Council of Constance

The Council of Constance is the 15th-century ecumenical council recognized by the Catholic Church, held from 1414 to 1418 in the Bishopric of Constance. The council ended the Western Schism by deposing or accepting the resignation of the remaining papal claimants and by electing Pope Martin V.

The council also condemned Jan Hus as a heretic and facilitated his execution by the civil authority. It also ruled on issues of national sovereignty, the rights of pagans and just war, in response to a conflict between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Kingdom of Poland and the Order of the Teutonic Knights. The council is important for its relationship to ecclesial conciliarism and Papal supremacy.

Council of Constance
Accepted byCatholic Church
Previous council
Next council
Convoked byAntipope John XXIII, confirmed by Pope Gregory XII
TopicsWestern Schism
Documents and statements
Deposition of John XXIII and Benedict XIII, condemnation of Jan Hus, election of Martin V
Chronological list of ecumenical councils

Origin and background

Meister der Chronik des Konzils von Konstanz 001
Emperor Sigismund, his second wife, Barbara of Celje, and their daughter, Elizabeth of Luxembourg, at the Council of Constance

The council's main purpose was to end the Papal schism which had resulted from the confusion following the Avignon Papacy. Pope Gregory XI's return to Rome in 1377, followed by his death (in 1378) and the controversial election of his successor, Pope Urban VI, resulted in the defection of a number of cardinals and the election of a rival pope based at Avignon in 1378. After thirty years of schism, the rival courts convened the Council of Pisa seeking to resolve the situation by deposing the two claimant popes and electing a new one.[1] The council claimed that in such a situation, a council of bishops had greater authority than just one bishop, even if he were the bishop of Rome. Though the elected Antipope Alexander V and his successor, Antipope John XXIII (not to be confused with the 20th-century Pope John XXIII), gained widespread support, especially at the cost of the Avignon antipope, the schism remained, now involving not two but three claimants: Gregory XII at Rome, Benedict XIII at Avignon, and John XXIII.

Therefore, many voices, including Sigismund, King of the Romans and of Hungary (and later Holy Roman Emperor), pressed for another council to resolve the issue. That council was called by John XXIII and was held from 16 November 1414 to 22 April 1418 in Constance, Germany. According to Joseph McCabe, the council was attended by roughly 29 cardinals, 100 "learned doctors of law and divinity", 134 abbots, and 183 bishops and archbishops.


Sigismund arrived on Christmas Eve 1414 and exercised a profound and continuous influence on the course of the council in his capacity of imperial protector of the church. An innovation at the council was that instead of voting as individuals, the bishops voted in national blocs. The vote by nations was in great measure the initiative of the English, German, and French members. The legality of this measure, in imitation of the "nations" of the universities, was more than questionable, but during February 1415 it carried and thenceforth was accepted in practice, though never authorized by any formal decree of the council. The four "nations" consisted of England, France, Italy, and Germany, with Poles, Hungarians, Danes, and Scandinavians counted with the Germans. While the Italian representatives made up half of those in attendance, they were equal in influence to the English who sent twenty deputies and three bishops.[2]

Decrees and doctrinal status

Richental Konzilssitzung Muenster
Bishops debating with the pope at the Council of Constance

Many members of the new assembly (comparatively few bishops, but many doctors of theology and of canon and civil law, procurators of bishops, deputies of universities, cathedral chapters, provosts, etc., agents and representatives of princes, etc.) strongly favored the voluntary abdication of all three popes, as did King Sigismund.[2]

Although the Italian bishops who had accompanied John XXIII in large numbers supported his legitimacy, he grew increasingly more suspicious of the council. Partly in response to a fierce anonymous attack on his character from an Italian source, on 2 March 1415 he promised to resign. However, on 20 March he secretly fled the city and took refuge at Schaffhausen in territory of his friend Frederick, Duke of Austria-Tyrol.[2]

The famous decree Haec Sancta Synodus, which gave primacy to the authority of the council and thus became a source for ecclesial conciliarism, was promulgated in the fifth session, 6 April 1415:

Legitimately assembled in the holy Spirit, constituting a general council and representing the Catholic church militant, it has power immediately from Christ; and everyone of whatever state or dignity, even papal, is bound to obey it in those matters which pertain to the faith, the eradication of the said schism, and the general reform of the said church of God in head and members.

Haec Sancta Synodus marks the high-water mark of the Conciliar movement of reform.[3][4] This decree, however, is not considered valid by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, since it was never approved by Pope Gregory XII or his successors, and was passed by the council in a session before his confirmation. The church declared the first sessions of the Council of Constance an invalid and illicit assembly of bishops, gathered under the authority of John XXIII.

The acts of the council were not made public until 1442, at the behest of the Council of Basel; they were printed in 1500. The creation of a book on how to die was ordered by the council, and thus written in 1415 under the title Ars moriendi.

