Pope Gregory IV was remembered as the peacemaker Pope. Well,he tried to be the peacemaker Pope but none of his efforts amounted to much more than irritating virtually everyone. Holy Roman emperor Louis gave one of his sons some land which made his other sons indignant. One thing led to another and before you know it Europe was plunged into a very bloody family squabble. Pope Gregory IV traveled over the Alps to try anything he could to stop this war,but every time he visited one camp,it would infuriate the others(including his very own Bishops)who thought the Pope was taking sides. All of his efforts amounted to nothing and he returned to Rome while the warring parties themselves divided up Europe without his help. Gregory IV was known for his intelligence,fairness and for declaring All Saint’s Day(and by extension Halloween)an official celebration throughout all of Christendom where before it may have been only celebrated locally.
Pope Valentine seemingly had it all. He was very young,came from a very rich and noble Roman family,was a proud,pious and active member of the Church,two previous Popes adored him and he was incredibly popular with the lay people as well. He was actually so popular that the clergy and people elected him without him even being a consecrated priest(he was just a deacon at that point),which was a first for the Papacy. He was officially ordained the next weekend and three weeks later he was dead. As a doornail. And there’s no clue how he died either,which is especially weird. Pope Valentine was basically the Boba Fett of Popes. Much hype and fanfare proceeded him and he left the stage almost immediately.
Pope Eugene II came into office during a bitter and violent election which pitted the clergy against Roman nobles. The election was so contentious that the Holy Royal emperor had to send an official to sort it all out and maintain order. Once settled in,Pope Eugene agreed to have two representatives,one the Pope picked and one picked by the emperor,to keep track of the Papal government to guard against corruption. Eugene had a short Papacy,he was known to be a very Holy and kind man who looked after the city’s poor and widows and earned the nickname “The father of the people”. Eugene continued to resist any compromises put forth by the Eastern Church on the issue of iconoclasm(the destruction of religious images). Perhaps the most interesting thing about this new iconoclast dispute was the unfortunate nickname of the eastern emperor at the time,Michael the Stammerer. Poor guy. Also,”Stammerer” is a hard word to say out loud. Ironic.
The former Abbot of St.Stephen’s Monastery,Paschal quickly rose through the ranks of Roman bureaucracy to become Pope. One of his first acts was to crown the new king of Italy,Lothair. King Lothair would act as an arbiter in a tax and land dispute between the Roman Curia and the Abbey of Farfa. Against the wishes of Paschal,Lothair ruled against the Papal States in the dispute. Land that was once owned by the Pope was awarded back to the Abbey. This led to revolts which then led to many suspicious murders of many of the key players in the court case. The Holy Roman emperor had to send officials to investigate what role the Pope may have played in the revolts or if the murders were some sort of cover-up,but Paschal took an oath of silence,preventing any chance of clearing any of this up. Once the investigators left Rome,Pope Paschal suddenly died. The death of Paschal was another suspicious death on top of all the others. What role Paschal actually played in any of this is not clear,but the one telling fact is that he was refused burial in St.Peter’s Basilica. Paschal was buried in the Basilica of Santa Prassede,which he himself built while he was Pope. The seemingly shady legacy of Paschal is appropriate since all art depicting the Pope includes a villainous moustache,which is a first for my Popes!