JOAN, POPE, the name of a supposed female occupant of the papal chair in the 9th century. The popular story represents this singular personage as of English parentage; hut, educated at Cologne, Rome, and ultimately Athens, in all which places in the assumed character of a man, and under the name of Joannes Anglieus, "John of Eng land," she is alleged to have attained great distinction as a scholar. The narrative adds that having come in the end to Rome, she had ability and adroitness enough to carry the deception so far as to obtain holy orders, and to rise through various gradations to the papal sovereignty itself; but that being nevertheless of immoral life, the fraud was at length discovered, to the infinite scaudal of the church, by her becoming pregnant, and being seized with the pains of childbirth on occasion of a public procession. The story had obtained currency certainly in the latter part of the 13th century. It was inserted, though discredited, by Plativa in his Lives of the Popes, but the statement. does not appear to have been much discussed until the 1Gth c., when the commentator of Platina, Panvinius, inserted a Dote in refutation of it. Later Roman Catholic histo rians of course have published replies to •he objections against the papal succession which their adversaries drew from the story of the female pope; but it is curious that the most complete and elaborate investigation of the question was that of a Calvinist divine, Blonde', who demonstrated the historical groundlessness of the story. He was followed on the same side by Leibnitz; and although attempts have been made from time to time by a few writers to maintain the tale, it has been all but universally dis carded, its latest patron being prof. Kist of Leyden, who, but a few years since, devoted an elaborate essay, Verhandeling over de _Nash?, Joanna, to the subject. A few words
will suffice to explain the state of the historical evidence. The place assigned to the supposed papess is between the historical popes Leo IV. and Benedict III., the latter of whom died Mar. 10, 858. It is alleged that the .Joan of the story occupied the papal chair for two years and five months. Now, according to all the chroniclers, with the doubtful exception of Marianus Scotus, Leo IV. did not die till July 10, 855, so that the interval between his death and that of Nicholas I., the successor of Benedict III., would be entirely tilled up by the two years and five months of the papess, and no room would be left for the undoubted pontificate (of two and a half years) of Benedict III. Further, Ilincmar of Rheims, a contemporary, in his 26th letter to Nicholas I., states that Benedict III. succeeded Leo IV. immediately. It is proved, moreover, by the unquestionable evidence of a diploma still preserved, and of a contemporary coin which Garampi has published, that Benedict III. was actually reigning before the death of the emperor Lothaire, which occurred towards the close or 855. The earliest authorities for the story of pope Joan, not reckoning a more than doubtful MS. of 3Iarianus Scotus, are Martinus Polonus, a writer of the latter part of the 12th c., and a writer named Stephen de Bourbon, who wrote about 1225.—See Gieseler's Eirchengesehielde, th. ii. b. ii. s. 5; Wensing's Over de (Hague, 1845); Dollinger's Papstfetbeln des Nittelal ters (Munich, 1863); and Bianchi Giovini's Esame Critic° degli atti relativi alla Papessa Giotanna (Milan, 1845).