What about the story of a Pope John, who was in fact a woman named Joan?
Modern researchers have been increasingly investigating this question for around forty years.
Worth mentioning are the two Catholic theologians Joan Morris and Elisabeth Gössmann.
Their works can be found in the list of references.
Recently, the researchers Michael E. Habicht with Marguerite Spycher as well as Pietro Ratto have published revealing writings.
Their research has been facilitated because important old sources have become accessible in digital form.
No matter whether one regards the Popeess as a real figure of history or as a legend, some information can be found in the chroniclers and in source texts. These make it possible to reconstruct the biography in broad outlines.
Those who believe that the figure of Joan is a legend should only use the information at Martin von Troppau
In order to complete the figure, sources are also used here which assume the real existence of a Popess and regard the description of the unnamed Pope in Liber Pontificalis as part of the biography of Joan.
* Note to the picture:
Statue of a woman in pope's robe and with key. Outside front of St. Peter's.
Officially either a pope from the early Middle Ages or the personification of the church is to be represented.
The years 850 to 880 are relevant in the question of a possible woman on the Pope's throne.
If there was Pope Johanna, she must have exercised her office during this period
And it is precisely during this period that a whole series of questions arise, because there are ambiguities that may have been deliberately created to conceal facts.
Cross dressing refers to the wearing of clothing and jewellery of the opposite sex and the associated behaviour.
This is not the representation in the theatre, but in real life.
There is a whole range of motifs for such a change of role.
Relatively often women change into men's clothes when times are uncertain or in war.
In the case of Johannes Anglicus alias Popess Joan, this phenomenon must also be investigated. Only the change from female to male appearance is of interest here.