The papacy is the longest-lasting elected office in the world, and the vast majority of popes have been good and honest Christian. However, not every pontiff has acted in an entirely admirable and saintly manner. [i]A Dark History: The Popes[/i] reveals the darkest deeds of the papacy: the murky and immoral past of the throne of St Peter.
The darkness of the papal history revealed here goes a great deal further than bribery, nepotism, and other vices. There were also atrocities perpetrated by the Church under papal orders, such as the medieval crusade against the dissident Cathars, which ultimately amounted to genocide. Popes committed - or at least sanctioned - murder. Popes were themselves murdered. By the order of Pope Urban VIII (1623-1644), the astronomer Galileo Galilei was persecuted by the Inquisition and kept under house arrest for ten years. Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) remains controversial today for his actions - or lack of them - during World War II.
This book reveals a catalog of wrongdoings perpetrated by popes over the centuries, a record that has been mainly kept from the public eye. Fortunately, the dirty doings of the popes have not been confined to papal records. Diaries, letters, reports from foreign ambassadors ot the Vatican, and official registers of the ecclesiastical courts have revealed a broader picture which show how popes could be sinners as well as saints, and between them indulged in virtually every sin and every vice it was possible to commit.
From the string of popes who were poisoned, deposed, and mutilated by rivals for the papacy in the early middle ages, to the controversial neutrality of Pope Pius XIi during World War II, A dark History: the Popes reveals many of the scandals and secrets of the pontiffs, including:
The rotting corpse of Formosus was dug up, put on trail by his successor, and thrown into the Tiber River - twice.
John XII (955-964)
Not content with running a brothel at the Vatican, John XII blinded one cardinal and castrated another, and was said to have drunk toasts to the Devil in an alcoholic stupor.
Innocent III (1198-1216)
Instigator of the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathar heretics, Innocent III was responsible for the deaths of up to one million people over a twenty-ear period.
Alexander VI (1492-1503)
Alexander VI fathered eight children by three or four mistresses. He bribed his way to the papacy, appointed his relatives as cardinals, and amassed a vast fortune.