The Fifteenth Century
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1401 A debate was held at Oxford on the question of whether English was a suitable language for the translation of the Bible.  Though Richard Ullerston defended English with skill, the debate dismissed the language as unfit.

1402 Battle of Bayezid.  Sultan Bajazeth’s Turkish forces defeated by Timur of Samarkand’s Mongols at Bayezid near Angora (Ankara).  Mongol forces moved through Asia Minor, as far as Smyrna on the Aegean.  Timur is also known as Timur the Tartar and as Timur Lenk, which means Timur the Lame (Tamburlaine).  Timur's victory weakened the Turkish sultan, so permitting the Roman (Byzantine) empire to continue for more than fifty years.

1402 The Roman (Byzantine) emperor Manuel II attempted to enforce stricter discipline on Mount Athos (see 963).  The problem was due to the rise of the idiorrhythmic monasteries, loose associations of monks living in private cells and gathering for church services and dinners.  The idiorrhythmic system encouraged the contemplative lifestyle but was also readily abused by lazy monks.

1407 Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, decreed:  “We therefore legislate and ordain that nobody shall from this day forth translate any text of Holy Scripture on his own authority into the English, or any other, language, whether in the form of a book, pamphlet, or tract; and that any such book, pamphlet, or tract, whether composed recently or in the time of John Wycliffe, or in the future, shall not be read in part or in whole, in public or in private.”

1408 A decree known as The Constitutions of Oxford made translation of the whole Bible or any part of it into English illegal.

1409 The two rival colleges of cardinals agreed that the schism should be ended and called a synod, which met in Pisa.  It elected Alexander V pope, but neither the Roman nor the Avignon pope abdicated.  There were thus now three rival claimants to the papacy and three colleges of cardinals.  Alexander died shortly and was replaced by John XXIII.

The canonical standing of the council of Pisa was unclear.  As summarized by Conrad of Gelnhausen:  “It is impossible for a general council to be held or celebrated without the authority of the pope.  But to convene such a council in the present case the pope cannot step in, because no person is universally recognized as pope.”

1410 King Sigismund of Hungary elected German (Holy Roman) Emperor.

1410-13 Musa, son of the Turkish sultan Bayazid I, raided Serbia, pillaging the countryside.  The young men were enslaved, while the remainder of the population was slaughtered.  In three small towns, everyone was killed.

1410 Polish and Lithuanian forces defeated the Teutonic Knights at the Battle of Grunwald (Tannenburg).

1414 Sir John Oldcastle led a Lollard rebellion, which failed to capture London.  Lollard was a Dutch word for “babbler.”  The Lollards read Wyclif’s English Bible.

1414 At the insistence of the German (Holy Roman) Emperor Sigismund, John XXIII (1410-1417) called the council of Constance.  The first session was held on 1 November 1414.  Gregory XII (1406-1415) was the pope in Rome at this time, while Benedict XIII (1394-1417) was pope in Avignon.  Gregory XII abdicated after declaring the council genuine.  The council deposed John XXIII (29 May 1415) and Benedict (26 July 1417), but Benedict ignored his deposition and continued to maintain his claim from the Castle of Pensacola.  In late 1417, the council elected Martin V (1417-31) pope.  Martin closed the council on 24 April 1418.

1415 The decree Sacrosancta, from the fifth session of the council of Constance, 4 April 1415:  “This holy Synod of Constance, holding a general council in order to uproot the schism and to unite and reform God’s church in its head and members for the praise of almighty God and in the Holy Spirit, legitimately gathered together, and to achieve more securely and freely the union and reform of the Church of God, orders, decides, and declares as follows.  It declares first that being legitimately convoked in the Holy Spirit, forming a general council and representing the universal Church, it has immediate power from Christ, which every state and dignity, even if it be the papal dignity, must obey in what concerns faith, the eradication of the mentioned schism, and the reformation of the said Church in head and members.  Likewise it declares that whoever of whatever condition, state, dignity, even the papal one, refuses persistently to obey the mandates, statutes, and orders or prescripts, the ones above or what pertains to them, or those which are to be pronounced by this holy Synod, and any other legitimately assembled general council, will be penalized and duly punished with recourse also to other means of law if necessary.”

