Benedict XI, né Nicholas Boccasini (1240 -July 7, 1304), pope (1303 - 1304), succeeded the famous Boniface VIII, but was unable to carry out his Ultramontane policy. Benedict had a Dominican education, and when he was made Master General of the order in 1296, he issued ordinances forbidding public questioning of the legitimacy of Boniface's election on the part of any Dominican. Though at the time of the seizing of pope Boniface at Anagni (q.v.), Boccasini was one of only two cardinals to defend the papal party in the Lateran Palace itself, still, upon being made pope, he released Philip the Fair of France from the excommunication that had been laid upon him by Boniface, and practically ignored the bull Unam sanctam. Nevertheless, on June 7, 1304, he excommunicated Philip IV's implacable minister, William of Nogaret, and all the Italians who had captured Boniface at Anagni.
After a brief pontificate of eight months, Benedict died suddenly at Perugia. It was suspected, not altogether without reason, that his sudden death was caused by poisoning through the agency of Nogaret. Benedict's successor, Clement V, and the popes who succeeded him were completely under the influence of the kings of France, and removed the Papal seat from Rome to Avignon, sometimes known as the Babylonian Captivity.
Benedict XI was the author of a volume of sermons and commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew, on the Psalms, the Book of Job, and John's Apocalypse.