Clement II

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Statue in Hornburg by Sabine Hoppe (2005)

Clemens II , secular name Suitger (Suidger) , Count of Morsleben and Hornburg, (* 1005 in Hornburg , † October 9, 1047 in the monastery of San Tommaso in Foglia in Apsella di Montelabbate ) was Pope from 1046 to 1047. He is due to his Origin from the Duchy of Saxony as the " German Pope " and - if Bruno of Carinthia (996–999) is not counted - is often referred to as the "first German Pope".

Origin and life

Suitger was the son of Count Konrad von Morsleben and Hornburg and Amulrada, daughter of Count Erpo von Padberg , and thus came from a noble Saxon family. His mother Amulrada was the sister of the Magdeburg Archbishop Waltard . Hornburg Castle is assumed to be the place of birth , but contemporary sources are silent on this question and only allow for speculations.


He received his theological training at the cathedral school in Halberstadt . Suitger was before 1032 canon of the cathedral at the Halberstadt St. Stephen's monastery and 1032 court chaplain of Archbishop Hermann von Hamburg-Bremen .


His noble origins and his prominent position with the Archbishop of Hamburg-Bremen helped him to pursue an ecclesiastical career in the royal service. In 1035 he was accepted as a chaplain in the court chapel of Emperor Konrad II . His son, King Heinrich III. appointed Suitger bishop of Bamberg in 1040 . On December 28, 1040 he was consecrated bishop by the Mainz Metropolitan Bardo in the presence of the king in Münster in Westphalia . Bishop Suitger founded Theres Monastery around 1045 .


On his trip to Italy, King Heinrich III. after the Synod of Sutri in December 1046, three simultaneously reigning Popes: Gregory VI. , Benedict IX. and New Year III. The emperor appointed his companion Suitger as the new head of the church, but only after his actual preferred candidate Adalbert von Bremen had turned down his dignity. Suitger may also have been recommended to him by Adalbert. In a subsequent synod that took place in St. Peter in Rome on December 24, 1046 , Suitger was elected Pope as requested. On Christmas Day 1046 he carried out the first official act, the imperial coronation of Heinrich III. and his wife Agnes of Poitou . The new Pope retained his Bamberg diocese. The reason most often cited earlier, according to which he was concerned with material independence from the Roman income, is now doubted. Rather, his behavior, with which an approximately 60-year-old series of popes began who retained their episcopal seats and abbatiates after their papal election, is likely to be related to the traditional ban on translation, which strictly forbade changing from one bishop's seat to another. While the popes of the past centuries, who came from the urban Roman nobility, were usually not bishops before their election as pope, so that the problem did not arise for them, the reform popes appointed by the king from the imperial episcopate were forced to adhere to the strict rules to hold for translation in order not to question their legitimacy. The character of the papal office also changed as a result, as the function of the Roman local bishop took a back seat to that of the leadership of the Church as a whole.

Clemens, who despite his imperial church origins is often counted as part of the reform papacy , faced difficult tasks. His choice of name after St. Clement of Rome (1st century) is sometimes interpreted as a signal that indicates a profound reform intention: back to the origins of the church. The focus of the church reform at that time was the fight against the widespread marriage of priests (" Nikolaitism ") and the transfer of church offices, which was viewed as simony , in return for material benefits. In this context, Clemens' correspondence with Petrus Damiani , who is considered to be an influential engine of the church reforms of the 11th century, is remarkable . At his first papal synod in January 1047, Clemens initiated the measures advocated by the reform party. Since his pontificate only lasted ten months, however, he could hardly provide any lasting impetus. In research, the assessment of his reform work is ambivalent; In addition to optimists, who sometimes even explicitly describe Clemens II as the “first reform pope” ( Georg Gresser ), there are also more skeptical voices pointing to his conservative character as a careerist at the bishopric and royal court and the fact that many of the cluniac reformers Behaviors that were viewed as grievances were considered unproblematic there and at least must have been customary for Suitger. What is certain, however, is that Suitger remained a foreign body for the Roman city nobility and that a personal and organizational reform of the Curia, which changed the Roman church leadership in line with the ideas of the royal and reformist church, only took place under his successor Leo IX. used effectively.


