- Urban VI
(Bartolomeo Prignano) c1318-89, Italian ecclesiastic: pope 1378-89.
* * *orig. Bartolomeo Prignanoborn 1318, Naplesdied Oct. 15, 1289, RomePope (1378–89).Archbishop of Acerenza (1363) and Bari (1377), he became papal chancellor for Gregory XI, whom he was chosen to succeed. This election of an Italian appeased the Romans, who wanted to end the French-dominated Avignon papacy, but his harsh reforms soon angered the French cardinals, prompting them to elect the antipope Clement VII, beginning the Western Schism (1378). Europe was divided in its loyalties, and Urban warred with Naples when its queen backed Clement. Strife over the schism reduced the Papal States to anarchy, and Urban's death may have been from poisoning.
* * *▪ popeoriginal name Bartolomeo Prignanoborn c. 1318, Naplesdied Oct. 15, 1389, Romepope from 1378 to 1389 whose election sparked the Western Schism (1378–1417).Archbishop first of Acerenza (1363) and then of Bari (1377), he became papal chancellor for Pope Gregory XI, whom he was elected to succeed on April 8, 1378. This election of an Italian appeased the Romans, who were determined to end the French-dominated papacy at Avignon (1309–77).Once made pope, however, Urban, a devout and competent official, became a harsh and ill-tempered reformer. He soon enraged the cardinals with his bitterness and hostility, and 13 French cardinals—fearing that the majority in the Sacred College would be turned against them by a new promotion of Italians—left Rome. At Anagni, four months later, they declared Urban's election as “null because it was not made freely but under fear.” At Fondi, on Sept. 20, 1378, they elected the French cardinal Robert of Geneva, who became antipope Clement VII (Clement (VII)). Thus began the Western Schism that wracked the Roman Church for 40 years.By the end of 1378 France favoured Clement, followed later by Scotland, Savoy, Portugal, Castile, Aragon, and Navarre. England backed Urban, as did Bohemia, the Holy Roman Empire, Poland, Hungary, Flanders, and northern and central Italy. In 1381 Portugal switched to Urban's side. After failing to dislodge Urban from the Vatican, Clement returned to Naples, but the populace, recognizing Urban, effected his expulsion. Clement entered Avignon on June 20, 1379, and the divided papacy split the church.For housing Clement, Queen Joan I of Naples was excommunicated by Urban, who placed her kingdom under interdict in 1385. The Neapolitan and papal armies clashed at the Battle of Nocera. The Bishop of Aquila and those cardinals implicated in plots against Urban were subsequently captured and brutally killed. The Papal States fell into anarchy. Urban may have died by poisoning.Additional ReadingAn account of Urban's fall and the turmoil of his time is in Walter Ullmann, The Origins of the Great Schism (1948, reprinted 1972). Another useful study is John Holland Smith, The Great Schism 1378 (1970).
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