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Antipope Anacletus II


Anacletus II
Papacy began1130
Papacy endedJanuary 25, 1138
PredecessorRoman claimant:
Honorius II
Antipapal claimant:
Celestine II
SuccessorRoman claimant:
Innocent II
Antipapal claimant:
Victor IV
Opposed toPope Innocent II
Personal details
Pietro Pierleoni
DiedJanuary 25, 1138
ParentsPier Leoni

Anacletus II (died January 25, 1138), born Pietro Pierleoni, was an antipope who ruled in opposition to Pope Innocent II from 1130 until his death in 1138. After the death of Pope Honorius II, the college of cardinals was divided over his successor. Unusually, the election was entrusted to eight cardinals, who elected Papareschi (Innocent II). A larger body of cardinals then elected Pierleoni, which led to a major schism in the Roman Catholic Church. Anacletus had the support of most Romans, including the Frangipani family, and Innocent was forced to flee to France. North of the Alps, Innocent gained the crucial support of the major religious orders, in particular Bernard of Clairvaux's Cistercians, the Abbot of Cluny Peter the Venerable; and Norbert of Xanten, the Archbishop of Magdeburg who established the Premonstratensians and held a high rank in the Court of the German Emperor Lothar III.

The lack of support from these key figures left Anacletus with few patrons outside of Rome. Anacletus, with little remaining support, lived for several years and died with the crisis unresolved. In 1139 the second Lateran Council ended the schism, although opinion remained divided.


Pietro was born to the powerful Roman family of the Pierleoni, the son of the consul Pier Leoni. One of his great-great grandparents, Benedictus, maybe Baruch in Hebrew, was a Jew who converted into Christianity. As a second son with ambitions, Pietro was destined for an ecclesiastical career. He studied in Paris and entered the Benedictine Abbey of Cluny. Later he went to Rome and occupied several important positions.


In 1130, Pope Honorius II lay dying and the cardinals decided that they would entrust the election to a commission of eight men, led by papal chancellor Haimeric, who had his candidate Cardinal Gregory Papareschi hastily elected as Pope Innocent II. He was consecrated on February 14, the day after Honorius' death.

On the same day, the other cardinals, led by the senior Cardinal Bishop, Pietro of Porto, met with the leaders of Rome in the Basilica of S. Marco, and announced that Innocent had not been canonically elected. He nominated Cardinal Pietro Pierleoni, a Roman whose family were the enemy of Haimeric's supporters the Frangipani, who was elected by the Cardinals, clergy, nobility and People of Rome. Anacletus' supporters included the entire Roman aristocracy, with the exception of the Frangipani, and the majority of the Cardinals. With the support of the People, and in opposition to the French Haimeric, the Pierleoni were powerful enough to take control of Rome, while Innocent was forced to flee north of the Alps.


However, north of the Alps, Innocent gained the crucial support of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Peter the Venerable, and other prominent reformers who personally helped him to gain recognition from European rulers such as Emperor Lothar III, leaving Anacletus with few patrons. Anacletus had been a relatively acceptable candidate for the Papacy, being well-respected, so rumors centering on his descent from a Jewish convert were spread to blacken his reputation. Among Anacletus' supporters were duke William X of Aquitaine, who decided for Anacletus against the will of his own bishops, and the powerful Roger II of Sicily, whose title of "King of Sicily" Anacletus had approved by papal bull after his accession.

By 1135 Anacletus' position was weak despite their aid, but the schism only ended with his death in 1138, after which Gregorio Conti was elected as Victor IV but submitted to Innocent within a month. Innocent returned to Rome and ruled without opposition. Innocent II quickly convened the Second Lateran Council in 1139 and reinforced the Church's teachings against usury, clerical marriage, and other problems.

Though the Pierleoni family mostly submitted to Innocent and his successors, Anacletus' brother Giordano, who was then leader of the Commune of Rome, actively opposed Innocent's successors in the following decade.

See also

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