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The Great Schism: the Premature Reformation

Pope Gregory the 11th has returned the Papacy to Rome but it is a mistake. Rome is still a wild place but before he can return to Avignon, he dies. The Italian cardinals meet to elect a new Pope. An Italian mob forces the cardinals to elect "at least an Italian" so Pope Urban the 6th is elected. He is a Church reformer. He sets out to destroy corruption in the Church which greatly disturbs the establishment. The cardinals of Avignon meet to remove Pope Urban from his office and elect Pope Clement the 7th. In the modern day, Pope Clement is called an anti-pope, that is, a pope elected in opposition to the current pope. In November, Halley's Comet appears... usually interpreted as the sign of Satan, but this evil has been building for years... a real split in the Church. The Great Schism has begun. It will be 40 years in the Wilderness but there is no "Promised Land" at the end of this journey. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
John Wycliffe is the pivotal figure in this early attempt at Church Reform much like Martin Luther is during the Protestant Reformation of 1517. John of Gault, the current Regent of England, will protect Wycliffe but the support is not ideological. The English monarchy has been treated badly under recent Popes, rejecting the King's appointments and handing out "No Show" jobs to foreign bishops. It is no wonder the monarchy is supporting Reform... at least for now. The Church establishment will find a way to subvert these reforms and render them superficial. Nevertheless, you can't have the Protestant Reformation without what happens during the Great Schism. This job has to get done. [10]

A Revolt is in the Cards

In the Middle Ages, the textile industry is massive. It is the equivalent of the major car makers at the peak of their profits and prestige. The majority of raw wool comes from England but Italy has a natural advantage since Italians are part of the Church bureaucracy. As they perform their Church duties they pick the best raw wool and send it back to Florence for processing. The process of brushing out the raw wool is called "carding" and before the invention of the carding machine in 1748, brushing out the wool by hand is labor intensive. The Carder's Revolt is an armed revolt of the lower class unguilded workers against the government. They force various reforms including a new guild of carders. Unfortunately a counter revolt led by the butcher's guild will reverse those reforms in just a few years.

(That is, by 1382. "Carder" in Italian is ciompi...pronounced: chee-AHM-pee.) [11] [12] [13] [14]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
At this time the government of Florence is being run by seven guilds. Adding another guild means sharing power and they don't want to share. Guilds were formed originally to give power to the laborer over the merchant families that abused them. Now that the guilds hold the reigns of power, they act worse than any merchant pirate. A wave of rebellion by laborers is coming. This Carder's Revolt is not the first and it won't be the worst. John of Gault has built the largest chateau ever seen in London before or since. I hope he enjoys it, because it is going away in the Peasant's Revolt of 1381. [15] [16]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1378, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. New York: Simon and Schuster. 1991. p. 194-195. (BOOK)
  2. Fruhlinger, Josh. Seven Amazing Papal Elections, New York: The Awl Network. 2013-March-7. quote="In the midst of a violent thunderstorm and an equally violent mob that kept breaking into St. Peter's and shouting, "Romano lo volemo, o al manco Italiano" ("We want a Roman, or at least an Italian," [...]), the cardinals took just a day to pick Bartolomeo Prignano, who would take the name Urban VI. Prignano was not actually present, and the Roman mob thronged around the aged Cardinal Tebaldeschi, mistakenly thinking that he was the new pope, while the rest of the cardinals fled deeper into the papal palace and barricaded themselves in their quarters."
  3. Cantor, Norman F. The Last Knight: the Twilight of the Middle Ages and the Birth of the Modern Era. Harper Perennial. 2004. pp. 141-143. (BOOK) quote="There were now two contending popes in Christendom. This scandalous Great Schism lasted until 1417."
  4. Cantor, Norman F. The Civilization of the Middle Ages. Harper Perennial. August 3, 1994. pp. 497-503. (BOOK) quote="The end of the 'Babylonian Captivity' and the return of the popes to Rome in 1377 did not signal an end to abuses within the church. Instead, national divisions within the college of cardinals resulted within a few months in the 'Great Schism.'"
  5. Tuchman, Barbara Wertheim. (Barbara Tuchman, bio). A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. Ballantine, 1979. pp. 320-342. (BOOK) quote="The hateful rift in Christendom was to last for forty years. According to a popular saying toward the end of the century, no one since the beginning of the schism had entered Paradise."
  6. Halley's Comet: Appearances (1145-1378) - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  7. Antipope - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  8. Antipope Clement VII - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  9. Pope Gregory XI - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  10. John Wycliffe - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  11. Cantor, Norman F. general editor, The Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages: Wool Trade. Viking Penguin. 1999. p. 448. (BOOK)
  12. Signoria of Florence - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  13. Ciompi - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  14. Carding: History - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  15. Peasants' Revolt - Wikipedia, 2014 [last update]
  16. Durant, Will and Durant, Ariel. The Story Of Civilization, Volume 5, The Renaissance: A History of Civilization in Italy from 1304-1576 A.D.. 1953. p. 80. (BOOK) quote="The laws against unionization were repealed, the lower unions were enfranchised, a moratorium of twelve years was declared on the debts of wage earners, and interest rates were reduced to further ease the burdens of the debtor class."

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