Vol. 6, Chapter II. The Papal Schism and the Reformatory Councils. 1378-1449

12. Sources and Literature

For §§ 13, 14. The Papal Schism. — Orig. documents in Raynaldus: Annal. Eccles. — C.E. Bulaeus, d. 1678: Hist. univer. Parisiensis, 6 vols., Paris, 1665-1673, vol. IV. — Van der Hardt, see § 15. — H. Denifle and A. Chatelain: Chartul. universitatis Paris., 4 vols., Paris, 1889-1897, vols. III., IV., especially the part headed de schismate, III. 552-639. — Theoderich of Nieheim (Niem): de Schismate inter papas et antipapas, Basel, 1566, ed. by Geo. Erler, Leipzig, 1890. Nieheim, b. near Paderborn, d. 1417, had exceptional opportunities for observing the progress of events. He was papal secretary — notarius sacri palatii — at Avignon, went with Gregory XI. to Rome, was there at the breaking out of the schism, and held official positions under three of the popes of the Roman line. In 1408 he joined the Livorno cardinals, and supported Alexander V. and John XXIII. — See H. V. Sauerland: D. Leben d. Dietrich von Nieheim nebst einer Uebersicht ueber dessen Schriften, Goettingen, 1876, and G. Erler: Dietr. von Nieheim, sein Leben u. s. Schriften, Leipzig, 1887. Adam of Usk: Chronicon, 1377-1421, 2d ed. by E. M. Thompson, with Engl. trans., London, 1904. — Martin de Alpartils: Chronica actitatorum temporibus Domini Benedicti XIII. ed. Fr. Ehrle, S. J., vol. I., Paderborn, 1906. — Wyclif’s writings, Lives of Boniface IX. and Innocent VII. in Muratori, III. 2, pp. 830 sqq., 968 sq. — P. Dupuy: Hist. du schisme 1378-1420, Paris, 1654. — P. L. Maimbourg (Jesuit): Hist. du grand schisme d’ Occident, Paris, 1678. — Ehrle: Neue Materialien zur Gesch. Peters von Luna (Benedict XIII.), in Archiv fuer Lit. und Kirchengesch., VI. 139 sqq., VII. 1 sqq. — L. Gayet: Le Grand schisme d’Occident, 2 vols., Florence and Berlin, 1889. — C. Locke: Age of the Great Western Schism, New York, 1896. — Paul Van Dyke: Age of the Renascence an Outline of the Hist. of the Papacy, 1377-1527, New York, 1897. — L. Salembier: Le grand schisme d’ Occident, Paris, 1900, 3d ed., 1907. Engl. trans., London, 1907. — N. Valois: La France et le grand schisme d’Occident, 4 vols., Paris, 1896-1901. — E. Goeller: Koenig Sigismund’s Kirchenpolitik vom Tode Bonifaz IX. bis zur Berufung d. Konstanzer Concils, Freiburg, 1902. — M. Jansen: Papst Bonifatius IX. u. s. Beziehungen zur deutschen Kirche, Freiburg, 1904. — H. Bruce: The Age of Schism, New York, 1907. — E. J. Kitts: In the Days of the Councils. A Sketch of the Life and Times of Baldassare Cossa, John XXIII., London, 1908. — Hefele-Knoepfler: Conciliengesch., VI. 727-936. — Hergenroether-Kirsch, II. 807-833. — Gregorovius, VI. 494-611. — Pastor, I. 115-175. — Creighton, I. 66-200.

