Antipope Alexander V

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Alexander V
Antipope Alexander V (1409-1410).JPG
Antipope Alexander V (1409–1410)
Papacy began June 26, 1409
Papacy ended May 3, 1410
Predecessor Gregory XII (Roman claimant)
Benedict XIII (Avignon claimant)
Successor John XXIII
Opposed to Gregory XII (Roman claimant)
Benedict XIII (Avignon claimant)
Personal details
Birth name Petros Philargos
Born 1339
Neapoli, Crete, Republic of Venice
Died May 3, 1410 (aged 70–71)
Bologna, Papal States
Nationality Greek
Denomination Roman Catholic
Coat of arms Alexander V's coat of arms
Other popes and antipopes named Alexander
Papal styles of
Alexander V
C o a Alexander V (antipapa).svg
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style Unknown

Alexander V (Latin: Alexander PP. V, Italian: Alessandro V; also Peter of Candia or Peter Phillarges, ca. 1339 – May 3, 1410) was antipope during the Western Schism (1378–1417). He reigned from June 26, 1409, to his death in 1410 and is officially regarded by the Roman Catholic Church as an antipope.


Alexander V was born in Crete (Candia) in 1339 of Greek descent.[1][2] He was born Petros Philargos, but is often known by the Italian version of this name, Pietro di Candia.[3] He soon entered the Franciscan order, and his abilities were such that he was sent to study at the universities of Oxford and Paris. While he was in Paris the Western Schism occurred; Philarges supported Pope Urban VI (1378–89). He settled in Lombardy, where, thanks to the favour of Giangaleazzo Visconti, the Duke of Milan, he became bishop, first of Piacenza (1386), then of Vicenza (1387), then of Novara (1389), and finally Archbishop of Milan (1402).

On being created cardinal by Pope Innocent VII (1404–06) in 1405, he devoted all his energies to the reunion of the Church, in spite of the two rival popes. He was one of the promoters of the Council of Pisa and his politicking incurred the displeasure of Pope Gregory XII (1406–15), who ordered Philarges deprived of both his archbishopric and his cardinalatial dignity.

At the Council of Pisa (from March 25, 1409), the assembled cardinals chose Philarges as the new prelate for a chair they presumed was vacant. He was crowned on June 26, 1409, as Alexander V, making him in reality the third rival pontiff. Following his election, most polities in Europe recognised him as the true pontiff with the exceptions of the Kingdom of Aragon and Scotland, which remained loyal to the Avignon pope, and various Italian states, which adhered to the Roman pope.[4]

During his ten-month reign, Alexander V's aim was to extend his obedience with the assistance of France, and, notably, of Duke Louis II of Anjou, upon whom he conferred the investiture of the Kingdom of Sicily, having removed it from Ladislaus of Naples. He proclaimed and promised rather than effected a certain number of reforms: the abandonment of the rights of "spoils" and "procurations," and the re-establishment of the system of canonical election in the cathedral churches and principal monasteries. He also gave out papal favours with a lavish hand, from which the mendicant orders benefitted especially.

Alexander V suddenly died while he was with Cardinal Baldassare Cossa at Bologna, on the night of 3–4 May 1410. His remains were placed in the church of St. Francis at Bologna. A rumour, though now considered false, spread that he had been poisoned by Cossa, who succeeded him as John XXIII (1410–15).[5][6]


  • The "Popes'" drinking society at Greyfriars, Oxford, is traditionally held to have been founded by Philarges during his time at the university. With the closure of Greyfriars in 2008, the society is now populated mainly by students of Regent's Park College, Oxford[7]
  • Alexander V is still numbered with subsequent popes since his official status as an antipope was not asserted until the 20th century. Because of this Rodrigo Borgia took the name Pope Alexander VI in 1492.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hughes, Philip (1947). A History of the Church: The Revolt Against the Church: Aquinas to Luther Volume 3. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 533. ISBN 0-7220-7983-4. Alexander V was Greek (Cretan) 
  2. ^ Holton, David (1991). Literature and society in Renaissance Crete. Cambridge University Press. p. 3. ISBN 0-521-32579-X. After studying at Oxford and Padua (1357) he taught as a professor in the University of Paris, and at the end of his career was elected pope as Alexander V (1409—10), the only Greek to ascend the papal throne since early medieval times 
  3. ^ "Alexander (V).". Archived from the original on 18 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-27. Alexander (V) antipope e byname Peter Of Candia, Italian Pietro Di Candia, original Greek name Petros Philargos born c. 1339, Candia, Crete died May 3, 1410, Bologna, Papal States antipope from 1409 to 1410. 
  4. ^ Sumption, Jonathan (2015). The Hundred Years War IV: Cursed Kings. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 477. ISBN 9780812247060. 
  5. ^ Charles A. Coulombe, Vicars of Christ: A History of the Popes, (Kensington Publishing Corp., 2003), 310.
  6. ^ P.M. Savage,Alexander V, Antipope (Peter of Candia), New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2003. HighBeam Research. (September 17, 2012).
  7. ^ Robert E. Cooper, From Stepney to St Giles': the Story of Regent's Park College, 1810-1960

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Alexander s.v. Alexander V.". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 553. 

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