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Pope Nicholas II

AKA Gérard de Bourgogne

Born: ?
Died: 27-Aug-1061
Location of death: Rome, Italy
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Religion

Nationality: France
Executive summary: Roman Catholic Pope, 1058-61

Nicholas II, Roman Catholic Pope from December 1058 to July 1061, was a Burgundian named Gérard, who at the time of his election was bishop of Florence. He was set up by Hildebrand, with the support of the empress-regent Agnes and of the powerful Duke Godfrey of Lorraine, against Benedict X, the nominee of the Roman nobles, and was crowned at Rome, after the expulsion of Benedict, on the 24th of January 1059. His pontificate was signalized by the continuance of the policy of ecclesiastical reform associated with the name of Hildebrand (afterwards Pope Gregory VII). To secure his position he at once entered into relation with the Normans, now firmly established in southern Italy, and later in the year the new alliance was cemented at Melfi, where Nicholas II, accompanied by Hildebrand, Cardinal Humbert and the abbot Desiderius of Monte Cassino, solemnly invested Robert Guiscard with the duchies of Apulia, Calabria and Sicily, and Richard of Aversa with the principality of Capua, in return for oaths of fealty and the promise of assistance in guarding the rights of the Church. The first fruits of this arrangement, which was based on no firmer foundation than the forged "Donation of Constantine", but destined to give to the papacy a position of independence towards both the Eastern and Western Empires, was the reduction in the autumn, with Norman aid, of Galera, where the anti-pope had taken refuge, and the end of the subordination of the papacy to the Roman nobles.

Meanwhile, Pietro Damiani and Bishop Anselm of Lucca had been sent by Pope Nicholas to Milan to adjust the difference between the Patarenes and the archbishop and clergy. The result was a fresh triumph for the papacy, Archbishop Wido, in face of the ruinous conflict in the Church of Milan, being forced to submit to the terms proposed by the legates, which involved the principle of the subordination of Milan to Rome; the new relation was advertized by the unwilling attendance of Wido and the other Milanese bishops at the council summoned to the Lateran palace in April 1059. This council not only continued the Hildebrandine reforms by sharpening the discipline of the clergy, but marks an epoch in the history of the papacy by its famous regulation of future elections to the Holy See. Its most important immediate result was the arrival of strained relations with the empire, due to the fact that the emperor's traditional rights in the matter of papal elections had been completely ignored. Stephen, cardinal priest of S. Chrysogonus, was sent to the German court to attempt to allay the consequent ill-feeling, but was not received. Pope Nicholas, moreover, had offended the German bishops by what they regarded as arbitrary interference with their rights: he had refused to send the pallium of Archbishop Siegfried of Mainz; he had sent a sharp letter of admonition to Archbishop Anno of Cologne. The resulting opposition culminated in a synod of German bishops, perhaps early in 1061 (its date and place of meeting are unknown), at which the decrees of the pope, including the new electoral law, were annulled, while he himself was deposed and his name ordered to be expunged from the canon of the Mass. That these resolutions were not followed by any further action was due to the war of parties in Germany, which enabled the papacy to ignore a demonstration of opinion to which no effect could be given.

Nicholas II died at Florence in July 1061. Personally he was one of the least important of the popes, and the great importance of the events of his pontificate is due to the fact that, as Pietro Damiani wrote, he possessed in Hildebrand, Cardinal Humbert and Bishop Boniface of Albano acutissimi et perspicacis oculi.

    Roman Catholic Pope 1058 to 27-Aug-1061

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