For §§ 15, 16. The Councils of Pisa and Constance. — Mansi: Concilia, XXVI., XXVII. — Labbaeus: Concilia, XI., XII. 1-259. — Hermann van der Hardt, Prof. of Hebrew and librarian at Helmstaedt, d. 1746: Magnum oecumenicum Constantiense Concilium de universali ecclesiae reformatione, unione et fide, 6 vols., Frankfurt and Leipzig, 1696-1700. A monumental work, noted alike as a mine of historical materials and for its total lack of order in their arrangement. In addition to the acts and history of the Council of Constance, it gives many valuable contemporary documents, e.g. the De corrupto statu eccles., also entitled De ruina eccles., of Nicolas Of Clamanges; the De modis uniendi et reformandi eceles. in concilio universali; De difficultate reformationis;and Monita de necessitate reformationis Eccles. in capite et membris, — all probably by Nieheim; and a Hist. of the Council, by Dietrich Vrie, an Augustinian, finished at Constance, 1417. These are all in vol. I. Vol. II. contains Henry of Langenstein’s Consilium pacis: De unione ac reformatione ecclesiae, pp. 1-60; a Hist. of the c. of Pisa, pp. 61-156; Niehelm’s Invectiva in di, ffugientem Johannem XXIII. and de vita Johan. XXIII. usque ad fugam et carcerem ejus, pp. 296-459, etc. The vols. are enriched with valuable illustrations. Volume V. contains a stately array of pictures of the seals and escutcheons of the princes and prelates attending the council in person or by proxy, and the fourteen universities represented. The work also contains biogg. of D’Ailly, Gerson, Zarabella, etc. — Langenstein’s Consilium pacis is also given in Du Pin’s ed. of Gerson’s Works, ed. 1728, vol. II. 809-839. The tracts De difficultate reformationis and Monita de necessitate, etc., are also found in Du Pin, II. 867-875, 885-902, and ascribed to Peter D’Ailly. The tracts De reformatione and De eccles., concil. generalis, romani pontificis et cardinalium auctoritate, also ascribed to D’Ailly in Du Pin, II. 903-915, 925-960. — Ulrich von Richental: Das Concilium so ze Costenz gehalten worden, ed. by M. R. Buck, Tübingen, 1882. — Also Marmion: Gesch. d. Conc. von Konstanz nach Ul. von Richental, Constance, 1860. Richental, a resident of Constance, wrote from his own personal observation a quaint and highly interesting narrative. First publ., Augsburg, 1483. The MS. may still be seen in Constance. — *H. Finke: Forschungen u. Quellen zur Gesch. des Konst. Konzils, Paderborn, 1889. Contains the valuable diary of Card. Fillastre, etc. — *Finke: Actae conc. Constanciensis, 1410-1414, Muenster, 1906. — J. L’enfant (Huguenot refugee in Berlin, d. 1728): Hist. du conc. de Constance, Amsterdam, 1714; also Hist. du conc. de Pisa, Amsterdam, 1724, Engl. trans., 2 vols., London, 1780. — B. Huebler Die Konstanzer Reformation u. d. Konkordate von 1418, Leipzig, 1867. — U. Lenz: Drei Traktate aus d. Schriftencyclus d. Konst. Konzils, Marburg, 1876. Discusses the authorship of the tracts De modis, De necessitate, and De difficultate, ascribing them to Nieheim. — B. Bess: Studien zur Gesch. d. Konst. Konzils, Marburg, 1891. — J. H. Wylie: The Counc. of Const. to the Death of J. Hus, London, 1900. — *J. B. Schwab: J. Gerson, Wuerzburg, 1868. — *P. Tschackert: Peter von Ailli, Gotha, 1877. — Döllinger-Friedrick: D. Papstthum, new ed., Munich, 1892, pp. 154-l64. F. X. Funk: Martin V. und d. Konzil von Konstanz in Abhandlungen u.Untersuchungen, 2 vols., Paderborn, 1897, I. 489-498. The works cited in § 1, especially, Creighton, I. 200-420, Hefele, VI. 992-1043, VII. 1-375, Pastor, I. 188-279, Valois, IV., Salembier, 250 sqq.; Eine Invektive gegen Gregor xii., Nov. 1, 1408, in Ztschr. f. Kirchengesch., 1907, p. 188 sq.

For § 17. The Council of Basel. — Lives of Martin V. and Eugenius IV. in Mansi: XXVIII. 975 sqq., 1171 sqq.; in Muratori: Ital. Scripp., and Platina: Hist. of the Popes, Engl. trans., II. 200-235. — Mansi, XXIX.-XXXI.; Labbaeus, XII. 454 — XIII. 1280. For C. of Siena, MANSI: XXVIII. 1058-1082. — Monum. concil. general. saec. XV., ed. by Palacky, 3 vols., Vienna, 1857-1896. Contains an account of C. of Siena by John Stojkoric of Ragusa, a delegate from the Univ. of Paris. John de Segovia: Hist. gest. gener. Basil. conc., new ed., Vienna, 1873. Segovia, a Spaniard, was a prominent figure in the Basel Council and one of Felix V.’s cardinals. For his writings, see Haller’s Introd. Concil. Basiliense. Studien und Quellen zur Gesch. d. Concils von Basel, with Introd. ed. by T. Haller, 4 vols., Basel, 1896-1903. Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini: Commentarii de gestis concil. Basil., written 1440 to justify Felix’s election, ed. by Fea, Rome, 1823; also Hist. Frederici III., trans. by T. Ilgen, 2 vols., Leipzig. No date. Aeneas, afterward Pius II., “did not say and think the same thing at all times,” says Haller, Introd., p. 12. — See Voigt: Enea Sylvio de’ Piccolomini, etc., 3 vols., Berlin, 1856-1863. — Infessura: Diario della cittá di Roma, Rome, 1890, PP. 22-42. — F. P. Abert: Eugenius IV., Mainz, 1884. — Wattenbach: Roem Papstthum, pp. 271-284. — Hefele-Knoepfler, VII. 375-849. Döllinger-Friedrich: Papstthum, 160 sqq. — Creighton, II. 3-273. — Pastor, I. 209 — 306. — Gregorovius, VI.-VII. — M. G. Perouse: Louis Aleman et la fin du grand schisme, Paris, 1805. A detailed account of the C. of Basel.

For § 18. The Ferrara-Florence Council. — Abram of Crete: Historia, in Latin trans., Rome, 1521; the Greek original by order of Gregory XIII., Rome, 1577; new Latin trans., Rome, 1612. — Sylv. Syropulos: Vera Hist. unionis non verae inter Graecos et Latinos, ed. by Creyghton, Haag, 1660. — Mansi, XXXI., contains the documents collected by Mansi himself, and also the Acts published by Horatius Justinian, XXXI. 1355-1711, from a Vatican MS., 1638. The Greek and Latin texts are printed side by side. — Labbaeus and Harduin also give Justinian’s Acts and their own collections. — T. Frommann: Krit. Beitraege zur Gesch. d. florentinischen Kircheneinigung, Hale, 1872. — Knoepfler, art. Ferrara-Florenz, in Wetzer-Welte: IV. 1363-1380. Tschackert, art. Ferrara-Florenz, in Herzog, VI. 46 48. — Döllinger-Friedrich: Papstthum, pp. 166-171.


