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Benedict IX and Gregory VI 


Reginald L. Poole 

Fellow of the Academy 

[From the Proceedings of the British Academy, Pol. 


Published for the British Academy 

By Humphrey Milford, Oxford University Press 

Amen Corner, E.G. 

I'rice Three Shillings net 


APR 9 





Communicated October 31, 1917 

IT is a famous story that in 1046 King Henry III of Germany 
went into Italy and held a synod at which three Popes were deposed. 
It appears in perhaps its most picturesque form in the Bari annals 
known as the Chronicle of Lupus Protospatharius, an author who 
wrote about forty years later and who did not so much as know the 
German king's name. 'In this year', he says, f Conus', that is 
Conrad, 'king of the Alemans went to Rome because there were 
three Popes there : Silvester in St. Peter's Church, Gregory in the 
Lateran, and Benedict in the Tusculan. They were expelled, and 
Clement was consecrated by the aforesaid emperor.' 1 Now there is 
no doubt that at various dates in the preceding two years three men 
had occupied the Holy See ; but whether all the three were claimants 
to it in 1046 is still disputed. 

The three Popes in question were, first, Theophylact or Boniface IX, 
of the family of the Counts of Tusculum, who had succeeded two 
uncles in the Papacy in 1032 ; secondly, John, Bishop of Sabina, who 
took the name of Silvester III ; and thirdly, John, otherwise known 
as Gratian, who became Gregory VI. For the purpose of the 
criticism of our authorities the vital point is that, when this last, 
Gregory VI, was deposed and banished to Germany, he was accom- 
panied by a young man who rose to the greatest influence in the 
Church as Archdeacon Hildebrand and who, when he became Pope 
in 1073, showed his firm attachment to his friend by adopting the 
name of Gregory VII. 2 It is evident that, whatever may have been the 
rights and the wrongs of the case, the position of Gregory VI could 
naturally be regarded in a different way from what it had been before, 

1 ' Hoc anno venit Conus rex Alemannorum Romam, eo quod erant ibi tres 
papae, Silvester in ecclesia sancti Petri, in Laterano Gregorius, et Benedictus in 
Tusculano ; quibus eiectis consecratus est Clemens a praedicto imperatore ' : 
Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores, v. (1844) 58 f. 

2 See my paper on the Names and Numbers of Medieval Popes, in the English 
Historical Review, xxxii. 470-492, 1917 ; cf. infra, p. 25, n. 5. 



when Hildebrand openly declared himself a supporter of his canonical 
rank as Pope. We may therefore expect that a Hildebrandine 
version of the facts would emerge and would become more distinct 
as the controversy between Pope and Emperor developed. It is thus 
necessary to separate the accounts which were composed at this later 
time from those which are more nearly contemporary ; and we must 
bear in mind that more than a quarter of a century elapsed between 
the proceedings of 1046 and Hiklebrand's elevation to the Papacy. 

We must also take into consideration the fact that Henry Ill's 
action was so remarkable that it could not fail to be summarized in 
a form which enhanced his majesty and power. At various moments 
in the two preceding years there had been three claimants to the 
Apostolic See : on Henry^s appearance in Rome not one of them 
remained; the field was clear, and the German king secured the 
election of a German bishop as Pope. Could this be more succinctly 
described than by saying that he deposed three Popes and set up 
Clement ? l This is in fact the form in which Clement described his 
appointment to the church of Bamberg : cum illud caput mundi, ilia 
Romana sedes, haeretico morbo laboraret, Henry intervened, and, 
explosis tribus illis quibus idem nomen papatus rapina dederat, the 
Divine grace caused him to be chosen Pope. 1 There is therefore, 
besides the Hildebrandine tradition, an Imperial version to reckon 

Moreover, there was a third strain of tradition which was opposed 
to the party of reform, but which still less favoured the Imperial 
intervention. This may be distinguished as the anti- German or local 
Roman statement of the facts. It grew up slowly, but ended by 
superseding the others in the late medieval texts of the Lives of the 
Popes. 2 

1 Adalbert, Vita Henrici II Imper., in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, 
Scriptores, iv. 800 ; Jaffe, Regesta Pontif. Rom., 2nd ed., no. 4149. 

3 SteindoriFs excursus on the Roman journey of Henry III (Jahrbiicher der 
Deutechen Geschichte unter Heinrich III, i. 456-510, 1874) is so excellent 
a piece of work that later students have for the most part considered themselves 
dispensed from undertaking a fresh examination of the materials. It is true that, 
through following an error of Jaffe's, he misled scholars for a generation into 
placing the disruption of the Papacy in 1044 instead of 1045 (see my paper on 
Papal Chronology in the Eleventh Century, in the English Historical Review, 
xxxii. 210, n. 29, 1917). But in other respects he is at once thorough and acute, 
particularly in his discrimination between the authorities which are of con- 
temporary value and those which are affected by the later controversies under 
Alexander II and Gregory VII. The remarkable thing is that the conclusions 
arrived at in this excursus have had little influence on the book itself, in which 
later evidence is constantly cited and accepted on the same terms as that of 
contemporary writers. 


One would like first of all to know what account of the matter 
was given in Rome itself at the time when the events took place. 
Unfortunately the Liber Pontificalis, which may almost be called 
the official collection of the Lives of the Popes, is not at our disposal. 
It ends abruptly in the last decade of the ninth century, and is not 
resumed in a form deserving the name of an historical narrative until 
1073. During the interval we have, with rare exceptions, only 
meagre lists containing the Pope's name and the length of his 
pontificate, with perhaps a few particulars of his parentage and 
birthplace. The complicated succession of Popes between 1044 and 
1046, however, made a somewhat more extended record necessary ; 
and for these events the lists furnish at least the outline of a narra- 
tive. But there is no list preserved in an actually contemporary 
manuscript, and curiously enough not one of the existing texts was 
written at Rome. If we follow the careful analysis of them published 
by Commendatore Giorgi in 1897, the earliest manuscript which 
contains any details about the time in which we are interested was 
drawn up in 1087 at the Sabine monastery of Farfa. At Farfa also, 
he thinks, a transcript of it was made not long afterwards, which 
passed to the monastery of La Cava and was printed as the received 
text of the Liber Pontificalis for the time in the editions previous 
to the standard one of Monsignor Duchesne. Other copies, some 
of them abbreviated, were written during the following thirty or forty 
years, either in the shape of chronological lists or else embedded in 
chronicles. The earliest list then was written in a manuscript, which 
we still possess, more than forty years after the contest of 1044-6. 
But we may conclude from the slightness of the differences between 
the texts that they depend upon an earlier source. Commendatore 
Giorgi is of opinion that that source is the Farfa manuscript ; I am 
inclined to think that at least two different texts were in existence. 1 
But the precision with which the dates of each pontificate are 
recorded though here, as might be expected, there are various 
readings appears to justify the inference that they are based on 
an official Roman list, in which the succession of the Popes with the 
exact length of their pontificates was set out. 2 I suggest therefore 

1 In the following paragraphs I resume the conclusions at which I arrived in 
a paper on Papal Chronology in the Eleventh Century, ubi supra, pp. 204-14. 

2 This view of the strictly Roman origin of the Farfa lists has heen supported 
since Commendatore Giorgi wrote by Monsignor Duchesne, in his paper on 
Serge III et Jean XI in the Melanges d'Archeologie et d'Histoire, xxxiii. (1913) 
25-41. [In a more recent discussion of the subject, Archivio della R. Societa 
Komana di Storia Patria, xxxix. (1916) 513-36, Commendatore Giorgi maintains 
substantially the opinion which he had formerly expressed. Two points in this 



that, though the manuscripts are forty years or more later, they 
present a record of contemporary value. 

The following is the purport of the text preserved at Farfa : 

Benedict nephew of the preceding Popes sat fourteen years. 1 
And he was cast out of the pontificate, and there was appointed in 
the apostolic see John the Sabine bishop, to whom they gave the 
name Silvester ; and he wrongfully occupied the pontifical throne 
for 49 days. 2 And being cast out therefrom, the aforesaid Benedict 
recovered it and held the pontificate one month and 21 days. 
Then he himself gave 3 it to John archcanon of St. John at the 
Latin Gate, his godfather, on the first of May; to whom they 
gave the name Gregory. And he 4 held the pontificate for one 
year and eight months less eleven days ; 6 and he lost it through 
the Emperor by process of law and was led by him to the parts 
beyond the Alps. 6 

This narrative, on the face of it, relates, first, that an Antipope, 
Silvester, was set up against Benedict but ejected after seven weeks ; 
secondly, that Benedict after another seven weeks handed over his office 
to Gratian, who held it undisturbed for more than a year and a half. 
There is no hint that there were three Popes at any one time : there 
is an Antipope who is promptly expelled and then his rival abdicates. 
Not a word is said to suggest that the Antipope, Silvester, ever after- 
wards made any claim to reassert his title. The dates make it clear 
that he was deposed in March 1045. 7 

The Roman lists which I have just quoted have the merit of extreme 
simplicity : they merely record the succession of the Popes and the 
lengths of their pontificates ; they say nothing about the good or the 
evil character of one Pope or another, or about any malpractices in 

article are of special interest : the author thinks first that the Farfa list was 
written not at the monastery itself hut at the cell which it possessed at Rome 
(pp. 522 f., 526, 535); and secondly he gives reasons for believing that the 
part down to 1048 was actually compiled not long after July in that very year 
(pp. 533 f.).] 

1 The MS. originally added ' 4 months and 20 days ', but these words are 
cancelled. The La Cava MS. has ' 4 months ' only. There were probably two 
variant durations given in different lists : one of 14 years, the other of 12 years 
4 months and 20 days, which is found in the Subiaco list. 

* The La Cava MS. reads 56 days '. 

8 Gregory of Cattno, who worked from this list, altered dedit into vendidit : 
Chron. Farfense, ii. 244, ed. U. Balzani, 1903. 

4 The La Cava MS. has ' Gregory, who is called Gratian '. 

5 The La Cava MS. reads ' 2 years and 6 months '. 

Archivio della R. Societa Romana di Storia Patria, xx. (1897) 310 f. 

7 Steindorff, i. 258 f. , placing Silvester's elevation a year too early, says that in 
the very next month he attended a synod held by Boniface and subscribed its 
acts' in the style of John bishop of the holy Sabine church (Ughelli, Italia Sacra, 
v. 1115.) The date is April, in the 12th Indiction, which is 1044. 


the manner by which the Papacy was conferred. Only two possible 
indications of passing judgement appear : one is the statement that 
Silvester occupied the see iniuste, which indeed was self-evident ; and 
the second is the concluding statement that Gregory was deposed 
legaliter, which need not be pressed to mean more, than that the act 
was that of a lawfully constituted body. 

