Pope Joan

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Pope Joan was a legendary female pope of the Middle Ages said to have reigned from 855 to 858. After her story was popularized by Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375), a statue of her was placed alongside those of other popes at Siena Cathedral. During the Reformation, her status was a focus of controversy.

More about: Pope Joan


  • 855 - 857
    The most commonly given dates for the reign of Pope Joan.
  • 1254
    Pope Innocent IV issues a decree restricting the rights of Dominicans to preach and hear confessions.
  • 1255
    Dominican Jean de Mailly writes the earliest surviving account of Joan's reign as pope.
  • 1277
    Martin Strebsky of Troppau adds an entry on Pope Joan to the third edition of "Chronicle of the Roman Popes and Emperors.".
  • 1363
    "Concerning Famous Women" (De Mulieribus Claris) by Boccaccio is published. It describes the lives of 104 women.
  • 1415
    Reformer Jan Hus was tried and condemned to death at the Council of Constance. Hus brought up the story of Pope Joan. No one present questioned that she was a real pope.
  • 1587
    Florimond de Raemond debunks the story of Pope Joan in "Erreur populaire de la papesse Jane.".