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Boniface VII (Antipope)

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(Previously B ONIFACE F RANCO )

A Roman and son of Ferrucius; was intruded into the Chair of St. Peter in 974; reinstalled 984; died July, 985. In June, 974, one year after the death of Emperor Otto I, Crescentius the son of Theodora and brother of John XIII, stirred up an insurrection at Rome, during which the Romans threw Benedict VI into the Castle of Sant' Angelo, and elevated as his successor the Cardinal-Deacon Franco, who took the name of Boniface VII. The imprisoned pontiff was speedily put to death by the intruder. But in little more than a month the imperial representative, Count Sicco, had taken possession of the city, and Boniface, not being able to maintain himself, robbed the treasury of the Vatican Basilica and fled to Constantinople. After an exile of nine years at Byzantium, Franco, on the death of Otto II, 7 December, 983, quickly returned to Rome, overpowered John XIV (April, 984), thrust him into the dungeons of Sant' Angelo, where the wretched man died four months later, and again assumed the government of the Church. The usurper had never ceased to look upon himself as the lawful pontiff, and reckoned the years of his reign from the deposition of Benedict VI in 974. For more than a year Rome endured this monster steeped in the blood of his predecessors. But the vengeance was terrible. After his sudden death in July, 985, due in all probability to violence, the body of Boniface was exposed to the insults of the populace, dragged through the streets of the city, and finally, naked and covered with wounds, flung under the statue of Marcus Aurelius, which at that time stood in the Lateran Palace. The following morning compassionate clerics removed the corpse and gave it Christian burial.

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