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Pope John XV

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John XV
Papacy began August, 985
Papacy ended March, 996
Predecessor John XIV
Successor Gregory V
Personal details
Birth name John
Born ???
Rome, Papal States
Died March, 996
Rome, Papal States, Holy Roman Empire
Other Popes named John

John XV (born in Rome), Pope from 985 to 996, succeeding Boniface VII (974, 984–985). It was said to have been Pope after another Pope John that reigned four months after Pope John XIV (983–984) and was named "Papa Ioannes XIV Bis" or "Pope John XIV Two". This John XIV Two never existed, because he was confused with a certain cardinal deacon John son of Robert that opposed to Boniface VII, and now is excluded from the papal lists.

John XV was the son of Leo, a Roman presbyter. At the time he mounted the papal chair Crescentius II was Patrician of Rome, significantly hampering the pope's influence, but the presence of the Empress Theophanu, 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 Cluny.

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 Reims and 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). At this synod, Arnulf accused John XV:

Are any bold enough to maintain that the priests of the Lord all over the world are to take their law from monsters of guilt like these—men branded with ignominy, illiterate men, and ignorant alike of things human and divine? If, holy fathers, we are bound to weigh in the balance the lives, the morals, and the attainments of the humblest candidate for the priestly office, how much more ought we to look to the fitness of him who aspires to be the Lord and Master of all priests! Yet how would it fare with us, if it should happen that the man the most deficient in all these virtues, unworthy of the lowest place in the priesthood, should be chosen to fill the highest place of all? What would you say of such a one, when you see him sitting upon the throne glittering in purple and gold? Must he not be the "Antichrist, sitting in the temple of God and showing himself as God"?[1]

The proceedings of the Synod of Riems 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 preceptor to 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 bull dated 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 Italy to obtain imperial coronation from the Pope, but John XV died of fever early in March 996, while Otto III lingered in Pavia until 12 April to celebrate Easter. The Emperor elevated his own kinsman Bruno to the papal dignity under the name of Gregory V (996–999).

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John XIV
Succeeded by
Gregory V

Popes of the Roman Catholic Church
PeterLinusAnacletusClement IEvaristusAlexander ISixtus ITelesphorusHyginusPius IAnicetusSoterEleuterusVictor IZephyrinusCallixtus IUrban IPontianAnterusFabianCorneliusLucius IStephen ISixtus IIDionysiusFelix IEutychianCaiusMarcellinusMarcellus IEusebiusMiltiadesSilvester IMarkJulius ILiberiusDamasus ISiriciusAnastasius IInnocent IZosimusBoniface ICelestine ISixtus IIILeo IHilariusSimpliciusFelix IIIGelasius IAnastasius IISymmachusHormisdasJohn IFelix IVBoniface IIJohn IIAgapetus ISilveriusVigiliusPelagius IJohn IIIBenedict IPelagius IIGregory ISabinianBoniface IIIBoniface IVAdeodatus IBoniface VHonorius ISeverinusJohn IVTheodore IMartin IEugene IVitalianAdeodatus IIDonusAgathoLeo IIBenedict IIJohn VCononSergius IJohn VIJohn VIISisinniusConstantineGregory IIGregory IIIZacharyStephen IIPaul IStephen IIIAdrian ILeo IIIStephen IVPaschal IEugene IIValentineGregory IVSergius IILeo IVBenedict IIINicholas IAdrian IIJohn VIIIMarinus IAdrian IIIStephen VFormosusBoniface VIStephen VIRomanusTheodore IIJohn IXBenedict IVLeo VSergius IIIAnastasius IIILandoJohn XLeo VIStephen VIIJohn XILeo VIIStephen VIIIMarinus IIAgapetus IIJohn XIILeo VIIIBenedict VJohn XIIIBenedict VIBenedict VIIJohn XIVJohn XVGregory VSilvester IIJohn XVIIJohn XVIIISergius IVBenedict VIIIJohn XIXBenedict IXSilvester IIIBenedict IXGregory VIClement IIBenedict IXDamasus IILeo IXVictor IIStephen IXNicholas IIAlexander IIGregory VIIVictor IIIUrban IIPaschal IIGelasius IICallixtus IIHonorius IIInnocent IICelestine IILucius IIEugene IIIAnastasius IVAdrian IVAlexander IIILucius IIIUrban IIIGregory VIIIClement IIICelestine IIIInnocent IIIHonorius IIIGregory IXCelestine IVInnocent IVAlexander IVUrban IVClement IVGregory XInnocent VAdrian VJohn XXINicholas IIIMartin IVHonorius IVNicholas IVCelestine VBoniface VIIIBenedict XIClement VJohn XXIIBenedict XIIClement VIInnocent VIUrban VGregory XIUrban VIBoniface IXInnocent VIIGregory XIIMartin VEugene IVNicholas VCallixtus IIIPius IIPaul IISixtus IVInnocent VIIIAlexander VIPius IIIJulius IILeo XAdrian VIClement VIIPaul IIIJulius IIIMarcellus IIPaul IVPius IVPius VGregory XIIISixtus VUrban VIIGregory XIVInnocent IXClement VIIILeo XIPaul VGregory XVUrban VIIIInnocent XAlexander VIIClement IXClement XInnocent XIAlexander VIIIInnocent XIIClement XIInnocent XIIIBenedict XIIIClement XIIBenedict XIVClement XIIIClement XIVPius VIPius VIILeo XIIPius VIIIGregory XVIPius IXLeo XIIIPius XBenedict XVPius XIPius XIIJohn XXIIIPaul VIJohn Paul IJohn Paul IIBenedict XVI


  1. Schaff, Philip; Schley Schaff, David (1885). History of the Christian Church. Charles Scribner & Sons. Retrieved 2009-01-18. 
af:Pous Johannes XV

ca:Joan XV cs:Jan XV.fa:ژان پانزدهمgl:Xoán XV, papa ko:교황 요한 15세 hr:Ivan XV. id:Paus Yohanes XVjv:Paus Yohanes XV sw:Papa Yohane XV la:Ioannes XV hu:XV. János pápa mk:Папа Јован XVja:ヨハネス15世 (ローマ教皇)pt:Papa João XV ro:Papa Ioan al XV-lea ru:Иоанн XV (папа римский) fi:Johannes XV sv:Johannes XV tl:Juan XV th:สมเด็จพระสันตะปาปาจอห์นที่ 15 uk:Іоанн XV war:Papa Juan XV zh:若望十五世

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