Urban VI


Urban VI
(pope, 1378-1389)
   Bartolomeo Prignano, archbishop of Bari, was elected pope by a badly divided college of cardinals sub-ject (to an extent that remains debatable) to the pressure of a mob of Roman citizens who feared that if the large French majority among the cardinals chose another French pope, the papacy would move back to Avignon, where it had resided from 1309 to 1377. Although a clear majority of the cardinals voted for Prignano and attended his enthronement, his behavior in the months following his election, es-pecially his treatment of the cardinals, was so arrogant and arbitrary, perhaps even demented, that the French majority turned against him. The French cardinals left Rome and reassembled outside Urban's reach, charging that his election had been invalid because of pressure by the mob. They then elected one of their own number, who took the name Clement VII. The French pope did return to Avignon, while Urban remained in control of Rome. This disputed election marks the beginning of the Western Schism, during which two and even three rival popes competed for the support of the Christian community.

Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. . 2004.

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