Talk:Avignon Papacy

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(First comments)[edit]

Is there someone who could elaborate on why the seat of the Papacy was moved to Avignon? (I'd do it myself, except that I know nothing whatsoever about the topic...) - Vardion 09:14, 9 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Heh. I was wondering the same thing! MichaelHudson 12:57, 22 September 2005 (UTC)
France was, by far, the most powerful Western power at the time, and this meant a lot of Cardinals. There was a constant power struggle between the French Cardinals and the (largely) Italian Popes. Avignon was, for the average Christian, five weeks closer than Rome, so it was also a big help to the average person seeking justice. Acting as adjudicators had become a constant part of the Curia's job. There was also a desire to get away from some of the corruption of Rome. I got all of these from Southern's "Western Society and the Church in the Middle Ages" starting on page 133. —Preceding unsigned comment added by JoshNarins (talkcontribs) 18:45, 26 April 2008 (UTC)
Avignon was seat of papacy because Rome was a complete mess and getting sacked all the time. The popes went to Avingnon to be "protected" by the French Crown. It did not turn out to be a good experience. St Catherine of Siena is the one who finally pushed for the Pope to return to Rome.DaveTroy 10:32, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
While I realize the absurdity of answering a question from four years ago. I would like to split a hair and point out that Avignon was never the "seat" of the papacy. The popes who resided there did so for protection (needed or otherwise). Rome continued to be the "seat" of the Papacy and the Avignon Popes always considered themselves the Bishops of Rome.--Kjrjr (talk) 19:04, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

Taking out the capitals makes this article look funny. I'm unsure that all of them are needed, but for the most part their removal strikes me as quirky. Mkmcconn 23:37, 28 Feb 2004 (UTC)

There seem to be alot of bibliographic references throughout this article masquerading as links. They seem to serve no purpose but to confuse. Mind if I remove them? -R. fiend18:23, 23 April 2004‎ (UTC)

I removed a reference in the opening paragraph to rival popes during the 1305-1378 period. This is correct for the subsequent period, but not the earlier one.--Iacobus 00:59, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

Babylonian Captivity of the Papacy[edit]

The article seems to say that Martin Luther first coined the term above. Is there a reference for this? Luther did write an influential book called On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church, but from my reading of the summaries (blush) I understand that this referred to the "captivity" of the church under papal rule, not to the "captivity" of the papacy in Avignon.--Iacobus 01:11, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

Bingo, the term was coined by Petrarch, who wrote of Avignon as "the Babylon of the West" in a letter to a friend, written between 1340 & 1353. Link to text of letter here [1] (shame there is no proper citation). I will change the article accordingly. --Iacobus 04:01, 21 March 2006 (UTC)

The term "Babylonian Captivity" originally applied only to the seventy years that the Jews were made captives in Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar, and released by Cyrus (B.C.536) [Brewer: Dictionary of Fact and Fable]. Its use to mean the Avignon Papacy was jocular; this also occupying about 70 years, and the name 'Babylon' perhaps referring to both Paris and Avignon as "The Modern Babylon" on account of wealth, luxury, the Babel of languages used, luxury and dissipation [ibid.]Certainly London was called Babylon for like reasons.The Avignon Papacy is usually termed "The second Babylonian Captivity".Colcestrian (talk) 01:23, 16 July 2009 (UTC)


This article kind of mentions the schism, mainly just in one of the headings. Perhaps a small note should be made about what the schism actually was (linking to the main schism article?) As it stands, the word is in the heading, but isn't really mentioned in that section of the article!

Agreed. The article should, I think, link up to the Western Schism, but instead it talks about the revolt of Italian territories. Very confusing, and it needs an expert review. jrcagle 17:32, 1 January 2007 (UTC)
This is a bit late, but the gap was still there by the look of it, so I've fixed it (see here}. Moonraker12 (talk) 13:43, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

Roman Curia?[edit]

The article says "A stronger source of influence [for the move] was the move of the Roman Curia from Rome to Avignon in 1305." But the Roman Curia article says the Roman Curia was established in the 16th Century. So how is this possible? 00:38, 12 May 2007 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 14:21, 10 November 2007 (UTC)


England and/or France weren't so main power as some people think. Hungarian royal inland revenues, controlled territories and royal armies were bigger/higher in that period than English or French revenues/armies/territories. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:03, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

Bishops of Rome[edit]

Were the Avignon popes still formally Bishop of Rome? Were they also made Bishop of Avignon (if such a title existed)? Who filled the void in administering the Diocese of Rome during this period?--NeantHumain (talk) 23:23, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

