1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sergius

SERGIUS, the name of four popes.

Sergius I., pope from 687 to 701, came of an Antiochene family which had settled at Palermo. He was elected after a fierce struggle between two other candidates, Paschal and Theodore. In the second year of his pontificate he baptized King Ceadwalla of Wessex at Rome. For rejecting certain canons of the Trullan (Quinisext) council of 692, Justinian II. commanded his arrest and transportation to Constantinople, but the militia of Ravenna and the Pentapolis forced the imperial protospatharius to abandon the attempt to carry out his orders. Sergius was followed by John VI. as pope.

Sergius II., pope from 844 to 847, a Roman of noble birth, elected by the clergy and people to succeed Gregory IV., was forthwith consecrated without waiting for the sanction of the emperor Lothair, who accordingly sent his son Louis with an army to punish the breach of faith. A pacific arrangement was ultimately made, and Louis was crowned king of Lombardy by Sergius. He was a man of weak health, suffering much from gout, and abandoned the direction of affairs to unworthy persons, whose administration provoked many complaints. In this pontificate Rome was ravaged, and the churches of St Peter and St Paul robbed, by Saracens (August 846). Sergius was succeeded by Leo IV.

Sergius III., elected pope by one of the factions in Rome in 898, simultaneously with John IX., was expelled from the city by his adversaries. Circumstances becoming more favourable, he reappeared in 904, seized the two claimants, Leo V. and Christopher, who were disputing the succession of Benedict IV., and had them strangled. His adherents rallied round the vestiarius Theophylact, a powerful Roman functionary, and his wife Theodora. Sergius is reputed to have been the lover of Theodora's daughter Marozia, by whom he is said to have had a son, who became pope as John XI. This is the beginning of the so-called “pornocracy.” Unlike John IX. and his successors, Sergius was very hostile to the memory of Pope Formosus, and refused to recognize any of the ordinations celebrated by him, thus causing grave disorders. He also affected to consider as anti-popes, not only John IX., but also his successors down to and including Christopher. He restored the Lateran basilica, which had fallen down in 897. He died on the 14th of April 911, and was succeeded by Anastasius III.

Sergius IV., pope from 1009 to 1012, originally bore the name of Bucca porca (Os porci). He was a mere tool in the hands of the feudal nobility of the city; he was succeeded by Benedict VIII.