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Avignon Papacy

The Avignon Papacy refers to a period in the history of the Roman Catholic Church from 1305 to 1375 when the seat of the Pope was moved from Rome to Avignon. The period has been called the "Babylonian Captivity" (or "Babylonish Captivity") of the Popes (or the Church), particularly by Martin Luther. This nick-name is polemical, in that it refers to the claim by critics that the fabulous prosperity of the church at this time was accompanied by a profound compromise of the Papacy's spiritual integrity, especially in the alleged subordination of the powers of the Church to the ambitions of the Frankish emperor. Coincidentally, the "captivity" of the popes at Avignon lasted around the same duration as the exile of the Jews in Babylon, making the analogy all the more convenient and rhetorically potent.

Seven popes resided in Avignon:

In 1378 the seat was moved back to Rome, while a disputing party continued to honor the bishop in Avignon as the head of the church. From 1378 to 1414 was a time of difficulty which Catholic scholars refer to as the "Papal Schism" or, "the great controversy of the antipopes" (also called the Second Great Schism by some secular and Protestant historians), when parties within the Catholic Church were divided in their allegiances among the various claimants to the office of Pope. The Council of Constance in 1414 finally resolved the controversy, dismantling the last vestiges of the Avignon Papacy.

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