13. The Schism Begun. 1378

The death of Gregory XI. was followed by the schism of Western Christendom, which lasted forty years, and proved to be a greater misfortune for the Church than the Avignon captivity. Anti-popes the Church had had, enough of them since the days of Gregory VII., from Wibert of Ravenna chosen by the will of Henry IV. to the feeble Peter of Corbara, elected under Lewis the Bavarian. Now, two lines of popes, each elected by a college of cardinals, reigned, the one at Rome, the other in Avignon, and both claiming to be in the legitimate succession from St. Peter.

Gregory XI. foresaw the confusion that was likely to follow at his death, and sought to provide against the catastrophe of a disputed election, and probably also to insure the choice of a French pope, by pronouncing in advance an election valid, no matter where the conclave might be held. The rule that the conclave should convene in the locality where the pontiff died, was thus set aside. Gregory knew well the passionate feeling in Rome against the return of the papacy to the banks of the Rhone. A clash was almost inevitable. While the pope lay a-dying, the cardinals at several sittings attempted to agree upon his successor, but failed.

On April 7, 1378, ten days after Gregory’s death, the conclave met in the Vatican, and the next day elected the Neapolitan, Bartholomew Prignano, archbishop of Bari. Of the sixteen cardinals present, four were Italians, eleven Frenchmen, and one Spaniard, Peter de Luna, who later became famous as Benedict XIII. The French party was weakened by the absence of the six cardinals, left behind at Avignon, and still another was absent. Of the Italians, two were Romans, Tebaldeschi, an old man, and Giacomo Orsini, the youngest member of the college. The election of an Italian not a member of the curia was due to factions which divided the French and to the compulsive attitude of the Roman populace, which insisted upon an Italian for pope.

The French cardinals were unable to agree upon a candidate from their own number. One of the two parties into which they were split, the Limousin party, to which Gregory XI. and his predecessors had belonged, numbered six cardinals. The Italian mob outside the Vatican was as much a factor in the situation as the divisions in the conclave itself. A scene of wild and unrestrained turbulence prevailed in the square of St. Peter’s. The crowd pressed its way into the very spaces of the Vatican, and with difficulty a clearing was made for the entrance of all the cardinals. To prevent the exit of the cardinals, the Banderisi, or captains of the thirteen districts into which Rome was divided, had taken possession of the city and closed the gates. The mob, determined to keep the papacy on the Tiber, filled the air with angry shouts and threats. “We will have a Roman for pope or at least an Italian.” — Romano, romano, lo volemo, o almanco Italiano was the cry. On the first night soldiers clashed their spears in the room underneath the chamber where the conclave was met, and even thrust them through the ceiling. A fire of combustibles was lighted under the window. The next morning, as their excellencies were saying the mass of the Holy Spirit and engaged in other devotions, the noises became louder and more menacing. One cardinal, d’Aigrefeuille, whispered to Orsini, “better elect the devil than die.”

It was under such circumstances that the archbishop of Bari was chosen. After the choice had been made, and while they were waiting to get the archbishop’s consent, six of the cardinals dined together and seemed to be in good spirits. But the mob’s impatience to know what had been done would brook no delay, and Orsini, appearing at the window, cried out “go to St. Peter.” This was mistaken for an announcement that old Tebaldeschi, cardinal of St. Peter’s, had been chosen, and a rush was made for the cardinal’s palace to loot it, as the custom was when a cardinal was elected pope. The crowd surged through the Vatican and into the room where the cardinals had been meeting and, as Valois puts it, “the pillage of the conclave had begun.” To pacify the mob, two of the cardinals, half beside themselves with fright, pointed to Tebaldeschi, set him up on a chair, placed a white mitre on his head, and threw a red cloak over his shoulders. The old man tried to indicate that he was not the right person. But the throngs continued to bend down before him in obeisance for several hours, till it became known that the successful candidate was Prignano.

In the meantime the rest of the cardinals forsook the building and sought refuge, some within the walls of St. Angelo, and four by flight beyond the walls of the city. The real pope was waiting for recognition while the members of the electing college were fled. But by the next day the cardinals had sufficiently regained their self-possession to assemble again, — all except the four who had put the city walls behind them, — and Cardinal Peter de Vergne, using the customary formula, proclaimed to the crowd through the window: “I announce to you a great joy. You have a pope, and he calls himself Urban VI.” The new pontiff was crowned on April 18, in front of St. Peter’s, by Cardinal Orsini.

The archbishop had enjoyed the confidence of Gregory XI. He enjoyed a reputation for austere morals and strict conformity to the rules of fasting and other observances enjoined by the Church. He wore a hair shirt, and was accustomed to retire with the Bible in his hand. At the moment of his election no doubt was expressed as to its validity. Nieheim, who was in the city at the time, declared that Urban was canonical pope-elect. “This is the truth,” he wrote, “and no one can honestly deny it.” All the cardinals in Rome yielded Urban submission, and in a letter dated May 8 they announced to the emperor and all Christians the election and coronation. The cardinals at Avignon wrote acknowledging him, and ordered the keys to the castle of St. Angelo placed in his hands. It is probable that no one would have thought of denying Urban’s rights if the pope had removed to Avignon, or otherwise yielded to the demands of the French members of the curia. His failure to go to France, Urban declared to be the cause of the opposition to him.

Seldom has so fine an opportunity been offered to do a worthy thing and to win a great name as was offered to Urban VI. It was the opportunity to put an end to the disturbance in the Church by maintaining the residence of the papacy in its ancient seat, and restoring to it the dignity which it had lost by its long exile. Urban, however, was not equal to the occasion, and made an utter failure. He violated all the laws of common prudence and tact. His head seemed to be completely turned. He estranged and insulted his cardinals. He might have made provision for a body of warm supporters by the prompt appointment of new members to the college, but even this measure he failed to take till it was too late. The French king, it is true, was bent upon having the papacy return to French soil, and controlled the French cardinals. But a pope of ordinary shrewdness was in position to foil the king. This quality Urban VI. lacked, and the sacred college, stung by his insults, came to regard him as an intruder in St. Peter’s chair.

