Free Imperial City of Nuremberg
The Imperial City of Nuremberg was a free imperial city — independent city-state — within the Holy Roman Empire. After Nuremberg gained piecemeal independence from the Burgraviate of Nuremberg in the High Middle Ages and considerable territory from Bavaria in the Landshut War of Succession, it grew to become one of the largest and most important Imperial cities, the'unofficial capital' of the Empire because Imperial Diets and courts met at Nuremberg Castle; the Diets of Nuremberg were an important part of the administrative structure of the Empire. The Golden Bull of 1356, issued by Emperor Charles IV, named Nuremberg as the city where newly elected kings of Germany must hold their first Imperial Diet, making Nuremberg one of the three highest cities of the Empire; the cultural flowering of Nuremberg, in the 15th and 16th centuries, made it the center of the German Renaissance. Increased trade routes elsewhere and the ravages of the major European wars of the 17th and 18th centuries caused the city to decline and incur sizeable debts, resulting in the city's absorption into the new Kingdom of Bavaria on the signing of the Confederation of the Rhine in 1806, becoming one of the many territorial casualties of the Napoleonic Wars in a period known as the German mediatisation.
First evidence of a settlement in the Nuremberg area can be detected as early as the year 1050 BC. The Celts settled in the Nuremberg area, c. 400 BC. The area of the city of Nuremberg itself — and today's old town — has detectable traces of a settlement as early as the 9th century. At that time, present-day Nuremberg was on the border between the Bavarian Nordgau and the stem duchy of Franconia. Nuremberg was founded around the turn of the 11th century, according to the first documentary mention of the city in 1050, as the location of an Imperial castle between the East Franks and the Bavarian March of the Nordgau. From 1050 to 1571, the city expanded and rose in importance due to its location on key trade routes. King Conrad III established a burgraviate and the first administration and courts over the surrounding Imperial territories; the first burgraves were from the Austrian House of Raab but, with the extinction of their male line around 1190, the burgraviate was inherited by the last count's son-in-law, of the House of Hohenzollern.
From the late 12th century to the Interregnum, the power of the burgraves diminished as the Staufen emperors transferred most non-military powers to a castellan, with the city administration and the municipal courts handed over to an Imperial mayor from 1173/74. This castellan not only administered the imperial lands surrounding Nuremberg, but levied taxes and constituted the highest judicial court in matters relating to poaching and forestry; the privileges of this castellanship were transferred to the city during the late-14th and early-15th centuries. The strained relations between the burgraves and the castellan broke out into open enmity, which influenced the history of the city. Nuremberg is referred to as having been the'unofficial capital' of the Holy Roman Empire because Imperial Diets and courts met at Nuremberg Castle; the Diets of Nuremberg were an important part of the administrative structure of the empire. The increasing demands of the royal court and the increasing importance of the city attracted increased trade and commerce to Nuremberg, supported by the Hohenstaufen emperors.
Frederick II granted the Großen Freiheitsbrief in 1219, including town rights, Imperial immediacy, the privilege to mint coins, an independent customs policy wholly removing the city from the purview of the burgraves. Nuremberg soon became, with Augsburg, one of the two great trade centers on the route from Italy to Northern Europe. In 1298, the Jews of the town were accused of having desecrated the host and 698 were slain in one of the many Rintfleisch massacres. Behind the massacre in 1298 was the desire to combine the northern and southern parts of the city, which were divided by the Pegnitz river. Jews had been settled in that flood-prone area, but as the city leaders realised, this center of town was crucial to its future development. Hence, they decided; this area is now the place of the Frauenkirche and the Rathaus. The largest gains for Nuremberg were in the 14th century, with Louis the Bavarian and Charles IV expanding the city's powers and granting improved customs privileges. Charles's Golden Bull of 1356 named Nuremberg as the city where newly elected kings of Germany must hold their first Imperial Diet, making Nuremberg one of the three highest cities of the Empire, along with Frankfurt, where kings were elected, Aachen, where Emperors were crowned and, the capital of the old Frankish Empire.
