Pope Damasus II

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Damasus II (died August 9, 1048), born Poppo, Pope from July 17, 1048 to August 9, 1048, was the second of the German pontiffs nominated by Emperor Henry III (1039–56). A native of Bavaria, he was the third German to become Pope and had one of the shortest papal reigns. His original name was Poppo, and he was bishop of Brixen when the Emperor raised him to the papacy.


Imperial nomination

Given the display of imperial power Henry III had inflicted on the Romans in intervening against Pope Gregory VI and installing Clement II, it is unsurprising that on Christmas Day 1047, an emissary was sent by the Roman people, bringing tidings of Clement II's death to Henry III, and asking the Emperor, in his position as Patricius of the Romans to appoint a successor. Henry had been engaged in an indecisive campaign in Frisia, and was in his palace at Pöhlde in Saxony when the embassy found him. The envoys, according to their instructions, suggested as a suitable candidate, the handsome Halinard, Archbishop of Lyon, who was a fluent speaker of Italian, and was well respected in Rome.

Henry though was unwilling to rush matters, and so asked Wazo of Liège, the most independent bishop within the empire, who ought to be made pope. After careful consideration, Wazo declared that the most appropriate candidate for the vacant papal throne was the man the emperor had removed – Gregory VI. Wazo's deliberations had taken time, and Henry had soon lost patience. Henry had instead appointed Poppo, Bishop of Brixen in Tyrol, a proud man of distinguished learning[1], who had taken part in the Synod of Sutri. This decision antagonized the Romans who were still pushing for Halinard to become the new Pope. Nevertheless, Henry sent the Roman envoys back to Rome with great presents, to prepare for the arrival of their new Pope.

Arrival in Italy

During the envoys’ absence, imperial authority in Rome had been virtually extinguished, as the Tusculan faction reasserted its power. The former pope, Benedict IX, residing at Tusculum had been intently watching the situation in Rome, and had decided that now was his opportunity to reclaim what was his. He approached the Margrave Boniface III of Tuscany for help, and Boniface, who did not like the emperor, was easily convinced to help anyone who would disrupt Henry's authority. After Benedict had used his extensive supply of gold to gain a large number of followers, the Margrave's influence enabled him to occupy the papal throne for over eight months, from November 8, 1047 until July 17, 1048.

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