Pope John XIII (Latin: Ioannes XIII) was Pope from 1 October 965 to his death in 972. His pontificate was caught up in the continuing conflict between the Emperor, Otto I, and the Roman nobility.
After the death of Leo VIII, the Roman nobility asked the Emperor, Otto I for the reinstatement of Pope Benedict V. When this was not possible, Bishop John Crescentius was suggested as a compromise candidate by Otto’s envoys, the bishops Otger of Spiers and Liutprand of Cremona. Elected unanimously, John was consecrated on Sunday, 1 October 965, five months after the death of Leo VIII.
John immediately took on the task of curbing the power of the Roman nobility. He gave members of the Crescentii family important positions to shore up his support, while he also sought closer ties with the emperor. However, with the emperor back in Germany, various local powers decided to take advantage of his absence to intrigue against John XIII. The former king Adalbert of Italy had appeared in front of an army in Lombardy, whilst the Roman nobility, disliking John’s behaviour, and resenting his imposition by a foreign power, staged a revolt.
The leaders of the Roman militia captured the pope on December 16, 965, and imprisoned him in Castel Sant'Angelo. However, fearing John’s presence there would inspire resistance from his followers, the pope was moved to one of Rofred’s castles in the Campagna. Word eventually reached Otto of all these disturbances, who entered Italy in late summer of 966 at the head of an enormous army. In the meantime, John had managed to escape from Campagna, and made his way to Capua, placing himself under the protection of Pandulf Ironhead. In Rome, the pope’s supporters rose up, and Rofred and Stephen were killed by John Crescentius, the pope’s nephew. Pope John left Capua, and crossed into Sabina, where he was met by his brother-in-law, Benedict, who also offered John his support. With Rome effectively back in his hands, John returned and was welcomed back into the city on November 14, 966.
John XIII died on September 6, 972, and was buried in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. He was succeeded by Pope Benedict VI.