UK Flag.jpg
Italia Flag.jpg
Spain Flag.jpg
Brazil Flag.jpg

Päpstin Johanna

Päpstin Johanna. Ein vertuschtes Pontifikat einer Frau oder eine fiktive Legende?

Martin von Troppau erwähnte 1277 in seiner Chronik das Pontifikat einer Frau, die als Johannes Anglicus um 850 für zweieinhalb Jahre das Amt des Papstes innegehabt hatte und später aus der Liste der Päpste entfernt wurde.

Seither rätselt die Welt über die Frage, ob dies die Wahrheit ist oder ob es sich um eine Legende handelt, die sich hartnäckig hielt. Hat es einst eine Päpstin gegeben? Und welche Folgen hat dies für die apostolische Sukzession und für die Frage, ob Frauen als Priesterinnen ordiniert werden sollen?

Das Fachbuch präsentiert neue Materialien und präsentiert eine verblüffende und konsistente Theorie.

M und präsentiert eine konsistente, schlüssige Theorie.


abc primetime: The Mystery of Pope Joan


Top Secret Mystery Files Pope Joan 2011


Arquivos Confidenciais - A Papisa Joana.

Video was removed from Youtube

Frequently asked Questions and answers

Question: Why do coins play such an important role in media coverage? Are they the only proof of the existence of Popess Joan?

Answer: The coins represent only a part of the argumentation, which is strongly based on historical source texts. In simplified media processing, however, coins are better suited, since a depiction of the coin is easier to understand than dating Latin texts, based on the first owners or the ecclesiastical rank titles of the author.


Question: What do the coins effectively prove?

Answer: The silver coins combine the side of the respective pope with the side of the reigning emperor of the Frankish Empire. They thus occupy a sequence of the popes:

  • Pope Leo IV with Emperor Lothair I. Historical documents document Leo IV only up to the year 853. Only in the 17th century is his pontificate fictitiously extended to 855.

  • Pope Benedict III with Emperor Lothair I. Because he resigned in the summer of 855, Benedict III could not have only become Pope in the autumn of 855. Then this coin variant should not exist at all.
    Benedict III had thus already become Pope earlier.

  • Pope Benedict III with the new Emperor Louis II, who succeeded him in 855. Corbie's document also proves that Benedict III was still Pope on 7 October 855. Thus Popess Joan cannot be the direct successor of Leo IV.

  • The combination coin of a Pope John with Emperor Louis II in the style of the 850s bears witness to an officially non-existent Pope. Historical source texts support this interpretation, since they report for the year 856 that a Pope John performed a sacral coronation of Louis II as emperor.

  • This Pope John must be John Anglicus (thus Popess Joan) since further sources testify the visit of the English local king Aethelwulf of Wessex in Rome to Pope John Anglicus. Aethelwulf left Rome in 856 and died in 858.

In reality, the argumentation is based on coins that can be combined with historical information and suggest with great probability that Pope Joan ruled after Benedict III (end of 855 or from 856 to 858 AD).

Question: In the media reports it can be partly read that the coins are supposed to come from the graves of the popes.

Answer: These media reports are false, the statement fictitious. Rather, the project arose from a search for papal graves in churches in Rome. The coins were not added to the study of the Popess until much later. The information on the coins comes from various numismatic specialist publications. Therefore, there can be no serious doubts about the authenticity of these coins, as they are considered genuine in specialist literature.

Question: The Popess is only supposed to have been documented since Martin von Troppau in 1277 and thus it should be proven that she is a legend. 

Answer: The earliest traces of an erased pontificate in the 805s can be found in documents that must have been made shortly before 871 AD. Also the oldest preserved copy of the Pope's biographies (Liber Pontificalis) dates long before Martin von Troppau and contains the story of a Pope, which can be related to the Popess with good arguments.
The coins date effectively from the 850's and are therefore to be regarded as simultaneous to the Popess. Thus, the legend theory is to be regarded as refutable.

Question: Is the Popess Joan now the first "German Pope" or the first "English Pope"? Both variants can be found in the media.

