The POPE Encyclopedia

by Matthew Bunson

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Pope from 955 to 964. He was the illegitimate son of Alberic
II   (d.  954),  princely  ruler  of  Rome  and  the  figure
responsible for the election of four  popes.  John  XII  was
born Octavian around 937. On his deathbed, Alberic compelled
the Roman nobles to swear an oath that his son would succeed
him  as  prince  and  would  also  be elected pontiff on the
passing of Pope Agapitus II. This occurred on  December  955
and  the eighteen-year-old Octavian was duly elected pope as
John XII. He was thus the second pope to  change  his  name,
the  first  being  John  II  in 538. As pope, John displayed
little interest in the spiritual well-being of  the  Church,
succumbing   to   a  series  of  scandals  and  debaucheries
recounted by gossipers of the time. Most notorious were  the
tales that he used the Lateran as a brothel, called upon the
pagan gods to help him win at dice,  and  once  toasted  the
devil   during  a  drinking  binge.  Despite  these  serious
shortcomings, he displayed a certain talent  for  government
and a desire to advance the cause of the papacy.
To  protect  the  Papal  States from the danger posed by the
Italian king Berengar 11 (r. 950-961) and his son  Adalbert,
John  allied  himself with the German king Otto I the Great,
whom he  crowned  emperor  in  962;  he  also  accepted  the
Privilegium Ottonianum, which established imperial rights in
papal elections. The two allies, however, soon had a falling
out.  Otto  marched  on  Rome,  and  John  fled. The emperor
replaced him with an antipope, Leo  VIII.  In  February  964
John  returned  to  Rome  and  ousted  Leo. He then launched
reprisals against his  enemies.  Otto  stormed  back  toward
Rome, and John died suddenly of a stroke in May 964 while in
Campagna working toward a negotiated settlement.  His  death
was  mysterious,  coming in his twenties. He supposedly died
while in the embraces of a married woman or  was  killed  by
her outraged husband. Successor: Leo VIII.

(sebelum, sesudah)

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ISBN 0-517-88256-6

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