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(antipope May–Dec. 1012)

On the death of Sergius IV on 12 May 1012, followed almost immediately by that of the patrician John II Crescentius on 18 May, the Crescentian family, which had ruled Rome since Emperor Otto III's death in 1002 and had nominated the last three popes, found control of the city wrested from it by the rival family of the counts of Tusculum. In a bitter struggle for power the Tusculans elected and enthroned Theophylact as pope with the style Benedict VIII, while the Crescentians put forward and elected one Gregory (either his original name or the name he assumed), about whose antecedents and position at the time nothing is known. It is not clear whether he was actually installed or not, but his subsequent actions make it certain that there was a prima facie legal basis to his appointment. With Benedict established in the Lateran, however, and waging war on the Crescentians, his position was hopeless from the start, and there is no record of any official acts attributed to him. At some date in the summer he was ejected from Rome, and in spite of the traditional hostility of the Crescentians to the German royal house made his way to the court of King Henry II (1002–24) to seek recognition. At Christmas 1012, robed in full pontificals and bitterly complaining of his expulsion, he appeared before the king at Pöhlde, in Saxony. According to the chronicler Thietmar (975–1018), Henry received him with cool courtesy, promised to settle the disputed election ‘according to Roman custom’ once he got to Rome, but kept him and his entourage under guard, took his ceremonial cross from him, and bade him in the meantime desist from the exercise of his office. Gregory complied, doubtless expecting that the king would treat his rival similarly. In fact Henry was already in touch with Benedict, and his formal recognition of him was only a matter of weeks. From this moment the luckless Gregory disappears from history.

Further Reading

ZPR 425 f., 435Thietmar, Chron. 6. 101 (MGSS NS 9: 394)K.-J. Herrmann, Das Tuskulaner Papsttum (1012–1046) (Stuttgart, 1973), 5, 7, 25–7EC vi. 1129 (A. Frutaz)Z1: 115–17Levillain ii. 647 (K.-J. Herrmann)Seppelt ii. 402 f.

Subjects: Christianity.

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