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The Great Schism, 1378-1417

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  1. The Great Schism, 1378-1417

  2. 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.

  3. Pope Gregory XI • Stung by his critics, Gregory leaves Avignon to return to Rome. • Romans insist on selecting a Roman or at least an Italian. • They chose Urban VI, an Italian. Pope Gregory XI. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Web. 26 Aug. 2011. <>.

  4. Pope Urban VI • Cardinals expected to gain important posts in government. • But Urban started taking away their wealth & privileges. • French cardinals upset and met separately, calling on Urban to resign. • When he refused, they elected their own pope; Clement VII.

  5. Pope Clement VII • Clement moves to Avignon, starting the Great Schism. • All of Europe begins to take sides.

  6. Taking Sides in the Schism Urban VI (Rome) France England, Italy Clement VII (Avignon) Holy Roman Empire, Poland, Hungary Burgundy, Scotland, Castile Portugal Portugal

  7. 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!

  8. 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, too. • The Council then elected Martin V, who was recognized by the rulers of Europe as the one true pope. • The Great Schism was over.

  9. 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 acts.

  10. 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 days.

  11. 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.

  12. 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 revolution.

  13. 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.