24

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?

  • 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 Sep 26 '18 at 22:31
38

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. – Andrew Alexander Sep 27 '18 at 13:56
  • 1
    When I posted this question, I did not expect an answer anything like this. How can I possibly not accept something so absurd? :) – Lars Bosteen Sep 28 '18 at 0:06
  • Are you certain he was ordained at that age? Or just appointed and enjoying the revenues? – C Monsour Jun 25 at 22:00
10

Hugh of Vermandois became Archbishop of Reims in 925, at only five years old. It was part of a rebellion by his father, Hugh II of Vermandois. Hugh 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.

6

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.

  • 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 Jun 25 at 22:04
5

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]

  • Puzzled by the down vote. Did I do something wrong? What could I have done better? – AllInOne Sep 27 '18 at 13:42
  • Not my downvote but I guess it's because of the 'unsubstantiated' bit, i.e. there's too much uncertainty in this answer. – Lars Bosteen Sep 28 '18 at 0:09

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