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John X of Rome

John X of Rome was the Pope of the Church of Rome from 914 to 928 during a low era in the Roman papacy. He led a successful effort to drive the Saracens from Southern Italy. He attempted to establish political order among the factions of Western Europe but these efforts were ended by the Roman Theophylact clan that was dominated by Marozia, the daughter of Theophylactus and Theodora.


John was born in Tossignano in Romagna at an unknown date. He entered the clergy and became a deacon, ordained by Bishop Peter of Bologna. In 905, he was elected Archbishop of Ravenna and established himself as an ecclesiastical administrator. After the death, in 914, of Pope Lando, or Landus, he was invited by the dominant Theophylactus faction of Roman nobles, probably led by Theodora, to come to Rome and be elected pope.

Upon ascending the papal throne John found the need to end the ravages by the Saracens on southern Italy the most important action that he needed to pursue. Following advice of the Capuan prince Atenulf, John organized a Christian league that coordinated the war effort against the Saracens. In 915, Pope John led the combined forces of King Berenger of northern Italy and of the many princes of southern Italy, supported by a Greek fleet, in driving the Saracens against the Garigliano River, where they were defeated in August 916 after the Saracens attempted to break a three month blockade. Following the defeat of the Saracens, John turned to the person of King Berenger and, after his march to Rome amidst the populace and notables of Rome, anointed and crown Berenger emperor before the shrine of St. Peter.

But, the cohesion that Pope John brought to the factions of Italy was not to last. Soon the factions that included the marquis of Ivrea Adalbert, Berenger's own son-in-law, Odelricus, the archbishop of Milan Lambert, and others began to conspire against Berenger. At the end of 921, King Rudolf II of Transjurane Burgundy was summoned by the dissidents to the throne of Italy and factional warfare began anew. In March 924, Berenger fell to an assassin's knife. By 926, Rudolf had been replaced by the king of Provence Hugh in a moved that may have been encourages by Pope John.

In ecclesiastical matters Pope John X tried to unite the Slavs of Dalmatia more closely to Rome. Finding fault with the decisions of Popes Adrian II and John VIII that permitted Ss. Cyril and Methodius to use the Slavonic language in the liturgical services, John X objected to it use and had his views adopted by synod at Spalatro in 926. John also carried on a restoration of the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

In the midst of the intrigues and power struggles, dominated by the Theophylactus clan, that enveloped the nobility, the position and influence of Pope John, with his alliance with Hugh of Provence, was a challenge to Marozia, the daughter of Theophylactus and Theodora, and her second husband Guy the Margrave of Tuscany who opposed John. In 928, this opposition turned to hostilities, when a group of Guy's soldiers caught the Prefect of Rome Peter, the brother of John, and John unaware at the Lateran palace. They murdered Peter and threw Pope John into a dungeon. How long John lingered in prison and how he died is unknown although Frodoard of Rheims has him living in prison until 929, where he died.

Pope John X was buried in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the first pope to be buried within the walls of Rome.

Succession box:
John X of Rome
Preceded by:
Archbishop of Ravenna
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Pope of Rome
Succeeded by:
Leo VI
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