25. The Pope Who Died While Getting Loved Up by a Male Page
Paul II (1417 – 1471) was Holy Father from 1464 until his death in 1471. His papacy was marked by repression, autocratic rule over the College of Cardinals, and few accomplishments. Because of that and his devotion to fluff such as festivities and games, Church scholars and historians view him as one of the worst Renaissance popes.
However, Paul II is more remembered for the scandalous manner of his death, than for whatever he achieved or failed to achieve in life. This pope met his maker in the midst of getting sodomized by a male page.
Pietro Barbo was born into a wealthy family in Venice. Like many Venetians of his class, it was anticipated that he would pursue a career in business. However, those plans changed when his uncle was elected as Pope Eugenius IV in 1431, and Pietro switched from a merchant career to a spiritual one. In quick succession, His pope uncle made Pietro Barbo an archdeacon, then a bishop, and in 1440, the pope made his 23-year-old nephew a cardinal.
He continued his ascent through the Church hierarchy after his uncle’s death. In 1464, he got himself elected pope by promising reformers in the College of Cardinals that he would implement an 18-point reform program. He took the regnal name Paul II, and no sooner did he get elected than he reneged on his promises, and declared that the listed reforms were only advisory, not binding. He then drew up an alternate reform program and forced the Cardinals to sign it under the threat of ex-communication.
An intellectual lightweight, Pope Paul II was mentally incapable of grasping the deep issues of the day. So he devoted his energies to games and festivities. Focusing his interests on the ceremonials and outward trappings of his position, he transformed the papal court into one whose splendor rivaled that of Europe’s monarchs. Insecure and threatened by those who enjoyed high brow pursuits beyond his ken, he disliked the Classics, and prohibited the teaching of pagan writers to children. Thin-skinned, he had critics of his fluff papacy imprisoned and tortured.
This pope really enjoyed dressing up in elaborate vestments. While there had been quite a few homosexual or bisexual popes before Paul II and after, his sartorial choices and behavior earned him a reputation for effeminacy that damaged his prestige. Death finally claimed him in 1471, reportedly while he was being buggered by a young male page.
Silent Film Era star Roscoe Conkling Arbuckle (1887 – 1933), better known as Fatty Arbuckle, was a comedian, director, screenwriter, and early Hollywood superstar. A movie giant of his era, Fatty Arbuckle saw his career crash and burn in spectacular fashion, because of a scandalous death.
Weighing about 300 pounds, Fatty Arbuckle incorporated his heft into his comedy, moving gracefully, tumbling, throwing pies, and being an all-around lovable and jolly fat guy. In addition to acting, Arbuckle was a Hollywood mover and shaker. He mentored Charlie Chaplain, with whom he formed a close personal friendship, and discovered and launched the careers of future stars such as Buster Keaton and Bob Hope. Then came the scandal that wrecked his public image beyond repair.
In September of 1921, Fatty Arbuckle and some friends rented adjacent luxury suites in a San Francisco hotel, and threw a wild party in which sex and booze featured prominently. Several women were invited, and at some point during the revelry, an aspiring actress, Virginia Rappe, was found seriously ill in one of the suites. The hotel’s doctor examined her, concluded she was just super drunk and gave her morphine to calm her.
Two days later, Rappe was rushed to a hospital. There, a friend claimed that Fatty Arbuckle had raped Rappe at the party. The next day, Rappe died of peritonitis, caused by a ruptured bladder. Medical examinations found no evidence of rape. That did not stop newspapers from having a field day, or keep them from printing increasingly salacious stories. Some alleged that Fatty Arbuckle had killed Virginia Rappe with his weight while raping her. Other stories claimed that Arbuckle had penetrated Rappe with a piece of ice. That eventually grew into accusations that he had ruptured her insides by raping her with a bottle of Coca-Cola or champagne.