Answer: Both are correct to a certain extent, if one believes the traditions of the medieval chroniclers: Born in the surroundings of Mainz as daughter of English missionaries, she would be both the first "German Pope" and the first "English Pope".
However, in the 9th century there was still no Germany, but the Frankish Empire, which fell apart into a West and East Frankish Empire: the East Empire later became Germany.
Without doubt she is the first and so far only female pope and also the first pontiff with a double name: Johannes Anglicus (John the English). She obviously saw herself more as English than as a Franconian.
John Paul I (1978) was the next Pope with a double name...

Question: Do other scientists also hold the position that the Pope presumably existed as a real person?

Answer: Although some historians claim that today no serious historian believes in the female Pope's existence, the following statements by experts prove the opposite. There are indeed good arguments for the existence of the Popess.

Essay by Peter Stanford:

Quote: "...are many positive reasons for believing that the She-Pope was more than a made-up story. The evidence of some 500 medieval writers cannot but impress. Senior papal servants, writing in books dedicated to their masters, endorse Joan unambiguously. Academics and inquisitors accept her as fact."

Statement by Donna W. Cross:

Quote: "...She told ABC's Primetime Live that she believed that Pope Joan was a real person based on the material available, having found over 500 chronicle accounts of her existence. Mentions of Pope Joan can be found in a book by poet Giovanni Boccaccio and many other sources and images of a female pontiff can be seen in numerous artworks, including sculptures by Gian Lorenzo Bernini at the Basilica in St. Peter's Square."

Joan Morris in 1985:

"Evidence of historical existence of Pope John VIII, an English woman, has now been established. It has been shown obvious by the confusion in the texts of the lives of the popes in the Liber Pontificalis, around the time of Pope John VIII, later known als Pope Joan, is said to have pontificated. The total elimination of the life of Benedict III from important codex Parisinus 5140 is responsible for the account of the life of Pope Joan having been placed by many historians as coming after Leo IV instead of after Benedict III."

From: Joan Morris, Pope John VIII - an English Woman. Alias Pope Joan (1985) vrai publishers, London, page 145.

«Eine wohltuende Veränderung macht sich aber bemerkbar: Wenn in feministischem Schrifttum die Päpstin erwähnt wird, so – trotz allen Bekenntnissen zur Parteilichkeit für Frauen – in einer objektiven Form, jenseits von Verklärung und Verteufelung.»  [However, a beneficial change is noticeable: When the Popess is mentioned in feminist literature, then - despite all confessions to partiality for women - in an objective form, beyond transfiguration and demonisation] (Gössmann 1987, 160).

«...dass nämlich aus den frühen Quellen, den Chroniken vor dem 13. Jahrhundert, die Bemerkung über die Päpstin durch Manipulation an den Handschriften und Auslassung in den frühen Drucken beseitigt worden sei. Das wird durch die von mir in die diesbezügliche Forschung einbezogene Sekundärliteratur des späteren 17. Jahrhunderts bestätigt.» […that from the early sources, the chronicles before the 13th century, the remark about the Popess had been removed by manipulation in the manuscripts and omission in the early prints. This is confirmed by the secondary literature of the later 17th century.] (Gössmann 1987, 160).

Gössmann, Elisabeth. 1987. “Die Päpstin Johanna. Zur Vor- Und Nachreformatorischen Rezeption Ihrer Gestalt.” In Eva - Verführerin Oder Meisterwerk Gottes, edited by Dieter R. Bauer and Elisabeth Gössmann, 143–167. Stuttgart.

Question: What did the Popess look like? Are there any pictures or descriptions?

Answer: There are numerous illustrations of Popess Joan from the Middle Ages and modern times. But these were created long after her life and therefore no realistic illustrations. But this also applies to numerous other male popes, whose appearance is also unknown.

The unnamed pope (most likely Popess Joan) is described in the oldest copy of Liber Pontificalis in Paris:

«Erat enim aspectu pulcher, forma decorus, doctus in verbo, loquela humilis, actu preclarus, ieiuniisque de divino cultu intentus, pauoeribus largus, orphanum protector, et viduis fautor, populusque cuncti defensor.»

