Western Schism

Western Schism

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The Western Schism or Papal Schism was a split within the Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. Two men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

. Driven by politics rather than any theological disagreement
History of Catholic dogmatic theology
The history of Catholic dogmatic theology divides into three main periods:* the patristic;* the medieval;* the modern-Patristic period :...

, the schism
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

 was ended by the Council of Constance
Council of Constance
The Council of Constance is the 15th ecumenical council recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, held from 1414 to 1418. The council ended the Three-Popes Controversy, by deposing or accepting the resignation of the remaining Papal claimants and electing Pope Martin V.The Council also condemned and...

 (1414–1418). The simultaneous claims to the papal chair of two different men hurt the reputation of the office. The Western Schism is occasionally called the Great Schism, though this term is more often applied to the East–West Schism
East–West Schism
The East–West Schism of 1054, sometimes known as the Great Schism, formally divided the State church of the Roman Empire into Eastern and Western branches, which later became known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, respectively...

 of 1054.

Origin


The schism
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

 in the western Roman Church didn't result from the return of the papacy to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 under Gregory XI
Pope Gregory XI
Gregory XI was pope from 1370 until his death.-Biography:He was born Pierre Roger de Beaufort, in Maumont, in the modern commune of Rosiers-d'Égletons, Limousin around 1336. He succeeded Pope Urban V in 1370, and was pope until 1378...

 in 1368, ending the Avignon Papacy
Avignon Papacy
The Avignon Papacy was the period from 1309 to 1376 during which seven Popes resided in Avignon, in modern-day France. This arose from the conflict between the Papacy and the French crown....

, which had developed a reputation of corruption that estranged major parts of Western Christendom
Christendom
Christendom, or the Christian world, has several meanings. In a cultural sense it refers to the worldwide community of Christians, adherents of Christianity...

. This reputation can be attributed to perceptions of predominant French influence and to the papal curia
Curia (Roman Catholic Church)
In Roman Catholicism, a curia consists of a group of officials who assist in the governance of a particular Church. These curias range from the relatively simple diocesan curia, to the larger patriarchal curias, to the Roman Curia, which is the central government of the Catholic Church.Other...

's efforts to extend its powers of patronage and increase its revenues.

After Pope Gregory XI died, the Romans rioted to ensure the election of a Roman for pope. The cardinals
Cardinal (Catholicism)
A cardinal is a senior ecclesiastical official, usually an ordained bishop, and ecclesiastical prince of the Catholic Church. They are collectively known as the College of Cardinals, which as a body elects a new pope. The duties of the cardinals include attending the meetings of the College and...

, fearing the crowds, elected a Neapolitan
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 when no viable Roman candidates presented themselves. Pope Urban VI
Pope Urban VI
Pope Urban VI , born Bartolomeo Prignano, was Pope from 1378 to 1389.-Biography:Born in Itri, he was a devout monk and learned casuist, trained at Avignon. On March 21, 1364, he was consecrated Archbishop of Acerenza in the Kingdom of Naples...

, born Bartolomeo Prignano, the Archbishop of Bari, was elected in 1378. Urban had been a respected administrator in the papal chancery
Apostolic Chancery
The Chancery of Apostolic Briefs , is a former office of the Roman Curia, merged into the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs by Pope Pius X on June 29, 1908 with the apostolic constitution Sapienti Consilio...

 at Avignon, but as pope he proved suspicious, overbearing, and prone to violent outbursts of temper. The cardinals who had elected him soon regretted their decision: the majority removed themselves from Rome to Anagni
Anagni
Anagni is an ancient town and comune in Latium, central Italy, in the hills east-southeast of Rome. It is a historical center in Ciociaria.-Geography:...

