Pope Stephen III

Pope Stephen III (Latin: Stephanus III; d. 1 February 772) was the Pope from 7 August 768[1] to his death in 772.

Stephen was a Benedictine monk who worked in the Lateran Palace during the tenure of Pope Zachary. In the midst of a tumultuous contest by rival factions to name a successor to Pope Paul I, Stephen was elected with the support of the Roman officials. He summoned the Lateran Council of 769 which sought to limit the influence of the nobles in papal elections. The Council also opposed iconoclasm.


Stephen III
94-Stephen III
Papacy began7 August 768
Papacy ended1 February 772
PredecessorPaul I
SuccessorAdrian I
Personal details
Birth nameStephanus
BornTheme of Sicily, Byzantine Empire
Died1 February 772
Rome, Papal States
Other popes named Stephen
Papal styles of
Pope Stephen III
Emblem of the Papacy SE
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father


Early career and election as Pope

A Greek[2] born in Sicily, Stephen III was the son of a man named Olivus.[3] Coming to Rome during the pontificate of Pope Gregory III,[4] he was placed in the monastery of St. Chrysogonus, where he became a Benedictine monk.[3] During the pontificate of Pope Zachary, he was ordained a priest, after which the pope decided to keep him to work at the Lateran Palace. Stephen gradually rose to high office in the service of successive popes, and was at the bedside of the dying Pope Paul I as powerful factions began manoeuvring to ensure the election of their own candidate in late June 767.[3]

The next year was consumed by the rival claims of antipopes Constantine II (a layman puppet forcibly installed by a faction of Tuscan nobles[5][6]) and Philip (the candidate of the Lombards), who were forced out of office by the efforts of Christophorus, the Primicerius of the notaries, and his son Sergius, the Treasurer of the Roman church.[7] With the capture of Constantine II, Christophorus set about organising a canonical election, and on 1 August he summoned not only the Roman clergy and army, but also the people to assemble before the Church of St. Adrian in the area of the old Comitium. Here the combined assembly elected Stephen as pope.[8] They then proceeded to the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, where they acclaimed Stephen as pope-elect, and escorted him to the Lateran Palace.[8]

At this point, supporters of the pope-elect Stephen began brutally to attack key members of Constantine’s regime, including Constantine himself, who was hounded through the streets of Rome, with heavy weights attached to his feet.[9] Bishop Theodore, Constantine’s Vice-dominus, was blinded and had his tongue cut out, while Constantine’s brother, Passivus, was also blinded.[9] After Constantine was officially dethroned on 6 August, Stephen was consecrated pope on the following day, 7 August 768.[10] Retributions continued even after the consecration of Stephen; the town of Alatri revolted in support of Constantine, and after its capture, the key members of the revolt were blinded and had their tongues ripped out.[11] Then on the orders of the papal Chartularius, Gratiosus, Constantine was removed from his monastic cell, blinded, and left on the streets of Rome with specific instructions that no-one should aid him.[12] Finally, on a charge of conspiring to kill Christophorus and many other nobles, with the intent of handing over the city to the Lombards, the priest Waldipert, who was the prime mover in the elevation of the Antipope Philip, was arrested, blinded, and soon died of his wounds.[9][13]

The role of Stephen III in these events is somewhat obscure. According to the historian Horace Mann, Stephen was an impotent observer, and that the responsible agent was in reality the Chartularius, Gratiosus.[9] However, according to Louis Marie DeCormenin, Stephen was the key person responsible for issuing the orders, and took great delight in destroying his rival and his supporters.[12] A middle position was taken by the historian Ferdinand Gregorovius, who observed that Stephen, while he may not have instigated or ordered the atrocities, did not seek to prevent them either, either through self-interest or the weakness of his position.[14] What is clear however, is that the recent creation of the Papal States had seen the traditional rivalries of the ruling families of Rome transformed into a murderous desire to control this new temporal power in Italy, dragging the papacy with it.[15]

