First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Year of the World 5753

Year of Christ 554

Pelagius, the first pope of that name, a Roman whose father was John (Iohanne), was pope after Vigilius. He ordained that the heretics and schismatics might also be subjected to the temporal power in the event they do not permit themselves to be reconverted by means of a course of sensible reasoning; also that the consecrated ones should fulfill the seven canonical hours daily. He was accused of being responsible for the proceedings against Vigilius, his predecessor; so in the presence of the people and the clergy, he touched the cross and the Gospels, and cleared himself of the accusation by his oath. After this Narses came to Rome, and, together with this Pelagius, ordered that no one should be admitted to holy consecration through avarice or solicitation. Finally he died in the eleventh year, tenth month and twenty-ninth day of his episcopacy, and was buried in the Basilica of Peter. The chair then rested three months and twenty-six days.[Pelagius I, pope from 555 to 561, was a Roman by birth, and first appears in history at Constantinople as apocrisiarius (a cleric who served as the representative of a patriarch or pope) of Pope Silverius, whose overthrow in favor of Vigilius his intrigues promoted. In 542 the emperor Justinian sent him to Antioch on ecclesiastical business. He afterward took part in the synod of Gaza, which deposed Paul of Alexandria. When Vigilius was summoned to Byzantium in 544, Pelagius, now archdeacon, was left behind as his vicar, and by his tact in dealing with Totila, he saved the citizens from murder and outrage. He appears to have followed Vigilius to Constantinople; and for refusing, with him, to accept the decrees of the 5th general council (the 2nd of Constantinople, 553), he shared his exile.]

Year of the World 5763

Year of Christ 564

John (Iohannes), the third pope of that name, a Roman whose father was Anastasius, was born of noble parentage and was pope during the time of Justin. He was a very wise and good man, and improved many churches. He led Narses, who was angry with the Romans, back from Naples to Rome. Not long afterwards Narses died, and his body was taken to Constantinople. In this pope’s time the Armenians accepted the Christian faith. At this time also Italy suffered many defeats at the hands of the barbarian people, as was foretold by the dreadful signs in the heavens, as previously stated. This John died at a great age, full of sorrow and pain, and was buried in the Basilica of Peter. He was pope for twelve years, eleven months and twenty-six days. The chair then rested ten months and three days.[John III, pope from 561 to 574, successor to Pelagius, descended from a noble Roman family. He is said to have prevented an invasion of Italy by the recall of the deposed exarch Narses; but the Lombards continued their incursions.]

Year of the World 5773

Year of Christ 574

Benedict (Benedictus) the First, a pope and a Roman whose father was Boniface, lived in the time of Emperor Tiberius the Second. He was a pious man and well worthy of his office. Together with the emperor Tiberius, he gave assistance when Italy suffered a famine, and particularly to Rome; and caused grain to be sent from Egypt to Rome. The emperor Tiberius loved Benedict, and he was great in the eyes of the emperor. But before long (as some write) Benedict died of the sorrow and pain which he suffered during the calamity which befell Rome and Italy. He was pope for four years, one month and twenty-eight days. The chair then rested two months and ten days. They say that on his tomb the following was written:

Father Benedict, you leave behind great monuments to your (people?);
The titles of your virtues, O glory and grief.

Benedict I, pope from 575 to 579, succeeded John III. During his episcopy occurred the Lombard invasion, and a series of plagues and famines that followed.

The tomb inscription and the preceding clause (‘They say that …’) are not in the German edition of the Chronicle. The inscription in the Latin edition of the Chronicle runs thus:

This makes very little sense, and the first line of the elegiac couplet does not scan properly as a hexameter. The actual inscription is much longer (12 lines), and is attributed to the tomb of Benedict II, not Benedict I. Its first two lines of which are as follows:

Year of the World 5783

Year of Christ 584

Pelagius the Second, a Roman whose father was Vingeldus, occupied the papal office from the time of Tiberius and that of the emperor Maurice, the son-in-law of Tiberius. He was created pope at the request of the emperor, during the time when no one could be sent out of the besieged city of Rome; for at that time the election of a pope by the clergy was not considered, as the emperor would not have confirmed such an election. So the virtuous and highly learned man Gregory, a monk and deacon, was sent to Constantinople to appease the emperor. Now having carried out all things according to the wishes of the pope, and not wishing to misuse his intelligence and leisure, he wrote books on Job known as the Moralia; and under the direction of the emperor, he so completely overcame Eutyches (Euticium), the Constantinopolitan bishop, that the latter was compelled to retract all he had said in his book concerning the Resurrection. For he said that our body, in the glory of the Resurrection was probably more subtle than wind and air; and therefore it could not be touched. But this is contrary to the words of the Lord, who says, Touch and see; for the spirit has neither flesh nor bone, as you have seen me. Now Pelagius, on the plea of the Roman people, recalled Gregory to Rome. And he made his paternal home a refuge for indigent old people, and built the basilica of Lawrence (Laurentii) the Martyr from the ground up. He died of the plague, which at that time distressed all Europe, in the tenth year, second month, and tenth day of his episcopacy, and he was buried in the Church of the Blessed Peter in the Vatican. The chair then rested six months and 28 days.[Pelagius II, a native of Rome but of Gothic descent, was pope from 579 to 590. He was consecrated successor to Benedict I without the emperor’s sanction, and made apologies for this irregularity through Gregory. In 588, John, patriarch of Constantinople, by reviving the old and disputed claim to the title of ecumenic patriarch, elicited a protest from Pelagius; but the decretal which professes to convey the exact words of the doctrine is now known to be false. He died in 590 and was succeeded by Gregory I.]