Category Archives: 15th Century

Realism, Nominalism, Reform, and Heresy

R.R. Betts makes the interesting argument that the great heresies which plagued the fifteenth century (chiefly Wycliffism and the Hussites) were an unintended, but quite natural, offshoot of the prevailing Realist philosophical-theological paradigm: …The realist faith in the reality of … Continue reading

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Conciliar Radicalism

Joseph Gill summarizes the trouble with the later phases of the Council of Basel: …The Conciliarists, particularly those of Basel who carried the theory to its utmost limits in order to affirm that a council is by Christ’s ordinance the … Continue reading

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Democracy and Ecclesiology

One problem with some forms of conciliarism, particularly that practiced at the later phases of the Council of Basel, was an excessive capitulation to a prototypical “democratic” polity. One observer of the time, at Basel, put it this way: In … Continue reading

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What if Conciliarism Had Succeeded in Reforming the Church?

Joseph Gill, S.J., perhaps the best historian of the era of the Council of Florence today, writes provocatively: One is tempted to wonder what would have been the effect on history if a real reform had been brought about in … Continue reading

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Pope Eugenius IV (r. 1431-1447)

When Pope Martin V (r. 1417-1431), extremely disliked because of his harsh and arbitrary attitude, died of apoplexy in late February of 1431, the cardinals agreed in writing that they would only elect someone to replace him who “would not … Continue reading

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The Operation Was A Success, But the Patient Died

Joseph Gill, S.J., a “high” papalist who is, accordingly, not always quite fair in his criticisms of the Conciliar Movement, offers this excellent summary of what went wrong at the Council of Basel as it increasingly sought to curtail the … Continue reading

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Pierre d’Ailly (1350-1420)

Pierre d’Ailly was born in 1350 in Compiegne, France of “middle class” parents. Very little is known of his early life, but a record exists of him entering the College of Navarre in 1364 in the capacity of bursar. He … Continue reading

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Nicholas of Cusa on the Infallibility of the Church Council

One difference between pre-Reformation catholic conciliarism and Protestant conciliarism is that advocates of the former generally believed in the infallibility of the Church when she is assembled in a General Council. Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464), one of the most moderate … Continue reading

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Forerunners of the Reformation

Heiko Oberman begins his book Forerunners of the Reformation by observing that “Four centuries of polemical and apologetical use of the term Forerunner or ‘precursor,’ of the Reformation has left in its wake a deep-rooted sense of aversion to the … Continue reading

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John Luke on Deposing a Heretical Pope

Medieval theologians and canon lawyers took it for granted that the pope could be deposed for any “grave sin” against the Church, and that fomenting or prolonging schism was a grave sin tantamount to teaching heresy. In a sermon given … Continue reading

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