Concentrating on the most important popes, this work provides an overview of one of the oldest and most influential institutions. Divided into five sections - the early, the medieval, the Renaissance and Reformation, the early modern and the modern papacy - each entry offers an in-depth analysis of the most notable popes from those time periods. Section introductions place the popes in historical perspective and include general bibliographic references for the entire age. Individual essays provide more specific bibliographic references. The book focuses exclusively on those popes who played a crucial role not only in the institution of the papacy, but also in European and world events.