Police investigators went with the theory that the heavy impact of the overweight Fatty Arbuckle atop Virginia Rappe during sex had caused her bladder to rupture. Arbuckle denied any wrongdoing, but he was arrested and charged with essentially having raped Rappe to death. It was a major media event – the OJ Simpson criminal scandal of the day.
Arbuckle was regarded by those who knew him as good-natured and shy with women – “the most chaste man in pictures“, as some put it. Charlie Chaplain, for example, “knew Roscoe as a genial and easy-going man, who would not harm a fly“. However, newspapers went with a far different image, depicting him as a gross pervert, who routinely used his massive bulk to overpower and have his way with innocent girls.
The prosecution’s case against Fatty Arbuckle fizzled when it emerged that San Francisco’s District Attorney, an ambitious man with plans to run for California governor, had pressured witnesses into lying. The defense also obtained a letter from the state’s star witness, Virginia Rappe’s friend who had had first leveled accusations of rape, admitting that she had planned to extort money from Arbuckle.
In the trial, the state produced little credible evidence. Medical experts demonstrated that Rappe’s bladder had been ruptured by an internal inflammation, not by an outside force. The jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of acquittal, and a mistrial was declared. A second trial again ended in a 10-2 deadlock in favor of a not guilty verdict. A third trial was launched, and at its conclusion, the jury took just six minutes to return a unanimous verdict of not guilty. Arbuckle was thus exonerated. However, his reputation and standing never recovered, and his career was effectively destroyed.
18. History’s Most Degenerate Pope Died While Strenuously Loving Another Man’s Wife
More than a millennium before Jude Law played a scandalous pope in TV’s The Young Pope, the actual youngest Pope ever, John XII (937 – 964), presided over an even more scandalous real-life papacy. History’s real Young Pope was elevated to the Holy See in 955 at age seventeen or eighteen.
In what should have surprised no one, making a callow teenager Holy Father was not a good idea. John XII’s years as pope were as farcical and venal as one could expect from a person thrust into a position of power and influence for which he was clearly unprepared and unqualified. The young pope was violent, vicious, dangerous, and a degenerate fiend to boot. Somewhat aptly, he died while loving up another man’s wife.
Pope John XII’s tenth-century Rome was a semi-deserted ghost town. The city’s population of about 20,000 to 30,000 was a huge decline from its Roman Empire peak of about a million to a million and a half inhabitants. It was still encircled by the remnants of the Aurelian Walls, which had been built in the 270s AD to secure a city housing many more people than it did in John XII’s days. Within that vastness, the relatively few tenth-century Romans were like a few peas rattling inside a huge pot.
Most inhabitants were concentrated along the Tiber, because the aqueducts that had supplied the city in its heyday had been cut. Thus, the only sources of water were wells or the river. All other parts of the city, especially Rome’s iconic seven hills, were green areas occupied by farmers. The famous Forum Romanum, where the giants of Roman history had once rubbed shoulders, was now called Campo Vaccino (“Cow’s Field”). The Capitoline Hill, which had once housed the grand temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, was now Monte Caprino (“Goats Mount”).
In Pope John XII’s Rome, the grand monuments of yesteryear had already been cannibalized for marble, columns, and bricks. Most of the city’s statues had been burned to transform their marble into lime. The destruction of Classical Rome was done not by marauding barbarians, but by the Romans themselves. Most inhabitants lived in ramshackle houses or huts, while the richer sorts lived in older Roman buildings, fortified and repurposed into strongholds.
The city and the surrounding region were the heart of the Papal States – a swath of territory in central Italy ruled directly by the popes. Interestingly, the Papal States came into being as a result of a huge swindle. Back in the eighth century, some monks forged a document recording a generous gift from Emperor Constantine I, transferring authority over Rome and the entire Western Roman Empire to Pope Sylvester I. Such shenanigans were par for the course during a period of astonishing papal corruption and degeneracy, that came to be known as the “nadir of the papacy”.