The Lateran Council of 769 and conflict at Ravenna

With Constantine’s supporters largely dealt with, Stephen wrote to the Frankish king, Pepin the Short, notifying him of his election, and asking for a number of bishops to participate in a council he was seeking to hold to discuss the recent confusion. As Pepin had died, it was Charlemagne and Carloman I who agreed to send twelve bishops to participate in the Lateran Council of 769.[16] The council saw the final condemnation of Constantine II, who was beaten and had his tongue removed before being returned to his monastic cell. All clerical appointments made by Constantine were declared null and void. It also set about establishing strict rules for papal elections, thereby restricting the involvement of the nobility in subsequent elections. Finally, the rulings of the Council of Hieria were rejected, and the practice of devotion to icons was confirmed (see iconoclasm).[17]

In 770, Stephen was asked to confirm the election of Michael, a layperson, as Archbishop of Ravenna. However, Michael, in league with the Lombard king Desiderius, and the Duke of Rimini had imprisoned Leo, who had been elected first.[18] Stephen refused to confirm Michael’s election; citing the conventions of the Lateran council, he sent letters and envoys to Michael, demanding that he stand down.[19] Michael refused, and the stand-off continued for over a year, until the arrival of the Frankish ambassador in Ravenna along with the Papal legates encouraged Michael’s opponents to overthrow him, and send him to Rome in chains. Leo followed soon after, when Stephen consecrated him as Archbishop of Ravenna.[19]

Temporary alliance of the Franks and the Lombards

Throughout his pontificate, Stephen was apprehensive about the expansionist plans of the Lombards.[20] Placing his hope in the Franks, he attempted to mediate in the quarrels between Charlemagne and Carloman, which were only helping the Lombards' cause in Italy.[21] In 769, he helped them reconcile, and pressured them to support the still infant Papal States, by reminding them of the support which their father had given the Papacy in the past. He also begged them to intercede on his behalf by entering into discussions with the Lombards.[22]

Consequently, an embassy was sent to the Lombard king, Desiderius, in 770, which included Charlemagne’s mother, Bertrada of Laon. Their intervention achieved a result favourable to the Papacy by restoring to the pope the parts of Benevento that the popes claimed.[22] To Stephen’s consternation however, Desiderius and Bertrada entered into discussions about a possible marriage between Desiderius’ daughter, Desiderata, and one of Bertrada’s sons.[23] It is also possible that discussions took place around the marriage of Charlemagne’s sister, Gisela to Desiderius’ son, Adalgis.[24]

Stephen therefore wrote to both Charlemagne and Carloman, protesting about the proposed alliance.[25] Apart from noting that both men were already married, he reminded them of their promises to previous popes, that they would consider the pope’s enemies as their enemies, and that they had promised to Saint Peter to resist the Lombards and restore the rights of the Church.[26] He wrote:

”You who are already, by the will of God and the commands of your father, lawfully married to noble wives of your own nation, whom you are bound to cherish. And certainly it is not lawful for you to put away the wives you have and marry others, or ally yourselves in marriage with a foreign people, a thing never done by any of your ancestors.... It is wicked of you even to entertain the thought of marrying again when you are already married. You ought not to act thus, who profess to follow the law of God, and punish others to prevent men acting in this unlawful manner. Such things do the heathen. But they ought not to be done by you who are Christians, a holy people and a kingly priesthood.”[27]

His pleas fell on deaf ears, and Charlemagne married Desiderata in 770, temporarily cementing a familial alliance with the Lombards.[28]

