The term Medieval Restorationism is used to refer collectively to a number of movements that sought to renew the Christian church during the Middle Ages. The failure of these movements helped create conditions that ultimately led to the Protestant Reformation.


According to Barbara Tuchman, beginning in about 1470 a succession of Popes focused on the acquisition of money, their role in Italian politics as rulers of the papal states and power politics within the college of cardinals.[1] The papacy had been largely controlled by France and was relocated to Avignon in the 14th century to escape violent instability between the factions of the Roman nobility. The Avignon papacy, followed by the Western Schism, when there were two popes between 1378 to 1417, weakened the authority of the papacy. It had been hoped that the restoration of the papacy to Rome in the 1430s would result in a church that concentrated on religious affairs, where there were many pressing issues. However, most of the popes during the following period were accused of focusing on making their young relatives cardinals, appointing relatives and supporters to more than one clerical office, simony (the selling of clerical offices for profit), and general acquisitiveness.[2][3]

Medieval restorationism

The restorationist movement [4] at the time was centered on movements that wanted to renew the church (at that time within Christendom, there was only Roman Catholicism in the west and Eastern Orthodox in the east), such as the Lollards, Hussites, and Brethren of the Common Life.[1] While these pre-reformation movements did presage and sometimes discussed a break with Rome and papal authority, they also provoked restorationist movements within the church, such as the councils of Constance [5] and Basle [6], which were held in the first half of the 15th century. Preachers at the time regularly harangued delegates to these conferences regarding simony, venality, lack of chastity and celebacy, and the holding of multiple benefices.[7] The lack of success of the restorationist movements after this time led inexorably to the Protestant Reformation.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Barbara W. Tuchman (1984). The march of folly. New York, U.S.A.: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-72777-1. 
  2. G. R. Owst (1926). Preaching in Medieval England, 1350-1450. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University. pp. 31–32. 
  3. David S. Chambers (1966). The Economic Predicament of Renaissance Cardinals: Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History, vol. III. Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S.A.: University of Nebraska. 
  4. Barbara W. Tuchman (1978). A Distant Mirror. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-40026-7. 
  5. Council of Constance (1414). "Council of Constance". Retrieved 2008-04-08. 
  6. Council of Basle (1431-1449). "Council of Basle". Catholic Encyclopedia 1907. Retrieved 2008-04-08. 
  7. John M. Todd (1971). The Reformation. New York. 

See also

External links

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