Monastery church of San Tommaso in Foglia, place of death of the Pope
Papal tomb

Early death in Italy

In 1047 Clemens II undertook a trip across the Alps. On October 9, 1047, the Pope died on the journey in the monastery of San Tommaso in Foglia near Montelabbate. Rumors were already circulating among contemporaries that he had been poisoned by opponents in Italy. For a long time it was suspected that Benedict IX, who was deposed and was extremely negatively marked by chroniclers close to the Reform Party, could have been the instigator of the murder. An examination of the mortal remains of Clemens II in 1958 could not confirm the suspicion, but his biographer Georg Gresser came to the conclusion in 2007: “This was due to his adversaries [...], who were a blond bishop from the north [ ...] would like to see it eliminated. Even with the help of scientific methods, the final proof of the Pope's murder can no longer be produced today, but from a historical perspective it seems more than likely. "Benedict IX. ascended the throne again after Clement's death and became Pope for the third time, albeit soon expelled by his opponents.

Burial and papal grave in Bamberg

In accordance with his will, he, who had not given up his previous bishopric as Pope, was buried in Bamberg Cathedral . His grave is the only surviving papal grave north of the Alps.

The transfer of the body took place in the original coffin. It can therefore be assumed that his last will to be transferred to Bamberg, his beloved bride , was long before the visit of Pope Leo IX. in Bamberg in 1052. During this visit Bamberg was given special privileges due to the papal grave of Leo, which secured the long-term existence of the diocese founded by Heinrich II in 1007 .

Investigation of the causes of death

In 1942 the Tumba was opened for at least the third time. The clothing of the deceased was removed, restored and given to the cathedral treasury . Since the opening of the Diocesan Museum in Bamberg , these items of clothing have been among the most important parts of the collection. Since the suspicion has been passed down that Clemens might have been a victim of an assassination attempt by poisoning, the bones were subjected to a toxicological examination. The result confirmed poisoning, as unnaturally high concentrations of lead were found in the bones. The storage finding, however, corresponded to a long-term storage of lead in the bones, not an acute poisoning with lead salts. Poisoning with lead sugar is obvious, but nothing can be said about whether this poisoning was malicious - lead sugar was a very common substance for sweetening wine in the Middle Ages.

More monuments

In Santa Maria dell'Anima , the church of the German tongue in Rome, a memorial commemorates Pope Clement II, which the Bamberg prince-bishop Johann Gottfried von Aschhausen had erected there at the beginning of the 17th century.

A bust of Pope Clemens II is in the forecourt of the Katharinenkirche in Halberstadt, a former Dominican church consecrated in the 13th century, on the so-called "Halberstädter Bischofswand", which was designed by the Paderborn cathedral builder Kurt Matern (1884–1968). Clemens is represented there as well as on the grave figure in Bamberg with a rationale with a breastplate, a high medieval symbol of dignity for bishops.

On the occasion of his 1000th birthday in 2005, a statue of Pope Clement II by the sculptor Sabine Hoppe was erected in front of the Marienkirche in his birthplace Hornburg in Lower Saxony.

Grave figure in Bamberg Cathedral


Web links

Commons : Clemens II.  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Page of the parish of San Tommaso in Foglia , the former monastery church that was restored in the 1870s
  2. Ulf Dirlmeier , Andreas Gestrich , Ulrich Herrmann , Ernst Hinrichs , Konrad H. Jarausch , Christoph Kleßmann , Jürgen Reulecke : German history. Updated and supplemented edition 2013 (Reclam non-fiction book), Kindle Edition, Reclam, Stuttgart 2014, timeline for the years 1046/1047.
  3. ^ Eberhard Segner: History of the city of Hornburg. City of Hornburg, Hornburg 1994, pp. 27-40.
  4. Georg Gresser: Pope Clemens II and the diocese of Bamberg. Bamberg 2007, pp. 89-91.
  5. a b Marcus Knipp: Review of Georg Gresser: Clemens II. The first German reform pope, Paderborn, 2007 , in: Sehepunkte 8 (2008) No. 5, accessed on July 26, 2017.
  6. Steffen Berg: Lawyer for the victims. 2002, p. 142 f.
  7. ^ Walter Specht , Kurt Fischer: Poisoning evidence on the remains of a 900 year old corpse. In: Archives for Criminology . Vol. 124, H. 3/4, 1959, pp. 61-84.
  8. Georg Gresser: Pope Clemens II and the diocese of Bamberg. Bamberg 2007, p. 87.
  9. ^ Werner Hartmann: Halberstadt (series of archive images ). Sutton Verlag, Erfurt 2000, ISBN 978-3-89702-222-5 , p. 59.
  10. Halberstadt. Rolandstadt in Saxony-Anhalt. Work - live - live in a city with history. (PDF; 2.1 MB) Roland brochure from the city of Halberstadt, Weka Info Verlag, Mering 2001, p. 11.
predecessor Office successor
Gregory VI. Pope
Benedict IX
Eberhard I. Bishop of Bamberg