Pope Victor II

Pope Victor II (c. 1018 – 28 July 1057), born Gebhard, Count of Calw, Tollenstein, and Hirschberg, was Pope from 13 April 1055 until his death in 1057.[1] He was also known as Gebhard Of Dollnstein-hirschberg.[2] Gebhard was one of a series of German reform popes.


Victor II
Papacy began13 April 1055
Papacy ended28 July 1057
PredecessorLeo IX
SuccessorStephen IX
Personal details
Birth nameGebhard Graf von Calw, Tollenstein und Hirschberg
Bornca. 1018
Germany, Holy Roman Empire
Died(1057-07-28)28 July 1057
Arezzo, Holy Roman Empire
Other popes named Victor
Papal styles of
Pope Victor II
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous stylenone


He was born Gebhard of Calw, a son of the Swabian Count Hartwig of Calw and a kinsman of Emperor Henry III. At the suggestion of the emperor's uncle, Gebhard, Bishop of Ratisbon, the 24-year-old Gebhard was appointed Bishop of Eichstätt. In this position, he supported the Emperor's interests and eventually became one of his closest advisors.[3]

After the death of Pope Leo IX, a Roman delegation headed by Hildebrand, later Pope Gregory VII, travelled to Mainz and asked the Emperor to nominate Gebhard as successor. At a court Diet held at Ratisbon in March, 1055, Gebhard accepted the papacy, provided that the emperor restore to the Apostolic See all the possessions that had been taken from it. When the emperor agreed, Gebhard, taking the name Victor II, moved to Rome and was enthroned in St. Peter's Basilica on 13 April 1055.[3]

Victor excommunicated both Ramon Berenguer I, count of Barcelona, and Almodis, countess of Limoges, for adultery, at the behest of Ermesinde of Carcassonne, in 1055.[4][5]

In June 1055, Victor met the Emperor at Florence and held a council, which reinforced Pope Leo IX's condemnation of clerical marriage, simony, and the loss of the church's properties. In the following year, he was summoned to the Emperor's side, and was with Henry III when he died at Bodfeld in the Harz on 5 October 1056. As guardian of Henry III's infant son Henry and adviser of the Empress Agnes, Henry IV's mother, Victor now wielded enormous power, which he used to maintain peace throughout the empire and to strengthen the papacy against the aggressions of the barons. During, the rivalry between Archbishop Anno II of Cologne and other senior clergymen and the Dowager Empress, Victor backed Agnes and her supporters. Many of the Dowager Empress's close followers would be promoted, men like Bishop Henry II of Augsburg, who would later become Emperor Henry's nominal regent, and several German princes were given high court and church offices. He died shortly after his return to Italy, at Arezzo, on 28 July 1057. His death would mostly mark an end to the close relationship shared between the Salian dynasty and the papacy.

Victor's retinue wished to bring his remains to the cathedral at Eichstätt for burial. Before they reached the city, however, the remains were seized by some citizens of Ravenna and buried there in the Church of Santa Maria Rotonda, the burial place of Theodoric the Great.[6]

Although there have been nine German popes, Victor is one of only three popes from the territory of present-day Germany, the others being Pope Clement II (104647) and Benedict XVI (2005–13).

See also


  1. Coulombe, Charles A., Vicars of Christ: A History of the Popes, (Citadel Press, 2003), p. 208.
  2. "Victor II", Holy See
  3. Ott, Michael. "Pope Victor II." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company (1912); accessed 9 November 2017.
  4. Bernard F. Reilly, The Contest of Christian and Muslim Spain, 1031-1157, (Blackwell Publishing, 1995), 67.
  5. Ermessenda of Barcelona. The status of her authority, Patricia Humphrey, Queens, Regents and Potentates, ed. Theresa M. Vann, (Academia Press, 1993), 34.
  6. Mcbrien, Richard P., The Pocket Guide to the Popes, (HarperCollins, 2006), 166.


  • adapted from the 9th edition (1888) of the Encyclopædia Britannica
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope Victor II". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Leo IX
Succeeded by
Stephen IX

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