Most Evil Popes in the History of Mankind


As Christianity eventually flourished and
spread throughout the Western world, things became complicated. As the faith’s popularity rose, so did the
power vested in those who sat in the papal seat. Nowadays we view the Pope as one who guides
by example, leading a simple, ethical, and moral life. Yet, over the 2,000 years of the Vatican’s
existence, not all Popes have been so highly praised as our current Pope Francis. Some have been greedy, vicious, and downright
evil. Some have been murderers and rapists. With power often comes greed and corruption,
and the history of the papacy is splattered with more blood and bodily fluids than an
episode of Game of Thrones. Today, we take a closer look at those religious
figureheads who remained evil while justifying their actions as the will of the Lord. Welcome to this episode of The Infographics
Show, the Top Ten Most Evil Popes in History. First up, a brief warning. This episode may be deemed offensive to those
with strong Christian faith. Also, this episode does involve some adult
themes. So if you feel you might be offended, please
switch over to one of our other episodes. Okay, with that disclaimer in mind, let’s
move on and take a look at the top ten most evil popes in history. We will be looking at the Popes reigning from
the dark ages through to the renaissance period for the purposes of this show. So here we go. Pope Urban II ruled from 1088 to 1099 and
was a native of France. He is best known for having initiated the
first crusade and setting up the Roman Curia – a royal ecclesiastical court. The Pope promised forgiveness to all those
who joined the crusade, when he decreed, “All who die by the way, whether by land or by
sea, or in battle against the pagans, shall have immediate remission of sins. This I grant through the power of God with
which I am invested.” This clever command gave every murderer, rapist,
and thief a shot at entering heaven. It also raised (or lowered, depending on your
point of view) the standards in the methods of manipulation one might use to raise an
army. For that reason, Pope Urban II is number 10
on our list. Pope Leo X was the son of Lorenzo the Magnificent,
the ruler of the Florentine Republic. He reigned as Pope from 1513 to 1521, and
is probably best remembered for his patronage of the arts. He was loose with the cash and winded up selling
a kind of ecclesiastical insurance policy that guaranteed relief from damnation following
the death of the donator. He borrowed and spent money without much in
the way of circumspection, claiming, “since God has given us Papacy, let us enjoy it.” He has earned his place at number 9 in our
gallery of rogues for selling divine privileges for cold hard cash, which if you think about
it is seriously immoral, if not totally evil. Pope Julius III began to reign in 1550 until
his death in 1555. At first he seemed like a good choice. He had good ideas in modernizing the Church,
and pushed through motions to reform the ecclesiastical status quo. But after a brief flurry of official activity,
Julius sought out more pleasurable activities. He became fond of a teenage boy he had discovered
on the streets of Rome, whom he took into the Vatican as his lover and adopted nephew. He promoted the youngster named Innocenzo
Ciocchi Del Monte to cardinal while he was still a kid, and, naturally, tongues began
to wag within the Vatican. He asked artist Michelangelo to decorate his
home with figurines of adolescent boys indulging in various forms of sexual engagement. While not strictly evil, Julius III was certainly
a bit creepy and outrageously scandalous for the period. He sits proudly at number 8 on our list. Pope Stephen VI was Pope from 896 to his death
in 897. Bizarrely, when he rose to power, he had the
body of a previous pope, Formosus, dug up and put on trial. The dead body was provided with the necessary
legal representation in the form of a deacon who spoke in defense of the departed Formosus. The rotting corpse was found guilty. Following the verdict, the decaying body was
then dragged through town, stripped of its sacred vestments, beheaded, buried, dug up
for the second time, and just for good measure, thrown in the river Tiber. Exactly why Pope Stephen VI despised Formosus
to the extent he had his dead body put on trial and tortured, seems sadly lost in history. But it seems Stephen VI had a habit of making
enemies. Pope Stephen VI lasted no longer than a year. He was strangled to death that summer by one
of his foes…this enemy, we assume, was alive. Stephen VI takes the 7th spot on our list,
for digging up and putting a corpse on trial. Well done, Stephen, congratulations. Pope Alexander VI was born Rodrigo de Borja. This Spaniard was Pope from 1492 until his
death in 1503, and was well known for his libertine attitude. His rich merchant family bought Alexander
the post. He is certainly the most controversial of
the Renaissance Popes, partly owing to the fact that he admitted fathering several children
from his various mistresses. Alexander was said to be “gifted with the
quality of being a smooth talker and of choice eloquence. Beautiful women were attracted to him and
excited by him in a remarkable way, more strongly than how iron is drawn to a magnet.” He hosted the most lavish orgies that the
Vatican had ever known. As many as 50 prostitutes entertained in one
session with clergymen hired to act as both participants and voyeurs to the event. He kept count of the number of times his entourage
