When popes are elected today, the cardinals of the Catholic Church meet in secret conclave. But it wasn't always so. In the 9th through 11th centuries, control of the Chair of St. Peter was fiercely contested between several Roman families, who put their sons, brothers, and lovers on the papal throne. In this episode, we will look at the murders, depositions, adultery, illicit relationships, trials of papal cadavers, and debauched behavior that allegedly characterized this period, as well as the important role played by two Roman noblewomen--Theodora and Marozia Theophylacti--that led some 19th century historians to label this as a "pornocracy."
Kathleen Cushing. Reform and the Papacy in the Eleventh Century: Spirituality and Social Change. Manchester University Press, 2005.
Eric Chamberlin. The Bad Popes. Dorset Press, 1969.
Roger Collins. Keepers of the Keys of Heaven: A History of the Papacy. Perseus, 2009.
Michael Edward Moore. "The Attack on the Pope Formosus: Papal History in an Age of Resentment (875-897)." In Ecclesia et Violentia: Violence against the Church and Violence within the Church in the Middle Ages. Ed. Radosław Kotecki and Jacek Maciejewski. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014.
Chris Wickham. Medieval Rome: Stability and Crisis of a City, 900-1150. Oxford University Press, 2015.
Theophylact Family Tree (from Wikipedia)
Music: "Evening Melodrama" by Kevin Macleod (www.incompetech.com)