|Great Purge.See Yezhovshchina.|
|Great Schism (1378–1417). “Schism of the West.” Unlike the earlier schism with the Orthodox Church in 1054 or the later schism with Protestantism occasioned by the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter Reformation, the Great Schism of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was political in origin, not doctrinal. The Avignon Captivity of the papacy was finally over, but the possibility of French interference was a constant threat to the small states of north Italy. In 1378, when the last French Pope, Gregory VI, died, Romans insisted on an Italian pontiff and that the popes henceforth remain in Rome. Urban VI was duly elected, but he quickly alienated certain church factions. A council of cardinals at Agnani vitiated his election in favor of a Genoese, Clement VII, whom they elected in his place. Urban refused to step aside and Clement withdrew into French exile at Avignon. As these men died, their place in the Great Schism was taken by successor, and rival, popes. In Rome, Urban VI (1378–1389) was followed by Boniface IX (1389–1404), Innocent VII (1404–1406), and Gregory XII (1406–1415). At Avignon, the longer-lived Clement VII (1378–1394) was succeeded by Benedict XIII (1394–1417). For a while, the French church rejected both lines of popes. There was also an effort to revive conciliar authority (Council of Pisa, 1409), but this effort ended in election of a third line of papal claimants: Alexander V and his successor, John XXIII (1410–1415). In 1414 John convened the Ecumenical Council of Constance to decide the issue. Losing support, Gregory XII resigned. John XXIII and Benedict XIII both refused to resign, but were declared deposed in favor of Martin V. Despite this tortuous sequence, the Catholic Church maintains that the popes constitute a direct and uninterrupted “apostolic” line of succession to Peter, the apostle of Jesus Christ. This was accomplished by later agreement that the line of popes from Urban to Gregory was the true, canonical (authoritative) line, and insistence upon the political rather than doctrinal character of the schism. The Great Schism helped open the door to the political revolution of the Renaissance by removing the universalist claims of the popes from the Italian peninsula during the formative period of its city-state system and by exposing the purely political side of the papacy as a temporal power and later player in that system.|
M. Gail, The Three Popes (1969);
J. H. Smith, The Great Schism (1970).