The Decline of the Church

By Grace Lee and Rebecca Burak (Hodges 7th)

The Church and its Conflicts

In the thirteenth century, the popes had reached the climax of political power until the fourteenth century where the Church would face conflicts leading up to its decline in political position.

The Popes at Avignon

Disputes between Pope Boniface VIII and King Philip IV fanned the beginning flames of the conflicts that arose between the Church and the state. Philip, in order to gain new revenues, claimed to have the right to tax the clergy of France while Boniface argued that he could not do so without the pope's consent. He also argued that the popes were supreme over Church and state. Philip, refusing to accept the pope's decision, send French forces to try Boniface, but he escaped and died from the shock of experience. Philip then resorts to the election of a new pope that seemed improper for he was also the bishop of the Church. Newly elected Pope Gregory XI returned to Rome in 1377.

The Great Schism

The Great Schism was a division of Europe that lasted from 1378 to 1417. The two parties, France & their allies and England & their allies, were in support of their popes from Avignon (France) and Rome (England.) The Church council then met in Constance, Switzerland in order to approve a new pope of all parties to end the schism. Yet crises in the Catholic Church created a protest for reform, led famously by John Hus who eventually was burned at stake for heresy. This angered the Czechs and a revolutionary dispute lasted until 1436. By early 1400's, the Church lost most of their political power and position due to these consecutive conflicts that arose during the Middle Ages. The pope, losing spiritual authority, no longer had the supremacy over the state, thus the separation of Church and state occurred.

The decline of the Catholic Church's supremacy and the separation of the Church and state

In the video above, it informs about King Henry VIII's conflict with the Church over the superiority of rule between Church and state, thus causing the decline of political power of the Catholic Church.

Essential Questions

Question 1: How does the separation of the Church and state impact the supremacy of Catholic Church?

Question 2: How did the Great Schism damage the Church politically?


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