Yes. No. Whoever did the work when the pope was there, presumably...Moonraker12 (talk) 13:47, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

Leo XIII and Pius XII[edit]

The article could maybe mention that similar attempts to move the papacy outside Rome have also been made in more recent times. For instance, Leo XIII had proposed to move the papacy to Austria-Hungary, while Pius XII had considered moving it to Portugal. ADM (talk) 16:17, 1 May 2009 (UTC)

When? Gavin (talk) 01:31, 16 July 2009 (UTC)


Could this short division be considered an Orthodox sect? (I'm trying to learn more about Orthodoxy.) In a rather brief scan through, the wiki article for Easter Orthodox Church doesn't seem to indicate what makes up an Orthodox church. Some parts seem to indicate it means any church that divided from the Roman Papacy during the ecumenical reforms. Others seem to indicate any church which considers itself Catholic and has a pope not presiding or adhering to the Roman Papacy. --IronMaidenRocks (talk) 04:13, 12 November 2009 (UTC)


The intro is too big. The lead tells you more about the successors and anti-successors to the Avignon popes than about the papacy itself. These details belong in the body, not the lead. Rwflammang (talk) 22:24, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

I agree. I propose replacing the third through last sentences of the paragraph with a brief summary of the period, for example:
The resultant vacancy in Rome contributed in part to the Western Schism, allowing other claimants to take up residency in Rome as challengers to the Avignon pope. In 1378, Pope Gregory XI, prompted by legal, religious, and political reasons, and by a personal appeal from Catherine of Siena, returned to Rome, thus ending the so-called "Avignon papacy."
Or, relocate the "summary" paragraph at the end of the article to the intro. (talk) 02:23, 1 January 2010 (UTC)

Recent edits[edit]

I've changed the introduction quite a bit; it mostly wasn't about the Avignon papacy at all, and was talking about the western schism. On the other hand, the "Schism" sectiion had a big gap in it, as it didn't explain what the schism was or why it is relevant here. So hopefully that's been resolved now. Moonraker12 (talk) 13:40, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

(A comment)[edit]

Prior to this move back in the 5th Century, the then-pope, Stephen II, was under threat by the Lombards of Italy. They were one of the local kingdoms and were trying to take Rome and what is not the vatican land away from the Pope. The pope first asked the patriarch in Constantinople if he would send military assistance to defend the papacy from the Lombards. His request was not only refused, it was ignored...kind of cemented the Schism with the Orthodox church in the East. He then turned to the Franks who helped Pope Stephen II out at a "price they couldn't refuse."

Over time the relationship between France and the Papacy, different players now - King Phillip the Fair, and Pope Innocent III, became in-tolerable to other nations, specifically England. France was "borrowing" money from the Vatican to pay for the excesses of King Philip, the Fair, of France in his war with England. There was other politicking going on too, but no room or time to go into that.

King Phillip, offered--urged---forced the move of the control of the Papacy and the Pope to relocate in Avignon. This in turn caused another upheaval which included three different popes, at least one of which was in Rome elevated legitimately by the sitting Cardinals, all at the same time claiming the authority and headship of the Church. BobG —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:51, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: No concensus to move. Although MOS:CAPS may be a reasonable rationale here, the current title is sufficiently represented in RS and no harm will come to WP if the title remains at a title that has been stable since 2005 Mike Cline (talk) 23:53, 11 December 2011 (UTC)

Avignon PapacyAvignon papacyRelisted. Vegaswikian (talk) 03:51, 1 December 2011 (UTC) Per MOS:CAPS, we avoid unnecessary capitalization. This one is certainly not necessary, as shown by the overwhelming majority lower-case usage in books. Dicklyon (talk) 04:57, 24 November 2011 (UTC)

