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01272--What is the Great Schism (1378−1415)?


 In 1378, Pope Gregory XI finally decided that the church must move back to Rome or risk total loss of public confidence. He successfully moved the church back but died shortly thereafter.  The cardinals, many of whom were French, went into session and elected a new pope, the Italian Urban VI.  Urban turned out to have ideas about church reform that the cardinals were not aware of at the time of his election; thus, the French cardinals returned to session, declared Urban deposed, and elected a new French pope.  When Urban refused to recognize his deposition, the French pope and cardinals moved back to Avignon, leaving Urban and the Italian cardinals in Rome. Each pope claimed to be the true pope, and each group, the true church. The Great Schism had begun.  All of Europe, from kings to university scholars to ordinary people, was forced to choose sides in this dispute and declare loyalty to one pope or the other. Church bureaucracy and taxes were duplicated. All Christendom was split and the church was humiliated, its public image sinking even further.

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