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Council of Constance
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 Related Terms
• Great Schism of the West
• Council of Pisa
• John Wycliffe
• John Hus

 

Definition:
The Council of Constance (1414-1418) was the sixteenth ecumenical council of the Church and the second called to try and deal with the Great Schism of the West (the first was the Council of Pisa and the third was the Council of Basel). The earlier attempt at Pisa actually just made things worse - instead of getting one or both rival popes to step down, it created a third pope who claimed authority over the Church.

The Council of Constance as convened, reluctantly, by Pope John XXIII because Emperor Sigismund insisted. Those who were in charge at Constance hoped to get all three rival popes to abdicate but John refused and he was aided by supporters who held a majority at Constance. Changes in voting procedure eliminated this advantage, however, and John was forced to flee. The Council then asserted that its authority came directly from Christ and binding on all Christians, even without papal approval. John was later imprisoned and deposed for simony in 1415.

The Council of Constance also condemned 267 teachings of John Wycliffe, the English reformer, and the Bohemian reformer John Hus was imprisoned, condemned for heretical teachings, and burned at the stake - all, despite the fact that his safety had been guaranteed by the emperor himself.

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