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Who's Who in Medieval History and the Renaissance

Pope Benedict III





Benedict III was elected shortly after the death of his predecessor, Leo IV, in July of 855, and legates were sent to Lothair and Louis II for confirmation. But the legates were influenced to support the excommunicated Cardinal Anastasius the Librarian, who then received imperial confirmation. Benedict was imprisoned, but he had support among both the clergy and the people, and was eventually released and officially confirmed as pope. Although Anastasius was condemned by a synod, Benedict allowed him to receive lay communion, and the ex-Cardinal would become an adviser to later popes.

As pope, Benedict reprimanded the Frankish bishops, whom he blamed for failing to help alleviate problems in the empire. He also repaired Roman churches that had been damaged in 846 by Saracen invaders, and finished repairing the Schola Anglorum, which had been destroyed by fire in 847. Benedict may have met the future Alfred the Great when the prince visited Rome with his father, King Ethelwulf.

It was claimed that the fictitious Pope Joan reigned between Leo IV and Benedict III, but papal records contradict this, and a surviving coin minted early in Benedict's pontificate supports that contradiction.

Benedict died in April of 858. He was succeeded by Nicholas I. 

Important Dates

Died: April 17, 858

At About

Benedict III
This concise overview by Atheism Guide Austin Cline includes some vital statistics and related resources.

On the Web

Pope Benedict III
Very brief bio by Horace K. Mann at the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Pope Benedict III
Concise, heavily-hyperlinked biography at Wikipedia.

Pope Benedict III (d. 858), Dark Ages
Opinionated survey of Benedict's pontificate by Ronald Bruce Meyer.

Find A Grave: Pope Benedict III
Brief data is accompanied by a small icon of the pope and a nice photo of the cemetery at St. Peter's Basilica where Benedict rests; click the photo for an enlarged verison.

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

Related Resources

The Papacy
Index of sites regarding the Popes and the political entity of the Papal States, their impact on medieval culture, and the schisms they endured and overcame.

Early Europe
Directory of sites that offer useful resources for the study of Europe in Late Antiquty, or shortly after the fall of Rome. 




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