Pisanum / Pisa

General council; 1511 (1st November) -1512 (6th July)


Opposition to the political policies of Julius II led to the calling of a church council. In retaliation for the pope’s betrayal of his allies in the League of Cambrai by making a separate peace with Venice and for his using the spiritual weapon of an excommunication against his vassal, Alfonso d’Este, for failing to follow him, a coalition of his enemies convoked a council. Leaders of several dissident cardinals, who were upset with his failure to observe the decree Frequens (1417) of Konstanz and his election oath to call a council and disagreed with his political manoeuvers and military operations, met in Milan on 16 May 1511. On the urgings of procurators from Emperor Maximilian I (1493-1519) of the Holy Roman Empire and from King Louis XII (1498-1515) of France, three cardinals issued in their own name and that of six others an edict convoking a council to meet in Pisa on 1 September 1511. Delayed, the council opened on 1 November 1511 in the church of San Michele, subsequent sessions were held in the cathedral. Attending the council during its existence were at least seven cardinals, three archbishops, twenty-three bishops, ten religious superiors, eight theologians, three canonists, six jurists, and seven civil officials. Of the prelates, all were French, except for one Spanish and one Italian cardinal, two Italian bishops, one Italian abbot, and one Italian vicar-general.

     The Pisan Council initially issued mostly procedural decrees. At the first session (5.XI.11) Cardinal Bernardino López de Carvajal was elected president and four decrees were approved proclaiming the legitimacy of the council, rejecting papal censures against it and the upcoming Lateran Council, summoning prelates to come and remain at the Pisan Council, and naming some of the conciliar officials. At the second session (7.XI.11) it established the rules of procedure, added officials, and set up a committee of four prelate judges to hear cases referred to the council. At the third session (12.XI.11) it insisted that the council cannot be terminated until it has achieved its goals of reforming the Church, establishing peace, and ending schism and heresy. It declared that its authority comes directly from Christ and the pope is to obey it. Commissions were appointed to grant prelates permission to leave and to negotiate with the pope a mutually agreeable location for the council. If an agreement was not reached, the council was to be moved to Milan.

     Due to local opposition, the council transferred to French-controlled Milan. At the fourth session (4.I.12) in the cathedral of Milan the council declared itself properly transferred and nullified any provision of the benefices of its members given to others by Julius II. At the fifth session (11.II.12) it appointed Cardinal Federico Sanseverino as its legate to Bologna. At the sixth session (24.III.12) it formally summoned Julius II to appear before the council in person or through procurator and it gave him twenty-four days to rescind his hostile measures against it. The seventh session (19.IV.12) delayed action against Julius that was finally taken at the eighth session (21.IV.12) in which he was suspended from the spiritual and temporal exercise of his papal office, with all its powers devolving to the council in Milan.

With the retreating French army, the council held it ninth session (12.VI.12) in Asti where it declared itself still legitimate and then moved to Lyon where it held it tenth and final session (6.VII.12) and where it once again affirmed its legitimacy. An anniversary Mass was held in the cathedral of Lyon on All Saints Day 1512. Julius II had meanwhile won over to his side Maximilian, in June of 1513 the French lost the battle of Novara and leading Pisan cardinals were reconciled with Rome, individual prelates abandoned the council as hopeless, and by year’s end Louis XII finally made his peace with Leo X and ordered the assembly in Lyon dissolved.


QQ: On orders of the council, its acta were edited and published by Zaccaria Ferreri as Promotiones & progressus sacrosancti pisani concilii moderni indicti & incohati anno domini M.D.XI. [Paris: Jehan Petit, 1512] and Decreta sacrosanctae pisanae Synodi praelibate de eius e Mediolano translatione [Paris: Jehan Petit, 1512]. The first work was reprinted in Acta primi concilii Pisani celebrati ad tollendum schisma ann[o] D[omini] M.CCCC.IX. et concilii Senensis M.CCCC.XXIII. Ex codice M.S. item constitutiones factae in diversis sessionibus sacri generalis concilii Pisani ex bibliotheca regia (Paris: Sumptis Melchior Mondiere, 1612).

Lit.: Landi, A., Concilio e papato nel Rinascimento (1449-1516): Un problema irrisolto, Torino: Claudiana, 1997; Minnich, N.H., “The Healing of the Pisan Schism”, in Id., The Fifth Lateran Council: Studies on Its Membership, Diplomacy, and Proposals for Reform [= Collected Studies Series, CS 392], Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate/Variorum, 1993, Article II, pp. 59-197*.Minnich, N.H., “Rite Convocare ac Congregare Procedereque: The Struggle Between the Councils of Pisa-Milan-Asti-Lyons and Lateran V”, in Id., Councils of the Catholic Reformation: Pisa I (1409) to Trent (1545-63) [= Variorum Collected Studies, CS 890], Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate/Variorum, 2008, Article IX, pp. 1-54; Renaudet, A., Le Concile Gallican de Pise-Milan: Documents Florentins (1510-1512) [= Bibliothèque de l’institut français de Florence (Université de Grenoble), Ier Série: Collection d’Études et de Documents d’Histoire et de Philologie, Tome VII] Paris: Honoré Champion, 1922; Sandret, L., “Le Concile de Pise (1511)”, Revue des questions historiques 34 (1883), 425-456; Ullmann, W., “Julius II and the Schismatic Cardinals”, Heresy and Religious Protest, ed. D. Baker [= Studies in Church History, 9], Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1972, pp.177-193.



Minnich, Nelson H.

September 2013

Empfohlene Zitierweise:

Minnich, Nelson H., “Pisanum / Pisa: General council; 1511 (1st November) -1512 (6th July)" in: Lexikon der Konzilien [Online-Version], September 2013; URL: http://www.konziliengeschichte.org/site/de/publikationen/lexikon/database/3372.html