Pope Sylvester II

Pope Sylvester II or Silvester II (c.  946 – 12 May 1003) was Pope from 2 April 999 to his death in 1003. Originally known as Gerbert of Aurillac (Latin: Gerbertus Aureliacensis or de Aurillac; French: Gerbert d'Aurillac),[n 1] he was a prolific scholar and teacher. He endorsed and promoted study of Arab and Greco-Roman arithmetic, mathematics, and astronomy, reintroducing to Europe the abacus and armillary sphere, which had been lost to Latin (though not Byzantine) Europe since the end of the Greco-Roman era.[2][3][4][5] He is said to be the first to introduce in Europe the decimal numeral system using Hindu-Arabic numerals. He was the first French Pope.


Sylvester II
Silvester II
Papacy began2 April 999
Papacy ended12 May 1003
PredecessorGregory V
SuccessorJohn XVII
Personal details
Birth nameGerbertus (Gerbert)
Bornc.  946
Belliac, Auvergne, Kingdom of France
Died12 May 1003
Rome, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire
Other popes named Sylvester


Gerbert was born about 946 in the town of Belliac, near the present-day commune of Saint-Simon, Cantal, France.[6] Around 963, he entered the monastery of St. Gerald of Aurillac. In 967, Borrell II, Count of Barcelona (947–992) visited the monastery, and the abbot asked the Count to take Gerbert with him so that the lad could study mathematics in Catalonia and acquire there some knowledge of Arabic learning. In the following years, Gerbert studied under the direction of Atto, Bishop of Vic, some 60 km north of Barcelona, and probably also at the nearby Monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll.[7] Neither place was under Islamic rule at the time.

Borrell II of Barcelona was facing major defeat from the Andalusian powers so he sent a delegation to Córdoba to request a truce. Bishop Atto was part of the delegation that met with al-Ḥakam II of Cordoba, who received him with honor. Gerbert was fascinated by the stories of the Mozarab Christian Bishops and judges who dressed and talked like the Arabs, well-versed in mathematics and natural sciences like the great teachers of the Islamic madrasahs. This sparked Gerbert's veneration for the Arabs and his passion for mathematics and astronomy.

In 969, Count Borrell II made a pilgrimage to Rome, taking Gerbert with him. There Gerbert met Pope John XIII (965–972) and the Emperor Otto I, nicknamed "the Great" (936–973). The Pope persuaded Otto I to employ Gerbert as a tutor for his young son, the future Emperor Otto II (973–983). Some years later, Otto I gave Gerbert leave to study at the cathedral school of Rheims where he was soon appointed a teacher by Archbishop Adalberon.

When Otto II became Holy Roman Emperor in 973 (he was co-emperor with Otto I from 967), he appointed Gerbert the abbot of the monastery of Bobbio and also appointed him as count of the district, but the abbey had been ruined by previous abbots, and Gerbert soon returned to Rheims.

After the death of Otto II in 983, Gerbert became involved in the politics of his time. In 985, with the support of his archbishop, he opposed Lothair of France's attempt to take the Lorraine from Emperor Otto III by supporting Hugh Capet. Hugh became King of France, ending the Carolingian line of Kings in 987.

SylvestreII aurilac
Statue of Pope Sylvester II in Aurillac, Auvergne, France.

Adalberon died on 23 January 989.[8] Gerbert was a natural candidate for his succession,[9] but Hugh Capet appointed Arnulf, an illegitimate son of Lothair instead. Arnulf was deposed in 991 for alleged treason against the King, and Gerbert was elected his successor. There was so much opposition to Gerbert's elevation to the See of Rheims, however, that Pope John XV (985–996) sent a legate to France who temporarily suspended Gerbert from his episcopal office. Gerbert sought to show that this decree was unlawful, but a further synod in 995 declared Arnulf's deposition invalid.

Gerbert now became the teacher of Otto III, and Pope Gregory V (996–999), Otto III's cousin, appointed him Archbishop of Ravenna in 998. With the Emperor's support, he was elected to succeed Gregory V as Pope in 999. Gerbert took the name of Sylvester II, alluding to Pope Sylvester I (314–335), the advisor to Emperor Constantine I (324–337). Soon after he was elected pope, Sylvester II confirmed the position of his former rival Arnulf as archbishop of Rheims. As pope, he took energetic measures against the widespread practices of simony and concubinage among the clergy, maintaining that only capable men of spotless lives should be allowed to become bishops.

In 1001, the Roman populace revolted against the Emperor, forcing Otto III and Sylvester II to flee to Ravenna. Otto III led two unsuccessful expeditions to regain control of the city and died on a third expedition in 1002. Sylvester II returned to Rome soon after the Emperor's death, although the rebellious nobility remained in power, and died a little later. Sylvester is buried in St. John Lateran.