Fall of Christophorus and Sergius

Throughout 769 and 770, Stephen continued to rely on the support and advice of Christophorus and Sergius who had placed him on the papal throne. Their antipathy towards the Lombards and general pro-Frankish stance caused King Desiderius to engineer their downfall.[29][30] He bribed the Papal Chamberlain, Paulus Afiarta, and other members of the papal court to spread rumors about them to the pope.[29] When Desiderius attempted to enter Rome in 771 with an army, claiming to be on a pilgrimage to pray at the shrine of St. Peter, Christophorus and Sergius shut the gates of the city against them. Arriving at the gates and seeing armed troops manning the walls, the Lombard king asked to speak to the Pope, who came out to him. During Stephen’s absence, Afiarta and his supporters sought to stir up a mob to overthrow Christophorus and Sergius. But the Primicerius and his son gained the upper hand, and forced Afiarta and his colleagues to flee to the Lateran Palace.[31]

By this stage, Stephen had returned to the Lateran, and he was confronted in the Basilica of St. Theodore by the fleeing Afiarta and his co-conspirators being chased by Christophorus and his supporters.[32] Apparently at this point, a suspicious Christophorus, believing that Stephen had entered into some agreement with Desiderius, forced Stephen into taking an oath that he would not turn Christophorus or his son over to the Lombards. After this, a furious Stephen berated Christophorus, demanded he stop harassing Afiarta, and ordered him and his followers to withdraw, to which Christophorus complied.[32] The next day, Stephen fled to St. Peter’s Basilica to seek the protection of Desiderius.[33] The Lombard king, shutting Stephen up in his suites in the Basilica, made it clear to the Pope that the price for his help was to be the handing over of Christophorus and Sergius.[34] The Pope sent two bishops to negotiate with Christophorus and Sergius, telling them that they must either retire to a monastery or come out to him at St. Peter’s. At the same time, a message was sent from Desiderius to the people of the city, declaring that: ”Pope Stephen bids you not to fight against your brethren, but to expel Christophorus from the city, and save it, yourselves, and your children.”[35]

This message from the Lombard king had the desired effect; Christophorus and Sergius began to suspect their associates, who in turn rapidly abandoned them. Both were reluctant to leave the city, but eventually both made their way to the Pope during the night.[36] The next day Stephen was allowed to return to the city, while Christophorus and Sergius were left in Lombard hands. Negotiations to secure their release were unsuccessful, and before the day was out, Afiarta arrived with his partisans. After discussing the situation with Desiderius, they had both men blinded. Christophorus died after three days, while Sergius was kept in a cell in the Lateran.[36]

In an attempt to forestall the potential intervention of Charlemagne, Desiderius had Stephen write a letter to the Frankish king[37] wherein he declared that Christophorus and Sergius had been involved in a plot with an envoy of Charlemagne’s brother, Carloman, to kill the Pope. Further, that Stephen had fled to Desiderius for protection, and that eventually Christophorus and Sergius were brought out against their will. While Stephen managed to save their lives, later a group of men had them blinded, but not on Stephen’s orders. He then concludes that if it wasn’t for “his most excellent son Desiderius”, he would have been in fatal danger, and that Desiderius had reached an agreement with him to restore to the Church all the lands which she had claims on that were still in Lombard hands.[38]

That such a letter was a fiction was demonstrated very soon after; when Stephen asked Desiderius to fulfil the promises he had made over the body of Saint Peter, the Lombard king responded: ”Be content that I removed Christophorus and Sergius, who were ruling you, out of your way, and ask not for rights. Besides, if I do not continue to help you, great trouble will befall you. For Carloman, king of the Franks, is the friend of Christophorus and Sergius, and will be wishful to come to Rome and seize you.”[39]

Continuing troubles and the death of Stephen

Desiderius continued to stir trouble in Italy; in 771, he managed to convince the bishops of Istria to reject the authority of the Patriarch of Grado, and to have them place themselves under the Patriarch of Aquileia, which was directly under Lombard control.[40] Stephen wrote to the rebellious bishops, suspending them and ordering them to place themselves once again under the authority of Grado, or face excommunication.[40]

After Christophorus’ fall, Paulus Afiarta continued to serve the papal court in a high capacity. During early 772, as Stephen fell ill and was soon clear that he was dying, Afiarta took advantage of this to exile a number of influential clergy and nobles from Rome, while others he put into prison.[41] Then on 24 January, eight days before Stephen’s death, Afiarta dragged the blinded Sergius from his cell in the Lateran and had him strangled.[40]

Stephen died on 24 January [42] or 1 February 772.[43] He was succeeded by Adrian I.

