John XV was the son of Leo, a Roman presbyter. At the time he mounted the papal chair Crescentius was patrician of Rome, but, although his influence was on this account very much hampered, the presence of the empress Theophano in Rome from 989 to 991 restrained also the ambition of Crescentius.
On her departure the pope, whose venality and nepotism had made him very unpopular with the citizens, died of fever before the arrival of Otto III, who elevated his own kinsman Bruno to the papal dignity under the name of Gregory V.
Pope Boniface VII
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