Silvester II. and the Devil Cod. Pal. germ. 137 f216v
Pope Sylvester II and the Devil in an illustration of c. 1460.

The legend of Gerbert grows from the work of the English monk William of Malmesbury in De Rebus Gestis Regum Anglorum and a polemical pamphlet, Gesta Romanae Ecclesiae contra Hildebrandum, by Cardinal Beno, a partisan of Emperor Henry IV who opposed Pope Gregory VII in the Investiture Controversy.

According to the legend, Gerbert, while studying mathematics and astrology in the Muslim cities of Córdoba and Seville, was accused of having learned sorcery.[10] Gerbert was supposed to be in possession of a book of spells stolen from an Arab philosopher in Spain. Gerbert fled, pursued by the victim, who could trace the thief by the stars, but Gerbert was aware of the pursuit, and hid hanging from a wooden bridge, where, suspended between heaven and earth, he was invisible to the magician.

Gerbert was supposed to have built a brazen head. This "robotic" head would answer his questions with "yes" or "no". He was also reputed to have had a pact with a female demon called Meridiana, who had appeared after he had been rejected by his earthly love, and with whose help he managed to ascend to the papal throne (another legend tells that he won the papacy playing dice with the Devil).[11]

According to the legend, Meridiana (or the bronze head) told Gerbert that if he should ever read a mass in Jerusalem, the Devil would come for him. Gerbert then cancelled a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, but when he read mass in the church Santa Croce in Gerusalemme ("Holy Cross of Jerusalem") in Rome, he became sick soon afterwards and, dying, he asked his cardinals to cut up his body and scatter it across the city. In another version, he was even attacked by the Devil while he was reading the Mass, and the Devil mutilated him and gave his gouged-out eyes to demons to play with in the Church. Repenting, Sylvester II then cut off his hand and his tongue.

The inscription on Gerbert's tomb reads in part Iste locus Silvestris membra sepulti venturo Domino conferet ad sonitum ("This place will yield to the sound [of the last trumpet] the limbs of buried Sylvester II, at the advent of the Lord", mis-read as "will make a sound") and has given rise to the curious legend that his bones will rattle in that tomb just before the death of a Pope.[12]

The alleged story of the crown and papal legate authority given to Stephen I of Hungary by Sylvester in the year 1000 (hence the title 'Apostolic King') is noted by the 19th-century historian Lewis L. Kropf as a possible forgery of the 17th century.[13] Likewise, the 20th-century historian Zoltan J. Kosztolnyik states that "it seems more than unlikely that Rome would have acted in fulfilling Stephen's request for a crown without the support and approval of the Emperor."[14]


Gerbert of Aurillac was a humanist long before the Renaissance. He read Virgil, Cicero and Boethius; he studied Latin translations of Porphyry, but also of Aristotle. He had a very accurate classification of the different disciplines of philosophy.

In 967, he went to Catalonia to visit the Count of Barcelona, and remained three years in the monastery of Vic, in Catalonia which, like all Catalan Monasteries, contained manuscripts from Muslim Spain and especially from Cordoba, one of the intellectual centres of Europe at that time: the library of Al-Hakam II, for example, had thousands of books (from Science to Greek philosophy). This is where he was introduced to mathematics and astronomy.[15]

Gerbert was said to be one of the most noted scientists of his time. Gerbert wrote a series of works dealing with matters of the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music), which he taught using the basis of the trivium (grammar, logic, and rhetoric). In Rheims, he constructed a hydraulic-powered organ with brass pipes that excelled all previously known instruments,[16] where the air had to be pumped manually. In a letter of 984, Gerbert asks Lupitus of Barcelona for a book on astrology and astronomy, two terms historian S. Jim Tester says Gerbert used synonymously.[17] Gerbert may have been the author of a description of the astrolabe that was edited by Hermannus Contractus some 50 years later. Besides these, as Sylvester II he wrote a dogmatic treatise, De corpore et sanguine Domini—On the Body and Blood of the Lord.

Abacus and Hindu–Arabic numerals

Reconstructed Ancient Roman Abacus.

Gerbert learned of Hindu–Arabic digits and applied this knowledge to the abacus, but probably without the numeral zero.[n 2] According to the 12th-century historian William of Malmesbury, Gerbert got the idea of the computing device of the abacus from a Spanish Arab.[19] The abacus that Gerbert reintroduced into Europe had its length divided into 27 parts with 9 number symbols (this would exclude zero, which was represented by an empty column) and 1,000 characters in all, crafted out of animal horn by a shieldmaker of Rheims.[9][20][21] According to his pupil Richer, Gerbert could perform speedy calculations with his abacus that were extremely difficult for people in his day to think through in using only Roman numerals.[9] Due to Gerbert's reintroduction, the abacus became widely used in Europe once again during the 11th century.[21]

