Gregory VI, Pope

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Pontificate: May 1, 1045 to Dec. 20, 1046; b. John de Gratiano; d. probably Cologne, Germany, c. November 1047. He was possibly related by marriage to both the converted Jewish family of Benedict the Christian (see

pierleoni) and to Hildebrand (see gregory vii, pope). John was a respected member of the Roman reformers and archpriest of the church of St. John at the Latin Gate. The godfather (?) of the reigning Pope benedict ix, he was already past middle age, and was a man of unblemished character when, deeply disturbed by Benedict's unworthiness, he arranged to provide the pope with the money that would induce his resignation. Benedict reportedly accepted the sum of 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of silver pennies of Pavia (about $150,000) and departed. Gregory was elected pope the same day. At first his accession was hailed by peter damian and other reformers; but as it became evident to the German party that simony had been involved in the transaction, (Emperor) henry iii was persuaded to intervene, especially as both the crescentii and the tusculani threatened the peaceful rehabilitation of Rome. Henry was perhaps further motivated by the desire to materialize in a somewhat altered form the dream of otto iii: he would not rule the Empire from Rome, but would govern the affairs of Italy through his proxy, a German pope. Coming south with his army and a great assembly of churchmen from Germany, Burgundy, and Italy, Henry held a synod at Pavia (October 1046). Learning of Henry's approach, Gregory traveled north and met the king at Piacenza. Henry received the pope courteously but denied him recognition, demanding an investigation of his title to the papacy. At the synod of sutri (Dec. 20, 1046), about 26 miles north of Rome, the pope's claims were judged. Since Benedict IX and the antipope Sylvester III had months before de parted from the scene, it was necessary only to declare them removed from office. After due consideration of the charges of simony brought against the pope, Henry and the synod deposed the well-intentioned Gregory, opening the way for the selection of the first German pope in 50 years (see clement ii). At Henry's order, Gregory was taken into exile in Germany (January 1047), accompanied by his chaplain Hildebrand.

Bibliography: p. jaffÉ, Regesta pontificum romanorum ab condita ecclesia ad annum post Christum natum 1198, ed. s. lÖwenfeld (8821198) 1:524525. g. b. borino, "L'elezione e la deposizione di Gregorio VI," Archivio della Società Romana di Storia Patria 39 (1916) 142252, 295410. "Invitus ultra montes cum domno Papa Gregorio abii," Studi gregoriani, ed. g. b. borino (Rome 1947) 1:346. r. l. poole, "Benedict IX and Gregory VI," Proceedings of the British Academy 8 (191718) 199235. j. haller, Das Papsttum (Stuttgart 195053) 2:572576. f. x. seppelt, Geschichte der Päpste von den Anfängen bis zur Mitte des 20. Jh. (Munich 1955) 2:415418. r. aubert, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques 21 (Paris 1986), s.v. "Grégorie VI." h. h. anton, "Die Synode von Sutri, ihr zeitgeschichtlicher Kontext und Nachklang," Zeitschrift der Savingny-Stifung für Rechtsgeschichte. Germanistische Abteilung (Wien 1997) 57684. j. laundage, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 4 (1995), s.v. "Gregor VI., Papst." t. struve, Lexikon des Mittelalters, 7 (München-Zürick 1992), s.v. "Sutri Synode v. 1046." o. widding, "An Old Norse Version of a Pamphlet on the Papacy of Gregor VI," Analecta Romana Instituti Danici 15 (Odense 1986) 5165. j. n. d. kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986) 144145.

[o. j. blum]