Pope Gregory XII

Pope Gregory XII (Latin: Gregorius XII; c. 1326 or 1327 – 18 October 1417), born Angelo Corraro, Corario,[1] or Correr,[2] was the Roman claimant to the headship of the Catholic Church from 30 November 1406 to 4 July 1415. Reigning during the Western Schism, he was opposed by the Avignon pope Benedict XIII and the Pisan popes Alexander V and John XXIII. Gregory XII wanted to unify the Church and voluntarily abdicated in 1415 to end the Schism.[3]


Gregory XII
Bishop of Rome
Gregorio Incaelum Relato (San Gregorio Magno) - Studiolo di Federico da Montefeltro.jpg
Portrait of Gregory XII by van Gent or Berruguete, circa 1476
Papacy began30 November 1406
Papacy ended4 July 1415
PredecessorInnocent VII
SuccessorMartin V
Opposed toAvignon claimant:Pisan claimants:
Created cardinal12 June 1405
by Innocent VII
Personal details
Birth nameAngelo Corraro (or Corario)[1]
Bornc. 1326 or 1327
Venice, Republic of Venice
Died18 October 1417(1417-10-18) (aged 90–91)
Recanati, Marche, Papal States
Previous post(s)
Coat of armsGregory XII's coat of arms
Other popes named Gregory

Early lifeEdit

Angelo Corraro was born in Venice of a noble family, about 1326 or 1327, and was appointed Bishop of Castello in 1380, succeeding Bishop Nicolò Morosini.[4]

On 1 December 1390 he was made titular Latin Patriarch of Constantinople. On 12 June 1405 he was created cardinal and the Cardinal-Priest of San Marco by Pope Innocent VII. He was Apostolic Administrator of Constantinople from 30 November 1406 to 23 October 1409.[5]


Gregory XII was chosen at Rome on 30 November 1406 by a conclave consisting of only fifteen cardinals under the express condition that, should Antipope Benedict XIII (1394–1423), the rival papal claimant at Avignon, renounce all claim to the papacy, he would also renounce his, so that a fresh election might be made and the Western Schism (1378–1417) ended.[4]

Negotiations to end the schismEdit

The two pontiffs opened wary negotiations to meet on neutral turf at Savona in Liguria, but soon began to waver in their resolve. The Corraro relatives of Gregory XII in Venice and King Ladislaus of Naples, a supporter of Gregory XII and his predecessor for political reasons, used all their influence to prevent the meeting, and each Pope feared being captured by partisans of the rival Pope.[4]

The cardinals of Gregory XII openly showed their dissatisfaction at this manoeuvring and gave signs of their intention to abandon him. On 4 May 1408, Gregory XII convened his cardinals at Lucca and ordered them not to leave the city under any pretext. He tried to supplement his following by creating four of his Corraro nephews cardinals – including the future Pope Eugene IV, despite his promise in the conclave that he would create no new cardinals. Seven of the cardinals secretly left Lucca and negotiated with the cardinals of Benedict XIII concerning the convocation of a general council by them, at which both pontiffs should be deposed and a new one elected. Consequently, they convoked the Council of Pisa and invited both pontiffs to be present. Neither Gregory XII nor Benedict XIII appeared.

Meanwhile, Gregory XII stayed in Rimini with the family of his loyal and powerful protector, the condottiero Carlo I Malatesta.[6] Malatesta went to Pisa in person during the process of the council to support Gregory XII. At the fifteenth session, 5 June 1409, the Council of Pisa deposed the two pontiffs as schismatical, heretical, perjured, and scandalous; they elected Alexander V (1409–10) later that month.[7] Gregory XII, who had meanwhile created ten more cardinals, had convoked a rival council at Cividale del Friuli, near Aquileia; but only a few bishops appeared. Gregory XII's cardinals pronounced Benedict XIII and Alexander V schismatics, perjurers, and devastators of the Church, but their pronouncement went unheeded. Gregory XII was very saddened by the way he was treated; he also had some adventures while barely escaping from enemies and former friends.[8]

Resolution of the schismEdit

The Council of Constance finally resolved the situation. Gregory XII appointed Carlo Malatesta and Cardinal Giovanni Dominici of Ragusa as his proxies. The cardinal then convoked the council and authorized its succeeding acts, thus preserving the formulas of Papal supremacy.

