Pope Benedict VIII

Pope Benedict VIII (Latin: Benedictus VIII; ca. 980[1] – 9 April 1024) reigned from 18 May 1012 to his death in 1024. He was born Theophylactus to the noble family of the counts of Tusculum (son of Gregory, Count of Tusculum, and brother of future Pope John XIX), descended from Theophylact, Count of Tusculum, like his predecessor Pope Benedict VII (973–974). Horace Mann considered him "...one of the few popes of the Middle Ages who was at once powerful at home and great abroad."[2]


Benedict VIII
Pope Benedict VIII
Papacy began18 May 1012
Papacy ended9 April 1024
PredecessorSergius IV
SuccessorJohn XIX
Personal details
Birth nameTheophylactus
Bornc. 980
Died9 April 1024
Rome, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire
Other popes named Benedict


Benedict VIII was opposed by an antipope, Gregory VI, who compelled him to flee Rome.[3] He was restored by Henry II of Germany, whom he crowned Holy Roman Emperor on 14 February 1014. He remained on good terms with Henry for his entire pontificate.[4] In Benedict VIII's pontificate the Saracens renewed their attacks on the southern coasts of Italy. They effected a settlement in Sardinia and sacked Pisa.[5] The Normans also then began to settle in Italy. The Pope promoted peace in Italy by allying himself with the Normans, orchestrating the defeat of the Saracens in Sardinia[6] and subjugating the Crescentii. In 1022, he held a synod at Pavia with the Emperor to restrain simony and incontinence of the clergy.[7] The reformation sponsored by Cluny Abbey was supported by him, and he was a friend of its abbot, St. Odilo.

In 1020, Benedict VIII travelled to Germany to confer with Henry II about the renewed Byzantine menace in the Mezzogiorno. Arriving at Bamberg at Eastertide, he consecrated the new cathedral there, obtained a charter from Henry II confirming the donations of Charlemagne and Otto the Great, and visited the monastery of Fulda.[8]

In 1022 Benedict received Æthelnoth, Archbishop of Canterbury, who had traveled to Rome to obtain the pallium.[9]

To further the interest of peace, he encouraged the Truce of God.[2]

He convinced the Emperor to lead an expedition into the south of Italy and subordinate his vassals who had defected to Greek authority.

Family tree

Theophylact I, Count of Tusculum
Hugh of Italy
(also married Marozia)
Alberic I of Spoleto
d. 925
Pope Sergius III
Alda of Vienne
Alberic II of Spoleto
David or Deodatus
Pope John XI
Gregory I, Count of Tusculum
Pope John XII
Pope Benedict VII
Pope Benedict VIII
Pope 1012–1024
Alberic III, Count of Tusculum
d. 1044
Pope John XIX
Pope 1024–1032
Peter, Duke of the Romans
Pope Benedict IX

See also


  1. ^ Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church
  2. ^ a b Mann, Horace. "Pope Benedict VIII." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 8 Sept. 2014
  3. ^ Mosheim, Johann Lorenz; Murdock, James (1832). Institutes of Ecclesiastical History. A. H. Maltby. pp. 181–182.
  4. ^ Lasko, Peter (1994). Ars Sacra: 800–1200. Yale University Press. p. 111. ISBN 978-0300060485.
  5. ^ Gregorovius, Ferdinand; Hamilton, Annie (2010). History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press. p. 25.
  6. ^ Collins, Roger (2012). Caliphs and Kings: Spain 796–1031. Blackwell Publishing. p. 201. ISBN 9780631181842.
  7. ^ Walker, Williston (1921). A History of the Christian Church. Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 218.
  8. ^ Ottosen, Knud (2008). The Responsories and Versicles of the Latin Office of the Dead. Books on Demand. p. 263.
  9. ^ Ortenberg "Anglo-Saxon Church and the Papacy" English Church and the Papacy p. 49
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Sergius IV
Succeeded by
John XIX

Year 1024 (MXXIV) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.

