Pope Victor II
Gebhard as depicted in the Pontifical of Gundekar
|Papacy began||13 April 1055|
|Papacy ended||28 July 1057|
Germany, Holy Roman Empire
|Died||28 July 1057|
Arezzo, Holy Roman Empire
|Other popes named Victor|
Pope Victor II (c. 1018 – 28 July 1057), born Gebhard of Dollnstein-Hirschberg, was the head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 13 April 1055 until his death in 1057. Victor II was one of a series of German-born popes who led Gregorian Reform.
Gebhard was a native of the Kingdom of Germany in the Holy Roman Empire. He was a son of the Swabian Count Hartwig of Calw and a kinsman of Emperor Henry III. At the suggestion of the emperor's uncle, Gebhard, bishop of Ratisbon, the 24-year-old Gebhard was appointed bishop of Eichstätt. In this position, he supported the emperor's interests and eventually became one of his closest advisors.
After the death of Pope Leo IX, a Roman delegation headed by Hildebrand, later Pope Gregory VII, travelled to Mainz and asked the emperor to nominate Gebhard as successor. At a court Diet held at Ratisbon in March, 1055, Gebhard accepted the papacy, provided that the emperor restore to the Apostolic See all the possessions that had been taken from it. When the emperor agreed, Gebhard, taking the name Victor II, moved to Rome and was enthroned in St. Peter's Basilica on 13 April 1055.
In June 1055, Victor met the emperor at Florence and held a council, which reinforced Pope Leo IX's condemnation of clerical marriage, simony, and the loss of the church's properties. In the following year, he was summoned to the emperor's side, and was with Henry III when he died at Bodfeld in the Harz on 5 October 1056. As guardian of Henry III's infant son Henry IV and adviser of Empress Agnes, Henry IV's mother, Victor wielded enormous power, which he used to maintain peace throughout the empire and to strengthen the papacy against the aggressions of the barons. During, the rivalry between Archbishop Anno II of Cologne and other senior clergymen and the empress, Victor backed Agnes and her supporters. Many of her close followers would be promoted, men like Bishop Henry II of Augsburg, who would later become Emperor Henry's nominal regent, and several German princes were given high court and church offices.
Victor died shortly after his return to Italy, at Arezzo, on 28 July 1057. His death marked an end to the close relationship shared between the Salian dynasty and the papacy. Victor's retinue wished to bring his remains to the cathedral at Eichstätt for burial. Before they reached the city, however, the remains were seized by some citizens of Ravenna and buried there in the Church of Santa Maria Rotonda, the burial place of Theodoric the Great.
- Coulombe, Charles A., Vicars of Christ: A History of the Popes, (Citadel Press, 2003), p. 208.
- Ott, Michael. "Pope Victor II." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company (1912); accessed 9 November 2017.
- Bernard F. Reilly, The Contest of Christian and Muslim Spain, 1031-1157, (Blackwell Publishing, 1995), 67.
- Ermessenda of Barcelona. The status of her authority, Patricia Humphrey, Queens, Regents and Potentates, ed. Theresa M. Vann, (Academia Press, 1993), 34.
- Mcbrien, Richard P., The Pocket Guide to the Popes, (HarperCollins, 2006), 166.
- adapted from the 9th edition (1888) of the Encyclopædia Britannica
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope Victor II". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
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