The royal and Imperial connection was strengthened when Sigismund of Luxembourg granted the Imperial regalia to be kept permanently in Nuremberg in 1423. These remained in Nuremberg until 1796, when the advance of French troops required their removal to Regensburg and thence to Vienna, where they found a new home. Charles IV had strong ties to Nuremberg, staying within its city walls 52 times and thereby strengthening its reputation amongst German cities. Charles was the patron of the Frauenkirche, built between 1352 and 1362, where the Imperial court worshipped during its stays in Nuremberg
Battle of Nicopolis
The Battle of Nicopolis took place on 25 September 1396 and resulted in the rout of an allied crusader army of Hungarian, Bulgarian, French, Burgundian and assorted troops at the hands of an Ottoman force, raising of the siege of the Danubian fortress of Nicopolis and leading to the end of the Second Bulgarian Empire. It is referred to as the Crusade of Nicopolis as it was one of the last large-scale Crusades of the Middle Ages, together with the Crusade of Varna in 1443–1444. There were many minor crusades in the 14th century, undertaken by individual knights. Most there had been a failed crusade against Tunisia in 1390, there was ongoing warfare in northern Europe along the Baltic coast. After their victory at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, the Ottomans had conquered most of the Balkans, had reduced the Byzantine Empire to the area surrounding Constantinople, which they proceeded to besiege. In 1393 the Bulgarian tsar Ivan Shishman had lost Nicopolis — his temporary capital — to the Ottomans, while his brother, Ivan Stratsimir, still held Vidin but had been reduced to an Ottoman vassal.
In the eyes of the Bulgarian boyars and other independent Balkan rulers, the crusade was a great chance to reverse the course of the Ottoman conquest and free the Balkans from Islamic rule. In addition, the frontline between Islam and Christianity had been moving towards the Kingdom of Hungary; the Kingdom of Hungary was now the frontier between the two religions in Eastern Europe, the Hungarians were in danger of being attacked themselves. The Republic of Venice feared that an Ottoman control of the Balkan peninsula, which included Venetian territories like parts of Morea and Dalmatia, would reduce their influence over the Adriatic Sea, Ionian Sea and Aegean Sea; the Republic of Genoa, on the other hand, feared that if the Ottomans were to gain control over River Danube and the Turkish Straits, they would obtain a monopoly over the trade routes between Europe and the Black Sea, where the Genoese had many important colonies like Caffa and Amasra. The Genoese owned the citadel of Galata, located at the north of the Golden Horn in Constantinople, to which Bayezid had laid siege in 1395.
In 1394, Pope Boniface IX proclaimed a new crusade against the Turks, although the Western Schism had split the papacy in two, with rival popes at Avignon and Rome, the days when a pope had the authority to call a crusade were long past. The two decisive factors in the formation of the last crusade were the ongoing Hundred Years' War between Richard II's England and Charles VI's France and the support of Philip II, Duke of Burgundy. In 1389, the war had ground to one of its periodic truces. Further, in March 1395, Richard II proposed a marriage between himself and Charles VI's daughter Isabella in the interests of peace and the two kings met in October 1396 on the borders of Calais to agree to the union and agree to lengthen the Truce of Leulinghem; the support of Burgundy, among the most powerful of the French nobles was vital. In 1391, trying to decide between sending a crusade to either Prussia or Hungary, sent his envoy Guy de La Trémoille to Venice and Hungary to evaluate the situation.
Burgundy envisioned a crusade led by himself and the Dukes of Orléans and Lancaster, though none would join the eventual crusade. It was unlikely that defense against the Turks was considered a important goal of the crusade. Burgundy's interest in sponsoring the crusade was in increasing his and his house's prestige and power and, historian Barbara Tuchman notes, "since he was the prince of self-magnification, the result was that opulent display became the dominant theme. In 1394, Burgundy extracted 120,000 livres from Flanders, sufficient to begin preparations for a crusade, in January 1395 sent word to King Sigismund of Hungary that an official request to the King of France would be accepted. In August, Sigismund's delegation of four knights and a bishop arrived in the court of Paris to paint a description of how "40,000" Turks were despoiling and imperiling Christian lands and beg, on Sigismund of Hungary's behalf, for help. Charles VI, having secured a peace with England through the marriage of his daughter, was able to reply that it was his responsibility to protect Christianity and punish Sultan Bayezid.