In his concern for right living, Urban early took occasion in a public allocution to reprimand the cardinals for their worldliness and for living away from their sees. He forbade their holding more than a single appointment and accepting gifts from princes. To their demand that Avignon continue to be the seat of the papacy, Urban brusquely told them that Rome and the papacy were joined together, and he would not separate them. As the papacy belonged not to France but to the whole world, he would distribute the promotions to the sacred college among the nations.

Incensed at the attack made upon their habits and perquisites, and upon their national sympathies, the French cardinals, giving the heat of the city as the pretext, removed one by one to Anagni, while Urban took up his summer residence at Tivoli. His Italian colleagues followed him, but they also went over to the French. No pope had ever been left more alone. Forming a compact body, the French members of the curia demanded the pope’s resignation. The Italians, who at first proposed the calling of a council, acquiesced. The French seceders then issued a declaration, dated Aug. 2, in which Urban was denounced as an apostate, and his election declared void in view of the duress under which it was accomplished. It asserted that the cardinals at the time were in mortal terror from the Romans. Now that he would not resign, they anathematized him. Urban replied in a document called the Factum, insisting upon the validity of his election. Retiring to Fondi, in Neapolitan territory, the French cardinals proceeded to a new eIection, Sept. 20, 1378, the choice falling upon one of their number, Robert of Geneva, the son of Amadeus, count of Geneva. He was one of those who, four months before, had pointed out Tebaldeschi to the Roman mob. The three Italian cardinals, though they did not actively participate in the election, offered no resistance. Urban is said to have received the news with tears, and to have expressed regret for his untactful and self-willed course. Perhaps he recalled the fate of his fellow-Neapolitan, Peter of Murrhone, whose lack of worldly wisdom a hundred years before had lost him the papal crown. To establish himself on the papal throne, he appointed 29 cardinals. But it was too late to prevent the schism which Gregory XI. had feared and a wise ruler would have averted.

Robert of Geneva, at the time of his election 36 years old, came to the papal honor with his hands red from the bloody massacre of Cesena. He had the reputation of being a politician and a fast liver. He was consecrated Oct. 31 under the name of Clement VII. It was a foregone conclusion that he would remove the papal seat back to Avignon. He first attempted to overthrow Urban on his own soil, but the attempt failed. Rome resisted, and the castle of St. Angelo, which was in the hands of his supporters, he lost, but not until its venerable walls were demolished, so that at a later time the very goats clambered over the stones. He secured the support of Joanna, and Louis of Anjou whom she had chosen as the heir of her kingdom, but the war which broke out between Urban and Naples fell out to Urban’s advantage. The duke of Anjou was deposed, and Charles of Durazzo, of the royal house of Hungary, Joanna’s natural heir, appointed as his successor. Joanna herself fell into Charles’ hands and was executed, 1882, on the charge of having murdered her first husband. The duke of Brunswick was her fourth marital attempt. Clement VII. bestowed upon the duke of Anjou parts of the State of the Church and the high-sounding but empty title of duke of Adria. A portion of Urban’s reward for crowning Charles, 1881, was the lordship over Capria, Amalfi, Fondi, and other localities, which he bestowed upon his unprincipled and worthless nephew, Francis Prignano. In the war over Naples, the pope had made free use of the treasure of the Roman churches.

Clement’s cause in Italy was lost, and there was nothing for him to do but to fall back upon his supporter, Charles V. He returned to France by way of the sea and Marseilles.

Thus the schism was completed, and Western Europe had the spectacle of two popes elected by the same college of cardinals without a dissenting voice, and each making full claims to the prerogative of the supreme pontiff of the Christian world. Each pope fulminated the severest judgments of heaven against the other. The nations of Europe and its universities were divided in their allegiance or, as it was called, their “obedience.” The University of Paris, at first neutral, declared in favor of Robert of Geneva, as did Savoy, the kingdoms of Spain, Scotland, and parts of Germany. England, Sweden, and the larger part of Italy supported Urban. The German emperor, Charles IV., was about to take the same side when he died, Nov. 29, 1378. Urban also had the vigorous support of Catherine of Siena. Hearing of the election which had taken place at Fondi she wrote to Urban: “I have heard that those devils in human form have resorted to an election. They have chosen not a vicar of Christ, but an anti-Christ. Never will I cease, dear father, to look upon you as Christ’s true vicar on earth.”

The papal schism which Pastor has called “the greatest misfortune that could be thought of for the Church” soon began to call forth indignant protests from the best men of the time. Western Christendom had never known such a scandal. The seamless coat of Christ was rent in twain, and Solomon’s words could no longer be applied, “My dove is but One.” The divine claims of the papacy itself began to be matter of doubt. Writers like Wyclif made demands upon the pope to return to Apostolic simplicity of manners in sharp language such as no one had ever dared to use before. Many sees had two incumbents; abbeys, two abbots; parishes, two priests. The maintenance of two popes involved an increased financial burden, and both papal courts added to the old practices new inventions to extract revenue. Clement VII.’s agents went everywhere, striving to win support for his obedience, and the nations, taking advantage of the situation, magnified their authority to the detriment of the papal power.

The following is a list of the popes of the Roman and Avignon lines, and the Pisan line whose legitimacy has now no advocates in the Roman communion.