sinned at these soirees. Rumor has it he slept with his daughter before
marrying her off to rich merchants. He then declared the marriage void (being
Pope he could do such things) and took her back. His bloated corpse led to suspicions that
the Pope had been poisoned by his son, Cesare, although other sources claim the Pope’s
death was due to malaria, then prevalent in Rome. While this Pope may not be Beelzebub incarnate,
he did have a ferocious appetite for the forbidden fruit, and that plants him firmly at number
6. Pope Paul III came to the papal throne following
the 1527 sack of Rome. He had allegedly murdered both his mother
and his niece as a means to inherit the family’s wealth prior to becoming Pope. He was also known to eliminate antagonists
by strangulation- those who crossed him did so carefully. The famed love of his life was his daughter
Constanza Farnese, but quite how close their relationship was, we couldn’t say. On the one hand, he was strictly against corruption,
but on the other hand, he taxed Rome’s prostitutes. He was a man of many hats and a great patron
of the arts. Michelangelo’s Last Judgment was produced
in the Sistine Chapel during his reign. Paul also commissioned Michelangelo to paint
the Crucifixion of St Peter and the Conversion of St Paul. So while Paul earns evil points for perhaps
killing his family members, having an alleged incestuous relationship with his daughter,
and having his enemies strangled, he loses evil points for his patronage to the arts,
and sits in the 5th spot of our evil Popes list. Pope John XII was the head of the Catholic
Church from 955 to his death in 964. He came from a powerful Roman family that
had dominated the papacy politically for over 50 years. John XII didn’t have a good reputation. Quite the opposite. He was infamous for his alleged depravity
and the wayward manner in which he conducted himself. He became pope between the age of 18 and 25
and it has been said in numerous reports that he swiftly set about raping and generally
engaging in sexually deviant behavior from the moment he rose to power, selling off ecclesiastical
lands to fund his immoral lifestyle. Pope John XII was eventually killed by a jealous
husband who found the Pope in bed with his wife. This Pope finds himself at number 4 on our
list for his sexual deviant behavior and general irresponsibility. Well done, John. Pope Boniface VIII was born Benedetto Caetani
and was Pope from 1294 to his death in 1303. He held the first jubilee year in Rome, and
declared both spiritual and temporal powers were under the people’s jurisdiction; Kings,
he claimed, were beneath the power of the Roman pontiff. Boniface VIII waged wars, sacked cities, and
generally collected as much cash as humanly possible. Boniface even appears in Dante’s Divine
Comedy. The author places Boniface in the eighth circle
of hell for the crime of selling off ecclesiastical privileges. 16th century French author Francois Rabelais
also wrote Boniface into hell in his work “Gargantua and Pantagruel.” He pictures the evil Pope skimming scum from
soup bowls. He makes it into our list of evil Popes at
the reasonably devilish number 3, with extra points for making it into the pages of two
major works of literature. Pope Urban VI was Pope from 1378 to his death
in 1389. He is the last pope to be elected from outside
the College of Cardinals, and his reign was marked with tense conflicts between rival
factions. Not unknown to have the odd temper tantrum,
this pope, in a fit of paranoia, had six cardinals arrested, brutally tortured, and executed. After the ordeal, he complained that the screams
of the cardinals were not loud enough. Whether there was ever a plot against him
is unclear. What is clear is that he reigned with an iron
fist. This Pope claims the 2nd spot for murdering
and torturing six holy men without any remorse. This evil Pope may well have been what we
nowadays label a psychopath, belonging in a clinical institution rather than a position
of holy power. Pope Benedict IX (9) was the youngest of all
the Popes, with reports that he was as young as 12 when he took the papal seat, although
official records state that Benedict was 20 years old. He was nephew to the previous two Popes, and
described in the Catholic Encyclopedia as ‘a disgrace to the chair of Peter.” Pope Victor III said “His life was so vile,
so foul, and so execrable, that I shudder to think of it.” The young Pope hosted all male orgies and
raped men, women, children, and even, some claim – animals. He eventually sold the papacy to Gregory VI
(6) who was to be more of a stable religious figure. Following Gregory VI’s rule, Damasus II
was named as the next Pope. This didn’t sit well with Benedict, who
had Damasus poisoned, and reclaimed the Papacy for himself. There he remained until his crimes were so
immoral and terrible that the Romans could no longer stand the figurehead. They drove him out of Rome. In another strange twist, Benedict was reinstated
for a third time despite his horrendous reputation. For these and other sins, Benedict claims
the top spot in our evil Pope list. So, does the behavior of our top ten evil
Popes disturb or enlighten you? Should the current pope be included in this
list for allegedly covering up sexual abuse at the hands of priests worldwide? Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Also, be sure to watch our other video called
Some of the most evil people that ever lived! Thanks for watching, and as always, don’t
forget to like, share and subscribe. See you next time!

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