The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

Biographical Dictionary
Pope Gregory V (996-99)
998 (III)


(11) 1. GREGORIO (?-before 1003)

Birth. (No date or place found).

Education. (No information found)

Cardinalate. Bishop cardinalis of Ostia in 998 (1). Consecrated (no information found). He subscribed the decrees of the Roman Council celebrated in 998, at St. Peter's basilica, in which he voted to condemn the marriage of King Robert II of France to his cousin Bertha of Burgundy; the king was excommunicated by Pope Gregory V; the marriage was annulled by Pope Sylvester II.

Death. Before 1003, (no place found). Buried (no information found).

Bibliography. Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1792, I, pt. 1, 90; Cristofori, Francesco. Cronotasi dei cardinali di Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Tipografia de Propaganda Fide, 1888, p. 2; "Essai de liste générale des cardinaux. Les cardinaux des 10 premiers siècles". Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1926. Paris : Maison de la Bonne Presse, 1927, p. 161, no. 12; Regesta pontificum Romanorum ab conditio Ecclesia. Ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII. Graz : Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1956. 2 v. Reprint. Originally published : Lipsiae : Veit et comp., 1885-1888. Original t.p. included : Regesta pontificum Romanorum ab condita ecclesia : ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII. Editionem secundam correctam et auctam edidit Philippus Jaffè ; auspiciis Gulielmi Wattenbach; curaverunt S. Loewenfeld, F. Kaltenbrunner, P. Ewald, I, 490 and 494.

(1) This is according to Cristofori Cronotasi dei cardinali di Santa Romana Chiesa, p. 2; and "Essai de liste générale des cardinaux. Les cardinaux du XIè siècle". Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1926, p. 161, no. 12. Cardella, Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1792, I, pt. 1, 89, lists him among the subscribers of a papal bull issued on May 27, 996 in favor of the monastery of S. Salvatore in monte Amiato, Chiusi, territory of Siena, at the request of its abbot Winizone. Alfonso Chacón, Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificum Romanorum : et S.R.E. Cardinalium ab initio nascentis Ecclesiae usque ad Clementem IX P. O. M. Alphonsi Ciaconii Ord. Praed. & aliorum opera descriptæ : cum uberrimis notis. Ab Augustino Oldoino, Soc. Jesu recognitae, et ad quatuor tomos ingenti ubique rerum accessione productae. Additis Pontificum recentiorum imaginibus, & Cardinalium insignibus, plurimisque aeneis figuris, cum indicibus locupletissimis (Romæ : P. et A. De Rubeis, 1677), I, col. 750, does not mention him among the subscribers of that papal bull.

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(12) 2. BENEDETTO (?-before 1001)

Birth. (No date or place found).

Education. (No information found)

Cardinalate. Bishop cardinalis of Porto in 998. Consecrated (no information found).

Death. Before 1001, (no place found). Buried (no information found).

Bibliography. Cristofori, Francesco. Cronotasi dei cardinali di Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Tipografia de Propaganda Fide, 1888, p. 9; "Essai de liste générale des cardinaux. es cardinaux des 10 premiers siècles". Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1926. Paris : Maison de la Bonne Presse, 1927, p. 161, no. 13.

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(13) 3. GERBERT, O.S.B. (ca. 945/950-May 12, 1003)

Birth. Ca. 945/950, village de Belliac, near Aurillac, Auvergne, France. Of an Aquitainian family of humble origin. Son of Agilberto. He was called le Musicien. He is also listed as Girbertus, Gerbertus, Gerberto di Aurillac, Gerbert d'Aurillac, Gerbert von Aurillac, Gerbert d'Orlhac, Gerberto dell'Alvernia, Gerbert von Reims, Gerbert le musicien, Gerberto Musico, and Gerberto d'Aurillac. His papal name is also listed as Silvestro, Silvestre and Silvester.

