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Medieval Sourcebook:
The Great Schism:
University of Paris and the Schism, 1393

[Thatcher Introduction] In 1393 the king of France asked the University of Paris to devise a way of ending the schism. In response to this request, each member of the faculty was asked to propose in writing the way which seemed best to him, and to advance -all the possible arguments in its favor. A commission of fifty-four professors, masters, and doctors was then appointed to examine all the proposed ways and means. After mature deliberation this commission proposed three possible ways of ending the schism and drew them up in writing and forwarded them to the king. They discussed at some length the relative advantages and disadvantages of each way. Their letter to the king is a long one. We give only three brief extracts from it, to show the three ways which they proposed.


The first way. Now the first way to end the schism is that both parties should entirely renounce and resign all rights which they may have or claim to have to the papal office. . . .

The second way. But if both cling tenaciously to their rights and refuse to resign, as they have done up to now, we would propose the way of arbitration. That is, that they should together choose worthy and suitable men, or permit such to be chosen in a regular and canonical way, and these shall have the full power and authority to discuss the case and decide it, and if necessary and expedient, and approved by those who according, to the canon law have the authority [that is, the cardinals] they may also have the right to proceed to the election of a pope.

The third way. If the rival popes, after being urged in a brotherly and friendly manners will not accept either of the above ways, there is a third way which we propose as an excellent remedy for this sacrilegious schism. We mean that the matter shall be left to a general council. This general council might be composed, according to canon law, only of prelates, or, since many of them are very illiterate, and many of them are bitter partisans of one or the other pope, there might be joined with the prelates an equal number of masters and doctors of theology and law from the faculties of approved universities. Or if this does not seem sufficient - anyone, there might be added besides one or more representatives from cathedral chapters and the chief monastic orders, in order that all decisions might be rendered only after most careful examination and mature deliberation.


trans in Oliver J. Thatcher, and Edgar Holmes McNeal, eds., A Source Book for Medieval History, (New York: Scribners, 1905), pp. 326-327


This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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(c)Paul Halsall Mar 1996
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