1410 c/o Andy Calvert

Dearest Ma,

      So, I'm the Pope. Well, I'm a Pope. I can't help but think this has all got a little bit out of hand. I’ll be honest with you, there was trouble enough with two Popes, but three Popes? That’s just asking for trouble. And some of the things people are saying about me! For men of the cloth, they’ve got some pretty sordid imaginations.

      While I’m being honest (it seems only fitting; I am a Pope, after all), let’s just say that not exactly everything they said may have been quite as untrue as you’d like. After I was done with school (too much Latin gets to a boy), you thought I travelled for a bit to ‘find myself’ before I settled down. That’s not entirely false, but there was a little bit more to it. I wasn’t exactly working as a merchant sailor, shall we say. Well, after a fashion I was. There was money being made, but it was being made at the expense of others. And under a Skull and Crossbones. It was a crazy time, without a doubt.

      I’m not proud of it, but I wouldn’t change a day of it. It opened a lot of doors for me, and I didn’t need to use a sword for some of them. Like, you know how I’m a Pope and stuff? That’s a funny story. Me and Crazy Giuseppe had been at the grog for a few days after we’d spent the week pillaging the shit out of some dump on the coast, when we got into a game of dice in Naples. It was one of those nights, y’know, where you’re just on fire, and I was on fire. I couldn’t lose. Roll after roll, crowds gathered, people were laying money on me all night, I didn’t pay for a drink, and Crazy Gus, he was lapping up the attention I was too busy to use myself, started making up all sorts of stories for the ladies.

      So, by the next morning, I was just weighed down with coins, and Gus says “Baz (he calls me Baz, I know you hate it Ma), I met these two girls, I told ‘em we were men of the cloth letting our hair down. They bought it, but they want to meet us, er, in the er, the uniform things those square pricks wear, so they can see if it’s true what they say about priests wearing nothing under the robes, like”. Now this sounded like great fun, I was still feeling it, I was rich, and I was chasing tail. So, we tapped up the Robes’r’Us, and Baldassare ‘The Cardinal’ Cossa was born. I got laid, goes without saying, but I kinda enjoyed the reverence, y’know? There’s only so much abuse you can take for being a pirate. So I got stuck in. Met some guys, proper Church guys, hung out with them in Pisa for a bit, next thing you know, we’re destroying the Catholic Church. More than I ever destroyed as a pirate, and those guys are …shit, that’s what they do.

      So, long and short of it, I was a bad kid, now I’m a bad man, but I’m a Pope. Pa never saw that one coming, huh? Anyway, I’d best sign off. Turns out schisms keep everyone busy.

      Love to Nona

      Your Son,
      Baldassare Cossa, Scourge of the Neapolitan coast
      Pope John XXIII (Pisa Division)