Pope Benedict VIII

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Benedict VIII
Bishop of Rome
ChurchCatholic Church
Papacy began18 May 1012
Papacy ended9 April 1024
PredecessorSergius IV
SuccessorJohn XIX
Personal details

c. 980
Died(1024-04-09)9 April 1024
Rome, Papal States
Other popes named Benedict

Pope Benedict VIII (Latin: Benedictus VIII; c. 980[1] – 9 April 1024[2]) was bishop of Rome and ruler of the Papal States from 18 May 1012 until his death. He was born Theophylact to the noble family of the counts of Tusculum. Unusually for a medieval pope, he had strong authority both in Rome and abroad.

Theophylact was born to Count Gregory I of Tusculum. The family had already produced three popes: John XI (r. 931–935), and John XII (r. 955–964), and Benedict VII (r. 973–974). Theophylact became pope on 18 May 1012 and took the name Benedict VIII.[2]


Benedict VIII was opposed by an antipope, Gregory VI, who compelled him to flee Rome.[3] He was restored by King Henry II of Germany, whom he crowned 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 affected 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 Archbishop Æthelnoth of Canterbury, who had traveled to Rome to obtain the pallium.[9]

To further the interest of peace, Benedict VIII encouraged the Truce of God.[2] He convinced the Holy Roman emperor to lead an expedition into the south of Italy and subordinate his vassals who had defected to Byzantine authority. Horace Mann considered him "...one of the few popes of the Middle Ages who was at once powerful at home and great abroad." He was succeeded by his brother, John XIX.[2]

Family tree[edit]

Benedict VIII was closely related to five other popes who reigned in the 10th and 11th centuries, as well as some of the most powerful rulers of Italy at the time.[10]

Theophylact I of TusculumTheodora
Hugh of ItalyMarozia
Alda of VienneAlberic II of Spoleto
David or DeodatusPope John XI
r. 931–935
Pope John XII
r. 955–964
Gregory I of TusculumPope Benedict VII
r. 974–983
Pope Benedict VIII
r. 1012–1024
Alberic III of TusculumPope John XIX
r. 1024–1032
PeterPope Benedict IX
r. 1032-1044

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church".
  2. ^ a b c d  Mann, Horace (1907). "Pope Benedict VIII". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  3. ^ Mosheim, Johann Lorenz; Murdock, James (1867). Institutes of Ecclesiastical History Ancient and Modern, Vol. II. A. H. Maltby, 5th Ed. p. 356.
  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
  10. ^ Mann, Horace K. (1902). The lives of the popes in the early middle ages. London, K. Paul, Trench, Trübner, & co. p. 66.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Pope
Succeeded by