a movement for the reform of the Catholic Church that developed during the late 14th and early 15th centuries among higher circles in the church and among Western European secular feudal lords.
The conciliar movement, which asserted the supremacy of ecumenical councils over the Roman papacy, developed as a result of the formation and consolidation of centralized national states in Europe, as well as the desire of the national churches to be more independent and less subordinate to the pope. In addition, the ruling class became interested in church reform owing to the decline of papal authority and the growth of popular heretical movements, especially the Hussite movement in Bohemia in the early 15th century. The immediate cause of the conciliar movement was the Great Western Schism (1378–1417). The supporters of the conciliar movement insisted that ecumenical councils be held regularly, independently of the pope, and that they function as the highest church body. The French clergy was particularly active in the conciliar movement (seeGALLICANISM).
Convened in 1409 on the initiative of several cardinals and without the consent of the pope, the Council of Pisa was intended to limit the pope’s authority. The Catholic Church does not regard this council as legal. The principle of conciliar supremacy was proclaimed by the Council of Constance (1414–18) and by the Council of Basel (1431–49), during its first phase (through 1437). Pope Eugene IV pushed through a condemnation of the conciliar movement at the Council of Florence (1438–45), which was convened in opposition to the Council of Basel. In 1460, Pius II issued a papal bull forbidding any appeal to the authority of an ecumenical council.
B. IA. RAMM