Friday, August 26, 2022

Council of Constance (1414-18)

Sigismund (1368-1437), king of Hungary (from 1387) and Germany (from 1410) added his authority to the chorus of voices calling for a new council of the Latin Church. The Great Schism had to end and one new pope, supported by all, needed to be chosen. Tensions in Bohemia also needed to be resolved. It finally met in the northern Norican city of Constance. Up to 70,000 people came.

It deposed two popes and accepted the resignation of the third.

To resolve issues in Bohemia, Sigismund granted Jan Hus safe conduct to the Council to present his views. Shortly after arriving, however, Jan was betrayed, arrested, and imprisoned. His persecutors brought blatantly false charges against him. 

The issue wasn’t the truth of his words. The issue was his unwillingness to acknowledge manipulative politicians and corrupt leaders as witnesses to Jesus even if they were called pope or priest. 

Jerome was arrested while traveling to be with his friend Jan. Jan was sentenced to death and burned at the stake. He went to his death glorifying God. Ten months later, Jerome suffered the same malice at the same spot. These deaths only worsened the situation in Bohemia. 

Martin 5th (r. 1417-31), elected pope by the Council of Constance, took three years to travel the 600 miles (1,000 km) from Constance to Rome. While the popes and their bureaucracy had lived in Avignon, the city of Rome had shriveled into chaos. Martin lingered in Florence while negotiations to restore order progressed.

Copyright © 2022 by Steven Farsaci.
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