Pornocracy (904-963) or the Rule of the Prostitutes/Rules of the Harlots or the more polite Saeculum obscurum (latin for the Dark Age). It is said to have began in 904 AD with the installation of Pope Sergius III. The Pope was completely under the control of Theodora, the beautiful wife of Roman consul Theophylactus, who used sex to wield power. Mixing the Church with Sex and politics is never a good idea. (Gregory the Great who ruled from 590-604 was also the first Pope to have been a monk but monasticism was not a requirement at this stage.)

Theodora's 15-year-old daughter Morazia became the concubine of Pope Sergius III. Their son later became Pope John XI – the only illegitimate son of a Pope that later became Pope himself.

The era of Pornocracy ended with Pope John XII (the grandson of Marozia) in 963. He was so immoral that the Basilica of Rome was said to be converted into a brothel under his rule.

The succession of popes during this time tells a rather sordid story.

  • Pope Sergius III (904–911), alleged lover of Marozia
  • Pope Anastasius III (911–913)
  • Pope Lando (913–914)
  • Pope John X (914–928), alleged lover of Theodora (the mother), allegedly killed by Marozia
  • Pope Leo VI (928–928)
  • Pope Stephen VII (928–931)
  • Pope John XI (931–935), son of Marozia, alleged son of Pope Sergius III
  • Pope Leo VII (936–939)
  • Pope Stephen VIII (939–942)
  • Pope Marinus II (942–946)
  • Pope Agapetus II (946–955)
  • Pope John XII (955–963), grandson of Marozia, by her son Alberic II of Spoleto.

Clearly this was the not the best of times for the church so it is no wonder that there would be calls for reformation.  8/20/11  8/20/11