Leo of Vercelli

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Bishop of Vercelli (998999), poet, imperial logothete, and trusted adviser of Otto III; d. Vercelli, April 10, 1026. His origin, whether German or Italian, is disputed. In 997 he was the colleague of Gerbert (see sylvester ii) in the palace chapel of otto iii. In 998 he accompanied Otto to Italy, where he remained for the rest of his life in the service of three German emperors. His legal training gave him an influential role as imperial judge and redactor of legislation. He probably drafted Otto III's capitularies on church property, although their substance should probably be ascribed to Gerbert. He drew up the diploma whereby Otto gave eight counties to the Roman Church. At the Council of Pavia in 1022 he rendered similar services to Emperor henry ii. As bishop he regarded himself as an imperial official, a "bishop of the empire." He energetically enforced the imperial decrees reintegrating Church property and governed the counties of Vercelli and Santhià conferred upon him by Otto III. He opposed Arduin of Ivrea, leader of the opposition to Otto and claimant to the Italian crown after his death. His loyalty to Henry II of Germany contributed largely to Henry's ultimate victory. Extremely versatile, Leo on occasion expressed his imperialist enthusiasm in Latin verses that showed considerable literary skill.

Bibliography: k. strecker, ed., Monumenta Germaniae Historica: Poetae, (Berlin 1826) 5.2:476489. h. bloch, "Beiträge zur Geschichte des Bischofs Leo von Vercelli und seines Zeit," Neues Archiv der Gesellschaft für ältere deutsche Geschichtskunde 22 (1896): 13136. m. manitius, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters, 3 v. (Munich 191131) 2:511517. e. n. johnson, The Secular Activities of the German Episcopate, 9191024 (Lincoln, Neb. 1932). m. uhlirz, "Die italienische Kirchenpolitik der Ottonen," Mitteilungen des Instituts für österreichische Geschichtsforschung 48 (1934): 201321, passim.

[c. e. boyd]