What was the Great Western Schism, and How was it Resolved

During the middle ages there was a period where there were a series of popes who lived in a place known as Avignon France, instead of Rome, Italy. This is known as the Avignon Papacy. The Avignon Papacy caused some conflict when it came to who should be elected as pope. The Great Western Schism began as somewhat of an outcome of the Avignon Papacy, because it had a lot to do with who to elect as Pope.

How it Began

When the College of Cardinals had to elect a pope, a large mob of Romans surrounded the building. These Romans were demanding that they wanted a Roman, or at least an Italian pope; not another French pope. The College of Cardinals did eventually end up electing a pope. They elected an Italian man named Bartolomeo Prignano, who had an even temperament. After being elected the new pope took the name of Urban VI.

Even though Urban VI was known for his temperament, this did not last long. Urban VI began acting strangely, displaying erratic behavior. For example he violently denounced Church officials who were visiting him, and he also struck one of these Church officials, which isn’t exactly proper behavior from a pope. At this point the cardinals reassembled to choose a new pope, because clearly Urban VI was not very qualified. 

The cardinals then elected a Frenchman who became Clement VII. Of course Urban VI was not very happy about this and even refused to abdicate. But the cardinals firmly stated that his election was not legitimate because of all the pressure they were experiencing due to the angry mob outside of the election. After Clement VII was elected he began living in Avignon, which went against what the Romans wanted, hence this caused the Great Western Schism.

How was it Resolved

Because of the situation with the two popes Europe was in a state of confusion; different countries supported different popes. In 1409 the Council of Pisa discussed what to do; in the end they concluded that since there was so much conflict on who should be pope between Urban VI and Cement Vll, they would elect a new pope, and say that Urban and Clement were not actually popes. So in 1415, a new pope was elected, named Martin V; eventually he was acknowledged as the official pope. 


Throughout the middle ages there have been many conflicts that involved the Papacy. Usually these conflicts were between a king and a pope, but the Great Western Schism is unique for it was a conflict between two popes. Like all conflicts the Great Western Schism was eventually resolved, but the Church did not take an official stance on it until much later.

John Wycliffe

John Wycliffe((1320-1384), was an important religious figure during the 14th century. He was one of the earliest figures who preached the views associated with predestination; and was a priest and professor, at Oxford. 

Wycliffe had many different opinions on things, some of his views included: someone in a state of sin loses all rights to property, all Christians are priests, any Church or priest who owns property defies Christ, and the most unpopular of all at the time, kings had the right to elect bishops and take away property. Even with all of these unpopular views his greatest achievement was his translation of the bible. Wycliffe also urged that the Church of England should be separate from the papacy. 

Because the Great Schism was going on, Wycliffe managed to be able to do his work. But because of the Great Revolt, the government stopped supporting him, his views on property were too problematic. Because of this he had to leave Oxford.

In short, John Wycliffe was an early figure who was an influence to the protestant reformation; even before Martin Luther and John Calvin. At the time his views were very unpopular, especially his views on property, which was the reason for the government abandoning their support for him. If the government had supported him, the Protestant reformation would have begun a hundred years earlier. 

What Were the Effects on Europe from the Black Death

The Black Death first arrived in Europe in 1346, and it’s arrival was devastating. The Black death itself was a confluence of two plagues: the bubonic plague and the pneumonic plague. This killer combination killed around a third of Europe’s population; this death rate was due to the fact that Europeans did not have immunity to it. Overall these terrible plagues were incredibly devastating to Europe, but what were the effects that the black death had on Europe?

A lot of things happened in Europe due to the black death. Most people reacted to it in either two ways: the first was by indulging in earthly pleasures, and the second was by doing extreme penance for their sins. Both are pretty extreme reactions. People started getting married more and having more children after 1350, to most likely make up for all the lives that perished. 

Peasants and serfs basically left the land and any feudal obligations they had. This left a labor shortage, which caused wages to rise greatly, which caused the landowners demand wage stability to the government. The government fixed prices of goods, taxes were enforced, and serfs were forced back to their lord’s land. It was basically a mess of chaos; finally in England people had enough and a peasant revolt got started. The reasons for the revolt were many but a few of them were due to government corruption and mismanagement. The king of England put down this revolt and arrested hundreds of people, and executed over a hundred.

In conclusion, there were many effects in Europe due to the black death. People behaved in extreme ways, and overall things were pretty chaotic and unstable due to the mass number of deaths. Overall the effects of this plague were very negative to Europe.

What was the Significance of the Conflict Between Philip IV and Boniface VIII?

Throughout the medieval period, popes and kings fought against each other over who should rightly be allowed to dominate the other. Another one of these conflicts between a king and a pope was between a king named Philip IV and a pope named Boniface Vlll. The conflicts between these two individuals were rather similar to every other conflict between a pope and a king; but the significance was different. So what was the significance of the conflict between these two individuals?