Armillary sphere and sighting tube

Although lost to Europe since the terminus of the Greco-Roman era, Gerbert reintroduced the astronomical armillary sphere to Latin Europe via the Islamic civilization of Al-Andalus, which was at that time at the "cutting edge" of civilization.[22][23] The details of Gerbert's armillary sphere are revealed in letters from Gerbert to his former student and monk Remi of Trèves and to his colleague Constantine, the abbot of Micy, as well as the accounts of his former student and French nobleman Richer, who served as a monk in Rheims.[24] Richer stated that Gerbert discovered that stars coursed in an oblique direction across the night sky.[25] Richer described Gerbert's use of the armillary sphere as a visual aid for teaching mathematics and astronomy in the classroom, as well as how Gerbert organized the rings and markings on his device:

First [Gerbert] demonstrated the form of the world by a plain wooden sphere... thus expressing a very big thing by a little model. Slanting this sphere by its two poles on the horizon, he showed the northern constellations toward the upper pole and the southern toward the lower pole. He kept this position straight using a circle that the Greeks called horizon, the Latins limitans, because it divides visible stars from those that are not visible. On this horizon line, placed so as to demonstrate practically and plausibly... the rising and setting of the stars, he traced natural outlines to give a greater appearance of reality to the constellations... He divided a sphere in half, letting the tube represent the diameter, the one end representing the north pole, the other the south pole. Then he divided the semicircle from one pole to the other into thirty parts. Six lines drawn from the pole he drew a heavy ring to represent the arctic polar circle. Five divisions below this he placed another line to represent the tropic of Cancer. Four parts lower he drew a line for the equinoctial circle [the equator]. The remaining distance to the south pole is divided by the same dimensions.[25]

Given this account, historian Oscar G. Darlington asserts that Gerbert's division by 60 degrees instead of 360 allowed the lateral lines of his sphere to equal to six degrees.[26] By this account, the polar circle on Gerbert's sphere was located at 54 degrees, several degrees off from the actual 66° 33'.[26] His positioning of the Tropic of Cancer at 24 degree was nearly exact, while his positioning of the equator was correct by definition.[26] Richer also revealed how Gerbert made the planets more easily observable in his armillary sphere:

He succeeded equally in showing the paths of the planets when they come near or withdraw from the earth. He fashioned first an armillary sphere. He joined the two circles called by the Greeks coluri and by the Latins incidentes because they fell upon each other, and at their extremities he placed the poles. He drew with great art and accuracy, across the colures, five other circles called parallels, which, from one pole to the other, divided the half of the sphere into thirty parts. He put six of these thirty parts of the half-sphere between the pole and the first circle; five between the first and the second; from the second to the third, four; from the third to the fourth, four again; five from the fourth to the fifth; and from the fifth to the pole, six. On these five circles he placed obliquely the circles that the Greeks call loxos or zoe, the Latins obliques or vitalis (the zodiac) because it contained the figures of the animals ascribed to the planets. On the inside of this oblique circle he figured with an extraordinary art the orbits traversed by the planets, whose paths and heights he demonstrated perfectly to his pupils, as well as their respective distances.[27]

Richer wrote about another of Gerbert's last armillary spheres, which had sighting tubes fixed on the axis of the hollow sphere that could observe the constellations, the forms of which he hung on iron and copper wires.[28] This armillary sphere was also described by Gerbert in a letter to his colleague Constantine.[29] Gerbert instructed Constantine that, if doubtful of the position of the pole star, he should fix the sighting tube of the armillary sphere into position to view the star he suspected was it, and if the star did not move out of sight, it was thus the pole star.[30] Furthermore, Gerbert instructed Constantine that the north pole could be measured with the upper and lower sighting tubes, the Arctic Circle through another tube, the Tropic of Cancer through another tube, the equator through another tube, and the Tropic of Capricorn through another tube.[30]


Pope Sylvester II (Gerbert d'Aurillac) - De geometria
12th century copy of De geometria.

Gerbert's writings were printed in volume 139 of the Patrologia Latina. Darlington notes that Gerbert's preservation of his letters might have been an effort of his to compile them into a textbook for his pupils that would illustrate proper letter writing.[26] His books on mathematics and astronomy were not research-oriented; his texts were primarily educational guides for his students.[26]

  • Mathematical writings
    • Libellus de numerorum divisione[31]
    • De geometria[31]
    • Regula de abaco computi[31]
    • Liber abaci[31]
    • Libellus de rationali et ratione uti[31]
  • Ecclesiastical writings
    • Sermo de informatione episcoporum
    • De corpore et sanguine Domini
    • Selecta e concil. Basol., Remens., Masom., etc.
  • Letters
    • Epistolae ante summum pontificatum scriptae
      • 218 letters, including letters to the emperor, the pope, and various bishops
    • Epistolae et decreta pontificia
      • 15 letters to various bishops, including Arnulf, and abbots
      • one dubious letter to Otto III.
      • five short poems
  • Other
    • Acta concilii Remensis ad S. Basolum
    • Leonis legati epistola ad Hugonem et Robertum reges


