The Great Schism, 1378-1417

The Great Schism, 1378-1417
The Great Schism
• Moving the papacy from Rome to
Avignon in 1309 caused an outcry,
especially from Italians.
• Critics of the papacy, especially
Marsilius of Padua and William of
Ockham, believed that Christians
themselves formed the Church.
Pope Gregory XI
Pope Gregory XI. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica
Online. Web. 26 Aug. 2011.
• Stung by his critics,
Gregory leaves
Avignon to return to
• Romans insist on
selecting a Roman
or at least an Italian.
• They chose Urban
VI, an Italian.
Pope Urban VI
• Cardinals expected to gain
important posts in
• But Urban started taking
away their wealth &
• French cardinals upset and
met separately, calling on
Urban to resign.
• When he refused, they
elected their own pope;
Clement VII.
Pope Clement VII
• Clement moves to
Avignon, starting the
Great Schism.
• All of Europe begins
to take sides.
Taking Sides in the Schism
Clement VII (Avignon)
Burgundy, Scotland, Castile
Urban VI (Rome)
England, Italy
Holy Roman Empire,
Poland, Hungary
The Great Schism
• Each side excommunicated the other. In effect,
everyone in Europe was excommunicated by one of
the popes.
• Many thought the crisis called for a council, even
though that went against papal authority.
• Cardinals loyal to neither pope met in 1409 at the
Council of Pisa.
• Council deposed both popes and elected a new one,
but Clement & Urban refused to acknowledge them.
• Now there were three popes!
The Great Schism
• Successor to the newest pope, John XXIII, convened
a church council at Constance in 1414.
• Delegates deposed John XXIII and accepted the
resignation of the pope at Rome.
• After long negotiations, the Avignon pope resigned,
• The Council then elected Martin V, who was
recognized by the rulers of Europe as the one true
• The Great Schism was over.
New Forms of Piety
• The Great Schism, along with the miseries of
the plague and wars, caused spiritual anxiety
among ordinary Christians.
• The pious sought to ensure their salvation
through plenary indulgence (full forgiveness of
sin) for those who made pilgrimages to
designated holy places, and to reduce the
amount of time in purgatory by purchasing
indulgences or earning them by certain devout
New Forms of Piety
• Devotion in the home also grew,
enhanced by portable images of Mary
and the life and passion of Christ, as
well as purchase of Books of Hours that
contained specific prayers for specific
New Heresies
• Religious anxiety, intellectual dissent, and social
unrest threatened church unity.
• In England, a powerful anticlerical movement known
as the Lollards developed from the teachings of John
Wycliffe, an Oxford professor.
• Wycliffe’s ideas advanced his belief that the
community of believers, and not the clerical hierarchy,
constituted the true church.
• Wycliffe emphasized Bible reading and individual
conscience as the path to salvation.
• The Lollards came to challenge social inequality of
every sort.
New Heresies
• The most serious challenge to clerical authority in the
14th century originated in Bohemia.
• Jan Hus led a reform party that focused its discontent
on the issue of the laity’s receiving both the bread
and the wine at Mass.
• The reformers hoped to achieve a level of equality
with the clergy, for whom the chalice of wine was
traditionally reserved.
• Although Hus was guaranteed protection by Emperor
Sigismund, he was burned at the stake as a heretic
at the Council of Constance, which set off a national
New Heresies
• The Hussites gathered at Mount Tabor in southern
Bohemia and renamed themselves the Taborites.
• They modeled themselves after the first Christians of
the New Testament, practicing communal ownership
of goods and restructuring their community according
to Biblical injunctions, which included giving some
political rights to women.
• The Hussites eventually won the right to receive both
the bread and the wine at Mass, a practice that
continued until the 16th century.