In 1378 the papal electoral system had failed in the worst possible way, providing two men with strong claims to be the rightful pope. It was a failure first of all of the Avignon popes, who had ignored their obligation to reside in Rome. It was a failure too of the Romans, whose need for the economic benefits the presence of the pope provided them trumped the obligation of holding an orderly and proper conclave. It was also a consequence of papal rule over Rome. Had a powerful secular ruler been in control of the city, it is improbable that he would have tolerated so disgraceful an event. Fourth, it was the failure of the electoral process. By requiring the cardinals to hold the election in the place where the previous pope had died, the rules of conclave created the circumstances in which it could be questioned whether Urban VI was rightfully elected. Last, it was a failure of canon law, which declared that the pope could not be judged by any earthly authority. Any attempts at mediation by rulers or even by the College was deemed unlawful unless both popes agreed to accept arbitration, which neither did.
KeywordsRoman Pope General Council Papal Rule Schism Face John XXIII
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