Pope Nicholas II

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Nicholas II (died July 27, 1061), born Gérard de Bourgogne, Pope from 1059 to July 1061, was at the time of his election the Bishop of Florence.


Antipope Benedict X

Benedict X was elected in 1058, his election having been arranged by the Count of Tusculum. However, a number of Cardinals alleged that the election was irregular, and that votes had been bought; these cardinals were forced to flee Rome. Hildebrand, later Pope Gregory VII (1073–85), when he heard of Benedict X's election, decided to oppose it, and obtained the support for the of election of Gérard de Bourgogne instead. In December 1058, those cardinals who had opposed Benedict X's election met at Siena in December 1058, and elected Gérard as Pope. He then took the name Nicholas II.

Nicholas II proceeded towards Rome, along the way holding a synod at Sutri, where he pronounced Benedict X deposed and excommunicated. The supporters of Nicholas II then gained control of Rome, and forced Benedict X to flee to the castle of Gerard of Galeria. Having arrived in Rome, Nicholas II then proceeded to wage war against Benedict X and his supporters, with Norman assistance. An initial battle was fought in Campagna in early 1059, which was not wholly successful for Nicholas II; but later that same year, his forces conquered Praeneste, Tusculum and Numentanum, and then attacked Galeria, forcing Benedict X to surrender and renounce the Papacy.

Relationship with the Normans

To secure his position, Nicholas II at once entered into relations with the Normans. The Pope wanted to re-take Sicily for Christianity and he saw the Normans as the prefect force to crush the Muslims.[1] The Normans were by this time firmly established in southern Italy, and later in the year 1059 the new alliance was cemented at Melfi, where the Pope, accompanied by Hildebrand, Cardinal Humbert and the abbot Desiderius of Monte Cassino, solemnly invested Robert Guiscard with the duchies of Apulia, Calabria and Sicily, and Richard of Aversa with the principality of Capua, in return for oaths of fealty and the promise of assistance in guarding the rights of the Church.

The first fruits of this arrangement, which was based on no firmer foundation than the forged "Donation of Constantine", but destined to give to the papacy a position of independence towards both the Eastern and Western Empires, was the reduction in the autumn, with Norman aid, of Galeria, where the antipope had taken refuge, and the end of the subordination of the papacy to the Roman nobles.

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