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The first major religious office that Cenio Savelli (later Pope Hororius III) held was that of canon at the church of Santa Maria Maggiore he then became the papal chamberlain in 1188 and Cardinal Deacon of Santa Lucia in 1193.

In 1197 he became a personal tutor to the future Emperor Frederick II who had been given to Pope Innocent III as a ward by the Empress- widow Constantia.

Pope Innocent III died in Perugia on the 16th of July 1216 and two days later nineteen Cardinals gathered there to elect a new Pope. Their choice was Cencio Savelli who accepted the great responsibility reluctantly and took the papal name Honorius III. Although Honorius was reluctant to become Pope the people of Rome were delighted with his election because he was a Roman himself and was also renowned for his kindness.

Honorius was already an old man when he became Pope however this did not prevent his reign from being an active one, for like his predecessor Innocent III he set himself two great tasks: the spiritual reform of the entire church and the recovery of the holy land. The main difference between Honorius and Innocent was that where Innocent has used harsh justice Honorius used kindness and an altogether more gentle approach.

In order to accomplish his second goal he set about trying to organize a general crusade to take place in 1217. In order to fund this colossal undertaking he decreed that all cardinals should donate one tenth of there earnings for three years and all other men of the church donate one twentieth to a special crusade fund. He also asked priests across Europe to preach about the crusade in the hope of getting more donations but also soldiers. Although the money raised in this way was considerable it was not really enough for the magnitude of the undertaking but more than anything it was the request for local soldiers that was the crusade’s undoing. The problem was that most of the young able men had good stable lives which they were not willing to leave to go on crusade so most of the soldiers who joined were either old, crippled, very young or thieves and other criminals.

The large numbers of unsuitable men and women wanting to go on the crusade would not have been a huge problem except that no one stopped them in their home towns so a huge amounts of the crusade fund was spent transporting people utterly unsuitable to towns across Europe so that import people could tell them to go home.

Another factor that didn’t help was the amount of conflict going on within the Christian world. All the import nobles and all the professional soldiers were too busy with their own wars to go on crusade.

The Crusade took a few towns in Egypt but was, broadly speaking, a failure.

Honorius realised that if he wanted to take the Holy Land he must first try to end a lot of conflicts closer to home and spent most of the rest of his reign doing just that. Honorius new that the only person who could realistically run a successful Crusade was his old pupil Frederick II. However he was painfully aware that if he damaged his relationship with the Emperor then his dream could never be realized so although Frederick swore that he would go on Crusade every time he asked for more time the Pope felt he had no alternative but to agree. The end result was that Frederick managed to put off his promise for a long as he wanted. In the end tension did begin to mount between the Emperor and the Pope but Honorius died before any rea action was taken by either party.

Although Honorius never took the Holy land he did spread peace among the Christian Princes and nowhere was his influence greater than in England.

During the reign of King John many British Barons had rebelled against him and when he died leaving the ten year old Henry III on the throne many Barons threatened to give the English Crown to Louis, son of the king of Spain but Honorius threatened to excommunicate any Barons not loyal to Henry, the rightful King. The result was that the Barons were loyal to Henry and Henry, who was still very young, was indebted to Honorius and effectively gave control to the Pope.

Pope Honorius III died on the 18th of March 1227.

Sources: Catholic Encyclopedia (www.newadvent.org/cathen)

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