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conciliar movement


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(1409–49)

A Church movement centred on the three general (or ecumenical) councils of Pisa (1409), Constance (1414–18), and Basle (1431–49). Its original purpose was to heal the papal schism caused by there being two, and later three, popes at the same time (see antipope). The movement was successful, deposing or accepting the resignation of the popes concerned. It declared the superiority of a general council of the Church over the papacy, formulated in the decree Haec Sancta (sometimes called Sacrosancta) of 1415, and tried to make general councils a regular feature of the Western Church. It also dealt with various heresies, the council of Constance burning John Huss and condemning John Wyclif in 1415, and it initiated some reforms. The movement, in so far as it challenged papal authority, was eventually defeated by the papacy, but its long-term influence upon Christian Churches was considerable.


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