French nobility responded enthusiastically to the declaration. The number of combatants is contested in historical accounts. Historian Tuchman notes, "Chroniclers habitually matched numbers to the awesomeness of the event," and the Battle of Nicopolis was considered so significant that the number of combatants given by medieval chroniclers ranges as high as 400,000, with each side insisting that the enemy outnumbered them two-to-one, which for the crusaders offered some solace for their defeat and for the Turks increased the glory of their victory; the oft-given figure of 100,000 crusaders is dismissed by Tuchman, who notes that 100,000 men would have taken a month to cross the Danube at Iron Gate, while the crusaders took eight days. The closest record to a first-person account was made by Johann Schiltberger, a German follower of a Bavarian noble, who witnessed the battle at the age of 16 and was captured and enslaved for 30 years by the
King of the Romans
King of the Romans was a title used by Syagrius by the German king following his election by the princes from the time of Emperor Henry II onward. The title was predominantly a claim to become Holy Roman Emperor and was dependent upon coronation by the Pope; the title referred to any elected king who had not yet been granted the Imperial Regalia and title of "Emperor" at the hands of the Pope. It came to be used for the heir apparent to the Imperial throne between his election and his succession upon the death of the Emperor, their actual title varied over time. During the Ottonian period it was King of the Franks, from the late Salian period it was Roman King or King of the Romans. In the Modern Period, the title King in Germania came into use. Modern German historiography established the term Roman-German King to differentiate it from the ancient Roman Emperor as well as from the modern German Emperor; the territory of East Francia was not referred to as the Kingdom of Germany or Regnum Teutonicum by contemporary sources until the 11th century.
During this time, the king's claim to coronation was contested by the papacy culminating in the fierce Investiture Controversy. After the Salian heir apparent Henry IV, a six-year-old minor, had been elected to rule the Empire in 1056 he adopted Romanorum Rex as a title to emphasize his sacred entitlement to be crowned Emperor by the Pope. Pope Gregory VII insisted on using the derogatory term Teutonicorum Rex in order to imply that Henry's authority was local and did not extend over the whole Empire. Henry continued to use the title Romanorum Rex until he was crowned Emperor by Antipope Clement III in 1084. Henry's successors imitated this practice, were called Romanorum Rex before and Romanorum Imperator after their Roman coronations. Candidates for the kingship were at first the heads of the Germanic stem duchies; as these units broke up, rulers of smaller principalities and non-Germanic rulers were considered for the position. The only requirements observed were that the candidate be an adult male, a Catholic Christian, not in holy orders.
The kings were elected by several Imperial Estates in the imperial city of Frankfurt after 1147, a custom recorded in the Schwabenspiegel code in about 1275. All noblemen present could vote by unanimous acclamation, but a franchise was granted to only the most eminent bishops and noblemen, according to the Golden Bull of 1356 issued by Emperor Charles IV only the seven Prince-electors had the right to participate in a majority voting as determined by the 1338 Declaration of Rhense, they were the Prince-Archbishops of Mainz and Cologne as well as the King of Bohemia, the Count Palatine of the Rhine, the Saxon duke, the Margrave of Brandenburg. After the Investiture Controversy, Charles intended to strengthen the legal status of the Rex Romanorum beyond Papal approbation. Among his successors only Sigismund and Frederick III were still crowned Emperors in Rome and in 1530 Charles V was the last king to receive the Imperial Crown at the hands of the Pope; the Golden Bull remained effective as constitutional law until the Empire's dissolution in 1806.
After his election, the new king would be crowned as King of the Romans at Charlemagne's throne in Aachen Cathedral by the Archbishop of Cologne. Though the ceremony was no more than a symbolic validation of the election result, it was solemnly celebrated; the details of Otto's coronation in 936 are described by the medieval chronicler Widukind of Corvey in his Res gestae saxonicae. The kings received the Imperial Crown from at least 1024, at the coronation of Conrad II. In 1198 the Hohenstaufen candidate Philip of Swabia was crowned Rex Romanorum at Mainz Cathedral, but he had another coronation in Aachen after he had prevailed against his Welf rival Otto IV. At some time after the ceremony, the king would, if possible, cross the Alps, to receive coronation in Pavia or Milan with the Iron Crown of Lombardy as King of Italy, he would travel to Rome and be crowned Emperor by the Pope. Because it was possible for the elected King to proceed to Rome for his crowning, several years might elapse between election and coronation, some Kings never completed the journey to Rome at all.