1415 On July 6, John Huss burned at the stake at the Council of Constance.  John Huss was influenced by the doctrines of Wyclif, though he did continue to accept transubstantiation.  The Hussites fought for the restoration of communion under both ‘species’ (bread and wine) and infant communion.

1415 The council of Constance transferred responsibility for the conversion of Lithuania (see 1386) from the Teutonic Knights to the Polish kingdom.

1417 The council of Constance issued the decree Frequens (9 Oct 1417), which called for regular councils of the church, separated by no more than 10 years.  On 11 November 1417, near its close, the council elected Martin V (1417-31) pope.  Martin V promised to call another council in 10 years.

The English and Germans had wished to reform church government before electing a new pope, in face of opposition from the French and Spaniards.  Once Martin V had been elected, the chance for meaningful reform was lost.  (Incidentally, Martin V was a member of the Colonna family, Boniface VIII’s hereditary enemies.)

1418 In his 22 February bull Inter cunctas, Pope Martin V (1417-31) demanded that the Hussites recognize the council of Constance.  The pope listed the following tests:  “Whether he believes, holds, and asserts that any general council and also the one of Constance represents the universal church.  In like manner whether he believes that what the sacred Council of Constance representing the universal Church has approved and approves in favor of faith and for the good of souls and that then must be accepted and be held by all Christian faithful.  And what it has condemned and condemns has to be held, believed, and asserted as condemned.  In like manner whether he believes that the condemnation of John Wyclif, John Hus, and Jerome of Prague pronounced over their persons, books, and writings by the sacred general Council of Constance is right and just and by any Catholic as such to be held and firmly maintained.”  Some assert that, in this passage, the pope, after first requiring the Hussites to agree that the council of Constance represented the universal church, limited the extent of that council’s authority in the following line.  That is, by requiring the Hussites to believe in what the council “approves in favor of faith and for the good of souls” it is asserted that Martin hinted that the decree Sacrosancta, as an example, was not favorable to faith or for the good of souls.

1420 The Anno Domini dating system adopted in Portugal.

1420 When Pope Martin V (1417-31) returned to Rome in this year, he found it so "dilapidated and deserted" that it bore little resemblance to a city.

1424 King Wladyslaw II (1399-1434) of Poland issued the Edict of Wielun to suppress Hussite tendencies among the Polish nobility.

1425 Pope Martin V (1417-31) restored the cathedral of St. John Lateran, using marble, mosaics, and porphyry from the many ruined churches in Rome.

1429 Joan of Arc convinced the dauphin that she was in receipt of divine communications.  She fought against the English, having been given command of a troop of soldiers.  Joan was tried by French and Burgundian clerics, who handed her over to the English.  She was burnt in the marketplace in Rouen in 1431.

1429 The Solovetsky monastery established on the Solovki Islands in the White Sea.  The Solovki archipelago consists of six large and many small islands.  The monastery was established by saints Zosima, Savvaty, and German.  In addition to its spiritual work, the monastery played a major role in the economic development of the region, particularly in salt production.  (See 1922 for a related entry.)

1431 The next general council of the church in the West met at Basel.  Very few of the participants were bishops.  The pope, Eugenius IV (1431-47) attempted to suppress the council at the end of its first year, but was unsuccessful, then he changed his mind and declared the council ecumenical.  When Eugenius refused to agree to the council's decision that councils are superior to popes, the council elected Felix V (1439-49), the Duke of Savoy, pope.  In 1449, the council of Basel yielded to Pope Nicholas V (1447-55) and dissolved itself.  Thus ended the ‘conciliar epoch’ of reform in the West.

