Gil Alvarez Carrillo de Albornoz

Gil Álvarez Carrillo de Albornoz

Gil Álvarez Carrillo de Albornoz (Italian: Egidio Albornoz; 1310 - August 23 1367) was a Spanish cardinal and ecclesiastical leader.


Early years

Albornoz was born at Carrascosa del Campo, (Cuenca) early in the 14th century. He was the son of Gil Állvarez de Albornoz and of Doña Teresa de Luna, sister of Jimeno de Luna, archbishop of Toledo. He was educated at Zaragoza, while his uncle was bishop of that see, and studied law at Toulouse.

The powerful influence of his family opened him a public career early in life. He was made archdeacon of Calatrava, and became a member of the king's council while young. In 1338 he was chosen archbishop of Toledo in succession to his uncle by the favour of the king, Alfonso XI of Castile. At the battle of Tarifa he fought against a great invasion from Africa in 1340, and at the taking of Algeciras in 1344 he led the armed levy of his archbishopric.

In 1343 he had been sent to Pope Clement VI at Avignon to negotiate a grant of a tax on the revenues of the Church for the Crusade. His military and diplomatic ability became known to the pope, who made him a cardinal-priest of S. Clemente in 1350. Albornoz left Spain on the death of the king Alfonso XI in that year, and never returned. It has been said, but not on contemporary evidence, that he fled from fear of Pedro of Castile.

He was appointed grand penitentiary shortly after election of Pope Innocent VI in December 1352.

First campaign in Italy

In 1353 Innocent VI sent him as a legate into Italy, with a view to the restoration of the papal authority in the states of the Church, at the head of a small mercenary army. After received the support of the archbishop of Milan, Giovanni Visconti, and of those of Pisa, Florence and Siena, he started a campaign against Giovanni di Vico, lord of Viterbo, who had usurped much of the Papal territories in the Latium and Umbria. Giovanni was defeated in the battle of Viterbo of March 10 1354 and signed a treaty of submission.

Albornoz then moved to the Marche and Romagna against the Malatesta of Rimini and the Ordelaffi of Forlì. The Papal commander Rodolfo II da Varano, lord of Camerino, defeated Galeotto Malatesta, forcing his family to become a loyal ally of the Pope. This was followed by the submission of the Montefeltro of Urbino and the da Polenta of Ravenna, and of the cities of Senigallia and Ancona. Towards the end of 1356 Albornoz was appointed as bishop of Sabina.

Only Giovanni Manfredi of Faenza and Francesco II Ordelaffi of Forlì were at that point resisting the Papal reconquest. Albornoz had managed to submit only the former when he was being recalled in 1357, being replaced by Androin de la Roche, abbot of Cluny. Before leaving, in a meeting with all the Papal vicars held on April 29 1357, Albornoz issued the Constitutiones Sanctæ Matris Ecclesiæ, which regulated all the matters of the Papal States and its division into provinces. They remained effective until 1816.

Second campaign in Italy

The Cardinal was honoured as Pater Ecclesiæ at his arrival in Avignon. His sojourn there was to be short, however, as Giovanni di Vico and Francesco Ordelaffi (who had hired the famous condottiero Konrad von Landau's "Grand Company") were menacing the fragile balance of his last conquests. Returned to Italy, Albornoz found an agreement with Landau, forcing Ordelaffi to surrender on July 4 1359.

Albornoz missed only Bologna to complete his rebuilding of the Papal States. When that city was attacked by Bernabò Visconti of Milan, its ruler, Giovanni d'Olleggio, decided to hand it over to Albornoz. In the meantime, Innocent died: the Spanish cardinal refused the tiara, and Urban V was elected. Under him Albornoz started the military campaign against Visconti and, when all attacks failed, Urban proclaimed a crusade against him.

As Urban's greatest desire was that of a crusade against the Turks, the two parts signed a hasty peace, which was highly favourable to Visconti. The relentless work of Albornoz had anyway paved the Urban V to Rome (1367).

As legate, Albornoz showed himself to be an astute manager of men and effective fighter. He began by making use of Cola di Rienzo (former leader of the citizenship freedom in Rome), whose release from prison at Avignon he secured. After the murder of the tribune in 1354 Albornoz pursued his task of restoring the pope's authority by intrigue and force with remarkable success. As a mark of gratitude the pope appointed him legate at Bologna in 1367, but he died at Viterbo the same year. According to his own desire his remains were carried to Toledo, where Henry of Castile had them to be entombed with almost royal honours.

The college of St Clement at Bologna was founded by Albornoz for the benefit of Spanish students.


  • "De Vita et Rebus Gestis Aegidii Albornotii", in Sepulveda's Opera Omnia, vol. iv. (1780).

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