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Image of an ancient pope.

John XXIII: How A Pirate Became A Pope (Video)

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In the tumultuous era of the Western Schism, an unexpected figure emerged from the shadows to claim the highest seat in the Catholic Church. Baldassare Cossa, whose reputation was marred by tales of piracy and scandalous behavior, ascended to the papacy as Pope John XXIII. The chaotic landscape of the church, with three rival popes vying for supremacy, provided the perfect breeding ground for someone of Cossa's cunning nature to seize power. 

Born into a family with a penchant for piracy, Cossa's early years were marked by a life on the fringes of society. Yet, despite his less than noble beginnings, he eventually found himself rising through the ranks of the church, becoming a cardinal in his early thirties. With a background in law and a knack for manipulation, Cossa saw the discord within the church as an opportunity to further his own ambitions. 

The Council of Pisa in 1409 served as a turning point, where Cossa maneuvered his way into prominence, ultimately leading to his election as Pope John XXIII. Despite his controversial past and reputation for treachery, Cossa managed to garner support from influential figures, solidifying his position through alliances and strategic moves. 

However, Cossa's reign was short-lived, marked by betrayals and power struggles. As rival factions within the church sought to consolidate authority, Cossa found himself facing opposition from both within and outside the church. Eventually, he was deposed by the Council of Constance in 1415, marking the end of his tumultuous papacy. 

Top image: Image of an ancient pope. Source: Andrea Raffin/Adobe Stock 

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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