Pope Sylvester II
(Known before his election as GERBERT OF AURILLAC)
The first Frenchman elected pope, Sylvester was so widely-educated
that his contemporaries said he must be in a league with the devil.
Born Gerbert c. 945, he began his studies at Aurillac, where
he later became abbot. In Spain, he learned music, geometry,
arithmetic, and astronomy. His skill at math so impressed John XIII
that he recommended Gerbert to Otto I as a tutor for Otto II. In that
post, Gerbert continued his own education and studied logic under Gerann
of Rheims. Otto made Gerbert abbot of Bobbio, where he was unpopular with
the monks. In 987, Gerbert became secretary to Hugh Capet, who appointed
him archbishop of Rheims four years later. Gerbert was as unpopular with
clergy in his diocese as he had been with the monks at Bobbio. He was
from this post in 995, when the Council of Monzon determined that the
archbishop had been wrongfully deposed and was the rightful archbishop.
Otto II choose Gerbert to succeed Gregory V in 999 and gave the pope the
eight counties of the Pentapolis (Rimini, Pesaro, Fano, Senigallia,
Ancona and the adjacent territories). The Romans rebelled against Otto
and Sylvester in the same year and drove both from Rome. Sylvester was
later allowed to return as spiritual leader only. He died the following
Karen Rae Keck
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