The chronological notes call for closer examination. 1 They point 
to the existence of two variant lists, each consistent with itself, but 
each drawn up on a different theory as to the dates when the pontifi- 
cates of Benedict IX and Gregory VI came to their end. The intervals 
of days are given with minute accuracy and they are in absolute 
agreement with the days of the month recorded in the Annales 
Romani, the compiler of which, though he wrote long after the time 
in the last years of Gregory VII or perhaps a little later, 2 un- 
questionably made use of early materials of a documentary character. 
These Annals tell us more particulars of what happened. Towards 
the end of 1044, 3 before 22 November, the townsmen of Rome rose up 
against Benedict IX and drove him out. Then there was a conflict 
between them and the men beyond Tiber, and they set forth to lay 
siege to this district on 7 January. A battle took place in which they 
were beaten. On the third day, Wednesday the 9th, there was au 
earthquake. Then the Romans elected John bishop of the Sabina, 
and named him Silvester. He held the Papacy for forty-nine days, 
when he was deposed and Benedict was restored to his see. But 
Benedict could not endure the people of Rome, and he resigned his 
office to Gratian, the archpriest of St. John at the Latin Gate, on 
1 May, to whom they gave the name Gregory; and he held the 
pontificate for 1 year and 8 months, less 11 days. 4 To complete the 
dates we must add from the Papal lists that Benedict's period of 
restoration lasted for 1 month and 21 days. 6 Now it was the rule 

1 Compare my paper on Papal Chronology in the Eleventh Century, ubi supra, 
pp. 209 f. 

* Duchesne, Liber Pontif. ii. intr. p. xxiiifc. Commendatore Giorgi is of 
opinion that the writer made direct use of the Farfa catalogue : Archivio della 
Societa Romana di Storia Patria, xx. 289 f. 

* The year is given by an obvious slip as nuclvi. The Annals add, in the 
13th Indiction, in the 12th year of Benedict IX. The year is fixed by the mention 
of an eclipse, which occurred on 22 November 1044. This ought to have saved 
a number of 'modern historians from carrying back these events to the winter 
of 1043-4. 

4 Annales Romani, in Liber Pontif. ii. 331. 

8 Similarly Gregory of Catino says ' post mensem i' (Chron. Farfense, ii. 264). 
SteindorflTs proposed emendation of one year and 21 days (i. 489 f.) was rendered 
necessary by his mistake as to the year in which Benedict was deposed. 


that the Pope should be ordained on a Sunday. If Silvester III was 
appointed on 20 January, his 49 days take us to 10 March ; * that 
was the day of Benedict's restoration. Then 1 month and 21 days 
lead exactly to 1 May. 

I lay stress upon the minute accuracy of these details, because it 
furnishes a presumption of the trustworthiness of other chronological 
data supplied by the lists. Some of these assign to Benedict a pon- 
tificate of 12 years 4 months and 20 days ; others one of 14 years. 
The question is, at what point are the periods supposed to terminate. 
Not surely, as is suggested as a possible alternative by Monsignor 
Duchesne, 2 in January 1045, when Benedict was driven out for a brief 
space of time. The shorter duration given for his pontificate must 
end at his resignation on 1 May, and 12 years 4 months and 20 days 
would carry us back to 12 December 1032 for his accession. It is not 
known with certainty when his predecessor John XIX died or when he 
himself was elected. 3 The time was one of extreme obscurity, and it 
is possible that the record in the Papal lists is not absolutely correct. 
But it cannot be very far wrong. The longer period stated in some of 
these lists is 14 years. This is a round number, which allows of an 
elastic interpretation ; it may be a few days or weeks too long or too 
short. But if we reckon 14 years from December 1032 we arrive at 
the time of Henry IIPs intervention, at the time when he held two 
synods on 20 and 24 December 1046 and, according to one account of 
the matter, formally deposed Benedict. Which of the two statements 
represents the facts I do not at this stage presume to decide ; but it 
may be said that in a Roman list it is more likely that the date when 
a Pope resigned would be taken as the end of his pontificate rather than 
that when he was deposed, if deposed he was. On general grounds, 
therefore, I should be inclined to think that the longer period recorded 
indicates a later revision of the figures. It is worth noticing that the 
writer of the Farfa list gives 14 years 4 months and 20 days, but the 
months and days are deleted. Evidently he had before him two lists, 
one of which read 12 years 4 months and 20 days, and accidentally 

1 Some lists give 56 days, evidently believing that the ordination took place 
on 13 January. This involves no derangement in the chronology. 

* Liber Pontif. ii. intr. , p. Ixxii ft. 

8 Sigiior Fedele has produced evidence from the dating clauses of private 
charters that John XIX was believed to have died before 13 October 1032 
(Archivio della R. Societa Romana di Storia Patria, xxii. 67, 1899) ; and Signor 
Buzzi, that Benedict IX became Pope after 23 August but before 7 September 
(ibid., xxxv. 619, 621 f., 1912). But such dates in the eleventh century are not 
always safe guides, and for the present I am inclined to accept the recorded obit 
of Pope John on 6 November : see my paper on Papal Chronology, ubi supra, 
p. 208. 


conflated the readings. In order to be consistent he ought to have 
corrected the 14 into 12, for the 14 involves Benedict's deposition in 
December 1046, and of any such deposition his narrative is silent. 
We may, infer, however, from this textual detail that this deposition 
had become recognized in some papal lists which were current at the 
time when the Farfa writer drew up his. 

A similar discrepancy occurs with regard to the length of the pon- 
tificate of Gregory VI. Some lists give 1 year and 8 months less 11 
days ; that is, they make it end exactly on 20 December 1046, the 
date of the synod of Sutri. Others extend it to 2 years and 6 months, 
that is to about 1 November 1047. l The meaning of this computa- 
tion seems to have escaped notice ; but it can only mean one thing, 
namely that Gregory was regarded as the lawful Pope as long as he 
lived. Incidentally it furnishes the only evidence for the approximate 
date of his death, and it confirms the statement of the scurrilous 
pamphleteer, Cardinal Beno, that this took place about the same time 
as that of Clement II, 2 who died on 9 October. 

These varieties of reading are of value because they point to a 
difference of opinion in Roman circles as to the authentic succession 
of the Popes. One view held that Benedict ceased to be Pope on 
1 May 1045 and that Gregory who followed him was the rightful 
Pope down to his death. The other view terminated both their 
pontificates in December 1046, and thus imply that they were 
deposed. Of Silvester III after his transient intrusion in 1045 
nothing is said. 3 It is in the accounts written by foreigners that 
three Popes are brought upon the scene when Henry III came into 


By a strange chance it appears that our earliest record of the events 
of 1046 comes from the Westphalian monastery of Corvey. The 
Annals written in that house are extremely scanty; they are mere 
insertions in an Easter table : but for a good part of the eleventh 

1 It is a mere mistake when Desiderius of Monte Cassino says that Gregory VI 
had ruled for two years and eight months before Henry entered Italy : Dialog. 
Hi., in Migne's Patrol. Lat. cxlix. 1005. Evidently he confounded the reckon- 
ings in the variant lists. 

8 Defuncto autem in exilio sexto itto Gregorio, Hiidebrandus perfidiae gimul et 
pecuniue eius heres extitit. Eodem tempore Clemens papa defunctus est : Gesta 
Romanae Ecclesiae, ii. 8, in Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Libelli de Lite 
Imperatorum et Pontificum, ii. (1892) 378. 

3 A document in the Regesto di Farfa, no. 1234, vol. v. 220, drawn up in 
March 1046, is dated ' in the time of Gregory VI and of John the bishop and 
of Crescentius and John counts of the Sabine territory '. 


century the notices are added from time to time in contemporary 
hands and are preserved in the original autograph. The order of the 
entries is not always clear. I follow Jaffe's arrangement in the 
present instance because he had the manuscript before him and 
designedly abandoned the order in which Pertz had given the notices. 1 
I have unfortunately no means of examining the manuscript, which 
is preserved at Hanover. Now these notices hardly say a word about any 
but German affairs until the entry for 1046 isended. Then comes a fresh 
entry for the same year, which looks like the production of a man 
who went into Italy in Henry Ill's train. He begins by describing an 
earthquake which occurred in the valley of Trent on 11 November 
and the obstruction of the river Taro, which was caused by the fall of 
rocks. This river he would cross on the road between Piacenza and 
Parma, and as Henry was at Pavia on 28 October, the Corvey 
annalist or his informant may have been in the neighbourhood at the 
time. He then proceeds : 

A great synod, the first, was held at Pavia, in the presence of 
Henry, then king ; a second, at Sutri, in which in the king's presence 
according to the appointments of the canons, two Popes, the second 
and the last, were deposed; a third, at Rome on Tuesday and 
Wednesday, which was the eve of the Lord's Nativity, in which 
Pope Benedict was canonically and synodically deposed, and by 
the unanimous election of the clergy and people Suidger bishop of 
Bamberg was appointed in his place, and being consecrated next 
day by the name of Pope Clement he crowned Henry emperor by 
the choice and full approval of the Roman people. 2 

The annalist next records the death of Clement II in 1047, and there 
is no further mention of the Papacy until 1111. 

It is plain that the writer of these notes was not told very much. 
He knows only the name of one of the three Popes whose fall he 
describes. If I may venture upon an hypothesis, I would suggest 
that he heard talk about three men who were still alive having claimed 
the Papacy during the past two years, and learned that Benedict was 
deposed on Christmas Eve. As his removal left the field clear for the 
election of Clement II, he not unnaturally inferred that two Popes 
were deposed at Sutri. But it was really the deprivation of Gregory, 
as simoniacally elected, which made the resignation of Benedict 
invalid and thus required that he should be deposed. There is no 
reason to believe that any formal action was taken against Silvester, 
who had long subsided into obscurity in his Sabine bishopric. 

Mou uni. Germ. Hist, Script, iii. (1839) 6 

Monum. Uerm. Hist., Script, iii. (1839) 6. 

Annales Corbeienses, s.a., in Jaffe's Monumenta Corbeiensia, pp. 40 f. (1864). 


Another very early account of the entire series of transactions at 
Rome was written in the Suabian monastery of Reichenau on the 
lower Lake of Constance. The house had long been renowned as 
the seat of a great learned tradition, and its chronicler at the middle 
of the eleventh century, Herman the Cripple, is reputed the most 
conscientious and trustworthy historian of the time. From 1040 to 
1052, when he died at the age of forty-one, his work is absolutely 
contemporary. There are grounds for believing that he made use of 
a Papal list in an earlier and purer form than any of the Italian manu- 
scripts, but this list is only preserved in a copy a century later, and 
we have to take what Herman gives embodied or paraphrased in his 
Chronicle. It may be added that the bishop of Constance attended 
Henry III in his visit to Italy in 1046 ; and, though he died during 
his stay there, he no doubt did not journey unattended, and Herman 
may have learned something of what happened from the bishop's 

Now Herman tells us that in 1044 Benedict was by many accused 
(criminatus) and was expelled by the Romans from his see. They 
then set up one Silvester in his place. But a party came to Benedict's 
support, and he excommunicated and drove out Silvester. But after- 
wards he abdicated, and contrary to the canons appointed another 
man out of avarice. According to this account there was no question 
of three Popes being in existence at the same time. For Silvester had 
been excommunicated and deposed, and Benedict had voluntarily 
resigned the Papacy. However improper were the means by which 
he secured the office, this third man Herman mentions no name 
was the only claimant. In 1046, he proceeds, Henry III held a 
synod at Pavia and then went on to Piacenza, where Gratian, whom 
the Romans had made Pope after the expulsion of the others, came 
to him and was received with honour. It almost seems as though 
the information which reached Reichenau distinguished Gratian from 
the unnamed person to whom Benedict had disposed of the Papacy. 
Herman then relates that Henry went on to Sutri, where a synod was 
held and the case of the ' erroneous ' Popes diligently examined. 
Gratian was convicted and deprived of his see. No reason is assigned 
for his deprivation, but it is clear from the fact that he had had an 
honourable reception at Piacenza that he was treated on a different 
footing from Benedict ; we may even say, that he was the one man who 
at that time was considered to have any claim to the Papacy. But 
before deciding on the validity of his claim it was necessary to inquire 
into the circumstances in which the Papacy had changed hands so 
irregularly in 1045. It is not said that either Benedict or Silvester 


was deprived by the synod : they were treated as having already 
ceased to be Popes. Only Gratian was deposed. 1 

Two points may be noticed. Herman, as I have observed, does 
not expressly say that Gratian was the third of the three Popes who 
came upon the scene in 1044. His words even suggest that all 
three were deposed and that Gratian was elected in their place. This 
was certainly the sense in which the statement was understood by 
Otto of Freising 2 a century later. Secondly, Herman does not say 
that Gratian assumed the name of Gregory VI. Had he written 
after Hildebrand had shown his adhesion to Gratian by calling him- 
self Gregory VII, the chronicler's silence would be easy to explain ; 
he might have wished to dissociate Hildebrand from the deposed 
Pope. But Herman, I have said, died in 1052, more than twenty 
years before Hildebrand succeeded to the Papacy. I can therefore 
only infer that the story which reached Reichenau told that a certain 
Gratian was made Pope, that he was favourably received by Henry III, 
and that shortly afterwards he was deprived for what reason is not 
stated 3 by the synod of Sutri. An essential fact had been concealed 
from Herman's knowledge. 