Bohemia had been in rebellion since the burning of John Huss at the council of Constance.  Armies had invaded Bohemia to bring the rebels to submission, but they were repeatedly defeated.  The council of Basel determined to negotiate with the Hussites, so their representatives were invited to the council - though first the streets were swept clean of prostitutes to avoid offending the heretics.

The Calixtines or Ultraquists - moderate Hussites - convinced the council to agree to four articles, known as the Compactata.  These (1) allowed communion in both kinds, (2) the unimpeded preaching of the word of God, (3) the clergy to live in complete poverty, and (4) open sin to be suppressed.  But the hard line Hussites - known as Taborites after their stronghold in Tabor - refused the Compactata.  The Calixtines subsequently defeated the Taborites, in 1434.  The papacy, however, refused to accept the Compactata, and Pius II declared them void in 1460.  They remained in force in Bohemia, however, until 1567.

The council of Basel passed a decree in favor of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception.  Pope Eugenius IV (1431-47) had sent Cardinal Giovanni de Turrecremata to the council, and Turrecremata wrote a detailed treatise against the doctrine.  Turrecremata was unable to present his dissertation to the council, as he was recalled because of a dispute between the council and the pope.  Pope Pius II (1458-64) later honored Turrecremata with the title “Defender and Protector of the Faith.”

1432 Pope Eugenius IV (1431-47) sent the Franciscan Jacob de Marchia to Bosnia as an Inquisitor.  De Marchia had little success converting the Patarenes, but did succeed in antagorizing his subordinates.

1433 Tvrtko II, Ban of Bosnia, fled to the court of the German emperor Sigusmund while Patarene nobles ruled the country.

1433 Nicholas of Cusa wrote his “On Catholic Concordance” (De concordantia catholica).  Dedicating this work to his colleagues at the council of Basel, Nicholas argued for the supremacy of general councils over popes.  Nicholas later changed his mind and served both Pope Eugenius IV and Pope Nicholas V.

1437 A memorandum prepared by the Orthodox for the council of Basle listed 67 metropolitans under the patriarch of Constantinople.  Thirty-six were in lands conquered by the Turks, 16 were in Wallachia, Moldavia, Russia, the Caucasus, and Trebizond (all Christian lands independent of the empire), 7 were in Greece, and 8 in the area near Constantinople.

1438 In France, a national assembly met in Bourges and issued a document called the Pragmatic Sanction.  It recognized decrees made at Basel and Constance affirming the superiority of councils to popes; the rights of elections traditionally enjoyed by cathedral chapters, collegiate churches, and monasteries; abolished annates and other forms of papal taxation and meddling; and warned the pope against becoming involved in ecclesiastical trials before they ascended to him through the various levels of appeal courts.  French independence of Rome came to be termed “Gallicanism.”

1438 The Concordat of Vienna.  In this compromise between Pope Eugenius IV and the German Emperor Frederick III, the papacy retained the collection of annates, while cathedral chapters (not popes) were permitted to choose new bishops.

1438 On 8 January, a council met in Ferrara to discuss doctrinal differences between the Eastern and Western churches.  The Roman (Byzantine) emperor John VIII Paleologus attended, along with the patriarch of Constantinople, Joseph II, 20 metropolitans, and almost 700 other "Greeks."  The filioque and the doctrine of purgatory were discussed.  When the plague hit Ferrara later in the year, the council moved to Florence. 

1439 On January 10, the council of Ferrara-Florence reconvened in Florence. 

The Roman (Byzantine) Emperor John VIII (1425-48) attended this council.  John’s military situation had become desperate, and he needed assistance from the West to defend his empire from the Turks.  His delegation included the patriarch of Constantinople and St. Mark of Ephesus.

