T H E W E S T E R N S C H I S M (1378-1417)
The Schism in the Western Roman Church resulted from the return of the papacy to Rome under Gregory XI on January 17, 1377, ending the Avignon Papacy, which had developed a reputation for corruption that estranged major parts of Western Christendom. This reputation can be attributed to perceptions of predominant French influence and to the papal curia’s efforts to extend its powers of patronage and increase its revenues.
After Pope Gregory XI died in 1378, the Romans rioted to ensure the election of a Roman for pope. On April 8, 1378 the cardinals elected a Neapolitan when no viable Roman candidates presented themselves. Urban VI, born Bartolomeo Prignano, the Archbishop of Bari, was elected. Urban had been a respected administrator in the papal chancery at Avignon, but as pope he proved suspicious, reformist, and prone to violent outbursts of temper. Many of the cardinals who had elected him soon regretted their decision: the majority removed themselves from Rome to Anagni, where, even though Urban was still reigning, they elected Robert of Geneva as a rival pope on September 20 of the same year. Robert took the name Clement VII and reestablished a papal court in Avignon. The second election threw the Church into turmoil. There had been antipopes—rival claimants to the papacy—before, but most of them had been appointed by various rival factions; in this case, a single group of leaders of the Church had created both the pope and the antipope. (x)
aspope urban vi
asantipope clement vii