Antipope Gregory VI

On the death of Pope Sergius IV in June, 1012, "a certain Gregory" opposed the party of the Theophylae (which elected Pope Benedict VIII against him), and had himself made Pope, seemingly by a small faction. Gregory VI was the first to claim to be Pope as successor to Pope Sergius, and that Benedict VIII's claim was subsequent.

Promptly expelled from Rome, Gregory made his way to Germany, and craved the support of the Emperor St. Henry II (25 December 1012). That monarch, however, after promising him that his case should be carefully examined in accordance with canon law and Roman custom, took away from him the papal insignia which he was wearing, and bade him cease to act as Pope in the meanwhile. After this, history knows the "certain Gregory" no more.Of Benedict VIII, the Catholic Encyclopedia says:

he was, though a layman, imposed on the chair of Peter by force, on May 18, 1012. Nevertheless, dislodging a rival, he became a good and strong ruler ...

Aribo (archbishop of Mainz)

Aribo (died 1031) was the Archbishop of Mainz from 1021 until his death. He was Primate of Germany during the succession of Conrad II.

Aribo disputed with the Diocese of Hildesheim the jurisdictional right over Gandersheim Abbey, but Pope Benedict VIII found in favour of Hildesheim, a ruling which Aribo further disputed and ignored, without however denying the pope's right to judge. Aribo also grieved the cathedral chapter of the Diocese of Worms after they elected and the new king appointed a bishop without his (Aribo's) approval in 1025. Aribo also disapproved of Conrad's marriage to Gisela on the basis of consanguinity, challenging its legality.

Aribo expanded the economy of Thuringia by minting coinage at Erfurt, the oldest market and trading centre in the province.

Aribo had consecrated Saint Gotthard as bishop of Hildesheim on December 2, 1022.

Beóán of Mortlach

Beóán of Mortlach is the first of the three known Bishops of Mortlach. His name, which could also be written in non-Gaelic contexts as Beanus, Beoanus and Beyn, means "lively one". Walter Bower, following John of Fordun, tells us that the bishopric was founded by king Máel Coluim II of Scotland in the seventh year of his reign (1012 AD) as thanks to God for victories over the Scandinavians, and tells us that "the first bishop was Beyn, a saintly man, worthy of the episcopal office, elevated to this see by the Lord Pope Benedict VIII at the king's request". The Aberdeen Registrum records a charter granted to Bishop Beóán by King Máel Coluim at Forfar, granting the bishop the churches and lands of Clova and the unidentified Dulmech. The Aberdeen Breviary commemorated "Bishop Beóán" (Beyn episcopus) as a saint on 26 October. Another Beóán, perhaps the one mentioned in the Life of St. Cathróe of Metz, was commemorated on 16 December, and the two were often confused.


Dattus (or Datto) was a Lombard leader from Bari, the brother-in-law of Melus of Bari. He joined his brother-in-law in a 1009 revolt against Byzantine authority in southern Italy.

In 1010, the rebels took Ascoli and Troina. In March 1011, the catepan Basil Mesardonites and Leo Tornikios Kontoleon, the strategos of Cephalonia, disembarked with reinforcements from Constantinople. Basil immediately besieged the rebels in Bari. The Greek citizens of the city negotiated with Basil and forced the Lombard leaders, Melus and Dattus, to flee. Basil entered the city on 11 June 1011 and reestablished Byzantine authority. He did not follow his victory up with any severe reactions. He simply sent the family of Melus, including his son Argyrus, to Constantinople.

While Melus fled to Guaimar III of Salerno, Dattus looked to the protection of the Abbey of Montecassino, where he was aided by the Latin monks, and to Pope Benedict VIII, who loaned him papal troops to garrison a tower on the Garigliano, in the territory of the Duchy of Gaeta, then ruled by the anti-Byzantine Emilia.

In 1016, Dattus rejoined Melus and his Norman mercenaries in Apulia. They were moderately successful at first, but they were defeated at Cannae (1018) and Dattus fled back to Montecassino and thence to the old tower.

