Nicholas II (Pope)

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Pope Nicholas II (right figure with halo under the canopy ) on a medieval fresco in the monastery of San Clemente (Rome)

Nicholas II , originally Gerhard of Burgundy (* between 990 and 995 presumably in Savoy ; † July 19, 20 or 27, 1061 in Florence ), was Pope from December 6, 1058 until his death.

Life path and the election to the Pope

Gerhard of Burgundy was born between 990 and 995 as a child of the noble Savoy family Chevron Villette , who resided in the Cháteau de Chevron near Mercury .

He is first mentioned in 1045 as Bishop of Florence . When Pope Stephen IX. died on March 29, 1058 in Florence, the Tuscan party in Rome immediately appointed Johann Mincius, Bishop of Velletri , as Benedict X. Pope. This appointment contradicted the will of the late Pope, who had expressly determined on his deathbed to wait until the subdeacon Hildebrand had returned from his trip to Germany before electing the new Pope .

The cardinals who protested against this election had to flee Rome. After Hildebrand's return and at his instigation, after the consent of the German court had also arrived, presumably on December 6, 1058 (hence the papal name ), Gerhard in Siena was elected as the new Pope Nicholas II. On the way to Rome a synod was held in Sutri under the protection of the Tuscan margrave Duke Gottfried III. (the bearded man) and the German Chancellor . Benedict was expelled from Rome and Nicholas II was finally enthroned in Rome on January 24, 1059.

Lateran Synod 1059

At Easter 1059 a synod was held in the Lateran without German participation in order to better regulate future papal elections . The result was the so-called papal election decree , with which Nicholas' own election could be legitimized retrospectively. The decree expressly linked the choice to the - admittedly secondary - approval of the imperial court.

Furthermore, decrees against simony and lay investiture were drawn up at this synod . Priests should live, eat and sleep together with the other canons in the collegiate churches for which they were consecrated, in order to bring about a moral renewal of the priestly life by giving up their personal possessions and leading an ascetic lifestyle. Priests who could be proven to have a "notorious cohabitation " should also be prohibited from celebrating Mass .

These resolutions were welcomed by the so-called “reformers”, whose most important representative was Petrus Damiani , who saw the salvation of human souls in better hands. Hildebrand, too, propagated the model of an “early church” as the goal of the reform papacy, in which there was no discord because all of Christianity would be united in charitable love. Saint Augustine rose to be the leading figure of this spiritual and moral reform , whose rules of life became the basis of this new draft order.

Policy towards the Normans

As an ally to fight the antipope , Nicholas II was able to win over the previously hostile Normans in southern Italy with the active support of Hildebrand . The Norman Richard von Aversa was confirmed as Prince of Capua . For this purpose, Norman troops could be used to fight Benedict in the Campania .

In July and August 1059 was finally in Melfi capital, Puglia , a synod held it on the Normans Robert Guiscard having regard to papal right track with Apulia, Calabria and Sicily for the case of recapture of the Saracens belehnte . In return, he undertook, among other things, to pay tribute to the Pope and to defend the Roman bishopric as well as guaranteeing free elections for the Pope. Richard von Aversa , with whom a similar agreement was made, was confirmed as Prince of Capua for his feudal oath on Nicholas and thus nominally equated with Robert Guiscard.

After his return, Nicholas was finally able to beat Benedict with the help of the Normans and force him to surrender in autumn 1059 .

The relationship to the German court

Relations with the German court had been severely clouded by the events of 1059. The granting of feuds to the Normans as well as the restriction of the imperial right to be named Pope to a privilege granted by the Pope and the further restriction that every imperial successor should receive this right personally confirmed, weakened the emperor's influence in Italy. But with Norman support in the back, Nicholas was able to renew this provision at a synod in the Lateran in 1060. This procedure aroused great annoyance at the German court, so that in the same year an imperial synod was called in Germany, at which the imperial bishops declared all of Nicholas' orders to be invalid. Nikolaus was not intimidated by this and convened another council in 1061, at which the declarations of 1059 were reaffirmed.


Nicholas died on July 27, 1061 (according to other sources on July 19 or 20) in Florence. He was buried in the local cathedral . Immediately after his death became known, the Roman nobility sent a delegation to the German court, who sought support for their candidate from Empress Agnes . Meanwhile, however, the College of Cardinals in Lateran elected Anselm of Lucca as Pope Alexander II on September 30, 1061. Through the imperial episcopate and Empress Agnes (probably without knowledge of the events in Rome) Pietro Cadalus of Parma as Honorius II (antipope) became the new Pope was appointed and solemnly confirmed on October 28, 1061 at a court day in Basel . This schism of the Catholic Church with two popes was only removed on May 31, 1064 at the Synod of Mantua , which Honorius declared deposed and put under its spell.

Nicholas II was considered a cultivated and morally impeccable churchman, but in the judgment of contemporaries he remained in the shadow of his advisors, who included brilliant personalities of the reform party such as Hildebrand, Humbert von Silva Candida and Petrus Damiani.


Web links

Commons : Nicholas II.  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. ^ Franz Xaver Seppelt: History of the Popes . Kösel Verlag, Munich, 5th edition 1949, pp. 103-104.
predecessor Office successor
Stephan IX. Pope
Alexander II