In 1456, King John II of Cyprus appointed his illegitimate son James as Latin Archbishop of Nicosia. James was just 16 at the time.

James soon lost his position, being forced to flee the following year after murdering the Royal Chamberlain. Later, he was pardoned and regained the position. In 1463, he became King James II of Cyprus after ousting the Queen, his half-sister Charlotte who had succeeded their father John II.

Although it was not uncommon for medieval monarchs to put relatives in prominent positions in the church, James' youth seems to be very unusual. Googling has not turned up any other information on very young archbishops or bishops.

The only other 'teen' I've been able to find is Odo of Bayeux, half brother of William the Conqueror. Unfortunately, we don't know his year of birth; estimates range from 1030 to 1035 so he may have been as young as 14 or as old as 19 when his brother William made him bishop in either 1049 or 1050.

Were there any archbishops or bishops, either from the medieval period or later, who are known to have been younger than James when they were appointed? Or is the case of James, and even a possibly older 19-year-old Odo, extremely unusual?

  • 2
    To expand your list of teen bishops, you need to include Ippolito de' Medici who was created a cardinal and made Archbishop of Avignon by his uncle Clement VII at age 18.
    – Spencer
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 22:31

6 Answers 6


I'd imagine that the youngest ever bishop would have to be Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, the second son of King George III.

Portrait of Frederick, Duke of York

Born on 16 August 1763, he was appointed as Prince Bishop of Osnabrück on 27 February 1764, at the age of just 6 months and 11 days!

He would be the last Prince Bishop of Osnabrück.

An interesting side-note is that James Burgh dedicated his 1766 volume of collected essays on religious toleration, contemporary politics, and educational theories, Crito: Or, Essays on Various Subjects, to:

The Right Rev. Father

(Of three years old)

His R.H FREDERIC [sic]

Bishop of O.

  • When I read things like this, I am quite glad that Europeans and their colonies essentially decided to abolish or severely curtail nobility after these sorts of things. Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 13:56
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    When I posted this question, I did not expect an answer anything like this. How can I possibly not accept something so absurd? :) Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 0:06
  • Are you certain he was ordained at that age? Or just appointed and enjoying the revenues?
    – C Monsour
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 22:00
  • 3
    Sadly, Frederick wasn't a real bishop. His title as ruler of Osnabrück was "Prince Bishop", but he wasn't episcopos of the Catholics in Osnabrück. After the Peace of Westphalia the Prince-Bishopric of Osnabrück had alternating Catholic and Protestant (Hanoveranian) Prince Bishops. The Catholic ones also were the Catholic bishops for the diocese Osnabrück, but during the reign of the protestants the epsicopal rights were hold by the Archbishop (and Prince Elector) of Cologne. The Protestant ruler only had the normal state supervision of the Protestant Church of Osnabrück.
    – K-HB
    Commented Apr 11, 2021 at 14:40
  • So Frederick was only in the same way bishop as his father in Hanover or the Prussian Kings.
    – K-HB
    Commented Apr 11, 2021 at 14:40

Hugh of Vermandois became Archbishop of Reims in 925, at only five years old. It was part of a rebellion by his father, Herbert II of Vermandois. Herbert II joined with Robert, Count of Paris, and father of Hugh Capet, in a rebellion against their king, Rudolph of France. They were supported by Otto I. When the rebellion failed in 931, the previous Archbishop was reinstated.

The Archbishop of Reims was one of the most influential seats. It crowned the King of the Franks, and would soon ally with the Capets.


In 933 Emperor Romanus I Lekapenos appointed his youngest son, Theophylaktos (917-956) Patriarch (and thus bishop) of Constantinople aged 16.

Rannuccio Farnese (1530-1565) was made a Cardinal-deacon in 1545 age 15 by his grandfather Pope Paul III. He was also granted several bishoprics, including titular Latin Patriarch of Constantinople in 1546 age 15 or 16. His oldest brother Alessandro (1520-1589) was appointed Bishop of Monreal in Sicily in 1536 aged 15 years, 7 months, and 10 days.

I am sure I have heard of younger bishops than those, but I can't seem to find any mentioned online at the moment.

I know that there have been a few cardinals in the Renaissance who were younger than 16, but they could have been cardinal-deacons or cardinal-priests instead of cardinal-bishops.

Added 05-05-2024.

Alexander Stewart, an illegitimate son of King James IV of Scotl1and,born about 1493 and was made Archbishop of Saint Andrews aged 11 on 10 may 1504. He was killed along with his father fighting at the Battle of Flodden in 1513 aged about 20.




Thus he may count as the youngest Archbishop ever.

  • Although typically these days a cardinal-deacon or cardinal-priest is also a bishop, it is true that this was not always typical in the past.
    – C Monsour
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 22:04

Luis Antonio Jaime of Spain (25 July 1727 – 7 August 1785), Infante of Spain, Cardinal Deacon of the titular church of Santa Maria della Scala in Rome, Archbishop of Toledo and Primate of Spain, 13th Count of Chinchón, Grandee of Spain First Class, known as the Cardinal Infante, was a son of Philip V, King of Spain and his second wife, Elisabeth Farnese.

He was 8 years old when he was made both a Bishop and a Cardinal.

He is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest-ever cardinal.


Perhaps: Theophylactus of Tusculum was elected Pope Benedict IX (aka "Bishop of Rome") in the year 1032.

Wikipedia says this about his age:

Horace K. Mann, writing in the Catholic Encyclopedia says Benedict IX was about 20 when made pontiff in October 1032.[3] Other sources state 11 or 12,[4] based upon the unsubstantiated testimony of Rupert Glaber, a monk of St. Germanus at Auxerre.[5]

  • 1
    Puzzled by the down vote. Did I do something wrong? What could I have done better?
    – AllInOne
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 13:42
  • 1
    Not my downvote but I guess it's because of the 'unsubstantiated' bit, i.e. there's too much uncertainty in this answer. Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 0:09

Although I'm not breaking the records set by other answers, I would add the example of Cesare Borgia who was made bishop while being younger than James of Nicosia, as Cesare Borgia was made bishop of Pamplona at 15 years old.

Additionally, he was made archbishop (of Valencia) at 17 and cardinal at 18.

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