Great Schism


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Schism, Great,

or

Schism of the West,

division in the Roman Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. There was no question of faith or practice involved; the schism was a matter of persons and politics. Shortly after Gregory XIGregory XI,
1330–78, pope (1370–78), a Frenchman named Pierre Roger de Beaufort. He was the successor of Urban V, who had made an unsuccessful attempt to remove the papacy from Avignon to Rome (1367–70).
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 had returned the papacypapacy
, office of the pope, head of the Roman Catholic Church. He is pope by reason of being bishop of Rome and thus, according to Roman Catholic belief, successor in the see of Rome (the Holy See) to its first bishop, St. Peter.
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 from Avignon to Rome, he died (Mar. 27, 1378). The Romans feared that the papal court might be returned to Avignon, and there was rioting, with the mob demanding a Roman, or at least an Italian, pope. On Apr. 8 the 16 cardinals present elected Urban VIUrban VI,
1318?–1389, pope (1378–89), whose election was the immediate cause of the Great Schism; a Neapolitan named Bartolomeo Prignano; successor of Gregory XI. He was made archbishop of Acerenza (1364) and of Bari (1377).
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. The new pope was soon acting very offensively to all in the church. The cardinals met at Agnani and on Aug. 2 declared Urban's election null. At Fondi on Sept. 20 they elected Robert of GenevaRobert of Geneva,
d. 1394, Genevan churchman, antipope (1378–94; see Schism, Great) with the name Clement VII. He was archbishop of Cambrai (1368) and was created (1371) a cardinal.
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 pope as Clement VII. Urban VI remained in Rome, refusing to step down, and Clement VII fled to Avignon, where he reigned surrounded by the former Roman court. There were thus two lines of popes. The popes at Rome were Urban VI (1378–89), Boniface IXBoniface IX,
c.1345–1404, pope (1389–1404), a Neapolitan named Pietro Tomacelli; successor of Urban VI. The Avignon antipopes Clement VII and Benedict XIII were his contemporaries during the Great Schism. He succeeded in imposing his rule on the Papal States.
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 (1389–1404), Innocent VII (1404–6), and Gregory XIIGregory XII,
c.1327–1417, pope (1406–15), a Venetian named Angelo Correr; successor of Innocent VII. As a condition of election, Gregory promised to do everything possible to end the Great Schism, including the relinquishing of his office.
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 (1406–15). Those of the rival line at Avignon were Clement VII (1378–94) and Benedict XIII (1394–1417; see Luna, Pedro deLuna, Pedro de
, 1328?–1423?, Aragonese churchman, antipope (1394–1417) with the name Benedict XIII. He was a doctor of canon law and as cardinal (1375) became an outstanding member of the Curia Romana.
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). Schism within schism ensued. France withdrew from obedience to Benedict XIII and recognized no pope (1398–1403, 1408–9). Theologians of the Univ. of Paris, led by Pierre d'AillyAilly, Pierre d'
, 1350–1420, French theologian and writer, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the teacher of John Gerson and was Gerson's predecessor as chancellor of the Univ. of Paris (1385–95).
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 and John GersonGerson, John
(Jean Charlier de Gerson) , 1363–1429, French ecclesiastical statesman and writer. He studied (1377–94) under Pierre d'Ailly at the Univ. of Paris, where he took his doctorate in theology and succeeded Ailly as chancellor (1395).
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, were anxious to end the schism, and they developed the theory that popes are subject to general councils. The Council of Pisa (1409; see Pisa, Council ofPisa, Council of,
1409, unrecognized council of the Roman Catholic Church. It was summoned to end the Great Schism (see Schism, Great) by members of the colleges of cardinals of the two rivals, Gregory XII (in Rome) and Benedict XIII (Pedro de Luna, in Avignon).
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) was the result. This meeting declared that Gregory XII of the Roman (or Urbanist) line and Benedict XIII of the Avignon (or Clementine) line were not popes and elected another, Alexander V. He died soon after, but his energetic successor, Baldassare CossaCossa, Baldassare
, c.1370–1419, Neapolitan churchman, antipope (1410–15; see Schism, Great) with the name John XXIII. He had a military career before entering the service of the church.
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 (John XXIII, 1410–15), detached most of Europe from his rivals. In 1414 John reluctantly convened the Council of Constance (see Constance, Council ofConstance, Council of,
1414–18, council of the Roman Catholic Church, some of its sessions being reckoned as the 16th ecumenical council. It was summoned to end the Great Schism (see Schism, Great), in which three men were claiming to be pope—Gregory XII (since
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). Gregory XII resigned. John XXIII and Benedict XIII, who refused to resign, were declared deposed by the council. Martin VMartin V,
1368–1431, pope (1417–31), a Roman named Oddone Colonna; successor of Gregory XII. He was created cardinal by Innocent VII, and in the schism (see Schism, Great) he attended and supported the decisions of the Council of Pisa (see Pisa, Council of).
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 was elected, and the schism was at an end. The main effects of the schism were to delay needed reforms in the church and to give rise to the conciliar theory, which was revived at the Council of Basel (see Basel, Council ofBasel, Council of,
1431–49, first part of the 17th ecumenical council in the Roman Catholic Church. It is generally considered to have been ecumenical until it fell into heresy in 1437; after that it is regarded as an anticouncil.
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). It is generally agreed by Roman Catholic scholars that the line of popes from Urban to Gregory was the canonical one.

Bibliography

See W. Ullmann, Origins of the Great Schism (1948, repr. 1972); B. Tierney, Foundations of the Conciliar Theory (1955, repr. 1969); E. F. Jacob, Essays in the Conciliar Epoch (3d ed. 1963); M. Gail, The Three Popes (1969); J. H. Smith, The Great Schism (1970).


Great Schism:

see Schism, GreatSchism, Great,
or Schism of the West,
division in the Roman Catholic Church from 1378 to 1417. There was no question of faith or practice involved; the schism was a matter of persons and politics.
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.
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