The Fourteenth Century
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1301 Bishop Bernard Saisset of Pamiers (France) was arrested on suspicion of treason and heresy (pro-Cathar leanings). Fearing a trial before the Inquisition, Bernard appealed to the pope. Boniface demanded Bernard be tried in a church court. The claim that a pope had the right to hear a case involving treason against a secular ruler demaned justification – hence the bull Unum Sanctum issued in December of the following year.
1301 The Muslim governor of Egypt ordered all churches to be closed.
1302 Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303) issued the bull Unum Sanctum, which elaborated on the Pope’s powers relative to those of the state and defined that salvation is not possible for anyone not under the power of the Roman pontiff:
“We are compelled, our faith urging us, to believe and to hold—and we do firmly believe and simply confess—that there is one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, outside of which there is neither salvation nor remission of sins; her Spouse proclaiming it in the canticles, "My dove, my undefiled is but one, she is the choice one of her that bore her"; which represents one mystical body, of which body the head is Christ, but of Christ, God.
“In this Church there is one Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism. There was one ark of Noah, indeed, at the time of the flood, symbolizing one Church; and this being finished in one cubit had, namely, one Noah as helmsman and commander. And, with the exception of this ark, all things existing upon the earth were, as we read, destroyed.
“This Church, moreover, we venerate as the only one, the Lord saying through His prophet, ‘Deliver my soul from the sword, my darling from the power of the dog.’ He prayed at the same time for His Soul—that is, for Himself the Head, and for His Body— which Body, namely, He called the one and only Church on account of the unity of the Faith promised, of the sacraments, and of the love of the Church. She is that seamless garment of the Lord which was not cut but which fell by lot. Therefore of this one and only Church there is one body and one head—not two heads as if it were a monster: Christ, namely, and the vicar of Christ, Saint Peter, ‘Feed my sheep.’ My sheep, He said, using a general term, and not designating these or those particular sheep; from which it is plain that He committed to him all His sheep.
“If, then, the Greeks or others say that they were not committed to the care of Peter and his successors, they necessarily confess that they are not of the sheep of Christ; for the Lord says, in John, that there is one fold, one shepherd, and one only.
“We are told by the word of the Gospel that in this His fold there are two swords—a spiritual, namely, and a temporal. For when the apostles said, ‘Behold here are two swords’—the Lord did not reply that this was too much, but enough. Surely he who denies that the temporal sword is in the power of Peter wrongly interprets the word of the Lord when He says, ‘Put up thy sword in its scabbard.’ Both swords, the spiritual and the material, therefore, are in the power of the Church; the one, indeed, to be wielded for the Church, the other by the Church; the one by the hand of the priest, the other by the hand of kings and knights, but at the will and sufferance of the priest. One sword, moreover, ought to be under the other, and the temporal authority to be subjected to the spiritual. For when the Apostle says ‘There is no power but of God, and the powers that are of God are ordained,’ they would not be ordained unless sword were under sword and the lesser one, as it were, were led by the other to great deeds.
“For according to St. Dionysius the law of Divinity is to lead the lowest through the intermediate to the highest things. Not, therefore, according to the law of the universe are all things reduced to order equally and immediately; but the lowest through the intermediate, the intermediate through the higher. But that the spiritual exceeds any earthly power in dignity and nobility we ought the more openly to confess, the more spiritual things excel temporal ones. This also is made plain to our eyes from the giving of tithes, and the benediction and the sanctification; from the acceptation of this same power, from the control over those same things. For, the truth bearing witness, the spiritual power has to establish the earthly power, and to judge if it be not good. Thus, concerning the Church and the ecclesiastical power, is verified the prophecy of Jeremias: ‘See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms,’ and the other things which follow.
“Therefore if the earthly power err, it shall be judged by the spiritual power; but if the lesser spiritual power err, by the greater. But if the greatest, it can be judged by God alone, not by man, the Apostle hearing witness. A spiritual man judges all things, but he himself is judged by no one. This authority, moreover, even though it is given to man and exercised through man, is not human but rather divine, being given by divine lips to Peter and founded on a rock for him and his successors through Christ Himself whom He has confessed; the Lord Himself saying to Peter: ‘Whatsoever thou shalt bind,’ etc. Whoever, therefore, resists this power thus ordained by God, resists the ordination of God, unless he makes believe, like the Manichean, that there are two beginnings. This we consider false and heretical, since by the testimony of Moses, not ‘in the beginnings,’ but ‘in the beginning’ God created the heavens and the earth.
