John VIII

Pope from 872. He devoted much of his pontificate to defending Italy against the Saracens. The various regnal and imperial coronation ceremonies which he conducted were designed to persuade the recipients to accept responsibility for Italy’s defense. He had supported the emperor Louis the Stammerer who had overrun the duchy of Benevento in 873, but Louis died in 875. John then turned to his friend Charles the Bald and crowned him emperor on Christmas Day 875, but Charles’s subsequent visits to Italy were fleeting and unsuccessful. John’s great difficulty was an inability to detach the princes of Palermo, Naples, and Capua and the maritime power of Amalfi from their alliances with the Saracens. The hope of obtaining the Eastern emperor Basil I’s support against the Saracens led John, at Basil’s request, to recognize the previously deposed Photius* as patriarch of Constantinople, and to conclude peace between Rome and Byzantium at the Photian Council (879-80). In his final years John was forced to pay annual tribute to the Saracens. He was assassinated by conspirators at the Lateran Palace.L. Feehan