Gregory V, Pope

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Pontificate: May 3, 996 to February or March 999;b. Bruno, 972, the second son of Duke Otto of Carinthia, and the great-grandson of the Emperor otto i. Destined for the clerical life, he received an excellent education and served in the imperial chapel. After the death of john xv, who had previously requested otto iii to invade Italy in opposing Crescentius (see crescentii), the emperor appointed his 24-year-old chaplain as pope and presented him to the Roman legation that had come to Ravenna (996). Accompanied by his teacher, Archbishop willigis of mainz, and by the Chancellor Hildibald, Gregory was accepted at Rome without oppositionthe first German and the first non-Italian pope in more than a century. One of his first acts was to crown Otto III (Ascension Day, May 3, 996). In the fall of 996, however, the pope had to flee Rome because of aristocratic oppression, headed by Crescentius, whom the emperor had previously pardoned at Gregory's request. In early 997 Abp. John Philagathos of Piacenza was promoted as antipope John XVI; but even with Byzantine aid he was unable to secure his hold on Rome. On his second campaign into Italy (February 998), Otto assisted Gregory's return to the city and there dealt severely with the insurgents: Crescentius was beheaded; John XVI was blinded and kept in a monastery. Gregory, however, reigned for barely more than a year and died suddenly. His personal integrity and strong reforming purpose produced the first notable example of harmonious cooperation between pope and emperor. Yet Gregory's awareness of the need for independent decision and of the rights of the Holy See often produced a degree of tension in his relations with the emperor. His independence is evident in his handling of affairs in the Church of reims, where he supported the claims of Archbishop Arnulf against the opposition of Gerbert (sylvester ii), suspending the French bishops who cooperated (Synod of Pavia, 997). Overlooking the incident, however, Gregory sent Gerbert the pallium upon his appointment by Otto as archbishop of Ravenna (998). Also against the will of the emperor, he restored the See of Merseburg after it had previously been absorbed into the metropolitan See of Magdeburg.

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