Roman Line Avignon Line   

Urban VI., 1378-1389. Clement VII., 1378-1394.   

Boniface IX., 1389-1404. Benedict XIII., 1394-1409.   

Innocent VII., 1404-1406. Deposed at Pisa, 1409 and at Constance, 1417, d. 1424   

Gregory XII., 1406-1415.   

Deposed at Pisa, 1409. Resigned at Constance, 1415, d. 1417.  



Pisan Line   

Alexander V., 1409-1410.   

John XXIII., 1410-1415.   

Martin V., 1417-1431.   

Acknowledged by the whole Latin Church.  


The question of the legitimacy of Urban VI.’s pontificate is still a matter of warm dispute. As neither pope nor council has given a decision on the question, Catholic scholars feel no constraint in discussing it. French writers have been inclined to leave the matter open. This was the case with Bossuet, Mansi, Martene, as it is with modern French writers. Valois hesitatingly, Salembier positively, decides for Urban. Historians, not moved by French sympathies, pronounce strongly in favor of the Roman line, as do Hefele, Funk, Hergenroether-Kirsch, Denifle, and Pastor. The formal recognition of Urban by all the cardinals and their official announcement of his election to the princes would seem to put the validity of his election beyond doubt. On the other hand, the declaratio sent forth by the cardinals nearly four months after Urban’s election affirms that the cardinals were in fear of their lives when they voted; and according to the theory of the canon law, constraint invalidates an election as constraint invalidated Pascal II.’s concession to Henry V. It was the intention of the cardinals, as they affirm, to elect one of their number, till the tumult became so violent and threatening that to protect themselves they precipitately elected Prignano. They state that the people had even filled the air with the cry, “Let them be killed,” moriantur. A panic prevailed. When the tumult abated, the cardinals sat down to dine, and after dinner were about to proceed to a re-election, as they say, when the tumult again became threatening, and the doors of the room where they were sitting were broken open, so that they were forced to flee for their lives.

To this testimony were added the depositions of individual cardinals later. Had Prignano proved complaisant to the wishes of the French party, there is no reason to suspect that the validity of his election would ever have been disputed. Up to the time when the vote was cast for Urban, the cardinals seem not to have been under duress from fear, but to have acted freely. After the vote had been cast, they felt their lives were in danger. If the cardinals had proceeded to a second vote, as Valois has said, Urban might have been elected. The constant communications which passed between Charles V. and the French party at Anagni show him to have been a leading factor in the proceedings which followed and the reconvening of the conclave which elected Robert of Geneva.

On the other hand, the same body of cardinals which elected Urban deposed him, and, in their capacity as princes of the Church, unanimously chose Robert as his successor. The question of the authority of the sacred college to exercise this prerogative is still a matter of doubt. It received the abdication of Coelestine V. and elected a successor to him while he was still living. In that case, however, the papal throne became vacant by the supreme act of the pope himself.


14. Further Progress of the Schism. 1378-1409

The territory of Naples remained the chief theatre of the conflict between the papal rivals, Louis of Anjou, who had the support of Clement VII., continuing to assert his claim to the throne. In 1383 Urban secretly left Rome for Naples, but was there held in virtual confinement till he had granted Charles of Durazzo’s demands. He then retired to Nocera, which belonged to his nephew. The measures taken by the cardinals at Anagni had taught him no lesson. His insane severity and self-will continued, and brought him into the danger of losing the papal crown. Six of his cardinals entered into a conspiracy to dethrone him, or at least to make him subservient to the curia. The plot was discovered, and Urban launched the interdict against Naples, whose king was supposed to have been a party to it. The offending cardinals were imprisoned in an old cistern, and afterwards subjected to the torture. Forced to give up the town and to take refuge in the fortress, the relentless pontiff is said to have gone three or four times daily to the window, and, with candles burning and to the sound of a bell, to have solemnly pronounced the formula of excommunication against the besieging troops. Allowed to depart, and proceeding with the members of his household across the country, Urban reached Trani and embarked on a Genoese ship which finally landed him at Genoa, 1386. On the way, the crew threatened to carry him to Avignon, and had to be bought off by the unfortunate pontiff. Was ever a ruler in a worse predicament, beating about on the Mediterranean, than Urban! Five of the cardinals who had been dragged along in chains now met with a cruel end. Adam Aston, the English cardinal, Urban had released at the request of the English king. But towards the rest of the alleged conspirators he showed the heartless relentlessness of a tyrant. The chronicler Nieheim, who was with the pope at Naples and Nocera, declares that his heart was harder than granite. Different rumors were afloat concerning the death the prelates were subjected to, one stating they had been thrown into the sea, another that they had their heads cut off with an axe; another report ran that their bodies were buried in a stable after being covered with lime and then burnt.

In the meantime, two of the prelates upon whom Urban had conferred the red hat, both Italians, went over to Clement VII. and were graciously received.

Breaking away from Genoa, Urban went by way of Lucca to Perugia, and then with another army started off for Naples. Charles of Durazzo, who had been called to the throne of Hungary and murdered in 1386, was succeeded by his young son Ladislaus (1386-1414), but his claim was contested by the heir of Louis of Anjou (d. 1384). The pontiff got no farther than Ferentino, and turning back was carried in a carriage to Rome, where he again entered the Vatican, a few months before his death, Oct. 15, 1389.

