Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Reformation. Revised and Updated ed. Vol. 1. New York: HarperCollins, 2010a. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Ch. 33, “The Collapse” Loc. 6739-7105.
Gonzalez asserts that while the 13th century was a high point in culture and Christianity the 14th and 15th centuries saw the society crumble (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 6748). Financial industries had become important. Bankers and merchants had formed alliances with political figures. The dependence was mutual and resulted in the rise of several strong nations (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 6761). Wars among these nations and a decline in the power of the papacy fueled calls for reform (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 6773). Add to these factors the Great Plague in 1347 and a little ice age (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 6810), and society can easily be seen in a precarious position. Gonzalez proceeds to illustrate some of the turmoil.
Gonzalez turns attention back to development in the papacy beginning at the end of the 13th century (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 6857). With the election of Boniface VIII in 1294 the papacy became highly politicized (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 6857). Boniface worked actively with diplomatic and economic influence to end wars and to establish himself as more powerful than kings (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 6882). For some time afterward the papacy was highly political (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 6920). As a reaction to the rise in worldly power of the pope, numerous reform movements began, especially among monastics. Gonzalez discusses Catherine of Siena in some detail (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 6982).
After the papacy returned to Rome, Urban VI, elevated in 1378, proved a divisive character (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 7043). His nepotism and appointment of many cardinals provoked the election of another pope, Clement VII, while Urban was still in office (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 7055). Both Urban and Clement had successors. This schism finally led to a conciliar movement (Gonzalez 2010a, Loc. 7103) in which councils would override papal decisions.