If Herman was only partially acquainted with what happened we 
need not be surprised if the reports which reached Germany later 
were still less well furnished with accurate information. For example, 
the Annals of Niederaltaich were written about twenty or twenty-five 
years after the events in which we are interested ; and the monastery, 
situated on the Danube between Ratisbon and Passau, was in a 
favourable position for hearing news from Italy. This is the account 
we there read of the synod of Sutri : 

The cause of this assembly was three Popes who were all alike 
living at that time. For the first of them abandoned the see by 
reason of an unlawful marriage which he contracted ; he retired by 
his own will rather than by the pressure of any opposition. Where- 
fore, while he was still living in the flesh, the Romans conspired 
together and set up another Pope. The first, however, sold his 
office for money to a third, because in his wrath he refused that 
one subject to him should have it. To be brief, they were all 
judged in this synod, and deposed ; and Suitger bishop of Bamberg, 
a man worthy of the see, was chosen by the whole council of clergy 
and people. 4 

1 No Acts of the synod are now preserved. 

2 Chron. vi. 32, p. 299, ed. A. Hofineister, 1912. 

3 It is hinted at in the Catalogus Augiensis (Eccard, Corpus Historicum, ii. 
1640), which, though only preserved in a later manuscript, is believed to 
represent the Papal list used by Herman : Gratianus a Romanis constitutus, quern 
rex Henricus convictum causa erroneorum pastorali baculo privavit. 

4 Annales Altahenses maiores, a. 1046, ed. G. H. Pertz, 1868. 


Here we note the suppression of all the names, and this is again the 
more interesting, because the notice was written before Gregory VII 
became Pope : it was not influenced by the controversy which followed. 
It is not, however, essentially inconsistent with the other German 
accounts which I have quoted. The only new point which it brings 
in is the story of Pope Benedict's marriage. 1 


After Hildebrand became Pope and marked his attachment to 
Gregory VI in the plainest manner by adopting his name, it was 
natural, as I said at the beginning, that the events of 1046 should 
assume a different aspect. This we find well displayed in one of the 
Dialogues of Desiderius abbot of Monte Cassino, 2 who succeeded 
Hildebrand as Victor III and very likely learned from him his ver- 
sion of what took place. 3 He draws a strong contrast between the 
demerits of Benedict IX, whose misdoings he can hardly bring 
himself to describe, and the high character of the man to whom he 
resigned the Papacy ; but he does not conceal the fact that the trans- 
action was accompanied by a money payment (non parva ab eo accepta 
pecunid). What is more important is the way in which he tells us 
the circumstances in which Gregory VI ceased to be Pope. Before, 
he says, the German king entered Rome, 

he assembled a council of very many bishops and abbots, clergy 
and monks in the city of Sutri, and asked John, who was called 
Gregory, to come to him, sending to him bishops in order that 
ecclesiastical business and especially the situation of the Roman 
church, which then appeared to have three Popes, might be dis- 
cussed under his presidency. But this was done by design, for the 
king had long determined that with the counsel and authority of 
the whole council he would rightfully depose those three men who 
had unrightfully usurped the Apostolic See, and that a man should 
be appointed by the election of the clergy and people who would 
devote himself to the charge of the Lord's flock in conformity with 
the ordinances of the holy Fathers. Therefore the aforesaid pontiff, 
at the urgent request of the king and the bishops, willingly went 
to Sutri, where the synod was assembled, in the hope that the other 
two might be deposed and the Popedom be confirmed to him alone. 
But when he arrived there, and the matter began to be raised and 
debated by the synod, he recognized that he was unable rightfully 
to administer the functions of so great a charge : he rose up from 

1 The remaining contemporary account, that of Rodulf Glaber, I deal with 
later on. 

2 Dialog, iii, in Migne's Patrol. Lat. cxlix. 1003 ff. 
8 See Steimlorff, i. 464. 



the papal chair, divested himself of his papal raiment, and asking 
for pardon laid down the dignity of the great high-priesthood. 1 

This account, which I do not doubt Desiderius set down in entire 
good faith, represents the tradition which had grown up in Hilde- 
brandine circles. The fact that Gregory VI had paid money for the 
Popedom was too well known to be denied. But the more Benedict 
was depicted as a monster of wickedness, the more venial did 
Gregory's offence appear in buying him out. And Gregory was in 
all the rest of his life so good a man that people could not believe 
that he was deposed. Consequently the events which took place at 
Sutri were related in a new form : it was not the synod that deposed 
Gregory, but Gregory who resigned his office. It is generally agreed 
that this account is untrue, 2 but we can easily see how the story once 
stated would be willingly, and very soon honestly, accepted. 

This can hardly, I think, be maintained with respect to Bonizo, 
bishop of Sutri, who wrote his Liber ad Amicum in order to gain the 
protection of the Countess Matilda of Tuscany in 1085. His narra- 
tive, however, is so lively, and so much of it has passed down into 
most current histories, that it will be well to quote its substance. 
But I may premise that Bonizo was not only one of the most in- 
accurate of writers and extremely ill-informed about the history 
which he relates, but was quite without scruple in falsifying facts 
which did not suit his opinions. For example, he more than once 
tells us that Charles the Great was never crowned Emperor. 3 This 
is what he has to say about the three Popes of 1045 : 

Theophylactus, who by inversion of meaning was called Benedictus, 
fearing neither God nor man, was often guilty of shameful adultery 
and with his own hands committed many murders. At length he 
desired to marry his cousin, the daughter of Gerard de Saxo, and 
Gerard refused to give her unless he would renounce the Papacy. 
Wherefore he went to a certain priest named John, who was then 
deemed a man of great merit, and by his advice condemned himself 
and renounced the pontificate. The advice would have been highly 
praiseworthy, had it not been followed by a most shameful sin. 
For the priest whom I have mentioned, seized by wicked ambition 
and seduced [by the evil one,] took the opportunity [to purchase 
the Papacy from Theophylact] 4 and by immense payments of 

1 Dialog., p. 1005. 

1 It must not, however, be concealed that this view has its defenders : see for 
instance Dr. Hermann Grauert's Papstwahlstudien, in the Historisches Jahrbuch, 
xx. (1899) 320 f. 

8 Ad Amicum lib. v. in Jaffe"s Monumenta Gregoriana, p. 630, 1865 ; cf. lib. Hi, 
p. 614. 

* The words which I have enclosed within brackets represent a lacuna in the 
manuscript, which I have filled in according to the correction proposed by Jaffe. 


money compelled all the people of Rome to swear to him : thus he 
mounted to the Pontifical dignity, and they called him by the name 
of Gregory. After this Gerard de Saxo with other captains elected 
for themselves a certain bishop of the Sabines as Pope, and named 
him Silvester. So Theophylact was defrauded of his bride, and 
his brothers, hearing what had come to pass, raised him once more 
to the Papal throne. 1 

It will be seen that Bonizo turns the course of events upside down, 
and places the election of Silvester III after that of Gregory VI. 2 
He implies that they were both Popes at the same time, and does not 
say what happened to them when Benedict was restored. Moreover, 
he gives no explanation of the conduct of Gerard de Saxo, who after 
Benedict had fulfilled his condition refused to allow his daughter's 
marriage. Whether such a marriage was ever proposed, it is 
impossible to determine. We have seen that it was believed in 
Bavaria not many years later. 3 But, in view of the spirit of defama- 
tion which pervaded that age, we cannot confidently exclude the 
possibility that the tale was a simple slander. 

Bonizo goes on to relate that Peter, the archdeacon of Rome, with 
a number of cardinals, clergy, and laity, withdrew from the com- 
munion of the usurping Popes, and that he crossed the Alps and 
implored the German king and bishops to come to Italy and convoke 
a synod. No other writer mentions this action of Archdeacon Peter, 
and Bonizo's account has not always been accepted. 4 However this 
may be, King Henry marched into Italy in the autumn of 1046, and 
Bonizo continues the story as follows : 

This intruder (abusivus) Gregory was invited by the king to go to 
meet him, being as the sequel showed conscious of no wrong- 
doing ; and he went to Piacenza and there found the king. He 
was honourably received by him, as beseemed a Pope; for the 
bishops who were present did not think it religious to condemn any 
bishop without judgement, let alone one who appeared to be the 
pontiff of so great a see. And so advancing together they came to 
Sutri, and when they had arrived there the king asked him who 
seemed to be Pope that a synod should be assembled. This he 
granted and confirmed by decree; for he was an ignorant man 
(idiota) and of wonderful simplicity. 

Bonizo says, that the synod was ' held under Gregory's presidency, 

1 Ad Amicum lib. v, pp. 625 f. 

* This same inversion appears in Cardinal ECHO'S Gesta Romanae Ecclesiae, 
ii. 8 (Libelli de Lite Imperatorum et Pontificum, ii. 378). 

8 See above, p. 10. 

4 For instance, by Steindorff, i. 262. It is, however, defended by Giesebrecht, 
Geschichte der Deutschen Kaiserzeit, i. (5th ed., 1881) 413, 664. 


and he mentions three prelates by name as present, two of whom 
had long been dead. 

When the question about the usurper Silvester was raised, it was 
adjudged by all that he should be divested of his episcopate and 

Sriesthood and be consigned to a monastery for life. They also 
ecided that Theophylact should be passed over (super sedendum), 
especially because the Roman Pontiff himself judged that he should 
be deposed. But as to what they should do with the third 
claimant, what course could they take when no liberty of accusing 
and bearing testimony was granted to them ? The bishops there- 
fore begged the president to declare the reason of his election, and, 
simple as he was, he disclosed the naked fact l of his election. 

He said that by a life of abstinence he had acquired much riches 
which he had intended to devote to the good of the church in Rome. 
But when he meditated on the tyranny of the nobles, how they set 
up Popes without election by the clergy and people, he determined to 
use his money for the purpose of restoring to the true electors the 
right of election of which by this tyranny they had been wrongfully 
deprived. When the council heard this, they hinted at the devices 
of the old enemy : nothing, they said, which was venal could be holy. 

Judge thyself out of thine own mouth, for it is better for thee to 
live poor with St. Peter, for whose love thou didst this thing, than 
to perish with Simon Magus who deceived thee. 

Gregory then pronounced his own deposition, and the council 
confirmed it. 

