Popes of the 9th Century, Part 1

History of the Roman Catholic Papacy and Church

Below is a list of all of the popes who reigned during the ninth century. The first number is which pope they were. This is followed by their chosen name, the starting and ending dates of their reigns, and finally the number of years they were pope. Follow the links to read short biographies of each pope and learn about what they did, what they believed, and what impact they had on the course of the Roman Catholic Church.


97. : December 26, 795 - June 12, 816 (20 years)
Leo III has been known to history as "Charlemagne's Pope." He came from the lower classes and, as a result, the aristocrats who formed the bulk of the Vatican hierarchy always resented him.

98. : June 22, 816 - January 24, 817 (7 months)
Church and state were further intertwined during the reign of Stephen V, the first pope to ever anoint an emperor: Louis the Pious.

99. : January 24, 815 - February 11, 824
Paschal I chief concern as pope was the relationship between the Church and Charlemagne's son and successor, Louis I the Pious. Louis was a very busy ruler, both working to expand the empire and to reform and better organize the Church.

100. : June, 824 - August, 827 (3 years)
Pope Eugene II was, probably more than any other pope before him, under the control of the Western Roman Emperor. Eugene even went so far as to swear an oath of allegiance to emperor Louis and agree that all future popes should do the same.

101. : August, 827 - September, 827 (less than 1 month)
Pope Valentine reigned for less than a month and, as a consequence, didn't do anything of consequence.

102. : 827 - January 25, 844 (16 years)
Gregory IV was elected largely through the support of the Roman nobility and the Western emperor, upon whom Gregory would remain very dependent throughout his papacy.

103. : January, 844 - January 27, 847 (3 years)
Sergius II encountered early opposition from Emperor Lothair, but through smooth diplomatic handing he was able to crown Lothair without also being forced to swear fealty to him.

104. : April 10, 847 - July 10, 855 (8 years)
Pope Leo IV was embattled politically on both sides. Like his predecessor, Pope Sergius II, he was under pressure from king Lothair to be submissive to the political leadership in the north - but also like Sergius, Leo was determined to assert papal independence, starting immediately by not seeking Lothair's approval to be consecrated pope.

105. : September 29, 855 - April 17, 858 (2 years)
Pope Benedict III, like his predecessors Leo IV and Sergius II, was almost immediately embroiled in conflict with king Lothair who insisted on retaining the right to give approval to the election of any new pope; also like his predecessors, Benedict was determined to assert the independence of the papacy and deny Lothair that right.

106. : April 24, 858 - November 13, 867 (9 years)
Pope Nicholas I expended a lot of effort to assert the authority and primacy of the bishop of Rome, even going so far as to deposing two archbishops over a conflict of policy.

107. : December 14, 867 - November/December 872 (4 years, 11 months)
Adrian II is generally considered to have been a very weak pope, throwing away many of the political gains achieved by his predecessors.

108. : December 14, 872 - December 16, 882 (10 years)
Pope John VIII's reign was characterized by political intrigue and many believe that he was murdered by conspirators involved in a plot of local politics.

109. : December 16, 882 - May 15, 884 (1 year)
Marinus I was a long time servant of the papal throne, having been employed by his three predecessors as an envoy to Constantinople in order to ease relations which had been strained over the controversy surrounding Photius, patriarch of Constantinople.

110. : May 17, 884 - September, 885 (1 year)
Not much is know about Pope Adrian III except that his pontificate was apparently characterized by violence and that he himself may have been murdered. Curiously, he was apparently a strong supporter of Pope John VIII, one of the few other popes to have been assassinated as well.

111. : September, 885 - September 14, 891 (c. 6 years)
Stephen was elected unanimously but emperor Charles had not been consulted; as a result, Stephen faced the very real possibility of being deposed. Fortunately for him, Charlemagne's empire was falling apart and Charles was in no position to do anything about Stephen.

112. : October 6, 891 - April 4, 896 (4 years)
Pope Formosus (whose name means "good looking") was unusually controversial - although many of the problems occurred after his death. Six months after he had died, his successor Stephen VI had his body dug up and put on trial; found guilty, it was stripped of the papal vestments and the fingers used by Formosus to bless others were removed.

113. : April, 896 (15 days)
To call Pope Bonfiace VI "unsavory" would be an understatement. He was defrocked twice by Pope John VIII (himself rather unsavory) for immorality, the first and only pope to have gone through that. He was elected quickly after Formosus and died almost as quickly.

114. : May, 896 - August, 897 (1 year)
Stephen is among the more infamous popes.

He is perhaps best known for having had the corpse of Pope Formosus exhumed and put on trial for alleged offenses committed during his reign.

115. Romanus: August, 897 - November, 897 (c. 4 months)
Almost nothing is known of Pope Romanus. Unlike Pope Stephen VII, he was a supporter of Pope Formosus but Romanus doesn't seem to have done much of anything in defense of him.

116. : November, 897 (c. 20 days)
The exact length of the reign of Pope Theodore II is uncertain, but we know that he didn't last out the month of November, 897. Although he wasn't in office long, he did manage to convene a synod to condemn the Cadaver Synod held earlier in the year.

117. : January, 898 - January, 900 (2 years)
John was the older brother of the man he succeeded, Pope Benedict. This was the first and only time something like this occurred.


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