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Gregory VIII, Antipope


Pontificate: March 10, 1118 to April 22, 1121. He died c. 1140. Mauritius Burdinus (Bordinho or Bourdin, meaning "donkey") was born in southern France and became a Cluniac at Limoges, but he was educated in Spain, where he had traveled with Archbishop Bernard of Toledo. He was archdeacon of Toledo, and was made bishop of Coimbra in 1099. After spending part of the next decade on a nearly four-year pilgrimage in the Holy Land, he was made archbishop of Braga by Paschal II in 1109. As archbishop he appeared before the pope twice to defend his rights, once in a boundary dispute with Archbishop Bernard of Toledo, and again to protest decisions that benefited Santiago de Compostela at a cost to his diocese. In 1116, Paschal sent Mauritius on an embassy to Henry V (110625); while on this mission he defected to the emperor's cause. After Paschal had been forced from Rome by pressure from the Frangipani family in 1117, Henry appeared in the city with a large entourage, and on Easter Sunday (March 25) Mauritius solemnly crowned Henry emperor. In response, Paschal held a synod in Benevento where he deposed and excommunicated Henry and removed Mauritius as bishop of Braga.

Paschal died within a year (Jan. 24, 1118) and was succeeded by Gelasius II (111819). Henry immediately returned to Rome in the hope he could negotiate an end to the investiture controversy. Gelasius, however, remained in the town of Gaeta and had no intention of returning for negotiations with the emperor. Upon the advice of Irnerius of Bologna and other jurists, the imperial party anulled Gelasius' election, and on March 8, 1118 Mauritius was proclaimed pope with the support of the Frangipani. He took the name Gregory VIII, an odd choice if one considers Gregory VII's strong opposition to imperial involvement in the church. Gelasius excommunicated Henry and Gregory on April 8, and began to circulate letters throughout Europe denouncing Gregory's elevation.

Gregory's position became even weaker when Henry returned to Germany and dropped his support for the anti-pope upon the election of Callistus II (Feb. 2, 1119). Callistus and Henry began negotiations in 1119 while Callistus made consistent progress in controlling Lombardy and Tuscany. As a result, Gregory had to leave Rome for Sutri in 1119. In June 1120, Pope Callistus entered Rome, and in April 1121 he besieged Sutri. The citizens of the town turned Gregory over to the increasingly popular pope, and Callistus, in a final show of victory, forced Gregory to proceed through Rome seated backward on a camel. Gregory was then confined in various locations until his death. They include monasteries in Rome and Passerone, Holy Trinity at La Cava (near Salerno, and the place of confinement for antipopes Theodoric, 1100, and Innocent III, 117980), Rocca Iemolo (near Monte Cassino), and finally Castel Fumone. We know that he was alive at La Cava as late as August 1137; after this he disappears from the historical record.

Bibliography: l. duchesne, ed. Liber Pontificalis (Paris 188692; repr. 195557) 2.315, 347; 3.16269. p. jaffÉ, Regesta pontificum Romanorum (Leipzig 188588; repr. Graz 1956) 1.82122; 2.715. i. m. watterich, Pontificum Romanorum (Leipzig; repr. Aalen 1862) 2.15, 119ff. c. erdmann, "Mauritius Burdinus (Gregor VIII)," Quellen und Forchungen aus Italienischen Archiven und Bibliotheken 19 (1927) 20561. p. david, "L'énigme de Maurice Bourdin," in Études historiques sur la Galice et le Portugal (Lisbon 1947) 441501. f. x. seppelt, Geschichte der Päpste von den Anfängen bis zur Mitte des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts (Munich 195459) 3.152159. c. servatius, Paschalis II (Stuttgart 1979) 128131, 332. r. aubert, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques (Paris 1986) 21.143336. j. n. d. kelly, The Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986) 16364. k. schreiner, "Gregor VIII, nackt auf einem Esel," in Ecclesia et RegnumFestschrift für F.J. Schmale (Bochum 1989) 155202. t. struve, Lexikon des Mittelalters (Munich 1989) 4.1671.

[p. m. savage]

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