This statement that Gregory was not deposed by the council but 
deposed himself became an accepted part of the Hildebrandine 
tradition. It appears in a striking form in the Chronicle of Bernold 
of Constance, who began by transcribing the work of Herman of 
Reichenau, and afterwards altered his text so as to emphasize the 
wickedness of Benedict and suppress the scandalous circumstances in 
which he parted with the Papacy : Benedict, he says, resigned * of 
his own free will', and allowed Gratian to be ordained Pope 
Gregory VI in his stead. Then he proceeds to add that in 1046 
Gregory, whom Herman described as convicted and deposed, c not 
unwillingly laid down his pastoral office'; and somewhat incon- 
sistently says that the earthquakes which prevailed under Clement II 
were attributed to the fact that his predecessor had been ( uncanoni- 
cally deposed '. 2 

1 Jaffe interprets puritatem as suppurationem, but this seems unnecessary. 
* Clirou., in Monum. Germ. Hist. v. 425. 


It is unnecessary to accumulate further evidence of the form taken 
by the developed Hildebrandine account of what happened in 1045 
and 1046. 1 The main points were the depravity of Benedict IX 
which drove Gregory VI to adopt forbidden means in order to oust 
him, and the substitution of the statement that Gregory voluntarily 
resigned the Papacy for the earlier statement that he was deposed by 
process of law. 

Before inquiring into the charges made against Benedict, it will 
not be out of place to remark that it was not only against him that 
charges of nefarious conduct were made. We must remember that 
they were made when the conflict between Gregory VII and the 
Emperor Henry IV was at its height. In a time of acute political 
hostility accusations, as we know too well, are made and are believed, 
which in a calmer time would never have been suggested. Let me 
give a specimen or two of what was said about Gregory VII. 
Cardinal Beno informs us that he had in his employment an expert 
by whose help he was said to have poisoned five Popes in thirteen 
years. 2 The synod of Brixen in 1080 was more moderate ; it only 
stated in its decree that four Popes were proved to have been poisoned 
by Gregory's means. 3 Of another Imperialist champion, Bishop 
Benzo of Alba, it will be enough to say that he accuses Alexander II 
and Gregory VII of almost every vice that can or cannot be named, 
not to speak of simony, gambling, corruption, sorcery, necromancy, 
homicide, and other misdoings. 4 Now no one, I suppose, believes 

1 If I pass over St. Peter Damiani, it is not because I underrate the importance 
of his contribution to the formation of opinion in his time, but because on the 
precise points of fact he adds very little, and that little not, I think, until 
a good many years later. 

1 He says (Gesta Rom. Eccl. ii. 9, Libelli de Lite, ii. 379) that when Hilde- 
brand returned to Rome in 1049, in brew loculos implevit, et cui pecuniam Warn 
committeret,filium cuiusdam ludei noviter quidem baptizatum sed mores nummulario- 
rum adhuc retinentem,familiarem sibi fecit. Et iam diu conciliaverat iibi quendam 
alium incomparabilibus maleficiis assuetum, Gerhardum nomine, qui cognominabatur 
Brazutus, amicum Theophilacti [Benedict IX], qui subdola familiaritate dicitur sex 
Romanos pontifices infra spacium tredecim annorum veneno suffocasse ; quorum 
nomina haec sunt : Clemens . . . Damasus . . . Leo . . . Victor . . . Stephanus . . . 
Benedictus . . . Hie non veneno sed vi et dolis Hildebrandifuit eiectus . . . Nicolaus. 

3 Jaffe, Monumenta Bambergensia (1869), p. 134 ; also in Monum. Germ. 
Hist., Constitutiones, i. 119, 1893. The agent is here called John Brachiutus 
or Brachtutus. John Braciuto subscribes a Roman document in 1060 : Regesto 
di Farfa, iv. (1888) 302. The synod had declared among other things that 
Hildebrand had been wont obncenis theatralibus ludicris ultra laicos insistere, 
mensem nummulariorum in porticu transigentium turpis lucri gratia publice obser- 
vare. His itaque questibus pecunia cumulata, abbatiam beati Fault invasit, etc. 

* Karl Pertz has collected a number of specimens of the bishop's vile and 


these gross calumnies against Gregory VII ; and yet a not very 
different set of statements about Benedict IX has been universally 
accepted. This has happened, no doubt, because it was considered 
that in his case they were not improbable. But probability is not 
the same thing as proof. The history of the Tusculan Popes has in 
truth been contaminated by the fact that their dynasty was followed 
by a reaction. I will digress for a moment to inquire how their power 
was created. 


The city of Rome had for ages past been torn by internal discord. 
There was always one or more parties of the local nobility who sought 
to strengthen themselves by exciting the lesser people to riot and 
pillage. One of these parties was headed by the house of Crescentius, 
whose power was put down for the moment by Otto III. Another 
great Roman family was represented at that time by Gregory de 
Tusculana, the naval prefect, whose mother was a first cousin of the 
famous Alberic, the Prince of the Romans, who had ruled the city 
with firmness for more than twenty years towards the middle of the 
tenth century. 1 The territorial possessions of the family had been 
continually growing in the Roman Campagna, and near the end of 
the century Gregory is found established in authority at Tusculum. 
It may be that Otto conferred the countship upon him in order to 
detach a prominent noble from his fellows and, by establishing him 
in a strong fortress not too far distant for effective control, to set up 
a power which might keep in check the factions of Rome and assist 
the Imperial interest. If this was so, Otto's expectations were not 
unrewarded. The counts of Tusculum soon gained the upper hand 
in Roman politics, and they were as a rule friendly to the Emperors. 
Their victory over the house of Crescentius was marked by the 
successive appointment to the Papacy of two of Gregory's sons, 2 and 
these were followed by a grandson ; so that for thirty-three years the 
Popedom continued in the family. 

It is with the third and last of the dynasty that I am particularly 

filthy abuse : Monum. Germ. Hist. xi. (1854) 593. He misses the point of 
Benzo's disgusting invective in i. 22, p. 608, in consequence of his not seeing the 
allusions to Proverbs xxx. 15, 16. 

1 The details of Gregory's ancestry are discussed below, in the appendix on 
the Counts of Tusculum. 

* It is possible, as Gregorovius suggests (History of the City of Rome, ir. 11), 
that the Tusculan ascendancy began three years earlier with the appointment of 
Sergius IV, for he was bishop of Albano, a place where the Tusculan influence 
was very strong. See below, pp. 33, 36. 


concerned. But before speaking of him I will observe that his evil 
repute has cast a shadow upon his two predecessors ; in modern 
histories they are all tarred with the same brush. But the first, 
Benedict VIII, was an able and vigorous pontiff, who not only kept 
Rome in order but also took a leading part in Italian politics. 
Besides this he worked in harmony with the Emperor Henry II and 
supported him in his aims for reforming abuses in the Church. But 
he was too much occupied by public affairs to bestow much attention 
upon ecclesiastical administration. Not many more than seventy 
rescripts are attributed to him in a pontificate of nearly twelve years. 1 
But here it is fair to notice that no Papal Register is preserved 
between the end of the ninth century and the time of Gregory VII, 
and that, though parchment came into use in the chancery towards 
the end of Benedict's pontificate, rescripts continued to be written on 
papyrus, a far more perishable material, until beyond the middle of 
the century. Scanty, however, as is the list of Benedict's documents, 
it is respectable as compared with those of his two successors. The 
nine years of John XIX produced but forty-seven ; the twelve of 
Benedict IX, only eighteen. John seems to have been a colourless 
person, timid and inert ; he left no mark as an administrator and 
not a creditable one as a statesman. It is generally said that these 
Tusculan Popes lived the rough lives of secular nobles, and this is 
very likely true, though I am not aware of any contemporary 
evidence to support it. It is certain, however, that Benedict VIII 
stood high above the Crescentian Popes who preceded him, and I do 
not know that the two brothers understood their episcopal duties 
in a very different way from a great many of the French, German, 
and English prelates of the same century. 

I now turn to their nephew, Benedict IX. His character has been 
blasted at the outset by the statement, which has been repeated by 
every historian who'has written about him, that he was a boy of ten 
or twelve years of age at the time he was made Pope. Now this 
statement rests upon the sole, unsupported testimony of a single 
writer, Rodulf Glaber, at that time a monk of St. Germanus at 
Auxerre, who made a collection of trifling, largely fabulous, narra- 
tives, and called it a history. He wrote entirely for edification and 
put down anything that served his turn. He is not only the most- 
credulous but the most careless and inaccurate of writers. I will 

1 The number of 71 in the second edition of Jaffe's Regesta Pontificum 
Romanorum includes documents which we know only from references to them, 
as well as documents still preserved. When Dr. Kebr's new Regesta is com- 
pleted the number may be expected to be somewhat, but not largely, increased. 



give one example from near the end of his book, where he is relating 
a fact which he knew from personal observation. After saying some- 
thing about the year 1045 he proceeds : ' In the following year, that 
is the forty-sixth after the thousandth, there was a great dearth of 
wine and vegetables, and after this on the 8th November there was 
an eclipse of the moon which affrighted men exceedingly/ -He gives 
the calendar notes accurately, the age of the moon, the epact, and 
the concurrent ; but these belong not to 1046, but to 1044, when the 
eclipse actually occurred, 1 A writer capable of so gross a blunder is 
not to be taken as an authority on matters of detail. Again, under 
the year 1033 he describes correctly an eclipse of the sun which 
occurred on Friday, 29 June. On that day, he says, the Feast of the 
Apostles, certain of the Roman princes rose against the Pope in the 
church of St. Peter and sought to put him to death, but, not 
succeeding, they drove him from his see. Howbeit, on account of 
this thing, as well as for other malpractices, the Emperor went thither 
and restored him to his see. 2 Conrad did not go to Italy until the 
end of 1036, three years and a half after Benedict's supposed expul- 
sion ; and there was no need to restore the Pope, since in 1036 he is 
found holding a synod to all appearances at Rome. Modern historians 
accept the fact that Benedict was expelled, but think that it was 
in 1035 or 1036. What, then, becomes of the eclipse so scrupulously 
recorded ? 

Rodulf twice mentions Benedict IX's age, and each time gives it 
differently. First, in book iv, chapter v, 3 he laments the degeneracy 
of the times. All the rulers, whether of church or state, were boys, 
inpuerili etate. The very Pope, a lad of hardly ten years (puerferme 
decennis) was elected by the Romans with the help of money from his 
treasures. Secondly, in the last paragraph of his work 4 he says that 
the Holy See had suffered from the disease of corruption for twenty- 
five years; for f a certain boy of about twelve years (puer circiter 
annorum xii] was appointed to it who was recommended only by his 
wealth in gold and silver rather than by his age or piety. It were 
a shame to mention the baseness of his conversation and life. 
However, by the consent of the whole Roman people and by the 
command of the Emperor he was expelled from his seat, and in 
his place a most religious man and conspicuous for holiness was 
appointed, namely Gregory, by race a Roman, by whose good repute 

1 Hist. v. 1, 18, ed. M. Prou, 1886, p. 128. 

2 Lib. iv. 9, 24, p. 112. 

3 17, p. 105. 

4 Lib. v. 5, 26, pp. 134 f. 


that which the former had defiled was changed for the better/ It 
may be presumed that when Rodulf wrote this he was not aware 
of the fact that Gregory VI had possessed himself of the Papacy 
by the very means which he had just denounced. The statement 
that Gregory's appointment was made after Benedict had been 
deposed by the Emperor's command, which inverts the order of 
events, may possibly represent a story which was circulated by 
Gregory's friends. Whence Rodulf derived the twenty-five years 
during which the Papacy had degenerated I cannot say ; if he 
reckoned from the accession of John XIX, that would be little more 
than twenty years. What reason is there to suppose that he was 
more accurate when he stated that Benedict was a boy of about 
twelve years ? I should not be at all surprised if he simply blundered 
over a notice of Benedict's life, which stated that when he had been 
Pope for twelve years he was expelled by the Romans. This at least 
is the shape in which his catastrophe is recorded by writers of the 
next generation. 1 There is not much difference between per ann. xii 
and puer ann. xii. 