Ending the Western Schism

Imperia statue
Imperia, a 1993-erected statue commemorating the council

With the support of King Sigismund, enthroned before the high altar of the cathedral of Constance, the Council of Constance recommended that all three papal claimants abdicate, and that another be chosen. In part because of the constant presence of the King, other rulers demanded that they have a say in who would be pope.[5]

Gregory XII then sent representatives to Constance, whom he granted full powers to summon, open, and preside over an Ecumenical Council; he also empowered them to present his resignation to the Papacy. This would pave the way for the end of the Western Schism.

The legates were received by King Sigismund and by the assembled Bishops, and the King yielded the presidency of the proceedings to the papal legates, Cardinal Giovanni Dominici of Ragusa and Prince Carlo Malatesta. On 4 July 1415 the Bull of Gregory XII which appointed Dominici and Malatesta as his proxies at the council was formally read before the assembled Bishops. The cardinal then read a decree of Gregory XII which convoked the council and authorized its succeeding acts. Thereupon, the Bishops voted to accept the summons. Prince Malatesta immediately informed the council that he was empowered by a commission from Pope Gregory XII to resign the Papal Throne on the Pontiff's behalf. He asked the council whether they would prefer to receive the abdication at that point or at a later date. The Bishops voted to receive the Papal abdication immediately. Thereupon the commission by Gregory XII authorizing his proxy to resign the Papacy on his behalf was read and Malatesta, acting in the name of Gregory XII, pronounced the resignation of the papacy by Gregory XII and handed a written copy of the resignation to the assembly.

Former Pope Gregory XII was then created titular Cardinal Bishop of Porto and Santa Ruffina by the council, with rank immediately below the Pope (which made him the highest-ranking person in the church, since, due to his abdication, the See of Peter in Rome was vacant). Gregory XII's cardinals were accepted as true cardinals by the council, but the members of the council delayed electing a new pope for fear that a new pope would restrict further discussion of pressing issues in the church.

By the time the anti-popes were all deposed and the new Pope, Martin V, was elected, two years had passed since Gregory XII's abdication, and Gregory was already dead. The council took great care to protect the legitimacy of the succession, ratified all his acts, and a new pontiff was chosen. The new pope, Martin V, elected November 1417, soon asserted the absolute authority of the papal office.

Condemnation of Jan Hus

Vaclav Brozik - Hus
Painting of Jan Hus in Council of Constance by Václav Brožík

A second goal of the council was to continue the reforms begun at the Council of Pisa (1409). The reforms were largely directed against John Wycliffe, mentioned in the opening session and condemned in the eighth on 4 May 1415, and Jan Hus, along with their followers. Hus, summoned to Constance under a letter of safe conduct, was found guilty of heresy by the council and turned over to the secular court. "This holy synod of Constance, seeing that God's church has nothing more that it can do, relinquishes Jan Hus to the judgment of the secular authority and decrees that he is to be relinquished to the secular court." (Council of Constance Session 15 – 6 July 1415). The secular court sentenced him to the stake.

Jerome of Prague, a supporter of Hus, came to Constance to offer assistance but was similarly arrested, judged, found guilty of heresy and turned over to the same secular court, with the same outcome as Hus. Poggio Bracciolini attended the council and related the unfairness of the process against Jerome.[6]

Paweł Włodkowic and the other Polish representatives to the Council of Constance publicly defended Hus.

Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic conflict

In 1411, the First Peace of Thorn ended the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War, in which the Teutonic Knights fought the Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania. However, the peace was not stable and further conflicts arose regarding demarcation of the Samogitian borders. The tensions erupted into the brief Hunger War in summer 1414. It was concluded that the disputes would be mediated by the Council of Constance.

The Polish-Lithuanian position was defended by Paulus Vladimiri, rector of the Jagiellonian University, who challenged legality of the Teutonic crusade. He argued that a forced conversion was incompatible with free will, which was an essential component of a genuine conversion.[7] Therefore, the Knights could only wage a defensive war if pagans violated natural rights of the Christians. Vladimiri further stipulated that infidels had rights which had to be respected, and neither the Pope nor the Holy Roman Emperor had the authority to violate them. Lithuanians also brought a group of Samogitian representatives to testify to atrocities committed by the Knights.[7]

The Dominican theologian John of Falkenberg proved to be the fiercest opponent of the Poles. In his Liber de doctrina, Falkenberg argued that "the Emperor has the right to slay even peaceful infidels simply because they are pagans. ... The Poles deserve death for defending infidels, and should be exterminated even more than the infidels; they should be deprived of their sovereignty and reduced to slavery."[8] In Satira, he attacked Polish-Lithuanian King Jogaila, calling him a "mad dog" unworthy to be king. Falkenberg was condemned and imprisoned for such libel, but was not officially accused of heresy.[7] Other opponents included Grand Master's proctor Peter Wormditt, Dominic of San Gimignano, John Urbach, Ardecino de Porta of Novara, and Bishop of Ciudad Rodrigo Andrew Escobar. They argued that the Knights were perfectly justified in their crusade as it was a sacred duty of Christians to spread the true faith.[7] Cardinal Pierre d'Ailly published an independent opinion that attempted to somewhat balance both Polish and Teutonic positions.[7]

The council did not make any political decisions. It established the Diocese of Samogitia, with its seat in Medininkai and subordinated to Lithuanian dioceses, and appointed Matthias of Trakai as the first bishop. Pope Martin V appointed Polish-Lithuanian King Jogaila and Lithuanian Grand Duke Vytautas as vicars general in Pskov and Veliky Novgorod in recognition of their Catholicism.[7] After another round of futile negotiations, the Gollub War broke out in 1422. It ended with the Treaty of Melno. Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic wars continued for another hundred years.