As a suitable title for the King between his election and his coronation as Emperor, Romanorum Rex would stress the plenitude of his authority over the Empire and his warrant to be future Emperor without infringing upon the Papal privilege. Not all Kings of the Romans made this step, sometimes because of hostile relations with the Pope, or because either the pressure of business at home or warfare in Germany or Italy made it impossible for the King to make the journey. In such cases, the king might retain the title "King of the Romans" for his entire reign; the title Romanorum Rex became functionally obsolete after 1508, when the Pope permitted King Maximilian I to use the title of Electus Romanorum Imperator after he failed in a good-faith attempt to journey to Rome. At this time Maximilian took the new title "King of the Germans" or "King in Germany", but the latter was never used as a primary title; the rulers of the Empire thereafter ca
Nobility is a social class ranked under royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy. Nobility possesses more acknowledged privileges and higher social status than most other classes in society; the privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be honorary, vary by country and era. As referred to in the Medieval chivalric motto "noblesse oblige", nobles can carry a lifelong duty to uphold various social responsibilities, such as honorable behavior, customary service, or leadership positions. Membership in the nobility, including rights and responsibilities, is hereditary. Membership in the nobility has been granted by a monarch or government, unlike other social classes where membership is determined by wealth, lifestyle, or affiliation. Nonetheless, acquisition of sufficient power, military prowess, or royal favour has enabled commoners to ascend into the nobility. There are a variety of ranks within the noble class.
Legal recognition of nobility has been more common in monarchies, but nobility existed in such regimes as the Dutch Republic, the Republic of Genoa, the Republic of Venice, the Old Swiss Confederacy, remains part of the legal social structure of some non-hereditary regimes, e.g. Channel Islands, San Marino, the Vatican City in Europe. Hereditary titles and styles added to names, as well as honorifics distinguish nobles from non-nobles in conversation and written speech. In many nations most of the nobility have been un-titled, some hereditary titles do not indicate nobility; some countries have had non-hereditary nobility, such as the Empire of Brazil or life peers in the United Kingdom. The term derives from the abstract noun of the adjective nobilis. In ancient Roman society, nobiles originated as an informal designation for the political governing class who had allied interests, including both patricians and plebeian families with an ancestor who had risen to the consulship through his own merit.
In modern usage, "nobility" is applied to the highest social class in pre-modern societies, excepting the ruling dynasty. In the feudal system, the nobility were those who held a fief land or office, under vassalage, i.e. in exchange for allegiance and various military, services to a suzerain, who might be a higher-ranking nobleman or a monarch. It came to be seen as a hereditary caste, sometimes associated with a right to bear a hereditary title and, for example in pre-revolutionary France, enjoying fiscal and other privileges. While noble status conferred significant privileges in most jurisdictions, by the 21st century it had become a honorary dignity in most societies, although a few, residual privileges may still be preserved and some Asian and African cultures continue to attach considerable significance to formal hereditary rank or titles. Nobility is a historical and legal notion, differing from high socio-economic status in that the latter is based on income, possessions or lifestyle.
Being wealthy or influential cannot ipso facto make one noble, nor are all nobles wealthy or influential. Various republics, including former Iron Curtain countries, Greece and Austria have expressly abolished the conferral and use of titles of nobility for their citizens; this is distinct from countries which have not abolished the right to inherit titles, but which do not grant legal recognition or protection to them, such as Germany and Italy, although Germany recognizes their use as part of the legal surname. Still other countries and authorities allow their use, but forbid attachment of any privilege thereto, e.g. Finland and the European Union, while French law protects lawful titles against usurpation. Although many societies have a privileged upper class with substantial wealth and power, the status is not hereditary and does not entail a distinct legal status, nor differentiated forms of address. Not all of the benefits of nobility derived from noble status per se. Privileges were granted or recognised by the monarch in association with possession of a specific title, office or estate.
