Pisa, Council of
- There were two councils of the Western church held at Pisa, neither of which is recognized by the modern Roman Catholic church as genuine. The first of these was summoned by a majority of the cardinals of both rival popes during the Western Schism. It assembled in 1409 and endorsed the doctrine of Concil-iarism, according to which a general council of the church is supe-rior to the pope. Since all efforts to negotiate a settlement of the schism had failed, the council declared both claimants deposed and elected a new pope, who took the title Alexander V and was suc-ceeded after his early death by John XXIII. Unfortunately for their plans, the cardinals had not secured advance approval from the ma-jor secular rulers, and since the two sitting popes refused to submit, all that the council achieved was to add a third pope to the confusion. The failure of this council did, however, ensure that those who sum-moned the Council of Constance in 1414 took pains to secure wide-spread political backing and hence were eventually successful in re-uniting the church under a single head.The second Council of Pisa (more commonly known as the Con-ciliabulum, or "false council") was even less successful. It was an outgrowth of bitter conflict between Pope Julius II and King Louis XII of France and his Italian allies, almost exclusively over issues of territory and political power. Several cardinals, infuriated by Pope Julius' authoritarian ways, co-operated with the French king to call a council with the announced goal of forcing the pope to observe the limits on papal authority upheld by Conciliarism. The actual goal was to dethrone Julius and elect a more pliant leader. The Florentines, who were allied with France, permitted the council to hold its ses-sions at Pisa, which they controlled. Julius excommunicated and de-prived all the rebellious cardinals and laid Florence under an inter-dict. Most of the bishops in attendance were French, and there was virtually no support except from allies of King Louis.Pope Julius' so-called Holy League to expel the French from Italy had driven French troops from the peninsula by the end of 1512. The council soon transferred its sessions to France. Now even more ex-clusively French than at its beginning, the council lingered on French soil until 1516, but the new king Francis I found that it was more practical to make a direct deal with Pope Leo X. He negotiated with the pope the Concordat of Bologna, which won papal approval for extensive royal control over the French church; the price paid for this treaty was the dissolution of what remained of the Council.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.
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