Popes Behaving Badly: 8 Dreadful Papal Scandals From the Middle Ages

Popes Behaving Badly: 8 Dreadful Papal Scandals From the Middle Ages

By Stephanie Schoppert
Popes Behaving Badly: 8 Dreadful Papal Scandals From the Middle Ages

The position of Pope is considered to be the holiest in the Catholic faith. Few positions are held to higher standard of morality and strict behavior. However, the position of the Pope has not always been filled with those who longed to live a holy lifestyle. Popes are just as susceptible to corruption as any other world leader and they are also susceptible to their more primal urges. During the Middle Ages there were a number of papal scandals that kept the papacy from always being viewed as the holy office that it was supposed to be.

Painting of Pope Alexander VI by Cristofano dell’Altissimo.. Wikipedia.org

Pope Alexander VI

Pope Alexander came into the holiest of occupations in 1492 after his uncle, Pope Callixtus III, paved the way for him. He was made a Cardinal-Deacon of San Nicola in Carcere when he was just 25. The next year he was made vice-chancellor of the Holy Roman Church. In 1471, he was appointed Cardinal-Bishop of Albano. With how much help he got from his uncle to rise through the church, it was not really surprising when Pope Alexander VI continued with the nepotism trend.

He lived his life as a renaissance prince with lavish parties and plenty of women, and he flaunted his wealth at the church. He was not one for modesty and discretion and had no problem continuing his renaissance lifestyle even after being elected Pope. He was also a member of the Borgia family who were known for a gruesome bloodlust and were believed to kill for pleasure. There were so many scandals of his papacy that his nepotism of placing those close to him in numerous positions of power in the church was largely overlooked.

Pope Alexander VI is not the only Pope who is believed to have fathered illegitimate children, but he went a step further and admitted that he had actually done it. One of the biggest scandals of his papacy was the rumor that he had been depraved enough to enter into a sexual relationship with his own daughter.

Illegitimate children and incestuous relationships were not all when it came to this Pope. His lavish parties sometimes included orgies, which continued happening while he was the Pope and so did the bloodlust that the Borgia family was known for. He was rumored to have committed his first murder at the age of 12. As Pope, it was his brother that did most of the killing while he watched. When he died in 1503 some believe that it was due to poison which makes it possible that he died after drinking from the cup that was meant for his dinner guest Cardinal Adriano.