Church History:  The 1300s


What happened in this century?

  • The Renaissance began.

  • The Babylonian Captivity occurred (when the popes lived in Avignon on the border of France for app. 70 years).

  • The Western Schism occurred (when the Catholic Church had two popes).

Contact Mark Nickens, Ph.D. in Church History, at  Questions, comments, and observations are welcome!


2011 Mark Nickens


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1302        The bull known as Unam Sanctam is issued by Pope Boniface VIII.  In it the pope declares that salvation is impossible outside the Catholic Church.  Go here to read a small part of the Unam Sanctam. 

1303        Pope Boniface VIII died.  Pope Benedict XI elected.

1304        Pope Benedict XI died.

1305        Pope Clement V elected.  Clement was not a cardinal, which was unusual, and was not an Italian, being of French heritage.  He was living in France when he was elected and he decided to remain in France as pope.  He ignored the Unam Sanctam and essentially became a pawn of the French king.  This began the French dominance of the papacy which lasted until 1377.

1309        The papal court moved to Avignon (which was then not in France; it is in France today).  This is the beginning of the Babylonian Captivity, the 70  year period when the papacy did not reside in Rome but in Avignon.

1314        Pope Clement V died. 

1316        Pope John XXII was elected.  The conclave (meeting of cardinals for the purpose of electing a pope) was held in France.  He remained in Avignon.

1328        John Wycliffe born (in England). 

1334        Pope John XXII died.  Pope Benedict XII was elected.  He remained in Avignon.

1342        Pope Benedict XII died.  Pope Clement VI was elected.  He remained in Avignon.

1348-1350        The Black Death ravaged Europe.  The Black Death caused the deaths of approximately 1/3 of the population of Europe.   Clement VI granted forgiveness of sins to everyone who died of the plague.

1352        Pope Clement VI died.  Pope Innocent VI was elected.  He remained in Avignon.

1362        Pope Innocent VI died.  Pope Urban V was elected.  He had been a monk and an abbot; he initiately lived in Avignon. 

1367        Pope Urban V traveled to Rome. 

1370        Urban V found that a number of cities in Italy were in revolt, and, prompted by the French cardinals to return, he went back to Avignon.  He died a few months later.

1370        Pope Urban V died.  Pope Gregory XI was elected pope. 

1372        John Huss born (in Bohemia, currently the Czech Republic).

1375-6        Wycliffe's "De Civili Domino" ("On Civil Lordship") circulated.  In it he maintained that if clergy were not in a state of grace then the civil authorities could remove them.  Condemned in 1377.

1377        Gregory XI condemned 19 of John Wycliffe's propositions. 

1377        Gregory XI traveled to Rome.

1377-8        Wycliffe's "De Ecclesia" ("On the Church"), "De Veritate Sacrae Scripturae" ("On the Truth of the Holy Scriptures"), and "De Potestate Papae" ("On the Power of the Pope") circulated.  In these three writings he states that the Bible is the sole determinant of doctrine, that no ecclesiastical authority can add anything to the biblical teachings, and that the Pope had no scriptural authority. 

1378        Gregory XI died in Rome.  The College of Cardinals (who had traveled with Gregory) was forced by the Romans to elect a Roman pope, who took the name of Pope Urban VI.    The Cardinals returned to Avignon and elected a French cardinal as pope, who took the name of Pope Clement VII.  At this point the Catholic Church has two popes.  This is known as the "Western Schism."

1382        The Wycliffe Bible appears (in English).  

1382        Wycliffe's "De Apostasia" ("On Apostasy") circulated.  In it he denied that the religious life (monks, nuns, friars, monastic Orders) had any scriptural basis.  He also circulated "De Eucharistia" ("On the Eucharist") in which he denied the doctrine of transubstantiation (that the bread and wine of Communion become the body and blood of Jesus).

1384        John Wycliffe died.  His followers continued his teachings and became known as the Lollards.

1389        Pope Urban VI died (who was the pope in Rome).  Pope Boniface IX was elected and lived in Rome.

1394        Antipope Clement VII died (who was the pope in Avignon).  All popes from 1378 who lived in Avignon are refered to as "antipope."  Antipope Benedict XIII was elected (and lived in Avignon).

Primary sources

Unam Sanctam:  "Urged by faith, we are obliged to believe and to maintain that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and also apostolic.  We believe in her firmly and we confess with simplicity that outside of her there is neither salvation nor the remission of sins." Go back to timeline here.

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