This profile of Pope Benedict VIII is part of
Who's Who in Medieval History
Pope Benedict VIII was also known as:
Teofilatto Tusculani; in Latin, Theophylactus.
This can be a little confusing. Benedict VIII's nephew, Pope Benedict IX, was also born Teofilatto Tusculani.
Pope Benedict VIII was known for:
Ascending to the papal throne when his relatives, the powerful Tusculani family, forced the cardinals to accept him.
In spite of this inauspicious beginning, he is generally regarded as a fair and just pope.
Places of Residence and Influence:
Imposed on the papal throne by force:May 18, 1012
Died:April 9, 1024
About Pope Benedict VIII:
The powerful Crescentii family had dominated Rome and the papacy in the later 900s C.E. Now the Tusculani family was on the rise. Teofilatto Tusculani was the first member of the clan to achieve the papal throne, and he did so when his relatives forced the Roman clergy to accept him. He took the name Benedict VIII.
His pontificate may have had an unfortunate start, but Benedict proved to be a principled and capable pope, even though he seemed more interested in secular matters than spiritual ones. In 1814, he crowned Henry II of Germany as Holy Roman Emperor, and remained on very good terms with him. He spent considerable time personally involved with military expeditions, which he embarked on in order to restore papal authority in Tuscany and the Campagna.
He also succeeded in turning back the Muslim assault on northern Italy in 1016; and when the Normans began attacking the Byzantines, he encouraged their efforts.
Yet Benedict did make some important strides for the Church. He consecrated Bamberg Cathedral, paid a personal visit to the monastery of Fulda, and got the emperor to issue a charter confirming the donations of Otto and Charlemagne. He also encouraged the Peace of God, which not long after his death would lead to the development of the Truce of God.
Benedict also had sincere concerns for reform. His good friend St. Odilo was abbot of Cluny, and Benedict supported the reform work of the Benedictine monks there. He and the emperor planned ecumenical reforms, and together, in 1022, they summoned a council at Pavia, Lombardy. There decrees were issued forbidding the sale of church offices and requiring the clergy to remain celibate.
Pope Benedict VIII died on April 9, 1024. He would be succeeded by his ineffectual brother, Romano, as John XIX, then by his scandalous nephew, Teofilatto, as Benedict IX. The efforts the elder Benedict made at reform would not be recognized by the reform papacy of the late 11th century, thanks to the reforming popes' enmity toward the Tusculani family.
Pope Benedict VIII Resources:
Pope Benedict VIII on the Web
Catholic Encyclopedia: Pope Benedict VIII
Concise bio by Horace Mann.
Pope Benedict VIII in Print
The links below will take you to a site where you can compare prices at booksellers across the web. More in-depth info about the book may be found by clicking on to the book's page at one of the online merchants.
Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to John Paul II
by Richard P. McBrien
Chronicle of the Popes: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Papacy over 2000 Years
by P. G. Maxwell-Stuart
Chronological List of Popes
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