- Girolamo Masci
Born poor. Franciscan monk at an early age, he was known throughout his life as a pious and learned man. Papal legate to Constantinople in 1272 for Pope Gregory X. General of the Franciscans in 1274. Worked for peace between France and Castile. Elevated to Cardinal–priest in 1278 by Pope Nicholas III. Chosen Latin Patriarch of Constantinople by Pope Nicholas III. Created Cardinal–bishop of Palestina by Pope Martin IV in 1281. Reluctant pope after a ten-month inter-regnum caused by disputes and disease. First Franciscan pope.
He tried to stay out of secular political matters and focus his energy on the good of the Church, but was greatly influenced by the Colonna faction in Rome. Crowned Charles II king of Naples and Sicily on 29 May 1289 after Charles agreed to loyalty to the Vatican. He issued a constitution on 18 July 1289 that gave new financial control to the college of cardinals, making them much more independent. For years Nicholas quietly laid the groundwork for Crusade, but the loss of Ptolemais in 1291 led him to call for Christian princes to reclaim the Holy Lands. He outfitted twenty ships, preached the Crusade, and made plans, but his appeals were ignored. He preached against heresy, and particularly condemned the Apostolici in 1290. He dispatched missionaries to Bulgaria, Ethiopia, and China, and financed building and artistic programs in Rome.
- elected on 15 February 1288
- he protested his unworthiness for the throne, and was re-elected on 22 February 1288