While they posed as pillars of piety, some medieval popes were depraved criminals.
Sergius III (reigned 904-911) allegedly had two papal rivals strangled in prison. His illegitimate son later became pope.
John XII (955-964) openly had mistresses, gave them church treasure, castrated one opponent, blinded another, and donned armor to lead the papal army.
Benedict V (May 964-June 964) reportedly dishonored a girl and looted Vatican treasure.
Boniface VII (974-985) apparently murdered a rival pope, was driven from Rome stealing Vatican treasure as he left then returned to murder a second rival and regain the papacy. Later, he was branded an antipope.
Benedict IX (1032-1048) sold the papacy to a successor for 1,500 pounds of gold, and later used troops to seize power again.
Boniface VIII (1294-1303) sent troops to kill 6,000 residents of Palestrina and raze the city. He decreed that salvation requires "that every human creature be subject to the Roman pontiff".
Clement VI (1342-1352) cavorted with mistresses on ermine bedspreads.
Urban VI (1378-1389) tortured and murdered cardinals who opposed him.
Clement VII (1378-1394) was a rival pope at Avignon, France. A year before his papacy, he ordered troops to massacre 4,000 residents of Cesena.
A previous John XXIII (not the 1950s reformer) was removed by a council in 1414, and Edward Gibbon sardonically recorded in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: "The most serious charges were suppressed: the Vicar of Christ was accused only of piracy, murder, rape, sodomy and incest."
Innocent VIII (1484-1492) flaunted his illegitimate children and gave them church riches. He launched the infamous witch hunts.
But the grandmaster of papal barbarity was Rodrigo Borgia, who became Alexander VI.