It is strange, too, that it has not been observed that Rodulfs 
account of Benedict IX's extreme youth can hardly be reconciled 
with the known facts of the Pope's pedigree. His grandfather, 
Gregory, appears as vir illustrissimus in 980, in 986 as senator : 
in 999 he held high office. There are indications which lead us to 
place his birth not later than 940 ; he died before 1013. This date 
agrees well with those of his two elder sons, Popes Benedict VIII 
and John XIX, who died in the course of nature in 1024 and 1032. 
The youngest son, Alberic, is found acting in a judicial capacity 
in 999. Now if the men of those days were not as a rule long-lived, 
at any rate those who married married early. Though not impossible, 
it is at least unlikely that this Alberic's son, Benedict IX, would be 
born when his father was about fifty. A comparison of ages and 
generations in a pedigree about which a great deal is known 2 would 
lead to the conclusion that Benedict IX was nearer thirty than ten 
years old at the time that he became Pope. 

The scanty records of Benedict's earlier years as Pope furnish no 
indication of his exceptional youth. 3 Four years after his accession, 
in November 1036, we find him holding a synod. 4 In the following 

1 Thus Leo of Ostia, under 1044, Rontae prneterea cum pupa Benedictus per 
mi nun 12 sedem apostolicam obsedisset potius quam sedisset, a Romanis expukwt eft : 
Chron. Monast. Casin. ii. 77, in Monum. Germ. Hist., Scriptores, vii. 682. 

8 See appendix. 

5 See the summary in Steindorff, i. 256 f. 

* Mansi, Concil. Collect, ampliss. xix. 679. 


summer he went to Cremona to visit the emperor, Conrad II, by whom 
he was honourably received. 1 A little later he made a change in the 
administration of his chancery, which looks as though he intended to 
adopt an independent policy. The- office of librarian, the titular head 
of the chancery, had been conferred fourteen years before on Peregrine, 
Archbishop of Cologne, who died in 1036 ; but instead of appointing 
the new archbishop, who was actually in Italy, to the office, Benedict 
determined, in November 1037, that it should be held by one of the 
bishops of the Roman province, the Bishop of Selva Candida and his 
successors. 2 When we remember that Conrad had made himself 
unpopular in Italy by introducing Germans into bishoprics there, the 
significance of Benedict's act can hardly be misunderstood. 3 On the 
other hand, it may be contended that the Pope was not strong enough 
to carry matters further, for next spring he supported Conrad by 
excommunicating his principal opponent, Archbishop Aribert of 
Milan. 4 In 1040 it is said, though the evidence is not quite satis- 
factory, that he travelled to Marseilles to take part in the consecration 
of a church. All these acts fall within a time when we are asked to 
believe that the Pope was under eighteen or twenty years of age ; and 
yet no one of our authorities betrays the smallest indication that 
he was canonically incapable of exercising the powers of a Pope. 

Benedict was evidently a negligent Pope, very likely a profligate 
man. We may believe Herman of Reichenau when he says that he 
was unworthy of his high office. 5 But we have to wait until he had 
discredited himself by his sale of the Papacy before we hear anything 
definite about his misdeeds; and the further we go in time and 
place, the worse his character becomes. At Auxerre very soon he is 
denounced as a reprobate by Rodulf Glaber. 6 Then, some twenty 
years after, it was said in Germany that he gave up the Papacy 
because he had taken a wife. 7 A good deal later, after Hildebrand 
had become Pope, Benedict's crimes grow in .wickedness, and we get 
the picture which is familiar in all the modern histories. I do not 
say that the picture is false : all I say is that it was drawn at a time 

1 Wipo, Gesta Chuonradi Imperatoris, xxxvi, p. 43, ed. H. Bresslau, 1878. 

2 Marini, I Papiri Diplomatic*, p. 83 ; Jaffe, Reg. no. 4110. 

8 Cf. Bresslau, Jahrbucher des Deutschen Reichs unter Konrad II, ii. (1884) 

4 Ann. Hildeslieim., a. 1038, p. 42, ed. G. Waitz, 1878. I do not find evidence 
that Benedict kept Easter at Spello with the Emperor in that year, as Dr. Bresslau 
says, ii. 285, 286. But the fact is probable. 

8 Indignus tanto ordini moribus etfactis : Chroii., a. 1033, p. 121. 

6 Above, p. 18. 

7 Above, p. 10. 


of acute controversy, when the party opposed to the tradition which 
he represented was in the ascendant. He had indeed no friends. 
The supporters of the Imperial side would have nothing to say for 
a Pope whom they believed to have been removed by Henry III. 
The reform party of the school of Hildebrand considered that the 
transaction with Gregory VI was proof of Benedict's infamy : to 
them Gregory, to the day of his death, continued to be the lawful 
Pope. In the version of the Liber Pontificalis which won currency 
in later ages both Clement II and Damasus II were set down as 
usurpers. 1 So, too, it was said of Clement II : Qui ab aliis potius 
demens quam Clemens did dignus iudicatur, cum utique per violentiam 
Gratiano amoto eum intrusum asserant. 2 The true line of Popes was 
only restored with Leo IX after Gregory was dead. 

To this Gregory I now turn. His name was John, but to distin- 
guish him from many namesakes he was commonly known as 
Gratian. 3 He is never styled John Gratian by contemporaries. 4 
He was the head, archcanon or archpriest the two titles indicate 
the same office 5 of a house of clergy established in the Church of 
St. John at the Latin Gate. By universal testimony he was a man 
of unblemished character, who was held by all in the highest regard. 
When he was already past middle life, for he was godfather (patrinus) 
to Benedict IX, he appears to have been so deeply impressed by that 
Pope's unworthiness for his office that he took the daring step of 
buying him out of it. Whether the act was simoniacal or not, I do 
not know. Simony is understood to mean the payment of money for 
a spiritual office which one desires ; whether it includes also the pay- 
ment of money in order to remove a scandalous holder of an office by 
a person who does not desire it, I leave to those better versed in canon 

1 Lib. Pontif. ii. 273 f. 

2 See the Zwettl Hist. Rom. Pontif. cliii, in Pez's Thes. Anecd. Noviss. i. iii. 
(1721) 385 a. 

3 It is possible that this surname was derived from a kinsman, perhaps an 
uncle, who on conversion translated Johauan into Gratianus, just as Barach 
became Benedictus. But I have not found satisfactory proof that Gratianus was 
in fact used as a translation of Johanan. See, however, L. Zunz, Namen der 
Juden, in Gesammelte Schriften, ii. (1876) 54. 

4 I notice this because Ur. M. Tangl, in the Neues Archiv der Gesellschaft 
fur altere Deutsche Geschichtskunde, xxxi. (1906) 162, adduces this combination 
of names as an argument against Gregory VI's connexion with the family of 
Leo son of Benedict, in which the double name does not occur. 

5 See Duchesne, Lib. Pontif. ii. 271, n. 3. 

law than I am to decide. The nature of the transaction was perhaps 
not at once made known. Directly Gratian became Pope St. Peter 
Damiani wrote him a florid letter of congratulation, in which he 
specially welcomed the blow which his election had struck at the evil 
of simony : 

Conteratur iam milleforme caput venenati serpentis ; cesset com- 
mercium perversae negotiationis ; nullam iam monetam falsarius 
Simon in ecclesia fabricet. 1 

But the problem is, how a man like Gratian could have been in the 
possession of the immense amount of money which he was reputed to 
have paid. 2 Bonizo of Sutri, with his accustomed scurrility, says 
that he amassed wealth by his abstinence from profligate courses. 3 
This cannot be taken seriously. It is plain that Gratian must either 
have inherited great wealth or have had very rich relations. 

It is an old-established statement that he was a member of the 
powerful family of Peter Leonis. Ciaconius speaks as though he 
were Peter's son, 4 but this is, on chronological grounds, impossible. 
From what source the statement is derived I have been unable to dis- 
cover. There is an inscription formerly on Peter's tomb at St. Paul's 
without the Walls, which asserts definitely that Gregory VI was his 
uncle (patruus) ; 5 but the inscription is unmistakably of late date, 
and has had the misfortune of having been restored in the seventeenth 
century. According to it Gregory was a brother of Peter's father 
Leo, the son of Benedict the Christian. Signor Pietro Fedele, with 
his habitual caution, admits that the relationship is not proved ; but 
he thinks that some near relationship is highly probable. 6 

Now Benedict the Christian was a wealthy merchant established, it 

1 Epist. i. i, Opera, iii. 2, ed. C. Cajetani, 1783. Dr. Grauert, ubi supra, 
pp. 315, 321-325, argues that Peter was aware of the facts and thought that 
Gregory's conduct could be defended. 

2 The sum is variously stated as a thousand pounds of pennies of Pavia (Lib. 
Pontif. ii. 275) and 1,500 pounds (Beno, Gest. Rom. Eccl. ii. 7, p. 378) ; it grew 
in time to 2,000 pounds (Cod. Vat. 1340, Lib. Poutif. ii. 270). A thousand 
pounds meant a thousand pounds' weight of silver, and this, according to the 
twelfth -century ratio of 1 : 9, would mean something not far short of 6,000 in 
modern value. 

3 Lib. ad Amicum, v, in Monum. Greg., p. 628. 

4 fotnnie* Gratiunus Petri Leonis, eximiae nobUitatis in urbevir: Vitae Pontif. 
Rom. i. 781 (ed. A. Oldoinus, 1677). 

6 It is printed by A. Nerini, de Templo et Coenobio ss. Bonifacii et Alexii 
(1752), app. viii, p. 394 u. ; and by V. Forcella, Iscrizioni delle Chiese di Roma, 
xii. (1878) 19, no. 31. 

6 Le Famiglie di Anacleto II e di Gelasio II, in the Arch, della Soc. Rom. di 
Storia Patria, xxvii. (1904) 409 f. 


seems, in the region beyond Tiber which was the Jewish quarter of 
the city. 1 His name before his conversion was presumably Baruch or 
Berachiah, and this was translated into Benedictus when he became a 
Christian. He is said to have been converted during the pontificate 
of Leo IX and to have called his son after the Pope. 2 This was a not 
unnatural conjecture for a later writer to make/ but it will not suit 
the dates of Leo's activity. For Leo IX was enthroned in 1048, and 
in 1051 we have a grant of land made Leoni, vir magnificus et lauda- 
bilis negotiator, filio Benedicti bone memorie Christiani.* In 1060 he 
was among the principal witnesses to the investiture of the abbot of 
Farfa by Nicholas II. 5 Moreover, we know from his epitaph that his 
mother was of noble birth a member of the nobility of Christian 
Rome : 

Romae natus, opum dives, probus, et satis alto 
Sanguine materno nobilitatus erat. 6 

Her marriage may have taken place as early as 1010, and Benedict 
was no doubt then already a convert. He was dead in 1051, and his 
son Leo is no longer mentioned after 1063. 

It has been necessary to consider the antecedents of Leo de Bene- 
dicto Christiano, 7 because it has been frequently said that the family 

1 Ibid., pp. 405 f. Nothing helpful for our purpose will he found in A. 
Berliner's Gesch. der Juden in Rom, n. i. (1893) ; and very little in the work 
with the same title by H. Vogelstein and P. Rieger, i (1896). These writers 
are not interested in converted Jews. The latter say (i. 214) that there are no 
Jewish materials for the history of the Roman Jews at this time. 