Most nobles' wealth derived from one or more estates, large or small, that might include fields, orchards, hunting grounds, etc. It included infrastructure such as castle and mill to which local peasants were allowed some access, although at a price. Nobles were expected to live "nobly", that is, from the proceeds of these possessions. Work involving manual labour or subordination to those of lower rank was either forbidden or frowned upon socially. On the other hand, membership in the nobility was a prerequisite for holding offices of trust in the realm and for career promotion in the military, at court and the higher functions in the government and church. Prior to the French Revolution, European nobles commanded tribute in the form of entitlement to cash rents or usage taxes, labour or a portion of the annual crop yield from commoners or no
John, Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach
John, nicknamed the Alchemist was a Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach and served as the peace-loving Margrave of Brandenburg after the abdication of his father, Frederick I, the first member of the House of Hohenzollern to rule Brandenburg. John was the eldest son of Frederick I, Margrave of Brandenburg and Elisabeth of Bavaria-Landshut, daughter of Frederick, Duke of Bavaria, his second wife Maddalena Visconti. After marrying Barbara of Saxe-Wittenberg, daughter of Rudolf III, Duke of Saxe-Wittenberg, John hoped to succeed to Saxe-Wittenberg once its line of Ascanian dukes died out; when this happened in November 1422, Emperor Sigismund was on poorer terms with the Hohenzollerns and was only willing to compensate John with a money payment. John began participating in governmental affairs in Brandenburg in 1424. Frustrated by disputes with the feudal nobility, Frederick I retired to his castle at Cadolzburg in Franconia in 1425, granting the regency of Brandenburg to John at a Landtag in Rathenow on January 13, 1426, while retaining the electoral dignity for himself.
John was poorly received by the populace of Brandenburg, as his administration was incompetent, leading to unrest in the countryside. Rather than governing, John was more interested in artificially creating gold through alchemy, thereby receiving the cognomen "the Alchemist". In 1433, a revised version of the alchemical treatise Buch der heiligen Dreifaltigkeit was prepared for John. Realizing the danger Brandenburg was in, Frederick I granted John Franconian lands in Brandenburg-Kulmbach on June 7, 1437, territory rich with mines that furnished materials for the Alchemist's hobby; the governance of Brandenburg passed to Frederick I's second-oldest son, Frederick II. After the death of Frederick I in 1440, John inherited all of Brandenburg-Kulmbach, including the castle of Plassenburg in Kulmbach. In his years, he allowed Christopher of Bavaria to administer his possessions in the Upper Palatinate until Christopher's death in 1448. John ruled as Margrave of Brandenburg-Kulmbach until abdicating in 1457, which allowed him to dedicate himself toward studying alchemy and the environs of Franconia.
He died in Castle Scharfeneck near Baiersdorf in 1464. John of Brandenburg-Kulmbach and Barbara of Saxe-Wittenberg had four children: Rudolf of Brandenburg Barbara of Brandenburg, married on 12 November 1433 Ludovico III Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua. Elisabeth of Brandenburg. Married, secondly, on 5 March 1454, Wartislaw X, Duke of Pomerania. Dorothea of Brandenburg. Married, secondly, on 28 October 1449, King Christian I of Denmark. Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie Marlesreuth.de Wer ist wer in Bayreuth? Eulenberg, Herbert; the Hohenzollerns. Translated by M. M. Bozman; the Century Co. New York, 1929
Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor
Sigismund of Luxembourg was Prince-elector of Brandenburg from 1378 until 1388 and from 1411 until 1415, King of Hungary and Croatia from 1387, King of Germany from 1411, King of Bohemia from 1419, King of Italy from 1431, Holy Roman Emperor from 1433 until 1437, the last male member of the House of Luxembourg. In 1396 he led the Crusade of Nicopolis, which attempted to liberate Bulgaria and save the Byzantine Empire and Constantinople from Ottoman rule. Afterwards, he founded the Order of the Dragon to fight the Turks, he was regarded as educated, spoke several languages and was an outgoing person who took pleasure in the tournament. Sigismund was one of the driving forces behind the Council of Constance that ended the Papal Schism, but which led to the Hussite Wars that dominated the period of Sigismund's life. Born in Nuremberg, Sigismund was the son of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV, of his fourth wife, Elizabeth of Pomerania, the granddaughter of King Casimir III of Poland and the great-granddaughter of the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Gediminas.
