Sylvester II, c.945?1003, pope (999?1003), a Frenchman (b. Auvergne) named Gerbert; successor of Gregory V. In his youth he studied at Muslim schools in Spain and became learned in mathematics and astronomy. Returning to France, he began teaching in the bishop's school at Reims. In 991, Gerbert, now widely celebrated as a teacher, was elected archbishop of Reims; but his predecessor had been deposed illegally, and eventually (995) Gerbert's election was nullified. He joined Holy Roman Emperor Otto III as his teacher and went with him to Italy, where Pope Gregory V made him archbishop of Ravenna. Upon Gregory's death, Otto presented Gerbert as his papal candidate. As pope, Sylvester aided energetically in the Christianization of Poland and Hungary and worked closely with Otto in the restoration of the Holy Roman Empire. In the later Middle Ages his learning became legendary and was in popular belief transformed into skill at sorcery. He wrote on theology, mathematics, and the natural sciences. Sylvester was the first French pope, and of the popes of the 10th cent. he was the only one of distinction. He was succeeded by John XVII.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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