  1. ^ Frenken, Ansgar. "Vom Schisma zur 'verfluchten Dreiheit'" [From the Schism to the 'Accursed Trinity']. Damals: 16–21.
  2. ^ a b c Shahan, Thomas. "Council of Constance." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 30 December 2015
  3. ^ For good, brief discussions of the politics of conciliarism at and after Constance, see Black, Anthony. 1998, "Popes and Councils" in The New Cambridge Medieval History, Volume VII c. 11415–c. 1500, edited by Christopher Allmand, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 67-76; and Watts, John. 2009, The Making of Polities, Europe 1300-1500, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 291-301.
  4. ^ Councils, Hungary: Piar, archived from the original on 2008-01-01.
  5. ^ Stober, Karin (2014). "Sigismunds Meisterstück" [Sigismund's Masterpiece]. Damals. No. 2. pp. 24–31.
  6. ^ William Shepherd, The Life of Poggio Bracciolini, 1837, Ch. II, p. 68-81. Google Play Book
  7. ^ a b c d e f Christiansen, Eric (1997). The Northern Crusades (2nd ed.). Penguin Books. pp. 231–241. ISBN 0-14-026653-4.
  8. ^ doctor John Cassar The Rights of Nations: Reflections on the Address of Pope John Paul II to the 50th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Center for Global Education, St. John's University 1997


External links

Coordinates: 47°39′48″N 9°10′37″E / 47.66333°N 9.17694°E


The 1410s decade ran from January 1, 1410, to December 31, 1419.

== Events ==

=== 1410 ===

==== January–December ====

March 25 – The first of the Yongle Emperor's campaigns against the Mongols is launched, leading to the fall of Öljei Temür Khan.

March 29 – The Aragonese capture Oristano, capital of the Giudicato di Arborea in Sardinia.

July 15 – Battle of Grunwald (Žalgiris), also known as Battle of Tannenberg: Polish and Lithuanian forces under cousins Jogaila and Vytautas the Great decisively defeat the forces of the Teutonic Knights, whose power is broken.

==== Date unknown ====

Jan Hus is excommunicated by the Archbishop of Prague.

Antipope John XXIII is elected.

Construction begins on Castle Woerden in the Netherlands.

The Prague Astronomical Clock (also known as Prague Orloj) is built by Mikuláš of Kadaň and Jan Šindel in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.

=== 1411 ===

==== January–December ====

February 1 – The First Peace of Thorn is signed at Thorn in the Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights, ending the Polish–Lithuanian–Teutonic War.

July 6 – Ming Dynasty Admiral Zheng He returns to Nanjing after his second voyage, and presents the Sinhalese king, captured during the Ming–Kotte War, to the Yongle Emperor.

July 24 – Battle of Harlaw in Scotland: Domhnall of Islay, Lord of the Isles, and an army commanded by Alexander Stewart, Earl of Mar battle to a bloody draw.

September 3 – The Treaty of Selymbria is concluded between the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Venice.

September 21 – King Henry IV of England calls his ninth parliament.

November 30 – Henry IV dismisses Prince Henry and his supporters from the government.

==== Date unknown ====

The University of St Andrews is founded by a papal bull.

Under the Yongle Emperor of Ming China, work begins to reinstate the ancient Grand Canal of China, which fell into disuse and dilapidation during the previous Yuan Dynasty. Between 1411 and 1415, a total of 165,000 laborers dredge the canal bed in Shandong, build new channels, embankments, and canal locks. Four large reservoirs in Shandong are also dug, in order to regulate water levels, instead of resorting to pumping water from local tables. A large dam is also constructed, to divert water from the Wen River southwest into the Grand Canal.

Constantinople is briefly besieged by the Ottoman pretender Musa Çelebi, due to Byzantine support for Süleyman Çelebi during the Ottoman Interregnum.

(possibly early 1412) The Battle of İnceğiz between the rival brothers Mehmed Çelebi and Musa Çelebi, during the Ottoman Interregnum.

=== 1412 ===

==== January–December ====

January 16 – The Medici family are made official bankers of the Papacy.

January 25 – Ernest, Duke of Austria, marries Cymburgis of Masovia.

October 5 – Emperor Go-Komatsu, abdicates and Emperor Shoko accedes to the throne of Japan.

October 28 – Eric of Pomerania becomes sole ruler of the Kalmar Union (Sweden, Denmark and Norway), upon the death of Queen Margaret.

December – Battle of Chalagan: The Kara Koyunlu Turkomans defeat the Georgians under Constantine I of Georgia, and their ally Ibrahim I of Shirvan.

==== Date unknown ====

The first mention is made of Wallachian knights competing in a jousting tournament, in Buda.

