Paul I
Bishop of Rome
ChurchCatholic Church
Papacy began29 May 757
Papacy ended28 June 767
PredecessorStephen II
SuccessorStephen III
Personal details
Died28 June 767(767-06-28) (aged 66–67)
Rome, Papal States
Other popes named Paul

Pope Paul I (Latin: Paulus I; 700 – 28 June 767) was the bishop of Rome and ruler of the emerging Papal States from 29 May 757 to his death. He first served as a Roman deacon and was frequently employed by his brother, Pope Stephen II, in negotiations with the Lombard kings.


Paul was a Roman aristocrat and member of the Orsini family.[1] [2] He and his brother Stephen had been educated for the priesthood at the Lateran Palace. Stephen became pope in 752. After Stephen's death on 26 April 757, Paul prevailed over a faction that wanted to make Archdeacon Theophylact pope and was chosen to succeed his brother by the majority that wished a continuation of Stephen's policy.


Seal of Paul I, with Greek text ΠΑΥΛΟΥ (Paulou, "of Paul")

Paul I's reign was dominated by relations with the Frankish and Lombard kings and with the Eastern Roman emperor. He wrote to Pepin the Short that the Frankish alliance should be maintained unimpaired. Paul was likely concerned of the danger posed by the Lombard king Desiderius. The Lombards held the cities of Imola, Osimo, Bologna, and Ancona, which were claimed by the papacy, and in 758 seized upon the duchies of Spoleto and Benevento.

On his return from suppressing a revolt in Benevento, Desiderius visited Rome and compelled Paul to write to Pepin asking him to concede all the Lombard claims. He promised to return Imola, but on condition that the pope should persuade Pepin to send back Lombard hostages held by the Franks. Paul agreed and sent a letter to Pepin.[3] Pepin found it advisable to maintain good relations with Desiderius, and Paul apparently accomplished little by his double-dealing. Later, however, Pepin gave the pope some support and acted as arbiter between the Roman and Lombard claims.

In 765, papal privileges were restored in the duchies of Benevento and Tuscany and partially in Spoleto. Meanwhile, the alienation from the Eastern Roman Empire grew greater. On several occasions, especially in 759, Paul feared that the emperor would send an army against Rome. This meant that he lived in constant dread of Eastern Roman ambitions turning the Frankish influence in favor of the Lombards. This was actually attempted, but Pepin held to his original policy regarding Italy.

Paul died in Rome on 28 June 767.[3]


  1. ^ McClintock, John; Strong, James (April 15, 1882). Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature. Vol. VII. Harper. p. 831 – via Internet Archive. Pope Paul I.
  2. ^ George L. Williams, Papal Genealogy (London 2004).
  3. ^ a b "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Pope Paul I".
Catholic Church titles Preceded byStephen II Pope 757–767 Succeeded byStephen III