It was at the Council of Florence that the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory was defined (but see 1274 above).  Purgatory, as the Latins understand it,  is required not simply to refine the soul to the point it can enter heaven, but it is the occasion for paying off the temporal punishment due to sin.  The Orthodox objected to several aspects of the Latin teaching on purgatory.  Where the Latins taught an eternal fire (hell) and a temporal fire of purgatory, the Orthodox accepted only the existence of the eternal fire.  For the Orthodox, the temporal punishment of sinful souls occurs in a place of darkness and sorrow.  These souls are punished through deprivation of the Divine light and are purified - freed from the place of darkness - by means of prayers, the Holy Eucharist, works of charity, but not by fire.  The Orthodox countered the Latin appeal to 1 Corinthians 3.10-15 by showing that the Day (verse 13) refers to the last judgment, the fire is the eternal fire, and the words “saved yet as by fire” mean preserved while undergoing punishment.  They also remarked that, under the Latin view, the words “he will suffer loss” were false, since the one being purified by purgatorial fire was supposed to benefit greatly by the experience.  The Orthodox interpretation comports with St. John Chrysostom’s commentary on the passage.  The Orthodox added, “It is very right to suppose that the Greeks should understand Greek words better than foreigners.”

The issue of the filioque was discussed, with the West avowing that the Spirit proceeded from the Father and the Son as from one principle – this to answer the Eastern concern that the Westerners were multiplying principles within the Godhead.  St Mark of Ephesus elaborated the Orthodox objection:  “The second Ecumenical Council, wishing to explain the words of the Nicene Creed:  ‘and in the Holy Ghost,’ and to show more clearly against heretics how it is that the Holy Ghost is reckoned together with the Father and the Son, speaks thus in its symbol:  ‘we believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, Who proceedeth from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified.’  Here attention must be paid to the objects the Fathers had in view when writing these words.  The Council wished to represent the manner of the Holy Ghost’s union with the Father and the Son.  See now how distinctly the Council marks the affinity of the Holy Ghost with the Father and the Son:  the Fathers did not say that the Spirit is reckoned with the Father and the Son, but that He proceeds from the Father, and is worshipped and glorified together with the Father and the Son.  That is, He is of equal honor and consubstantial with Them.  If the Council had admitted the Spirit’s procession from the Father and the Son, why then did it not in speaking of the Father and the Son, say:  ‘Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son is together worshipped and together glorified?’  This is what should have been said if the Council had adhered to such a doctrine.  But whereas, in the first case, the Fathers did not mention the Son when they were showing the cause of the procession, but did mention Him in the second place when showing His equality of honor and consubstantiality, then it is plain that they did not admit of the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son also.”

 In part, the confession the Orthodox signed read:  “We decree that the Holy Apostolic Throne and Roman Pontiff possess a primacy over the whole earth, and that this Roman Pontiff is the Successor of the blessed Peter, Prince of the Apostles, and is the true Vicar of Christ, the Head of the whole Church, Pastor and Teacher of all Christians; and that our Lord Jesus Christ in the person of St. Peter has given him full authority to shepherd, direct and rule the whole Church, as is likewise contained in the acts of the Ecumenical Councils and in the holy canons.”  The document was signed on July 6, 1439, in a ceremony in which the Orthodox kissed the pope’s knee. St. Mark of Ephesus, however, did not sign, and Pope Eugenius is reported to have remarked on learning this, “And so we have accomplished nothing.”  So convinced was Eugenius of the necessity of Mark’s support that he met with Mark privately in an attempt to convince him to sign the agreement, but Mark refused, saying that he would hold steadfast to the Orthodox faith.

The Council of Florence effected an apparent reunion between East and West, but, as the Eastern representatives pointed out, their personal opinions did not count for the Church as a whole, and could only be validated by an Eastern synod.  The reunion, thus, never really came into force.  Most of the delegates renounced their signatures when they reached home.  The council’s decrees were never accepted by more than a small fraction of Orthodox people and clergy.  The Grand Duke Lucas Notaras said, “I would rather see the Muslim turban in the midst of the city than the Latin mitre.”