In 1020, while Melus was conferencing with pope and the German king in Bamberg, the new catepan, Basil Boiannes, and his new ally, Pandulf IV of Capua, marched on the tower and took it. At Bari on 15 June, Dattus was tied up in a sack with a monkey, a rooster, and a snake and tossed into the sea (the so-called mazzeratura, similar to the ancient Roma Poena cullei). The atrocity prompted a quick Western response, a huge army under the Emperor Henry II marched south to besiege the new fortress of Troia.

Henry II, Holy Roman Emperor

Henry II (German: Heinrich II; Italian: Enrico II) (6 May 973 – 13 July 1024), also known as Saint Henry the Exuberant, Obl. S. B., was Holy Roman Emperor ("Romanorum Imperator") from 1014 until his death in 1024 and the last member of the Ottonian dynasty of Emperors as he had no children. The Duke of Bavaria from 995, Henry became King of Germany ("Rex Romanorum") following the sudden death of his second cousin, Emperor Otto III in 1002, was crowned King of Italy ("Rex Italiae") in 1004, and was crowned by the Pope as Emperor in 1014.

The son of Henry II, Duke of Bavaria and his wife Gisela of Burgundy, Emperor Henry II was a great-grandson of German King Henry I and a member of the Bavarian branch of the Ottonian dynasty. Since his father had rebelled against two previous emperors, the younger Henry was often in exile. This led him to turn to the Church at an early age, first finding refuge with the Bishop of Freising and later being educated at the cathedral school of Hildesheim. He succeeded his father as Duke of Bavaria in 995 as "Henry IV". As Duke, he attempted to join his second-cousin, Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, in suppressing a revolt against imperial rule in Italy in 1002. Before Henry II could arrive, however, Otto III died of fever, leaving no heir. After defeating several other claimants to the throne, Henry II was crowned as King of Germany ("Rex Romanorum") on July 9, 1002 and as King of Italy ("Rex Italiae") on 15 May 1004. Henry II in 1004 aided Jaromír, Duke of Bohemia against the Poles, definitively incorporating the Duchy of Bohemia into the Holy Roman Empire.

Unlike his predecessor, who had focused upon imperial attention in Italy, Henry spent most of his reign concerned with imperial territory north of the Alps. His main focus was on a series of wars against the Polish Duke Bolesław I, who had already conquered a number of countries surrounding him. Henry did, however, lead three expeditions into Italy to ensure imperial dominion over the peninsula: twice to suppress secessionist revolts and once to challenge the Byzantine Empire for dominance over southern Italy. On 14 February 1014, Pope Benedict VIII crowned Henry as Holy Roman Emperor ("Romanorum Imperator") in Rome.

The rule of Henry II is seen as a period of centralized authority throughout the Empire. He consolidated his power by cultivating personal and political ties with the Catholic Church. He greatly expanded the Ottonian dynasty's custom of employing clergy as counter-weights against secular nobles. Through donations to the Church and the establishment of new dioceses, Henry strengthened imperial rule across the Empire and increased control over ecclesiastical affairs. He stressed service to the Church and promoted monastic reform. For his personal holiness and efforts to support the Church, Pope Bl. Eugene III canonized him in 1146, making Henry II the only German monarch to be a saint. Henry II married Cunigunde of Luxembourg, who later became his queen and empress. As the union produced no children, after Henry's death the German nobles elected Conrad II, a great-great-grandson of Emperor Otto I, to succeed him. Conrad was the first of the Salian dynasty of Emperors.

Ilario Cao

Ilario Cao (Hilarius Caius) was a Sardinian ecclesiastic active in Rome during the first thirty years of the eleventh century, often retrospectively called a Cardinal. He was born in Cagliari. He urged Pope Benedict VIII to organise an expedition to free his native land from Muslim pirates, who were establishing themselves in the south of the island, based out of Cagliari. A Pisan–Genoese expedition (1016) resulted, which expelled the Muslims.

