Pope Gregory XII

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Pope Gregory XII (c. 1326 – 18 October 1417), born Angelo Correr or Corraro, Pope from 1406 to 1415, succeeded Pope Innocent VII (1404–06) on 30 November 1406.

He was chosen at Rome by a conclave consisting of only fifteen cardinals under the express condition that, should antipope Benedict XIII (1394–1423), the rival Pope at Avignon, renounce all claim to the Papacy, he also would renounce his, so that a fresh election might be made and the Western Schism (1378–1417) could be ended.

The two pontiffs opened wary negotiations to meet on neutral turf at Savona in Liguria, but soon began to waver in their resolve. The Correr relatives of Gregory XII and Ladislaus of Naples (1399–1414), the supporter of Gregory XII and his predecessor for political reasons, used all their influence to prevent the meeting, and each Pope feared being captured by the party of the rival Pope.

The cardinals of Gregory XII openly showed their dissatisfaction at his procedure and gave signs of their intention to abandon him. On 4 May 1408, Gregory XII convened his cardinals at Lucca and ordered them not to leave the city under any pretext. He tried to supplement his following by creating four of his Correr nephews cardinals - including the future Pope Eugene IV, despite his promise in the conclave that he would create no new cardinals. Seven of the cardinals secretly left Lucca and negotiated with the cardinals of Benedict XIII concerning the convocation of a general council by them, at which both pontiffs should be deposed and a new one elected. Consequently they summoned the council to Pisa and invited both pontiffs to be present. Neither Gregory XII nor Benedict XIII appeared. Meanwhile Gregory XII stayed with his loyal and powerful protector, Carlo I Malatesta, who had come to Pisa in person during the process of the council, to support Gregory XII with both sets of cardinals. At the fifteenth session, 5 June 1409, the Council of Pisa deposed the two pontiffs as schismatical, heretical, perjured, and scandalous; they elected Alexander V (1409–10) later that month. Gregory XII, who had meanwhile created ten more cardinals, had convoked a rival council at Cividale del Friuli, near Aquileia; but only a few bishops appeared. Gregory XII's cardinals pronounced Benedict XIII and Alexander V schismatics, perjurers, and devastators of the Church; but their pronouncement went unheeded.

The Council of Constance finally resolved the situation. Gregory XII appointed Carlo Malatesta and Cardinal Giovanni Dominici of Ragusa as his proxies. The cardinal then convoked the council and authorized its succeeding acts, thus preserving the formulas of Papal supremacy. Thereupon on 4 July 1415, Malatesta, acting in the name of Gregory XII, pronounced the resignation of the Pope, which the cardinals accepted. According to prior agreement, they agreed to retain all the cardinals that had been created by Gregory XII, thus satisfying the Correr clan, and appointed Gregory XII Bishop of Frascati, dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals and perpetual legate at Ancona. The Council then set aside antipope John XXIII (1410–15), the successor of Alexander V. After the former follower of Benedict XIII appeared, the council declared him deposed; and the Great Schism was ended. A new Roman pontiff, Pope Martin V, was not elected before Gregory's death.

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