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An antipope (Latin: antipapa) is a person who makes a significant and substantial attempt to occupy the position of Bishop of Rome and leader of the Catholic Church in opposition to the legitimately elected pope. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th centuries, antipopes were supported by important factions within the Church itself and by secular rulers.
Sometimes it was difficult to distinguish which of two claimants should be called pope and which antipope, as in the case of Pope Leo VIII and Pope Benedict V.
Persons who merely claim to be pope and have few followers, such as the modern conclavist antipopes, are not classified with the historical antipopes.
Hippolytus of Rome (d. 235) is commonly considered to be the earliest antipope, as he headed a separate group within the Church in Rome against Pope Callixtus I. Hippolytus was reconciled to Callixtus's second successor, Pope Pontian, and both he and Pontian are honoured as saints by the Catholic Church with a shared feast day on 13 August. Whether two or more persons have been confused in this account of Hippolytus and whether Hippolytus actually declared himself to be the Bishop of Rome, remains unclear, since no such claim by Hippolytus has been cited in the writings attributed to him.
Eusebius quotes from an unnamed earlier writer the story of Natalius, a 3rd-century priest who accepted the bishopric of the Adoptionists, a heretical group in Rome. Natalius soon repented and tearfully begged Pope Zephyrinus to receive him into communion.
Novatian (d. 258), another third-century figure, certainly claimed the See of Rome in opposition to Pope Cornelius, and if Natalius and Hippolytus were excluded because of the uncertainties concerning them, Novatian could then be said to be the first antipope.
The period in which antipopes were most numerous was during the struggles between the popes and the Holy Roman Emperors of the 11th and 12th centuries. The emperors frequently imposed their own nominees to further their own causes. The popes, likewise, sometimes sponsored rival imperial claimants (anti-kings) in Germany to overcome a particular emperor.
The Western Schism—which began in 1378, when the French cardinals, claiming that the election of Pope Urban VI was invalid, elected antipope Clement VII as a rival to the Roman Pope—led eventually to two competing lines of antipopes: the Avignon line (Clement VII took up residence in Avignon, France), and the Pisan line. The Pisan line, which began in 1409, was named after the town of Pisa, Italy, where the (Pisan) council had elected antipope Alexander V as a third claimant. To end the schism, in May 1415, the Council of Constance deposed antipope John XXIII of the Pisan line. Pope Gregory XII of the Roman line resigned in July 1415. In 1417, the council also formally deposed antipope Benedict XIII of Avignon, but he refused to resign. Afterwards, Pope Martin V was elected and was accepted everywhere except in the small and rapidly diminishing area that remained faithful to Benedict XIII.
The following table gives the names of the antipopes included in the list of popes and antipopes in the Annuario Pontificio, with the addition of the names of Natalius (in spite of doubts about his historicity) and Antipope Clement VIII (whose following was insignificant).
An asterisk marks those who were included in the conventional numbering of later popes who took the same name. More commonly, the antipope is ignored in later papal regnal numbers; for example, there was an Antipope John XXIII, but the new Pope John elected in 1958 was also called John XXIII. For the additional confusion regarding popes named John, see Pope John numbering.
The list of popes and antipopes in the Annuario Pontificio attaches the following note to the name of Pope Leo VIII (963–965):
At this point, as again in the mid-11th century, we come across elections in which problems of harmonising historical criteria and those of theology and canon law make it impossible to decide clearly which side possessed the legitimacy whose factual existence guarantees the unbroken lawful succession of the successors of Saint Peter. The uncertainty that in some cases results has made it advisable to abandon the assignation of successive numbers in the list of the popes.
Thus, because of the obscurities about mid-11th-century canon law and the historical facts, the Annuario Pontificio lists Sylvester III as a pope, without thereby expressing a judgement on his legitimacy. The Catholic Encyclopedia places him in its List of Popes, but with the annotation: "Considered by some to be an antipope". Other sources classify him as an antipope.
