Illuminated and gilt 'Pilgrimus' with archbishop

It’s not what you know I: On medieval friends in high places

In this series of three posts, David Murray writes about some of the connections between his favourite Archbishop of Salzburg, Pilgrim II (r. 1365-1396) and other figures in the medieval Church, as well as some of Pilgrim’s secular allies.


The Puchheims were a well-established family of ministeriales with close ties to Vöcklabruck in Styria, and had long entertained connections with the archbishops of Salzburg. But it was to the  Habsburg Dukes of Austria that they owed their allegiance, and so they had re-located to Lower Austria in the thirteenth century to be closer to Vienna. Their devotion to the dynasty was rewarded by being named to the office of Hereditary Steward to the in 1276. (Holders of this office received tribute in the form of pelts from monasteries, whereas towns, amusingly enough, were expected to offer a sturgeon.) They remained distinguished figures on the Austrian scene well into the eighteenth century, when the last of the direct line, Anton, Bishop of Wiener Neustadt, dies in 1718.


Illuminated and gilt 'Pilgrimus' with archbishop

Credit: © Salzburg, Archiv des Erzbistums Salzburg, n. 421 (1372 II 25).


The biography of Pilgrim von Puchheim, who rose to be archbishop of Salzburg, is rather sketchy in its early years. He was probably born in the 1330s, the younger son of Pilgrim IV’s second marriage to Elisabeth von Trautmansdorf. As the younger son of a second marriage, it was perhaps unsurprising that he was destined for the church. By 1353 he was a member of the cathedral chapter of Salzburg (when his brother gave him the revenues coming from lands at Wulffingstein), although he only received priestly orders the following year. The fact that this happened at the hands of Nicola Morosini in Castello, one of the islands of Venice, could indicate that Pilgrim was studying at Padua, renowned for its teaching of canon law.

It is, however, certain that Pilgrim studied canon law at the University of Avignon. This was an unusual choice for someone from the Habsburg lands, as they tended to favour Bologna or Paris, or, later, Prague and Vienna. With the exception of a dispute in the early 1360s about the payment of his canonical income during his studies, the next thing we hear about Pilgrim is when has was named papal chaplain to Urban V in October 1363. After a contested election in 1365, Pilgrim was provided with the archiepiscopate of Salzburg on St Andrew’s Day of the same year.

So there is a long period when we cannot say a great deal for certain about Pilgrim’s activities. Herbert Klein, author of one of the most extensive studies of Pilgrim’s life, names one particular figure as an important protector to Pilgrim during this period. He is Guillaume d’Aigrefeuille the elder, known as the Cardinal of Saragossa. Through him, Pilgrim can be seen making his way into a Limousin faction at Avignon that would colour his politics and diplomatic choices throughout his reign.


Paris, BnF, lat. 11907, ‘Les papiers de Montfaucon’, f. 244.

A 1726 drawing of the tomb of Guillaume d’Aigrefeuille the Elder in St Martial in Limoges


The Aigrefeuille dynasty was one of the most successful and omnipresent in papal Avignon, a fact no doubt aided by their being cousins to Clement VI. The careers of a single set of brothers, the sons of Guillaume d’Aigrefeuille, makes clear just how spectacular their good fortune was:

– The eldest son, Aymar, who became Marshall of the Papal palace in 1362.

– Guillaume (that is, the son of Guillaume—inventive naming, there), who is thought to have been protector to Pilgrim von Puchheim, had received his cardinal’s hat by 1350, and went on to become camerlengo in 1363.

– Pierre was Bishop of Clermont and Uzès. His vicar-general was Guillaume de Grimoard, who went on to become Urban V, under whose reign Pierre became bishop of Avignon.

– Raymond was Bishop of Rodez until his death in 1361.

– The youngest son of the generation, Faydit, took over from his brother Raymond as Bishop of Rodez, before going on to inherit the bishopric of Avignon from his other brother Pierre. Talk about hand-me-downs… His career led to a cardinal’s hat in 1383.

The Petit Palais, residence of the Bishops of Avignon, including Pierre and Faydit d’Aigrefeuille


The next generation of ecclesiastical Aigrefeuilles was less numerous, but no less successful. Aymar’s son, yet another Guillaume, also rose to the College of Cardinals. This third Guillaume, papal diplomat and jet-setter (or, more likely, donkey-sitter), would later be party to one of Pilgrim’s great wheeler-dealer exploits: the attempt to end the Great Schism.


Paris, BnF, Estampes et photographie, N-2

An early modern imagining of the face of Guillaume the younger


Clement VII appointed the younger Guillaume d’Aigrefeuille to act as his envoy to Charles V, who received him at Vincennes in May 1379. He then spent the next six years travelling the Empire, trying to win over princes for the Avignon observance. Pilgrim, along with his ally Leopold III of Habsburg, was one of the major Avignon agitators in Central Europe. Indeed, Guillaume d’Aigrefeuille had planned to attend the Salzburg provincial council in 1380 when Pilgrim hoped to convert his see to Avignon. Neither the visit nor the conversion came to fruition. But (as a future blogpost in this series will show), Guillaume the Younger was in a position to help Pilgrim by helping his respected chancellor Wilderich de Mitra when he was accused of being schismatic.  All of this to say, then, that even in cases where we do not know very much about exactly what a person did, knowing who they knew can also be highly enlightening.


The Tour St-Jean, part of the remains of the livrée of Guillaum d’Aigrefeuille the Younger.


Further reading

 – Creytens, ‘Le “studium romanae curiae” et le maître du sacré palais’, Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorum, 12 (1942), 5-83

 – Klein, Herbert, ‘Erzbischof Pilgrim II. von Puchheim (1365-1396)’, Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Salzburger Landeskunde, 112/113 (1972/1973), 13–71

 – Lackner, Christian, Hof und Herrschaft: Rat, Kanzlei und Regierung der österreichischen Herzöge (1365-1406), Mitteliungen des Instituts für Österreichischen Geschichte, Ergänzungsband, 41 (Vienna: Oldenbourg, 2002)

 – Steinherz, Samuel, ‘Das Provincial-Concil von 1380’, Mitteilungen der Gesellschaft für Salzburger Landeskunde, 39 (1899), 83–110

 – Vones, Ludwig, Urban V. (1362-1370): Kirchenreform zwischen Kardinalkollegium, Kurie und Klientel, Päpste und Papsttum, 28 (Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 1998)

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