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Gregory VIII, Pope


Pontificate, Oct. 21 to Dec. 17, 1187; Canon of St. Augustine, b. Alberto de Morra, Benevento, c. 1110, d. Pisa. Prior to his election to the papacy at Ferrara, Gregory had been a canon regular at Laon and a professor (magister ) of law at Bologna, before becoming cardinal in 115556 and chancellor of the Roman Church in 1178.

As cardinal Gregory was sent on important missions to England, Dalmatia, and Portugal by Pope Alexander III. He was involved in settling the dispute between the Curia and King henry ii of England after the murder of Archbishop Thomas becket in 1170. It is no longer certain if, as Roman chancellor, Gregory wrote the Forma dictandi, an influential tract on the rhythmic prose of papal documents, which has in the past been attributed to him. Shortly before becoming pope, Gregory asserted his reformist tendencies by founding a monastery at Benevento and providing it with a rule based on austerity and evangelical simplicity.

Gregory's 57-day pontificate was dominated by his response to the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem (Oct. 2,1187). Only eight days into his pontificate Gregory announced a major new crusade to the Holy Land. Gregory sought speedy conciliation between the Curia and Emperor Frederick I and promoted peace between Genoa and Venice in order to gather support for his crusade project. Despite his short pontificate, the impact of Gregory's policies were far-reaching. His crusading bull Audita tremendi not only marked an important stage in the development of crusading thought, it eventually also triggered what was perhaps the greatest crusading effort in aid of the Holy Land ever to occur, known as the Third Crusade.

Bibliography: Patrologia Latina, comp. j. p. migne (Paris 184464) 202: 153764. p. jaffÉ, Regesta pontificum Romanorum, ed. g. wattenbach (Leipzig 188588) 2: 52835. Liber pontificalis, ed. l. duchesne (Paris 188692) 2: 349, 451. h. k. mann, The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages (London 190232) 10: 312. g. kleemann, Papst Gregor VIII (Bonn 1913). p. kehr, "Gregor VIII. als Ordensgrönder," Miscellanea F. Ehrle vol. 2 (Studi e Testi 38; Rome 1924) 24875. w. holtzmann, "Die Dekretalen Gregors VIII" Mitteilungen des Instituts für österreichische Geschichtsforschung 58 (1950) 113123. f. x. seppelt, Geschichte der Päpste (Munich 195459) 3: 3014. a. dalzell, "The Forma Dictandi attributed to Albert of Morra and related texts," Mediaeval Studies 39 (1977) 44065. v. pfaff, "Sieben jahre päpstlicher Politik. Die Wirksamkeit der Päpste Lucius III., Urban III., Gregor VIII.," Zeitschrift der SavignyStiftung für Rechtsgeschichte. Kanonische Abteilung 67 (1981) 148212. j. n. d. kelly, The Oxford Dictionary of the Popes (Oxford 1988) 1823. p. aubert, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques (Paris 1912) 21: 1436. u. schmidt, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 3d ed. (Freiburg 1995) 4:1018. b. roberg, Lexikon des Mittelalters 4:1671.

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