Local cult of Sainthood

Pope Stephen III (portrait at Saint Paul Outside the Walls, c. 1850)

During the Middle Ages, Stephen III was considered a Saint in his home island of Sicily. Various calendars, martyrologies, etc., such as the ancient calendar of the saints of Sicily, number Stephen among the saints, and assign his feast to 1 February. The citizens of Syracuse at one point attempted to convince the Holy See to officially endorse the sainthood of the pope, but this was not successful.[44]

See also


  1. ^ Chisholm 1911
  2. ^ Fentress, E. "Cosa V", p. 89. 2003
  3. ^ a b c Mann, pg. 369
  4. ^ DeCormenin, pg. 197
  5. ^ DeCormenin, 1857, pg. 196.
  6. ^ Mann, Horace. "Pope Stephen (III) IV." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 18 September 2017
  7. ^ Mann, pgs. 362–367
  8. ^ a b Mann, pg. 368
  9. ^ a b c d Mann, pg. 370
  10. ^ Mann, pg. 371
  11. ^ Mann, pgs. 371–372
  12. ^ a b DeCormenin, pg. 198
  13. ^ Partner, pg. 27
  14. ^ Gregorovius, Ferdinand, The History of Rome in the Middle Ages, Vol. II, pg. 329
  15. ^ Duffy, Eamon, Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes (1997), pg. 72
  16. ^ Mann, pgs. 372–373
  17. ^ Mann, pgs. 373–375
  18. ^ DeCormenin, pg. 199
  19. ^ a b Mann, pg. 376
  20. ^ Mann, pgs. 376–377
  21. ^ Mann, pgs. 377–378
  22. ^ a b Mann, pg. 378
  23. ^ Mann, pgs. 378–379
  24. ^ Mann, pg. 379
  25. ^ McKitterick, Rosamond, Charlemagne: The Formation of a European Identity (2008), pg. 84
  26. ^ Mann, pg. 381
  27. ^ Mann, pg. 380
  28. ^ Mann, pg. 382
  29. ^ a b Mann, pg. 383
  30. ^ DeCormenin, pg. 200
  31. ^ Mann, pgs. 383–384
  32. ^ a b Mann, pg. 384
  33. ^ Partner, pg. 28
  34. ^ Mann, pgs. 384–385
  35. ^ Mann, pg. 385
  36. ^ a b Mann, pg. 386
  37. ^ Mann, pg. 388
  38. ^ Mann, pg. 387
  39. ^ Mann, pg. 389
  40. ^ a b c Mann, pg. 390
  41. ^ Mann, pgs. 389–390
  42. ^ "The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church – Biographical Dictionary – Cardinals documented in 761".
  43. ^ Mann, pg. 392
  44. ^ Mann, pg. 393


  • Partner, Peter, The Lands of St. Peter: The Papal State in the Middle Ages and the Early Renaissance (1972)
  • Mann, Horace K., The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages, Vol. I: The Popes Under the Lombard Rule, Part 2, 657–795 (1903)
  • DeCormenin, Louis Marie; Gihon, James L., A Complete History of the Popes of Rome, from Saint Peter, the First Bishop to Pius the Ninth (1857)
  • Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Stephen (Popes)" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Paul I
Succeeded by
Adrian I

Year 768 (DCCLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 768 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.


Year 769 (DCCLXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 769 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.


Year 770 (DCCLXX) was a common year starting on Monday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 770 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.


