The last pope to resign, Gregory XII, did so nearly 600 years ago as part of complex negotiations to end a 40-year schism between popes at Rome and antipopes
Gregory XII agreed to resign the following year, succeeded by Pope Martin V (although some entities refused to recognize him and some antipopes
continued to reign).
The seductions of this power contributed to the rise of some 30 antipopes
, pretenders vying for the throne of St.
As Norwich says upfront, Absolute Monarchs is a political history more than anything, and with his unstuffy and sometimes witty writing style, he walks us through what could otherwise be a stifling couple of thousand years of popes, antipopes
, endless political power struggles, war, greed, torture, inquisitions, egomania, incest, fornication, bastard children and orgies.
In "The Nearly Men," we meet those cardinals who were almost popes, including some antipopes
For seventy years, the papacy remained there, and even after the return to Rome, those in defiance of the papacy such as the antipopes
, called Avignon their home.
It was only with the Council of Constance (1414-18) that some measure of closure was brought to this prolonged period of disunity, warring antipopes
and chronic institutional instability.
While the fight for the throne will not rank with the kings and pretenders or the popes and antipopes
studied in the college's history classes, the battle between the college and the state-university system of which it is a part seems nearly as complicated.
The upheaval that accompanied and followed their efforts resulted in civil war in Germany, in the most horrible sacking of the city of Rome in its history, and in several generations of bitter contest between popes and antipopes
and between popes and secular rulers.