As Celestine II resigned before being consecrated and enthroned in order to avoid a schism, Oxford's A Dictionary of Popes (2010) says he "...is classified, unfairly, as an antipope," a position historian Salvador Miranda also shares.
Those with asterisks (*) were counted in subsequent papal numbering.
|Pontificate||Common English name||Regnal (Latin) name||Personal name||Place of birth||Age at election / Death or resigned||Years as antipope (days)||Notes||In opposition to|
|c. 199 – c. 200||Natalius||Natalius||Natalius||c. 159 Rome, Roman Empire||38 / 48||1 year, 0 days (365)||Later reconciled (see above)||Zephyrinus|
|20 Dec 217 – 28 Sep 235||Saint Hippolytus||Hippolytus||Hippolytus||170 Rome. Roman Empire||45 / 65 (†66)||17 years, 282 days (6491)||Later reconciled with Pope Pontian (see above)||Callixtus I|
|Mar 251 – Aug 258||Novatian||Novatianus||Novatian||c. 200 Rome, Roman Empire||51 / 58 (†93)||7 years, 153 days (2710)||Founder of Novatianism||Cornelius|
|20 Apr 309 – 16 Aug 310||Heraclius||Heraclius||Heraclius||c. 265 Rome, Roman Empire||45 / 46||1 year, 118 days (483)||Eusebius|
|355 – 26 Nov 365||Felix II*||Felix secundus||Felix||c. 270 Rome, Roman Empire||80 / 90||10 years, 329 days (3982)||Installed by Roman emperor Constantius II||Liberius|
|1 Oct 366 – 16 Nov 367||Ursicinus||Ursicinus||Ursinus||c. 300 Rome, Roman Empire||66 / 67||1 year, 46 days (411)||Damasus I|
|27 Dec 418 – 3 Apr 419||Eulalius||Eulalius||Eulalius||c. 370 Rome, Roman Empire||38 / 39 (†42)||1 year, 46 days (411)||Boniface I|
|22 Nov 498 – Aug 506/08||Laurentius||Laurentius||Lorenzo Celio||c. 460 Rome, Roman Empire||38 / 46 (†48)||9 years, 283 days (3569)||Supported by Byzantine emperor Anastasius I||Symmachus|
|22 Sep 530 – 14 Oct 530||Dioscorus||Dioscurus||Dióskoros||c. 450 Alexandria||70 / 70||22 days (22)||Boniface II|
|21 Sep 687||Theodore||Theodorus||Theodore||c. 599 Rome, Western Roman Empire||88 / 88 (†92)||97 days (97)||Sergius I|
|21 Sep 687||Paschal (I)||Paschalis||Pascale||c. 598 Rome, Western Roman Empire||89 / 89 (†94)||97 days (97)|
|28 Jun 767 – 6 Aug 768||Constantine II||Constantinus secundus||Konstantinus||c. 700 Rome, Western Roman Empire||67 / 68 (†69)||1 year, 39 days (405)||Between Paul I and Stephen III|
|31 Jul 768||Philip||Philippus||Philip||c. 701 Rome, Western Roman Empire||68 / 68 (†99)||0 days (0)||Installed by envoy of Lombard King Desiderius||Stephen III|
|25 Jan – 31 May 844||John VIII||Joannes octavus||Giovanni||c. 800 Rome, Papal States||44 / 44 (†91)||151 days (151)||Elected by acclamation||Sergius II|
|Jan 855 – 31 Mar 855||Anastasius III Bibliothecarius||Anastasius tertius||Anastasius||c. 810 Rome, Papal States||45 / 45 (†68)||89 days (89)||Benedict III|
|3 Oct 903 – 27 Jan 904||Christopher||Christophorus||Christoforo||c. 850 Rome, Papal States||53 / 54||116 days (116)||Between Leo V and Sergius III|
|Jul 974||Boniface VII*||Bonifacius||Franco Ferrucci||c. 900 Rome, Papal States||73 / 73 and 84 / 85||30 days (30)
334 days (334)
total 364 days (364 days)
|Between Benedict VI and Benedict VII|
|20 Aug 984 – 20 Jul 985||Between John XIV and John XV|