Year 772 (DCCLXXII) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 772 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Annales Petaviani

The Annales Petaviani (AP) is one of the so-called "minor annals group", three related Reichsannalen, year-by-year histories of the Carolingian empire composed in Latin. They are named after the former owner of the manuscript, the French Jesuit Denis Pétau (1583–1652), whose name, in Latin, is Dionysius Petavius. The standard critical edition of the Annales is that of Georg Pertz in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica.

The first entry in the Annales Petaviani is for the year 687 and records the Battle of Tertry. There is then a gap until 708, when the annals begin again and continue to 799 in chronological order. Those entries through to 771 were compiled from earlier annals, such as the Annales sancti Amandi and the Annales mosellani, and do not comprise an independent source. Together with the Annales sancti Amandi, the Annales Petaviani are the primary source of the entries for 741–88 in the Annales laurissenses maiores. Both of these may have been based on an earlier exemplar originally compiled contemporaneously with events at the convent of Sankt Martin in Cologne. For the years 771–99 the Annales Petaviani are an independent and contemporary source.

They are the only source to date Charlemagne's birth to 747. They are also the only source to name either of Carloman I's two known sons, who fled to Italy with his widow in 771. The one born towards 770, whom Pope Stephen III offered to baptise himself, was named Pepin. Carloman's widow, Gisela, is also named in only one source: the Annales mettenses priores. The Annales Petaviani also provide a unique explanation for the retirement of Carloman's uncle and namesake, Carloman, son of Charles Martel, who entered the Abbey of Montecassino in 747, leaving power in the hands of his brother, Pepin the Short. The Annales claim that Carloman's conversion to the religious life came about because his conscience was unsettled by his defeat in Alemannia, where he lost thousands of men: Karolomannus intravit Alamanniam ubi fertur quod multa hominum millia ceciderit. Unde compunctus regnum reliquit ("Carloman entered Alemannia where it is said that many thousands of men died. In remorse he relinquished the kingdom"). The Annales also provide evidence of an Anglo-Saxon presence in Marseille, the great seaport of Merovingian Gaul, when they note under the year 790 the death of the son of Botto, an English negotiator in Marseille.

Anselm, Duke of Friuli

Anselm (died 805), the Duke of Forum Julii in the northeastern part of Lombard Italy, left the world at the height of his secular career, and in 750 built a monastery at Fanano, a place given to him by Aistulf, King of the Lombards, who had married Anselm's sister Gisaltruda. Two years later he built the monastery of Nonantula, a short distance northeast of Modena, which Aistulf endowed. Anselm went to Rome, where Pope Stephen III invested him with the habit of Saint Benedict, gave him some relics of Saint Sylvester and appointed him Abbot of Nonantula. Anselm founded many hospices where the poor and the sick were sheltered and cared for by monks.

According to the twelfth-century Catalogus abbatum nonantulorum, a list of abbots of Nonantola with their histories, Desiderius, who succeeded Aistulf as King of the Lombards in 756, banished Anselm from Nonantula in favor of his own protégé. Anselm spent the seven years of his exile at the Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino, but returned to Nonantula after Desiderius was taken prisoner by Charlemagne in the war of 774. This exile is not mentioned the earlier Vita Anselmi, a biography of Anselm written one or two hundred years after his death. Until 1083, Nonantula was an imperial monastery, and after Anselm's time its discipline often suffered from imperial interference in the election of its abbots.

Having been abbot for fifty years, Anselm died at Nonantula in 805, where the commune still honors him as patron. His feast day is 3 March.

Antipope Constantine II

Antipope Constantine II (died 769?) was an antipope for over a year, from 28 June 767 to 6 August 768. He was overthrown through the intervention of the Lombards and tortured before he was condemned and expelled from the Church during the Lateran Council of 769.

Upon the death of Pope Paul I various factions contended to secure the appointment of their respective candidates as pope. Constantine, although a layman, was supported by a group of Tuscan nobles, led by his brother. They secured his election by force of arms. The following spring, local authorities, with Lombard support, succeeded in deposing him. The Lombards then attempted to install their own candidate, a priest named Philip. He, in turn, was overthrown the following day by the local authorities who then elected the churchman Stephen. For a short time Constantine retained some support outside the city, which resulted in armed conflict. The supporters of Stephen had the imprisoned Constantine blinded, which, it seems to be generally allowed, Stephen was unable to hinder. After which Constantine was held in close confinement in a monastery.