  • Postage stamps: France honoured The Pope Sylvester II in 1964 by issuing a postage stamp.[32] Hungary issued a commemorative stamp honoring Pope Sylvester II on 1 January 1938.[33]

See also


  1. ^ Other names include Gerbert of Reims (Latin: Gebertus Remensis) or Ravenna (Gebertus Ravennatensis) or Auvergne (Italian: Gerberto dell'Alvernia) and Gibert (Latin: Gibertus).[1]
  2. ^ Charles Seife: "He probably learned about the numerals during a visit to Spain and brought them back with him when he returned to Italy. But the version he learned did not have a zero."[18]



  1. ^ "Silvester <Papa, II.>," CERL Thesaurus.
  2. ^ Morris Bishop (2001). The Middle Ages. p. 47. ISBN 9780618057030.
  3. ^ Jana K. Schulman, ed. (2002). The Rise of the Medieval World, 500-1300: A Biographical Dictionary. p. 410. ISBN 9780313308178.
  4. ^ Toby E. Huff (1993). The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West. p. 50. ISBN 9780521529945.
  5. ^ Nancy Marie Brown, "The Abacus and the Cross: The Story of the Pope Who Brought the Light of Science to the Dark Ages"; see a presentation at http://www.religiondispatches.org/books/rd10q/3878/everything_you_think_you_know_about_the_dark_ages_is_wrong/
  6. ^ Darlington (1947, p. 456, footnote 2)
  7. ^ Mayfield, Betty (August 2010). "Gerbert d'Aurillac and the March of Spain: A Convergence of Cultures". Mathematical Association of America.
  8. ^ Darlington (1947, p. 471).
  9. ^ a b c Darlington (1947, p. 472).
  10. ^ Brian A. Catlos, Infidel Kings and Unholy Warriors (New York, NY: Farrar, Straus And Giroux, 2014), 83.
  11. ^ Butler, E. M. (1948). The Myth of the Magus. Cambridge University Press. p. 157.
  12. ^ Lanciani, Rodolfo (1892). "Papal Tombs". Pagan and Christian Rome. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin.
  13. ^ Kropf (1898), p. 290.
  14. ^ Kosztolnyik (1977), p. 35.
  15. ^ Gerbert biography
  16. ^ Darlington (1947, p. 473).
  17. ^ Tester (1987), p. 132.
  18. ^ Seife (2000), p. 77.
  19. ^ Truitt, E. R. (2015). Medieval robots : mechanism, magic, nature, and art. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 77. ISBN 9780812291407. OCLC 907964739.
  20. ^ Tester (1987), pp. 131–132.
  21. ^ a b Buddhue (1941), p. 266.
  22. ^ Tester (1987), pp. 130–131.
  23. ^ Darlington (1947, pp. 467–472).
  24. ^ Darlington (1947, pp. 464, 467–472).
  25. ^ a b Darlington (1947, p. 467).
  26. ^ a b c d e Darlington (1947, p. 468).
  27. ^ Darlington (1947), pp. 468–469.
  28. ^ Darlington (1947, p. 469).
  29. ^ Darlington (1947, pp. 469–470).
  30. ^ a b Darlington (1947, p. 470).
  31. ^ a b c d e Darlington (1947, p. 468, footnote 43)
  32. ^ http://colnect.com/en/stamps/list/country/2626-France/year/1964/page/4
  33. ^ http://colnect.com/en/stamps/list/country/6955-Hungary/year/1938


Further reading

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Archbishop of Reims
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Gregory V
Succeeded by
Apostolic King

Apostolic King was a hereditary title borne by the King of Hungary.The Habsburg dynasty saw themselves as the heir of Saint Stephen (ca. 997–1038), and argued that Pope Sylvester II had bestowed this title on Saint Stephen. The king's efforts to Christianize his people led to his comparison to one of the apostles. It was first used by the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I (1657–1705) as King of Hungary. The title was last used in the reign of Charles IV (1916–18).The title is comparable to Spain's Catholic, Portugal's Most Faithful Majesty and France's Most Christian Majesty.