2 Chron. de Morigny, p. 51, ed. L. Mirot, 2nd ed , 1912. This part of the 
chronicle was finished about 1132. 

s It is elaborated in the scurrilous account given by Arnulf, afterwards bishop 
of Lisieux, of the most famous member of this house of converts, Anacletus II : 
Parcendum tamen est obscoenitati rerborum, dum Petri nta narratur, et rerunt 
veritus sermonum palliunda decore, ut honos habitus honestati legentium videatur. 
Libet igitur praeterire antiquam nativitatis eius originem et ignobilem similem 
prosapiam, nee ludaicum nomen urbitror opponendum, de quibus ipse non solum 
rnateriam curnis sed etium quasdain priinitias ingeniti contrujcit erroris. Ipse enini 
xujfficiens est et copiosa materia, neque quidquam domui eius ipso turpius vel esse vet 
fuisse coniecto. C'uius avus cum inaextimabilem pecuniam multiplici corrogassel 
usura, tusceptam circumcisionem baptismatis undo dampnamt, etc. : In Girardum 
Engolismensem, iii, in L. d'Achery's Spicilegium, i. (ed. 1723) 165 . 

* Carte del Monastero dei SS. Cosma e Damiano in Mica Aurea, ed. P. Fedele, 
Arch, della Soc. Rom. di Stor. Patr., xxii. (1899) 97. 

6 Reg. Farf., no. 906, vol. iv. 300 f. He witnesses another document in 1063 : 
ibid., no. 936, p. 329. 

8 The inscription was written by Archbishop Alfanus of Salerno, and is 
printed by Baronius, Ann. xviii. 217. 

7 So he is called, under 1058 and 1062 in the Annales Romani, Lib. Pontif. 
ii. 334, 336. 


was one of recent conversion, perhaps as recent as the time of Leo IX. 1 
They had in fact been opulent and powerful- members of the Christian 
community in the region beyond Tiber and on the Island for at least 
a generation ; and Leo and his son Peter were pre-eminent among the 
supporters of the reforming party in Rome. When the Tusculans 
set up Benedict X, in 1058, Hildebrand obtained money from Leo by 
means of which he divided the populace, and it was in the Trans- 
tiberine district that he succeeded in holding his ground. 2 In 1062, 
when there was hard fighting on behalf of the Antipope Cadalus 
(Honorius II), Leo stood by Hildebrand and Alexander II, and dis- 
tributed money through the city all the night. 3 His wealth was each 
time an important auxiliary to the Hildebrandine forces. The eminent 
services performed by Leo's son Peter for Hildebrand after he became 
Pope, and for Urban II when he too was in trouble, are too well known 
to need recording. 4 Peter had now removed into the heart of the 
city, and it was in his house apud sanctum Nicolaum in Carcere that 
Urban died. 5 Peter lived on until between 1124 and 1130. One of 
his sons, also named Peter, was raised to the Papacy as Anacletus II, 
but after many fluctuations of fortune he was destined to rank as an 

The great wealth of the house of Peter Leonis and their unvarying 
support of Hildebrand and his party are prominently mentioned in 
the literature of the time both by friends and enemies ; and there is 
a remarkable statement in a chronicle of the twelfth century which 
claims Hildebrand himself as a member of it. This is found in the 
Annals of Pegau, near Merseburg a compilation which contains 
some kernels of fact mixed up with a great deal of loose and unsup- 
ported tradition 7 according to which Peter Leonis was Hildebrand's 
avunculus:, so that Hildebrand's mother was Peter's sister. This 
relationship is indeed favoured by Signor Fedele, who thinks that the 
difficulty arising from a consideration of the men's ages as Hilde- 
brand was born perhaps as early as 1020 and Peter lived until after 
1 124 is not insuperable. 8 To me this view appears quite out of the 

1 See, for instance, Giesebrecht, Geschichte der Deutschen Kaiserzeit, iii. 
(ed. 4, 1876) 16 ; and compare the allusion in Beno's story, above, p. 15, n. 2. 

2 Ann. Rom., Lib. Pontif. ii. 234 f. 
8 Ibid., p. 336. 

4 See Fedele, in Arch, della Soc. Rom. xxvii. (1904) 411-415. 
8 Lib. Pontif. ii. 294. 
6 Fedele, p. 415, n. 5. 

There is, however, no need to travesty the narrative in these Annals, as 
Dr. Tangl does (Neues Archiv, xxxi. 179), in order to hold them up to ridicule. 
8 p. 407 and n. 1. 


question. It is, however, asserted that in the region where the Pegau 
Annals were written the meanings of avunculus and nepos were in- 
verted ; so that the annalist really described Peter as Hildebrand's 
nephew. 1 The proof of this strange usage has not yet, to my know- 
ledge, been produced. If it be correct, it is surprising that neither 
the Lives of Hildebrand nor any contemporary writers give a hint 
that he had a sister married to a well-known citizen. I incline rather 
to believe that avunculus was used in a general sense to indicate 
relationship on the mothers side. Now it has lately been discovered 
that Hildebrand's mother was a Roman lady named Bertha, who lived 
near the Church of St. Mary in Portico. 2 We still await the evidence 
for this identification ; but it is not in itself unlikely. Bertha, 
I would suggest, was the sister of the wife of Leo, son of Benedict 
the Christian. 

We have seen that Gratian has been asserted to have belonged to 
this same family of converts ; and the close ties which bound him to 
Hildebrand have naturally led to a speculation whether they were not 
connected in blood. When Gratian was deposed and exiled beyond 
the Alps, it was Hildebrand whom he took as his companion. 3 On 
his death, it is stated, but on suspicious authority, that he made 
Hildebrand his heir. 4 Nearly twenty years later Hildebrand himself 
attained the Papacy, and in remembrance of his old friend he adopted 
his name, Gregory. 5 If there be a grain of truth in the tales which 
were told against Hildebrand in later years, he was brought up under 
Gratian^s immediate influence. Cardinal Beno has a wonderful story 
of how Gerbert, Pope Silvester II, who had already acquired the 
reputation of a necromancer, taught his evil arts to Theophylact 

1 See Tangl, p. 166, n. 3. 

* The statement is quoted by Signer Fedele, p. 407, n. 3, from an Italian 
book to which I have not access. Hugh of Flavigny, who wrote at the end of 
the century, stands alone in saying that Hildebrand was born in Rome parentibus 
civibus Romanis (Monum. Germ. Hist., Script, viii. 422). His birthplace was 
a village in the district of Sovana, and his father was of Tuscan race ; but 
Hildebrand speaks of his early Roman associations (ab infantia, Reg. i. 39, 
Monum. Greg. p. 58 ; iii. 10 a, pp. 223 f. : cf. vii. 23 p. 415). If his mother 
belonged to a Roman family, this might explain Hugh of Flavigny's statement. 

8 Reg. vii. 14 a, p. 401. Bonizo, p. 630, says that Hildebrand had previously 
been his chaplain, but it is unlikely that he was yet in holy orders. 

4 Beno, ii. 8, p. 378. 

5 Hunc Gratianum Alpes trantcendentem secutum fuitte tradunt HUtibrandum, 
qui postmodum summus pontifex factus ob eius amorem, quia de catalogo pontificum 
semotus fuerat, se Gregorium VIl m vocari voluit : Otto of Freising, Chron. vi. 32, 
pp. 299 f. Dr. Martens's opinion that the name was imposed upon Hildebrand 
in memory of Gregory the Great (Zeitschrift fur Kirchenrecht, xxii. 63 f., 1887) 
may be accepted by any one who chooses. 


(afterwards Benedict IX) and to Lawrence (afterwards archbishop of 
Aniiilfi), and how Lawrence lived in the house of John the archpriest, 
otherwise Gratian, his disciple. From these three Hildebrand learned 
magic. 1 Now in 1046 Lawrence undoubtedly resided at the monas- 
tery of St. Mary on the Aventine ; and Hildebrand, according to his 
biographer, Paul of Bernried, was sent for his education to his uncle 
(avunculus), who was abbot of that house. 2 

The monastery has an interesting history. Alberic the Prince had 
a palace on the site, which he gave, perhaps in 936, to St. Odo, abbot 
of Cluny, in order that he might found a monastery there ; 3 and from 
that time St. Mary's was the place where the abbot of Cluny stayed 
when they visited Rome. St. Odilo was there more than once : his 
biographer, Jotsald, says, 

Habebat autem hospitium in monasterio sacrae puerperae Virginis, 
quod est situm in Aventino monte, qui, prae caeteris illius urbis 
montibus aedes decoras habens et suae positionis culmen in altum 
tollens, aestivos fervores aurarum algore tolerabiles reddit et habilem 
in se habitationem facit. 4 

But Odilo was not in Rome after 1032 until he returned near the 
end of his life, in 1046, arriving on the eve of the appointment of 
Clement II. 5 There is therefore no question of any personal 
acquaintance between Odilo and Hildebrand. Still, though Odilo 
was not himself at Rome, it is evident that St. Mary's was always 
the headquarters there of the reforming movement which is associated 
with the famous Burgundian monastery. It was this connexion that 
drew thither Odilo's friend Lawrence, the expelled archbishop of 
Amalfi, vir per omnia sanctissimus, in scripturis utriusque linguae, 
Graecae videlicet et Latinae,facundissimus ; 6 and the same personal 
ties most naturally explain the favour with which Peter Damiani 
welcomed the appointment of Gratian to the Papacy as ushering in 
a new time of purity for the Church. 7 

1 Gesta Rom. Eccl. ii. 3-5, Libelli de Lite (Monum. Germ. Hist.), ii. 376 f. 

* Vit. Greg. IX, in Watterich, i. 477. One Peter, abbot of St. Mary's, 
subscribes the acts of a Roman synod in 1044 : Ughelli, v. (ed. 1720) 1116 ; as 
does also John, the archcanon and archpriest of St. John's. 

8 Hugh of Farfa, Destr. Farf., in Chron. Farf. i. 39 f. 

4 Vit. s. Odilon, ii. 9, in Migne, cxlii. 923. 

3 This is acutely pointed out by Sackur, Die Cluniacenser, ii. (1894) 282, n. 2. 

6 Vit. s. Odilon, i. 14, p. 909. Compare the additional passages of Jotsald's 
Life, printed by Sackur, in Neues Archiv, xv. (1890) 120. 

T It is not without interest to read that Peter Damiani was staying in Rome 
on the critical days when Clement II was made Pope and Henry III crowned 
Emperor : see Opusc. xlii. 6, in Opera, iii. 698. 


It would not be wise to make too much of the accusation brought 
against Hildebrand that he accumulated riches by usury. 1 He was 
certainly closely associated with Peter Leonis, whose money more 
than once was of service to his interests ; 2 and this may have 
given rise to the story that he himself engaged in speculation. 
Peter's constant support suggests, though it does not prove, that he 
was his kinsman. 

Now in what manner can we combine the various uncertain indica- 
tions about Gratian and Hildebrand in such a way as to build up 
a tentative pedigree ? We find (1) a modern statement that Gratian 
was of the house of Peter Leonis ; (2) an inscription, probably also 
modern, asserting that he was Peter's uncle; (3) his great wealth, 
which implies that he belonged to a family of capitalists ; (4) his 
close attachment to Hildebrand, whom by one dubious account he 
made his heir ; (5) that Hildebrand was later on reputed to be con- 
nected on his mother's side with Peter Leonis ; (6) he was associated 
with Gratian in a way that suggests relationship ; (7) he was reputed 
to have business relations with Peter Leonis; (8) when active in 
ecclesiastical affairs he enjoyed the steady adhesion of Peter Leonis. 
These data, however much they differ among themselves in their 
value as evidence, tend to a conclusion which I am tempted to set 
out in a provisional pedigree. 