Education. Initial formation at the Benedictine Cluniac monastery of Saint-Géraud d'Aurillac (par charité). Entered the Order of Saint Benedict (Benedictines) at that monastery. In 967, by the mediation of his abbot and of Count Borrell II of Barcelona and Catalonia, he was sent the monastery of monastery of Santa María de Ripoll, for three years; he received further education under Bishop Hatto of Vich; he came in contact with late Antique and Arab knowledge; he studied mathematical subjects: quadrivium, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy; and also music. He used a new type of abacus (mechanical abacus) and probably used, as the first scholar in the Latin West, the Arabic numerals. In the field of astronomy, he used the armillary sphere, an astronomical ring system to represent the planets; as well as observation tubes and an astrolabe, an instrument for star positions. He invented an organ which keys were moved by steam. He also studied at the cathedral school of Reims under archdeacon and logician Gerannus; Gerbert later became its head master. His philosophy was influenced by Boethius. He became a famous scholasticus and is considered one of the most learned men of the Middle Ages. He was called oraculum sui temporis.

Priesthood. Ordained (no further information found). In 970, he went to Rome, where he met Emperor Otto I, the Great, who allowed him to continue his studies in the cathedral school of Reims. He was befriended by Pope John XIII. He traveled in Italy with Count Borrell II of Barcelona and met Emperor Otto II. In 981, in Ravenna, before Emperor Otto II, he participated in a disputation with the school master of Magdeburg. A short time later, in 982, he was named abbot of the monastery of Bobbio, famous for its library; he was expelled from the post for jealousy. He then went to Germany and became the tutor of future Emperor Otto III. Later, he went to Reims, where Archbishop Adalbéron named him head master of the cathedral school; among his students was Hugues Capet, future king of France; Hugues chose him to be the preceptor of his son, the future King Robert II. To recompense Gerbert, Hugues made him to be elected archbishop of Reims, after the deposition of Archbishop Arnoulf.

Episcopate. Elected archbishop of Reims in 991. Consecrated (no information found). Celebrated a council in 993. In 995, a council of the French bishops was celebrated in the province of Reims to discuss the cause of Archbishop Arnoulf against Archbishop Gerbert, in the presence of Legate Leone, abbot of the monastery of Ss. Bonifazio ed Alessio, Rome; the pope did not ratify the election of the latter and the former was reinstated in 998; Archbishop Gerbert wrote numerous letters to support the legitimacy of his election; 149 of his letters as well as several works still exist (1); he finally submitted to the pope and was transferred to the see of Ravenna ca. April 998; the pallium was granted by the pope on April 28, 998.

Cardinalate. Presbyter cardinalis of an unknown title 998 (2). He was the first French cardinal (3). Transferred to the metropolitan see of Ravenna ca. April 998; occupied the see until April 999. He was elected to the papacy with the support of Emperor Otto III. Some simple people, impressed by his vast knowledge, attributed to magic his election to the pontificate.

Papacy. Elected pope on February 28, 999. Took the name Sylvester II (4); he chose this name to signify that he intended to have good relations and cooperation with the empire, like his predecessor Pope Sylvester I had had. Enthroned, April 2, 999. The Romans rebelled against the emperor for his harsh methods on February 16, 1001; the monarch and the pope went to live for a year in Ravenna; after the emperor died on January 23, 1002, assisted by the pope in his deathbed, the pontiff returned to Rome, now under the Crescenzi family. During his papacy he opposed simony, upheld clerical celibacy and strengthened the Church in Eastern Europe, especially in Poland and Hungary; he erected the metropolitan sees of Gniezno in 1000; and Esztergom in 1001. He extended to the entire Church the commemoration of all souls; and was the first pope to appeal to Christendom for the liberation of Jerusalem. He was the first French pope. He created three cardinals in two promotions.

Death. May 12, 1003, while celebrating mass in the church of S. Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome. At first, he was buried in the Vatican basilica; and later transferred to the Lateran basilica, both in Rome. Pope Sergius IV composed his epitaph (5). In 1648, while work was being done in some walls of the basilica, his tomb was opened; his body was found complete and well preserved, dressed with pontifical robes, tiara, a ring and a silver cross; the body spread a pleasant smell; in contact with the air, the body turned into dust.