, where they elected Robert of Geneva as a rival pope on September 20 of the same year. Robert took the name Pope Clement VII and reestablished a papal court in Avignon. The second election threw the Church into turmoil. There had been antipope
Antipope
An antipope is a person who opposes a legitimately elected or sitting Pope and makes a significantly accepted competing claim to be the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Roman Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th century, antipopes were typically those supported by a...

s—rival claimants to the papacy—before, but most of them had been appointed by various rival factions; in this case, a single group of leaders of the Church had created both the pope and the antipope.

The conflicts quickly escalated from a church problem to a diplomatic crisis that divided Europe. Secular leaders had to choose which claimant they would recognize:
Avignon Rome
France
Kingdom of France
The Kingdom of France was one of the most powerful states to exist in Europe during the second millennium.It originated from the Western portion of the Frankish empire, and consolidated significant power and influence over the next thousand years. Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King, developed a...

, Aragon
Kingdom of Aragon
The Kingdom of Aragon was a medieval and early modern kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula, corresponding to the modern-day autonomous community of Aragon, in Spain...

, Castile and León
Crown of Castile
The Crown of Castile was a medieval and modern state in the Iberian Peninsula that formed in 1230 as a result of the third and definitive union of the crowns and parliaments of the kingdoms of Castile and León upon the accession of the then King Ferdinand III of Castile to the vacant Leonese throne...

, Cyprus
Kingdom of Cyprus
The Kingdom of Cyprus was a Crusader kingdom on the island of Cyprus in the high and late Middle Ages, between 1192 and 1489. It was ruled by the French House of Lusignan.-History:...

, Burgundy
Duchy of Burgundy
The Duchy of Burgundy , was heir to an ancient and prestigious reputation and a large division of the lands of the Second Kingdom of Burgundy and in its own right was one of the geographically larger ducal territories in the emergence of Early Modern Europe from Medieval Europe.Even in that...

, Savoy
County of Savoy
The Counts of Savoy emerged, along with the free communes of Switzerland, from the collapse of the Burgundian Kingdom of Arles in the 11th century....

, Naples
Kingdom of Naples
The Kingdom of Naples, comprising the southern part of the Italian peninsula, was the remainder of the old Kingdom of Sicily after secession of the island of Sicily as a result of the Sicilian Vespers rebellion of 1282. Known to contemporaries as the Kingdom of Sicily, it is dubbed Kingdom of...

, and Scotland
Kingdom of Scotland
The Kingdom of Scotland was a Sovereign state in North-West Europe that existed from 843 until 1707. It occupied the northern third of the island of Great Britain and shared a land border to the south with the Kingdom of England...

 recognized the Avignon claimant;
Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, England
Kingdom of England
The Kingdom of England was, from 927 to 1707, a sovereign state to the northwest of continental Europe. At its height, the Kingdom of England spanned the southern two-thirds of the island of Great Britain and several smaller outlying islands; what today comprises the legal jurisdiction of England...

, Flanders
County of Flanders
The County of Flanders was one of the territories constituting the Low Countries. The county existed from 862 to 1795. It was one of the original secular fiefs of France and for centuries was one of the most affluent regions in Europe....

, the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

, Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, northern Italy
Northern Italy
Northern Italy is a wide cultural, historical and geographical definition, without any administrative usage, used to indicate the northern part of the Italian state, also referred as Settentrione or Alta Italia...

, Ireland (English Dominion), Norway, Poland, and Sweden recognized the Roman claimant.

In the Iberian Peninsula there were the Ferdinand Wars
Ferdinand Wars
The Ferdinand Wars were a series of three conflicts between the Kingdom of Portugal, supported by the Kingdom of England, and the Crown of Castile. Ferdinand I of Portugal, John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, and the Castilian Kings of the House of Trastámara, faced for the throne of Castile,...

 (Guerras fernandinas) and the 1383–1385 Crisis
1383–1385 Crisis
The 1383–1385 Crisis was a period of civil war in Portuguese history that began with the death of King Ferdinand I of Portugal, who left no male heirs, and ended with the accession to the throne of King John I in 1385, in the wake of the Battle of Aljubarrota.In Portugal, this period is also known...

 in Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, during which dynastic opponents supported rival claimants to the papal office.

