Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 18, 2012


November 18, 1105: Antipope Sylvester IV lays claim to the papacy. Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor and members of the Roman aristocracy set up Maginulfo, the Archpriest of St. Angelo in Peschiera (a province of Milan in today’s Italy) took the name Sylvester IV when he became the antipope on this day. He was to replace Pope Paschal II who was outside Rome at the time. Sylvester was consecrated in the Church of St. Maria Rotonda (the Pantheon) and enthroned in the Lateran, a basilica in Rome. Paschal returned the next day and Sylvester fled first to Tivoli and then settled in the province of Ancona under the protection of the local Count.

Sylvester was being used by Henry V to put pressure on the real Pope in order to gain his way about investiture of Catholic bishops. Since much power was held by the bishops, the person who granted them their powerful position could be due obedience in matters of great political and economic importance. Finally, Paschal and Henry came to an agreement about this process on April 11, 1111 and at that time, Henry asked Sylvester to step down. Sylvester complied and was allowed to live out the rest of his life, again under the protection of his patron, the Count.

Antipopes are people who claim the papacy against the Roman Catholic Pope who was legitimately elected by the Cardinals. Antipopes must have support of significant factions of either religious cardinals or secular kings or, as in this case, emperors. There have been some who have claimed to be pope but without this support and they are not officially counted in lists of antipopes. The first of these antipopes is usually considered to by Hippolytus of Rome who died in 235. He was supported by a large following against Callixtus I, but eventually Hippolytus was reconciled with Callixtus’s second successor, Pope Pontian and both men are saints in the Catholic Church.

There were sixteen antipopes in the first millennium ranging from Hippolytus to John XVI who laid claim to the position of Bishop of Rome and leader of the Church from 997-998. Many of the antipopes were in place against a single legitimate pope however, some held their claim through a variety of duly elected Pontiffs. Novatian lasted for only seven years, but sat against four elected Popes. The last antipope to make the list was Felix V who held power for nearly 9.5 years against the elected pope, Nicholas V. There are some later men who have tried to claim the Papal seat, but they don’t meet the strict definition of the term.

Anybody can be Pope; the proof of this is that I have become one. – Pope John XXIII

I am more afraid of my own heart than of the pope and all his cardinals. I have within me the great pope, Self. – Martin Luther

I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don’t have as many people who believe it. – George Carlin

The pope dies, you get another pope. – Dino De Laurentiis

Also on this day:

Jonestown – In 1978, a mass suicide takes place in Jonestown, when 913 of Jim Jones’s followers kill themselves.
Great Shot – In 1307, William Tell shot an apple from his son’s head, according to legend.
Steamboat Willie – In 1928, the cartoon featuring Mickey Mouse was released

One Response

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on November 19, 2012 at 4:22 am

    LOL. Antipopes against themselves- they said they were the popes! Did they stick a sword into their own body?

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