Antipope Paschal III

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Antipope Paschal III (or Paschal III) was Antipope from 1164 to 20 September 1168. Paschal III was the second of the antipopes to challenge the reign of Pope Alexander III.


Election of Antipope Paschal III (fresco in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena, by Spinello Aretino).

His real name was Guido of Crema; he was a nephew of cardinal John of Crema. In 1159 he joined the obedience of Victor IV and organized synods in England and France in favor of the antipope. Pope Alexander III interdicted him. In 1164, Victor IV died. A small number of cardinals, who had been obedient to Victor IV, met again in Lucca to vote a successor. Guido was elected as the successor, took the name Paschal III and was consecrated by Henry II of Leez, bishop of Liège.[1] The new Pope was established at Viterbo and successfully prevented the legitimate pontiff from reaching Rome. However, he was soon driven from Rome, leading to the return of Alexander III in 1165.[2]

In order to gain more support from Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, Paschal canonized Charlemagne in a magnificent celebration at Aachen in 1165. Paschal soon lost the support of Burgundy, but the emperor crushed opposition in Germany, and gained the cooperation of Henry II of England.

Concerned over rumours that Alexander III was about to enter into an alliance with the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I,[3] in October 1166 Frederick embarked on his fourth Italian campaign, hoping as well to secure the claim of Paschal III and the coronation of his wife Beatrice, as Holy Roman Empress. In 1167 Frederick began besieging Ancona, which had acknowledged the authority of Manuel I.[4] Meanwhile, his forces achieved a great victory over the Romans at the Battle of Monte Porzio.[5] Heartened by this victory, Frederick lifted the siege of Ancona and hurried to Rome. Supported by Frederick's imperial army, Paschal was enthroned at St Peter's on 22 July 1167, and Alexander III became a fugitive. On the following 30 July, Frederick received a second coronation from Paschal III.[5] Two days later, Paschal crowned Beatrice empress.[6] Unfortunately, Frederick's campaign was halted by the sudden outbreak of an epidemic (malaria or the plague), which threatened to destroy the Imperial army and drove the emperor back to Germany,[7][8] Without the support of the Emperor, Paschal was able to hold so much as the quarter on the right bank of the Tiber, where he died of cancer on the 20 September 1168. He was succeeded by Antipope Callixtus III.

The Catholic Church has never recognized Charlemagne's canonization, since Paschal was an antipope. In 1179, the Third Council of the Lateran annulled all of his ordinances, including the canonisation. Charlemagne remained in good regard still, however, among Catholics, and Prosper Guéranger even composed a prayer to Charlemagne.


  1. ^ S. Miranda: Election of 22 April 1164 (Antipope Paschal III)
  2. ^ Comyn (1851), p. 247
  3. ^ Comyn (1851), p. 248
  4. ^ Comyn (1851), p. 249
  5. ^ a b Comyn (1851), p. 250
  6. ^ Beatrix de Bourgogne
  7. ^ Comyn (1851), p. 251
  8. ^ See entry for the contemporary chroniclers, Ottone and Acerbo Morena.


  • Comyn, Robert (1851). History of the Western Empire, from its Restoration by Charlemagne to the Accession of Charles V. I. 

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