“We declare, say, define and pronounce, that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.”
The bull was issued during a conflict with King Philip IV of France (1285-1314) over control of church funds. Philip needed revenue to war with England and to improve his position relative to the nobility. After the bull was issued, Philip attempted to kidnap Boniface and bring him to trial in France. Philip accused Boniface of being disbelief in eternal punishments and rewards, of being a sodomite, and of considering sex with boys or women as being of no more consequence than rubbing one's hands together. In September 1303, Boniface was taken, but he was rescued by a mob, only to die three months later.
By Boniface’s time, the papal crown had grown to a great conical tiara. Two centuries earlier, it had still been a simple white cap.
1303 The emperor Andronicus II (1282-1328) hired a group of mercenaries, known as the Catalan Company, to fight the Turks. The Catalans fought one successful battle against the Turks, then established themselves in the Gallipoli Peninsula and raided Thrace repeatedly. Worse, the Catalans invited the Turks into Europe to assist them.
1305 The Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy (1304-76). Clement V (1305-14), a Frenchman, was elected pope, and remained in France. This was the beginning of the Avignon papacy.
1306 Robert I Bruce became king of the Scots and led a Scottish revolt against England.
1307 King Philip IV of France had all Templars in France arrested and their property seized. The Templars were accused of vice and sacrilege.
1308 The Turks first crossed into Europe.
Peter, Metropolitan of
to settle in the small town of Moscow.
Pope Clement V (1305-14) settled in Avignon.
1309 Heavy rains in Europe led to widespread famine. Poor harvests and epidemics among the livestock were common through 1325.
The Teutonic Knights (see
its headquarters at Marienburg (Malbork), Prussia. With the
in the Holy Land ended, they set their sights on military subjugation
the eastern Baltic coast.
1309 The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem (the Knights Hospitallers) built a fortress on Rhodes after this year. Their fleet worked to keep the southern Mediterranean safe from the Turks. The Turks conquered the island in 1522.
1311 The Catalans (see 1303) siezed Athens from the Franks, then set up the Catalan Duchy of Athens and Thebes.
1311/12 Council of Vienne. One hundred and twenty bishops attended this council intended to try Pope Boniface VIII posthumously and to suppress the Knights Templar. (No trial of the late pope was held.) Pope Clement V (1305-14) canonized Pope Celestine V, whom Boniface had imprisoned. Representatives to the council from Aragon stated that 30,000 Christians were enslaved in Granada.
1312 The Order of the Knights Templar was suppressed in France. At a council held in Vienne, Clement V (1305-14) dissolved the mercenary order. The Templars’ goods outside France were transferred to the Orders of the Hospital.
Clement also absolved Philip, king of France, of all blame in the matter of the attempted kidnapping of Boniface (see 1302) and the seizure of the Templars’ property (1307).
The Roman (Byzantine)
Andronicus II issued a bull designed to enforce tighter discipline at
Mount Athos (see 963).
1314 Scotland won independence at Bannockburn.
1314? Birth of St. Sergius of Radonezh (1314-92). Perhaps the greatest national saint of Russia, Sergius was the major motivating force between the building of monasteries in the eastern wastelands, thus spreading Russian civilization into the wilderness. Sergius emphasized a life of prayer and humility. One visitor to the monastery, upon seeing Sergius at work in the garden, said, “I came to see a prophet, and you show me a beggar.”
1315-17 Famine in the Low Countries resulted in an estimated 10 to 15% mortality rate in the cities.
1317 In his bull Gloria Ecclesiam Pope John XXII (1316-34) condemned as heretics those who insisted on following the original rule of St. Francis of Assisi.
