Saturday, December 16, 2006

Which historical lunatic are you?

I'm Pope Stephen! Hurrah.
Which Historical Lunatic Are You?
From the fecund loins of Rum and Monkey.

Yes, this is yet another one of those quizzes where you are asked a bunch of questions and they come up with a personality type based on the answers. This one combines history and lunacy, so how could you not like it?

As listed above, I came out as Pope Stephen VI. What's weird about this is that I first came across Stephen VI based on an thread a couple of months ago, and was really grabbed by the story of the Cadaver Synod. So, hey, maybe I am Stephen VI!

Click on the link, above, to take the test yourself.

Oh, the Cadaver Synod? Also known as the Synodus Horrenda, it's a very weird and turmultuous point in Roman Catholic history; there were 24 popes in the period before and after the Cadaver Synod.

Pope Formosus was on one side of a political power play while the future Pope Stephen VI was on another. Formosus made Stephen Bishop of Agagni, largely to get him out of the way. Formosus died (natural causes, apparently), and was replaced by Pope Boniface VI in April, 896. Boniface lasted 15 days as Pope, dying either of gout or murdered to make way for Stephen VI, depending on who you ask.

In January, 897 Stephen put poor old, decaying Pope Formosus on trial. Literally. He had the guy's body dug up, clothed in papal regalia, and set up on a throne while Stephen and a panel of judges selected from the clergy presided over the trial. A deacon was designated to speak for the dead pope.

The charge against Formosus? He was made the Bishop of Rome while he was already a bishop in another diocese. Oh, the humanity! The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, which is considered the head of the church the world over. Church law at the time prevented a bishop of one diocese from becoming the Bishop of Rome. Formosus was made Bishop of Porto, Italy in 864, and became Bishop of Rome/Pope in 891.

Not surprisingly, Stephen and the gang found the deceased pope guilty. In other words, Stephen's side of the political tug of war "won" (though it was, by then, more insult than injury). Formosus was stripped of his clothes, his papacy — and all acts from it — were anuled, and the three fingers of his right hand used for consecreations were cut off. He was dressed in ordinary clothes and reburied. Not content with that, the old boy was dug up again and thrown into the River Tiber.

If you were paying close attention, you'll have noticed that Stephen was Bishop of Agagni when he was made Bishop of Rome. Well, conveniently, since Formosus' papacy was anulled, Stephen was never made Bishop of Agagni, so he was not guilty of the same crime!

The story of Formosus doesn't end there. His body washed up on the banks of the Tiber. Soon after, commoners started claiming that the body was performing miracles. This led to a rebellion that saw Stephen VI deposed and imprisoned. At some point in July or August, 897, Stephen was strangled in his cell. He was replaced by Theodore II in December, 897. Theodore II anulled the the verdict of the Cadaver Synod, and Formosus' body was interred in St. Peter's Basilica. Theodore only lasted 20 days as pope before dying of natural causes. The next pope was John IX, who lasted about two years. John IX confirmed Theodore's judgement, had the Cadaver Synod transcripts burned, and declared it illegal to try a dead person.

But it was still not over for poor Formosus. John IX died in C.E. 900, and Benedict IV became pope. He upheld Formosus' rulings. Benedict IV died in 903, and was succeeded by Leo V. In this period the barons and nobility in Italy were making and unmaking popes left and right. Christopher, a Cardinal-priest, forcibly dethroned and imprisoned Leo V. Christopher technically became pope on Leo's death in prison in October, 903 (possibly by strangulation), but Christopher was forced out of the papacy by another revolt, and is now officially known as antipope Christopher. Sergius III was asked to become pope in January, 904. (Antipope Christopher died later that year, either of natural causes or, less likely, strangulation.) Sergius was on the same side as Stephen VI. Sergius reinstated the verdict of the Cadaver Synod, and reportedly had Formosus exhumed again, retried, and beheaded!

So, there you have it, my "historical lunatic" is Pope Stephen VI. What is yours?


Michael Skeet said...

I am/was, apparently, King Charles VI of France. This is considerably more satisfactory than Lorna, who turns out to be Caligula. I have suddenly become suspicious of our cats, whom I suspect she may try to appoint to the senate while I'm running through the house spouting gibberish.

The thought that one of my putative descendats would/will be phobic about bridges is vastly amusing.

Allan Goodall said...

I am/was, apparently, King Charles VI of France.

Funny, that's who Alana turned out to be!

This is considerably more satisfactory than Lorna, who turns out to be Caligula.

The woman whose blog I found that on was Caligula, too.

The thought that one of my putative descendats would/will be phobic about bridges is vastly amusing.

And, apparently, they will attack their own friends and kill them. (Charles VI, in the middle of some fit, attacked his own group of knights, killing one of them.

JAM said...

I am Joshua Abraham Norton, first and only Emperor of the United States of America!

At least it was someone I'd heard of.

Michael said...

I had actually read a fair amount about Charles VI before; he features in a number of prominent anecdotes in Barbara Tuchman's A Distant Mirror, one of the better books about medieval Europe. It's certainly more accessible, anyway; I remember having a couple of arguments with a university professor who was appalled that I would consider using her as a source for a couple of papers.