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A closer look at the role of the Avignon Papacy in east-west relations

The history of east-west church relations in the 14th century sheds light on the origins of conflict between different denominations. It also paves the way for more research on the topic in modern times.
A closer look at the role of the Avignon Papacy in east-west relations
For millennia, east and west have had very opposing religious persuasions, not only between Christianity and other religions, but within Christianity itself. In the Middle Ages, Catholicism and Orthodoxy vied for supremacy in the Mediterranean region, resulting in numerous conflicts and exchanges that could shed light even today on this still complex relationship. In this context, the Avignon Papacy, established in France from 1309 to 1377, played an important role in shaping east-west relations.

The EU-funded AVORI (Beyond the frontiers of Latin Christendom: The Avignon Papacy and the east) project investigated cultural and political strategies adopted by the Papacy of Avignon overseas. It highlighted the Papacy's intellectual history within a wider, trans-Mediterranean context, supporting the study of east-west cross-cultural interactions at the end of the Middle Ages.

To achieve its aims, the project team studied letters, books and pamphlets that the Papal Chancellery in the 14th century sent to the Christian east, the Holy Land and the Mongol Khanates. It looked at the different papal interventions in these regions, including crusades, Latinisation drives and church union negotiations, as well as the flow of missionaries, theologians and diplomats. AVORI also studied the relationship of the Armenian and Greek communities in the Holy Roman Empire and how these Christian churches were refuted to reinforce the Pontiff's authority in certain time periods.

Interestingly, the project gave way to new collaboration initiatives, bringing together scholars from different disciplines. It also resulted in a workshop titled Historical writing between East and West, twelfth-fifteenth centuries. The results of this project are slated to support future research on east-west interactions and a book is expected to be published on the topic.

Related information


Avignon Papacy, east-west relations, church, Christianity, crusades, Latinisation
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