Consequences



Sustained by such national and factional rivalries throughout Catholic Christianity, the schism continued after the deaths of both initial claimants; Boniface IX, crowned at Rome in 1389, and Benedict XIII, who reigned in Avignon from 1394, maintained their rival courts. When Boniface died in 1404, the eight cardinals of the Roman
Roman numerals
The numeral system of ancient Rome, or Roman numerals, uses combinations of letters from the Latin alphabet to signify values. The numbers 1 to 10 can be expressed in Roman numerals as:...

 conclave offered to refrain from electing a new pope if Benedict would resign; but when his legates refused on his behalf, the Roman party then proceeded to elect Pope Innocent VII
Pope Innocent VII
Pope Innocent VII , born Cosimo de' Migliorati, was briefly Pope at Rome, from 1404 to his death, during the Western Schism while there was a rival Pope, antipope Benedict XIII , at Avignon.Migliorati was born to a simple family of Sulmona in the Abruzzi...

.

In the intense partisanship characteristic of the Middle Ages, the schism engendered a fanatical hatred noted by Johan Huizinga
Johan Huizinga
Johan Huizinga , was a Dutch historian and one of the founders of modern cultural history.-Life:Born in Groningen as the son of Dirk Huizinga, a professor of physiology, and Jacoba Tonkens, who died two years after his birth, he started out as a student of Indo-Germanic languages, earning his...

: when the town of Bruges
Bruges
Bruges is the capital and largest city of the province of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is located in the northwest of the country....

 went over to the "obedience" of Avignon, a great number of people left to follow their trade in a city of Urbanist allegiance; "in 1382, the oriflamme
Oriflamme
The Oriflamme was the battle standard of the King of France.It was originally the sacred banner of the Abbey of St. Denis, a monastery near Paris. The banner was red or orange-red and flown from a lance. It was suggested that the lance was originally the important object, with the banner a...

, which might only be unfurled in a holy cause, was taken up against the Flemings, because they were Urbanists, that is, infidels".

Efforts were made to end the Schism through force or diplomacy. The French crown even tried to coerce Benedict XIII, whom it nominally supported, into resigning. None of these remedies worked. The suggestion that a church council should resolve the Schism, first made in 1378, was not adopted at first because canon law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

 required that a pope call a council. Eventually theologians like Pierre d'Ailly
Pierre d'Ailly
Pierre d'Ailly was a French theologian, astrologer, and cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church....

 and Jean Gerson, as well as canon lawyers like Francesco Zabarella
Francesco Zabarella
Francesco Zabarella was an Italian cardinal and canonist.-Appointment as bishop:Born in Padua, he studied jurisprudence at Bologna and at Florence, where he graduated in 1385. He taught Canon law at Florence until 1390 and at Padua until 1410...

, adopted arguments that equity permitted the Church to act for its own welfare in defiance of the letter of the law.

Eventually the cardinals of both factions secured an agreement that Benedict and Gregory XII would meet at Savona
Savona
Savona is a seaport and comune in the northern Italian region of Liguria, capital of the Province of Savona, in the Riviera di Ponente on the Mediterranean Sea....

. They balked at the last moment, and both colleges of cardinals abandoned their popes. A church council
Ecumenical council
An ecumenical council is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice....

 was held at Pisa
Council of Pisa
The Council of Pisa was an unrecognized ecumenical council of the Catholic Church held in 1409 that attempted to end the Western Schism by deposing Benedict XIII and Gregory XII...

 in 1409 under the auspices of the cardinals to try solving the dispute, but it added to the problem by electing another antipope, Alexander V. He reigned briefly from June 26, 1409, to his death in 1410, when he was succeeded by John XXIII, who won some but not universal support.

