First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

Year of the World 6153

Year of Christ 954

Pope John (Ioannes) the Twelfth, a Roman, was first named Octavian. His father, Alberic, was a mighty Roman, who secured the pontificate for this Octavian by force and cunning proposals. During his pontificate he was so devoted to the chase and to women, that his conduct was not only despicable and reprehensible on the part of a pope, but would have been so considered in any other individual. At this time were chosen annually from the honored and noble classes two consuls charged with the general government of the city; also a governor, out of the honored residents, to dispense justice to the people, and to assist them in securing it; and from among the common people twelve men were chosen. And although the city of Rome was protected by appropriate laws serviceable and conducive to freedom, Octavian dared to employ force in this free city, and to exalt the high papal office of which he was not worthy. On this account two cardinals became indignant, and they made a plea to Otto to take the clergy and the people out of the hands of Berengar and this pope so that the Christian faith and the imperial Roman sovereignty would not be debased by them. Other Italians also wrote to Otto to the same effect. In the meantime these matters came to the knowledge of the pope; and he was angered by them, and caused the nose of one of the cardinals and a hand of the other to be cut off. And now Otto came to Rome and received the imperial crown and imperial title of Germany and Pannonia from this John (although some say from Leo); and at first he admonished the pope with kind words, and later with threats, to desist from his misconduct. Fearing the emperor, John hid in the forest like a wild animal; and shortly after his return, in the ninth year, third month and fifth day of his pontificate, he died. And by his death the seat was vacant for 12 days.[John XII, pope from 955 to 964, was the son of Alberic, whom he succeeded as patrician of Rome in 954, being then only sixteen. His original name was Octavian, but when he assumed the papal tiara as successor to Agapetus II he adopted the apostolic name of John. In order to protect himself against the intrigues in Rome and the power of Berengar II of Italy, he called to his aid Otto the Great of Germany, to whom he granted the imperial crown in 962. Even before Otto left Rome, the pope had begun to conspire against the new emperor. His intrigues were discovered by Otto, who after he had defeated and taken prisoner Berengar, returned to Rome and summoned a council which deposed John, who was in hiding in the mountains of Campania, and elected Leo VIII in his stead. On Otto’s departure John returned and Leo fled. Otto prepared to support Leo, but before he reached the city John had died (May 14, 964), and Benedict V had mounted the papal chair.]

Pope Benedict (Benedictus) the Fifth, a Roman, was elected pope, chiefly by the relatives of the aforesaid John (Ioanni). Although Otto had confirmed Leo, the wicked placed this Benedict in the chair of the Apostle Peter. When news of this reached Emperor Otto, he concluded that nothing further was to be accomplished by words and threats. He diligently came to the seat of tyranny to ravage and devastate it; and he so severely besieged the city of Rome that a peck of bran was worth thirty gold coins at this time. And the Romans were so frightened that they gave Benedict to Otto, and accepted Leo. Having tamed the obstinacy of the Romans, Otto returned to Germany. He lived as pope for six months and five days. The seat was then vacant for twenty days.[Benedict V was pope from 964 to 965. He was elected by the Romans on the death of John XII. The emperor Otto did not approve of the choice, and carried off the pope to Hamburg, where he died.]

Pope Leo the Eighth was elected pope before Benedict, and confirmed in the pontificate by Emperor Otto; but he was driven out by the Romans. However, Emperor Otto by force and arms compelled them to reinstate Leo, who as a punishment of the fickleness of the Romans, transferred from the Roman people and clergy to the emperor all power to invest a pope. He died in the first year and fourth month after his reinstatement.[Leo VIII, pope from 963 to 965, a Roman by birth, held the lay office of Protoscrinius when he was elected to the papal chair at the instance of Otto the Great by the Roman synod which deposed John XII in December 963. In February 964, the emperor having withdrawn from the city, Leo fled, and was deposed by a synod presided over by John XII. On the sudden death of John the people chose Benedict V as his successor; but Otto laid siege to the city and compelled their acceptance of Leo. It is usually stated that at the synod which deposed Benedict, Leo conceded to the emperor, and his successors as sovereigns of Italy, full rights of investiture, but the genuineness of the documents is more than doubtful. Leo VIII was succeeded by John XIII.]

Pope John (Ioannes) XIII, a Roman, elected pope after Leo, was persecuted with arch animosity by Peter, the governor of the city, at whose instance he was taken prisoner in the Lateran by Jofredo the count of Campania, and taken to the Castle Angelo where he was held in confinement for several days. He was then sent to Campania. But when Jofredo and his only son were slain by the Capuan princes, John returned to Rome. When Emperor Otto noted this pope’s distress, he came to Rome and took the governor and regent prisoner. John died in the sixth year, 11th month and fifth day of his pontificate.[John XIII, pope from 965 to 972 succeeded Leo VIII. His election was confirmed by the emperor Otto, and his submissive attitude towards the imperial power caused the Romans to expel him from the city. Otto secured his return, upon which he took savage vengeance on his enemies. Shortly after holding a council with the emperor at Ravenna in 967, he gave the imperial crown to Otto II at Rome in assurance of his succession to his father; and in 972 he also crowned Theophano as empress immediately before her marriage. He died in 972 and was succeeded by Benedict VI.]

Pope Benedict (Benedictus) the Sixth, also a Roman, succeeded John in the pontificate and in grief; for he was forced into the Castle Angelo by a mighty Roman citizen, and there strangled by him, or (as others say) starved to death, in the first year and sixth month of his pontificate.[Benedict VI, pope from 972 to 974, was installed under the protection of Otto the Great. On the death of the emperor the unruly citizens of Rome renewed their outrages, and the pope himself was strangled by order of Crescentius, son of the notorious Theodora, who replaced him by a deacon called Franco, who took the name of Boniface VII.]