1321 Muslim authorities in Egypt had 60 churches destroyed, along with many monasteries.
1323 The grand duke of Lithuania, Gediminas (1315-41), appealed for skilled immigrants from Germany. He sent an open letter to Lubeck, Bremen, and Magdeburg, making it plain that immigrants could retain their Christian religion. He also sponsored an Orthodox metropolitanate under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarch for the benefit of his Orthodox subjects. At this time, and until 1385, Lithuania was officially pagan. Gediminas considered adopting Roman Catholicism, but he was advised against it by a certain Dominican friar named Nicholas, who insisted that the faith not be accepted from the relatively uninfluential bishop of Riga.
In his bull Cum inter
John XXII (1316-34) condemned the doctrine of apostolic poverty as a
This view was common among Franciscans. John was nicknamed ‘The
Banker of Avignon.’ Historians estimate that John spent 63
percent of papal income on war.
During John’s papacy, Trinity Sunday was added to the Roman calendar. The festival had first appeared in the Low Countries in the tenth century.
of Occam (d. 1350), an English Franciscan friar, defended his
at the bishop of Rome’s court in Avignon. Occam held that logic
not deal with being as such. In his view, propositions are purely
forms of thought divested of ontological content, of any connection
ultimate reality. Ultimate truth cannot therefore be grasped
opposed Pope John XXII's condemnation of
the Franciscan teaching on poverty (1317). William argued that
the case of Pope Joan proved that one could appear to be pope but be no
pope at all. Other Franciscan theologian argued that earlier
popes had taught that Christ was a pauper. Therefore, since John
XXII contradicted these earlier popes, he was not pope at all.
Andronicus III Paleologus
Roman (Byzantine) co-emperor (1325-41), reigning alongside his
grandfather, Andronicus II. In 1328, he forced his grandfather to
abdicate. Andronicus III attempted to improve the justice system
in rural areas through the use of itinerant judges. He placed the
local bishop in charge of the tribunal the roaming judge periodically
1327-39 The Coptic Pope Benjamin II held office. During this period, Copts in Egypt were protected from persecution through the Ethiopian emperor’s threat to use force on their behalf.
The Provincial Synod of
the observance of the Feast of the Conception (of Mary). It did
because her conception was a significant event leading up to the
not because of a belief in her Immaculate Conception.
Lewis of Bavaria had himself crowned Holy Roman Emperor in Rome by a
layman, a member of the powerful Colonna family. In the same
year, Pietro Rainalducci, a Franciscan of the camp that renounced all
property (the "Spirituals") was elected Pope Nicholas V (1328-30), even
though John XXII was still alive in Avignon.
1333St. Gregory Palamas (1296-1359), Metropolitan of Thessalonika, defended the Orthodox doctrine of hesychast prayer and the use of the Jesus Prayer. One of his controversies was with Barlaam the Calabrian (see 1341 and 1351 below). Gregory is commemorated on the Second Sunday of Great Lent.
1334 Benedict XII (1334-42) became pope. He was very frugal and cut church expenses by 75%. He also drank heavily. The expression, ‘Let us drink like a pope’ came into popularity during his tenure.
1339 The Hundred Years War between England and France began. The English gained victories at Crecy (1346) and Poitiers (1356) (where the king of France, John, was taken prisoner) though use of the longbow.
1339 Bubonic plague struck a Nestorian settlement near Lake Issyk Kul, in central Asia’s Ten Shan region.
1340 Two Bohemian Franciscans executed in Lithuania for proselytizing.
1340 The Hagioritic Tome published.
1340 Stephen Kotromanich, Ban of Bosnia, converted to Catholicism. Although Pope John XXII encouraged him to persecute the Patarenes. Stephen, however, not wishing to alienate the powerful Patarenes, merely allowed Franciscans into the country to preach.
1341 A synod met in St. Sophia in Constantinople and condemned the sacramental theology of Barlaam the Calabrian. Barlaam was a Western convert to Orthodoxy who taught Western notions. Some of his condemned doctines are listed below (1351).
1342 Clement VI (1342-52) became pope. He restored the largesse Benedict XII had restrained, passing favors through his lover, the Countess of Turenne. Clement was a patron to the poet Petrarch, who referred to him as an ‘ecclesiastical Dionysius ... soiled with incestuous embraces.’ Petrarch referred to Avignon as ‘the Babylon of the West.’
