Concentrating on the most important popes, this work provides an overview of one of the oldest and most influential institutions in the world. Notable popes are analyzed in comprehensive entries divided into five historical sections: * Early * Medieval * Renaissance and Reformation * Early Modern * Modern Section introductions place the popes in historical perspective and include general bibliographic references for the entire age. Individual essays provide specific bibliographic references. Unlike multivolume references that cover all of the popes, this source focuses exclusively on popes who played crucial roles not only in the institution of the papacy itself, but also in European and world events. Beginning with Peter and ending with John Paul II, the contributors to this volume offer a wealth of information. They provide insight into the institution of the papacy and its outstanding members. Combining fact, explanation, and analysis, the essays provide readers with a detailed understanding of the ways in which the papacy, and these individuals, have influenced world events throughout the centuries.