John XI
Bishop of Rome
ChurchCatholic Church
Papacy beganMarch 931
Papacy endedDecember 935
PredecessorStephen VII
SuccessorLeo VII
Personal details

DiedDecember 935
Rome, Papal States

Pope John XI (Latin: Ioannes XI; died December 935) was the bishop of Rome and nominal ruler of the Papal States from March 931 to his death. The true ruler of Rome at the time was his mother, Marozia, followed by his brother Alberic II. The period is known as Saeculum obscurum.


John was the son of Marozia, the most powerful woman in Rome and the wife of Alberic I at the time of John's birth. According to hostile chronicler Liutprand of Cremona and the Liber Pontificalis, John's father was not Alberic but Marozia's lover Pope Sergius III. Ferdinand Gregorovius,[1] Ernst Dümmler, Thomas Greenwood, Philip Schaff, and Rudolf Baxmann[2] accept Liutprand's account.[3] Horace Kinder Mann considers this story "highly doubtful", highlighting Liutprand's bias.[4] Reginald L. Poole,[5] Peter Llewelyn, Karl Josef von Hefele, August Friedrich Gfrörer,[6] Ludovico Antonio Muratori, and Francis Patrick Kenrick[7] also maintain that Pope John XI was sired by Alberic I of Spoleto.


Marozia was the de facto ruler of Rome at the time, and procured John's appointment to the papacy. This period is known as Saeculum obscurum. After the overthrow of Marozia around 932, John XI fell under the control of his brother Alberic II. The only authority left to John was the exercise of his purely spiritual duties. All other jurisdiction was exercised through Alberic II. This was not only the case in secular, but also in ecclesiastical affairs.[8]

At the insistence of Alberic II, the pallium was given to Patriarch Theophylactus of Constantinople (935), and also to Archbishop Artold of Reims (933). John XI sat in the Chair of Peter during what some traditional Catholic sources consider its deepest humiliation, but it was also he who granted many privileges to the Congregation of Cluny, which was later on a powerful agent of Church reform.[8]


  1. ^ Gregorovius, Ferdinand (1903), The History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages, vol. III (2nd ed.), London: George Bell & Sons, p. 254, retrieved 2008-01-06
  2. ^ Baxmann, Rudolf (1869), Die Politik der Päpste von Gregor I. bis Gregor VII, vol. II, Elberfeld, pp. 58–125
  3. ^ Platina, Bartolomeo (1479), The Lives of the Popes From The Time Of Our Saviour Jesus Christ to the Accession of Gregory VII, vol. I, London: Griffith Farran & Co., pp. 248–249, retrieved 2013-04-25
  4. ^ Mann, Horace Kinder (1912), "Sergius III", The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. XIII, New York: Robert Appleton Company, retrieved 2008-01-06
  5. ^ Poole, Reginald L. (1917), "Benedict IX and Gregory VI", Proceedings of the British Academy, 8: 230.
  6. ^ Gfrörer, August Friedrich, Allgemeine Kirchengeschichte, vol. III, Stuttgart: A. Krabbe, pp. 1133–1275, retrieved 2008-01-06
  7. ^ Kenrick, Francis Patrick (1855), The Primacy of the Apostolic See Vindicated, Baltimore: John Murphy & Co., p. 418, retrieved 2008-01-06
  8. ^ a b  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Pope John XI". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
Catholic Church titles Preceded byStephen VII Pope 931–935 Succeeded byLeo VII