Nicholas IV


Nicholas IV
(Girolamo Masci; r. 1288-1292)
   Of humble background, Nicholas IV was created cardinal in 1278 and appointed bishop of Palestrina in 1281. He was the first Franciscan pope, his reign dominated by the influence of the Colonna, so much so that he was portrayed sardonically by the populace of Rome as a figure crowned in the papal tiara and encased in a column, the heraldic symbol of this feudal family. As pope, his efforts centered on restoring Sicily to the House of Anjou after having been lost to Aragon. Nicholas effected an alliance between France and Castile against Aragon, declared James of Aragon deposed, and crowned Charles II D'Anjou king of Naples and Sicily. He sent missionaries to the Balkan, Near East, and China, this last region seeing the representation of the Catholic Church for the first time. Nicholas restored the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, adding a transept and rebuilding the apse. He then commissioned Jacopo Torriti to decorate the apse with mosaics depicting the Coronation of the Virgin (not executed until c. 1294). He also commissioned from Torriti the mosaics at St. John Lateran (c. 1291).

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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