1342 Louis the Great became king of Hungary (1342-82). Occupied with wars against Naples and Venice, Louis also found time to attempt to gain hegemony over the Slavic nations of the East. However, his militant Catholicism alienated these Orthodox peoples. Louis, in his turn, gave them little assistant against the advancing Turks.
1344 Pope Clement VI issued the bull Unigenitus, which described the economy of indulgences. In brief, the Church could allocate merit from the treasury of merit accumulated by Christ and the saints to shorten the time spent doing penance in purgatory.
1344 Prague became an archbishopric.
1345 The bubonic plague spread to Crimea.
1345 During his reign, Grand Duke Algirdas (1345-77) of Lithuania approached the pope three times and the Ecumenical Patriarch twice over the possibility of accepting a form of the Christian faith.
1346 The bubonic plague reached the region of the Caucasus mountains.
1346 An independent patriarchate was established in Serbia.
1346 The Teutonic Knights bought out Denmark’s claims to Estonia. The Knights concentrated their aggression on Lithuania, the only independent pagan state in Europe, because it separated their Prussian territory from their lands in Livonia and Estonia.
Casimir the Great’s
Wislica provided for freedom of religion and protection for the Jews in
Poland. During the Black Death, many Jews immigrated to Poland
John Catacuzensus became
1347 The bubonic plague reached Constantinople, Cyprus, Sicily, Venice, Florence, and Alexandria. By December, it had spread into Italy and France.
1348 The year of the Black Death. The plague reached Paris in the spring, and London in September. An estimated 35 to 40% of the people of the Mediterranean basin perished from the plague by 1350. Some historians believe the plague was even more severe in Central Asia – from about this time the flow of migration, which had formerly been from Central Asia westward into Europe, reversed. The argument is also made that the plague sufficiently depopulated the Ottoman Empire to prevent the Turks from colonizing the Balkans, thus leaving Europe comparatively free of Muslims.
1348 After being tortured on the rack in Neustadt, Germany, Balovignus, a Jewish physician, confessed to having poisoned wells. Pogroms against the Jews in Europe followed. The kings of Castille and Aragon, and the pope in Avignon, tooks steps to protect the Jews, who were blamed for the outbreak of plague.
1348 The Jews of Zurich expelled from Zurich.
1349 The town council of Strasburg burned 2000 Jews (accused of causing the plague). Jews were also massacred in Frankfurt-am-Main, Cologne, and Mainz. Following these atrocities, many Jews emigrated eastward (see Casimir, 1346).
1349 In a bull issued on October 20, Pope Clement VI condemned flagellism. The flagellants organized processions in which they scourged themselves with leather whips to which small iron spikes were affixed. The flagellants were most numerous in Germany, where they blamed Jews for the plague and persecuted them.
1349 In November, John of Rupecissa finished his Liber secretum eventum, which predicted Christ would return to defeat the Antichrist in 1370, inaugurating the millennium. He set Judgment Day in the year 2370.
1350/51 The bubonic plague finally reached Russia, having been spread there from western Europe.
1350 A Bulgarian council meeting at Tirnovo condemned two former monks of Mount Athos, Cyril the Barefooted and Lazarus, on charges of heresy. Bogomil doctrines had spread to Mount Athos by way of a certain Irene, who ran a hostel in Thessalonica where monks would sometimes stay. The two monks had been banished from Athos and moved to Tirnovo. Lazarus urged nudism and universal male castration. Cyril taught that married couples should live apart. A third preacher, Theodosius, also promoted nudism, but he also encouraged men to sin that grace may abound. His movement was noted for its sexual excess.
1351 In England, Parliament passed the Statute of Provisors. The Pope had been in the habit of appointing “provisors” to benefices (church offices that provided income without necessarily requiring work) in England. (Provisors were persons designated to come into a benefice when the the incumbent was still living.) The statute enacted that any person who accepted such a provision, thus disturbing the right of the patron (the person rightly empowered to grant the benefice), was to be imprisoned until he paid a fine and given assurances that he would not repeat the offence or appeal to a foreign court.