The office of pope in Dark Ages Rome was nothing like what it would become in later years, or what it is today. Nowadays, the papacy is a prestigious institute, and popes are highly respected figures. In the days of John XII, however, popes were more like Rodney Dangerfield, and got no respect. Few of them did much that warranted respect: those popes were more often than not corrupt, venal, and violent, with the occasional fiend thrown into the mix.
Italy and Rome back then were in the throes of anarchy, rent by fiercely competing aristocratic families, warring with each other for dominance. The papacy was one of the most sought-after prizes, and the rivals fought bitterly to seize the Holy See and use its spiritual, economic, and military resources in their quarrels. For them, the office of pope was just another piece and prize in their Medieval Italian version of Game of Thrones.
14. A Pope Born From a Duke Loving Up His Stepsister
It was perhaps apt that John XII became history’s most scandalous pope, considering that scandal had attended him while he was still in the womb. Born Octavianus in 937, he was the product of an incestuous relationship between Rome’s most powerful figure, Alberic II, Duke of Spoleto, a self-styled “Prince of Rome”, who was fond of loving up his stepsister.
In 954, not long before his death, Alberic made Rome’s aristocrats swear an oath to appoint his son pope the next time the position became vacant. The promise was kept, and when Pope Agapetus II died in 955, Octavianus was duly elected to succeed him. He chose John XII as his regnal name.
13. The Pope Who Liked Toasting the Devil, And Always Had Physical Loving
The teenaged Pope John XII was wholly uninterested in his spiritual duties and papal obligations. The only person who might have checked him, his father, Duke Alberic, had died. So this real-life Young Pope suddenly found himself in a position of great power, with access to great wealth and vast resources, without any adult guidance or supervision. He reacted like many teenagers would in similar circumstances, by diving headfirst into a life of depravity and the pursuit of pleasure.
John XII was particularly devoted to hunting, gambling, wine, and women – the young man always had the act of loving on his mind. He also had a habit, highly peculiar for a pope, of toasting the devil and invoking pagan gods while playing dice games. As one historian put it, his pontificate: “became infamous for the alleged depravity and worldliness with which he conducted it“. Among other things, he started selling church offices and titles to help meet the mounting costs of his lavish spending. On at least one occasion, he ordained a 10-year-old as a bishop.
12. Love-Crazed Pope Turns the Papal Palace Into a Brothel
Another of Pope John XII’s quirks was his refusal to make the sign of the cross – seemingly a basic part of his job description. He had so little respect for the dignity of church offices, that he once ordained a deacon in a stable. This Holy Father was also a violent psychopath, who reportedly castrated a deacon before killing him. When his own confessor angered him, the pope blinded him, before killing him.
As to licentiousness, contemporaries described him as having turned the papal palace into a brothel. It was not just the calumny of political opponents, but a charge for which there is historical support. There is a near-unanimous consensus by historians of the period that John XII was a dissolute pope with carnal loving constantly on his mind. He had many women in his palace, which became notorious for its orgies and drunken parties.
11. Defiling Holy Sites With All Types of Physical Loving
Pope John XII got a particular kick out of defiling holy sites by loving up others in them. He was in the habit of carnally loving up both women and men in his papal palace, and if visitors refused his advances, he just went ahead and raped them. His lust was seemingly insatiable, and he reportedly was into loving up one of his deceased father’s mistresses, his own niece, and his two younger sisters as well.
The young pope’s depravity did not preclude him from being a shrewd political operator. Indeed, he needed to be, in order to protect himself from the many enemies who cropped up in reaction to his misconduct and manifest unfitness for office. Aware that his fate would be unenviable if he fell from power, and probably wished to keep the party going, the Young Pope demonstrated that he could intrigue with the best of them. His enemies sought the help of King Berengar II of Italy, so the pope sent emissaries to King Otto I of Germany, with promises to make him emperor if he came to the Holy Father’s aid.
