History of The Great Schism 1054 & The Great Western Schism of 1378

The Great Schism of 1054 was the formal break of communion between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.


Eastern Orthodox 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.


Pope Leo IX – The Great Schism of 1054

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.

Great Schism History

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 Great Schism Definition

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.


Pope, cardinal and bishop. Supreme catholic priests in cassocks.

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 of 1378

The Great Western Schism of 1378 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.

Catholic-Priest-Bishop-CardinalOriginally 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.

  • There were two great schisms in medieval times, one in 1054 and one in 1378
  • The great schism was one of the most significant events in the history of Christianity
  • The great schism of 1054 was theological in nature and not political like the 1378 schism
  • The great schism of 1054 was a dispute and break up between East and and Western churches
  • The great schism led to the closure of Latin churches in Constantinople
  • The great schism of 1054 led to the closing of Greek Orthodox Churches in southern Italy

File:Pope Clement VII.JPG

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.


Pope Michael I of the Great Schism 1054 image

Effects on the Church of The 1054 Great Schism

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.


Conclusion of the 1054 Great Western Schism

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.

1054 The Great Schism Map

This image shows the Eastern and Western Churches territory during the Great Schism of 1054

  • Theological disputes amongst the eastern and western Roman Catholic Churches had previously existed
  • The breaking point of the differences in theological views between the churches came in 1054
  • One of the criticisms of theological reformers was the lavish lifestyles led by some of the Church hierarchy
  • Many of the theological reformers who tried to change things for the better were excommunicated
  • Some of the followers of the theological reformers within the Church were burned at the stake

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