|Apr 997 – Feb 998||John XVI*||Joannes||John Filagatto||c. 941 Rossano, Calabria, Papal States (Italy)||56 / 56 (†59)||1 year, 0 days (365)||Supported by Byzantine emperor Basil II||Gregory V|
|Jun 1012||Gregory VI||Gregorius Sextus||Gregorio||c. 960 Rome, Papal States||52 / 52 (†60)||29 days (29)||Benedict VIII|
|4 Apr 1058 – 24 Jan 1059||Benedict X*||Benedictus Decimus||Giovanni Mincio dei Conti di Tusculo||c. 1000 Rome, Papal States,||58 / 59 (†80)||295 days (295 )||Supported by the Counts of Tusculum||Nicholas II|
|July 1061 – 31 May 1064||Honorius II||Honorius Secundus||Pietro Cadalus||1010 Verona, Papal States||51 / 54 (†62)||2 years, 335 days (1065)||Supported by Agnes, regent of the Holy Roman Empire||Alexander II|
|25 Jun 1080, 21 Mar 1084 – 8 Sep 1100||Clement III||Clemens Tertius||Guibert of Ravenna||c. 1029 Parma, Papal States||51 / 51, 54 / 71||20 years, 44 days (7348)||Supported by Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor||Gregory VII|
|8 Sep 1100 – Jan 1101||Theodoric||Theodoricus||Theodoro||c. 1030 Rome, Papal States,||70 / 71 (†72)||121 days (−244)||Successor to Clement III||Paschal II|
|Jan 1101 – Feb 1102||Adalbert or Albert||Adalbertus||Albert||c. 1046 Atella, Campania, Papal States,||55 / 56 (†85)||31 days (31)||Successor to Theodoric|
|8 Nov 1105 – 11 Apr 1111||Sylvester IV||Sylvester Quartus||Maginulf||c. 1050 Rome, Papal States||49 / 55 (†56)||5 years, 324 days (31)||Supported by Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor|
|10 Mar 1118 – 22 Apr 1121||Gregory VIII||Gregorius Octavus||Maurice Burdain||c. 1057 Limousin, Occitania, France||61 / 65 (†72)||3 years, 43 days (1139)||Gelasius II|
|16 Dec 1124||Celestine II||Cœlestinus Secundus||Teobaldo Boccapecci||c. 1050 Rome, Papal States||74 / 74 (†86)||0 days (0)||Honorius II|
|14 Feb 1130 – 25 Jan 1138||Anacletus II||Anacletus Secundus||Pietro Pierleoni||c. 1090 Rome, Papal States||48 / 48||7 years, 345 days (2902)||Innocent II|
|23 Mar 1138||Victor IV||Victor Quartus||Gregorio Conti||c. 1057 Ceccano, Papal States||81 / 81 (†90)||2 days (2)||Successor to Anacletus II|
|7 Sep 1159 – 20 Apr 1164||Victor IV||Victor Quartus||Ottavio di Montecelio||c. 1095 Tivoli, Papal States||64 / 69||4 years, 226 days (1687)||Supported by Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor||Alexander III|
|22 Apr 1164 – 28 Sep 1168||Paschal III||Paschalis Tertius||Guido di Crema||c. 1110 Crema, Lombardy, Papal States||54 / 58||4 years, 159 days (1620 days)|
|Sep 1168 – 29 Aug 1178||Callixtus III||Callixtus Tertius||Giovanni of Struma||c. 1090 Arezzo, Papal States||78 / 88 (†90)||9 years, 362 days (3649 days)|
|29 Sep 1179 – Jan 1180||Innocent III||Innocentius Tertius||Lanzo of Sezza||c. 1120 Sezze, Papal States||59 / 60 (†63)||95 days (95 days)|
|12 May 1328 – 12 Aug 1330||Nicholas V||Nicolaus Quintus||Pietro Rainalducci||c. 1258 Corvaro, Papal States||70 / 74||2 years, 92 days (822 days)||Supported by Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor||John XXII|
|20 Sep 1378 – 16 Sep 1394||Clement VII||Clemens||Robert of Geneva||1342 Annecy, France||36/52||15 years, 361 days (5840 days)||Avignon||Urban VI|