1439 John Bessarion, a member of the Eastern delegation to the council of Ferrara-Florence and former metropolitan of Nicaea, remained in communion with Rome.  Pope Eugenius IV (1431-47) made him a cardinal.  Bessarion was instrumental in spreading the knowledge of Greek to the West.  His most important work is a defense of Plato against Aristotelianism (as promoted by George of Trebizond).

1439 When Pope Eugenius IV (1431-47) broke contact with the Council of Basel, the prelates there elected Amadeus VIII, duke of Savoy, Pope Felix V (1439-49).  Amadeus had retired to a monastery in 1434.  Felix is generally considered an antipope.

1439 The French Parlement made the Pragmatic Sanction a statute for France.

1440 Lorenzo Valla proved the Donation of Constantine to be an eighth century forgery.   Lorenzo was supported by King Alfonso I of Sicily, one of the pope's enemies.

1441 From the Council of Florence, under Pope Eugenius IV (1431-47):

“The Most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, and heretics, and schismatics, can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire ‘which was prepared for the devil, and his angels,’ (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this Ecclesiastical Body, that only those remaining within this unity can profit from the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and that they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, almsdeeds, and other works of Christian piety and duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved unless they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”

1442 Gemisthus Plethon (a well-known Platonist) and John Bessarion (his former student) founded the Accademia Platonica in Florence.  The academy specialized in the study of Greek literature and Plato's philosophy.

1443 In September, the council of Ferrara-Florence (the Easterners having returned home) removed to Rome.

1443? Invention of the moveable type printing press.

1444 The first certain typhus outbreak, at Newgate Prison, London, killed 5 jailors and 64 prisoners.

1444 At Varna (Bulgaria), the Turks crushed a Western force sent to aid the Roman (Byzantine) empire.

1446 Stephen Thomas, the Catholic ruler of Bosnia, forbade, at the insistence of Pope Eugenius IV (1431-47), his Patarene subjects from building new churches or repairing old ones.

1447 Nicholas V elected pope (1447-55).  By sending emissaries throughout Europe to collect rare manuscripts, Nicholas began the papal library.

1448 When the Metropolitan of Russia, Isidore, returned to Moscow in 1441, he strongly supported the reunion.  The Grand Duke imprisoned him, then allowed him to escape to Italy.  Since Constantinople officially supported Florence until 1453, the Russians could not appeal to her for a replacement.  So, in 1448, a council of Russian bishops elected a new metropolitan by itself.  The church of Moscow thus became autocephalous.  The metropolitan of Kiev continued to be under the jurisdiction of Constantinople until 1646, when it passed under Moscow. 

1450 At the urging of the papal nuncio, Stephen Thomas, ruler of Bosnia, forbade the Patarenes from holding worship services.  Bosnia, split among Catholics, Patarenes, and Orthodox (who also opposed the Catholics), was in no position to offer serious opposition to the Turks (see 1463).

1450 In this Jubilee Year, plenary indulgences were offered to penitent pilgrims to Rome.  On Whit Sunday, Pope Nicholas V (1447-55) canonized Bernardino of Siena, a Franciscan, who had been a popular preacher.

1451 Pope Nicholas V (1447) appointed Nicholas of Cusa (see 1433), Archbishop of Brixen, legate to Germany, with the task of reforming the church there.  Nicholas named John of Capistrano, a friend of Bernardo of Siena and founder of the Franciscan Observants, as legate to Austria.  John had some success converting the Hussites there.

1452-56 Gutenburg Bible printed.

1452 Pope Nicholas V (1447-55) crowned Frederick III German emperor in Rome.  This was the last imperial coronation to occur there.

1453 On 29 May, Constantinople fell to the Turks

1453 The English were expelled from France entirely, except for Calais (end of the Hundred Years War).

1455 On 25 Feb, Pope Nicholas V (1447-55) ratified the Peace of Lodi, a peace treaty among Venice, Milan, Florence, and Naples.  Nicholas had urged peace in order to effect a crusade against the Turks.