10. “Passed His Whole Life in Vanity and Adultery“
King Otto I of Germany invaded Italy in 961, and forced King Berengar II of Italy to back off the pope. The German king then marched into Rome, and entered it in 962. There, he was welcomed by Pope John XII, who crowned his rescuer as Holy Roman Emperor – the first in the west for nearly half a century. However, it did not take long before the young pope began chafing at the recently crowned emperor’s growing power and influence. He especially hated it when Otto started giving him pointed advice about how he expected the Holy Father to behave.
Just before marching out of Rome to deal with Berengar, Otto informed carnal loving crazed John XII, who by then had “passed his whole life in vanity and adultery“, that he needed to straighten up, and start acting like a pope. That did not sit well with John, who had invited Otto into Italy to save him from his enemies, not to tell him how to live his life. So the Holy Father began intriguing against Otto. Within months of crowning him Holy Roman Emperor, John XII was corresponding with Otto’s enemies, seeking to form a league against the emperor.
9. Deposition and Restoration of a Maniac Pope Obsessed With Carnal Loving
The new Holy Roman Emperor got wind of Pope John XII’s ingratitude, so he turned his armies around, and marched back to Rome. The flesh-loving maniac pope fled the city, taking the papal treasury with him. So Otto summoned a synod, which deposed the fugitive Holy Father in 963, and installed a puppet pope in his place: Leo VIII.
However, when Otto left Rome the following year, John XII returned to Rome with an army of mercenaries. He captured the city in February of 964, and Leo VIII was forced to flee and seek safety with Emperor Otto. John XII then summoned a synod of his own, which pronounced that his deposition had been illegal, and that he was still pope. The restored pope then proceeded to murder and mutilate as many of his enemies as he could lay his hands on.
8. Aptly, the Flesh Loving Pope Died While Loving Up Somebody’s Wife
When Emperor Otto I heard that John XII had been restored as pope, he prepared to return to Rome and finish the degenerate Holy Father for good. However, fate beat him to the punch. After a tumultuous and riotous nine years on the papal throne, this dissolute pope died as he had lived, doing what he liked most: he met his Maker while engaged in the act of carnally loving another man’s wife.
There are two accounts of John XII’s demise. One account has him dying after suffering a massive stroke while loving up his partner. Another account has him dying in the midst of an adulterous encounter, when the woman’s cuckolded husband burst in on the couple loving up each other, and killed the pope by throwing him out of a high story window.
Attila the Hun (406 – 453) ruled a multi-tribal empire dominated by the Huns, that spanned Eastern and Central Europe. During his reign, 434- 453, he terrified the civilized world, and earned the moniker “The Scourge of God“.
He invaded Persia, terrorized the Eastern and Western Roman Empires, and plundered the Balkans. He also extorted vast sums of gold from Constantinople, invaded Gaul and was beaten back, recoiled, then struck into Italy the following year, before drink and carnal loving claimed his life on his wedding night.
Attila was born in the Hungarian Steppe in 406 into the Hun royal family. He inherited the crown jointly with his brother Bleda in 434. The siblings were challenged early on, but crushed the opposition. When their surviving enemies fled to the Roman Empire, the brothers invaded and forced the Romans to surrender the fugitives and agree to an annual tribute of 230 kilograms of gold. Attila and Bleda then turned their attentions to the Persian Empire, which they invaded and plundered for years before they were beaten. They then returned their attention to Europe.
Crossing the Danube in 440, the brothers plundered the Balkans and destroyed two Roman armies. The Roman emperor admitted defeat, and the siblings extorted from him a new treaty that paid 2000 gold kilograms upfront, plus an annual tribute of 700 kilograms of gold. Soon thereafter, Attila consolidated power by murdering his brother and becoming sole ruler. In 447, Attila returned to the Balkans, which he ravaged until he reached the walls of Constantinople, before recoiling.
