Pietro Capuano, belonged to a family of the Amalfi nobility that descended from the Lombard count Lando de Prata. The descendants of Lando in the course of the eleventh century had settled in Amalfi and were related to it with the last duke, Marino (1098).
He received the first ecclesiastical orders in 1170 in Amalfi and became part of the cathedral clergy. The wealth of the family allowed him to continue his studies, first he seems to be in Bologna, then for quite a long time in Paris. In the school of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, he entered the circle formed around Pietro Lombardo. He had a lively exchange of ideas especially with two students from Lombardo, Pietro da Poitiers and Prepositino da Cremona. Although there is no precise information on the subject, it is beyond doubt that he taught for a certain period in Paris, where he elaborated his "Modus tractandi quaestiones theologicas", which in the introduction to his main work tried to explain with the image of a building: "foundation" of the auctoritates are erected the "walls" of the arguments and the quaestiones, which in the third cycle of work are closed with the "tectum solutionum et rationum".
Later he left Paris and moved to the Papal Curia, apparently at the time of Clement III. We have no information about his position at the papal court, but he is sure that he taught theology and law for a certain period in the ecclesiastical schools of Rome.
As evidenced by the numerous points of contact with the similar Summae by Pietro da Poitiers and Prepositino da Cremona and the discussion with the literature of the quaestiones of the same environment, C. must have written his Summa during his stay in Paris, while his second major work, an encyclopaedia (alphabetically ordered) of the meanings of words, concepts and images handed down with the titles of Alphabetum, Lexicon condonatorium, or Alphabetum de arte sermocinandi, was composed to what appears later, during the period Roman. The preface addressed to the Roman clergy probably saw the light around 1190. But the definitive editing of this moral-exegetical work dates back to the period after 1193, considering that it reworked the initial part when it was already cardinal.
Despite being a rather conservative interpreter of the "auctoritates", with a pronounced tendency to order the material in a scholastic way, and not an original thinker who followed his own paths in theology, dogma and allegory, his works, the success achieved in teaching and probably also his ecclesiastical activity procured him fame as learned theologian and brilliant preacher. And it was certainly this fame that induced Celestino III, in February or March 1193, to confer to C. the diaconia of S. Maria in via Lata resasi vacante with the promotion of cardinal Soffredo da Pisa, and to welcome him in the cardinal college .
As shown by his signatures affixed to the papal bulls, the C. held back, from March 1193 until July 1195 to the Curia, where he attended in October 1193 the solemn canonization of s. Giovanni Gualberto and where shortly afterwards he served as judge delegate of the pope in a case of appeal concerning the dispute between the canons of Chartres and the countess Isabella di Blois. When Celestino III, after the Sicilian coronation of Emperor Henry VI, thought of sending a legate to the Kingdom to check that the agreements on ecclesiastical politics taken in Gravina with King Tancredi were also respected by the new rulers Enrico and Costanza, appointed Capuani, shortly before July 1195, tied in Calabria and Puglia, conferring at the same time the powers of general legate in the Kingdom. Despite the violent protests of Empress Constance the Capuani, who in July 1195 also briefly worked as the rector of Benevento, was able to carry out his duties until the spring of 1196, at least in the northern provinces of the Kingdom. The dispute between the canons and the bishop of Vieste concerning the assets and benefits of the bishopric was brought before his court, and thanks to his mediation a provisional agreement was reached. Bishop William of Melfi asked his advice in a question of matrimonial law. The C. is remembered last time as tied in March of 1196 to Benevento, where he concluded with a compromise the dispute between Bishop Giovanni di Dragonara and the monastery of S. Maria di Gualdo Mazzocca for the obedience of S. Matteo di Sculcola. When he returned to the Curia, he was re-nominated by Celestine III in the second half of 1196. He was given the special task of reforming the Churches of Bohemia and Poland, but apparently he exercised functions as a legate during the journey, in northern Italy. and in southern Germany, although it is unlikely that he had been appointed as a legate also for those areas. On 12 March 1197 he made his solemn entry into Prague and immediately began to implement the ecclesiastical reforms he had been commissioned to. Although his sermons and the dignity with which he presented himself were greatly admired in Bohemia, his rigor in disciplinary matters aroused widespread opposition. The request to renew with valid forms all the priestly ordinations conferred in the past in a non-canonical manner provoked the open revolt of the entire Bohemian parish priesthood to the point that he attempted his life. It seems, however, that he was able to assert his point of view in this controversy as well as in the question of monastic discipline: two abbots were in fact dismissed. In Prague, where he stayed until May 1197, he convened a synod to make celibacy and some liturgical reforms accept the Bohemian Church. During his stay in Bohemia he also confirmed, by affixing his seal and signature to the document, the privilege of Bishop Henry of Prague concerning the foundation of a monastery at Tepl near Eger by Count Hroznata.
In the summer of 1197 he moved to Poland and even there he tried to confer new value on celibacy and canonical marriages. During his legation he confirmed the act with which Bishop Siroslav of Breslau had entrusted the monastery of St. Vincent near Breslau to the Order of the Premonstratensians.
In the framework of the preparations for the crusade organized by Innocent III to the C. was entrusted the propaganda and the preaching in France and in Burgundy, but above all he had to try to create the political prerequisites for this enterprise with the attempt to compose the Anglo-French conflict .
He was able to register a first success immediately after his arrival in Paris at the end of December 1198. The Pope had hoped for the conclusion of a peace or at least a five-year truce. Now, with the mediation of C., the king of England Richard the Lionheart and King Philip Augustus of France, after long negotiations in the area between Vernon and Andely, concluded on 13 January 1199 a truce, that the C. after the death of King Richard could also renew with his successor John, in June and October of 1199, although each time only for three months. At the same time Capuani succeeded in obtaining the release of bishop Filippo di Beauvais and the elected bishop of Cambrai, Ugo, who had been imprisoned by the two kings. Shortly after the death of Richard the Lionheart confirmed in Fontevrault, where the king was buried, a foundation of the mother Queen Eleonora for the celebration of the anniversary. During his stay in Normandy the C. also took care of some ecclesiastical controversies in York and in Canterbury and the election of the bishop of Cambrai.
Instead, he did not show a happy hand in the marriage question of the French king, entrusted to him by Innocent III at the beginning of his legation. The Pope asked that Philip Augustus repudiate Agnes of Merano and re-admit his legitimate wife Ingeborg into his rights. But, faced with the rejection of the king, C. convened a synod in Dijon for 6 December. 1199. During the Synod some problems were also discussed concerning the heresy and the Capuani succeeded in inducing a series of French prelates to offer a thirtieth of their income for the crusade; but above all he invited the king again, with the threat of interdiction and despite the opposition of a part of the French clergy, to recognize Ingeborg again as his wife. Although Philip Augustus had previously appealed to the Holy See, the C., during a new synod convened a few days later in Vienne, launched the interdict already decided in Dijon against all of France, threatening at the same time the suspension from their offices for all the ecclesiastics who had not respected it. The interdict, published on 13 Jan. 1200 in Vienne, remained in force for several months, but was not respected at all and the same C. was forced to proceed against some bishops who had transgressed him.
Acting the marriage conflict with the imposition of interdict, the C. had placed a serious obstacle to the realization of the planned crusade, also making precarious relations with Philip Augustus, much to induce Innocent III, still in the same 1200, to send to France Cardinal Ottaviano da Ostia to attempt a mediation. But despite this failure, it seems to have continued to enjoy the highest esteem of the pope, who in March of 1201 elevated him to the dignity of cardinal priest, giving him the then vacant title of St. Marcello. During his subsequent prolonged stay in the Curia he was an auditor in the divorce case of King Ottocaro I of Bohemia against his wife Adele.
When the crusade projects began to take on more concrete forms thanks to the agreement of the chiefs of the French knights with the Doge of Venice in April 1201, and an army of knights coming from France and from In northern Italy, Innocent III appointed C. and cardinal priest Soffredo da Pisa, who had been chosen for this task since 1198, but did not specify in detail what their duties and their powers were. While Soffredo immediately set off for the Holy Land to await the arrival of the Crusaders, C. was sent by the Pope to Venice, to prevent the Venetians from attacking Zara, which was part of the Hungarian kingdom. But the C. soon realized, after the arrival in Venice in July of 1202, that the Venetians were willing to accept it only as a preacher, but not as bound for the crusade. His protests therefore remained unsuccessful in most of the crusaders, but it can not be entirely excluded that C., in order not to endanger the crusade, did not proceed with his usual hardness, indeed it seems that he encouraged knights determined to return home. After publishing the threat of papal excommunication, he returned to the Curia in the late autumn of 1202, referring to Innocent III that the Franciscan crusaders had asked him to inform him that the pretender to the Greek throne Alessio Angelo, previously rejected by the pope, sought German support, to earn Crusaders and Venetians for his projects. After having consulted with the Pope, the C. went back to the north to absolve the crusaders from excommunication in which they had incurred the attack on Zara. But their oaths of purification were transmitted to the C. only in the spring of 1203. The same C., in agreement with the pope, did not join the crusader army, no doubt to distance himself from the project of attacking Constantinople. .
In the spring following the C., with a small following, including the bishop Sicardo di Cremona and the abbot Martino di Pairis, passing from Benevento and Siponto, he went to San Giovanni d'Acri, where he arrived on April 25th. 1203 or, more likely, a few weeks later. During a brief stay in Cyprus, he confirmed the local bishops in the name of the pope, introducing some reforms, aimed mainly at improving the culture of the clergy, which were confirmed by a statute issued in March 1204 during a synod held in Antioch.
From San Giovanni d'Acri he informed the pope of the situation in the Holy Land and above all of the negotiations conducted by the Christians with the sultan. A first success of his legation was the composition of the conflict between Pisani and Genovesi in San Giovanni d'Acri. Then, during a meeting in Tripoli, he was able to induce the Maronite bishops to recognize Roman obedience. But the crisis of succession in the principality of Antioch, which for many years divided forces in the Holy Land, was much more difficult. Already the legate Soffredo was looking for several months to mediate an agreement in the conflict between King Leone of Armenia, which claimed the right of succession in direct line for his nephew Raimondo-Rupino, and Count Boemondo IV of Tripoli, supported by the Templars and from the Johannites; but the compromise proposals advanced by him had failed due to the obstruction of Bohemond and the Johannites. The C. himself, after his arrival in the Holy Land, went, passing through Antioch, to Sis in Cilicia to confer the pallium to the Armenian patriarch and to welcome the Armenian Christians under Roman obedience. However, he seems to have immediately encountered the deepest distrust of the Armenian king and his patriarch, such as to jeopardize all his efforts to resolve the question of succession. The Armenian side always saw in C. the representative of the Templars and the Johannites, and not - as in Soffredo - the neutral mediator of peace. Eventually the king and the patriarch of Armenia personally wrote to Innocent III complaining about the biased attitude of the Capuano. He also charged him with the interdict that the synod of Antioch had launched against Armenia, given that C. had not respected the appeal to the Holy See, nor listened to the patriarch, unilaterally favoring the Templars. A year later Innocent III revoked the interdict. In July 1204 C. was together with Soffredo in San Giovanni d'Acri, where he confirmed the will of the Templars and the Johannites the testament of an Aragonese knight and the donations of a French nobleman in favor of the Templars.
When the news of the conquest of Constantinople by the Crusaders arrived in the Holy Land, the C. and Soffredo in October 1204 decided to accept the invitation of the new Latin Emperor Baldwin who had asked for their help to give a new order to the ecclesiastical organization in the Latin Empire. Before leaving, they still waged a six-year truce with the sultan of Egypt, but they could not prevent other knights and inhabitants of the Holy Land from following their example by traveling to Constantinople. So rightly Innocent III severely rebuked the two legates, who had not asked for his consent, to have put the Holy Land in serious danger.
In December 1204 C. and Soffredo arrived in Constantinople, where they were solemnly welcomed in the basilica of S. Sofia. At the suggestion of Baldwin the C. met again in the same month with the Greek clergy of the capital. But the negotiations for the union failed already in the first phase, given that the C. firmly claimed Roman supremacy and primacy and remained adamant in the face of the Greek opposition. In the following months he granted a series of Greek churches to clerics or Latin orders and reserved for the emperor thirty prepositure of the capital, dividing the ecclesiastical income, considerably diminished because of secularizations made by the Latin knights, between the clergy and the future patriarch. Making use of the powers previously granted to him, he had already carried out, before the conquest of Constantinople in the summer of 1204, by one of his envoys, the Amalfitano Marino Quatrario, treasurer of Nicosia, the doge Enrico Dandolo and the Venetians, without imposing any obligation to repair. But when, in 1205, the crusaders still present in Constantinople were dissolved, on condition that they committed themselves to defend the Latin Empire for another year, it finally irred the Pope, who had previously suspected the unauthorized initiatives of the Capuano . With bitter words Innocent III rebuked him for abandoning the Holy Land and for having completely misrepresented the pontifical intentions concerning the help to be granted to the Latins of Constantinople.
Criticizing it so harshly, Innocent III, however, did not keep in mind that after the death of Emperor Baldwin in the battle of Adrianople against the Bulgarians (April 1205) and the death of doge Enrico Dandolo (June 1205), the C. for a while remained one of the last political leaders of the crusaders capable of acting. It was precisely the immediate danger in which he had come to find the new Empire, to induce him to keep at all costs the crusaders on the Bosphorus. On the other hand, the C. presented himself in Constantinople also as the defender of the nascent Franco-Latin Church against the Venetians who tried to impose their ecclesiastical organization and their rite, placing themselves on the side of those ecclesiastics who initially refused to obey the new patriarch Tommaso Morosini. He confirmed the ecclesiastical privileges of the other maritime cities and also guaranteed the independence of the Cypriot Church.
Even before the reprimands addressed to the C. in May of 1205, Innocent III had appointed his own legate for the Latin Empire in the person of the cardinal priest of S. Susanna Benedetto, inviting at the same time the C. to return to the Holy Land. Despite this order, he stayed in Constantinople until the middle of 1206, when the Latin Empire, under Emperor Henry, had regained a new stability. After the arrival of Cardinal Benedetto, C. worked with him to support the new regent in his negotiations with the Venetians and to normalize the ecclesiastical situation.
Then he went back to Syria. The Pope had to presume this trip when in August of 1206, in a document concerning the dispute for the Venetian church of S. Marco a Tiro, he qualified the C. as a legate, together with the patriarch Albert of Jerusalem. During this second legation the serious conflict with the patriarch Peter of Antioch also must have exploded, during which the C. excommunicated and suspended from their duties Peter and his chapter, who had refused to recognize his rights concerning the assignment of offices and benefits in patriarchy.
Still in that same year the C. returned to Gaeta with a small flotilla. He brought with him as many crusaders used a large number of precious relics, discovered in Byzantine churches and now stolen in the West. He reserved for the cathedral of his hometown the relics of the apostle Andrew. But also other churches in Campania, such as the cathedrals of Capua, Naples, Sorrento, Gaeta, as well as French churches such as Notre-Dame of Paris, St. Denis, the cathedral of Langres, to which C. was linked from the time of his or from that of his French legation, thanks to him a part of the relic of the relics of the fourth crusade.
After his return to the Curia at the beginning of 1207, he no longer entrusted any other legations, although he still enjoyed great influence. Indeed, the ambassadors of the kings of Western Europe often turned to him for help. A good indication of the esteem enjoyed by the Church is the fact that in 1202 the chapter of Amalfi put him first in the list of candidates proposed to the pope for the archbishop's see and in 1211 the chapter of S. Sofia of Constantinople even asked for his election as a patriarch; but Innocent III did not accept either of the proposals. In 1212 the pontiff entrusted to C. the examination of the election of Parisio to the archbishop of Palermo, who, as a family of the Sicilian king, enjoyed the special protection of Frederick II. The result of the examination conducted by C. and other cardinals, however, was the dismissal of Parisio.
After his return from the crusade, the C. stayed several times - in 1207 or 1208 and 1212-1213 - for quite long periods in his hometown, which was not only richly endowed with relics, but also other ecclesiastical foundations. On the occasion of the solemn translation of the relics of s. Andrea, personally celebrated by C. and Archbishop Matteo Costantini, had the apse and the "confessio" of the Amalfi cathedral renewed at his own expense by Roman and Sicilian artisans. In 1208 he regulated with a statute the division of income connected to the pilgrimages to the apostle's relics and their veneration among the clerics of the cathedral and the hospital of the poor of St. Mary of Mercy, since then designed by C. but realized only in 1213, which was entrusted to the care of the Order of the Crociferi. In October 1208 he established a "schola liberalium artium" for the free education of young clerics and laymen of Amalfi and Atrani, who he endowed with his own means and who provided a charter to guarantee his future. He reserved the "magister scholae" for himself and his family.
But the most important foundation was the monastery of S. Pietro di Canonica, for which he bought in 1212 the church of S. Pietro di Tozzolo located on the edge of the city. He endowed it with possessions in Amalfi and near Eboli and also donated it to the chapel of S. Pietro al Corto court given to him by Frederick II. A brother of C., Mansone, donated to the new foundation the royal bath ("balneum regium") of Amalfi granted in 1205 by Frederick II. When the king came to Rome in March 1212, he promised C. to grant him for his foundation a regular contribution from the proceeds of the Tropea bailiff. After the conclusion of these preparations he delivered the church, established as "canonica regularis", to the Lateran canons. But their standard of living corresponded so little to the ideas and economic possibilities of C. that these towards the end of 1213 decided to replace the canons with the cisterciensis. The abbot Pietro di Fossanova initially showed little inclination to support the new plans of C. because he believed that the endowment was not sufficient for an autonomous monastery. Only the intervention of Innocent III made possible the installation of monks from Fossanova in the church now called St. Peter of Canonica (March 1214). The new community was welcomed as a priory in the monastic family of Fossanova.
The Capuano, which had also financed the expansion of the port of Amalfi, died on the 30th. 1214 in Viterbo, where at that time the Curia was located. He was buried in the church of S. Maria in Aracoeli in Rome. His death is remembered in the obituaries and memorials of the cathedrals of Notre-Dame in Paris and Sens, but also in the monastery of Fossanova.