'Pope Joan' supposedly reigned between the pontificates of LeoIV and BenedictIII. In fact, there was no significant gap between these popes, that is, the often-cited 25 mos did not occur. 'Pope Joan' was the invention of Stephen of Bourbon, a 13th century Dominican friar. At this time in history, friars who espoused poverty were in conflict with the opulence of the papacy. Evidently, what Stephen composed was a piece of anti-papist propaganda. In his version, the mythical female pope had no name, and was elected in about 1100. The version we have today was created by various accretions and mutations, and grew so elaborate that it was even accepted by the Council of Constance in 1415. The story is found in the works of Boccaccio and Petrarch, and in various chronicles, but that does not make it true. Ironically, it was a Calvinist, David Blondel, who debunked the myth in a work of 1647 entitled 'Familiar Enlightenment of the Question: Whether a Woman Had Been Seated on the Papal Throne in Rome'. As always, truth is infinitely more interesting than fiction. In the early tenth century, two women of the house of Theophylact, Theodora and her daughter Marozia, wielded such influence in Rome that they were able to place whomever they pleased on the papal throne. Their exploits are related scandalously by Luitprand of Cremona, whose works have not yet been translated into English. The power of these women probably stimulated the creation of the Pope Joan myth.