John II of Castile declares the Valladolid laws, that restrict the social rights of Jews. Among many other restrictions, the laws force Jews to wear distinctive clothes, and deny them administrative positions.

Years after its publication in the 14th century, the Ming Dynasty Chinese artillery officer Jiao Yu adds the preface to his classic book on gunpowder warfare, the Huolongjing.

=== 1413 ===

==== January–December ====

March 20 – Henry V becomes King of England.

August 28 – The University of St Andrews in Scotland is chartered by papal bull.

October 2 – The Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania sign the Union of Horodło.

==== Date unknown ====

The Annals of the Joseon Dynasty begin in Korea.

Yishiha builds a Buddhist temple at Tyr, Russia, and puts up a stele describing his expedition to the lower Amur.

The Ottoman interregnum ends (after 1402); Mehmet I is the new sultan.

=== 1414 ===

==== January–December ====

January 7 – Michael Küchmeister von Sternberg becomes the 28th Grand Master of the Teutonic Order.

May 28 – Khizr Khan (Timur's governor of Multan) takes the Delhi Sultanate from Daulat Khan Lodi, founding the Sayyid Dynasty.

August 6 – Joanna II succeeds her brother Ladislaus, as Queen of Naples.

November 16 – The Council of Constance begins.

==== Date unknown ====

Ernest, Duke of Austria (head of the Leopoldian line of the House of Habsburg) is the last duke to be enthroned in the Duchy of Carinthia, according to the ancient Carantanian ritual of installing dukes at the Prince's Stone; he adopts the title of Archduke.

Alien priory cells are suppressed in England.

The Tibetan lama Je Tsongkhapa, of the Gelug school of Buddhism, declines the offer of the Yongle Emperor of China to appear in the capital at Nanjing, although he sends his disciple Chosrje Shākya Yeshes, who is given the title "State Teacher". The later Xuande Emperor will grant Yeshes the title of a king, upon a return visit to China (to the new capital at Beijing).

Durham School is founded as a grammar school in the city of Durham, England by Thomas Langley, Prince-Bishop of Durham; it continues in existence as an independent school 600 years later.

=== 1415 ===

==== January–December ====

April 30 – Frederick I becomes Elector of Brandenburg.

June 5 – The Council of Constance condemns the writings of John Wycliffe and asks Jan Hus to recant in public his heresy; after his denial, he is tried for heresy, excommunicated, then sentenced to be burned at the stake.

July 4 – Pope Gregory XII officially opens the Council of Constance, and then abdicates. He is the last pope to resign, until Pope Benedict XVI in 2013.

July 6 – Jan Hus is burned at the stake in Konstanz.

July 31 – Henry V of England is informed of the Southampton Plot against him; he has the leaders arrested and executed, before invading France.

August 21 – Conquest of Ceuta: Portugal conquers the city of Ceuta from the Moors, initiating the Portuguese Empire, and European expansion and colonialism.

October 25 – Battle of Agincourt: Archers of Henry V of England are instrumental in defeating a massed army of French knights.

==== Date unknown ====

Avignon Pope Benedict XIII orders all Talmuds to be delivered to the diocese, and held until further notice.

The Swiss Confederation takes the territory of Aargau from the house of Habsburg.

The Grand Canal of China is reinstated by this year after it had fallen out of use; restoration began in 1411, and was a response by the Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty to improve the grain shipment system of tribute traveling from south to north, towards his new capital at Beijing. With this action, the food supply crisis is solved by the end of the year.

The Orthodox Church in the lands of the tsardom of Muskovy (actual Russia) separates from the one in Ukraine and Belarus, both claiming to be the true Kiev patriarchate.

=== 1416 ===

==== January–December ====

January 27 – The Republic of Ragusa is the first state in Europe to outlaw slavery.

May 29 – Battle of Gallipoli: Venetian admiral Pietro Loredan destroys the Ottoman fleet.

May 30 – The Catholic Church burns Jerome of Prague as a heretic.

==== Date unknown ====

The Trezzo sull'Adda Bridge (the longest arch bridge in the world at the time) is destroyed.

=== 1417 ===

==== January–December ====

July 27 – Avignon Pope Benedict XIII is deposed, bringing to an end the Great Western Schism.

August 12 – King Henry V of England begins using English in correspondence (back to England from France whilst on campaign), marking the beginning of this king's continuous usage of English in prose, and the beginning of the restoration of English as an official language for the first time since the Norman Conquest, some 350 years earlier.

November 14 – Pope Martin V succeeds Pope Gregory XII (who abdicated in 1415), as the 206th pope.

==== Date unknown ====

The earliest extant description of Tynwald Day; the annual meeting of the Isle of Man's parliament (Tynwald) is written down in law.

The use of street lighting is first recorded in London, England when Sir Henry Barton, the mayor, orders lanterns with lights to be hung out on the winter evenings, between Hallowtide and Candlemas.

Mircea cel Bătrân loses Dobruja to the Ottomans and pays them tribute, thus preventing Wallachia from becoming an Ottoman province.