A Roman citizen 


t ante 1051 


Bonizo=pBertha Peter . . =p Leo 
abbot on living 1063 
the Aventine 

Hildebrand Peter 
fl083 f 1124-1 130 

surnamed Gratian 

Obitio Guido Peter Leo 

Gratian John 

3 other sons 

This reconstruction avoids the inference, which Signer Fidele's 
hypothesis carries with it, that Hildebrand was of Jewish origin. 
I do not indeed lay the same stress as Dr. Tangl does 3 on the silence 
on this point of Hildebrand's enemies, who brought every conceivable 
charge against him. For the family of Benedict the Christian bore 
so high a character in ecclesiastical Rome, and were converts of such 

1 Above, p. 15 and notes. 2 Above, p. 24. 8 Neues Archiv, xxxi. 174 ff. 


old standing, that no slur on this ground could be plausibly 
insinuated. I contest the theory of Hildebrand's Jewish extraction 
simply because it seems to me irreconcilable with such data as we 
possess relative to Benedict's descendants. 


After this paper was completely written and prepared for publica- 
tion, I found that its subject had just been discussed with much 
greater elaboration by Signer G. B. Borino in two articles which fill 
228 pages of the thirty-ninth volume of the Archivio della R. Societa 
Romana di Storia Patria (1916). I have thought it best to leave my 
paper exactly as it stood ; for it may not be without interest for the 
student to compare two independent essays produced at almost the 
same time by two writers belonging to different nations and living in 
different countries. It is particularly gratifying to me that on many 
of the controverted points Signer Borino's conclusions agree with 
mine. 1 He goes indeed far beyond me in his analysis of the political 
situation, and his remarkable exposition of the reasons which made 
it necessary for Henry III to get Gregory VI out of the way (see 
especially pp. 332 f., 370-382) deserves attentive consideration. It 
is, however, true that, while he balances every detail of evidence in 
the most thoroughgoing way, he is not free from the fault, which 
he shares with most writers on this complicated business, of not 
sufficiently distinguishing between contemporary and later authorities. 
I should like to avail myself of Signer Borino's ample materials to 
add a couple of supplementary notes. 

1. As to the youth of Benedict IX. Signor Borino quotes from 
a contemporary Life of Leo IX, published by A. Poncelet in the 
Analecta Bollandiana, xxv. (1906) 275, the statement that Benedict's 
father Alberic habebat filium parvulum, nomine Theophilactus, qui 
succedente lohannis sanctissimi papae per multa donaria militiae 
Romanorum sedis apostolicae ordinatus est antistes. Secondly, he 
cites the statement of Luke, abbot of Grottaferrata, 2 that Benedict 
was elected ploy &v, d>$ //r) o>0eA. Thirdly, the later comment of 
Desiderius of Montecassino, Adolescens iuxta viam suam. This 
evidence indeed does not prove very much. When Otto the Great 

1 For instance, he has arrived at the same conclusion as mine with regard to 
the name of John cognomento Gratianus, and even hazards the same conjecture 
as I have done, which I have read nowhere else, with regard to Gratianus being 
a translation of a Jewish name (pp. 229-231). 

a Vita S. Bartholomaei lun. x, in Migne, Patrol. Graec. cxxvii. 484. 


was told of the misdeeds of John XII seventy years before, he is 
reported by Liudprand 1 to have said, Puer est ; facile bonorum 
immutabitur exemplo virorum. And John was at that time twenty- 
five years of age. On the other hand Signer Borino mentions 
(pp. 144, n. 1, 146 n.) that one of Benedict's brothers was married and 
had a child in 1130. [This brother, it may be added, was of legal age 
in 1022. 2 ] He relates at length what is known of Benedict's official 
career down to 1044 (pp. 157-169), and agrees with me that were we 
not informed of the scandal of his beginning and end giudicheremmo 
il pontificate di questo papa presso che normale, e persino d'una certa 
attivita politica e religiosa (p. 148). 3 

2. Noticing the long interval which passed between the deposition 
of Benedict IX, which he places as early as the beginning of 
September 1044 (pp. 180 f.), and the election of Silvester III in 
January 1045, Signer Borino considers that the former act was the 
result of a general movement of the Romans, while the latter was 
effected by the party which represented the old house of Crescentius 
and defeated the Tusculans. This party had great influence in the 
Sabina and they set up their Bishop John as Pope Silvester III. 
Then after a couple of months the Tusculans appeared in force, 
expelled Silvester, and restored Benedict. Signer Borino examines 
the position of the Crescentian family with great knowledge of the 
local circumstances (pp. 188-201) : the contest, he thinks, was more 
between two rival parties than between the individual persons (p. 221). 
But he considers that Silvester was not a man to accept his deposition 
as final (pp. 204, 206). Here he differs from most scholars who have 
discussed the subject. The upshot of his argument is that there was 
in fact no sale of the Papacy by Benedict to Gregory, but an agree- 
ment between the two parties in accordance with which the Cres- 
centians recouped Benedict for the money which he had paid for his 
election twelve years before (p. 221). In support of this view he 
cites some words from the anonymous tract de Ordinando Pontifice,* 
which he takes with Sackur 5 to proceed from Lower Lorraine, and 

1 Hist. Otton. v. 

a Querimonium Hugonis Abbatis, in Chron. Farfense, i. 76. 

8 In his criticism of Rodulf Glaber Signer Borino is wrong in thinking that 
Rodulf s date 1000 for 1033 is an error of transcription. Rodulf s words are 
Anno igitur eodem die dominice passionis M, die tercio kalendarum luliarum (Chron. 
iv. 9). Evidently the dies passionis could not fall on 29 June. The word die 
should be omitted, and the year (as reference to ch. v shows) is the year not of 
the Incarnation but of the Passion. 

4 Lib. de Lite, i. 10. 

8 Die Cluniacenser, ii. 305, n. 2. 


which he is no doubt right in assigning not to 1048, as its editor 
Diimmler did, but to the last months of 1047 (p. 217, n. 1). The 
following is this writer's account of the resignation of Benedict and 
of the mode by which Gregory obtained the Papacy : 

Ministerio quod illicite appetierat se carere velle disposuit si quis 
ei redderet summam pecuniae quam ex appetitu in eo dispendit. 
Quern sane tenorem arripiens Satanas non defuit, quaerens et cito 
inveniens qui, repensa (ut a quibusdan dictum est) pecunia, in 
eadem cathedra pestilentiae resedit. . . . Alii autem excusant eum 
pecuniam non dedisse sed dantibus amicis et parentibus suis 

Signor Borino does not, I think, mention the obvious objection to 
his theory, that if Benedict's resignation was effected by the party of 
Silvester III one would naturally expect that they would have 
attempted to restore the latter. He suggests that the party of reform 
intervened ; they united with the Crescentians to get rid of Benedict, 
and then brought forward Gratian as a candidate for election who 
would command general approval (pp. 248 f.). But he does not 
dispute that Gratian consented to the antecedent transaction. Signor 
Borino's treatment of the question is extremely ingenious, but 
I cannot say that it appears to me altogether convincing. 



The ancestry of the counts of Tusculum who exercised so continuous 
and powerful an authority over the city of Rome in the eleventh century 
has been obscured by a number of legendary accretions ; but there are 
sufficient materials contained in a long series of charters, in the names 
of grantors and of witnesses, to enable us to arrive at the conclusion 
that they were derived from the family to which Alberic the Prince of 
the Romans belonged. The fact has been regarded as doubtful, 1 because 
one link in the pedigree has been filled up by conjecture. I propose 
to show that there is definite documentary evidence which almost 
certainly proves the connexion. The accompanying table, a few details 
in which may still need verification, sets out the result. 2 

On the face of it, when we consider the persistence of the same 
names in Italian families in the middle ages, one is struck by the 
recurrence of names like Theophylact, Alberic, Octavian, and Theodora ; 
but the difficulty has been to show the origin of Gregorius de Tusculana, 
from whom the counts of Tusculum descend. He appears with this 

1 See Wattenbach's preface to the Chronicles of Monte Cassino, in Monum. 
Germ. Hist., Script, vii. 562 f. 

2 The pedigree of the Tusculan house up to Gregorius de Tusculana is given 
by Wattenbach in the preface above cited. Monsignor Duchesne supplies the 
higher generations from Theophylact and Theodora downwards (Lib. Pontif. 
ii. 252, n. 2). Tomassetti (Delia Campagna Romana nel medio evo, ii, in Arch, 
della Societa Romana di Storia Patria, ix. 81 n., 1886) gives a complete pedigree 
of the whole family. But he fell into error through following a suggestion of 
Gregorovius (Hist, of the City of Rome, iv. 10) that Gregorius was either the 
son or grandson of Alberic II, and made his mother, Marozia, Alberic's daughter 
instead of his first cousin. The insertion of Theodora III is due to a brilliant 
reconstruction of an inscription by De Rossi (Bullettino di Archeologia 
Cristiana, ii. 65-69, 1864). Monsignor Duchesne, I venture to think wrongly, 
identifies her with Theodora II. The pedigrees given by Wattenbach and 
Tomassetti are vitiated in the later generations by the acceptance of statements 
derived from Peter the Deacon's ( improved ' version of his own descent found in 
the Monte Cassino MS. 257 (see the notes to Muratori, Rerum Ital. Script., iv. 
488, and Biblioth. Casin. v. 51 a, 1894) ; they do not appear in his earlier 
version. It is clear that in order to attach himself to the Tusculan family Peter 
had recourse to an elaborate system of falsification. See E. Caspar, Petrus 
Diaconus und die Monte Cassiner Falschungen (1909) pp. 21 ff. 


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xpected notice of Theodora, 
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surname in the record of a lawsuit at Rome in 999, and he ranks second 
among the lay judges : 

Residentibus . . . Gerardo gratia Dei inclito comite atque imperialis 

militiae magistro, 
Gregorio excellentissimo viro qui vocatur de Tusculana atque praefecto 

Gregorio viro clarissimo qui vocatur Miccinus atque vestarario sacri 

Alberico filio Gregorii atque imperialis palatii magistro . . .* 

The Alberic here named was brother to the first two Tusculan Popes, 
Benedict VIII and John XIX. His father Gregory, who in 999 had 
attained a position of high dignity at Rome, is found as early as 96 1 
witnessing as consul el dux a grant of certain vineyards in the territory of 
Albano to the monastery of Subiaco. 2 In 980 or 981 there is an agree- 
ment inter Gregorius illustrissimo virojilius Maroze senatrix . . . rectorem mona- 
sterii sancti Andree apostoli et sancte Lucie qui appellatur Renal i and the 
abbot. 3 Now in 949 we read of a charter of sale da Maroza nobili femina 
conius vero Theophilactus eminentissimus bestarario of land in the territory 
of Albano called Zizinni. 4 In 979, after the death of Maroze nobilissime 
fcmine, her uncle Demetrius at her desire gave property at Zizinni to 
the monastery : this document is witnessed by Gregorius consul et dux. s 
The title of senatrix given to Maroza in the document of 980 brings us 
very close to the ruling power at Rome. In 959 Marozza senatrix omnium 
Romanorum makes another grant to Subiaco; 6 in 96 1 she is mentioned 
as excellentissima femina atque senatrix; 1 and it has not escaped notice 
that this title is assigned to her soon after the death of the famous 
Alberic senator and Prince of the Romans in 954. 8 It is evident that 
she stood in the foremost rank of the nobility of the city. Her husband 
Theophylact held the office of vestararius, one of the highest administrative 
posts which a layman could hold in the Papal court, and she herself 
bore the title of senatrix. What relation did she bear to Alberic ? 