Bibliography. Autour de Gerbert d'Aurillac : le pape de l'an mil album de documents commentés réunis sous la direction d'Olivier Guyotjeannin et Emmanuel Poulle. Paris : École des Chartes : diffusion H. Champion, 1996. (Matériaux pour l'histoire, 1158-6060 ; 1); Cardella, Lorenzo. Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Stamperia Pagliarini, 1792, I, pt. 1, 88; Chacón, Alfonso. Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificum Romanorum : et S.R.E. Cardinalium ab initio nascentis Ecclesiae usque ad Clementem IX P. O. M. Alphonsi Ciaconii Ord. Praed. & aliorum opera descriptæ : cum uberrimis notis. Ab Augustino Oldoino, Soc. Jesu recognitae, et ad quatuor tomos ingenti ubique rerum accessione productae. Additis Pontificum recentiorum imaginibus, & Cardinalium insignibus, plurimisque aeneis figuris, cum indicibus locupletissimis. Romæ : P. et A. De Rubeis, 1677, I, col. 750, no. II; and col. 751-758; Cristofori, Francesco. Cronotasi dei cardinali di Santa Romana Chiesa. Rome : Tipografia de Propaganda Fide, 1888, p. 265; Du Chesne, François. Histoire de tous les cardinaux françois : de naissance, ou qui ont esté promeus au cardinalat par l'expresse recommandation de nos roys, pour les grands services qu'ils ont rendus a leur estat, et a leur couronne. Comprenant commairement leurs legations, ambassades & voyages par eux faits en divers pays & royaumes, vers les papes, empereurs, roys, potentats, republiques, communautex & universitez, pour affaires importantes à l'église universelle, & à l'auguste majesté de nos souuerains. Enrichie de leurs armes et de leurs portraits. Divisée en deux tomes, et justifiée par tiltres et chartres du thresor de sa majesté, arrests des parlemens de France, registres des Chambres des comptes; donations, fondations, epitaphes, testamens, manuscripts, ancients monumens, chroniques & chartulaires d'abbayes, & autres histoires publiques & particlieres. 2 vols. A Paris : Aux despens de l'autheur, & se vendent chez luy ..., 1660, II, 1-3; Erdoes, Richard. A.D. 1000 : living on the brink of apocalypse. San Francisco : Harper & Row, 1988; "Essai de liste générale des cardinaux. es cardinaux des 10 premiers siècles". Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1926. Paris : Maison de la Bonne Presse, 1927, p. 160, no. 4; Flusche, Anna Marie. The life and legend of Gerbert of Aurillac : the organbuilder who became Pope Sylvester II.Lewiston, N.Y. : Edwin Mellen Press, 2006; Gams, Pius Bonifatius. Series episcoporum Ecclesiae catholicae. 3 v. in 1. Graz : Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1957, p. 608 and 717; Kelly, John Norman Davidson. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 136-138; Leflon, Jean. Gerbert : humanisme et Chrétienté au Xe siècle. Paris : Editions de Fontenelle, 1946; Lindgre, Uta. Gerbert von Aurillac und das Quadrivium : Unters. zur Bildung im Zeitalter d. Ottonen. Wiesbaden : Steiner, 1976 (Sudhoffs Archiv : Beihefte, Heft 18 ); Montini, Renzo Uberto. Le tombe dei papi. Roma : Angelo Belardetti, 1957. Note: At head of title: Instituto di studi romani, p. 165-170, no. 140; Oldoni, Massimo. "Silvestro II." Enciclopedia dei papi. 3 vols. Roma : Istituto della Enciclopedia italiana, 2000, II, 116-125; "Les papes du XIe siècle." Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1903. Paris : Maison de la Bonne Presse, 1904, p. 93; Penteriani, Ulderico. "Silvestro II, papa." Mondo vaticano. Passato e presente. Città del Vaticano : Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1995, p. 982-985; Picavet, François. Gerbert un pape philosophe : d'après l'istoire et d'après la légende. Paris : E. Leroux, 1897. (Collection : Bibliothèque de ''École des hautes études. Sciences religieuses, 9); Reardon, Wendy J. The deaths of the popes : comprehensive accounts, including funerals, burial places and epitaphs. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., Publishers, 2004, p. 77-79; Regesta pontificum Romanorum ab conditio Ecclesia. Ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII. Graz : Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1956. 2 v. Reprint. Originally published : Lipsiae : Veit et comp., 1885-1888. Original t.p. included : Regesta pontificum Romanorum ab condita ecclesia : ad annum post Christum natum MCXCVIII. Editionem secundam correctam et auctam edidit Philippus Jaffè ; auspiciis Gulielmi Wattenbach; curaverunt S. Loewenfeld, F. Kaltenbrunner, P. Ewald, I, 489, 493, 496-501; Riché, Pierre. Gerbert d'Aurillac, le pape de l'an mil. Paris : Fayard, 1987; Sylvester, Pope; Weigle, Fritz. Die Briefsammlung Gerberts von Reims. Berlin : Weidmann, 1966. (Monumenta Germaniae historica: die deutschen Geschichtsquellen des Mittelalters, 500-1500. Die Briefe der deutschen Kaiserzeit, 2. Bd.); Sylvester, Pope; Riché Pierre; Callu, Jean Pierre. Correspondance. Paris : Les Belles Lettres, 1993. (Les Classiques de l'histoire de France au Moyen Age, 35e-36e v.); Sylvester, Pope; Lattin, Harriet Pratt. The letters of Gerbert, with his papal privileges as Sylvester II. New York, Columbia University Press, 1961. (Records of civilization: sources and studies, no. 60); Sylvester, Pope; Havet, Julien. Lettres de Gerbert (983-997). Paris : A. Picard, 1889. (Collection de textes pour servir à l'étude et à l'enseignement de l'histoire, fasc. 6); Sylvester, Pope.Œuvres de Gerbert, pape sous le nom de Sylvestre II. Edited by Alexandre Olleris. Clermont-Fd : F. Thibaud; Paris, C. Dumoulin, 1867; Sylvester, Pope; Bubnov, Nikolai Mikhailovich. Gerberti, postea Silvestri II papae. Opera mathematica (972-1003). Accedunt aliorum opera ad Gerberti libellos aestimandos intelligendosque necessaria per septem appendices distributa. Collegit, ad fidem codicum manuscriptorum partim iterum partim primum edidit, apparatu critico instruxit. Hildesheim : G. Olms, 1963; Sylvester, Pope; Migne, J-P. Silvestri II pontificis romani, Aimoini floriacensis monachi, sancti Abbonis, Thietmari merseburgensis episcopi, Opera omnia. Accedunt Joannis XVIII, Sergii IV, Benedicti VIII, summorum pontificum, epistolae et diplomata. Intermiscentur Arnulfi Remensis ... [et al.] scripta quae exstant. Parisiis : [s.n.], 1853. (Patrologiae cursus completus., Series secunda latina., v. 139); Weissenborn, Hermann ; Sylvestre II (pape ; 938?-1003). Oeuvres de Gerbert, pape sous le nom de Sylvestre II... / pricédées de sa biographie, suivies de notes critiques & historiques par A. Olleris. Clermont-Ferrand ; F. Thibaud ; Paris : C. Dumoulin, 1867. Contributor : Olleris, Alexandre, éditeur scientifique, p. XVII-CCV; Sylvester, Pope. Zur Geschichte der Einführung der jetzigen Ziffern in Europa durch Gerbert : eine Studie. Berlin : Mayer & Müller, 1892.

