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From The Lives of the Popes from the Time of our Saviour Jesus Christ to the Accession of Gregory VII. Written Originally in Latin by B. Platina, Native of Cremona, and translated into English (from an anonymous translation, first printed in 1685 by Sir Paul Rycaut), Edited by William Benham, Volume I, London: Griffith, Farran, Okeden & Welsh, [1888, undated in text]; pp. 236-237.

The Lives of the Popes,
B. Platina

Volume I.

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A.D. 891-896.

FORMOSUS, Bishop of Porto, succeeded Stephen, and in the beginning of his pontificate adorned St Peter’s Church with some slight paintings. This Formosus had formerly, for fear of Pope John, left his bishopric and fled to France; and denying to return when he was recalled, he was anathematised, and then coming to Rome he was deprived of all his preferments ecclesiastical, and put on profane manners with his secular habit. Some think the reason that Formosus was thus persecuted was for that he was a party, if not ring-leader, of the faction that put John into prison. However, Formosus was so enraged at this hard usage, that he swore he would never return either to Rome or to his bishopric; but Pope Martin, who succeeded John, absolved him from his oath, and restored him to his country and to his former dignity, whence not long after he came to the Popedom, rather by bribery than for the sake of any good that was in him, many men opposing his election. Arnulphus now, the seventh emperor from Charles the Great, as we said before, marching valiantly against the still rebellious Normans, gave them several overthrows, but was too much puffed up with his success and became so intolerably imperious to all men, especially to the clergy, that it pleased God he died soon after of the lousie disease; in whose room Louis was put up for emperor, but we read not he was ever crowned, for (as Martinus writes) Berengarius, Duke of Friuli, descended of the old kings of Lombardy, renewing his claim to the kingdom of his ancestors, and bringing his pretensions to the decision of war, though at first he was overcome by Louis, yet giving him battle again at Verona, Louis was vanquished, and, with great slaughter of his men, being taken prisoner, had his eyes put out. And thus the empire which the Franks had enjoyed almost one hundred years, was transferred to the Lombards, Constantine, the son of Leo, being Emperor of the East.1 I know not how 22 it fell out, that at this same time that the emperors showed so little courage, the Popes too were as greatly wanting in virtue and integrity, which rendered those times very miserable, subjects being very apt (as Plato says) to follow the examples of their princes. I return to Formosus, whose times (lest they should have been the most unhappy that ever were) were honoured with the learning and good life of Remigius of Auxerre, who wrote divers commentaries, especially upon the gospel of St Matthew and St Paul’s epistles. Some say indeed, that that author was not the person of whom I speak, but Remigius of Rheims; however that be, it is certain they were both very learned men. Formosus died in the fifth year and sixth month of his pontificate, and the see was vacant two days.


 1  Inaccurate; Leo was on the throne from 886-911, when Constantine succeeded him. — ED.

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Previous Pope: 113. SStephen VI. 114. Formosus. Next Pope: 115. Boniface VI.

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