1351 Nicholas Cabasilas became bishop of Thessalonica. He is best known as the author of The Life in Christ, a work on the mysteries (sacraments).
1351 The following anathemas against Barlaam and Acindynus are included in the Synodicon of Orthodoxy (see 842 above). Barlaam was condemned by the Council of St. Sophia in 1341, and Acindynus by the Council of Blachernae in 1351:
Barlaam and Acindynus and
The Council of Blachernae also condemned Isaac Argyrus, a disciple of Nicephorus Gregoras. Apparently, he held many of the views condemned in the anathemas immediately above.
1353 The Statute of Praemunire enacted in England. This law required anyone who took a case to a foreign court to appear before the king’s justices to answer for the contempt this act showed to the king. Anyone who failed to do so would forfeit all lands and goods. Praemunire was intended to stop appeals to the Pope and his courts. (The name “praemunire” comes from the opening words of the statute, and means “to forewarn.”)
1353 Stephen Tvrtko I succeeded his uncle Stephen Kotromanich as Ban of Bosnia. He continued his uncle’s policy of tolerance for the Patarenes.
1355 A Bulgarian church council met in Tirnovo. It condemned the Bogomilstvo, as an earlier council had done in 1350.
The Turks took Adrianople
themselves on the Bulgarian frontier.
Gregory of Rimini elected
superior general of the Augustinians. Like Augustine, Rimini
emphasized the inability of humans to please God without divine
grace. Rimini also taught that children who died without baptism
will be punished for ever. His teachings were influential in the
late middle ages. Similar views were held among the Augustinian
faculty at the University of Wittenburg early in the sixteenth century.
1360 Pope Innocent VI (1352-62) instructed the bishop of Bosnia to insist that the government suppress the Patarenes. In the same year, King Louis of Hungary forced Stephen Tvrtko I, Ban of Bosnia, to exile the Patarenes.
1361-62 Pestis Secunda (Pestis Puerorum). This plague outbreak killed an estimated 10 to 15% of Europe’s population. Victim were more commonly those born since 1348 and the landed aristocracy.
1365 King Edward III (1327-1377) of England issued a proclamation against ‘whoring’ in the fields and against wasting time playing football or other games, dicing and dancing on Sunday. This is indicative both of the wealth of medieval society, which allowed so much free time, and Edward’s desire to promote archery. (See the entry for 1339.)
1365 Church property in Egypt was confiscated to finance a war in Cyprus.
1368 Pope Urban V (1362-70) insisted that anyone in Dalmatia who showed hospitality to a heretic (mostly Patarenes in that region) be excommunicated. Urban referred to Bosnia as the “cesspool of heresy of all parts of the world.”
1369 Pestis Tertia. A third severe outbreak of plague in Europe: 10 to 15% of Europeans died.
1371 Defeating the Serbs (allies of the Bulgarians) at Maritsa, the Turks gained control over Bulgaria.
Pope Gregory XI
a Latin metropolitanate at Lvov (modern Ukraine). He ordered that
all Orthodox bishops be removed from the new metropolitanate.
1376 The patriarch of Constantinople appointed Cyprian, a Bulgarian intellectual educated in Greece, metropolitan of Moscow. Cyprian served in that office until 1406. He replaced the Rule of Studion (a format for prayer and chanting) with the Rule of Jerusalem (or St. Savvas). He also updated the Russian liturgical books to comport with those being used in Constantinople.
1377In January, Pope Gregory XI (1370-78) moved the papacy back to Rome. The move was required to keep the papal properties in Italy from revolt, and was urged by Petrarch and Saint Catherine of Siena.
1378 The Great Schism (1378-1417). The Lateran Palace burned during the election of Urban VI (1378-89), an Italian, to the papacy. Fire was set by angry rioters. The mob made it clear to the assembled cardinals that they would have a Roman or Italian pope, not a French one. Later that year, after being insulted by Urban, the French cardinals met and elected Robert of Geneva, whose mercenaries had ravaged the town of Cesena, Pope Clement VII (1378-94). Thus began what is termed the ‘Great Schism.’ France, Flanders, Spain, and Scotland acknowledged Clement VII. The German Empire and England, with the northern and eastern nations and most of the Italian Republics, adhered to Urban VI.