Ilario had two sons: Costantino (Constantinus) and Atanagio or Anastasio (Anastasius). The former built a hospital in Trastevere for poor Sardinians, which was destroyed in the later sack of Rome (1527). In 1068 Anastasio's son Benedetto erected a tombstone in the church of San Crisogono over his father's sepulchre bearing this inscription:














Lyfing (Archbishop of Canterbury)

Lyfing (died 12 June 1020) was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Wells and Archbishop of Canterbury.

Melus of Bari

Melus (also Milus or Meles, Melo in Italian) (died 1020) was a Lombard nobleman from the Apulian town of Bari, whose ambition to carve for himself an autonomous territory from the Byzantine catapanate of Italy in the early eleventh century inadvertently sparked the Norman presence in Southern Italy.

Melus and his brother-in-law Dattus rebelled in 1009 and quickly took Bari itself. In 1010, they took Ascoli and Troia, but the new catapan, Basil Mesardonites, gathered a large army, and on 11 June 1011 Bari fell. Melus fled to the protection of Prince Guaimar III of Salerno and Dattus to the Benedictine abbey of Montecassino, where the anti-Greek monks, at the insistence of Pope Benedict VIII, gave him a fortified tower on the Garigliano. Melus' family, however, were captured and carted off to Constantinople.

In 1016, according to the Norman chronicler William of Apulia, Melus went to the Shrine of Saint Michael at Monte Gargano to intercept some Norman pilgrims. There he petitioned Rainulf Drengot and a band of Norman exiles to aid in his rebellion, assuring them of the ease of victory and the abundance of spoils. By 1017, Norman adventurers were already heading south. They joined with the Lombard forces under Melus at Capua and marched into Apulia immediately, trying to catch the Byzantines off-guard. Successful in an encounter in May on the banks of the Fortore against forces sent by the catapan Kontoleon Tornikios, they had seized all the territory between the Fortore and Trani by September and were ravaging Apulia; in October, however, they experienced a stunning reverse.

The new catapan, Basil Boiannes, had garnered a massive force of reserves and a contingent of the famed Varangian Guard from Emperor Basil II. He met the Norman and Lombard hosts on the Ofanto at the site of the famous defeat dealt the Romans by Hannibal in 216 BC: Cannae. This second battle of Cannae was a disaster both for the Normans, who lost their leader Gilbert, and for the Lombards, whose leaders fled: Melus to the "Samnite lands" (Amatus) of the Papal States and Dattus to Montecassino and the tower again.

Melus continued wandering through south and central Italy and finally northwards to Germany. He ended up at the imperial court of Henry II in Bamberg. Though greatly honoured (he was given the empty title Duke of Apulia by the emperor), he died a broken man only two years later, just after Pope Benedict arrived in Bamberg at Eastertide to discuss an imperial response to the Byzantine victories. He was given a lavish funeral and an ornate tomb in the new Bamberg Cathedral by his old ally, the emperor. His son Argyrus would carry on the struggle for Lombard independence in Apulia after his return from imprisonment in Constantinople.

Paul Balog

Paul from the kindred Balog (Hungarian: Balog nembeli Pál) was the bishop of Pécs in the Kingdom of Hungary between 1293 and 1306. He studied in the University of Bologna and achieved a doctorate in law. Paul returned to Hungary with a library worthing 1,000 marks, but his books were annihilated in the course of a civil war in 1276. His superiors, including King Ladislaus IV of Hungary often sent him to Rome in order to represent their interests at the Holy See. Although he administered the vacant see of Pécs from 1287, he was only consecrated bishop in 1293. Initially, he supported King Andrew III of Hungary, but after the king's death he joined Prince Charles of Naples, the claimant supported by Pope Benedict VIII to the Hungarian throne.