Thus she was handsome, well-mannered, learned in rhetoric, humble, illustrious and generous to the poor, protector of the orphans and widows and a defender of the people. Such a description is unusual for the lives of the Popes, they are normally only defined to be pius, learned, etc. but good looking is special.

The two actresses, who embodied the Popess so far, have been cast very well in my opinion: Liv Ullmann (1972 Pope Joan) and Johanna Wokalek (2009 Pope Joan / Die Päpstin) give an idea of what the Popess could have looked like. As a child of English parents she might have corresponded to the Anglo-Saxon appearance.

Ab November 2018: Ausführlicher Bericht und Interview auf Mysteries Magazin

Comparison of the timeline (official and alternative).

Historical documents and coins produce a clear series of severe contradictions (marked as red flags) in the official time line. The official papal timeline from 854 to 858 is a real mine field of problems.

If one accepts the real existence of Popess Joan as reality, the problems disappear. Suddenly the sources and evidence like coins make perfect sense.


The entry in the chronicle of Conrad Botho:

DCCC LVI: In dussem jare verleyt Keyser Lotarius dat Rike unde toch in eyn closter, unde war eny monick to Prome sunte Benedictus orden, unde syne son Lodewicus de ander in deme name de wart in syne stidde gewighet van dem Pawete Johannes, unde was de viff unde seventigeste van Augusto unde was an deme Rike eyn und twintich jar, unde Keyser Karle was syn elder Vader.

Conrad Botho: “Scriptores rerum Brunsvicensium” (1711) Vol. 3 p, 300 (Botho 1489, Vol 3, 299-300)

This chronicle undeniable testifies for the year 856 the sacral coronation of Louis II by a Pope Johannes. According to "official" chronology of the Vatican, there is no Pope Johannes in the 850s, and Benedict III allegedly held office (but Benedict III is not recorded at all to have performed such a coronation).


The chronicle called "Magdeburger Zenturien" tells us in addition that Johannes Anglicus had received Aethelwulf of Wessex in the year 856: 

Ab Erheluuolpho Anglorum rege tribu-

rum, ac munera alia acceptit.


Aethelwulf left Rome in Summer 856 and travelled to Western Francia for a marriage which took place in October 856. The King returned to England and died in 858 AD.  


Papal Numismatics


When the papacy became dependent on the Frankish emperors under Leo III, silver deniers were minted according to the model of the Franks: one side for the pope, the other for the respective emperor. Therefore, the coins can be roughly dated even without year dates.

Denier of Pope Leo III and emperor Charlemagne 

The coin is dated after the coronation as emperor in the year 800 AD

Avers: Monogram of Leo III: LEO P (P for PAPA Pope) and +SCS PETRVS

Reverse: Name of Charlemagne KAROLVS and the IMP (Imperator) monogram

Denier of Pope Leo IV (847- c.853) and emperor Lothair I


Avers: Monogram of Leo IV: LEO PA. Mark the minimal difference to Leo III to distinguish between two popes. + SCS PETRVS


Reverse: Monogram of Lothair I (emperor 817/823 to 855 AD): + HLOTARIVS

Berman also mentions and depicts a coin of Pope Benedict III combined with emperor Lothair I (Berman 1993): This coin series contradicts the official succession of the Popes. Lothar I abdicated in the summer of 855 and Benedict III was consecrated Pope only in the autumn of 855 (official chronology). The coin proves, that Benedict must have been Pope since late 855 or 854 AD. This opens a chronological gap of more than 2 years which can be filled with the pontificate of the female Pope...

Denier of Pope Benedict III (c. 853-late 855) and emperor Louis II (855-875)

Avers: the monogram of Benedict III BEND PA and as usual + SCS PETRVS

Reverse: Monogram and name of Louis II LVDOVICVS IMP

As Louis II inherited the crown from his father in summer 855, this coin type is firmly dated to 855 AD.

The coin series of Benedict III prove that he must have been Pope before 855 and that he was the direct successor of Pope Leo IV (and not Popess Joan as often claimed).

