Basel, Council of

Convoked by Pope Martin V in 1431, closed at Lausanne in 1449. Its principal aims were the reformation of the Church in its "head and members", the settlement of the Hussite wars, the establishment of peace in Europe, and the end of the Great Schism. Cardinal Cesarini was named president of the assembly by Martin V. The objections to the council were numerous but the real breach occurred when it proposed to reform the Roman chancery without consulting the pope, who therefore transferred the council to Ferrara, despite the continuous sittings of the recalcitrants under Cardinal Louis Aleman at Basel. Exasperated, they subjected the authority of the pope to general councils, pretended to depose the ruling Pope Eugenius IV, and elected as antipope, Felix V. After lingering some years in obscurity, the Council of Basel closed at Lausanne. Except for the pacification of the Hussites, the council spent its time wrangling with the popes; it shook men's faith in the spiritual power of the pope, and led through the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges to the establishment of Gallicanism.

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