Pope Gregory XI

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See also Vicedomino de Vicedominis, a pope-elect who took the name Gregory XI.
Gregory XI
Papa Gregorius Undecimus.jpg
Papacy began 30 December 1370
Papacy ended 27 March 1378
Predecessor Urban V
Successor Urban VI
Ordination 2 January 1371
Consecration 3 January 1371
Created Cardinal 29 May 1348
Personal details
Birth name Pierre Roger de Beaufort
Born c. 1329
Maumont, Limousin, Kingdom of France
Died 27 March 1378(1378-03-27)
Rome, Papal States
Other popes named Gregory
Papal styles of
Pope Gregory XI
C o a Gregorio XI.svg
Reference style His Holiness
Spoken style Your Holiness
Religious style Holy Father
Posthumous style None

Pope Gregory XI (Latin: Gregorius XI; c. 1329 – 27 March 1378) was the head of the Catholic Church from 30 December 1370 to his death in 1378.[1] He was the seventh and last Avignon Pope.[2]


He was born Pierre Roger De Beaufort in Maumont in the modern commune of Rosiers-d'Égletons, Limousin, around 1330. He was the nephew of Pope Clement VI[3] and succeeded Pope Urban V at the papal conclave of 1370. He was the seventh and last of the Avignon Popes.


During his pontificate vigorous measures (e.g. burning at the stake, confiscation of property) were taken against proponents of Lollardy which had found acceptance in Germany, England, and other parts of Europe. Efforts to reform corrupt practices in the various monastic orders such as collecting fees from persons visiting holy sites and the exhibiting of faux relics of saints.

John Wycliffe's 19 reformation articles on church related items as he wrote in his On Civil Dominion [4] and 21 proposed reformation articles of Johannes Klenkoka's Decadecon [5] were submitted to Pope Gregory XI in the early part of the 1370s. Gregory formally condemned fourteen articles of Decadecon in 1374 [6] and nineteen propositions of Wycliffe's On Civil Dominion in 1377.[4]

A bolognino of Gregory XI.

His return to Rome on 17 January 1377, is supposedly attributed in part to the stirring words of Catherine of Siena.[7] This had been attempted by Gregory's predecessor, Urban V, without success. The project was delayed by a conflict between the pope and Florence, known as "the War of the Eight Saints" for the "Eight for War," the Florentine magistrates responsible for the conduct of the war. The pope put Florence under interdict during 1376.[8]


Gregory XI did not long survive this trip, dying on 27 March 1378.[9] He was buried the following day in the church of Santa Maria Nuova.[10] After his death the College of Cardinals was pressured by a Roman mob that broke into the voting chamber to force an Italian Pope into the papacy.[11] The Italian chosen was Urban VI. Soon after being elected, Urban gained the Cardinals' enmity.[12] The cardinals returned to Avignon and in 1378 elected a French pope, the antipope Clement VII.[13]

Subsequently, the Western Schism created by the selection of rival popes forced the people of Europe into a dilemma of papal allegiance. This schism was not fully resolved until the Council of Constance (1414–1418) was called by a group of cardinals. The council boldly deposed the current popes and in 1417 elected Martin V as their successor. The chaos of the Western Schism thus brought about reforming councils and gave them the power over who was elected, replacing (for a time) the College of Cardinals.


  1. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Pope Gregory XI". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  2. ^ Richard P. McBrien, Lives of the Popes, (HarperCollins, 2000), 245.
  3. ^ George L. Williams, Papal Genealogy: The Families and Descendants of the Popes, (McFarland Company Inc., 1998), 43.
  4. ^ a b "The Condemnation of Wycliffe". Plato.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2013-06-23. 
  5. ^ "first Quarter of the 14th Century stooping (county Hoya), 1374 Avignon". Deutsche-biographie.de. 2012-06-13. Retrieved 2013-06-23. 
  6. ^ Ocker, p. 62
  7. ^ Francis Thomas Luongo, The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena, (Cornell University Press, 2006), 25.
  8. ^ Francis Thomas Luongo, The Saintly Politics of Catherine of Siena, xii.
  9. ^ Carol M. Richardson, Reclaiming Rome: Cardinals in the Fifteenth Century, ed. A.J. Vanderjagt, (Brill, 2009), 1.
  10. ^ F Donald Logan, A History of the Church in the Middle Ages, (Routledge, 2002), 308.
  11. ^ Joseph Dahmus, A History of the Middle Ages, (Doubleday Book Co., 1995), 381.
  12. ^ Joseph Dahmus, A History of the Middle Ages, 381.
  13. ^ Joseph Dahmus, A History of the Middle Ages, 381.


  • Hanawalt, G.Barbara. The Middle Ages: An Illustrated History, 1998, Oxford Univ. Press, p. 143
  • Cairns, E.Earl. Christianity Throughout the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church, 1996, Zondervan, pp. 241 & 248–250
  • Ocker, Christopher, Johannes Klenkok: a friar's life, c. 1310–1374 , American Philosophical Society, 1993, ISBN 0-87169-835-8
Popes of the Western Schism
Antipope John XXIII Antipope John XXIII Antipope Alexander V Pope Gregory XII Pope Innocent VII Pope Innocent VII Pope Boniface IX Pope Urban VI Antipope Benedict XIII Antipope Clement VII Pope Martin V Pope Gregory XI
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Urban V
30 December 1370 – 27 March 1378
Succeeded by
Urban VI