Sergius III, Pope

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Pontificate: Jan. 29, 904 to April 14, 911; b. Rome; d. Rome. A Roman deacon, bishop of Cere, and partisan of Pope stephen vi, he made an abortive attempt to seize the papacy in 897. In 904, however, with the aid of Alberto I of Spoleto, he succeeded. His two immediate predecessors, Pope leo v and antipope Christopher, were strangled in prison. A Roman synod again invalidated the Orders conferred by Pope formosus, much to the confusion of the Church. Sergius's decision in favor of the fourth marriage of Emperor leo vi weakened the prestige of the papacy in the East. In Rome he was supported by the theophylactus family, by one of whose daughters, marozia, he is supposed to have had a son (later Pope john xi). Sergius must be given credit for the restoration of St. John lateran, which had been heavily damaged by an earthquake at the time of the Formosus trial. The authors of the narrative sources for Sergius's life are patently subjective. To auxilius of naples, Sergius is a criminal, whereas the grammarian eugenius vulgarius praises him immoderately. liutprand of cremona's opinion is entirely negative.

Bibliography: p. jaffÉ, Regesta pontificum romanorum ab condita ecclesia ad annum post Christum natum 1198, ed. s. lÖwenfeld (repr. Graz 1956) 1:445447. Liber pontificalis, ed. l. duchesne (Paris 188692) v. 2. c. j. von hefele, Histoire des conciles d'après les documents originaux, tr. h. leclercq (Paris 190738) v. 4. p. f. kehr, Regesta Pontificum Romanorum, Italia Pontificia (Berlin 1928) 1, 2, 3, 5, 6.2, 7.1, 7.2, 8. l. duchesne, "Serge III et Jean XI," Mélanges d'archéologie et d'histoire 33 (1913) 2555. j. becker, ed., Die Werke Liutprands von Cremona, Monumena Germaniae Historica: Scriptores rerum Germanicarum (Berlin 1826) 38. É. amann, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al. (Paris 190353) 14.2:191821. v. braga, Dizionario biografico delgi italiani 43 (Rome 1993). g. fasoli, I re d'Italia, 888962 (Florence 1949). f. x. seppelt, Geschichte der Päpste von den Anfängen bis zur Mitte des 20. Jh. (Munich 195459) v. 2. h. k. mann, The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages from 590 to 1304 (London 190232) v. 4. c. gnocchi, "Ausilio e Vulgario. L'eco della 'Questione formosiana' in area napoletana," Mélanges de l'École Française di Moyen Ăge. Temps Modernes (Rome 1995) 1, 6575. r. pokorny, "Eine Kurzform der Konzilskanones von Trosly (909). Zur Reformgesetzgebung in der ausgehenden Karolingerzeit," Deutsches Archiv für Erforschung des Mittelalters 42 (1986) 11844. a. pratesi, "Un controverso privilegio di papa Sergio III," Archivo dell Società Romana di Storia Patria 108 (1985) 536. r. schieffer, Lexikon des Mittelalters 7 (Munich-Zurich 199495). j. n. d. kelly, Oxford Dictionary of Popes (New York 1986) 119120.

[v. gellhaus]