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

Year of the World 6093

Year of Christ 894

Formosus the pope was made pope after Stephen. He was a bishop of Porto. Fearing Pope John, he left his episcopate and fled to Gaul. When asked to return to Rome, he ignored the summons, and was excommunicated. When he came to Rome he was deposed and obliged to wear lay dress and adopt worldly manners. Some say this happened to him because he instigated the imprisonment of John and was an accomplice in that matter. Formosus was so moved by his misfortune that he left Rome, taking an oath never to return to Rome nor to resume his episcopate. However, Pope Martinus absolved him of his oath and restored him to his former dignity. Finally he died, in the fifth year and sixth month of his pontificate. The seat was then vacant for two days.[Formosus, Pope, 891 to 896, first appears in history when, as bishop of Porto, he was sent on an embassy to the Bulgarians. Having afterwards sided with a faction against John VIII, he was excommunicated; but Marinus (also known as Martin II), successor to John VIII, restored him to his dignities. In 891 he was chosen pope. At that time the Holy See was engaged in a struggle against the oppression of the princes of Spoleto. And Formosus was forced to consecrate as emperor, Lambert, the young son of Guy of Spoleto. In 895, Arnulf, king of Germany, at the instigation of Formosus, seized Rome, and Formosus crowned him emperor with the full consent of the Roman people. But as he was advancing on Spoleto against Lambert, Arnulf was seized with paralysis, and forced to return to Germany. Overwhelmed with chagrin, Formosus died on April 4, 896. The validity of his acts was contested on the pretext that, having been originally bishop of Porto, he could not be a legitimate pope. His body was disinterred in 897 by Pope Stephen VI, and was treated as that of a usurper of the papal throne. However, Theodore II restored it to Christian burial, and at a council, presided over by John IX, the pontificate of Formosus was declared valid.]

The Lateran librarian wrote a very accurate history comprehending twenty-one popes, covering a period of sixty years, giving their parentages, places of birth, and terms of office; for although the other historians wrote a number of histories, containing trifling and superfluous matters, they wrote little about the Roman Empire and gave little enlightenment upon the Roman pope. But I know not through what circumstances the decline and diminution, not only in imperial honesty and stability, but also in papal power and integrity, came about. But these were unhappy times, and (as Plato says) the citizens and the people are not unlike their princes. The eight popes named below sat for unusually short periods of time, and were affected by various disturbances and dissensions. Thus Stephen confirmed the acts of John, but condemned Formosus, and caused two fingers to be cut from the corpse of Formosus, and the body thrown into the waters of the Tiber; while Theodore, on the other hand, nullified the acts of Stephen and confirmed those of Formosus. Succeeding popes performed but few praiseworthy deeds.

Pope Boniface (Bonifacius) the Sixth, a native of Tuscany, was elected pope after the death of Formosus; but how long he lived as pope, the historians do not agree. The majority state that he lived in his pontificate for 26 days. After he died he was buried in the Basilica of Peter.[Boniface VI was elected pope in April 896, and died fifteen days later.]

Stephen, the sixth of this name, a Roman, bishop of Agnano, was elected pope; and he assailed the reputation of Formosus. He immediately recalled his proclamations and set aside his acts, and is said to have so raged against Formosus that, after a council was held, he caused the body of Formosus to be disinterred, his papal robes removed, lay garments placed upon him, and the body reburied as that of a layman. And he caused to be cut off the corpse and to be thrown into the Tiber the two fingers which Formosus had employed in consecrations and blessings, and with which he had foresworn his home land and his priestly office. He died in the first year and second month of his pontificate. The seat then after his death was vacant for three days.[Stephen VI (or VII) succeeded Boniface VI in 897. He belonged to the party opposed to that of Formosus, whose remains he caused to be disinterred, to be clothed with Episcopal vestments and placed upon the papal chair. He then held a council over him, and addressed him with these words: “Since you were bishop of Porto, why did you so yield to your ambition as to grasp at the Episcopal chair of the see of Rome?” A deacon was suffered to act as his advocate, but of course, he lost the cause. Stephen then caused the corpse to be stripped, and the fingers, with which the papal benediction had been given, were cut off, and the body thrown into the Tiber. At the same time, also, the ordinations of Formosus were declared invalid, and the parties who had received them were re-ordained by Stephen. Stephen’s conduct against the remains of Formosus excited a tumult, which ended in the imprisonment and strangulation of Stephen VI in 897.]

Romanus, a Roman, secured the pontificate after Stephen—not through ambition or with gifts, but in the manner of Peter. He soon nullified and repealed the ordinances and acts of Pope Stephen; for the whole intent and purpose of those popes appears to have been to destroy and uproot the honor and dignity of one another. Romanus died in the third month.[Romanus succeeded Stephen VI in 897, and held the pontificate for about four months. Platina says he reversed the decrees of Stephen.]

Pope Theodore (Theodorus) the Second, a Roman, reconfirmed the ordinances of Formosus. Otherwise, because of the short duration of his pontificate, nothing remarkable occurred, for this Theodore died on the twentieth day of his pontificate.[Theodore II succeeded Romanus, but held the see for only 20 days. The bishops and priests ordained by Formosus, whom Stephen refused to acknowledge, Theodore restored to office, and gave an honorable burial to the corpse of Formosus. Tradition says that the Tiber repeatedly threw up the body, and that when it was brought into St. Peter’s, several images of the saints saluted it.]

Normandy (Normannia), which is part of the kingdom of the Gauls, received its name from the people called Normans, who had recently been converted to the Christian faith. Some say they came from Norway and migrated to Gaul. By wars Charles (Carolo) forced them into the faith and gave them a region in Gaul, which is still called Normandy, on a condition, however, in compliance with which they paid tribute to a number of Frankish kings.