The Conflict

The conflict began when Philip needed more money for his constant war against England; like a lot of power figures who needed money he raised taxes, and even began to tax the clergy without the Pope’s consent. Which on his part was rather rash and foolish. Of course Boniface responds, and rather harshly states that anyone who pays Philip this tax money would be excommunicated. Philip is rather angered by this statement from Boniface, so he cuts off all resources that would be shipped to Rome. This put the Church in jeopardy, for now it’s income was cut off, which of course concerns Boniface. Boniface backs down and allows the clergy to pay the demanded taxes to Philip.

After this when peace was thought to be restored between the two, another issue arose and the conflict began once more. Eventually Boniface excommunicated Philip, which led to a whole other level of conflict between the two. At last the conflict closed after a confrontation between the two parties. Boniface died a month later after the conflict, and is replaced by a new pope who is in the favor of Phillip.


From reading above, it most likely seems that this whole conflict had no significance whatsoever, and the whole thing seems ridiculous, which I rather agree with. But from studying the situation I was able to conclude what was the significance of this whole conflict. So the significance was the fact that this conflict was another example of the church’s struggle with the state. Also this example in particular is a great example on how power hungry rulers and even religious figures could be. In short power can be the driving force of any conflict, and that has been constantly proven by history.

What Were the Reasons Behind the Conflicts Between Emperors and Popes During the Middle Ages

Throughout the middle ages there were a lot of conflicts between different individuals or groups. The middle ages after all was a rather unstable and changing time of history. Two types of people who had a lot of back and forth conflicts were the emperors and popes. These conflicts between these two types of people were due to a number of reasons; but in my opinion why these conflicts occurred was because of “power.” But why was “power,” the main reason for these conflicts between emperor and pope?

Usually these conflicts between emperor and pope went something like this: first the emperor does something against the church, say they start choosing church officials, this reduces the power of the church, but gains the power of the emperor. Of course this does not please the pope so he warns the emperor. The emperor does not listen to the pope and continues what he is doing. This leads to the Pope excommunicating the emperor, which the emperor ignores usually. Eventually this finally leads to some form of serious conflict or an agreement, which hence leads to the end of this conflict.

By looking at this example, it shows that these conflicts were rather like a power struggle. Even though you may say that it is wrong  to have a political leader choose religious officials, and that the pope’s response is right; you still have to note that if a political figure chooses religious officials that reduces the power of the church and the pope. Technically even though it is a good thing to have a separation between church and state, that does not mean that these conflicts were not about power.

Also to note the pope had a lot of power over the emperor. For example the pope was capable of excommunicating or deposing the emperor, if the emperor does something wrong or goes against the church in some way. The pope having this much power led to conflict because some emperors wanted to have power over the pope. Hence why a lot of these conflicts were all about power.

The struggle between church and state has been a common struggle throughout history; so has the struggle between the catholic church and other christian sects. Really this whole thing comes down to each group or individual wanting to be dominant or wanting more power over the other group or individual. Hence why power was the main reason for these conflicts.

How Can We Account for Western Europe’s Sustained Economic Success

Throughout history people have noticed that Western Europe has sustained economic success, even during the middle ages. This economic success is due to more than one factor that we account for, but what can we account for the sustained economic success in the west?

There were definitely quite a few reasons that account for this economic success, but the first one was political decentralization. Political decentralization led to competition into many areas, for example in prices of items. Also because the government was decentralized people moved to areas that had the best economic policies, and the most freedoms, which helped those areas’ economies thrive. The towns with the most economic freedom were the wealthiest. Another reason was due to the fact that restrictions were being lifted off of internal trade, which led to international trade. Also it began to be safer to do international trade because thieves, and other problematic individuals would be punished or banned.

Even though Europe definitely had more economic freedom than other places, it definitely was not perfect and there were some aspects that were not freedom oriented whatsoever. For example during the middle ages there was something known as the Hanseatic league. Even though this league did some good, it was oppressive and used violence against their rivals. Also there were many other regulations that were put in place which did not benefit the economy.

In short political decentralization was the main reason for western Europe’s sustained economic success. 

Why was the Rise of the Medieval Towns Significant

These days a town is a pretty common thing; a lot of people live in towns or cities. But during the middle ages towns were slowly becoming the norm especially during the high middle ages. With the rise of towns during the middle ages, the most important question to ask is, why was the rise of medieval towns significant to western civilization?

Before getting into the question, first why were these towns founded? Like a lot of things there is definitely more than one reason, but one of the main reasons was Viking invasions. Because of the ongoing attacks from the Vikings people began living in areas behind thick walls(a lot of towns were founded behind walls), to stay safe. Overtime people began living in these areas permanently which brought trade and commerce to the area, which created an economy.

The second main reason for this was monasteries and cathedral schools. This was because eventually monasteries and cathedral schools attracted people to live in those areas. Hence these were the two main reasons why towns during the medieval era were founded.

Moving forward: why was the rise of medieval towns significant to history particularly western history? The reason why they were significant was because they inspired some of the concepts of modern liberty. For example people who lived in these medieval towns had sought for more freedoms; and the medieval concept of liberty was much more common in the minds of townsfolk during the middle ages. This was because these townsfolk were able to choose their own government officials, and self govern. Even though there were some aspects of this that share similar things to the modern concept of liberty, there were many aspects of this that definitely would not fit into the view of modern liberty.