Autpert Ambrose

Autpert Ambrose (Ambroise) (Latin: Ambrosius Autpertus) (ca. 730 – 784) was a Frankish Benedictine monk.

He became abbot of San Vincenzo al Volturno in South Italy in the time of Desiderius, king of the Lombards. Autpert's election as abbot caused internal dissent at St. Vicenzo, and both Pope Stephen III and Charlemagne intervened. The disagreement was based both on objections to Autpert's personality and to his Frankish origin.

He wrote a considerable number of works on the Bible and religious subjects generally. Among these are commentaries on the Apocalypse, on the Psalms, and on the Song of Solomon; Lives of Saints Paldo, Tuto and Vaso; Assumption of the Virgin; and a Combat between the Virtues and the Vices.In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI gave a homily about him in Saint Peter's square. In this homily, Autpert's death date is given as 784 (older scholarship had given a date between 778 and 779).

Carloman I

Carloman I, also Karlmann (28 June 751 – 4 December 771) was king of the Franks from 768 until his death in 771. He was the second surviving son of Pepin the Short and Bertrada of Laon and was a younger brother of Charlemagne. His death allowed Charlemagne to take all of Francia and begin his expansion into other kingdoms.

Constitutio Romana

The Constitutio Romana (or “Roman Constitution”) was drawn up between King Lothair I of Italy (818–855), co-emperor with his father, Louis the Pious, since 817, and Pope Eugene II (824–827) and confirmed on 11 November 824. At the time the election of Eugene was being challenged by Zinzinnus, the candidate of the Roman populace. Eugene agreed to several concessions to imperial power in central Italy in return for receiving the military and juridical support of Lothair. The Constitutio was divided into nine articles. It introduced the earliest known Papal Oath, which the Pope-elect was to give to an imperial legate before receiving consecration. It also restored the custom established by Pope Stephen III in 769 whereby both the laity and clergy of Rome would participate in Papal elections.

There has been some debate between modern scholars whether the Constitutio was a "dead letter" with little practical impact, or marked a stage of the road to imperial domination of the Papacy.

Desiderata of the Lombards

Desiderata, or Ermengarda, was one of four daughters of Desiderius, king of the Lombards, and his queen, Ansa. She was married to Charlemagne, king of the Franks, in 770, probably to form a bond between the otherwise enemy states of Francia and The Kingdom of the Lombards. The marriage was annulled in 771 and this hurt relations with the Lombards, presaging the war of 774. She had no known children and

after the marriage was annulled she retired to the Monastery of Santa Giulia in Brescia.

Although she is commonly referred to by the name Desiderata, it is now theorised that the name derives from an editorial error in a 19th-century copy of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica which capitalised the d in desideratam filiam (Latin for desired daughter). Even this error was sometimes compounded by a back formation to Desideria, a more probable first name (the feminine form of Desiderius, her father's name), or translated (as into French, Désirée).

The noted Carolingian historian Janet Nelson hypothesised in the 1998 work After Rome's Fall that Desiderius' daughter was in fact named Gerperga. The reasoning used by Nelson hinges on the confusion that many contemporaries apparently had between her and Gerberga, the Frankish wife of Carloman, who was brother of Charlemagne and his co-ruler from 768 to 771. Even Pope Stephen III seems to confuse the two and the chroniclers and annalists seem to believe that Gerberga fled, when her husband died, to the court of her father (she fled to Desiderius, who was definitely not her father). What is definite is that Desiderius and Ansa had three other daughters named Anselperga, Adelperga, and Liutperga. The commonality in the names of their daughters is the ending "-perga". Based on this, the author believes the confusion was caused because the two queens (wives of the two brothers Charles and Carloman) had the same name, namely Gerberga or Gerperga, which are, respectively, the Frankish and Lombard versions of the modern French name Gerberge.