Bartholomew Prignano had disappointed every expectation. He was his own worst enemy. He was wholly lacking in common prudence and the spirit of conciliation. It is to his credit that, as Nieheim urges, he never made ecclesiastical preferment the object of sale. Whatever were his virtues before he received the tiara, he had as pope shown himself in every instance utterly unfit for the responsibilities of a ruler.

Clement VII., who arrived in Avignon in June, 1379, stooped before the kings of France, Charles V. (d. 1380) and Charles VI. He was diplomatic and versatile where his rival was impolitic and intractable. He knew how to entertain at his table with elegance. The distinguished preacher, Vincent Ferrer, gave him his support. Among the new cardinals he appointed was the young prince of Luxemburg, who enjoyed a great reputation for saintliness. At the prince’s death, in 1387, miracles were said to be performed at his tomb, a circumstance which seemed to favor the claims of the Avignon pope.

Clement’s embassy to Bohemia for a while had hopes of securing a favorable declaration from the Bohemian king, Wenzil, but was disappointed. The national pride of the French was Clement’s chief dependence, and for the king’s support he was obliged to pay a humiliating price by granting the royal demands to bestow ecclesiastical offices and tax Church property. As a means of healing the schism, Clement proposed a general council, promising, in case it decided in his favor, to recognize Urban as leading cardinal. The first schismatic pope died suddenly of apoplexy, Sept. 16, 1394, having outlived Urban VI. five years.

Boniface IX., who succeeded Urban VI., was, like him, a Neapolitan, and only thirty-five at the time of his election. He was a man of fine presence, and understood the art of ruling, but lacked the culture of the schools, and could not even write, and was poor at saying the services. He had the satisfaction of seeing the kingdom of Naples yield to the Roman obedience. He also secured from the city of Rome full submission, and the document, by which it surrendered to him its republican liberties, remained for centuries the foundation of the relations of the municipality to the Apostolic See. Bologna, Perugia, Viterbo, and other towns of Italy which had acknowledged Clement, were brought into submission to him, so that before his death the entire peninsula was under his obedience except Genoa, which Charles VI. had reduced. All men’s eyes began again to turn to Rome.

In 1390, the Jubilee Year which Urban VI. had appointed attracted streams of pilgrims to Rome from Germany, Hungary, Bohemia, Poland, and England and other lands, as did also the Jubilee of 1400, commemorating the close of one and the beginning of another century. If Rome profited by these celebrations, Boniface also made in other ways the most of his opportunity, and his agents throughout Christendom returned with the large sums which they had realized from the sale of dispensations and indulgences. Boniface left behind him a reputation for avarice and freedom in the sale of ecclesiastical concessions. He was also notorious for his nepotism, enriching his brothers Andrew and John and other relatives with offices and wealth. Such offences, however, the Romans could easily overlook in view of the growing regard throughout Europe for the Roman line of popes and the waning influence of the Avignon line.

The preponderant influence of Ladislaus secured the election of still another Neapolitan, Cardinal Cosimo dei Migliorati, who took the name of Innocent VII. He also was only thirty-five years old at the time of his elevation to the papal chair, a doctor of both laws and expert in the management of affairs. The members of the conclave, before proceeding to an election, signed a document whereby each bound himself, if elected pope, to do all in his power to put an end to the schism. The English chronicler, Adam of Usk, who was present at the coronation, concludes the graphic description he gives of the ceremonies with a lament over the desolate condition of the Roman city. How much is Rome to be pitied! he exclaims, “for, once thronged with princes and their palaces, she is now a place of hovels, thieves, wolves, worms, full of desert spots and laid waste by her own citizens who rend each other in pieces. Once her empire devoured the world with the sword, and now her priesthood devours it with mummery. Hence the lines — 

“‘The Roman bites at all, and those he cannot bite, he hates.

Of rich he hears the call, but ’gainst the poor he shuts his gates.’”

Following the example of his two predecessors, Innocent excommunicated the Avignon anti-pope and his cardinals, putting them into the same list with heretics, pirates, and brigands. In revenge for his nephew’s cold-blooded slaughter of eleven of the chief men of the city, whose bodies he threw out of a window, he was driven from Rome, and after great hardships he reached Viterbo. But the Romans soon found Innocent’s rule preferable to the rule of Ladislaus, king of Naples and papal protector, and he was recalled, the nephew whose hands were reeking with blood making public entry into the Vatican with his uncle.

The last pope of the Roman line was Gregory XII. Angelo Correr, cardinal of St. Marks, Venice, elected 1406, was surpassed in tenacity as well as ability by the last of the Avignon popes, elected 1394, and better known as Peter de Luna of Aragon, one of the cardinals who joined in the revolt against Urban VI. and in the election of Clement VII. at Fondi.

Under these two pontiffs the controversy over the schism grew more and more acute and the scandal more and more intolerable. The nations of Western Europe were weary of the open and flagitious traffic in benefices and other ecclesiastical privileges, the fulminations of one pope against the other, and the division of sees and parishes between rival claimants. The University of Paris took the leading part in agitating remedial measures, and in the end the matter was taken wholly out of the hands of the two popes. The cardinals stepped into the foreground and, in the face of all canonical precedent, took the course which ultimately resulted in the reunion of the Church under one head.

Before Gregory’s election, the Roman cardinals, numbering fourteen, again entered into a compact stipulating that the successful candidate should by all means put an end to the schism, even, if necessary, by the abdication of his office. Gregory was fourscore at the time, and the chief consideration which weighed in his choice was that in men arrived at his age ambition usually runs low, and that Gregory would be more ready to deny himself for the good of the Church than a younger man.

