The History of Medieval Europe

By Lynn Thorndike; James T. Shotwell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXX
THE PAPACY AND ITS OPPONENTS IN THE FOURTEENTH AND FIFTEENTH CENTURIES

FROM 1309 to 1376 the popes remained at Avignon, a period of seventy years which suggested comparison with the Babylonian Captivity of the Jewish people. This long absence from Rome greatly scandalized many persons. First, the Romans, who lost the presence of the splendid papal court and the profitable stream of pilgrims and clergy from other lands. Second, the Italians like Dante and Petrarch, who felt aggrieved that Italy had thus been abandoned to its fate and that Italian families had been deprived of their accustomed first pick of all the choice church positions. Third, the English, who contended that the popes were favoring their foes, the French. Fourth, the Germans, who resented the pope's claim to temporal superiority over the Holy Roman Emperor and his refusal to confirm as emperor whomsoever they elected, his disinclination to recognize any longer the imperial power in Italy, and his attempt on one occasion to make the French king Holy Roman Emperor. Fifth, all Christians who believed as a matter of principle that Rome was the true capital of Christendom.

The Papacy at Avignon

A prominent feature of the Avignon residence was a large increase in papal expenditure and revenue. This was accomplished partly by bringing into the pope's hands the right of appointment to an increasing number of church offices, and then demanding of these papal appointees, not five per cent, as a modern employment bureau does when it gets one a position, but one half of the first year's income of the bishopric or other prebend. This payment was known as "annates." Moreover, far-sighted office-seekers in the Church sometimes, by a liberal expenditure, received assurances at the papal court

Increased papal taxation

-560-

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