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Benedict X, Antipope


Pontificate: April 5, 1058January 1059 (when he renounced) or April 1060 (officially deposed). Born John Mincius, he was cardinal bishop of Velletri, and died sometime after 1073. His reign as antipope came early in the days of the Investiture Controversy, and represents a late attempt by the Roman aristocracy to control the papacy. Since the 1040s the German kings had intervened consistently in an effort to end such control (see Clement II, Boniface IX, Damasus II, Leo IX, Victor II, and Stephen IX), and a group of similarly reform-minded clerics had emerged in Rome. On March 24, 1058, only five days before his death, Pope Stephen IX (105758) had an assembly of Roman clergy and laymen swear an oath that if he died they would wait for the reforming subdeacon Hildebrand (soon to be Gregory VII) to return before electing a successor. Upon Stephen's death a group of nobles broke the oath and, under the leadership of Gregory of Tusculum and Gerard of Galeria, elected John Mincius to be Pope Benedict X.

Reaction within the curia was deliberate and consistent. Every cardinal except one fled Rome and threatened to excommunicate Benedict. Soon the cardinals met in Florence, which was controlled by Duke Godfrey the Bearded of Lorraine. Among them was Humbert of Silva Candida and the cardinal-bishop of Ostia, Peter Damian (100172). As bishop of Ostia, one of Peter's traditional functions was to concelebrate at the consecration of a new pope, but he refused to recognize Benedict's election. Thus Benedict was irregularly elected and irregularly consecrated. While Benedict functioned as pope in Rome (he is known to have sent the pallium to Archbishop Stigand of Canterbury), the cardinals met at various locations around Tuscany. Finally, in Siena and with the support of Duke Godfrey, they elected (December 1058) Bishop Gerard of Florence to be Pope Nicholas II (105961). This election was subsequently confirmed by the regent Empress Agnes, and the new emperor, Henry IV (10561106). Nicholas then convened a Synod at Sutri (early January 1059) that excommunicated Benedict X as a usurper and a perjurer because he broke the oath to Pope Stephen. (Though his opposition to Benedict is clear, Damian's precise view of these events may need revision due to the changes in our understanding of his letters brought about by K. Reindel's new edition. Reindel considers Letters 3 and 4 in the Patrologia latina editionsometimes cited in relation to Benedict Xto be incorrectly numbered, with their recipients sometimes incorrectly identified.)

On Jan. 24, 1059 Pope Nicholas entered Rome accompanied by Duke Godfrey, the duke's troops, all of the cardinals, and the German chancellor for Italy, Guibert of Ravenna (later Antipope Clement III, 10801100). Benedict fled Rome, first for Passarano, and then for Gerard of Galeria's castle. The antipope was captured in the autumn of 1059 after a three month siege. He renounced his title and, after a month spent on a family estate, was imprisoned by Hildebrand. In April 1060, Hildebrand conducted a public trial at which Benedict was formally deposed and sentenced to confinement in the hospice of the church of St. Agnes on the Via Nomentana. It is not known when he died, but Hildebrand, as Pope Gregory VII (107385), allowed him to be buried in the church of St. Agnes; many scholars take this as evidence that he survived until at least 1073.

Bibliography: bonizo of sutri, Liber ad amicum 4 in Monumenta Germaniae historica, Libelli de lite 1.590600. l. duchesne, ed. Liber Pontificalis (Paris 188692; repr. 195557) 2.27079, 334356. p. jaffÉ, Regesta pontificum Romanorum (Leipzig 188588; repr. Graz 1956) 1.55657, 563. leo ostiensis, Chronica monasterii Casinensis 2.99 in Monumenta Germaniae historica, Scriptores 7.695. peter damian, Die Briefe des Petrus Damiani, ed. k. reindel, in Monumenta Germaniae historica, Briefe der deutschen Kaiserzeit (Munich 1983ff); trans. o. blum, The Letters of Peter Damian (Washington, D.C. 1989ff). i. m. watterich, Pontificum Romanorum (Leipzig 1862; repr. Aalen 1966) 1.20305, 738. b. platina, De vita Christi ac omnium pontificum 160 (155), ed. g. gaida, in Rerum italicarum scriptores 3.1, ed. l. a. muratori, (Città di Castello and Bologna 191332) 18586. f. j. schmale, in Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques (Paris 1935) 8.10506. f. x. seppelt, Geschichte der Päpste von den Anfängen bis zur Mitte des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts (Munich 195459) 2.3644. o. capitani, "Benedetto X," Dizionario biografico degli Italiani (Rome 1966) 8.36670. h. zimmerman, Papstabsetzungen des Mittelalters (Graz, Vienna, Cologne 1968) 13947. u. r. blumenthal, The Investiture Controversy (Philadelphia 1982) 84105. j. n. d. kelly, The Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986) 150151.

[p. m. savage]

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