Although the word has since lost all meaning…
Without further ado, I present to you a rather odd period of church history, when three men claimed the Holy See simultaneously, also known as the Western Schism.
I for one have chosen my side in this Civil War, and know that the answer is always more Popery and less Parliamentarianism. What do you mean that ended in 1651?
Anyway, back to the Great Western Schism. While there had been more than three dozen antipopes from the foundation of the church leading up to the 15th century, the period between 1409 and 1415. The Papacy returned to Rome in 1377 after having had its seat in Avignon since 1309. Pope Gregory XI died shortly afterwards, a successor would have to be chosen. Public pressure was on to not have a French Pope again, god mum, they’re so out of fashion this season, and Urban VI, if not Roman, so at least from the peninsula, was chosen by the cardinals.
France was, understandably unhappy with this development, and even more so when the new Pope would not return to Avignon. A council was called at Anagni, not far from Rome, to which the Pope was invited. Sensing a murder plot in the making, he did not attend. Given that failed, the French cardinals (with the backing of the King of France), elected their own Antipope shortly afterwards: Clement VII.
The new Pope was not elected until after Gregory’s death: Pope Martin V, who was in office from 1417 to 1431.
(This is a rather shortened account of events. Consult your library for more information about the Avignon Papacy.)
If you made it to the end, thank you and congratulations! Stay tuned for more on the English Civil War, probably coming to a screen near you next week! (Or possibly more Popes. Or maybe both at once!)