He was named after Saint Sigismund of the favourite saint of Sigismund's father. From Sigismund's childhood he was nicknamed the "ginger fox" in the Crown of Bohemia, on account of his hair colour. King Louis the Great of Hungary and Poland always had a good and close relationship with Emperor Charles IV, Sigismund was betrothed to Louis' eldest daughter, Mary, in 1374, when he was six years old. Upon his father's death in 1378, young Sigismund became Margrave of Brandenburg and was sent to the Hungarian court, where he soon learnt the Hungarian language and way of life, became devoted to his adopted country. King Louis appointed him his successor as King of Hungary. In 1381, the 13-year-old Sigismund was sent to Kraków by his eldest half-brother and guardian Wenceslaus, King of Germany and Bohemia, to learn Polish and to become acquainted with the land and its people. King Wenceslaus gave him Neumark to facilitate communication between Brandenburg and Poland; the disagreement between Polish landlords of Lesser Poland on one side and landlords of Greater Poland on the other, regarding the choice of the future King of Poland ended in choosing the Lithuanian side.
The support of the lords of Greater Poland was however not enough to give Prince Sigismund the Polish crown. Instead, the landlords of Lesser Poland gave it to Mary's younger sister Jadwiga I of Poland, who married Jogaila of Lithuania. On the death of her father in 1382, his betrothed, became queen of Hungary and Sigismund married her in 1385 in Zólyom; the next year, he was accepted as Mary's future co-ruler by the Treaty of Győr. However, Mary was captured, together with her mother, Elizabeth of Bosnia, who had acted as regent, in 1387 by the rebellious House of Horvat, Bishop Paul Horvat of Mačva, his brother John Horvat and younger brother Ladislav. Sigismund's mother-in-law was strangled. Having secured the support of the nobility, Sigismund was crowned King of Hungary at Székesfehérvár on 31 March 1387. Having raised money by pledging Brandenburg to his cousin Jobst, margrave of Moravia, he was engaged for the next nine years in a ceaseless struggle for the possession of this unstable throne.
The central power was weakened to such an extent that only Sigismund's alliance with the powerful Czillei-Garai League could ensure his position on the throne. It was not for selfless reasons that one of the leagues of barons helped him to power: Sigismund had to pay for the support of the lords by transferring a sizeable part of the royal properties.. The restoration of the authority of the central administration took decades of work; the bulk of the nation headed by the House of Garai was with him. Not until 1395 did Nicholas II Garay succeed in suppressing them. Mary died pregnant in 1395. To ease the pressure from Hungarian nobles, Sigismund tried to employ foreign advisors, not popular, he had to promise not to give land and nominations to other than Hungarian nobles. However, this was not applied to Stibor of Stiboricz, Sigismund's closest friend and advisor. On a number of occasions, Sigismund was imprisoned by nobles, but with help of the armies of Garai and Stibor of Stiboricz, he would regain power.
In 1396, Sigismund led the combined armies of Christendom against the Turks, who had taken advantage of the temporary helplessness of Hungary to extend their dominion to the banks of the Danube. This crusade, preached by Pope Boniface IX, was popular in Hungary; the nobles flocked in their thousands to the royal standard, were reinforced by volunteers from nearly every part of Europe. The most important contingent being that of the French led by John the Fearless, son of Philip II, Duke of Burgundy. Sigismund set out with a flotilla of 70 galleys. After capturing Vidin, he camped with his Hungarian armies before the fortress of Nicopolis. Sultan Bayezid I raised the siege of Constantinople and, at the head of 140,000 men defeated the Christian forces in the Battle of Nicopolis fought between the 25 and 28 September 1396. Sigismund returned by sea and through the realm of Zeta, where he ordained a local Montenegrin lord Đurađ II with the islands of Hvar and Korčula for resis
Council of Florence
The Seventeenth Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church was convoked as the Council of Basel by Pope Martin V shortly before his death in February 1431 and took place in the context of the Hussite wars in Bohemia and the rise of the Ottoman Empire. At stake was the greater conflict between the Conciliar movement and the principle of papal supremacy; the Council entered a second phase after Emperor Sigismund's death in 1437. Pope Eugene IV convoked a rival Council of Ferrara on 8 January 1438 and succeeded in drawing the Byzantine ambassadors to Italy; the Council of Basel first suspended him, declared him a heretic, in November 1439 elected an antipope, Felix V. The rival Council of Florence concluded in 1445 after negotiating unions with the various eastern churches; this bridging of the Great Schism was a political coup for the papacy. In 1447, Sigismund's successor Frederick III commanded the city of Basel to expel the Council of Basel; the initial location at Basel reflected the desire among parties seeking reform to meet outside the territories of the Papacy, the Holy Roman Empire or the kings of Aragon and France, whose influences the council hoped to avoid.
