Adalbert of Hamburg and Bremen having refused the papacy, the King chose Suidger of Bamberg. The royal command was all that was required to place the candidate on the sacred chair.
Continuing Holy Roman Emperor Takes Control of the Papacy,
with a selection from History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages by Ferdinand Gregorovius published in 1872. This selection is presented in 3 installments, each one 5 minutes long. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages
Previously in Holy Roman Emperor Takes Control of the Papacy.
The chronicler who describes this state of things extols Gregory for having repressed it. The captains, it is true, besieged the city, but the Pope boldly assembled the militia, restored a degree of order, and even conquered several fortresses in the district. Sylvester had apparently made an attempt on Rome; he was, however, defeated by Gregory’s energy. The short and dark period of Gregory’s pontificate was terrible, and his severity toward the robbers soon made him hated by the nobles and even by the equally rapacious cardinals.
Whatever he may have done under the influence of French and Italian monks to rescue the Church from its state of barbarous confusion, it was — as in the time of Otto the Great — by the German dictatorship alone that it could be saved. The exertions of Gregory VI soon ceased to bear any result; his means were exhausted, and his opponents gradually overpowered him. So utter was the state of anarchy that it is said that all three popes lived in the city at the same time: one in the Lateran, a second in St. Peter’s, and a third in Santa Maria Maggiore.
The eyes of the better citizens at length turned to the King of Germany. The archdeacon Peter convoked a synod without consulting Gregory, and it was here resolved urgently to invite Henry to come and take the imperial crown and raise the Church from the ruin into which it had fallen.
Henry, coming from Augsburg, crossed the Brenner, and arrived at Verona in September, 1046, accompanied by a great army and filled with the ardent desire of becoming the reformer of the Church. No enemy opposed him, the bishops and dukes, among them the powerful margrave Boniface of Tuscany, did homage without delay. The Roman situation was provisionally discussed at a great synod in Pavia. Gregory VI now hastened to meet the King at Piacenza, where he hoped to gain the monarch to his side. Henry, however, dismissed him with the explanation that his fate and that of the antipopes would be canonically decided by a council.
Shortly before Christmas he assembled one thousand and forty-six bishops and Roman clergy at Sutri. The three popes were summoned, and Gregory and Sylvester III actually appeared. Sylvester was deposed from his pontificate and condemned to penance in a monastery. Gregory VI, however, gave the council cause to doubt its competence to judge him. Gregory, who was an upright man, or one at least conscious of good intentions, consented publicly to describe the circumstances of his elevation, and was thereby forced to condemn himself as guilty of simony and unworthy of the papal office. He quietly laid down the insignia of the papacy, and his renunciation did him honor. Henry, with the bishops and the margrave Boniface, immediately started for the city, which did not shut its gates against him; for Benedict II had hid himself in Tusculum, and his brothers did not venture on any resistance. Rome, weary of the Tusculum horrors, joyfully accepted the German King as her deliverer. Never afterward was a king of Germany received with such glad acclamations by the Roman people; never again did any other effect such great results or achieve the like changes. With the Roman expedition of Henry III begins a new epoch in the history of the city, and more especially of the Church. It seemed as if the waters of the deluge had subsided, and as if men from the ark had landed on the rock of Peter to give new races and new laws to a new world. What law, that stern and terrible power which kills, binds, and holds together, signifies in human affairs, has indeed been experienced by few periods so fully as by that with which we have now to deal.
A synod, assembled in St. Peter’s on December 23d, again pronounced all three popes deposed, and a canonical pope had consequently to be elected. Like Otto III before his coronation, Henry had also at his side a man who was to wear the tiara and to confer the crown upon himself.
Adalbert of Hamburg and Bremen having refused the papacy, the King chose Suidger of Bamberg. The royal command was all that was required to place the candidate on the sacred chair. Henry, however, would not violate any of the canonical forms. As King of Germany he possessed no right either over that city or yet over the papal election. The right must first be conferred upon him, and this was done by a treaty which he had already concluded with the Romans at Sutri. “Roman Signors,” said Henry at the second sitting of the synod on December 24th, “however thoughtless your conduct may hitherto have been, I still accord you liberty to elect a pope according to ancient custom; choose from among this assembly whom you will.”
The Romans replied: “When the royal majesty is present, the assent to the election does not belong to us, and, when it is lacking, you are represented by your patricius. For in the affairs of the republic the patricius is not patricius of the pope, but of the emperor. We admit that we have been so thoughtless as to appoint idiots as popes. It now behooves your imperial power to give the Roman republic the benefit of law, the ornament of manners, and to lend the arm of protection to the Church.”
The senators of the year 1046, who so meekly surrendered the valuable right to the German King, heeded not the shades of Alberic and the three Crescentii; since these — their patricians — would have accused them of treason.
The Romans of these days were, however, ready for any sacrifice so that they obtained freedom from the Tusculum tyranny. Nothing more clearly shows the utter depth of their exhaustion and the extent of their sufferings than the light surrender of a right which it had formerly cost Otto the Great such repeated efforts to extort from the city. Rome made the humiliating confession that she possessed no priest worthy of the papacy, that the clergy in the city were rude and utter simonists. All other circumstances, moreover, forbade the election of a Roman or even of an Italian to the papacy.
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