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Innocent III, Pope (1160/1161–1216; Pontificate from 1198)

  1. Christopher J. Beiting

Published Online: 25 NOV 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470670606.wbecc0706

The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization

How to Cite

Beiting, C. J. 2011. Innocent III, Pope (1160/1161–1216; Pontificate from 1198). The Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 25 NOV 2011


The most powerful pope of the Middle Ages, Innocent III was famous for raising the influence and prestige of the papacy to its highest ever level. He was born Lothar of Segni, and his family was from the Lombard and Roman nobility, with extensive contacts in the Roman aristocracy. Educated at a monastery in Rome, he then studied theology in Paris and, as was traditional, law in Bologna. His intellectual ability was such that he could have achieved prominence in either field; instead, he entered papal service and rose rapidly, becoming a cardinal at 30, and pope (by unanimous election) at 38, the youngest in history.


  • innocent iii, pope (1160/1161–1216);
  • innocent iii, influence and prestige of papacy;
  • great lawyer-popes of medieval period;
  • European Heresy