Resolution


Finally, the Council of Constance
Council of Constance
The Council of Constance is the 15th ecumenical council recognized by the Roman Catholic Church, held from 1414 to 1418. The council ended the Three-Popes Controversy, by deposing or accepting the resignation of the remaining Papal claimants and electing Pope Martin V.The Council also condemned and...

 in 1414, advised by the theologian Jean Gerson
Jean Gerson
Jean Charlier de Gerson , French scholar, educator, reformer, and poet, Chancellor of the University of Paris, a guiding light of the conciliar movement and one of the most prominent theologians at the Council of Constance, was born at the village of Gerson, in the bishopric of Reims in...

, secured the resignations of John XXIII
Antipope John XXIII
Baldassarre Cossa was Pope John XXIII during the Western Schism. The Catholic Church regards him as an antipope.-Biography:...

 and the successor in Rome of Innocent VII, Pope Gregory XII
Pope Gregory XII
Pope Gregory XII , born Angelo Correr or Corraro, Pope from 1406 to 1415, succeeded Pope Innocent VII on 30 November 1406....

 (who resigned in 1415, but not before formally empowering the Council of Constance to elect the new pope, thus ensuring the legitimacy of the election), and excommunicated
Excommunication
Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

 the claimant who refused to step down, Avignon Pope Benedict XIII. The Council then elected Pope Martin V
Pope Martin V
Pope Martin V , born Odo Colonna, was Pope from 1417 to 1431. His election effectively ended the Western Schism .-Biography:...

, essentially ending the schism. Nonetheless, the Kingdom of Aragon did not recognize Martin V and continued to recognize Benedict XIII. Archbishops loyal to Benedict XIII subsequently elected Antipope Benedict XIV
Antipope Benedict XIV
Benedict XIV was the name used by two closely related minor antipopes of the 15th century. The first, Bernard Garnier became antipope in 1424 and died ca. 1429. The second, Jean Carrier, became antipope ca. 1430 and apparently left office, whether by death or resignation, by 1437.Neither of these...

 (Bernard Garnier) and three followers simultaneously elected Antipope Clement VIII
Antipope Clement VIII
Clement VIII was one of the antipopes of the Avignon line, reigning from 10 June 1423 to 26 July 1429. He was born between 1369–1370, as Gil Sanchez Muñoz y Carbón, and died on 28 December 1446....

, but the Western Schism was by then practically over. (Clement VIII resigned in 1429 and apparently recognized Martin V.)

The line of Roman popes is now recognized as the legitimate line, but confusion on this point continued until the 19th century. Efforts to tidy up Church history led to the claim that Gregory XII had legitimized the Council of Constance. Consistent with this outcome, Pope Pius II decreed that no appeal could be made from pope to council; this left no way to undo a papal election by anyone but the elected pope. No such crisis has arisen since the 15th century, and so there has been no need to revisit this decision. The alternate papal claimants have become known in history as antipope
Antipope
An antipope is a person who opposes a legitimately elected or sitting Pope and makes a significantly accepted competing claim to be the Pope, the Bishop of Rome and leader of the Roman Catholic Church. At times between the 3rd and mid-15th century, antipopes were typically those supported by a...

s. Those of Avignon were dismissed by Rome early on, but the Pisan popes were included in the Annuario Pontificio well into the 20th century. Thus the Borgia pope Alexander VI took his regnal name in sequence after the Pisan Alexander V.

Historiography


According to Broderick:
"Doubt still shrouds the validity of the three rival lines of pontiffs during the four decades subsequent to the still disputed papal election of 1378. This makes suspect the credentials of the cardinals created by the Roman, Avignon, and Pisan claimants to the Apostolic See. Unity was finally restored without a definitive solution to the question; for the Council of Constance succeeded in terminating the Western Schism, not by declaring which of the three claimants was the rightful one, but by eliminating all of them by forcing their abdication or deposition, and then setting up a novel arrangement for choosing a new pope acceptable to all sides. To this day the Church has never made any official, authoritative pronouncement about the papal lines of succession for this confusing period; nor has Martin V or any of his successors. Modern scholars are not agreed in their solutions; although they tend to favor the Roman line."

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