Frankish Papacy

From 756 to 857, the papacy shifted from the orbit of the Byzantine Empire to that of the kings of the Franks. Pepin the Short (ruled 751–768), Charlemagne (r. 768–814) (co-ruler with his brother Carloman I until 771), and Louis the Pious (r. 814-840) had considerable influence in the selection and administration of popes. The "Donation of Pepin" (756) ratified a new period of papal rule in central Italy, which became known as the Papal States.

This shift was initiated by the Lombards conquering the Exarchate of Ravenna from the Byzantines, strengthened by the Frankish triumph over the Lombards, and ended by the fragmentation of the Frankish Kingdom into West Francia, Middle Francia, and East Francia. Lothair I continued to rule Middle Francia which included much of the Italian peninsula, from 843 to 855.

This period was "a critical time in Rome's transformation from ancient capital to powerful bishopric to new state capital." The period was characterized by "battles between Franks, Lombards and Romans for control of the Italian peninsula and of supreme authority within Christendom."

Gerberga, wife of Carloman I

Gerberga (8th century) was the wife of Carloman I, King of the Franks, and sister-in-law of Charlemagne. Her flight to the Lombard kingdom of Desiderius following Carloman's death precipitated the last Franco-Lombard war, and the end of the independent kingdom of the Lombards in 774.Very little is known of Gerberga. Her family and background are otherwise unknown: references to her being a daughter of Desiderius appear to be based upon confusion between herself and her sister-in-law, the Lombard princess Desiderata, who had married Carloman's brother, Charlemagne, as part of a pact between the Franks and the Lombards. That she in fact was a Frank is attested by Pope Stephen III: when the Pope, hearing of the marriage between Desiderata and Charlemagne, wrote a scolding letter to Carloman and Charlemagne, he claimed to the pair that "by your father's [i.e. Pepin the Short] explicit order, you were united in marriage to beautiful Frankish women..."Gerberga bore her husband Carloman two sons, the elder of whom was named Pippin, during their marriage. After Carloman died (of a severe nosebleed, according to one source), Gerberga expected her sons to inherit Carloman's realm, and perhaps intended to rule as regent; instead, Charlemagne seized his brother's territory, and Gerberga fled Francia with her sons and Carloman's chief advisor, Autchar. Charlemagne's biographer, Einhard, claimed she fled "for no reason at all".In Lombardy, Gerberga and her companions were given refuge by King Desiderius at Pavia. Desiderius and Carloman had been enemies during the latter's reign, due to the alliance between Desiderius and Charlemagne, with whom Carloman had lived in a state of hostility. Desiderius, however, had been alienated from Charlemagne by the latter's repudiation of Desiderius' daughter, Desiderata, shortly before, and now moved in support of Carloman's family. He made overtures to Pope Hadrian I, requesting that he crown Carloman's sons as Kings of the Franks, and acknowledge their right to succeed their father.In 773, Charlemagne invaded Italy, intending to end the threat that Desiderius and Gerberga posed towards him. Desiderius was besieged at Pavia, the Lombard capital; Gerberga took refuge with her sons, Desiderius' son Adalgis, and Autchar, in Verona, the strongest of the Lombard cities. Pavia would fall in June 774; Verona had already been taken before that, the citizens being unwilling to give a protracted resistance to the Frankish army, and Gerberga, her children, and Autchar were brought before Charlemagne.Their fate thereafter is unknown, since there is no further reference to them in Frankish or Papal histories. Some historians consider it likely that Gerberga and her sons (the latter having been tonsured) were sent to religious houses, as was the fate of Desiderius and his family. Others consider Charlemagne's exhortations to his own sons in the Divisio Regni, where he orders that none of his sons should harm their sons or nephews, and suggest that he might have had in mind his own treatment of his nephews.