1455 Pope Nicholas V (1447-55) had planned and begun the restoration of Rome, including a piazza in front of St. Peter's, with the obelisk from Nero's Circus.  On his deathbed, he told his cardinals, "If the authority of the Holy See were visibly displayed in majestic buildings, imperishable memorials, and witnesses seemingly planted by the hand of God himself, belief would grow and strengthen like a tradition from one generation to another, and all the world would accept and revere it."

1456 John of Capistrano (see 1451) raised and led an army which forced the Turks to lift their siege of Belgrade.

1457 Pope Calixtus (Callistus) III (1455-58) instituted the feast of the Transfiguration as a universal feast of the Latin Church.  He appointed it to be observed on 6 August, to commemorate the day the Turks were defeated at Belgrade.  The feast of the Transfiguration had been observed in the East since the fourth century.  It spread to the West sometime after the ninth century.

1457 Lorenzo Valla suggested that the works of the Pseudo-Dionysius were not genuine.  But he compared their anonymous author with Gregory the Great in terms of theological quality.

1458 The Turks captured Athens.  The Parthenon, which had been a church since around 450, was converted into a mosque.

1459 Pope Pius II (1458-64) arranged for a conference to begin on 1 June to plan a crusade against the Turks.  No one but the pope arrived on the scheduled date, and those who did arrive thereafter bickered among themselves.

1460 On 17 January, Pope Pius II (1458-64) issued his bull Execrabilis, denouncing appeals from a pope to a general council.

1460 Pope Pius II (1458-64) sent Cardinal John Bessarion (see 1439)  to Germany to promote a crusade against the Turks.  Bessarion had little success.

1460 Alum, a mineral used in dyes and previously available only from the Middle East, was discovered on papal lands at Tolfa, northwest of Rome.  Alum became an important source of papal revenue.

1461 Stephen Tomashevich became ruler of Bosnia, having murdered his father, Stephen Thomas.  Tomashevich refused to pay tribute to the Turkish sultan, who at that time was demanding 25,000 ducats per year.

1461 The Turks conquered the empire of Trebizond.  Trebizond, like Epiros, had its beginning after the crusader conquest of Constantinople in 1204.

1462 In a bull issued on 17 January in this year, Pope Pius II decreed that Africans who had received baptism should not be enslaved.

1463 The Turkish sultan Mohammed the Conqueror invaded and conquered Bosnia.  His success was in part due to the hatred the Patarenes felt for the Catholics:  a Patarene officer named Radak who had been forced to convert to Catholicism surrendered the Babovats fortress, motivated by hatred for his Catholic monarch.  Faced with loss of their property or conversion to Islam, the Bosnian Patarene nobles generally converted.  Some historians theorize that the strength of the Patarene faith was hatred of the Hungarians and the wealthy Dalmations, who were Catholics.  With the Turkish conquest, the Patarene church, which had thrived since the days of Kulin (see 1199), disappeared.

1463 Pope Pius II (1458-64) proclaimed a crusade against the Turks, vowing to lead it himself.  The crusade failed to materialize, and the pope himself died in August 1464.

1463 Pope Pius II (1458-64) named John Bessarion (see 1439) nominal patriarch of Constantinople.

1466 Mentelin of Strasbourg printed the Bible in German, fifty-six years before Luther’s German New Testament was published.

1470 Beginning of the Judaizer heresy in the Orthodox Church in Russia.  It was initiated, apparently, by the Jewish physician to Prince Alexander Olel'kovich of Novgorod, a certain Zachariah (or Skharia), and two of his merchant companions:  Moded Hanush and Joseph Shmoilo Skarabei.  The Judaizers argued that Jesus' words in support of the Old Testament (Matt 5.17-20) implied that the Old was superior to the New.  They denied the Trinity and opposed icons, crosses, and monasteries.

1470 Around this year, Marsilio Ficino (1433-99) completed a translation of the works of Plato into Latin.  His work initiated the Florentine Platonic Renaissance (but see 1442).  His translation was not published until 1484. Ficino believed that all religions have a share of the truth.

