As the author reconsiders the Avignon papacy (1309–1378) and the Great Western Schism (1378–1417) within the social setting of late medieval Avignon, she also recovers the city’s urban texture, the stamp of its streets, the noise of its crowds and celebrations, and its people’s joys and pains. Each chapter focuses on the popes, their rules, the crises they faced, and their administration but also on the history of the city, considering the recent historiography to link the life of the administration with that of the city and its people. The story of Avignon and its inhabitants is crucial for our understanding of the institutional history of the papacy in the later Middle Ages. The author argues that the Avignon papacy and the Schism encouraged fundamental institutional changes in the governance of early modern Europe—effective centralization linked to fiscal policy, efficient bureaucratic governance, court society (société de cour), and conciliarism. This fascinating history of a misunderstood era will bring to life what it was like to live in the fourteenth-century capital of Christianity.
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