Chimalpopoca, son of Huitzilihuitl, succeeds his father as Tlatoani of Tenochtitlan

=== 1418 ===

==== January–December ====

January 31 – Mircea I of Wallachia is succeeded by Michael I of Wallachia.

April 22 – The Council of Constance ends.

May 19 – John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, captures Paris.July – The English Siege of Rouen begins.

==== Date unknown ====

João Gonçalves Zarco leads one of the first Portuguese expeditions to the Madeira Islands.

=== 1419 ===

==== January–December ====

January 19 – Hundred Years' War: Rouen surrenders to Henry V of England, which brings Normandy under the control of England.

June 20 – The Oei Invasion of Tsushima Island, Japan by Joseon Korea begins.

July 30 – The first Defenestration of Prague occurs in Bohemia.

August – Siege of Ceuta: The Portuguese successfully defend off the invading Moroccans who attempt to retake the city of Ceuta.

September 10 – John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy is assassinated by adherents of the Dauphin.

November – The Ottoman–Venetian peace treaty ends four years of conflict, by recognizing Venetian possessions in the Aegean and the Balkans.

==== Date unknown ====

Portuguese sea captains João Gonçalves Zarco and Tristão Vaz Teixeira, at the service of Prince Henry the Navigator, discover the Madeira Islands.

The University of Rostock is established as the oldest university of northern Europe.

The Timurid ruler of Persia, Mirza Shahrukh (r. 1404–1447), sends a large embassy to the court of the Yongle Emperor of China. One of the Persian envoys, Ghiyāth al-dīn Naqqāsh, keeps a diary of his travels throughout China, which soon becomes widely known throughout Iranian and the Turkic Middle East, thanks to its inclusion into historical works by Hafiz-i Abru, and Abdur Razzaq. Naqqash writes about China's wealthy economy and huge urban markets, its efficient courier system as compared to that in Persia, the hospitality of his hosts at the courier stations in providing comfortable lodging and food, and the fine luxurious goods and craftsmanship of the Chinese.

Mihail I defends Wallachia against the Ottomans, with Hungarian help.

Antipope Benedict XIII

Pedro Martínez de Luna y Pérez de Gotor (25 November 1328 – 23 May 1423), known as el Papa Luna in Spanish and Pope Luna in English, was an Aragonese nobleman, who as Benedict XIII, is considered an antipope (see Western Schism) by the Catholic Church.

Antipope John XXIII

Baldassarre Cossa (c. 1370 – 22 December 1419) was Pisan antipope John XXIII (1410–1415) during the Western Schism. The Catholic Church regards him as an antipope, as he opposed Pope Gregory XII whom the Catholic Church now recognizes as the rightful successor of Saint Peter. He was eventually deposed and tried for various crimes, though later accounts question the veracity of those accusations.

Catholic ecumenical councils

Catholic ecumenical councils include 21 councils over a period of some 1900 years. While definitions changed throughout history, in today's Roman Catholic understanding ecumenical councils are assemblies of Patriarchs, Cardinals, residing Bishops, Abbots, male heads of religious orders and other juridical persons, nominated by the Pope. The purpose of an ecumenical council is to define doctrine, reaffirm truths of the Faith, and extirpate heresy. Council decisions, to be valid, are approved by the popes. Participation is limited to these persons, who cannot delegate their voting rights.

Ecumenical councils are different from provincial councils, where bishops of a Church province or region meet. Episcopal conferences and plenary councils are other bodies, meetings of bishops of one country, nation, or region, such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This article does not include councils of a lower order or regional councils. Ecumenical in the Catholic view does not mean that all bishops attended the councils, which was not even the case in Vatican II. Nor does ecumenical imply the participation of or acceptance by all Christian communities and Churches. Ecumenical refers to "a solemn congregations of the Catholic bishops of the world at the invitation of the Pope to decide on matters of the Church with him". The ecumenical character of the councils of the first millennium was not determined by the intention of those who issued the invitations. The papal approval of the early councils did not have a formal character, which was characteristic in later councils. The Catholic Church did not officially declare these Councils to be ecumenical. This became theological practice. Different evaluations existed between and within Christian communities.

Not all of the twenty-one councils were always accepted as ecumenical within the Catholic Church. For example, the inclusion of the First Lateran Council and the Council of Basel were disputed. A 1539 book on ecumenical councils by Cardinal Dominicus Jacobazzi excluded them as did other scholars. The first few centuries did not know large-scale ecumenical meetings; they were only feasible after the Church had gained freedom from persecution through Emperor Constantine.


Conciliarism was a reform movement in the 14th-, 15th- and 16th-century Catholic Church which held that supreme authority in the Church resided with an Ecumenical council, apart from, or even against, the pope. The movement emerged in response to the Western Schism between rival popes in Rome and Avignon. The schism inspired the summoning of the Council of Pisa (1409), which failed to end the schism, and the Council of Constance (1414–1418), which succeeded and proclaimed its own superiority over the Pope. Conciliarism reached its apex with the Council of Basel (1431–1449), which ultimately fell apart. The eventual victor in the conflict was the institution of the Papacy, confirmed by the condemnation of conciliarism at the Fifth Lateran Council, 1512–17. The final gesture however, the doctrine of Papal Infallibility, was not promulgated until the First Vatican Council of 1870.