Pilgrim (archbishop of Cologne)

Pilgrim (Latin: Pilgrimus; c. 985 – 25 August 1036) was a statesman and prelate of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1016 he took charge of the chancery of the Kingdom of Italy, and became the first archchancellor in 1031. In 1021 he became Archbishop of Cologne. For his part in the imperial campaign against the South Italian principalities in 1022, the chronicler Amatus of Montecassino described him as "warlike".

Pisan cross

The Pisan Cross is the symbol of Pisa.

It was the coat of arms of the people of Pisa: the symbol of the cross was granted, in fact, to Pisans by Pope Benedict VIII to fight Saracens in Sardinia in 1017.

The Pisan cross is technically described as with keys (or paws) and three spheres on every arm. Its symbolism is unknown; the cross itself may represent Christ, and the twelve spheres his Apostles.

Although the symbol of the Pisan cross dates to 1017, the oldest surviving representation is in the city walls, built in 1156 by counselor Cocco Griffi.

The city flag, red with the white cross on it, was officially recognized by Pope Callixtus II. In fact, originally the flag of Pisa was simply vermillion red, being derived from the Imperial Rome flag.

Nowadays the cross is still the symbol of the city of Pisa.

A red shield with the cross on it is the symbol of the Comune of Pisa.

It appears in the ensign of the Italian Navy along with the emblems of the other medieval Maritime Republics: Venice, Genoa and Amalfi.

Pope Benedict

Benedict has been the regnal name of sixteen Roman Catholic popes. The name is derived from the Latin benedictus, meaning "blessed"

Pope Benedict I (575–579)

Pope Benedict II (684–685)

Pope Benedict III (855–858)

Pope Benedict IV (900–903)

Pope Benedict V (964)

Pope Benedict VI (972–974)

Pope Benedict VII (974–983)

Pope Benedict VIII (1012–1024)

Pope Benedict IX (1032–1044, 1045–1046 & 1047–1048)

Pope Benedict XI (1303–1304)

Pope Benedict XII (1334–1342)

Pope Benedict XIII (1724–1730)

Pope Benedict XIV (1740–1758)

Pope Benedict XV (1914–1922)

Pope Benedict XVI (2005–2013) – Now pope emeritus (born 1927)Additionally, four antipopes have used the name Benedict:

Antipope Benedict X (1058–1059) – Several cardinals alleged that his election was irregular and he was deposed. His papacy, though later declared illegitimate, has been taken into account in the conventional numbering of subsequent Popes who took the same name.

Antipope Benedict XIII (1394–1423)

Antipope Benedict XIV (1424–1429) & (1430–1437) – Two individuals

Ralph Drengot

Rudolph Drengot was one of the Drengot family of Norman adventureres who came to Southern Italy with his brothers, Gilbert, Asclettin, Osmond, and Ranulf.

The Drengots arrived in Italy in 1017 to support Melus of Bari in his rebellion against the Catapanate. According to some sources, they stopped in Rome on the way and Rudolph had an audience with Pope Benedict VIII. Whatever the case, they aided Melus until their defeat at the Battle of Cannae (1018).

After this, Melus went north to Bamberg to meet the Emperor Henry II. Rudolph accompanied him. It is certain that Rudolph had an opportunity to then meet with the pope. He returned to the south on the emperor's expedition, after Melus' death, and was installed at Comino under one of Melus' nephews, a count. Rudolph then led some Normans back to Normandy.

Saeculum obscurum

Saeculum obscurum (Latin: the Dark Age) is a name given to a period in the history of the Papacy during the first two-thirds of the 10th century, beginning with the installation of Pope Sergius III in 904 and lasting for sixty years until the death of Pope John XII in 964. During this period, the popes were influenced strongly by a powerful and corrupt aristocratic family, the Theophylacti, and their relatives.

Saint Ermengol

Saint Ermengol (also Armengol or Armengod) or Hermengaudius (died 1035) was the bishop of Urgell from 1010.