In 450, the Western Roman Emperor’s sister sought to escape a betrothal to an old aristocrat by begging Attila’s help, and sent him her engagement ring. He interpreted that as a marriage proposal, accepted, and asked for half of the Western Roman Empire as dowry. When the Romans balked, Attila invaded, visiting his customary devastation, before he was finally stopped at the Battle of the Catalaunian Fields in 451.
The following year, he invaded Italy, sacking and burning as he advanced down the peninsula, before he was persuaded by the Pope to withdraw. He planned to attack Constantinople again in 453, but his rampage finally ended that year, while celebrating his wedding to a new wife. The Scourge of God overdid it with the carnal loving and booze, and drank and exhausted himself into a stupor. He suffered a nosebleed, and choked to death on his own blood.
4. Hollywood’s Weirdest Death Resulted From Physical Loving Gone Catastrophically Wrong
Albert Dekker (1905 – 1968) was a noted character actor, whose career spanned 40 years on stage and the silver screen. During that time, he accumulated a filmography of over 110 credits, winning acclaim for notable performances in films such as East of Eden, The Killers, Dr. Cyclops, Kiss Me Deadly, as well as in his final acting role in Sam Peckinpah’s classic western, The Wild Bunch.
Dekker also won acclaim for his moral courage. During the Red Scare of the early Cold War, he was one of the few Hollywood actors to dare stand up to and denounce the demagogic Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). That got him blacklisted in Hollywood and derailed his career for years before the anticommunist hysteria finally waned and he was able to return to acting. Unfortunately, for all of his accomplishments, Dekker is probably best remembered today for his weird death, which occurred during a bout carnal loving – whether loving himself or loving others as yet unknown remains unclear.
In 1968, Albert Dekker completed his final role in The Wild Bunch, left the set, and fell off the map. Friends and family became concerned after days passed with nobody hearing from him. He was a no-show on a date with his fiancée, fashion model Geraldine Saunders. After she tried calling, without getting a response, she went to his apartment and pinned a note on a door already covered by notes from friends and acquaintances.
When Dekker’s fiancée returned later that evening and found things still the same, she convinced the building manager to let her in the apartment. Once in, they found the bathroom door chained from the inside, and had to break it open. There, they discovered Dekker hanging dead from a leather belt. That was just the start of it.
The scene inside Albert Dekker’s apartment was horrific, as well as so bizarre and grotesque that Geraldine collapsed. The building manager needed minutes to overcome the shock and gather his wits to call the police. It was one of the weirdest sex deaths in La La Land. Dekker was naked in the bathtub, with a ball gag in his mouth, a scarf covering his eyes, and his hands cuffed behind his back. In addition to the belt around his neck, there was another around his waist, tied to a rope binding his ankles, which in turn was wrapped around his wrist and clasped in his hand.
Sun rays were drawn around his nipples in lipstick, which was also used to draw a vagina on his stomach. A hypodermic needle was sticking out of each arm, and his right butt cheek had two needle punctures, above which the word “whip” was written in lipstick. His body was covered in other words written in lipstick, including “cocksucker”, “make me suck”, and “slave”.
1. A Suspicious Physical Loving Death Surrounded by Mystery to This Day
Albert Dekker’s sex death was initially ruled a suicide. However, after S&M toys and porn were found in his apartment, it was changed to accidental autoerotic asphyxiation while masturbating. However, despite the coroner’s ruling, foul play was suspected and the death was and remains suspicious.
For one, Dekker’s fiancée knew that he had been keeping $70,000 cash in the apartment to buy a new house. The money, as well as expensive cameras and filming equipment, was never found. It was also hard to imagine how Dekker, all on his own, could have tied himself in the manner in which he was discovered. Whether he acted alone, had a partner or partners who panicked and fled when a bout of carnal loving went terribly wrong, or was murdered, the mystery of Albert Dekker’s death remains unsolved to this day.
Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading