An antipope (Latin: antipapa) is a person who, in opposition to the one who is generally seen as the legitimately elected Pope, makes a significantly accepted competing claim to be the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th century, antipopes were supported by a fairly significant faction of religious cardinals and secular kings and kingdoms. Persons who claim to be pope, but have few followers, such as the modern sedevacantist antipopes, are not classified with the historical antipopes.
At this point, as again in the mid-11th century, we come across elections in which problems of harmonising historical criteria and those of theology and canon law make it impossible to decide clearly which side possessed the legitimacy whose factual existence guarantees the unbroken lawful succession of the successors of Saint Peter. The uncertainty that in some cases results has made it advisable to abandon the assignation of successive numbers in the list of the popes.
Hippolytus of Rome (d. 235) is commonly considered to be the earliest antipope, as he headed a separate group within the Church in Rome against Pope Callixtus I. Hippolytus was reconciled to Callixtus's second successor, Pope Pontian, and both he and Pontian are honoured as saints by the Roman Catholic Church with a shared feast day on 13 August. Whether two or more persons have been confused in this account of Hippolytus and whether Hippolytus actually declared himself to be the Bishop of Rome, remains unclear, since no such claim by Hippolytus has been cited in the writings attributed to him.
Eusebius of Caesarea quotes from an unnamed earlier writer the story of Natalius, a 3rd-century priest who accepted the bishopric of a heretical group in Rome. Natalius soon repented and tearfully begged Pope Zephyrinus to receive him into communion.
Novatian (d. 258), another 3rd-century figure, certainly claimed the See of Rome in opposition to Pope Cornelius, and if Natalius and Hippolytus were excluded because of the uncertainties concerning them, Novatian could then be said to be the first antipope.
The period in which antipopes were most numerous was during the struggles between the popes and the Holy Roman Emperors of the 11th and 12th centuries. The emperors frequently imposed their own nominees to further their own causes. The popes, likewise, sometimes sponsored rival imperial claimants (antikings) in Germany to overcome a particular emperor.
The Western Schism— which began in 1378, when the French cardinals, claiming that the election of Pope Urban VI was invalid, elected Clement VII as Pope— led to two, and eventually three, rival lines of claimants to the papacy: the Roman line, the Avignon line (Clement VII took up residence in Avignon, France), and the Pisan line. The Pisan line was named after the town of Pisa, Italy, where the (Pisan) council had elected Alexander V as a third claimant. To end the schism, in May 1415, the Council of Constance deposed John XXIII of the Pisan line. Pope Gregory XII of the Roman line resigned in July 1415. In 1417, the Council also formally deposed Benedict XIII of Avignon, but he refused to resign. Afterwards, Pope Martin V was elected and was accepted everywhere except in the small and rapidly diminishing area that remained faithful to Benedict XIII. The scandal of the Western Schism created anti-papal sentiment, and fed into the Protestant Reformation at the turn of the 16th century.
An asterisk marks those who have been taken into account in the conventional numbering of later Popes who took the same name. For the additional confusion regarding Popes named John, see Pope John (numbering). The list of popes and antipopes in the Annuario Pontificio does not include Natalius nor Antipope Clement VIII. It may be that Clement's following was considered insignificant.
Sylvester III, sometimes listed as an antipope, appears in the Holy See's Annuario Pontificio as a pope: because of obscurities about mid-11th-century canon law and the historical facts, it expresses no judgement on his legitimacy. The Catholic Encyclopedia places him in its List of Popes, but with the annotation: "Considered by some to be an antipope". Some other sources do classify him as an antipope.