Dean of the College of Cardinals

The Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals (Latin: Decanus Sacri Collegii) is the dean (president) of the College of Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church. The position was established in the early 12th century.

The Dean presides over the College of Cardinals, serving as primus inter pares in the college. He always holds the rank of cardinal bishop. The Dean of the College of Cardinals is assisted by the Vice-Dean; in those roles they act as the president and vice-president of the college respectively. Both are elected by and from the Cardinal Bishops who are not Eastern Catholic patriarchs and subject to papal confirmation. Except for presiding, the Dean and Vice-Dean have no power over the other cardinals. In the order of precedence in the Catholic Church as the senior Cardinal Bishops, the Dean and Vice-Dean are placed second and third, respectively, after the pope.

The Dean is often, but not necessarily, the longest-serving member of the whole College. It had been customary for centuries for the longest-serving of the six cardinal bishops of suburbicarian sees to be Dean. This was required by canon law from 1917 until 1965, when Pope Paul VI empowered the six to elect the Dean from among their number. This election was a formality until the time of Pope John Paul II.The Dean holds the position until death or resignation; there is no mandatory age of retirement.


The Hussites (Czech: Husité or Kališníci; "Chalice People") were a pre-Protestant Christian movement that followed the teachings of Czech reformer Jan Hus, who became the best known representative of the Bohemian Reformation.

The Hussite movement began in the Kingdom of Bohemia and quickly spread throughout the remaining Lands of the Bohemian Crown, including Moravia and Silesia. It also made inroads into the northern parts of the Kingdom of Hungary (now Slovakia), but was rejected and gained infamy for the plundering behavior of the Hussite soldiers. There were also very small temporary communities in Poland-Lithuania and Transylvania which moved to Bohemia after being confronted with religious intolerance. It was a regional movement that failed to expand anywhere farther. Hussites emerged as a majority Utraquist movement with a significant Taborite faction, and smaller regional ones that included Adamites, Orebites and Orphans. Major Hussite theologians included Petr Chelcicky, Jerome of Prague, and others. A number of Czech national heroes were Hussite, including Jan Zizka, who led a fierce resistance to five consecutive crusades proclaimed on Hussite Bohemia by the Papacy. Hussites were one of the most important forerunners of the Protestant Reformation. This predominantly religious movement was propelled by social issues and strengthened Czech national awareness.

After the Council of Constance lured Jan Hus in with a letter of indemnity, then tried him for heresy and put him to death at the stake on 6 July 1415, the Hussites fought the Hussite Wars (1420–1434) for their religious and political cause. After the Hussite Wars ended, the Catholic-supported Utraquist side came out victorious from conflict with the Taborites and became the most common representation of the Hussite faith in Bohemia. Catholics and Utraquists were emancipated in Bohemia after the religious peace of Kutná Hora in 1485.

Bohemia and Moravia, or what is now the territory of the Czech Republic, remained majority Hussite for two centuries until Roman Catholicism was reimposed by the Holy Roman Emperor after the 1620 Battle of White Mountain during the Thirty Years' War. Due to this event and centuries of Habsburg persecution, Hussite traditions are merely represented in the Moravian Church, Unity of the Brethren, and the refounded Czechoslovak Hussite churches among present-day Christians.

Imperial ban

The imperial ban (German: Reichsacht) was a form of outlawry in the Holy Roman Empire. At different times, it could be declared by the Holy Roman Emperor, by the Imperial Diet, or by courts like the League of the Holy Court (Vehmgericht) or the Reichskammergericht.

People under imperial ban, known as Geächtete (from about the 17th century, colloquially also as Vogelfreierei, lit. "free as a bird"), lost all their rights and possessions. They were legally considered dead, and anyone was allowed to rob, injure or kill them without legal consequences. The imperial ban automatically followed the excommunication of a person, as well as extending to anyone offering help to a person under the imperial ban.

Those banned could reverse the ban by submitting to the legal authority. The Aberacht, a stronger version of the imperial ban, could not be reversed.

The imperial ban was sometimes imposed on whole Imperial Estates. In that case, other estates could attack and seek to conquer them. The effect of the ban on a city or other Estate was that it lost its Imperial immediacy and in the future would have a second overlord in addition to the emperor.

Famous people placed under the imperial ban included:

1180 Henry the Lion, for refusing military support to Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor against the cities of the Lombard League.

1225 Count Frederick of Isenberg, for killing his uncle Engelbert II of Berg, Archbishop of Cologne.

1235 King Henry (VII) of Germany, for his rebellion against his father the Emperor Frederick II.

1276 King Ottokar II of Bohemia, for his capture of imperial lands from Rudolph I.

1309 John Parricida, for the murder of his uncle King Albert I of Germany.

1415 Frederick IV, Duke of Austria for aiding the flight of Antipope John XXIII from the Council of Constance.

1512 and 1518 Götz von Berlichingen, the first time for robbery, the second for kidnapping.

