Robert of Geneva

Robert of Geneva

Robert of Geneva, d. 1394, Genevan churchman, antipope (1378-94; see Schism, Great) with the name Clement VII. He was archbishop of Cambrai (1368) and was created (1371) a cardinal. He was subsequently papal legate in Italy, and he put down a rebellion at Cesena with great cruelty. In 1378, on the death of Gregory XI, Urban VI was elected, but the cardinals reconsidered and elected Robert instead. He went to Avignon at once, and the Great Schism had begun. He was recognized by France (his protector), Scotland (France's ally), Spain, and Naples. Several German states also recognized him. Portugal twice recognized and twice repudiated him. He was unsuccessful in trying to increase his support. He died just as the ideas that led to the conciliar theory (i.e., that councils, as opposed to the pope, have supreme authority) were being propagated from Paris. His successor at Avignon was Benedict XIII (see Luna, Pedro de).
The title Count of Geneva originated in the tenth century, in the Kingdom of Burgundy; it was carried by Aymar of Geneva, who married Bertha of Flanders, daughter of Baudouin III, count of Flanders, and died in 1016. Their son, Geraud, count of Geneva, was born about 1012 and died about 1045.

The county never played a major part as a feudal entity. Geneva and its environs were retained, but the approaches to the western end of Lake Geneva, which had made the position strategic, were soon lost. The bishop of Geneva made himself an independent force, and the counts of Savoy encircled the territory and controlled the trade routes. The counts' stronghold and capital was Annecy.

At a moment when the male line of the counts was near exhaustion, Robert de Genève was raised to a shadow papacy by the French cardinals who seceded from the College of Cardinals and wished to rescind their part in the election of the irascible Urban VI; elected 20 September 1378, Robert took the title of Clement VII. Unexpectedly, with the death of his brother, he succeeded as count in 1392. As count, Robert was virtually dependent on the cooperative graces of the count of Savoy. With his death, the House of Geneva was extinguished and the title passed to the husband of the heiress, Humbert VII of Thoire and Villars (died 1400). The year after Humbert's death, his heir sold the comté to Amadeus, count of Savoy. Though other members of the Genevan house protested, Amadeus successfully completed the integration of the county with his territories, which were raised to a duchy by Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor. The title count of Geneva passed securely into the House of Savoy, where the title is maintained as a courtesy title.

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