Possibly born in the village of Ayguatébia, he was the son of Bernat I, viscount of Conflent, and of his wife Guisla de Lluçià, and also the nephew and successor of Bishop Sal·la and a member of the family of the counts of Conflent.By 1002 Ermengol was an archdeacon and the following year the Bishop of Urgell, Sal·la, had made arrangements for Emermengol to succeed him. He began his episcopate by reforming the cathedral canons, along the lines of the life of Saint Augustine of Hippo, and granting them land in Vallespir, Cerdanya, and Alt Urgell. In 1012, he travelled to Rome for an audience with Pope Benedict VIII, who confirmed the possessions of his bishopric and its jurisdiction, including over Ribagorza. In 1017, Ermengol was involved in the establishment of the bishopric of Roda, consecrated Borrell as bishop and received recognition by that bishop of his superiority in the local hierarchy. He is credited with the recaptured and rechristianization of the city of Guissona in 1024.He was often at odds with the nobility of Urgell and he assisted in the construction of many public works. He built the cathedral of Urgell, which was consecrated in 1040 by his successor, Eribau. For these public acts, he is celebrated annually in the Fair of Saint Ermengol. He died in 1035 while assisting in the construction of a bridge near El Pont de Bar. The year following his death he was venerated and a few years later was canonised. His feast day is 3 November.

Sant Joan de les Abadesses

Sant Joan de les Abadesses (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈsaɲ ʒuˈan də ləz əβəˈðesəs]) is a town and municipality located in the south-east of the comarca of Ripollès, in the province of Girona, Catalonia, Spain.


Theophylact or Theophylactus (Latin Theophylactus, Greek Theophylaktos, "guarded by God") may refer to:

Theophylact Simocatta (7th century), Byzantine author and historian

Theophylactus (Exarch) (died 710), Exarch of Ravenna

Patriarch Theophylactus of Alexandria (7th–8th centuries), coadjutor Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria

Theophylact of Antioch (8th century), Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch

Archdeacon Theophylact (8th century), archdeacon of the Roman Church

Peter of Atroa or Theophylact (773–837)

Theophylact Rhangabe (8th century), Byzantine admiral

Theophylact (son of Michael I) (793–849), Byzantine co-emperor

Theophylact of Nicomedia (died 845), Bishop of Nicomedia

Theophylact I, Count of Tusculum (9th–10th centuries)

Theophylact of Constantinople (917–956), Patriarch of Constantinople

Theophylact Dalassenos (10th–11th centuries)

Theophylact Botaneiates (fl. died 1014)

Pope Benedict VIII or Theophylactus (died 1024)

Pope Benedict IX or Theophylactus (11th century)

Theophylact of Ohrid (died c. 1107), Archbishop of Ohrid and biblical commentator

Tusculan Papacy

The Tusculan Papacy was a period of papal history from 1012 to 1048 where three successive Counts of Tusculum installed themselves as pope.

1st–4th centuries
During the Roman Empire (until 493)
including under Constantine (312–337)
5th–8th centuries
Ostrogothic Papacy (493–537)
Byzantine Papacy (537–752)
Frankish Papacy (756–857)
9th–12th centuries
Papal selection before 1059
Saeculum obscurum (904–964)
Crescentii era (974–1012)
Tusculan Papacy (1012–1044/1048)
Imperial Papacy (1048–1257)
13th–16th centuries
Viterbo (1257–1281)
Orvieto (1262–1297)
Perugia (1228–1304)
Avignon Papacy (1309–1378)
Western Schism (1378–1417)
Renaissance Papacy (1417–1534)
Reformation Papacy (1534–1585)
Baroque Papacy (1585–1689)
17th–20th centuries
Age of Enlightenment (c. 1640-1740)
Revolutionary Papacy (1775–1848)
Roman Question (1870–1929)
Vatican City (1929–present)
21st century
History of the papacy
Bible and
By country
of the faithful
Early Church
Late antiquity
Early Middle Ages
High Middle Ages
Late Middle Ages
19th century
20th century
21st century

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