Lateran Council (769)

The Lateran Council of 769 was a synod held in the Basilica of St. John Lateran to rectify perceived abuses in the papal electoral process which had led to the elevation of the Antipopes Constantine II and Philip. It also condemned the rulings of the Council of Hieria. It is perhaps the most important Roman council held during the 8th century.

Pope Stephen

Pope Stephen may refer to any of several men who were Pope or who were elected Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Historically, there have been two regnal numbering systems used when referring to Popes called "Stephen" starting with Pope-elect Stephen. See Pope-elect Stephen for detailed explanation.

Pope Stephen I (died 257), Bishop of Rome from 254–257

Pope-elect Stephen (died 752), also known as Pope Stephen II, elected Pope but died before his consecration

Pope Stephen II (III) (died 757), pope from 752–757

Pope Stephen III (IV) (720–772), pope from 768–772

Pope Stephen IV (V) (died 817), pope from 816–817

Pope Stephen V (VI) (died 891), pope from 885–891

Pope Stephen VI (VII) (died 897), pope from 896–897

Pope Stephen VII (VIII) (died 931), pope from 929–931

Pope Stephen VIII (IX) (died 942), pope from 939–942

Pope Stephen IX (X) (c. 1020–1058), pope from 1057–1058

Sedia gestatoria

The gestatorial chair (sedia gestatoria [ˈsɛːdja dʒestaˈtɔːrja] in Italian, lit. "chair for carrying") was a ceremonial throne on which Popes were carried on shoulders until 1978, and later replaced outdoors in part with the Popemobile. It consists of a richly adorned, silk-covered armchair, fastened on a suppedaneum, on each side of which are two gilded rings; through these rings pass the long rods with which twelve footmen (palafrenieri), in red uniforms, carry the throne on their shoulders. On prior occasions, as in the case of Pope Stephen III, popes were carried on the shoulders of men.The sedia gestatoria is an elaborate variation on the sedan chair. Two large fans (flabella) made of white ostrich feathers —a relic of the ancient liturgical use of the flabellum, mentioned in the Constitutiones Apostolicae— were carried at either side of the sedia gestatoria.

Stephen III

Stephen III may refer to:

Pope Stephen II, aka Stephen III, (d. 757), pope of the Roman Catholic Church

Pope Stephen III (720–772), native of Sicily

Stephen III of Iberia, Guaramid dynasty, presiding prince of Iberia (Kartli, eastern Georgia) from 779/780 to 788

Stephen III of Naples (died 832), duke of Naples

Stephen III of Hungary (1147–1172), King of Hungary and Croatia

Stefan Dragutin of Serbia, Stephen III of Serbia (died in 1316)

Stephen III, Duke of Bavaria (1337–1413)

Stephen III Báthory (died 1444), Hungarian nobleman and commander, Palatine of Hungary

Stephen III of Moldavia (c. 1433 – 1504), aka Stephen the Great, Prince of Moldavia

Stephen IV

Stephen IV may refer to:

Stephen IV, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch (died 744)

Pope Stephen III, aka Stephen IV, (720–772), native of Sicily

Pope Stephen IV, Pope from June 816 to January 817

Stephen IV of Hungary (c. 1133 – 1165), King of Hungary and Croatia

Stephen IV of Serbia (c. 1285 – 1331), King of Serbia

Stephen Ostojić of Bosnia (died 1421), King of Bosnia

Stephen IV of Moldavia (r. 1517–1527)

Toto of Nepi

Toto (died 29 July 768) was the self-styled duke of Nepi, the leading magnate of Etruria, who staged a coup d'état in Rome in 767. He became Duke of Rome for a year until his death. The principal sources documenting his takeover are the vita of Pope Stephen III in the Liber Pontificalis and a surviving deposition of the primicerius Christopher from 769, preserved in a ninth-century manuscript of Verona, the Depositio Christophori.

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

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