There is a piece of evidence among the Subiaco charters, hidden away 
unobserved in a record of boundaries, which furnishes nearly positive 
proof that she was his first cousin. In 985 a church and its appurtenances 
at Albano were granted to the monastery ; the adjacent landowners are 
enumerated : on three sides were the heirs of the grantor, who had 

1 Regesto di Farfa, iii. (1883) 160, no. 437 [470]. 

2 Regesto Sublacense, p. 191, no. 139. 
8 Ibid., p. 165, no. 109. 

4 Ibid., p. 176, no. 126. 

8 Ibid., pp. 176 f., no. 126; cf. p. 194, no. 143. 

8 Ibid., pp. 106 f., no. 66. 

7 Ibid., p. 174, no. 124. 

8 Wattenbach, ubi supra, p. 662. 


become a monk, et a quarto latere Gregorius de Maroza de Theodora. 1 
The absence of honorific titles hardly presents a difficulty, for it was 
not necessary to insert them in a record of boundaries ; and I have 
no doubt that Theodoru is a simple slip of the pen for Theodora. It 
cannot be accounted for on palaeographical grounds, for, whether in 
the original Lombardic or in the minuscule of the chartulary, a and u are 
perfectly distinct. While in the rude Latinity of these documents little 
regard is paid to the correct use of case-endings, we find that proper 
names are by preference written in the nominative, no matter what 
the construction of the sentence may be. In the rare instances in 
which a name is written with the termination -it, it seems always to 
represent -us or -urn, moving in the direction of the Italian -o ; I do not 
think it ever stands for -a. Therefore in the present instance Maroza 
ought to be the daughter of Theodorus. But if this were so it would 
be difficult to connect her with the family of Alberic or to explain how 
after his death she came to bear the title of senatrix. These documents, 
however, are by no means free from textual inaccuracies, and I believe 
that the scribe accidentally wrote Theodoru when he should have written 

This Marozia, then, was the daughter of Theodora sister of Marozia I, 
the mother of Alberic II. Her relationship to him is precisely stated 
in a document which has been several times printed from a notarial 
transcript of 130 1. 2 It is a grant to the monastery of SS. Andrew and 
Gregory quod appellatur Clivuscauri dated 14 January in the 3rd year of 
Marinus [miswritten Martinus] II in the 3rd Indiction, that is, in 9*5. 
The important sentence for our purpose runs as follows ; I divide the 
names for clearness into paragraphs : 

Nos Albericus Domini gratia humilis princeps atque omnium Roma- 

norum senator, 

atque Sergius humilis episcopus sancte Nepesine ecclesie, 
nee non et Constantinus illustris vir, 
atque Bertha nobilissima puella uterina, 

et germani fratres Marozze quondam Romanorum senatricis filii, 
nee non et Marozza seu [= et] Stephania nobilissima femina, 

germane sorores et consobrine eorum Theodore quondam Romanorum 
senatricis filie. 

The subscriptions are arranged in the following order : Alberic, Marozza, 
Stephania (both the ladies litteras nescientes), Bertha, Sergius, Constantine. 
Marozza thus ranks next after Alberic, and she is expressly described as 
daughter of Theodora formerly senatrix Romanorum. That Alberic's son 
John, surnamed Octavian, afterwards Pope John XII, is not mentioned* 

1 Reg. Sublae., p. 189, no. 138. 

* I cite it from Marini, no. c, pp. 155 ff. 


is accounted for by the fact that he was a boy at the time : his death 
in 964 left the inheritance of Alberic's possession to Maroza. 

Maroza senatrix, then, the mother of Gregory de Tusculana, was the 
daughter of Theodora, who, with her sister the elder Maroza, had 
occupied a position of unequalled influence at Rome in the early part 
of the tenth century. They were the daughters of Theophylact, who 
as vestararius and magister militum held the highest rank among the 
officials of the Roman state. As early as 901 Theophylact is mentioned 
second in a list of eleven indices, following next after the bishops and 
counts, who were present at the decision of a lawsuit at Rome ; l he 
soon became beyond question the most important layman in the Papal 
domains. 2 

The pedigree thus constructed receives an interesting support from 
the evidence preserved as to the house which the head of the family 
inhabited at Rome. The Palazzo Colonna, adjoining the Church of the 
Santissimi Apostoli, bears its name from a descendant in the fifth 
degree of Gregory de Tusculana. Gregory's son Alberic (III) count of 
Tusculum is found in 1013 dwelling there : on the occasion of a lawsuit 
the judges by command of the Pope, Benedict VIII, assembled intra 
domum domni Alberici eminentissimi consults et duds iuxta sanctos apottolos.* 
Seventy years before, a suit was in like manner held in the same 
house, which was then occupied by Alberic (II) the Prince : in 942 the 
judges assembled by his command in curie ipsius principi Alberici iuxta 
basilica sancti apostoli.* The property seems from later indications to 
have extended up the Quirinal, when the Torre Mesa, destroyed by 
Innocent XIII, is believed to have been built by the Tusculan counts 
in the eleventh century. 5 Tomassetti thinks that this Roman house 
was possessed by the lords of the Via Lata, and that it may even be 
possible to trace the family back to Pope Hadrian I. 6 Into this con- 
jecture I will not enter, for I am at the moment interested only in 
establishing the pedigree which connects the family of Alberic the 
Prince with the house of Tusculum in the eleventh century. It is 

1 Schiaparelli, Diplomi di Lodovico III, p. 19 (1910). For the early pedigree 
of Theophylact's family, see W. Sickel's paper on Alberich 1 1 und der Kirchen- 
staat, in Mitth. des Inst. fur Osterreichische Geschichtsforschung, xxiii. (1902) 
77-81, 87 f. 

a This is excellently brought out by Monsignor Duchesne, Les Premiers Temps 
de 1'fitat Pontifical, 2nd ed., 1904, pp. 310 f. 

3 Reg. di Farfa, iv. 35, no. 637 [670]. 

* Reg. Sublac., p. 203, no. 155, where sancti apostoli is the nominative plural ; 
as Benedict of Soracte speaks of ecclesia sanctorum apostolorum lacobi et Philippi, 
que nos vocamus sancti apontoli: Chron. xxxi., Monum. Germ. Hist., Script, iii. 
(1839) 715. 

5 See an article by C. Corvisieri in the Arch, della R. Societa Romana di 
Storia Patria, x. (1887) 636-640. 

Ibid., ix. 80. 


manifest that this Roman property came down from Theophylact and 
Theodora. They transmitted it to their daughter Marozia, the consort 
of Alberic (I) duke of Spoleto, and hence it was inherited by their son 
Alberic the Prince. 

There is no sign that the elder Alberic had anything to do with 
Rome until his alliance with Marozia. According to Benedict of Soracte, 
this followed the victory which he and Pope John X won over the 
Saracens at the Garigliano in 915 or 91 6. On his return he was 
received with honour by the Roman people and formed an alliance 
(not, according to Benedict, a marriage) with the daughter of Theo- 
phylact. 1 This is the generally received account. But Signor Fedele 
points out that the date is difficult to reconcile with the fact that in 
932 the son of this union, Alberic the Prince, was old enough and 
strong enough to imprison his mother and drive the Pope from Rome. 2 
He thinks, therefore, that Alberic's connexion with Rome began some 
years earlier, 8 probably at the time when Sergius III succeeded in 
gaining possession of the Popedom of which he had previously failed 
to make himself master. Be this as it may, it is necessary to guard 
against a figment which has come down from the writers who in former 
times sought to magnify the greatness and antiquity of the counts of 
Tusculum : this is the assertion that Alberic I was himself count of 
Tusculum, which is repeated by De Rossi 4 and Tomassetti. 6 It is abso- 
lutely unsupported and is rightly described by Gregorovius as absurd. 8 

The family of which Theophylact I and Theodora I are the first 
proved ancestors was a Roman family which probably had been long 
established in the city. 7 From the early years of the tenth century 
it held, as we have seen, a place of great distinction and authority in 
Rome. Naturally its members acquired property in the neighbouring 
districts. We find them as landowners in the territory of Albano, and 
just at the end of the century Gregory, the heir to the main part of 
the estates, appears for the first time connected with Tusculum, a fortress 
which for nearly two hundred years continued the headquarters of his 

\- l Accepit una de nobilibus Romani . . . Theophilacti filia, non quasi uxor sed in 
consuetudinem malignam : Chron. xxix., p. 714. Cf. Duchesne, Serge III et 
Jean XI, in the Melanges d'Archeologie et d'Histoire, xxxiii. (1913) 48 ff. 

* Arch, della Soc. Rom. xxxiii. (1910) 216 f. 

8 So too Gregorovius, Hist, of the City of Rome, iii. 256, 271. 

4 Bullettino di Archeologia Cristiana, ii. (1864) 68. 

5 Marozia ' makes her entry into the Tusculan family by marrying Alberic I 
count of Tusculum ' : Arch, della Soc. Rom. ix. 79 f. 

8 Hist, of the City of Rome, iii. 275, n. 2. 

7 Signor Fedele makes some acute suggestions about their ancestry, but 
admits that they must for the present remain conjectures : Arch, della Soc. 
Rom. xxx iv. 208 f. 


descendants. 1 He died before 1013.* The only positive statement that 
Gregory held the office which in his son's time is described as the 
countship of Tusculum appears, I think, in the Life of St. Nilus, who 
settled near Grotta Ferrata in the closing years of the tenth century 
and died at a great age in 1005. Here we read that 'the ruler of 
that township, by name Gregory, was notorious for his tyranny and 
injustice, but exceedingly shrewd and well furnished with intelligence ',* 
very much the typical feudal baron of romance. He was, however, 
a good friend to the saint, to whom he granted a site for the future 
monastery. As time went on, the counts of Tusculum sought to carry 
back their lineage to ancient times. It was asserted that Alberic II 
called his son, the future Pope John XII, Octavian to commemorate 
his descent from Octavius Mamilius, the son-in-law of Tarquinius 
Superbus. 4 In the twelfth century Peter the Deacon, the chronicler 
of Monte Cassino, who wished to make himself a scion of the Tusculan 
house, boldly invented a letter in the name of Ptolemy, the count of 
his day, making him describe himself as lulia stirpe progenitus, 5 and thus 
claim an ancestry less ancient but more august than that which traced 
back to Tarquin. 

1 Cf. Julius Jung, Organisationen Italiens, in the Mittheilungen des Institutes 
fur Osterreichische Geschichtsforschung, Erganzungsband v. (1896-1903) 60 f. 

3 Reg. Farf., no. 639, vol. iv. 37. 

8 *O 8f ap\av rrjs Ku>fjLt)S (Kflvrjs rprjyoptos rw ov6[MTt, Trtpifiorfros tv rvpavvifti Kal 
dbtKtq Tvyxdvwv, \iav 8i dy\ivovs Kal vvviati Kexoar/jj^eVo?, Vita S. Nili, xiv, 96, 
Act. Sanctorum, Sept. vii. (1760) 340 B. 

4 See Gregorovius, iv. 9, n. 1. Livy says (i. 49) that Tarquin Octavio Mamilio 
Tusculano (is longe princeps Latini nominis erat, sifamae credimus, ab Ulixe deaque 
Circa oriundus): ei Mamilio filiam nuptum dot. 

5 Muratori, Rerum Italicarum Scriptores, iv. 488 n. 



Printed by Frederick Hall, at the University Press