The Great Schism (1378–1417) divided Western Christendom into two groups: those who recognized a pope in Rome and those who recognized one in Avignon. It was a crisis of authority that brought with it spiritual anxiety and political uproar. This book presents the responses of two fascinating women whose experiences demonstrate the impact of the Schism on ordinary Christians. Constance de Rabastens (active 1384–1386), who lived in a village in rural Languedoc, had dramatic visions indicting the Avignon pope Clement VII, despite his being recognized in her region. Ursulina of Parma (1375–1408), a diminutive young woman from an urban milieu in Italy, believed that she was commanded by Christ to engage in shuttle diplomacy between the Roman and Avignon papacies in order to end the Schism. Two Women of the Great Schism translates an account of Constance's visionary experiences as recorded by her confessor Raymond de Saranac and a posthumous biography of Ursulina by Simone Zanacchi, a pious abbot who wrote some sixty years after his subject's death. These texts bring to life the extraordinary spiritual and political engagement of two late medieval women who refused to be passive bystanders as rival papal factions tore Christendom apart.
RENATE BLUMENFELD-KOSINSKI is Professor of French at the University of Pittsburgh. Her areas of interest include literature and politics as well as religious issues in the later Middle Ages. She is the author of many articles and numerous books and translations, including The Selected Writings of Christine de Pizan (W. W. Norton, 1997) and Poets, Saints, and Visionaries of the Great Schism, 1378–1417 (Penn State Press, 2006).
BRUCE L. VENARDE is Professor of History and Classics at the University of Pittsburgh. His books include Women's Monasticism and Medieval Society: Nunneries in France and England, 890–1215 and Robert of Arbrissel: A Medieval Religious Life. He is currently at work on a new edition and translation of the Rule of St. Benedict.
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