1521 Martin Luther and his supporters, for spreading heretic beliefs and for splitting the church.

1546 John Frederick I, Elector of Saxony and Philip I, Landgrave of Hesse, for leading the Schmalkaldic League.

1566 Wilhelm von Grumbach, for insurgency.

1621 Frederick V, Elector Palatine, and his supporters Prince Christian I of Anhalt-Bernburg and Georg Friedrich of Hohenlohe-Neuenstein-Weikersheim, for seizing power in Bohemia.

1706 Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria, and Joseph Clemens, Elector of Cologne, for supporting France in the War of the Spanish Succession (ban reversed in 1714)

1793 Georg Forster, for collaboration with the French Republic.The imperial ban imposed by the Emperor Rudolf II on the city of Donauwörth after an anti-Catholic riot was one of the incidents leading to the Thirty Years' War.

Jan Hus

Jan Hus (; Czech: [ˈjan ˈɦus] (listen); c. 1369 – 6 July, 1415), sometimes Anglicized as John Hus or John Huss, also referred to in historical texts as Iohannes Hus or Johannes Huss) was a Czech theologian, philosopher, master, dean, and rector of the Charles University in Prague who became a church reformer, an inspirer of Hussitism, a key predecessor to Protestantism and a seminal figure in the Bohemian Reformation.

After John Wycliffe, the theorist of ecclesiastical reform, Hus is considered the first church reformer, as he lived before Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli. His teachings had a strong influence on the states of Western Europe, most immediately in the approval of a reformed Bohemian religious denomination, and, more than a century later, on Martin Luther himself.

He was burned at the stake for heresy against the doctrines of the Catholic Church, including those on ecclesiology, the Eucharist, and other theological topics.

After Hus was executed in 1415, the followers of his religious teachings (known as Hussites) rebelled against their Catholic rulers and defeated five consecutive papal crusades between 1420 and 1431 in what became known as the Hussite Wars. Both the Bohemian and the Moravian populations remained majority Hussite until the 1620s, when a Protestant defeat in the Battle of the White Mountain resulted in the Lands of the Bohemian Crown coming under Habsburg dominion for the next 300 years and being subject to immediate and forced conversion in an intense campaign of return to Catholicism.

Jerome of Prague

Jerome of Prague (Jeroným Pražský in Czech, 1379 in Prague, Kingdom of Bohemia in the Holy Roman Empire – 30 May 1416 in Konstanz, Bishopric of Constance in the Holy Roman Empire) was a Czech scholastic philosopher, theologian, reformer, and professor. Jerome was one of the chief followers of Jan Hus and was burned for heresy at the Council of Constance. He is often called Hieronymus the Latin form of his first name.

List of elections in 1417

The following elections occurred in the year 1417.

Council of Constance

Mikołaj Trąba

Mikołaj Trąba, of Trąby coat of arms (Polish pronunciation: [mʲiˈkowaj ˈtrɔ̃ba]; 1358 – 2 December 1422) was a Polish Roman Catholic priest, Royal Notary from 1390, Deputy Chancellor of the Crown 1403–12, bishop of Halicz 1410–12, archbishop of Gniezno from 1412, and first primate of Poland 1417–22.

Pope Martin V

Pope Martin V (Latin: Martinus V; January/February 1369 – 20 February 1431), born Otto (or Oddone) Colonna, was Pope from 11 November 1417 to his death in 1431. His election effectively ended the Western Schism (1378–1417).

Pope Sixtus IV

Pope Sixtus IV (21 July 1414 – 12 August 1484), born Francesco della Rovere, was a Pope and botanist from 9 August 1471 to his death in 1484. His accomplishments as pope included building the Sistine Chapel and the creation of the Vatican Archives. A patron of the arts, the group of artists that he brought together introduced the Early Renaissance into Rome with the first masterpieces of the city's new artistic age.

Sixtus aided the Spanish Inquisition though he fought to prevent abuses therein, and he annulled the decrees of the Council of Constance. He was noted for his nepotism and was personally involved in the infamous Pazzi conspiracy.

Renaissance Papacy

The Renaissance Papacy was a period of papal history between the Western Schism and the Protestant Reformation. From the election of Pope Martin V of the Council of Constance in 1417 to the Reformation in the 16th century, Western Christianity was largely free from schism as well as significant disputed papal claimants. There were many important divisions over the direction of the religion, but these were resolved through the then-settled procedures of the papal conclave.

The popes of this period were a reflection of the College of Cardinals that elected them. The College was dominated by cardinal-nephews (relatives of the popes that elevated them), crown-cardinals (representatives of the Catholic monarchies of Europe), and members of the powerful Italian families. There were two popes each from the House of Borgia, House of della Rovere, and House of Medici during this period. The wealthy popes and cardinals increasingly patronized Renaissance art and architecture, (re)building the landmarks of Rome from the ground up.

The Papal States began to resemble a modern nation-state during this period, and the papacy took an increasingly active role in European wars and diplomacy. Popes were more frequently called upon to arbitrate disputes between competing colonial powers than to resolve complicated theological disputes. To the extent that this period is relevant to modern Catholic dogma, it is in the area of papal supremacy. None of these popes have been canonized as a saint, or even regarded as Blessed or Venerable.