Peter de Luna, one of the most vigorous personalities who have ever claimed the papal dignity, had the spirit and much of the ability of Hildebrand and his namesake, Gregory IX. But it was his bad star to be elected in the Avignon and not in the Roman succession. Had he been in the Roman line, he would probably have made his mark among the great ruling pontiffs. His nationality also was against him. The French had little heart in supporting a Spaniard and, at Clement’s death, the relations between the French king and the Avignon pope at once lost their cordiality. Peter was energetic of mind and in action, a shrewd observer, magnified his office, and never yielded an inch in the matter of papal prerogative. Through the administrations of three Roman pontiffs, he held on firmly to his office, outlived the two Reformatory councils of Pisa and Constance, and yielded not up this mortal flesh till the close of the first quarter of the fifteenth century, and was still asserting his claims and maintaining the dignity of pope at the time of his death. Before his election, he likewise entered into a solemn compact with his cardinals, promising to bend every effort to heal the unholy schism, even if the price were his own abdication.

The professions of both popes were in the right direction. They were all that could be desired, and all that remained was for either of them or for both of them to resign and make free room for a new candidate. The problem would thus have been easily settled, and succeeding generations might have canonized both pontiffs for their voluntary self-abnegation. But it took ten years to bring Gregory to this state of mind, and then almost the last vestige of power had been taken from him. Peter de Luna never yielded.

Undoubtedly, at the time of the election of Gregory XII., the papacy was passing through one of the grave crises in its history. There were not wanting men who said, like Langenstein, vice-chancellor of the University of Paris, that perhaps it was God’s purpose that there should be two popes indefinitely, even as David’s kingdom was divided under two sovereigns. Yea, and there were men who argued publicly that it made little difference how many there were, two or three, or ten or twelve, or as many as there were nations.

At his first consistory Gregory made a good beginning, when he asserted that, for the sake of the good cause of securing a united Christendom, he was willing to travel by land or by sea, by land, if necessary, with a pilgrim’s staff, by sea in a fishing smack, in order to come to an agreement with Benedict. He wrote to his rival on the Rhone, declaring that, like the woman who was ready to renounce her child rather than see it cut asunder, so each of them should be willing to cede his authority rather than be responsible for the continuance of the schism. He laid his hand on the New Testament and quoted the words that “he who exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” He promised to abdicate, if Benedict would do the same, that the cardinals of both lines might unite together in a new election; and he further promised not to add to the number of his cardinals, except to keep the number equal to the number of the Avignon college.

Benedict’s reply was shrewd, if not equally demonstrative. He, too, lamented the schism, which he pronounced detestable, wretched, and dreadful, but gently setting aside Gregory’s blunt proposal, suggested as the best resort the via discussionis, or the path of discussion, and that the cardinals of both lines should meet together, talk the matter over, and see what should be done, and then, if necessary, one or both popes might abdicate. Both popes in their communications called themselves “servant of the servants of God.” Gregory addressed Benedict as “Peter de Luna, whom some peoples in this wretched — miserabili — schism call Benedict XIII.”; and Benedict addressed the pope on the Tiber as “Angelus Correr, whom some, adhering to him in this most destructive — pernicioso — schism, call Gregory XII.” “We are both old men,” wrote Benedict. “Time is short; hasten, and do not delay in this good cause. Let us both embrace the ways of salvation and peace.”

Nothing could have been finer, but it was quickly felt that while both popes expressed themselves as ready to abdicate, positive as the professions of both were, each wanted to have the advantage when the time came for the election of the new pontiff to rule over the reunited Church.

As early as 1381, the University of Paris appealed to the king of France to insist upon the calling of a general council as the way to terminate the schism. But the duke of Anjou had the spokesman of the university, Jean Ronce, imprisoned, and the university was commanded to keep silence on the subject.

Prior to this appeal, two individuals had suggested the same idea, Konrad of Gelnhausen, and Henry of Langenstein, otherwise known as Henry of Hassia. Konrad, who wrote in 1380, and whose views led straight on to the theory of the supreme authority of councils, affirmed that there were two heads of the Church, and that Christ never fails it, even though the earthly head may fail by death or error. The Church is not the pope and the cardinals, but the body of the faithful, and this body gets its inner life directly from Christ, and is so far infallible. In this way he answers those who were forever declaring that in the absence of the pope’s call there would be no council, even if all the prelates were assembled, but only a conventicle.

In more emphatic terms, Henry of Langenstein, in 1381, justified the calling of a council without the pope’s intervention. The institution of the papacy by Christ, he declared, did not involve the idea that the action of the pope was always necessary, either in originating or consenting to legislation. The Church might have instituted the papacy, even had Christ not appointed it. If the cardinals should elect a pontiff not agreeable to the Church, the Church might set their choice aside. The validity of a council did not depend upon the summons or the ratification of a pope. Secular princes might call such a synod. A general council, as the representative of the entire Church, is above the cardinals, yea, above the pope himself. Such a council cannot err, but the cardinals and the pope may err.

The views of Langenstein, vice-chancellor of the University of Paris, represented the views of the faculties of that institution. They were afterwards advocated by John Gerson, one of the most influential men of his century, and one of the most honored of all the centuries. Among those who took the opposite view was the English Dominican and confessor of Benedict XIII., John Hayton. The University of Paris he called “a daughter of Satan, mother of error, sower of sedition, and the pope’s defamer,” and declared the pope was to be forced by no human tribunal, but to follow God and his own conscience.

