Although not much is known about Leo VIII, he seems to have been an amiable sock puppet who kept bouncing in and out of luck. Leo was a Lateran official of the papal court and participated at the synod in 963 which deposed John XII for immoral behaviour (and for making friends with Otto I's enemies). The layman was said to possess an exemplary character, and so he was elected Pope and rushed through all the lower orders of the Church in one day, not quite according to protocol.

The people of Rome were not happy about this. They wanted John back, and as soon as Otto had sent some of his forces up north, they revolted. The emperor quenched the rebellion and took 100 hostages from Roman families to keep people calm. Leo persuaded him to release them, with the result that the revolt started again as soon as Otto left Rome. The former Pope returned to power.

Leo fled to the court of Otto, and the emperor and his army reinstated him three months later. The former pope was deposed and excommunicated, and all those he had ordained made to confess that his orders were void.

Upon John's death, the Romans again wanted someone else than Leo, and elected Benedict V. Otto and his army entered Rome once again, ready to reinstate his favourite. Leo summoned Benedict before a council in the Lateran Basilica and reduced him to deacon. Benedict seems to have agreed to this deposition, in which case Leo may be seen as more of a true pope for the rest of his reign, as opposed to an antipope.

Leo died in 965.

<John XII | Pope | John XIII>

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