The Emperor Rodolph, instead of coming into Italy, gave the empire the advantage of having done so, by sending an ambassador, with authority to make all those cities free which would redeem themselves with money. Many purchased their freedom, and with liberty changed their mode of living. Adolpho of Saxony succeeded to the empire; and to the papacy, Pietro del Murrone, who took the name of Celestino; but, being a hermit and full of sanctity, after six months renounced the pontificate, and Boniface VIII. was elected.
After a time the French and Germans left Italy, and the country remained wholly in the hands of the Italians; but Providence ordained that the pope, when these enemies were withdrawn, should neither establish nor enjoy his authority, and raised two very powerful families in Rome, the Colonnesi and the Orsini, who with their arms, and the proximity of their abode, kept the pontificate weak. Boniface then determined to destroy the Colonnesi, and, besides excommunicating, endeavored to direct the weapons of the church against them. This, although it did them some injury, proved more disastrous to the pope; for those arms which from attachment to the faith performed valiantly against its enemies, as soon as they were directed against Christians for private ambition, ceased to do the will of those who wished to wield them. And thus the too eager desire to gratify themselves, caused the pontiffs by degrees to lose their military power. Besides what is just related, the pope deprived two cardinals of the Colonnesi family of their office; and Sciarra, the head of the house, escaping unknown, was taken by corsairs of Catalonia and put to the oar; but being afterward recognized at Marseilles, he was sent to Philip, king of France, who had been excommunicated and deprived of the kingdom. Philip, considering that in a war against the pontiff he would either be a loser or run great hazards, had recourse to deception, and simulating a wish to come to terms, secretly sent Sciarra into Italy, who, having arrived at Anagnia, where his holiness then resided, assembled a few friends, and in the night took him prisoner. And although the people of Anagnia set him at liberty shortly after, yet from grief at the injury he died mad. Boniface was founder of the jubilee in 1300, and fixed that it should be celebrated at each revolution of one hundred years. In those times various troubles arose between the Guelph and Ghibelline factions; and the emperors having abandoned Italy, many places became free, and many were occupied by tyrants. Pope Benedict restored the scarlet hat to the cardinals of the Colonnesi family, and reblessed Philip, king of France. He was succeeded by Clement V., who, being a Frenchman, removed the papal court to Avignon in 1305.