What happened in AD 575

Gregory I, the great

Presentation / essay (school), 1993

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Gregory I, the great

Gregor was born around 540 AD. in Rome as the son of the rich and respected Senator Gordanius and his pious wife Sylvia. Already as a boy and young man he was instructed in the sciences and statecraft and pursued Ambrosius, Hieronymus and Augustine studies. At the age of 30 he was already city prefect of Rome. This is surprising in that such a young man was given the highest civil office in the city when "barbarian hordes" overran Italy. However, he felt strongly disgusted by all the pomp in the upper social class of Rome in view of the great need among the population and therefore decided shortly afterwards to renounce worldly life. At this point in time he also inherited the parental property. The way he dealt with it already showed his new attitude, after the poor had inherited a decent part of his fortune, he donated 6 monasteries to the Benedictines on his Sicilian property, as well as 1 monastery in his parents' villa in Rome (St. Andrew's Monastery). In AD 575. He then entered the Benedictine order as a monk, but was already 577 AD. appointed archdeacon. Around 580 AD he was sent by Pope Pelagius II as papal envoy to the court of Byzantium. There he did not participate in the extravagant life, but maintained the strict monastic way of life together with some like-minded people until he was finally called back to Rome by the Pope in 585. Once there, he became the papal adviser. He retained this position until the death of Pelagius II, who succumbed to the plague during a flood of Rome by the Tiber in 590. Shortly afterwards, the monks of St. Gregor thought that if he occupied himself with so many worldly things, his salvation was in danger. So he asked the city prefect Germanus, his friends and the Emperor of Byzantium not to confirm his choice, but to no avail. On September 3, 590 AD. Gregory was ordained Pope. He immediately initiated measures against the plight of the population in Rome and entered into peace negotiations with the Lombards, who had repeatedly attacked and plundered them up to this point. As his first foreign policy success, Gregor was able to record the peace treaty with the Lombards, which came about despite the massive attempts by the Byzantine governor to interfere. But Gregor also made good progress domestically: he was able to increase the income from the church property and thus secure supplies for the many poor and refugees. Thanks to the careful management of the church property and economical housekeeping, Gregor was even able to set up a fund from which he could send money to those in need or finance food for the poor. The church thus took on tasks that were actually incumbent on the imperial civil administration. 593 AD the Lombard king Agilulf appeared with his army at the gates of the city and Gregory could only prevent the siege of the city by promising an annual tribute payment of 500 pounds of gold. The exarch (governor) of Italy, Romanus, as well as the emperor himself opposed these efforts. The emperor scolded him for a simple-minded person who was betrayed by the Lombards. Grgor, for his part, was indignant about this treatment, expressing very clearly that he did not trust the emperor and that he, Gregor, had nothing to say to him. On the other hand, he was also in contact with the Lombard king Agilulf and his wife Theudelinda, a Catholic daughter of the duke from Bavaria. With Theudelinda's help, Gregor Agilulf (590 - 616) was able to induce protection for the Catholic Church. Towards the end of Gregory's term of office, Agilulf even had his son Adaloald baptized a Catholic. So he prepared the balance between Lombards and Romans. Later he also exchanged letters with the Franconian Queen Brunhild, who was not only an able regent and determined power politician, but also a woman of unheard-of vindictiveness and cruelty, and paid her many compliments on her government. This was often resented by posterity. However, he wanted to remedy some abuses in the Frankish imperial church and establish a closer connection with it. And since he would not have got very far with a penitential sermon with Brunhild and himself had no great power or the impartiality of the pure clergyman, he chose this path. However, this company was unsuccessful. Quite different, however, to an action to which he owes his main fame: the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons in Britain. In 596 Gregory sent the abbot Augustine from the St. Andrew's monastery in Rome with a band of missionaries to Britain. King Ethelbert (560-616), who was married to a niece of Brunhild, soon converted to Christianity. Despite this good start, there were soon setbacks. Gregory was the first Pope to realize how important it was to win over the Germanic peoples for the Church. That is why he also vigorously advocated the proselytizing of the still pagan Germanic tribes. Proof that he did not simply want to expand his sphere of influence by means of missionary work is the fact that he did not subordinate the new Anglo-Saxon Church directly to Rome, but to the independent Frankish imperial church. But other peoples were also Christianized at least with Gregor's help, such as the Visigoths in Spain. There Gregor's friend Leander of Seville persuaded the Visigoth king and with it the whole people to convert to the Christian faith. Gregor died on March 12, 604 AD, after being ill for a long time.

Over 800 letters have been received from Gregor. They alone paint an overwhelming picture of the love, liveliness and wisdom of this man. Throughout his life, like all people of his time, he had expected the end of the world and the return of Christ. However, he has shown that this belief is not an obstacle to active life. His reign refutes the belief that religious man is incapable of mastering the things of this world. Not many greats have shaped the world and determined history like this man, who once said of himself that his most beautiful and happiest time was when he was still an unknown monk. Two centuries after his death he was reburied by Gregory IV from the vestibule of St. Peter's Basilica in the interior of the basilica. The grave inscription read: "Consul of God".


1) Meyer's illustrated world history in 20 volumes (Volume 9)
2) Hans Hümmeler, "Heroes and Saints", House Mickelsberg Verlag
3) Bertelsmann Volkslexikon, Bertelsmann Verlag
4) Brockhaus in one volume
5) New large encyclopedia in color in 2 volumes (Volume 1)


I hereby affirm that I am the sole author of this text and that I have given all sources correctly to the best of my knowledge.


Gregory I, the great
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Christopher Schmidt (Author)
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Christopher Schmidt (author), 1993, Gregor I., der Große, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/97067