1472 Ivan III (the Great) married Sophia, niece of the last Byzantine emperor.  The Grand Dukes of Moscow began to call themselves Tsar.

1472 The Orthodox were expelled from Yuryev (Tartu), Estonia, by Germans.  The Orthodox priest Isidore and a number of believers were martyred.

1472 A papal fleet under Cardinal Oliviero Carafa joined in an attack on the Turks at Smyrna.

1474 In this year, and again in 1476, Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84) attempted to unite the Orthodox in Russia with the Catholic West and to convince Russia to fight the Turks.

1476 On 28 February, Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84) adopted the feast of the Immaculate Conception for the Latin Church.

1476 William Caxton, England’s first printer, set up a press at Westminster.  His first printed work was an indulgence.

1476 The theologian Raimund Peraudi insisted that the economy of indulgences applied not only to the living, but to the dead.  That is, he deemed effective indulgences obtained on behalf on someone who had passed on and was presumably in purgatory.  Peraudi’s thesis was later endorsed in a papal bull.

1478 At the request of the Catholic monarchs of Aragon and Castille, Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84) authorized the Spanish Inquisition.  Their goal was to combat Jews and Muslims who had converted to Catholicism then apostatized, as well as heretics.  In 1483, the pope authorized the Spanish government to designate a grand inquisitor – the first one being the Dominican Tomas de Torquemada.  Roughly 2000 persons were burned at the stake during his tenure.

1478 Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84) annulled the decrees of the Council of Constance.

1478-80 A severe outbreak of plague in Europe.  Perhaps 15% of the population of England, France, and the Netherlands were killed.

1479 The Judaizer heresy gained political clout when Ivan III, impressed with their learning,  appointed the Judaizer priests Abraham and Dennis rectors of the two large cathedrals in Moscow.  Ivan himself eventually espoused their views.

St. Joseph of Volokolamsk (1439-1515) founded a monastery at Volokolamsk.  He had been abbot of Borovsk in 1477, which Prince Ivan III Vasilyevich had used as a waypoint for advancing his sons into episcopal benefices.  Prince Ivan had become disgruntled with Joseph's ascetic reforms.  The monastery at Volokolamsk became a center for monastic reform.  Joseph's followers, called Josephites, became active in a movement to insure uniformity in the Church, using the state as a weapon against dissenters and heretics.  In their view, also, monks should be allowed to own property for good works, such as charity and education.  Those who held this position became known as “Possessors.”

1482 Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84) urged Venice to attack Ferrara.  Milan, Florence, and Naples allied themselves against Venice and the Papal States.

1483 Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84) placed Venice under interdict because she refused to halt the attack against Ferrara the pope had originally urged.

1483 Herzegovina fell to the Turks.

1483 Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84) forbade condemnations of both proponents and opponents of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.  Anyone of either opinion who called someone of the opposite opinion a heretic was to be excommunicated.

1483 By this year there were nine different German translations of the Bible in print.  (See 1466 above.)

1484  An Orthodox council meeting in Constantinople declared that Roman Catholic converts were to be received through chrismation.

1484 Pope Innocent VIII (1484-92) condemned witchcraft in the bull Summis desiderantes affectibus.  The bull blamed witches for plague and storms, stated that apostate Christians had entered into sexual relations with witches, and claimed that witches’ spells had harmed men, women, children and beasts.  Innocent sent inquisitors to Germany to conduct witch trials there.

1486 Ivan the Great's chief diplomat, Theodore Kuritsyn, returned from Hungary where he had adopted views very similar to the Judaizer heresy.  The influential Kuritsyn propagated the heresy among Moscow's social elite.  The appeal of the heresy centered in its advocacy of alchemy and astrology.

1486 Pope Innocent VIII (1484-92) condemned the theses of Pico della Mirandola, a leader of Renaissance Platonism.

1487 The Malleus Maleficarum, a work on witchcraft, written by Heinrich Kramer and Jakob Sprenger, published.  Kramer had been active in persecuting witches in the Tyrol in 1484.

