Antipope John XVI
John XVI born , , was an antipope
An antipope is a person who opposes a legitimately elected or sitting Pope and makes a significantly accepted competing claim to be the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Roman Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th century, antipopes were typically those supported by a...

 from 997 to 998.


He was born of Greek descent and was a native of Rossano
Rossano is a town and comune in Southern Italy, in the province of Cosenza . The city is situated on an eminence c. 3. km from the Gulf of Taranto. The town is known for its marble and alabaster quarries....

 in Calabria
Calabria , in antiquity known as Bruttium, is a region in southern Italy, south of Naples, located at the "toe" of the Italian Peninsula. The capital city of Calabria is Catanzaro....

, southern Italy. At the time the region was a territory of the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 and John was the chaplain
Traditionally, a chaplain is a minister in a specialized setting such as a priest, pastor, rabbi, or imam or lay representative of a religion attached to a secular institution such as a hospital, prison, military unit, police department, university, or private chapel...

 of Theophanu
Theophanu , also spelled Theophania, Theophana or Theophano, was born in Constantinople, and was the wife of Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor.-Family:...

, the Empress consort of Emperor Otto II (973–983), who had come from Constantinople. Twice he acted as Imperial chancellor in Italy for Otto II
Otto II, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto II , called the Red, was the third ruler of the Saxon or Ottonian dynasty, the son of Otto the Great and Adelaide of Italy.-Early years and co-ruler with Otto I:...

, in 980–982, whereupon he was appointed Abbot of Nonantola, and in 991–992. Between his sojourns in Italy he was appointed tutor to the seven-year-old Emperor's son, Otto III
Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor
Otto III , a King of Germany, was the fourth ruler of the Saxon or Ottonian dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire. He was elected King in 983 on the death of his father Otto II and was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 996.-Early reign:...

, in 987. By the Empress's persuasion he was appointed bishop of Piacenza, and he was sent to Constantinople to accompany home a Byzantine princess for the younger Otto. After the Emperor's death, the youthful Emperor Otto III (983–1002) came to the aid of Pope John XV
Pope John XV
Pope John XV , Pope from 985 to 996, succeeding Boniface VII . He was said to have been Pope after another Pope John that reigned four months after Pope John XIV and was named "Papa Ioannes XIV Bis" or "Pope John XIVb"...

 (985–996) in 996, to put down the rebellion of a faction led by the rich and powerful Roman nobleman Crescentius the Younger
Crescentius the Younger
Crescentius the Younger , son of Crescentius the Elder, was a leader of the aristocracy of medieval Rome. During the minority of Otto III, Holy Roman Emperor he declared himself Patricius Romanorum, Consul or Senator of Rome and made himself de facto ruler of Rome...

. Otto III stopped to be acclaimed King of Lombardy
Kingdom of Italy (medieval)
The Kingdom of Italy was a political entity under control of Carolingian dynasty of Francia first, after the defeat of the Lombards in 774. It was finally incorporated as a part of the Holy Roman Empire in 962....

 at Pavia
Pavia , the ancient Ticinum, is a town and comune of south-western Lombardy, northern Italy, 35 km south of Milan on the lower Ticino river near its confluence with the Po. It is the capital of the province of Pavia. It has a population of c. 71,000...

, and failed to reach Rome before the Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 died. Once in Rome, Otto III engineered the election of his cousin Bruno of Carinthia as Pope Gregory V
Pope Gregory V
Pope Gregory V, né Bruno of Carinthia , Pope from May 3, 996 to February 18, 999, son of the Salian Otto I, Duke of Carinthia, who was a grandson of the Emperor Otto I the Great . Gregory V succeeded Pope John XV , when only twenty-four years of age...

 (996–999), and the new pontiff then crowned Otto III Emperor, 21 May 996.

Once Otto III had returned to Germany, the faction headed by Crescentius II violently unseated Gregory V and, with the active support of the Eastern Emperor, Basil II
Basil II
Basil II , known in his time as Basil the Porphyrogenitus and Basil the Young to distinguish him from his ancestor Basil I the Macedonian, was a Byzantine emperor from the Macedonian dynasty who reigned from 10 January 976 to 15 December 1025.The first part of his long reign was dominated...

, acclaimed John as Pope John XVI (997–998). A synod of the Western bishops held in 997 at the Imperial capital in Italy, Pavia
Pavia , the ancient Ticinum, is a town and comune of south-western Lombardy, northern Italy, 35 km south of Milan on the lower Ticino river near its confluence with the Po. It is the capital of the province of Pavia. It has a population of c. 71,000...

, decided in Gregory V's favour and excommunicated John.

The revolt of Crescentius II was decisively suppressed by Otto III, who marched once again upon Rome, in February 998. John XVI fled, but the Emperor's troops pursued and captured him, cut off his nose and ears, cut out his tongue, broke his fingers and blinded him, that he might not write, and publicly degraded him before Otto III and Gregory V. At the intercession of Saint Nilus the Younger
Saint Nilus the Younger
Saint Nilus the Younger was an Italian saint.-Biography:Born to a Greek family of Rossano, in the Byzantine Theme of Calabria, for a time he was married and had a daughter...

, one of his countrymen, his life was spared: he was sent to the monastery of Fulda
Fulda is a city in Hesse, Germany; it is located on the river Fulda and is the administrative seat of the Fulda district .- Early Middle Ages :...

, in Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, where he died about 1001.

Johann's consent to be enthroned as Pope against the claims of Gregory can be seen as a manipulation of the constant political struggles by the Roman nobles against Imperial power, accruing to the advantage of Byzantine influence against the widening of Imperial power in Rome, where Gregory was the first German pontiff.

Because he was not a legitimate Pope, the next three Pope Johns, John XVII
Pope John XVII
Pope John XVII , born John Sicco, and the son of another John Sicco, was born in the region of Rome then referred to as Biveretica...

, John XVIII and John XIX, took the regnal numbers XVI, XVII and XVIII, but some historians of the Middle Ages corrected their names including Antipope Philagathos among the Popes, and the wrongly corrected sequencing was never subsequently corrected.
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