John Julius Norwich - The Popes

Episodes

EpisodeRepeatedComments
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The scandalous Pope Joan - the myth and reality of the only female Pope are explored.

Well known for his histories of Norman Sicily, Venice, the Byzantine Empire and the Mediterranean, John Julius Norwich has now turned his attention to the oldest continuing institution in the world, tracing the papal line down the centuries from St Peter himself - traditionally (though by no means historically) the first pope - to the present day. Of the 280-odd holders of the supreme office, some have unquestionably been saints; others have wallowed in unspeakable iniquity.

John Julius Norwich begins reading The Popes today in suitably sensational fashion, with a 9th century scandal, believed for several centuries and doubted for as many again. The pope reputed to have given birth on a Roman street, who inspired a bizarre and unlikely ritual which was inflicted on future pontiffs to ensure their gender was male... meet Pope Joan.

Producer: David Roper

A Heavy Entertainment production for BBC Radio 4.

0220110322 (BBC7)
20160309 (BBC7)
20160308 (BBC7)

Nicholas Breakspear was the only English pope - elected into tumultuous 12th-century Rome.

Well known for his histories of Norman Sicily, Venice, the Byzantine Empire and the Mediterranean, John Julius Norwich has now turned his attention to the oldest continuing institution in the world, tracing the papal line down the centuries from St Peter himself - traditionally (though by no means historically) the first pope - to the present day.

Of the 280-odd holders of the supreme office, some have unquestionably been saints; others have wallowed in unspeakable iniquity.

John Julius Norwich continues his history of the papacy today with a period of immense political turmoil. In 1152 Frederick Barbarossa became King of the Romans - determined to take his place as successor to the great Charlemagne. At the same time the Norman King William of Sicily harboured expansionist ambitions and in Rome the threat of civil war simmered. In the middle stood the only English pope in the Papacy's history: Nicholas Breakspear, Hadrian IV.

Producer: David Roper

A Heavy Entertainment production for BBC Radio 4.

0320110323 (BBC7)
20160310 (BBC7)
20160309 (BBC7)

Rodrigo Borgia bribed his way to the papacy, fathering at least six children on the way.

Well known for his histories of Norman Sicily, Venice, the Byzantine Empire and the Mediterranean, John Julius Norwich has now turned his attention to the oldest continuing institution in the world, tracing the papal line down the centuries from St Peter himself - traditionally (though by no means historically) the first pope - to the present day. Of the 280-odd holders of the supreme office, some have unquestionably been saints; others have wallowed in unspeakable iniquity.

Irresistible to women, the father of at least six children before he became pope, Rodrigo Borgia became a byword for deviousness and corruption. Bribes helped him become pope and his notorious son Cesare helped him run the Vatican. As described by John Julius Norwich in today's episode of The Popes the Papacy of 1492 was a very different world.

Producer: David Roper

A Heavy Entertainment production for BBC Radio 4.

0420110324 (BBC7)
20160311 (BBC7)
20160310 (BBC7)

Well known for his histories of Norman Sicily, Venice, the Byzantine Empire and the Mediterranean, John Julius Norwich has now turned his attention to the oldest continuing institution in the world, tracing the papal line down the centuries from St Peter himself - traditionally (though by no means historically) the first pope - to the present day.

Of the 280-odd holders of the supreme office, some have unquestionably been saints; others have wallowed in unspeakable iniquity.

Nepotistic, vain, pompous and idle - Pius VI was not an ideal choice as pope at any time and certainly not during the revolutionary tumult of the late eighteenth century. In today's episode of The Popes, John Julius Norwich explores one of the most dangerous times for the authority of the Vatican.

Producer: David Roper

A Heavy Entertainment production for BBC Radio 4.

Genial, laid-back Pius VI was not an ideal pope at the time of the French Revolution.

Well known for his histories of Norman Sicily, Venice, the Byzantine Empire and the Mediterranean, John Julius Norwich has now turned his attention to the oldest continuing institution in the world, tracing the papal line down the centuries from St Peter himself - traditionally (though by no means historically) the first pope - to the present day.

Of the 280-odd holders of the supreme office, some have unquestionably been saints; others have wallowed in unspeakable iniquity.

Nepotistic, vain, pompous and idle - Pius VI was not an ideal choice as pope at any time and certainly not during the revolutionary tumult of the late eighteenth century. In today's episode of The Popes, John Julius Norwich explores one of the most dangerous times for the authority of the Vatican.

Producer: David Roper

A Heavy Entertainment production for BBC Radio 4.

0520110325 (BBC7)
20160312 (BBC7)
20160311 (BBC7)

John XXIII was expected to be a caretaker pope but his pontificate shook the world.

Well known for his histories of Norman Sicily, Venice, the Byzantine Empire and the Mediterranean, John Julius Norwich has now turned his attention to the oldest continuing institution in the world, tracing the papal line down the centuries from St Peter himself - traditionally (though by no means historically) the first pope - to the present day. Of the 280-odd holders of the supreme office, some have unquestionably been saints; others have wallowed in unspeakable iniquity.

In the final episode of The Popes, John Julius Norwich concludes with the election of the people's pope John XXIII a welcome antidote to Pius XII. Expected to be nothing more than a brief, caretaker pope, John turned out to be anything but. Dragging the Church into the twentieth century, he shook the world.

Producer: David Roper

A Heavy Entertainment production for BBC Radio 4.