The Letter of Pope Sylvester II to Stephen of Hungary, 1000 AD.Sylvester, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to Stephen, king of the Hungarians, greeting and apostolic benediction. Your ambassadors, especially our dear brother, Astricus, bishop of Colocza, were received by us with the greater joy and accomplished their mission with the greater ease, because we had been divinely forewarned to expect an embassy from a nation still unknown to us.... Surely, according to the apostle: "It is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy" [Rom. 9:16]; and according to the testimony of Daniel: "He changeth the times and the seasons; he removeth kings and setteth up kings; he revealeth the deep and secret things; he knoweth what is in the darkness" [Dan. 2:21, 22]; for in him is that light which, as John teaches, "lighteth every man that cometh into the world" [John 1:9]. Therefore we first give thanks to God the Father, and to our Lord Jesus Christ, because he has found in our time another David, and has again raised up a man after his own heart to feed his people Israel, that is, the chosen race of the Hungarians. Secondly, we praise you for your piety toward God and for your reverence for this apostolic see, over which, not by our own merits, but by the mercy of God, we now preside. Finally, we commend the liberality you have shown in offering to St. Peter yourself and your people and your kingdom and possessions by the same ambassadors and letters. For by this deed you have clearly demonstrated that you already are what you have asked us to declare you [i.e., a king]. But enough of this; it is not necessary to commend him whom God himself has commended and whose deeds openly proclaim to be worthy of all commendation. Now therefore, glorious son, by the authority of omnipotent God and of St. Peter, the prince of apostles, we freely grant, concede, and bestow with our apostolic benediction all that you have sought from us and from the apostolic see; namely, the royal crown and name, the creation of the metropolitanate of Gran, and of the other bishoprics. Moreover, we receive under the protection of the holy church the kingdom which you have surrendered to St. Peter, together with yourself and your people, the Hungarian nation; and we now give it back to you and to your heirs and successors to be held, possessed, ruled, and governed. And your heirs and successors, who shall have been legally elected by the nobles, shall duly offer obedience and reverence to us and to our successors in their own persons or by ambassadors, and shall confess themselves the subjects of the Roman church, who does not hold her subjects as slaves, but receives them all as children. They shall persevere in the catholic faith and the religion of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and strive always to promote it. And because you have fulfilled the office of the apostles in preaching Christ and propagating his faith, and have tried to do in your realm the work of us and of our clergy, and because you have honored the same prince of apostles above all others, therefore by this privilege we grant you and your successors, who shall have been legally elected and approved by the apostolic see, the right to have the cross borne before you as a sign of apostleship,{68} after you have been crowned with the crown which we send and according to the ceremony which we have committed to your ambassadors. And we likewise give you full power by our apostolic authority to control and manage all the churches of your realm, both present and future, as divine grace may guide you, as representing us and our successors. All these things are contained more fully and explicitly in that general letter which we have sent by our messenger to you and to your nobles and faithful subjects. And we pray that omnipotent God, who called you even from your mother’s womb to the kingdom and crown, and who has commanded us to give you the crown which we had prepared for the duke of Poland, may increase continually the fruits of your good works, and sprinkle with the dew of his benediction this young plant of your kingdom, and preserve you and your realm and protect you from all enemies, visible and invisible, and, after the trials of the earthly kingship are past, crown you with an eternal crown in the kingdom of heaven. Given at Rome, March 27, in the thirteenth indiction [the year 1000].

Bernard of Utrecht

Bernard of Utrecht (also Bernard d'Utrecht, Latinised Bernardus Ultrajectensis) was a cleric of the late eleventh century, known for an allegorical commentary on the Eclogue of Theodulus, a standard Latin school text. According to its modern editor R. B. C. Huyghens, in it "students of the history of medicine will find the earliest mention of autopsy, philosophers the oldest quotation from the "Florentina," the Latin version of Aristotle's "Analytica priora" (for which until recently Abélard and John of Salisbury were the oldest references), and historians the oldest version of the malicious story of the pact between the devil and pope Sylvester II."

Bruno of Querfurt

Saint Bruno of Querfurt (c. 974 – 14 February 1009 AD), also known as Brun and Boniface, was a Christian missionary bishop and martyr, who was beheaded near the border of Kievan Rus and Lithuania for trying to spread Christianity. He is also called the second "Apostle of the Prussians".

Coronation crown

A coronation crown is a crown used by a monarch when being crowned. In some monarchies, monarchs have or had a number of crowns for different occasions, such as a coronation crown for the moment of coronation and a state crown for general usage in state ceremonial.

County of Empúries

The County of Empúries (Catalan: Comtat d'Empúries, IPA: [kumˈtad dəmˈpuɾiəs]), also known as the County of Ampurias (Spanish: Condado de Ampurias), was a medieval county centred on the town of Empúries and enclosing the Catalan region of Peralada. It corresponds to the historic comarca of Empordà.

After the Franks conquered the regions in 785, Empúries and Peralada came under the authority of the County of Girona. Around 813, Empúries, with Peralada, became a separate county under Ermenguer. He and the other early counts were probably of Visigothic origin. In 817, Empúries was merged with the County of Roussillon, a union which lasted until 989. One of the ninth-century counts of Empúries assembled a fleet powerful enough to conquer the Balearic Islands, but only for a brief time. From 835 to 844, Sunyer I ruled Empúries and Peralada while Alaric I ruled Roussillon and Vallespir.

