntingdon (London: Bohn 1853), p. 252.
  34. ^ Elfinspell:Annals of Roger de Hoveden Pt 20: Henry T. Riley's English translation; Medieval History; online text; primary source
  35. ^ Hume, David (nd). History of England. Vol. 1. Boston: Aldine Book Publishing Co. p. 265.
  36. ^ Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church Vol. V, part 1 (New York: Scribnersr 1889), p. 807.
  37. ^ Petrus Pisanus, quoted by Mary Stroll, The Jewish Pope (Leiden & New York: E.J. Brill 1987), p. 12, note 9: "Hic Johannem Cremensem, hominem littereatum et providum, sed turpia fame magis quam opus sit, suspendit a cardinalatus officio; sed ipse scit et Deus qualiter eum postea restituerit." Stroll attributes "many of the charges against John" to his legateship in England, charges which "come from English rather than curial sources." Her analysis is completely without specificity or proof.
  38. ^ Stephan Freund (2001), "Giovanni da Crema", § 12, connects the suspension with a disagreement between Honorius and Giovanni over English affairs: "Probabilmente in relazione alla legazione in Inghilterra si verificò un dissenso con Onorio II che, presumibilmente a breve scadenza, avrebbe sollevato dall'incarico G., "hominem litteratum et providum, sed turpis fame magis quam opus sit" (Liber pontificalis, a cura di K.M. March, p. 208)."
  39. ^ Hüls, p. 177, with notes 45—50.
  40. ^ Hüls, p. 177, with note 51. Jaffé, p. 834.
  41. ^ Hüls, p. 177, with notes 56 and 57. P.F. Kehr, Italia Pontificia Vol. V (Berlin: Weidmann 1911), p. 494, nos. 22-23
  42. ^ P.F. Kehr, Italia Pontificia Vol. VI, pars 1 (Berlin: Weidmann 1913), p. 359, no. 6.
  43. ^ Jaffé, p. 839.
  44. ^ Watterich II, pp. 179-180: "Convenientibus cardinalibus in ecclesia sancti Andreae Apostoli, statutum est ab eis octo personis, duobus episcopis: Guillelmo Praenestino et C(onrado) Sabinensi; tribus cardinalibus presbyteris: P(ietro) Pisano, P(ietro) Rufo, et Petro Leonis; tribus cardinalibus diaconibus: Gregorio sancti Angeli, Ionathe, Aimerico cancellario; electionem Pontificis committi, ita ut si committeret, dominum Papam Honorium, qui tunc in articulo mortis positus erat, ab hac vita transire, persona, quae ab eis communis eligeretur vel a parte sanioris consilii, ab omnibus pro domino et Romano Papa susciperetur."
  45. ^ Watterich II, p. 181, quoting a letter of Bishop Hubertus Lucensis.
  46. ^ Gregorovius, History of Rome in the Middle Ages, Volume IV. 2 second edition (London 1896), p. 420.
  47. ^ Cardinal Boso, "Life of Innocent II," in: Baronius (ed. Theiner), Annales Ecclesiastici Tomus XVIII, p. 416, column 1. Watterich II, p. 174.
  48. ^ watterich II, p. 175.
  49. ^ Jaffé, pp. 859, 861.
  50. ^ Stephan Freund (2001), "Giovanni da Crema", § 17.
  51. ^ Zenker, p. 62. Richard Knipping (1901), Die Regesten der Erzbischöfe von Köln im Mittelalter Zweiter Band (Bonn: Hanstein), pp. 43-44.
  52. ^ Jaffé, p. 854, no. 7537. Stephan Freund (2001), "Giovanni da Crema", § 17, wrongly states that this took place in Rome.
  53. ^ Freund, § 17. Mansi (ed.), Sacrorum Conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, editio novissima, Tomus XXI, pp. 409-410.


  • Freund, Stephan (2001). "Giovanni da Crema." Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Volume 55 (Treccani: 2001). (in Italian)
  • Hicks, Sandy Burton (1976). "The Anglo-Papal Bargain of 1125: The Legatine Mission of John of Crema." Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Winter, 1976), pp. 301–310.
  • Hüls, Rudolf (1977). Kardinal, Klerus und Kirchen Roms: 1049–1130, Tübingen: Max Niemeyer 1977. (in German)
  • Jaffé, Philippus (1885). Regesta pontificum Romanorum ab condita Ecclesia ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII (in Latin). Vol. Tomus primus (second ed.). Leipzig: Veit.
  • Zenker, Barbara (1967). Die Mitglieder des Kardinalkollegiums von 1130 bis 1159. Würzburg: Julius-Maximilians Universität. (in German)
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John of Crema
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