1489 In exchange for an annual payment and the Holy Lance, Pope Innocent VIII (1484-92) agreed to keep the Turkish prince Jem, Sultan Bayezid’s brother, in prison.  Jem had traveled to Rhodes, where he asked the Knights of St. John to overthrow his brother.  The Knights agreed with Bayezid to keep Jem in prison for a price, but they transfered Jem to the pope in 1486.

1490 Zosima, an advocate of the Judaizer heresy, elected metropolitan of Moscow.

In the same year, Archbishop Gennadi and Abbot Joseph of Novgorod had nine Judaizer clerics imprisoned.

Around this time, Gennadi organized the translation of the Bible into Slavonic.  Though completed around the turn of the century, the complete Slavonic Bible (known as the Ostrozhsky or Ostrong Bible because it was published at the Ostrozhskii princes' printing house) was not printed until 1580-82.

1490 Jews in Toledo were accused of murdering a Christian boy (apparently named Cristobal).  Isabel of Castile used the accusation as an excuse for ordering the expulsion of all Jews from Spain in 1491.

1492 Columbus discovered America. 

1492 The Moslems were driven out of Spain. 

1492 On March 30, Ferdinand and Isabella signed an edict that gave unbaptized Jews until July 31 to leave the country.  Roughly 50,000 accepted baptism and remained.  About 100,000 of these Sephardic (Spanish) Jews departed. 

1492 Rodrigo Borgia became Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503).  To become pope, Rodrigo had purchased the votes of his fellow cardinals. As a cardinal, Rodrigo had sired four children by Vannoza de’ Catanei.  In 1489, he began an affair with the 16 year-old Giulia Farnese.

1493 Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) divided the new world between Spain and Portugal.

1493 Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) made his teenaged son Cesare a cardinal.

1494 Influenced by Abbot Joseph of Novgorod, a council deposed the Judaizer metropolitan of Moscow, Zosima, for sodomy, debauchery, the denial of the resurrection of Christ and the afterlife.  Joseph also published a book entitled The Enlightener against the Judaizers.

1494 King Charles VIII of France marched into Florence.  Their coming had been predicted two years before by Girolama Savonarola, a Dominican who preached about the last days and claimed to have visions of and to speak with God.  With the Medici driven out of Florence, Savonarola set up a democratic Republic there.  Critical of the church in Rome and the Pope Alexander, Savonarola attempted to reform the church in Florence.

The French army brought a hitherto unknown disease with them, which was soon known as the French pox.  It appears to have been like syphilis.

King Charles VIII had come to Italy to lay claim to the Kingdom of Naples.  Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503), threatened by the French army, asked the Turkish Sultan Bayezid for 300,000 ducats to help him drive the French from Italy, and so prevent them from using the peninsula to launch a new crusade against the Turks.

1497 Theodore Kuritsyn died, and Abbot Joseph was able to move against the Judaizers.

1497 King Manoel of Portugal ordered the conversion of the Jews in his kingdom.  Many had fled there in 1492 to avoid forced conversion in Spain.

1498 The government of Florence hanged and burned Girolamo Savonarola (see 1494).  Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) had excommunicated him in 1497.  In 1495, the pope had tempted Savonarola to travel to Rome, but Girolamo smelled a trap.  The pope viewed him as the principal impediment to Florence joining the Holy League (the papal territories, the German empire, Aragon, Venice, and Milan) against the king of France.

1499 Erasmus visited Britain.  Among many other accomplishments, Erasmus divided the Bible into verses and discredited the Donation of Constantine.

1500 Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) proclaimed 1500 a Jubilee year.

1500 Publication of the Mozarabic rite missal by Cardinal Ximenes of Toledo.  He presented the breviary in 1502.

1500 A translation of the Bible into French had been printed by this year.

1500 Queen Isabel of Castile ordered the conversion of the Muslims in Granada.  In 1502, she demanded the conversion of all Muslims remaining in Castile.