Damasus II

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(17 July–9 Aug. 1048)

Originally named Poppo, he was the second of the German popes nominated by Emperor Henry III (1039–56). Of Bavarian noble stock, he is first mentioned as bishop of Brixen, in Tyrol, on 16 Jan. 1040, when it is plain that he already stood high in the king's favour. He was in Henry's entourage when he travelled to Italy in autumn 1046, and took a prominent part in the Roman synod of 5 Jan. 1047; he probably returned to Germany with the emperor in mid-May. On the death of Clement II on 9 Oct., the clergy and people dispatched an embassy to Henry at Pöhlde with the request to name a successor. Bishop Wazo of Liège had argued that Gregory VI, now in exile at Cologne, whom he considered wrongfully deposed, should be restored, but on 25 Dec. the emperor, in his capacity as patrician of the Romans, nominated Poppo. Meanwhile, however, Benedict IX had re-emerged from his Tusculan retreat and seized the papal throne, bringing over Boniface, the powerful count of Tuscany, to his side. Poppo, who retained the see of Brixen until his death, set out for Rome, but was prevented from getting there by Boniface, who pleaded that Benedict had successfully re-established himself as pope. When Poppo returned and informed him, the emperor threatened Boniface that, unless he carried out his orders, he would come himself and give the Romans a new pope. Boniface judged it wise to obey, had Benedict expelled from Rome on 16 July, and on 17 July had Poppo consecrated and enthroned. To mark his devotion to the ancient and pure church, he adopted the style Damasus II, but within 23 days died at Palestrina, where he had gone to escape the heat. Although poison was hinted at in some quarters, the most likely cause of his death was malaria.

Further Reading

JW i. 528 f.LP ii. 274, 332 f. (Ann. Romani)Watterich i. 74, 78–80, 716 f.NDB iii. 498 (R. Elze)DHGE xiv. 53 f. (A. van Roey)Levillain i. 480–81 (M. Parisse)Seppelt iii. 9–11K. Guggenberger, Die deutschen Päpste (Cologne, 1916), 38–40Mann v. 286–92Morris 82–9

Subjects: Christianity.

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