St Peter's Basilica

Pope Julius II began construction of St Peter's Basilica in Rome in 1506.

The Great Schism

The Great Schism occured in 1378 when pope Urban VI announced that he planned to reform the college of cardinals. A group of cardinals gathered and elected another pope, Clement VII, who returned to Avignon, France. Over the next thirty-nine years, two popes (and sometimes three!) would reign at the same time. This undercut the authority of the pope in the eyes of clergy and lay persons alike.

The reformers would often challenge the authority of the pope. The Great Schism would provide an opportunity for the reformers to question the legitimacy of papal authority.