Ambrogio Traversari attended the Council of Basel as legate of Pope Eugene IV. Under pressure for ecclesiastical reform, Pope Martin V sanctioned a decree of the Council of Constance obliging the papacy to summon general councils periodically. At the expiration of the first term fixed by this decree, Pope Martin V complied by calling a council at Pavia. Due to an epidemic the location transferred at once to Siena and disbanded, in circumstances still imperfectly known, just as it had begun to discuss the subject of reform; the next council fell due at the expiration of seven years in 1431. Martin himself, died before the opening of the synod; the Council was seated on 14 December 1431, at a period when the conciliar movement was strong and the authority of the papacy weak. The Council at Basel opened with only a few bishops and abbots attending, but it grew and to make its numbers greater gave the lower orders a majority over the bishops, it adopted an anti-papal attitude, proclaimed the superiority of the Council over the Pope and prescribed an oath to be taken by every Pope on his election.
On 18 December Martin's successor, Pope Eugene IV, tried to dissolve it and open a new council on Italian soil at Bologna, but he was overruled. Sigismund, King of Hungary and titular King of Bohemia, had been defeated at the Battle of Domažlice in the fifth crusade against the Hussites in August 1431. Under his sponsorship, the Council negotiated a peace with Calixtine faction of the Hussites in January 1433. Pope Eugene acknowledged the council in May and crowned Sigismund Holy Roman Emperor on 31 May 1433; the divided Hussites were defeated in May 1434. In June 1434, the pope began a ten-year exile in Florence; when the Council was moved from Basel to Ferrara in 1438, some remained at Basel, claiming to be the Council. They elected Duke of Savoy, as Antipope. Driven out of Basel in 1448, they moved to Lausanne, where Felix V, the pope they had elected and the only claimant to the papal throne who took the oath that they had prescribed, resigned; the next year, they decreed the closure of what.
The new council was transferred to Florence in 1439 because of the danger of plague at Ferrara and because Florence had agreed, against future payment, to finance the Council. The Council had meanwhile negotiated reunification with several Eastern Churches, reaching agreements on such matters as the Western insertion of the phrase "Filioque" to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, the definition and number of the sacraments, the doctrine of Purgatory. Another key issue was papal primacy, which involved the universal and supreme jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome over the whole Church, including the national Churches of the East and nonreligious matters such as the promise of military assistance against the Ottomans; the final decree of union was a signed document called the Laetentur Caeli, "Let the Heavens Rejoice". Some bishops feeling political pressure from the Byzantine Emperor, accepted the decrees of the Council and reluctantly signed. Others did so by sincere conviction, such as Isidore of Kiev, who subsequently suffered for it.
Only one Eastern Bishop, Mark of Ephesus, refused to accept the union and became the leader of opposition back in Byzantium. The Russians, upon learning of the union, angrily rejected it and ousted any prelate, remotely sympathetic to it, declaring the Russian Orthodox Church as autocephalus. Despite the religious union, Western military assistance to Byzantium was insufficient, the fall of Constantinople occurred in May 1453; the Council declared the Basel group heretics and excommunicated them, the superiority of the Pope over the Councils was affirmed in the bull Etsi non dubitemus of 20 April 1441. The democratic character of the assembly at Basel was a result of both its composition and its organization. Doctors of theology and representatives of chapters and clerks of inferior orders outnumbered the prelates in it, the influence of the superior clergy had less weight because instead of being separated into "nations", as at Constance, the fathers div