At the death of Gausfred I in 989, Roussillon and Empúries were separated. Gausfred's elder son Hugh I received Empúries while Giselbert I received Roussillon. Hugh's comital dynasty lasted until 1322, when Empúries passed to a collateral branch of his family. The last count, Hugh VI, sold the county to Peter IV of Ribagorza in 1325 in exchange for the barony of Pego and the towns of Xaló and Laguar, all located within the Kingdom of Valencia. Peter later traded it with Ramon Berenguer d'Aragona for the county of Prades in 1341. From that point on, Empúries was an apanage of the Crown of Aragon.

In a letter of December 1002, Pope Sylvester II confirmed the county of Empúries and the "county of Pedralbes" as a part of the diocese of Girona. The latter is probably to be identified with the Peralada region in the north of Empúries. A portion of the "taxes of the port", consisting of dues and anchorage, were passed on to the diocese.

Deal with the Devil

A deal with the devil (also known as a compact or pact with the devil) is a cultural motif, best exemplified by the legend of Faust and the figure of Mephistopheles, as well as being elemental to many Christian traditions. According to traditional Christian belief about witchcraft, the pact is between a person and Satan or a lesser demon. The person offers their soul in exchange for diabolical favours. Those favours vary by the tale, but tend to include youth, knowledge, wealth, fame, or power.

It was also believed that some people made this type of pact just as a sign of recognizing the devil as their master, in exchange for nothing. Nevertheless, the bargain is considered a dangerous one, as the price of the Fiend's service is the wagerer's soul. The tale may have a moralizing end, with eternal damnation for the foolhardy venturer. Conversely, it may have a comic twist, in which a wily peasant outwits the devil, characteristically on a technical point. The person making the pact sometimes tries to outwit the devil, but loses in the end (e.g., man sells his soul for eternal life because he will never die to pay his end of the bargain. Immune to the death penalty, he commits murder, but is sentenced to life in prison).

Great achievements might be credited to a pact with the devil, from the numerous European Devil's Bridges to the violin virtuosity of Niccolò Paganini to the "crossroad" myth associated with Robert Johnson.

The "Bargain with the devil" constitutes motif number M210 and "Man sells soul to devil" motif number M211 in Stith Thompson's Motif-Index of Folk-Literature.

Fulbert of Chartres

Fulbert of Chartres (French: Fulbert de Chartres; 952-970–10 April 1028) was the Bishop of Chartres from 1006 to 1028 and a teacher at the Cathedral school there. Fulbert was a pupil of Gerbert of Aurillac, who would later become Pope Sylvester II. He was responsible for the advancement of the Nativity of the Virgin's feast day on September 8 and for one of the many reconstructions of the Chartres Cathedral. Most of the available information about him is found in the letters he wrote from 1004–1028 to both secular and religious figures of the day.

John Crescentius

John Crescentius (Italian: Giovanni Crescenzio) also John II Crescentius or Crescentius III (d. 1012) was the son of Crescentius the Younger (Crescentius II). He succeeded to his father's title of consul and patrician of Rome in 1002 and held it to his death.

Early in 1001, a revolt broke out in Rome against the Emperor Otto III, who now permanently resided in Rome. The Emperor and Pope Sylvester II, the first pope of French nationality, were compelled to flee; it is quite likely that John Crescentius was the prime mover of the rebellion.At any rate, after this he assumed supreme authority in Rome, and after the death of the Emperor Otto III on 24 January 1002 took the title of Patricius Romanorum. Sylvester was permitted to return to Rome, but had little to do with the temporal government. The same is true of his three immediate successors: John XVII (1003), John XVIII (1003–09), and Sergius IV (1009–12), all of whom were appointed through the influence of John Crescentius. There had not been any further coronations of Emperor during the rest of his life. John Crescentius died in May 1012, and with him the Crescentii disappeared from the history of Rome.

Leo of Vercelli

Leo (c.965–1026) was a German prelate who served as the Bishop of Vercelli from 999. Born in Hildesheim, he was made an archdeacon by 998 and was appointed to the see of Vercelli as the candidate of the Emperor Otto III and Pope Sylvester II following the assassination of Bishop Peter. He worked tirelessly for the extension of imperial authority in Italy during the reigns of Otto III, Henry II and Conrad II. He worked for the imperial chancery, receiving the high rank and title of logothete.

Only a few of Leo's writings have survived, and only one of his epistles. A notable Latin verse encomium written at Rome praises Otto III and Pope Gregory V. He also left behind an elegy of his diocesan predecessor and the so-called Metrum leonis, a sometimes-rhyming adonic poem with fabulous and personal elements.

