Despite attempts in the early thirteenth century and beyond to reform the Roman Catholic Church from within, corruption within the Church continued to run rampant and collided sharply with a crescendoing series of crises that developed in the fourteenth century. These included the Great Famine of 1315–1317 and the Black Death that began to devastate Europe around the year 1348. The Church seemed to be helpless to stop these crises. Prayers did not seem to work, and institutional intercessions failed to prevent the sufferings and massive death tolls. This shook many common people's faith in institutional Christianity.
The Great Schism that began in 1378, in which rival political and national factions elected different popes (ending with one pope in Rome and one in Avignon), added to perception that the Catholic Church was in disarray and disrepair.
Starvation, immense fatalities from the bubonic plague, and open leadership dysfunction at the top of the Church hierarchy fueled the rise...
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