Support as nom. Dicklyon (talk) 19:55, 29 November 2011 (UTC)
Oppose. I wouldn't call that "overwhelming". Maybe it is a little more frequent in the last few years to lower case it, but not overwhelmingly and certainly not historically-speaking. (take out "the" and the results are much closer). I find that insufficient. It could go either way. Without the particular context of the article cited (e.g. is it referring to an era or a state? Is it referring to when the Pope in Avignon, or when there were competing popes of Rome v. Avignon? Is it cursorily referred to, or considered directly?), it remains ambiguous. The article does not seem to be that particular, and seems to be discussing the phenomenon or era as a whole(and eras are capitalized, e.g. "Industrial Revolution", "Gilded Age", etc. as often are phenomena, e.g. Anglo-Dutch War, Long Parliament, etc.), I am not willing to endorse this move. Walrasiad (talk) 18:49, 24 November 2011 (UTC)
You don't think more than twice as often lower case in the last 50 years is overwhelming? If you take out "the" the results are closer because you're picking up a lot more title and headings, which are in title case; try other words before or after to bias it toward finding it in sentences. Having "the" also makes it much more likely to be the one unique period that this article is about. And what about our guideline at MOS:CAPS? It shouldn't even take a majority to provide clear evidence that capitalization is not "necessary". Dicklyon (talk) 04:30, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
No, not enough. Those numbers glide over context. Unfortunately, MOS:CAPS does not adequately address historical topics, where proper names exist for institutions, eras and events. The Avignon Papacy is a proper name for a historical entity, event and era. Capitalization is as necessary as for, say, the Roman Empire, the Great Schism or the Reformation. Walrasiad (talk) 06:58, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
  • I'd oppose this, too, for the same reason; Avignon Papacy refers to an era, so capitalization throughout would be appropriate. Moonraker12 (talk) 12:27, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
Why would we capitalize eras? What eras do we capitalize? Pretty much none, I think; instead we follow MOS:CAPS, and use lower case except when necessary to signify a proper noun. Dicklyon (talk) 13:53, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
Support Tony (talk) 11:21, 1 December 2011 (UTC) And why would you capitalise papacy, let alone era (we don't capitalise era, BTW)? A quick look at Wikiquotes yielded zillions of examples, such as this: "His 33-day papacy was one of the shortest reigns in papal history." And: "... the primacy of the papal authority and the new canon law governing the election of the pope by the ... He was at the forefront of both evolutionary developments in the relationship between the emperor and the papacy during the years before becoming pope." I haven't even got to google yet. Tony (talk) 14:51, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
Because it's being used as a proper noun; I've replied to Greg (below) about the same thing Moonraker12 (talk) 16:57, 28 November 2011 (UTC)

In history, we do capitalize eras, e.g. Great Schism, Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, etc. Papacy is capitalized or not capitalized depending on the context, i.e. whether it is being used as a proper noun. And in this context, it is. Walrasiad (talk) 18:12, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

I can understand why we'd capitaize those: because almost all sources do, providing evidence that they are treated as proper names and that capitalization is therefore necessary. Quite the opposite of the situation with the Avignon papacy. Dicklyon (talk) 20:06, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
It's not the opposite. You have a huge chunk of sources using it as a proper name. Sure, you don't always need to use it as a proper noun, because the context allows it to be used more casually. e.g. if you are writing an article where the term is used ten or twenty times on a page rather than just once or twice, you can lower-case it for visual ease of prose. In that case, it is really a proper noun anymore, but just a noun with an adjective. Kinda like the terms "revolution" or "war". There is the "Afghanistan War" (proper noun) and there is the "Afghanistan war" (adjective + noun), both of which are correct depending on the context. Similarly, "Russian Revolution" and the "Russian revolution" or the "Industrial Revolution" and "industrial revolution", etc. But contrary to terms buried in text, an article title is a proper noun for a singular event/era/institution, it needs to be capitalized - just as all historical wars and revolutions articles in Wiki are capitalized. Historical titles are not and should not be a blind numbers race. It is about understanding the correct use in the relevant context. Walrasiad (talk) 21:39, 27 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Clear and Strong Support (and my reasoning is well founded in primary Wikipedia policy and is not based on “because I like-ta”): As mere wikipedians—where 16-year-old school children can out-type a Ph.D. scholar who has responsibilities and limited time—it is not within our purview to debate, with furrowed brow and pouted lower lip, what ought to be the primary rules for properly governing the English language. It is written in Wikipedia’s DNA that we look towards reliable sources on all manner of things, including spelling (see WP:SPELLING). First, we look to reliable secondary sources to discern what is the predominant practice. When in doubt, we look towards most-reliable secondary sources.

    As User:Dicklyon correctly pointed out, this Google Ngram Viewer search clearly shows that the mixed case form (Avignon papacy) strongly dominates 71 to 21. It’s also clear that the future trend is to even further widen the gap. Moreover, none other than one of the defining “most-reliable” source—the highly respected publisher The Cambridge University Press—with their “The New Cambridge Medieval History” (1995 / 2000) spell it with the lowercase “papacy.” It doesn’t matter when a mere wikipedian makes arguments like [the] Avignon Papacy refers to an era, so capitalization throughout would be appropriate; English-language rules are not lost on experts published by the likes of the The Cambridge University Press; that’s pretty much a “Well… Duh! fact. And, the last time I looked at WP:RS, I saw no mention of a single wikipedian as being defined as an RS.