Robert Hallam

Robert Hallam (a.k.a. Alum or Halam; died 4 September 1417) was an English churchman, Bishop of Salisbury and English representative at the Council of Constance. He was Chancellor of the University of Oxford from 1403 to 1405.Hallam was originally from Cheshire in northern England and was educated at Oxford University. As Chancellor he, the Proctors, and all others in the University were pardoned by King Henry IV. On leaving the chancellorship, he was nominated in May 1406 by Pope Innocent VII as Archbishop of York, but the appointment was vetoed by King Henry IV in the same year. However, in 1407 he was consecrated by Pope Gregory XII at Siena as Bishop of Salisbury. As bishop, Hallam supported various churches and shrines in his diocese with grants of episcopal indulgences.At the Council of Pisa in 1409, Hallam was one of the English representatives. On 6 June 1411, Antipope John XXIII (Baldassare Cardinal Cossa) purported to make Hallam a pseudocardinal, but this title was not recognised.

At the Council of Constance, in November 1414, Hallam was the chief English envoy. There he took a prominent position, as an advocate of Church reform and of the superiority of the council to the pope. He played a leading part in the discussions leading to the deposition of Antipope John XXIII on 29 May 1415, but was less concerned with the trials of Jan Hus and Jerome of Prague. Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor, through whose influence the council had been assembled, was absent during the whole of 1416 on a diplomatic mission in France and England; but when he returned to Constance in January 1417, as the open ally of the English king, Hallam as Henry V's trusted representative obtained increased importance, and contrived to emphasise English prestige by delivering the address of welcome to Sigismund. Afterwards, under Henry's direction, he supported the emperor in trying to secure a reform of the Church, before the council proceeded to the election of a new pope. This matter was still undecided when Hallam died suddenly on 4 September 1417. His executors were Masters Richard Hallum, John Fyton, John Hikke, with William Clynt, Thomas Hallum, Thomas Faukys, clerk, & Humfrey Rodeley After Hallam's death the cardinals were able to secure the immediate election of a new pope, Martin V, who was elected on 11 November: it has been said that the abandonment of the reformers by the English was due entirely to Hallam's death; but it is more likely that Henry V, foreseeing the possible need for a change of front, had given Hallam discretionary powers which the bishop's successors used. Hallam himself had the confidence of Sigismund and was generally respected for his straightforward independence. He was buried in Constance Cathedral, where his tomb near the high altar is marked by a brass of English workmanship.

Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor

Sigismund of Luxembourg (15 February 1368 in Nuremberg – 9 December 1437 in Znaim, Moravia) was Prince-elector of Brandenburg from 1378 until 1388 and from 1411 until 1415, King of Hungary and Croatia from 1387, King of Germany from 1411, King of Bohemia from 1419, King of Italy from 1431, and Holy Roman Emperor from 1433 until 1437, and the last male member of the House of Luxembourg. In 1396 he led the disastrous Crusade of Nicopolis, which attempted to liberate Bulgaria from Ottoman rule. Afterwards, he founded the Order of the Dragon to fight the Turks. He was regarded as highly educated, spoke several languages (among them French, German, Hungarian, Italian, and Latin) and was an outgoing person who also took pleasure in the tournament. Sigismund was one of the driving forces behind the Council of Constance that ended the Papal Schism, but which also led to the Hussite Wars that dominated the later period of Sigismund's life.

Ulrich of Richenthal

Ulrich of Richenthal (died c. 1438) was a chronicler of the Council of Constance.

Ulrich was a citizen of Konstanz (Constance), he was a landowner and a layman, perhaps a son of the town clerk of Constance, Johannes Richenthal, who lived in the second half of the fourteenth century. During the session of the Ecumenical Council of Constance Ulrich frequently came into connection with the fathers assembled. He met the papal delegates who had to provide quarters for the members of the council. He was employed in business matters by princes who were present in the city during the council, and a bishop lived in his house. Ulrich followed the council, the great events that took place in it, the festivities, and all the celebrations of which his native town was the theatre. He wrote in the German dialect of Konstanz an exact and careful account of all, introducing much statistical matter. This chronicle is preserved in several manuscripts, of which one at St. Petersburg is in Latin. The Manuscripts contain coats-of-arms and other illustrations valuable for the history of civilization.

This article incorporates text from the public domain Catholic Encyclopedia.

Western Schism

The Western Schism, also called Papal Schism, Great Occidental Schism and Schism of 1378, was a split within the Catholic Church lasting from 1378 to 1417 in which two, since 1410 even three, men simultaneously claimed to be the true pope, having excommunicated one another. Driven by politics rather than any theological disagreement, the schism was ended by the Council of Constance (1414–1418). For a time these rival claims to the papal throne damaged the reputation of the office.

The affair is sometimes referred to as the Great Schism, although this term is typically reserved for the more enduring East–West Schism of 1054 between the Western Churches answering to the See of Rome and the Orthodox Churches of the East.

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