List of astrologers

This is a list of astrologers with Wikipedia articles.

Miró III of Cerdanya

Miró III of Cerdanya and II of Besalú, Bonfill (920 in Girona – 984), was count of Cerdanya and Besalú (968–984).

The third son of Miro II and Ava, he was the successor of his brother, Sunifred II of Cerdanya.

He was first clergyman, then archdeacon (957), and finally bishop of Girona (970-984).

He traveled to Rome twice, and maintained a great friendship with Gerbert of Aurillac, the future Pope Sylvester II. He was a great writer, of a very particular style. He devoted his historical writings to recalling and praising the people in the families of the Catalan counts.

He authored the consecration of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa in 974 and the Monastery of Ripoll in 977. Also founded the monastery of Santa Maria de Serrateix in 977 and the monastery of Sant Pere de Besalu in 978.

He was succeeded by his brother Oliba Cabreta in both counties, although Oliba Cabreta had ruled jointly in Cerdanya since 968.

Ottonian Renaissance

The Ottonian Renaissance was a renaissance of Byzantine and Late Antique art in Central and Southern Europe that accompanied the reigns of the first three Holy Roman Emperors of the Ottonian (or Saxon) dynasty: Otto I (936–973), Otto II (973–983), and Otto III (983–1002), and which in large part depended upon their patronage.

Phantom time hypothesis

The phantom time hypothesis is a historical conspiracy theory asserted by Heribert Illig. First published in 1991, it hypothesizes a conspiracy by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, Pope Sylvester II, and possibly the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VII, to fabricate the Anno Domini dating system retrospectively, in order to place them at the special year of AD 1000, and to rewrite history to legitimize Otto's claim to the Holy Roman Empire. Illig believed that this was achieved through the alteration, misrepresentation and forgery of documentary and physical evidence. According to this scenario, the entire Carolingian period, including the figure of Charlemagne, is a fabrication, with a "phantom time" of 297 years (AD 614–911) added to the Early Middle Ages. The proposal has been universally rejected by mainstream historians.

Pope Sylvester

Pope Sylvester, or Silvester may refer to:

Pope Sylvester I (314–335)

Pope Sylvester II (999–1003)

Pope Sylvester III (1045)

Antipope Sylvester IV (1105–1111)

Saint-Simon, Cantal

Saint-Simon is a commune in the Cantal department in south-central France.

The medieval town of Belliac, located near the present-day Saint-Simon, was the birthplace (in 946) of the prolific scholar Gerbert d'Aurillac, who became Pope Sylvester II, the first of the French popes.

Saint Peter's Abbey, Ghent

Saint Peter's Abbey (Dutch: Sint-Pietersabdij) is a former Benedictine abbey in Ghent, Belgium, now a museum and exhibition centre.

Saint Peter's was founded in the late 7th century by Amandus, a missionary sent by the Frankish kings to Christianize the pagan inhabitants of the region, who founded two monasteries in the area, St. Bavo's, and Saint Peter's on the Blandijnberg. During the winter of 879-80, the abbey was raided and plundered by the Normans, and it remained relatively poor until the 10th century, when donations of property and relics by Count Arnulf I considerably enriched it, as did further donations by Arnulf's cousin King Edgar of England. By the second half of the century it was the wealthiest abbey in Flanders, and the reputation of the abbey school extended far beyond the town. In 984, Gerbert of Aurillac, director of the cathedral school of Reims, (later Pope Sylvester II) inquired whether students from Reims could be admitted to Saint Peter's, and its renown as a centre of artes liberales continued into the 11th century. Saint Peter's, through its ownership of large tracts of land, also played a pioneering role in cultivation during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, transforming forests, moors and marshes into farmland. In the fifteenth century a large scale programme of construction created the abbey library and scriptorium, enlarged the refectory, and the abbey church and other buildings were considerably beautified.Saint Peter's first decline began following the Revolt of Ghent in 1539, and by the 1560s the Low Countries were plunged in a religious crisis that resulted in an attack by iconoclasts in 1566 in which the abbey church was wrecked, the library looted, and other buildings badly damaged. The infirmary was pressed into service as a temporary home for the monks and the refectory used as a place of worship. However opposition continued and in 1578 the abbot and monks were forced to flee to Douai. The abbey buildings were sold at public auction and were partly demolished, the materials being used to construct the city walls. The abbey finally came back into the hands of the church in 1584, and it was eventually rebuilt, with a new abbey church, begun in 1629, in the Baroque style, as well as several other new builds and refurbishments. During the 18th century, the abbey was once again flourishing, as new buildings were constructed and older ones enlarged, including the conversion of the old dormitory into a library with more than ten thousand books.