In 1394, the University of Paris proposed three methods of healing the schism which became the platform over which the issue was afterwards discussed, namely, the via cessionis, or the abdication of both popes, the via compromissi, an adjudication of the claims of both by a commission, and the via synodi, or the convention of a general council to which the settlement of the whole matter should be left. No act in the whole history of this famous literary institution has given it wider fame than this proposal, coupled with the activity it displayed to bring the schism to a close. The method preferred by its faculties was the first, the abdication of both popes, which it regarded as the simplest remedy. It was suggested that the new election, after the popes had abdicated, should be consummated by the cardinals in office at the time of Gregory XI.’s decease, 1378, and still surviving, or by a union of the cardinals of both obediences.

The last method, settlement by a general council, which the university regarded as offering the most difficulty, it justified on the ground that the pope is subject to the Church as Christ was subject to his mother and Joseph. The authority of such a council lay in its constitution according to Christ’s words, “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Its membership should consist of doctors of theology and the laws taken from the older universities, and deputies of the orders, as well as bishops, many of whom were uneducated, — illiterati.

Clement VII. showed his displeasure with the university by forbidding its further intermeddling, and by condemning his cardinals who, without his permission, had met and recommended him to adopt one of the three ways. At Clement’s death the king of France called upon the Avignon college to postpone the election of a successor, but, surmising the contents of the letter, they prudently left it unopened until they had chosen Benedict XIII. Benedict at once manifested the warmest zeal in the healing of the schism, and elaborated his plan for meeting with Boniface IX., and coming to some agreement with him. These friendly propositions were offset by a summons from the king’s delegates, calling upon the two pontiffs to abdicate, and all but two of the Avignon cardinals favored the measure. But Benedict declared that such a course would seem to imply constraint, and issued a bull against it.

The two parties continued to express deep concern for the healing of the schism, but neither would yield. Benedict gained the support of the University of Toulouse, and strengthened himself by the promotion of Peter d’Ailly, chancellor of the University of Paris, to the episcopate. The famous inquisitor, Nicolas Eymericus, also one of his cardinals, was a firm advocate of Benedict’s divine claims. The difficulties were increased by the wavering course of Charles VI., 1380-1412, a man of feeble mind, and twice afflicted with insanity, whose brothers and uncles divided the rule of the kingdom amongst themselves. French councils attempted to decide upon a course for the nation to pursue, and a third council, meeting in Paris, 1398, and consisting of 11 archbishops and 60 bishops, all theretofore supporters of the Avignon pope, decided upon the so-called subtraction of obedience from Benedict. In spite of these discouragements, Benedict continued loyal to himself. He was forsaken by his cardinals and besieged by French troops in his palace and wounded. The spectacle of his isolation touched the heart and conscience of the French people, and the decree ordering the subtraction of obedience was annulled by the national parliament of 1403, which professed allegiance anew, and received from him full absolution.

When Gregory XII. was elected in 1406, the controversy over the schism was at white heat. England, Castile, and the German king, Wenzil, had agreed to unite with France in bringing it to an end. Pushed by the universal clamor, by the agitation of the University of Paris, and especially by the feeling which prevailed in France, Gregory and Benedict saw that the situation was in danger of being controlled by other hands than their own, and agreed to meet at Savona on the Gulf of Genoa to discuss their differences. In October, 1407, Benedict, attended by a military guard, went as far as Porto Venere and Savona. Gregory got as far as Lucca, when he declined to go farther, on the plea that Savona was in territory controlled by the French and on other pretexts. Nieheim represents the Roman pontiff as dissimulating during the whole course of the proceedings and as completely under the influence of his nephews and other favorites, who imposed upon the weakness of the old man, and by his doting generosity were enabled to live in luxury. At Lucca they spent their time in dancing and merry-making. This writer goes on to say that Gregory put every obstacle in the way of union. He is represented by another writer as having spent more in bonbons than his predecessors did for their wardrobes and tables, and as being only a shadow with bones and skin.

Benedict’s support was much weakened by the death of the king’s brother, the duke of Orleans, who had been his constant supporter. France threatened neutrality, and Benedict, fearing seizure by the French commander at Genoa, beat a retreat to Perpignan, a fortress at the foot of the Pyrenees, six miles from the Mediterranean. In May of the same year France again decreed “subtraction,” and a national French assembly in 1408 approved the calling of a council. The last stages of the contest were approaching.

Seven of Gregory’s cardinals broke away from him, and, leaving him at Lucca, went to Pisa, where they issued a manifesto appealing from a poorly informed pope to a better informed one, from Christ’s vicar to Christ himself, and to the decision of a general council. Two more followed. Gregory further injured his cause by breaking his solemn engagement and appointing four cardinals, May, 1408, two of them his nephews, and a few months later he added ten more. Cardinals of the Avignon obedience joined the Roman cardinals at Pisa and brought the number up to thirteen. Retiring to Livorno on the beautiful Italian lake of that name, and acting as if the popes were deposed, they as rulers of the Church appointed a general council to meet at Pisa, March 25, 1409.

As an offset, Gregory summoned a council of his own to meet in the territory either of Ravenna or Aquileja. Many of his closest followers had forsaken him, and even his native city of Venice withdrew from him its support. In the meantime Ladislaus had entered Rome and been hailed as king. It is, however, probable that this was with the consent of Gregory himself, who hoped thereby to gain sympathy for his cause. Benedict also exercised his sovereign power as pontiff and summoned a council to meet at Perpignan, Nov. 1, 1408.

The word “council,” now that the bold initiative was taken, was hailed as pregnant with the promise of sure relief from the disgrace and confusion into which Western Christendom had been thrown and of a reunion of the Church.