One of the most famous stories about the medieval papacy is that, supposedly sometime in the 9th or 11th century, there was a woman named Joan who disguised herself as a man and became Pope John. While it might sound like a modern, anti-Catholic creation, this story was actually invented in the Middle Ages. In this episode, Nathan returns to the realm of medieval conspiracy theories to talk about the medieval origins and development of the myth of Joan, as well as the social role of conspiracy theory.
Alain Boureau. The Myth of Pope Joan. University of Chicago Press, 2000.
Vincent Dimarco. "The Medieval Popess." In Misconceptions About the Middle Ages. Ed. Stephen Harris. Routledge, 2008. pp.63-69.
Rhiannon Daniels. "Controversy, censorship, and Boccacio's Life of Pope Joan." Studi sul Boccaccio 34 (2006): 185-198.
Thomas F.X. Noble. "Why Pope Joan?" Catholic Historical Review 99, no. 2 (2013): 219-238.
Craig Rustici. The Afterlife of Pope Joan: Deploying the Popess Legend in Early Modern England. University of Michigan Press, 2006.
This episode is part of our Medieval Conspiracy Theories Series
Music: "Evening Melodrama" by Kevin Macleod (www.incompetech.com)