Pope John XV
English name=John XV
John XV (born in
Rome), Popefrom 985 to 996, succeeding Boniface VII (974, 984–985), (said to have been Pope for four months after Pope John XIV(983–984), but now considered an antipope).
John XV was the son of Leo, a Roman
presbyter. At the time he mounted the papal chair Crescentius IIwas Patricianof Rome, significantly hampering the pope's influence, but the presence of the Empress Theophano, regent for her son, Holy Roman Emperor Otto III(983–1002), in Rome from 989 to 991 restrained Crescentius's ambition.
The Pope's venality and nepotism had made him very unpopular with the citizens, but to his credit, John XV was a patron and protector of the reforming monks of
During this papacy, however, a serious dispute arose over the King of France's investing and then deposing
Arnulf, Archbishop of Reims, the Pope's interference leading at first to no definite result. This affair is sometimes read as an early groundswell of the conflicts between Popes and the new Kings of France that came to a head later in the Investiture Controversy, so it is worth relating in some detail. Hugh Capet(987–996), now King of France, made Arnulf archbishop of Reims in 988, even though Arnulf was the nephew of the King's bitter rival, Charles of Lorraine. Charles thereupon succeeded in capturing Reimsand took the archbishop prisoner. Hugh, however, considered Arnulf a turncoat and demanded his deposition by John XV. The turn of events outran the messages, when Hugh Capet captured both Charles and Archbishop Arnulf and convoked a synod at Reims in June 991, which obediently deposed Arnulf and chose as his successor Abbot Gerbert, afterwards Pope Silvester II(999–1003). These proceedings were repudiated by Rome, although a second synod had ratified the decrees issued at Reims. John XV summoned the French bishops to hold an independent synod outside the King's realm, at Aachen, to reconsider the case. When they refused, he called them to Rome, but they protested that the unsettled conditions en route and in Rome made that impossible. The Pope then sent a legate with instructions to call a council of French and German bishops at Mousson, where only the German bishops appeared, the French being stopped on the way by Hugh Capet and Robert. Through the exertions of the legate, the deposition of Arnulf was finally pronounced illegal. After Hugh Capet's death ( October 23, 996), Arnulf was released from his imprisonment, and soon restored to all his dignities. As for Gerbert, he set out for the imperial court at Magdeburg, and became the preceptorto Emperor Otto III.
At a Roman synod held in the Lateran on
January 31 993, John XV solemnly canonized Bishop Ulrich of Augsburg, an event which the Pope announced to the French and German bishops in a papal bulldated 3 February. This was the first time in history that a solemn canonization had been made by a Pope.
In 996, Otto III undertook a journey to
Italyto obtain imperial coronation from the Pope, but John XV died of fever early in March 996, while Otto III lingered in Paviauntil 12 Aprilto celebrate Easter. The Emperor elevated his own kinsman Bruno to the papal dignity under the name of Gregory V (996–999).
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