CHAPTER 13. AVIGNON, SYMBOLIC SCORES, AND THE ARS SUBTILIOR. PAPAL AVIGNON.
AVIGNON, SYMBOLIC SCORES,
AND THE ARS SUBTILIOR
For much of the Middle Ages the papacy did not reside in Rome but moved from city to city. During most of the fourteenth century it was resident in Avignon, a city in southern France, which swelled, after the arrival of the papacy, from roughly 5,000 to 120,000 souls. The period in which the popes resided in Avignon (1309-1403) is called the Babylonian Captivity, for the streets of Avignon were deemed as sinful as those of ancient Babylon. In 1378 two popes were elected, one French the other Italian, one choosing to reside in Avginon, the other in Rome. This division in church authority is called the Great Western Schism (1378-1417).
The Palace of the Popes in Avignon, France, which contemporaries called “the most beautiful and most fortified house in the world.” Its fortress-like façade correctly suggests that the medieval papacy was often under siege.
During this time the word cappella (chapel), came to mean not only a building consecrated for religious worship, but also the organized group of highly trained musicians who sang at these services.