Guy Foucois was also known as Guy le Gros, which is loosely translated Guy the Fatty. Born around 1190 to a prosperous lawyer, Pierre Foucois and his wife Marguerite Ruffi, Guy was the second French pope in a row. He was from St. Giles du Gard in Languedoc, in southeastern France.

At age 19, Guy enrolled as a soldier to fight the Moors in Spain. He returned successfully to begin life. Then he studied law in Toulouse, Bourges, and Orleans. At some point along the way, he married and had two daughters. Guy became a noted advocate in Paris, eventually becoming a secretary to King and saint) Louis IX. When his wife died, Guy followed his father’s example and gave up his secular life to join the Church. At this point he was middle-aged and his daughters probably grown.

Guy was ordained at the Abbey of St-Magliore in Paris and by 1255 he was the pastor at St. Giles, his hometown. Two years later, he was the Bishop of LePuy. Two years after that, he was the Archbishop of Narbonne. Guy was the first cardinal created by Pope Urban IV. He received the See of Sabina. Two years later, he was named a cardinal grand penitentiary.

Meanwhile, Urban sent Guy to England as papal legate twice in 1262 and 1264. Urban died On October 2, 1264. Guy was in England at the time. He finished his stay and started making his way back to Perugia, since he had gotten word that Urban had died. While still in France, he met up with a messenger from Perugia to tell him that the other cardinals had elected him the new pope on February 5! Guy had to dress in disguise to enter Italy. Lombardy was still controlled by Manfred, the enemy of popes.


Carrying on the plans of Pope Urban, the new Pope Clement IV allied himself with Charles d’Anjou, the youngest brother of King Louis IX, Clement’s previous employer. Charles had been urged by Urban and Clement to claim the throne of Naples. He did and added that he claimed the Pope as his feudal overlord. So, of course, the cardinals crowned him. Charles was well supplied with money and supplies from Clement. He marched to Naples, which Manfred, the ruler of the Kingdom of Sicily since 1258, still claimed. At the battle of Benevento, he and his army defeated and killed Manfred and his Saracen-dominated army. Then Charles went to Sicily to see his new island. Returning to  the mainland, he engaged Conradin, heir to the Holy Roman Empire and Manfred’s half-brother. The young emperor lost the Battle of Tagliacozzo. Conradin escaped but was caught and executed months later. Clement is said to have disapproved of the cruelties that Charles met out.

While Charles handled southern Italy, Clement had to stay away from Rome due to the antipapal Ghibelline party being so strong in Rome. Living in Viterbo, a place supporting the pro-papal Guelph party, Clement hired St. Thomas Aquinas, the professor and writer, to serve as a papal theologian. Unfortunately, he also renewed the prohibition of the Talmud as instituted by Pope Gregory IX complete with ordering the Jews of Aragon to submit their books for expurgation (most likely, tearing out pages).

Interestingly, beginning in 1267, Clement corresponded with the Mongol Ilkhanate, Abaqua, who wanted an alliance between Mongols, Western powers and the Byzantine kingdom. Abaqua’s father-in-law was Michael VIII Paleologos, the Byzantine emperor. This correspondence with Clement and succeeding popes lasted for 40 years and never led to an alliance.

On 29 November 1268, only a month after his protégé, Charles d’Anjou, executed the young emperor, Conradin, the elderly pope died. He was buried at the Dominican convent in Viterbo. In 1885, his remains were transferred to the church of San Francesco alla Rocca in Viterbo.

Due to the political disputes and infighting among the cardinals and the cities of Italy, there was no papal election for three years.