Pope Gregory XI

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Pope Gregory XI (c. 1336 – March 27, 1378), born Pierre Roger de Beaufort, in Maumont, in the modern commune of Rosiers-d'Égletons, Limousin around 1336. He succeeded Pope Urban V (1362–70) in 1370, and was pope until 1378. He was the last of the Avignon Popes.

During his pontificate vigorous measures were taken against the heresies which had broken out in Germany, England, and other parts of Europe; a sincere effort was also made to cause a reformation in the various monastic orders. The nineteen propositions of John Wycliffe (c. 1320–84) and the thirteen articles of the Sachsenspiegel were formally condemned by Pope Gregory XI in 1377.

His return to Rome on January 17, 1377, is attributed in part to the stirring words of Catherine of Siena. This had been attempted by Gregory's predecessor, Urban V, without success. The project was delayed by a conflict between the pope and Florence, known as "the War of the Eight Saints" for the "Eight for War," the Florentine magistrates responsible for the conduct of the war. The pope put Florence under interdict for a time.

Gregory XI did not long survive this removal, dying on March 27, 1378. After his death the College of Cardinals was pressured by a Roman mob, which broke into the voting chamber, to vote an Italian Pope into the papacy. This Italian Pope was Urban VI. Soon after being elected, Urban gained the Cardinals' enmity. With the encouragement of the French king, the cardinals returned to Avignon and in 1378 elected a French pope, Clement VII.

Subsequently, the Western Schism created by the selection of a rival pope forced the people of Europe into a dilemma of papal allegiance. This schism was not fully resolved until the Council of Constance (1414–1418) was called by a group of cardinals. The council boldly deposed the current popes and in 1417 elected Martin V as their successor. The chaos of the Western Schism thus brought about reforming councils and gave them the power over who was elected, replacing (for a time) the College of Cardinals.


  • From the 9th edition (1880) of an unnamed encyclopedia
  • Hanawalt, G.Barbara. The Middle Ages: An Illustrated History, 1998, Oxford Univ. Press, p. 143
  • Cairns, E.Earl. Christianity Throughout the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church, 1996, Zondervan, pp.241 & 248–250

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