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Benedict X

(1058—1059)


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(antipope 5 Apr. 1058–Jan. 1059: d. after 1073)

On the death of Stephen IX, while the leading Roman clergy, in obedience to their oath to him, deferred electing a successor until Hildebrand (later Gregory VII) returned from a mission to Germany, a clique of nobles led by Gregory of Tusculum and Gerard of Galeria saw their chance to seize control of the papacy and, winning over the people by bribery, had John Mincius, cardinal bishop of Velletri, elected and enthroned with the style Benedict X. Their choice was astute, for although John, a Roman by birth, belonged to the Tusculan family, he may have been one of the five proposed by Frederick of Lorraine (later Stephen IX) when consulted in July–Aug. 1057 about a successor to Victor II—there is a possibility it was his predecessor as bishop of Velletri, a member of the circle of reformers, who was among the five. But if his backers hoped that, taken by surprise, the reformers would accept the fait accompli, they were mistaken. They all fled from Rome, anathematizing Benedict, who had to be irregularly consecrated since Peter Damian, who as bishop of Ostia had the right to officiate, refused to do so.

Nevertheless for some nine months, while the reformers concerted their plans, Benedict managed to function as pope; one of his few recorded acts was to send the pallium to Archbishop Stigand of Canterbury (d. c.1072). In Dec. 1058, however, the cardinals elected Nicholas II at Siena. Early in Jan. 1059 Nicholas held a synod at Sutri, with the imperial chancellor Guibert representing the regent Agnes, and excommunicated Benedict as an ‘invader’ of the holy see and as a perjuror for breaking his oath to the dying Stephen IX. When Nicholas took possession of Rome on 24 Jan., Benedict sought refuge in Gerard's castle at Galeria. When Gerard eventually surrendered it after two sieges in autumn 1059, Benedict renounced all claim to the holy see, removed his pontifical insignia in token of this, and retired to a family property near Sta Maria Maggiore; but a month later Hildebrand, now archdeacon, gaoled him. Finally, his voluntary abdication not being deemed sufficient, he was publicly tried, with Hildebrand as his accuser, in Apr. 1060 and, in spite of protesting that the papal office had been forced upon him against his will, was ceremonially deposed and degraded. Sentenced to confinement in the hospice of Sant'Agnese on the Via Nomentana, he lived on there at least until the accession of Hildebrand as Gregory VII (1073). When he died, his old adversary relented sufficiently to arrange for him to be honourably buried in that church.

Further Reading

LP ii. 279, 334–6 (Ann. Romani)JW i. 556 f.Watterich i. 203–5, 738Leo Ostiensis, Chron. 11. 99 (MGSS 7: 695)Bonizo of Sutri, Ad amicum vi (MGLiblit 1: 592 f.)Peter Damian, Ep. 3. 4 (PL 144: 291)DHGE viii. 105 f. (J. Gay)DBI viii. 366–70 (O. Capitani)Levillain i. 159–60 (T. Schmidt)Z1: 141–6Partner 116–17

Subjects: Christianity.


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