Today in World History: September 20th

The Western Schism, in which rival claimants to the Papacy resided both in Avignon and in Rome, began on this day in 1378, when many of the Cardinals from the Roman Catholic Church elected a second Pope. Following the end of the Avignon Papacy, which lasted for sixty-seven years and saw the Pope reside in Avignon under the influence of France, many of the Roman populace protested for the election of a Roman Pope. Finding no suitable candidate, the College of Cardinals appointed a Neapolitan Cardinal, Pope Urban VI. However, many of them began regretting their decision as the Pope became prone to outbursts of anger and violence. They moved the court to Anagni, a small town on the outskirts of Rome, where they elected Pope Clement VII. This new Pope restored the Papal court in Avignon, with the support of the Kingdoms of France, Castile, Aragon, Naples, Burgundy, Scotland, Savoy, and more. Meanwhile, Pope Urban had the support of England, Denmark, the Holy Roman Empire, Portugal, Sweden, Norway, Hungary, Poland, and other major powers. The Western Schism was a political issue, continuing after the deaths of the original Popes, quite unlike the Antipopes that had come before. Whereas they were appointed by secular rulers and other enemies of the Church, the Popes in Avignon were elected by the same Cardinals that had chosen the Roman Pope, causing a political divide in Europe. The two Popes failed to reach agreements on ending the rivalry, with even France eventually attempting to sway their own Pope into resigning in hopes of ending the crisis. Finally, in 1414, the Popes reached an agreement, becoming the last Popes to resign their position until 2013, finally electing a new Pope.


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