Ch. 10 - The End of Catholic Middle Ages
(ca. AD 1300 - 1500)
The 14th and 15th Centuries: Low Point of Western Christianity! Overview:
contrast to the "high point" in the 12th and 13th Centuries (see ch. 7-8 above)
huge problems both in the Church and in the world; leads to overall feelings of despair,
gloom; apocalyptic expectations
yet also the beginning of the
- a "rebirth" of culture, art, science, technology,
learning, individualism, nationalism, etc.
and in the East, the center of Orthodox Christianity shifts from Byzantine Empire
(Constantinople) to the Slavic Nations (esp. Moscow)
Huge Problems in the Church:
The "Babylonian Captivity" of the Papacy (1305-1377)
; a.k.a. the
after Pope Boniface VIII dies (1303), French King (Philip IV, 1285-1314) forces
move from Rome to Avignon
seven Popes rule from Avignon; mostly corrupt, puppets of French monarchy
(see "Timeline" in Gilles, p. 216, for names and dates)
many people try to convince the Pope to return to Rome, esp.
Catherine of Siena
finally, Pope Gregory XI, flees Avignon and returns to Rome in 1377; but not all
cardinals go with him; he dies in 1378.
The "Western Schism" (1378-1417)
- period of two or three simultaneous Popes (or
: don't confuse this with the "Great Schism": the division between
Western/Catholic and Eastern/Orthodox Christianity in 1054!]
when Gregory XI dies, the cardinals in Rome elect a successor, but the cardinals
who remained in Avignon also elect a successor:
Roman Line: "Popes"
Urban VI (1378-89); Boniface IX (1389-1404);
Innocent VII (1404-06); Gregory XII (1406-15; d. 1417)
Avignon Line: "Anti-Popes"
Clement VII (1378-94); Benedict XIII (1394-
1423); Clement VIII (1423-29); Benedict XIV (1430-37); Felix V (1439-49)
Attempts at Church Reform: "Conciliarism"
Having two simultaneous Popes caused great confusion (people ask: Which one
is legitimate? Which one should we obey?)
So the "Conciliar Movement" grew, claiming that the Church's ultimate
authority, even above the Pope, is a "Council"
Council of Pisa (1409)
tried to end the papal schism by deposing both the
Roman and Avignon Popes and electing a new "Pope"
but neither Gregory XII in Rome nor Benedict XIII in Avignon resigned;
now three men claimed to be Pope!
Pisan Line: "Anti-Popes"
Alexander V (1409-1410), succeeded by
John XXIII (1410-1415)
Council of Constance (1414-17)
- finally cleans up the mess, ending the Western
Schism (for the most part)
they convince both John XXIII and Gregory XII to resign (but not
Benedict XIII in Avignon!),
and elect Pope Martin V (1417-31), who promises to convene councils
regularly (but doesn't!)
Huge Problems in Western Society overall:
or Bubonic Plague (1330's-52) - kills about 1/3 of Europe's population;
God's punishment? growth in witchcraft/superstition