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Catholics, what was the significance and outcome of the Avignon Papacy (1309 to 1377)?

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  • 3 years ago
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    The Avignon Papacy was the time period in which the Roman Catholic pope resided in Avignon, France, instead of in Rome, from approximately 1309 to 1377. There was significant conflict between King Philip IV of France and Pope Boniface VIII. When the pope who succeeded Boniface VIII, Benedict XI, died after an exceedingly short reign, there was an extremely contentious papal conclave that eventually decided on Clement V, from France, as the next pope. Clement decided to remain in France and established a new papal residence in Avignon, France, in 1309. The next six popes who succeeded him, all French, kept the papal enclave in Avignon.

    In 1376, Pope Gregory XI decided to move the papacy back to Rome due to the steadily increasing amount of power the French monarchy had developed over the papacy in its time in Avignon. However, when Gregory XI died, his successor, Urban VI, was rejected by much of Christendom. This resulted in a new line of popes in Avignon in opposition to the popes in Rome. In what became known as the Western Schism, some clergy supported the Avignon popes, and others supported the Roman popes.

    The Western Schism gave rise to the conciliar movement (conciliarism), in which ecumenical church councils claimed authority over the papacy. At the Council of Pisa in 1410, a new pope, Alexander V, was elected and ruled for ten months before being replaced by John XXIII. So, for a time, there were three claimants to the papacy: one in Rome, one in Avignon, and one in Pisa. At the Council of Constance in 1417, John XXIII was deposed, Gregory XII of Rome was forced to resign, the Avignon popes were declared to be “antipopes,” and Pope Martin V was elected as the new pope in Rome. These decisions were accepted by the vast majority of Christendom, and so the Western Schism was ended, although there were various men claiming to be the pope in France until 1437.

    • Lesley
      Lv 6
      3 years agoReport

      Excellent overview of the conflicts relating to the Western Schism and how power shifted from France to Rome.

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  • 3 years ago

    I've got these details from the book below. Hope this helps build up the picture of events.

    This French papacy started with Clement V (1305-14) finally settling on Avignon and for most of the 14th century, no pope lived in Rome. Clement V approved the French plans to destroy the Order of the Knights of the Temple', a military crusading order. Those working to destroy them were aiming partly to disendow this very wealthy and influential order which had practically become a French banking corporation. The king of France benefited most from their disendowment.

    Pope John XXII (1316-34) reformed papal administration and a great papal financier. He was more like a president of a giant corporation than a spiritual leader.

    Pope Benedict XII (1334-42) was a theologian and greatly interested in the matter of heresy, He began construction of the papal palace at Avignon. He saw to it that recognition of the pope's supreme power percolated more effectively through al other levels of church government.

    Pope Clement VI (1342-52) provided revenue for the French king during the Hundred Year's War (with England). He bought the city of Avignon in 1348, lavishing huge amounts of money on pomp and ceremony and his family. His personal life left much to be desired, morally.

    Innocent VI (1352-62) dealt with reformation of abuses and paid attention to regaining papal control in Italy.

    Urban V (1362-1370) tackled expenditure and finally made it back to Rome in 1367 where he successfully imposed his authority on various factions. But he went back to Avignon in 1370, dying there that same year!

    Gregory XI (1370-78) left Avignon in 1376, entering Rome itself in 1377. In summary (the book says), "the Avignon papacy marked an advance on papal affairs... the papal court became more bureaucratic. A more centralized, effective, but more complicated papacy was developed. A more expensive papacy too... In the 14th century the growing costs of the papal courts; and of Italian wars, aroused more and more clamour for reform. The spiritual role of the the papacy seemed forgotten in the mad rush to collect income in exchange for some privilege or favour. This increased papal interference was sometimes objected to by other European powers...

    Angry crowds demanded an Italian pope, so Urban VI (1378-89) was elected. But "Urban soon proved to be too much of a dictator for the cardinals. Using the disorderly behaviour at his election as an excuse, some of the cardinals gathered and elected another pope, Clement VII." Then armed battles led to Clement VII retiring to Avignon in 1381. This marked the beginning of the Great Schism."

    Grey Tower deals with that, but I have just provided more details for the time period specified in the question.

    Source(s): The History of Christianity, Lion, 1977 pp 326-329
    • Lesley
      Lv 6
      3 years agoReport

      Really useful information about what was going on during this period of time. Many thanks.

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