Links. Biography, in English; biography, in English (Britannica); his image and biography, in English; biography, in English, New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, X, 412-413; his image and brief biography, in English; his statue and biography, in English; biography, in Spanish; images and biography, in Italian (the last image on the page is a fresco of the pope that is in the church of S. Maria in Organo, near Verona); his engraving and biography, p. 1-3; biography, in French, p. XVII-CCV; biographies, in German; his image and biography, in French; his image and biography, in German; chronology, in German; his cenotaph in the basilica of S. Giovanni Laterano, Rome; another view of his cenotaph; Message of Pope John Paul II to the bishop of Saint-Flour on the 1,000th anniversary of the election of Gerbert of Aurillac as Pope Sylvester II, from the Vatican, April 7, 1999; Sylvester II: Pope or Sorcerer? by Mary Gindling, August 10, 2009, www.associatedcontent.com; images and biography, in English; Gerbert d'Aurillac and the March of Spain: A Convergence of Cultures by Betty Mayfield, The Mathematical Association of America Mathematical Sciences Digital Library; Gerbert of Aurillac (ca. 955-1003), by Lynn Harry Nelson, Emeritus Professor of Medieval History, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, in Lectures in Medieval History; El Papa Gerberto de Aurillac, un mártir de la ciencia, by Francesc Gómez Morales in ForumLibertas; Gerbert un pape philosophe : d'après l'istoire et d'après la légende, p. 1-227; Pope Sylvester II receiving Hungarian Abbot Asztrik, painting by Vilmos Aba-Novak (1938), in Fine Arts in Hungary; his image, postal stamp, Republique Française; his biography, in French, under "C. Gerbert of Aurillac (c.940-1003)", by Ralph McInerny in Philosophy from Augustine to Ockham. A History of Western Philosophy (Notre Dame, Univ of Notre Dame Press, 1970), vol 2, , pt. 2, ch. 3,; his engraving by Cavallieri; his engraving, Fondazione Marco Besso, Rome; another engraving, Fondazione Marco Besso, Rome; his engraving, iStockphoto; his engraving, from A Popular History of France from the Earliest Times, p. 304, by François Guizot, Project Guttember; five engravingsBildarchiv Austria. Die Bildplattform der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek; his statue, church of Szent Gellért, Budapest.

