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  • The beginning of the end of the power of the Catholic pope.
  • With the emergence of the papacy as the supreme power over Western Catholicism, there is always the issue (in Medieval European history) of who had the ultimate authority in European society (pope in Rome, or secular European kings?).
  • All of early European medieval history is defined by this conflict between popes and kings and the struggle for preeminent authority.
  • The great Western schism basically puts an end to the ability of popes to challenge the authority of kings, because Pope Boniface the 8th (in 1378) asserts absolute papal authority over all European kings.
  • The French king of the time, King Philip, didn’t like this so he had Boniface arrested and he then dies in captivity.
  • Philip has a new pope elected and doesn’t put that pope in Rome, but instead in the Southern French city of Avignon.
  • Soon after, other people in Rome declared themselves to be pope, and they see the Avignon popes as illegitimate, and so for about 100 years there are two of three popes claiming to be the main religious authority of the Catholic church.
  • In the end the Avignon popes disappear and the papacy is reestablished in the city of Rome, but the papacy has been greatly weakened.
  • Through the whole Western Schism, it’s really the monarchs that making the decisions, and after that it’s the European kings that are “calling the shots” in European history.
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