|Pontificate||Common English name||Regnal (Latin) name||Personal name||Place of birth||Age at Election / Death or Resigned||# years as Antipope||Notes||In opposition to|
|c. 200||Natalius||Natalius||Later reconciled (see above)||Zephyrinus|
|217–235||Saint Hippolytus||Hippolytus||Later reconciled with Pope Pontian (see above)||Callixtus I|
|251–258||Novatian||Novatianus||Founder of Novatianism||Cornelius|
|355–365||Felix II*||Felix secundus||Installed by Roman Emperor Constantius II||Liberius|
|418–419||Eulalius||Papa Eulalius||Boniface I|
|Laurentius||Papa Laurentius||Supported by Byzantine emperor Anastasius I||Symmachus|
|530||Dioscorus||Papa Dioscurus||Boniface II|
|687||Theodore||Papa Theodorus||Sergius I|
|687||Paschal (I)||Papa Paschalis|
|767–768||Constantine II||Papa Constantinus secundus||Stephen III|
|768||Philip||Papa Philippus||Installed by envoy of Lombard King Desiderius|
|844||John VIII||Papa Joannes octavus||Elected by acclamation||Sergius II|
|855||Anastasius III Bibliothecarius||Papa Anastasius tertius||Benedict III|
|903–904||Christopher||Papa Christophorus||Between Leo V and Sergius III|
|974||Boniface VII||Papa Bonifacius septimus||Between Benedict VI and Benedict VII|
|984–985||Between John XIV and John XV|
|997–998||John XVI*||Papa Joannes sextus decimus||John Filagatto||Supported by Byzantine emperor Basil II||Gregory V|
|1012||Gregory VI||Papa Gregorius sextus||Benedict VIII|
|1058–1059||Benedict X*||Papa Benedictus decimus||John Mincius||Supported by the Counts of Tusculum||Nicholas II|
|1061–1064||Honorius II||Papa Honorius secundus||Pietro Cadalus||Supported by Agnes, regent of the Holy Roman Empire||Alexander II|
|1080, 1084–1100||Clement III||Papa Clemens tertius||Guibert of Ravenna||Supported by Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor||Gregory VII|
|1100–1101||Theodoric||Papa Theodoricus||Successor to Clement III||Paschal II|
|1101||Adalbert or Albert||Papa Adalbertus||Successor to Theodoric|
|1105–1111||Sylvester IV||Papa Sylvester quartus||Maginulf||Supported by Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor|
|1118–1121||Gregory VIII||Papa Gregorius octavus||Maurice Burdanus||Gelasius II|
|1124||Celestine II||Papa Cœlestinus secundus||Thebaldus Buccapecus||Honorius II|
|1130–1138||Anacletus II||Papa Anacletus secundus||Pietro Pierleoni||Innocent II|
|1138||Victor IV||Papa Victor quartus||Gregorio Conti||Successor to Anacletus II|
|1159–1164||Victor IV||Papa Victor quartus||Ottavio di Montecelio||Supported by Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor||Alexander III|
|1164–1168||Paschal III||Papa Paschalis tertius||Guido di Crema|
|1168–1178||Callixtus III||Papa Callixtus tertius||Giovanni of Struma|
|1179–1180||Innocent III||Papa Innocentius tertius||Lanzo of Sezza|
|1328–1330||Nicholas V||Papa Nicolaus quintus||Pietro Rainalducci||Supported by Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor||John XXII|
|1378–1394||Clement VII||Papa Clemens septimus||Robert of Geneva||Geneva||36/52||15 y, 11 m, 27 d||Avignon||Urban VI|
|1394–1423||Benedict XIII||Papa Benedictus tertius decimus||Pedro de Luna||Illueca, Aragon||66/95||28 y, 7 m, 25 d||Avignon|
|1409–1410||Alexander V*||Papa Alexander quintus||Pietro Philarghi||Pisa||Gregory XII|
|1410–1415||John XXIII||Papa Joannes vicesimus tertius||Baldassare Cossa||Pisa|
|1423–1429||Clement VIII||Papa Clemens octavus||Gil Sánchez Muñoz||Avignon||Martin V|
|1424–1429||Benedict XIV||Papa Benedictus quartus decimus||Bernard Garnier|
|1430–1437||Benedict XIV||Papa Benedictus quartus decimus||Jean Carrier|
|1439–1449||Felix V||Papa Fœlix quintus||Duke Amadeus VIII of Savoy||Chambéry, Savoy||56/65 (†67)||9 y, 5 m, 2 d||Elected by the Council of Basel||Eugene IV|
Many antipopes created cardinals, known as quasi-cardinals, and a few created cardinal-nephews, known as quasi-cardinal-nephews.
|Giacomo Alberti||Antipope Nicholas V||15 May 1328||Excommunicated by Pope John XXII.|
|Amedeo Saluzzo||Antipope Clement VII||23 December 1383||Abandoned Avignon Pope Benedict XIII after having been deposed by him on 21 October 1408; participated in the Council of Pisa, the election of Pope Alexander V (now regarded as an antipope), the Council of Constance, and the conclave of Pope Martin V.|
|Tommaso Brancaccio||Antipope John XXIII||6 June 1411||Attended the Council of Constance, and the conclave of Pope Martin V.|
|Gil Sánchez Muñoz||Antipope Clement VIII||26 July 1429||Submitted to Pope Martin V after his uncle abdicated.|
In modern times various people claim to be pope and, though they do not fit the technical definition of "antipope", are sometimes referred to as such. They are usually leaders of sedevacantist groups who view the See of Rome as vacant and elect someone to fill it. They are sometimes referred to as conclavists because of their claim, on the basis of an election by a "conclave" of perhaps half a dozen laypeople, as in the case of David Bawden ("Pope Michael I"), to have rendered the see no longer vacant. A significant number of these have taken the name "Peter II", owing to its special significance. From the point of view the Roman Catholic Church, they are schismatics, and as such are automatically excommunicated.
The Palmarian Catholic Church regards Pope Paul VI, whom they revere as a martyr, and his predecessors as true popes, but hold, on the grounds of claimed apparitions, that the Pope of Rome is excommunicated and that the position of the Holy See has, since 1978, been transferred to the See of El Palmar de Troya.
The following were elected by allegedly faithful Catholics, none of whom was a cardinal:
Antipopes have appeared as fictional characters. These may be either in historical fiction, as fictional portraits of well-known historical antipopes or as purely imaginary antipopes.
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