1380 The Nikdo-Ugreshsky monastery founded near Moscow by Dimitry Donskoy (Dimitry of the Don) on the site where an icon of St. Nicholas appeared predicting victory in the battle of Kulikovo.
1380The Russians, under the Grand Dukes of Moscow, defeated the Mongols at the battle of Kulikovo. This considerably weakened the Mongol hold over Russia. Before the battle, Prince Dimitry Donskoy, leader of the Russian forces, visited St. Sergius of Radonezh and obtained his blessing.
1380 Late in this century the strigol’niki appeared in Novgorod. Originally, they protested the practice, contrary to canon law, of bishops charging ordination fees. Later, the strigol'niki split into two groups. The more moderate rejoined the Orthodox Church in Russia in the fifteenth century. The extremists ended by rejecting Christ, the New Testament, and belief in the resurrection and the afterlife. They seem to have disappeared by the mid-fifteenth century.
1381 The Peasant’s Revolt in England in June and July of this year was triggered by the imposition of a tax of one shilling on everyone over 16 years of age. The peasants captured London and beheaded the Archbishop of Canterbury.
1381John Wyclif, an Oxford theologian, published his “Confession,” in which he denied that the substance of the bread and wine are transubstantiated in the mass. Wyclif rejected indulgences, auricular confession, extreme unction and holy orders. He took the Bible alone, without tradition as the sole rule of faith, and taught that the church was composed of the predestined only. A council meeting in London condemned his teachings in 1382. Wyclif died in 1384.
1382 Nicholas Hereford delivered a series of sermons in Oxford, England, in May and June of this year, in which he criticized the church and the clergy for their obsession with money and litigation. He implied that if the church could not correct itself, and if the king did not act, the laity should.
1382 When Grand Duke Kestutis of Lithuania died in this year, he was cremated in Vilnius with his hounds, horses, and hawks, a magnificent pagan funeral.
1382 The Anno Domini system of dating adopted in Castille.
1382 Tatars sacked and burned Moscow.
1384 A ten-year-old girl named Jadwiga (daughter of Louis the Great of Hungary) became ruler of Poland.
1386 The grand duke of Lithuania, Jogaila, was baptized under the name Ladislas, then married Jadwiga of Poland, thus ending Lithuania’s status as Europe’s sole pagan state, and gaining the throne of Poland.
The combined Polish and Lithuanian crown in time ruled Ukraine as well, as the Poles expanded into the sparsely populated region. The Roman Catholic king of Poland and Lithuania thus appointed the Orthodox bishops of Ukraine.
1386 Geoffrey Chaucer began writing the Canterbury Tales.
1386 The Turks conquered Thessalonica.
1387 The University of Paris condemned a Dominican who denied the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. It ordered all faculty members to accept it.
1389 An army of Serbs, Romanians and Moldovians was defeated by the Turks at Kosovo, resulting in the subjection of those nations.
1389 Several Copts who had converted to Islam, then reverted, were publicly executed.
1390 The Turkish sultan Bayazid I destroyed every market town and village from Bithynia to Thrace. All the inhabitants were deported.
1390 The first German paper mill established - at Nuremburg. The first European mill had been established in Spain in 1074.
1391 In Spain, ant-Jewish preaching resulted in the massacre of roughly one-third of the Jews living there. Another third were forced to convert to Christianity.
1393 In England, the Great Statute was enacted. It punished by loss of lands and goods all persons who would introduce papal bulls into the kingdom on either of two subjects: (1) bulls to excommunicate bishops who enforced the King’s decisions with regard to the appointment of clergy to vacant benefices, and (2) bulls to move bishops from one see to another. Pope Boniface IX (1389-1404) had threatened to move bishops about to impair their usefulness in civil offices.
1394 By the king’s order, the Jews were expelled from France (see 1290).
Crusading armies under John of
King Sigismund of Hungary were annihilated at Nicopolis by a
force under the Sultan Bajazeth. This left Hungary open to
Hungary was given respite when the Turks turned to attack the Romans
were later themselves beset by the Mongols.