However, the end was not far off, first with the Brabant Revolution of 1789–90, then the French invasion of 1793. Finally, on 1 September 1796, the Directory abolished all religious institutions. In 1798 the library was emptied and eventually taken to the University of Ghent. From 1798 the abbey church was used as a museum, but was returned to the ownership of the church in 1801 and renamed Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Sint-Pieterskerk ("Our Lady of Saint Peter's Church"). In 1810, the rest of the abbey became the property of the city of Ghent, and was partially demolished for the construction of a military barracks, which remained on the site until 1948.Around 1950 the city launched a programme of restoration, which is still ongoing, which began with the cloister and chapter house, then the west wing, including the old refectory and kitchens. Work on the wine cellars and attics was completed in the 1970s, and in 1982 work on the abbey gardens was completed, and in 1986 the terrace. In the 1990s restoration of the refectory wing began.The abbey is now used as a museum and exhibition centre, which in 2000 housed a major exhibition as part of the Year of Emperor Charles, and in October 2001 hosted the 88th meeting of the European Council.


A succubus is a demon in female form, or supernatural entity in folklore (traced back to medieval legend), that appears in dreams and takes the form of a woman in order to seduce men, usually through sexual activity. The male counterpart to the succubus is the incubus. Religious traditions hold that repeated sexual activity with a succubus may result in the deterioration of health or mental state, or even death.

In modern representations, a succubus may or may not appear in dreams and is often depicted as a highly attractive seductress or enchantress; whereas, in the past, succubi were generally depicted as frightening and demonic.

The Devil (Tarot card)

The Devil (XV) is the fifteenth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.


Warmund, in Latin Warmundus (died 1002×1011), was the bishop of Ivrea from about 966 until his death. Warmund is the namesake of the so-called "Warmund Sacramentary", an illustrated manuscript produced for him around the year 1000.

Nothing is known with certainty of Warmund's early life, although his birth has been estimated to fall around 930. The historian Luigi Moreno is responsible for much of the unfounded speculation that surrounds Warmund's family and education: that he adopted the surname of the Arborio family of Vercelli, where he first studied letters, and subsequently studied canon law at either Bologna or Pavia.It is also uncertain when Warmund became bishop. His first recorded act was signing the canons of the synod of Milan in absentia in November 969, but he was probably consecrated as bishop on Sunday, 7 March 966. In the eleventh century, a scribe added the note that "Warmund is consecrated bishop" beside the Nonas marcii ("nones [i.e., the 7th] of March") in the calendar preface to a ninth-century copy of the Martyrology of Adon. Although no year is given, the year can be deduced from the fact that bishops were consecrated on Sundays and the last nones of March to fall on a Sunday before the synod of Milan was in 966. Bishop Luigi Bettazzi of Ivrea, in his commentary on the Warmund Sacramentary, suggested that Warmund was "of German birth", appointed bishop by the Emperor Otto I in order to secure Ivrea's loyalty to the Italo-German empire Otto was forging. The name Warmund, which means "mouth of truth" in German, was widely used in Germany in the 10th century.Warmund's activity between 969 and 996 is undocumented, but he was probably occupied in the 980s with the rebuilding of the cathedral of Ivrea. A contemporary inscription on a stone tablet built into the choir records that "Bishop Warmund built this from the ground up". Besides the choir, he also constructed twin bell towers to house the new larger bells. He also performed work on the ambulatory and crypt, and it is probably in connexion with his renovations that he commissioned the scriptorium to produce a sacramentary and other texts for the new altars.From 996 to 998, Warmund was forced from his see by the margrave of Ivrea, Arduin, over land disputes. In 999, Peter, the bishop of Vercelli, was killed when Arduin's men besieged his town and burned down his church with him and his canons inside. This provoked Warmund to excommunicate Arduin, an action which is well documented in the books Warmund commissioned. The sermon Warmund preached threatening Arduin with excommunication has been preserved, as have the actual excommunication formula as pronounced in the cathedral, a letter from Warmund to Pope Gregory V explaining the situation, the pope's letter to Arduin and the public condemnation of Arduin by Pope Sylvester II and the Emperor Otto III during an Easter synod at Rome in the year 1000. Warmund was probably present at this synod. On 9 July 1000, the Emperor Otto III confirmed in a diploma that the city of Ivrea belonged to the jurisdiction of the bishop.According to Jean-Claude Schmitt, Warmund's sacramentary is of great importance for the study of medieval mourning and burial practices.Warmund disappears from the record after 1002. The French historian Pierre-Alain Mariaux has argued that he died on 1 August of some year between 1002 and 1006, but the Italian historian Adriano Peroni places his death in 1011. Warmund was beatified on 17 September 1857 at the insistence of Bishop Luigi Moreno of Ivrea, who also published (anonymously) a biography of Warmund in 1858. His feast is celebrated on 13 November with the other bishop-saints of Ivrea.

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