[MR] Wikipedia: The Avignon Papacy and the Western Schism

Garth Groff and Sally Sanford mallardlodge1000 at gmail.com
Wed Jan 17 03:54:21 PST 2024

Noble Friends,

On this date in 1377 Pope Gregory XI returned to Rome from France, ending
68 years of the official Avignon Papacy under seven pontiffs.

The Papacy at Avignon began with the election of Raymond Bernard de Got,
Archbishop of Bordeaux, as Pope Clement V. At this time the College of
Cardinals, who elect Popes, was pretty much evenly split between French and
Italian power blocks. Archbishop Raymond was not himself a Cardinal, and
his election was seen as a compromise.

French King Philip IV (aka "Philip the Fair", which referred to his looks,
and certainly not to his policies) had long been in dispute with the Papacy
over secular control of the Church in France. In addition, Philip was up to
his eyeballs in debt to the Knights Templar. Raymond had been his boyhood
friend. Phil saw him as a handy puppet and pushed for his election.

So on 5 June 1305 Archbishop Raymond became Pope Clement V. He was not in
the best of health, and delayed traveling to Rome. The delay was to become
permanent when Clement moved the Curia to Avignon, France in 1309.

One sure way to erase a debt is to erase the banker who holds the note, and
that is just what Philip did. As soon as Clement was elected, Philip began
his attacks on the Templars, culminating in their mass arrest in France on
13 October 1307. Like the good toady he was, Clement went along with
destroying the Templars.

Clement died on 20 April 1314, some say by a curse laid by Templar Grand
Master Jacques de Molay as he was being burned at the stake. According to
one account, the church where Clement was lying in state was struck by
lightning. Clement's body was set on fire, and toasted to a crisp. Whether
true or not, it makes a great story.

The next six Popes were John XXII (1316-1334), Benedict XII (1334-1342),
Clement VI (1342-1352), Innocent VI (1352-1362), Urban V (1362-1370), and
Gregory XI (1370-1378.

Urban V returned to Rome in 1367 hoping to quell the constant inter-city
wars and erosion of Church power. His departure was resisted by the
powerful French Cardinals, and he came back to Avignon dragging his tail in
late 1370, dying just days later.

Pope Gregory XI recognized that for the Papacy to continue, and to bring
stability to the Papal States, he had to return to Rome. He left Avignon on
13 September 1376, and finally entered Rome on 17 January 1377. Gregory
deeply regretted the move, and was preparing to return to Avignon when died
on 27 March 1378. Gregory XI was the last officially recognized Avignon
Pope, but more popes and more trouble were to come.

The Roman populace, the Italian Cardinals, and probably a number of
powerful nobles, were determined to keep the Papacy in Rome by violence if
necessary. While surrounded by a mob the Cardinals quickly elected Urban
VI. He turned out to be exactly what the high churchmen didn't want when he
began preaching against their corruption and luxurious lifestyles. The
Cardinals declared him mad and unfit to rule.

The French Cardinals then elected Robert of Geneva as Pope Clement VII on
20 September 1378. He immediately established himself in Avignon. Now there
were now two Popes competing for loyalty, thus starting the Western Schism.
Clement VII was followed at Avignon by Benedict XIII in 1394. Things got
even more confusing when the Council of Pisa elected a third claimant as
Alexander V in 1409. Who was the "real" Pope and who was an antipope
depended on political rivalries, alliances, and which pope a ruler could
suck up to. The "universal" Church was now split among various competing
nations and their allies.

The whole mess was finally cleared up by the Council of Constance in 1414.
The Council cleaned the house by firing all the various claimants. A new
"official" Pope, Martin V, was elected in 1417. The last Avignon antipope
was Clement VIII, elected by just three Carlinals in 1423 and virtually
powerless. He recognized Pope Martin in 1429 and voluntarily resigned,
finally ending the Western Schism and the Avignon Papacy.

All the non-Roman Popes during the schism were declared bogus, and do not
fit into the official list of Pontiffs.

Wow! What a mess! Is your head spinning? Mine sure is.

More on the Avignon Papacy is found at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avignon_Papacy .

The Western Schism is explained at
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Schism .

Yours Aye,

Mungo Napier, Laird of Mallard Lodge  🦆
Continuing a crusade to keep Merry Rose relevant and in business.

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