Pope Victor II

"Victor II" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Victor II, Prince of Anhalt-Bernburg-Schaumburg-Hoym or Victor II, Duke of Ratibor.
Victor II
Papacy began 13 April 1055
Papacy ended 28 July 1057
Predecessor Leo IX
Successor Stephen IX
Personal details
Birth name Gebhard Graf von Calw, Tollenstein und Hirschberg
Born ca. 1018
Germany, Holy Roman Empire
Died 28 July 1057(1057-07-28)
Arezzo, Holy Roman Empire
Other popes named Victor
Papal styles of
Pope Victor II
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style none

Pope Victor II (c. 1018 – 28 July 1057), born Gebhard, Count of Calw, Tollenstein, and Hirschberg, was Pope from 13 April 1055 to his death in 1057.[1] He was one of a series of German reform popes.


He was born Gebhard of Calw, a son of the Swabian Count Hartwig of Calw and a kinsman of Emperor Henry III. At the insistence of 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.

After the death of Pope Leo IX, a Roman delegation headed by Hildebrand, later Pope Gregory VII, travelled to Mainz and asked the Emperor for the nomination of a successor. He suggested Gebhard, who was duly nominated in September 1054. Gebhard, taking the name Victor II, moved to Rome and was enthroned in St. Peter's Basilica on 13 April 1055.

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.[2][3]

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 and regent, Victor II now wielded enormous power, which he used to maintain peace throughout the empire and to strengthen the papacy against the aggressions of the barons. He died shortly after his return to Italy, at Arezzo, on 28 July 1057.

Victor II'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.[4]

Although there have been nine German Popes, Victor II 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).


  1. Coulombe, Charles A., Vicars of Christ: A History of the Popes, (Citadel Press, 2003), 208.
  2. Bernard F. Reilly, The Contest of Christian and Muslim Spain, 1031-1157, (Blackwell Publishing, 1995), 67.
  3. Ermessenda of Barcelona. The status of her authority, Patricia Humphrey, Queens, Regents and Potentates, ed. Theresa M. Vann, (Academia Press, 1993), 34.
  4. Mcbrien, Richard P., The Pocket Guide to the Popes, (HarperCollins, 2006), 166.


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Leo IX
Succeeded by
Stephen IX
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