The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
[Antipope] Benedict XIII (1394-1423)
Consistory of December 14, 1412 (VI)


(1) 1. FONSECA, Pedro (?-1422)

Birth. (No date found), Olivenza, Portugal (1). Of an illustrious family. His last name is also listed as Fontesico.

Education. (No information found).

Cardinalate. Created cardinal deacon of S. Angelo in Pescheria in the consistory of December 14, 1412.

Episcopate. Administrator of the see of Astorga, June 5, 1413 until Nune 7, 1419. On May 3, 1416, three pseudocardinals, Urriés, Carrillo and Fonseca, responded to King Alfonso V, that they could not abandon Antipope Benedict XIII, because he was the legitimate pope, vicar of Christ and head of the Church; in their letter, they showed a deep knowledge of theology and of the Fathers of the Church. With the same firmness, they rejected the notice of the Castillian embassy, of December 15, 1416, to go to the Council of Constance; but their commitment to the cause of the antipope was collapsing. On February 8, 1417, the three pseudocardinals and some other prelates reiterated the request that they had formulated other times to Antipope Benedict XIII that he abdicate and that he send a delegation to the Council of Constance to carry out the resignation and to apologize for the delay; the antipope rejected it; they washed their hands and declared themselves innocent of whatever would happen; the antipope responded a month later; the three pseudocardinals responded immediately insisting on the necessity to abdicate to end the schism and reaffirming themselves in their position; in vain they waited for the answer; on December 26, 1417, the three cardinals, seconded by a series of bishops and Catalan-Aragonese abbots, begged the antipope again to resign without delay and to order his pseudocardinals to elect pope Martin V, recently chosen by the cardinals and the council; this plea had the air of an ultimatum; in case of a rejection, they reserved their freedom of action; consequently, on January 5, 1418, they left Antipope Benedict XIII, who called them degenerate children and who declared they had incurred infamy and other pains; a month later, the antipope deposed them. Did not participate in the conclave of 1417, which elected Pope Martin V. The new pope, before whom they prostrated themselves in Florence, restored their dignities and benefices, and had the condescence of letting them elect him on August 1, 1418. Administrator of the see of Sigüenza, June 6, 1419. Pope Martin V named him his legate in Spain on March 27, 1420; returned to Rome, August 27, 1421. Named legate in Naples before King Alfonso of Aragón, September 27, 1421; he was also named legate in Constantinople but he was not able to go; returned to Rome on March 7, 1422. He went to Gennazzano on June 15, 1422. He accompanied Pope Martin V to Vicovaro, diocese of Tivoli, here the pope spent ten days and met with Alfonso de Aragón, king of Naples; the cardinal accidentally fell on the steps of the monastery of S. Cosimato (2), and died the following evening.

Death. August 22, 1422, Vicovaro. His body was transferred to Rome and buried in the chapel of S. Tommaso in the patriarchal Vatican basilica (3). His remains were taken to the grotto of the basilica during the pontificate of Pope Paul V.

Bibliography. Chacón, Alfonso. Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificvm Romanorum et S. R. E. Cardinalivm ab initio nascentis Ecclesiæ vsque ad Vrbanvm VIII. Pont. Max. 2 volumes. Romae : Typis Vaticanis, 1630, II, col. 746; "Essai de liste générale des cardinaux. VI. Les cardinaux du Grand Schisme (1378-1417)". Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1931. Paris : Maison de la Bonne Presse, 1931, p. 156; Eubel, Conradus and Gulik, Guglielmus van. Hierarchia Catholica Medii Aevi. Volumen I (1198-1431). Münich : Sumptibus et Typis Librariae Regensbergianae, 1913; reprint, Padua : Il Messagero di S. Antonio, 1960, pp. 30, 49 and 114.

(1) There are discrepancies among the sources about his origin, Portuguese or Spanish. Olivenza was a city in the border between Portugal and Spain; it has belonged to Spain since the 19th century; Chacón, Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificvm Romanorum et S. R. E. Cardinalivm, II, 746, calls him Lusitanus (Portuguese) and the transcription of the epitaph says Ortus in Hispanis (born in Hispania), which was the entire Iberian peninsula, comprising both Portugal and Spain.
(2) Some sources say that he fell into the pit of the castle of Vicovaro.
(3) This is the text of his epitaph transcribed by Chacón, Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificvm Romanorum et S. R. E. Cardinalivm, II, 746:

Ortus Hispanis Præsul dignissimus eris
FONSECA de prole PETRVS, lux, gloria, magni
Sanguinis & patrii super exaltater honoris,
Hic iacet, a sacre titulum Michaele recepit
Cardineum, cuius sapientia claruit, altas
In laude sensati animi, mirabilis iste
Doctor erat, divina colens, & amator honesti,
Mente pius, recti prudens moderator, & æquis
Venit amar a dies, quæ diræ syncopa mortis
Heu patrem hunc rapuit, Domini labentibus armis
Mille quadringentis bis denis, atque duobus.
Dum vigena dies Augusti panderet, astra
Spiritus in ælo tecum, sacer Angele vivat.

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