(1) Among his works are Sermo de informatione episcoporum; De corpore et sanguine Domini; Libellus de rationali et ratione uti; Regula de abaco computi; and Libellus de numerorum divisione.
(2) This is according to Cardella, Memorie storiche de' cardinali della Santa Romana Chiesa, I, pt. 1, 88; Cronotasi dei cardinali di Santa Romana Chiesa, p. 265; "Essai de liste générale des cardinaux. Les cardinaux du XIè siècle". Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1926, p. 160, no. 4. "Autres questions sur les Souverains Pontifes. Nécesité du Cardinalat", Annuaire Pontifical Catholique 1901 (Paris : Maison de la Bonne Presse, 1902), p. 64, says that he was not a cardinal. The other sources consulted do not mention his promotion to the cardinalate.
(3) This is according to Duchesne, Histoire de tous les cardinaux françois, II, 1-2.
(4) Chacón, Vitæ, et res gestæ Pontificum Romanorum : et S.R.E. Cardinalium, col. 750, no. II, mistakenly calls him Pope John XVII.
(5) This is the text of the epitah, taken from Autour de Gerbert d'Aurillac : le pape de l'an mil, p. 337:

Iste locus mundi Silvestri membra sepulti
venturo Domino conferet ad sonitum,
quem dederat mundo celebre doctissima Virgo
atque caput mundi culmina Romulea.
Primum Gerbertus meruit francigena sede
Remensis populi metropolim patriae,
inde Ravennatis meruit coriscendere summum
aecclesiae regimen nobile sitque potens.
Post annum Romam, mutato nomine, sumpsit
ut toto pastor fieret orbe novus,
cui nimium placuit sociali mente fidelis
obtulit hoc Cesar tertius Otto sibi.
Tempus uterque comit clara virtute sophiae
gaudet et omne seclum, frangitur omne reum.
Clavigeri instar erat caelorum sede potitus
terna suffectus cui vice pastor erat.
Iste vicem Petri postquam suscepit abegit
lustralis spatio secula morte sui.
Obriguit mundus, discussa pace, triumphus
Æcclesiae nutans dedicit requiem.
Sergius hunc loculum, miti pietate, sacerdos
successorque suus compsit, amore sui.
Quisquis ad hunc tumulum devexa lumina vertis omnipotens Domine, dic, miserere sui.
Obiit anno dominice Incarnationis MIII, indictione I, mensis mai die XII.


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