Thereupon on 4 July 1415, Malatesta, acting in the name of Gregory XII, pronounced the resignation of the Pope, which the cardinals accepted. According to prior agreement, they agreed to retain all the cardinals that had been created by Gregory XII, thus satisfying the Corraro clan, and appointed Gregory XII Bishop of Frascati, Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals and perpetual legate at Ancona. The Council then set aside Antipope John XXIII (1410–15), the successor of Alexander V. After the former follower of Benedict XIII appeared, the council declared him deposed; and the Western Schism was ended. A new Roman pontiff, Pope Martin V, was elected after Gregory XII's death, which many took as an indication that he had been the true Pope.[9] Therefore, the Papal seat was vacant for two years.

Retirement and deathEdit

The rest of Gregory XII's life was spent in peaceful obscurity in Ancona. He was the last pope to resign until Benedict XVI did so on 28 February 2013, almost 598 years later.[10]


The Annuario Pontificio has historically recognized the decisions of the Council of Pisa (1409). Until the mid-20th century, the Annuario Pontificio listed Gregory XII's reign as 1406–1409, followed by Alexander V (1409–1410) and John XXIII (1410–1415).[11] However, the Western Schism was reinterpreted when Pope John XXIII (1958–1963) chose to reuse the ordinal XXIII, citing "twenty-two Johns of indisputable legitimacy".[12] This is reflected in modern editions of the Annuario Pontificio, which extend Gregory XII's reign to 1415. Alexander V and the first John XXIII are now considered to be antipopes.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Baynes, T. S.; Smith, W.R., eds. (1880). "Gregory XII." . Encyclopædia Britannica. 11 (9th ed.). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 178.
  2. ^ Miranda, Salvador. "Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church
  3. ^ Riccoboni, Bartolomea (2000). Life and Death in a Venetian Convent: the chronicle and necrology of Corpus Domini, 1395—1436. Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press. pp. 60–63. ISBN 0-226-71789-5.
  4. ^ a b c Ott, Michael. "Pope Gregory XII." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 30 December 2015
  5. ^ "Titular Episcopal See of Castello". GCatholic. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  6. ^ Creighton, Mandell (1907). A History of the Papacy from the Great Schism to the Sack of Rome. Volume I. London: Longmans, Green, and Company. p. 223
  7. ^ Caulfield, Philip (11 February 2013). "Pope Gregory XII, the last pope to resign, stepped down amid the Great Western Schism in 1415". Daily News. Retrieved 23 April 2017.
  8. ^ Riccoboni, Bartolomea (2000). Life and Death in a Venetian Convent: the chronicle and necrology of Corpus Domini, 1395—1436. Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press. pp. 57, 59. ISBN 0-226-71788-7.
  9. ^ Riccoboni, Bartolomea (2000). Life and Death in a Venetian Convent: the chronicle and necrology of Corpus Domini, 1395—1436. Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press. p. 63. ISBN 0-226-71788-7.
  10. ^ "Pope Benedict XVI to resign citing poor health". BBC News. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  11. ^ Annuario pontificio per l'anno 1942. Rome. 1942. p. 21. 205. Gregorio XII, Veneto, Correr (c. 1406, cessò a. 1409, m. 1417) - Pont. a. 2, m. 6. g. 4. 206. Alessandro V, dell'Isola di Candia, Filargo (c. 1409, m. 1410). - Pont. m. 10, g. 8. 207. Giovanni XXII o XXIII o XXIV, Napoletano, Cossa (c. 1410, cesso dal pontificare 29 mag. 1415
  12. ^ "I Choose John ..." Time. 10 November 1958. p. 91.


External linksEdit

Catholic Church titles
Title last held by
Paul Palaiologos Tagaris
Latin Patriarch of Constantinople
Succeeded by
Preceded by Pope
30 November 1406 – 4 July 1415
Avignon claimant: Benedict XIII
Pisan claimants: Alexander V & John XXIII
Succeeded by