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He was born on an unknown date in the Chateau of Calimafort, in the Province of Limousin, the son of Aymar de Murat de Cros, a nobleman of Auvergnat extraction, and of Marie de Montclar. His brother was Pierre de Murat de Cros who became a monk and later the Archbishop of Arles.
Shortly after a relative was elected as Pope Gregory XI, Murat de Cros became the new pope's cardinal-nephew and was made cardinal-priest of the Basilica of Santi Nereo e Achilleo on 30 May 1371. Then, he became grand penitentiary (1373) and cardinal-bishop of Palestrina (28 September 1376). His brother became the head of the Papal Treasury, in which office he administered the finances of the Holy See.
After the death of Pope Gregory, Murat de Cros initially supported the election of Pope Urban VI in the subsequent papal conclave during April 1378. Shortly thereafter, however, under the leadership of his brother, he adhered to the obedience of Antipope Clement VII and served as his legate in France.
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