|28 Sep 1394 – 23 May 1423||Benedict XIII||Benedictus||Pedro de Luna||25 November 1328 Illueca, Aragon||65/94||28 years, 237 days (10463 days)||Avignon|
|25 Jun 1409 – 3 May 1410||Alexander V*||Alexander||Pietro Philarghi||c. 1339 Crete, Republic of Venice||70 / 71||312 days (312 days)||Pisa||Gregory XII|
|25 May 1410 – 29 May 1415||John XXIII||Ioannes Vicecimus Tertius||Baldassare Cossa||c. 1365||45 / 50 (†54)||5 years, 6 days (1832 days)||Pisa|
|10 Jun 1423 – 26 Jul 1429||Clement VIII||Clemens Octavus||Gil Sánchez Muñoz y Carbón||1370 Teruel, Aragon||52 / 59 (†77)||6 years, 49 days (2241 days)||Avignon||Martin V|
|1424–1430||Benedict XIV||Benedictus Quartus Decimus||Bernard Garnier||1370 France||54 / 59 (†89)||6 years, 211 days (2403 days)||Claimed successor to Benedict XIII – aka "The hidden pope"|
|1430–1437||Benedict XIV||Benedictus Quartus Decimus||Jean Carrier||c. 1370 France||59 / 66||7 years, 242 days (2799 days)|
|5 Nov 1439 – 7 Apr 1449||Felix V||Fœlix||Duke Amadeus VIII of Savoy||4 September 1383 Chambéry, Savoy||56/65 (†67)||9 years, 153 days (3441)||Elected by the Council of Basel||Eugene IV|
Main article: List of cardinal-nephews
Many antipopes created cardinals, known as quasi-cardinals, and a few created cardinal-nephews, known as quasi-cardinal-nephews.
|Giacomo Alberti||Antipope Nicholas V||15 May 1328||Excommunicated by Pope John XXII.|
|Amedeo Saluzzo||Antipope Clement VII||23 Dec 1383||Abandoned Antipope Benedict XIII after having been deposed by him on 21 October 1408; participated in the Council of Pisa, the election of Pope Alexander V (now regarded as an antipope), the Council of Constance, and the conclave of Pope Martin V.|
|Tommaso Brancaccio||Antipope John XXIII||6 Jun 1411||Attended the Council of Constance, and the conclave of Pope Martin V.|
|Gil Sánchez Muñoz||Antipope Clement VIII||26 Jul 1429||Submitted to Pope Martin V after his uncle abdicated.|
As the Patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt, has historically also held the title of pope, a person who, in opposition to someone who is generally accepted as a legitimate pope of Alexandria, claims to hold that position may also be considered an antipope. In 2006, the defrocked married Coptic lector Max Michel became an antipope of Alexandria, calling himself Maximos I. His claim to the Alexandrine papacy was dismissed by both the Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III and Pope Theodore II of the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria. The Coptic pope of Alexandria and the Greek pope of Alexandria currently view one another, not as antipopes, but rather as successors to differing lines of apostolic succession that formed as a result of christological disputes in the fifth century.
Another Coptic (Alexandrian) antipope is known to have laid claim in the fourth century. His name was Gregory of Cappadocia.
Antipopes have appeared as fictional characters. These may be either in historical fiction, as fictional portraits of well-known historical antipopes or as purely imaginary antipopes.