In summary, the reason why the rise of medieval towns was significant was because a lot of those towns had aspects that influenced the modern concept of liberty. Even though these towns had aspects that influenced the modern concept of liberty there were many aspects of these towns that were definitely not freedom oriented.

The Main Principles of Just War Theory

The Just War Theory is a doctrine, on military ethics, which was mainly a Christian invention. This doctrine was mainly studied by military leaders, theologians, policy makers, etc. The main importance of this doctrine was to ensure a war is morally justified or not. Basically it was like a guide on the principles that made a war considered “just,” or “right.” 

St. Augustine was one of the early individuals who studied Just War Theory. His statement on his opinion of the matter was in this quote: War is”justified only by the injustice of an aggressor, and that injustice ought to be a source of grief to any good man, because it is human injustice”.

St. Thomas Aquinas(after St. Augustine), was a highly influential philosopher and theologian, who also had his say on Just War Theory. Aquinas actually further developed the doctrine, and even came up with three conditions that must be met to make a war just. I will be listing these here:

1: you must consider the authority of the sovereign by whose command the war is to be waged.

2: a just cause is required.

3: the individuals involved with the war must have rightful intention, so that they intend the advancement of God, or the avoidance of evil.

Another man who also did some work that further developed Just War Theory, was Francisco Vitoria(1483-1546). He stated that “princes should seek to live at peace,” and also that a just war should be waged within limits. Another thing that he said was that victory should be followed by a spirit of moderation and Christian humility.

So finally, through looking at these figures who developed this doctrine, let us look at some of the main principles of Just War Theory. These principles were: war had to be a last resort, a war had to have a probability of success, noncombatants cannot be targeted, women and children must be left alone, etc. These principles actually made some sense; I mean a war should have a just cause associated with it, war should also have a probability of success because that would be illogical and foolish, and no one who is not involved should be targeted or harmed. So it does make sense why Just War Theory was created in the first place.

In conclusion, the modern “theory,” of war has been influenced by some of the principles of Just War Theory. But none of these “war theories,” or doctrines actually really never fully ensured that a war followed these principles. Many cases throughout history wars ended up being the exact opposite of what Just War Theory’s principles stated to make a war morally “just,” but that is sadly not surprising.

Two of the Divine Attributes and How Aquinas Derived Them

St. Thomas Aquinas(1225-1274), was a very influential medieval philosopher, who is regarded as one of the greatest theologians of the catholic church. Because he was a philosopher he is best known for his use of reason in his work. One of the ways he used reason was by deriving the divine attributes of God. Two of these divine attributes that Aquinas derived were: immaterial and all-powerful. 


Being material means that a thing must be able to change or move. But a purely actual being cannot be changeable or moveable; also a purely actual being is outside time and space, which is the opposite of the material thing, which is inside time and space. So basically God doesn’t change, and is outside of time and space, unlike the material thing. Along with this point, since God controls everything, and cannot be controlled by anything, he is the unmoved mover.


The divine attribute of all-powerful is attributed to God for this main reason: each material thing has something that they can or cannot do. But God, because God is the source of all changes of things coming to have the attributes they have, He possesses all of these qualities, hence why He is all-powerful.


Aquinas as a philosopher believed that there was a way to explain the existence of God through reason. The way that he derived the divine attributes including the ones that were explained, was by noting that God is pure act.

The Life and Work of Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas(1225-1274), was a highly influential philosopher and theologian. He is regarded as one of the greatest theologians of the Catholic church, and had written many works on philosophy and theology. The life and work of Thomas Aquinas truly began when he was a young man of nineteen.

Like I stated above his story truly took off when he was nineteen, but before this he was attending the university of Naples. When he was nineteen he became a Dominican. His family who was rather influential, highly disapproved of his life choice, to the point that they imprisoned him for a full year. But eventually he was let out; and he went straight back to being a Dominican. 

He was insulted and mistreated for this but that did not stop him. He studied in Paris; and then taught at Cologne, Paris, Bologna, Rome, and Naples. He was a pretty great teacher, and was also an assistant to three Popes. He even received an offer to become Archbishop of Naples, from Pope Clement IV; which the Pope withdrew from after noticing that Thomas Aquinas preferred his intellectual labors. But even though he had a legacy as a teacher and as an assistant of three Pope’s, his greatest legacy was the one of writing.

By the end of Thomas Aquinas’s life he had written eight and a half million words, which is rather astounding. He wrote many works on philosophy and theology. Some of his most popular works include: Summa Theologica, Summa Contra Gentiles, etc. He also attempted to prove the existence of God in several of his written works. As you may be thinking that Thomas Aquinas only wrote about Philosophy, he also wrote some hymns too, an example of which was the Tantum Ergo. 

In conclusion, St Thomas Aquinas is best known for being a philosopher and theologian. He wrote many works on philosophy, theology, and even hymns; his writing was his greatest legacy. This was Thomas Aquinas’s life, work, and legacy.