The Great Schism was the formal break of communion between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. Various disputes of theological nature contributed in this 1054 Schism and Latin churches were closed in Constantinople as a response to the closure of Greek churches in Southern Italy. The Great Schism remains one of the most significant events in the history of Christianity and went on to have a huge impact on subsequent developments in Europe.
The history of disputes between the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church had begun much earlier than 1054. Various theological disputes of importance included the source of the Holy Ghost, use of leavened or unleavened bread for Eucharist, and the dispute over the jurisdiction of the Pope. The closing down of churches on both sides began in 1053 and the formal schism occurred in the following year.
The definition of 1054 Schism is mainly the formal breaking up of relations between the two main branches of Christian church over disputes of theological nature. Theological disputes had remained throughout the earlier centuries as well but the Great Schism of 1054 became the final breaking point. On the Western side Pope Leo IX and on the Eastern side Patriarch Michael I excommunicated each other in 1054 and completed the schism.
The Great Western Schism occurred in the period between 1378 and 1417 when multiple Popes claimed their authority on the Church. Initially, there were two rival Popes but later three Popes, each with his own Sacred College of Cardinals, claimed his authority on the Church. Originally the Pope was Urban VI who offended the Cardinals with his strict attitude and the Cardinals elected Robert of Geneva as Pope Clement VII. Subsequently, a third Pope Alexander V was elected by council in Pisa. Eventually the Great Western Schism ended when the authority of Martin V was finally accepted in 1417.
One of the most important effects of the Great Schism in Europe was the call for reform in the Church by many political and theological thinkers. For instance, one of the most important political reformers was Marsiglio of Padua who wrote a book called “Defender of Peace” and gave rise to the concept of separation between the Church and the State. Theological reformers, on the other hand, criticised the lavish lifestyles of the Church leaders and stressed on theological reforms.
For a considerable time after the Great Schism of 1054, relations between East and West remained normal and it was only the Churches on both sides who had severed the relations. The direct effects of the 1054 Schism were that calls for theological reforms began to emerge from various reformers. Many of these reformers were excommunicated and their followers burnt at the stake.
The Great Schism of 1054 was the splitting point between Western Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Schism itself was the culmination of centuries of theological disputes between these two branches of Christianity. The disputes had existed since the initial centuries of Christianity but it was in the 1054 Schism that leaders of the two churches excommunicated each other.
We hope that you enjoyed reading this article on the great schism of 1054 and found the information interesting and informative, if you’d like to learn about the great schism of 1378 please follow the links on this page to that article or why not have a look at our other medieval religion articles by following the links at the bottom of this page and looking at our medieval life category.