But there is plenty evidence that Benedict III died late 855 or early 856 and that he was followed by a Pope John (Johannes Anglicus, the female Pope).

Denier of a Pope John and emperor Louis II (855-875)

Avers: Monogram of Johannes in the center. Mark the S above and the O below IHNS-ligature (different to the later Pope John VIII! see below)

Inscription: + SCS PETRVS

Revers: ROMA Monogram and the name of the emperor: LVDOWICVS IMP

This coin type is testified in different stamp cuts and is considered as genuine in the technical literature. Since many numismatists do not believe in the real existence of the Popess, they are forced to attribute these coins to the later Pope John VIII - regardless of the style of the 850s and the differences in the monogram to the real monogram of John VIII.
In my book I have listed these coins as proof of the female Pope's real existence. An assignment supported by historical documents, which also prove Johannes Anglicus. The pontificate of Joan lasts from the end of 855/856 until spring 858 AD.

Denier of Pope Nicholas I (858-867) and emperor Louis II (855-875)

Avers: Monogram of Nicholas in the center and inscription + SCS PETRVS


Revers: ROMA Monogram and name of the emperor:  + LVDOWICVS IMP

Nicholas I followed after Pope Joan in spring 858. Mark the slight change of design that will finally lead to the totally different coin design under later John VIII.

Denier of Pope John VIII (872-882) and Charles the Bald (emperor from 875 AD onwards)

Thus, firmly dated

Avers: Monogram of Johannes in the center

Name of the Emperor around KAROLVS IMP

Mark the O above and the S below the ligature of IHNI

The reverse is totally different, depicting a bust of Saint Peter and SCS PETRVS


Berman, Allen G. 1991. Papal Numismatic. South Salem: Attic Books, Ltd.

Berman, Allen G. 1993. Papal Numismatic History. The Emancipation of the Papal State. second Ed. South Salem: Attic Books, Ltd.

Corpus Numorum Italicorum. Vol. XV - Roma, Parte I. 1934.

Muntoni, Francesco. 1972. Le Monete Dei Papi e Degli Stati Pontifici. [The Coins of the Popes and of the Papal States.]. Roma: P&P Santamaria.

Ruckser, David. Papal Coinage. To 1605. Ruckser/Papal Coinage.pdf.

Taschenbuchedition 2019

Neu erschienen und lieferbar:

Päpstin Johanna. Das vertuschte Pontifikat einer Frau.



Die Päpstin Johanna im Film

Das Pontifikat der Johanna nach 855 und nach Papst Benedikt III wird durch wenig beachtete historische Quellen gestützt:

Der Chronist Conrad Botho berichtet für das Jahr 856, dass ein Papst Johannes die sakrale Krönung von Kaiser Ludwig II vollzogen habe. Es kann sich nur um Johannes Anglicus handeln, da es sonst keinen Papst Johannes in dieser Zeit gibt. 

Die vermutete Krönung von Ludwig II durch die Päpstin ist auch einer der dramaturgischen Höhepunkte des Monumentalfilms "Pope Joan" / "Papst Johanna" von 1972:

Ludwig: «Nun darüber darf ich nicht beleidigt sein, nicht wahr? Wisst ihr, ich habe mich oft gefragt - wie jemand so jung … es wäre doch peinlich, wenn sich erweisen sollte, dass der Papst eine Frau ist»

Johanna: «Ja, und höchst verhängnisvoll für einen Monarchen, der gerade seine Krone von diesem Papst empfangen hat. Einen Kaiser der schon von allen Seiten bedroht wird und die Sicherheit von Gottes Hand für seinen Thron bedarf. Ja er wäre zugrunde gerichtet.»

Ludwig: «Ja, mancher würde sagen, dies ist die Hand des Teufels und ich hatte immer schon eine Schwäche für den Teufel.»

For any media inquiries, please contact:

Medienanfragen bitte via folgende Adresse:



  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Google+ Social Icon
  • Amazon Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • White Instagram Icon

© 2018-2019 by Michael E. Habicht.  Proudly created with

  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Amazon Social Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon