On February 14, 1130, two old acquaintances, both Romans and respected, reform-minded churchmen, were elected pope at two different locations in Rome by opposing factions of cardinals. One of them, Pietro Pierleoni, the descendant of a wealthy Jewish merchant who had converted to Christianity in the eleventh century, took the name Anacletus II and proceeded to rule Rome and to exercise his pontifical authority for nearly eight years, instituting, among other things, the Kingdom of Sicily, a political unit that would last until 1860. Anacletus’s rival, Innocent II (Gregorio Papareschi) lived in exile meanwhile, making powerful friends, including Bernard of Clairvaux, Europe’s most influential preacher, who labelled Anacletus an antipope and discredited him as the descendant of a Jew. At Anacletus’s death in 1138, Innocent took control of Rome and set in motion a purge aimed at eliminating all traces of his adversary’s pontificate—except for the abundant polemical literature that Bernard and others had marshalled against him. This deletion of memory extended even to S. Maria in Trastevere, the church to which Anacletus had been assigned as a cardinal and which the surviving documentary record claims Innocent II entirely destroyed and rebuilt. Innocent soon faced his own public relations problems. Just prior to his death in 1143, the people of Rome rose up against his temporal authority and established Rome’s first non-papal civil government since the end of antiquity, with Pietro Pierleoni’s brother as its first head. The second in a series of monographic conferences on medieval antipopes, this international conference considers the biography of Anacletus II, the impact of his pontificate, his monumental patronage, the rhetorical strategies deployed during the schism, and his posthumous fortunes in art, literature, and history. Like the first conference of the series, “Framing Clement III, (Anti)Pope, 1080-1100” (John Cabot University, 1 April 2011), it also considers several broader issues. How, for example, is history written and rewritten, especially during and after a bitter conflict? How are long-term collective memories established and perpetuated? How do the winning parties in a struggle condemn their defeated enemies to oblivion or turn them into villains, even if the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate, right and wrong, was not at all clear while the struggle was underway?
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