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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

Meet Joan: The Female Pope—Stephen Guerra of the History of the Papacy Podcast

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According to medieval accounts, a woman named Joan reigned as pope, 855-857 A.D., by disguising herself as a man. The story is widely thought to be fiction, but almost everyone took it as fact in the Middle Ages, up to the point that the Siena Cathedral featured a bust of Joan among other pontiffs.

Where did the story of Joan come from, what is the purpose of creating this legend, and what narrative function does it fulfill? Moreover, is it even possible that this story is true?

Joining us to dig into the incredibly messy history of the medieval papacy is Stephen Guerra, host of the History of the Papacy podcast. We find out whether a woman ever did wear the papal tiara.  
June 05, 2018
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to
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