    The proper role of an encyclopedia is to educate its readership on a topic of interest and properly prepare them for their continuing studies elsewhere on that subject. We do a disservice to everyone, even our casual visitors, when they come here to see how one properly spells the term only to find out, when they later communicate with an expert in the field, that they had to be corrected as to the proper capitalization. That point was well proven with our three-year-long experiment with the binary prefixes (where readers who actually believed what was written on Wikipedia) marched into computer stores and said “I want a computer with at least 512 mebibytes of RAM” (only to be laughed out of the store). That fiasco was the product of just 20 well-meaning wikipedians who thought *they* knew better than the experts. The evidence is clear as to the predominant practice of the RSs. Greg L (talk) 21:28, 27 November 2011 (UTC)

All right Greg, if we can dispense with the sarcasm for a moment; I thought (with my own responsibilities and limited time) the comment I made was self-explanatory as it was. But evidently not, so…
MOSCAPS says we use should full capitalization for proper nouns where appropriate, even if we use lower case generically, giving examples: For specific institutions (“Harvard University”, etc) but not the institution itself (therefore, “the university at Harvard”); historical periods (“Spanish Civil War”) but not the descriptors (so, “the civil war in Spain”) and widely known expressions (“Southern California” but also “the southern part of California”). So by extension, and agreeing with what Walrasaid has already said, we'd use Great Schism, Industrial Revolution, and Long Parliament; and the format here (“Avignon Papacy”, but “the seat of the papacy at Avignon”) conforms to that also.
There seems to be a decent number of reliable sources for the term in English (presumably including the ones used when the article was written): And the usage seems ambiguous at best; if there’s a majority for Ap format, AP is still in general use, and therefore acceptable. So I’d have thought the principle of WP:ENGVAR, which is there to stop us squabbling over differences in spelling, etc would come into play. (Maybe it's a generation thing; "Avignon Papacy" (full caps) is the way I remember it from school)
I also think that perfect is the enemy of good; with so much else wrong with WP arguing the toss over the best of two perfectly adequate titles for this article seems a bit of a waste of time. IMHO...Moonraker12 (talk) 16:51, 28 November 2011 (UTC)
If you think that working toward a uniform style as recommended by the WP:MOS is a waste of time, why not stay out of it and let it waste less time? I proposed this move because someone had cited this weak case as evidence for some equally weak reason to want to capitalize a term that's commonly used as generic. If there are two equally correct ways to capitalize, MOS:CAPS says we go with lower case; here, it's not even close. So let us fix it. Dicklyon (talk) 19:20, 28 November 2011 (UTC)
  • Uhm, yeah. Dick is clearly correct here. Moonraker’s citing “perfect is the enemy of good” comes up far too short here. Given that 1) a significant majority (72 to 21) of common usage is the mixed-case capitalization (Avignon papacy), and 2) this gulf is further widening with time, and 3) the experts in this field published by such most-reliable secondary sources as The Cambridge University Press also use lowercase “papacy”, Moonraker’s principle that he would have the community adopt here as the litmus test to use in making the proper choice (“perfect is the enemy of good”) comes across as “Let’s just ignore all these inconvenient truths behind the curtain.” In this case, “Better (moving and using the mixed-case form) is a big ally of good.” This is not complex. Greg L (talk) 18:57, 29 November 2011 (UTC)

Is there any basis for the move other than the Google Books Ngram? Because Google Books is notoriously poor at distinguishing letter cases and individual Google Book searches of either form give results of both. —  AjaxSmack  05:10, 4 December 2011 (UTC)

The search doesn't distinguish case, but the ngrams do. Not sure what you mean by "notoriously poor at distinguishing letter cases" in this case; OCR errors? There may be some. But it's clear that the term is not consistently capitalized in sources; it's easy to find the lower-case examples. Dicklyon (talk) 05:15, 5 December 2011 (UTC)
Is this still running? I'd have thought this'd be long closed by now.
Anyway Dick, you ought to know the issue isn’t that “it’s easy to find lower case examples”, its that, as the present title is supported by reliable sources, and is already consistent with MOSCAPs, is there a good reason to ignore ENGVAR and rename this? Other than your desire to remove a title because it was used “ evidence for some equally weak reason to want to capitalize a term…” that you'd also apparently taken exception to... Moonraker12 (talk) 15:16, 9 December 2011 (UTC)
How does ENGVAR relate here? I don't think it's consistent now with MOS:CAPS, which says we avoid unnecessary capitaization. Dicklyon (talk) 16:18, 9 December 2011 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.