The Palace of the Popes:

Aspects to be noted when visiting the Palace des Papes:

In the Palais des Papes, or also known as, the Palace of the Popes, there are many significant and beautiful aspects. However, there are two aspects that should be taken into consideration and interest. One of them is the architectural style of the palace itself. The architectural style of the palace is not of the style of Roman nor Greek architecture. It is the style that had been adopted during the Middle Ages; it is described as Gothic architecture. Unlike Greek and Roman architecture that consisted of rounded arches and pillars, Gothic architecture consisted of arches and towers that stretch up towards the heavens, or in other words, towards God. The internal architecture of the palace, the ceiling is constructed in a way that corresponds with the towers, for it also reaches towards the heavens. The other aspect to be observed is Pope Clement VI's study room, which is called the Chamber de Cerf, or otherwise known as, the Stag's Room. The Chamber de Cerf was not only the study of Pope Clement VI, but it contains one of Europe's most famous frescoes. In the Chamber de Cerf, the walls are decorated with scenes of men's daily pleasures, such as hunting and fishing. These frescoes shows the artistic culture of the Italian artists that assembled together to paint the frescoes for the construction of the frescoes were supervised by an Italian artist called Matteo Giovanetti. These paintings show a sense of secularism, for they were non religious and simply showed men having the time of their lives while hunting and fishing. The techniques and style of the Italian artists are shown in the frescoes with the techniques of 3D and perspective.

In the Palais Des Papes:
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In the Chamber de Cerf.

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The Political Battle between the French King and the Italian Pope:

During the Hundred Years War from 1337-1453, an incident occurred between the French king and the Italian Pope. This incident was called The Crisis of Faith (1294-1417). Due to the Hundred Years War that had been fought between France and England, King Philip IV of France started to tax the church clergy in order to have a strong defense against the English. The Pope of the Catholic Church at that time, Pope Boniface VII, then refused to pay the taxes, stating that the king must obey the pope at all means. This response was then published in two documents, Clericos Laicos in 1296 and the Unam Sanctum in 1302, in which the Pope attempted to explain to the public why the reason the king had to follow the demands and orders of the Church. In short, it was a battle of temporal authority and spiritual authority. King Philip IV of France responded by sending his emissaries over to get rid of Boniface for once and for all. Pope Boniface VII managed to escape, but then he soon died from the shock and injuries he received from the persecution. After King Philip VI elected a new pope, Pope Clement V, Clement V moved the papacy from Rome to Avignon in under the wishes of King Philip VI in 1309. This move had originally been intended for Clement V to escape the political tension in the Italian states, but it was seen as a representation of “The Babylonian Captivity”, in which the moving of the papacy was seen as controversial as the original Babylonian Captivity. It was basically the move that represented the papacy being "stolen" from Rome. Thus, this is where the Palace des Papes comes into place. The palace is the place where the next seven popes of the papacy lived until the papacy was moved back to Rome. But as when the pope died, the curia then met in Rome to elect a new pope. However, since the Archbishops were French, a riot went on to protest against the election of a French pope. When the Council of Archbishops did elect an Italian pope, they immediately regretted their decision and elected a French pope. Now there were two popes, whom each declared the other as fake and excommunicated each other. This incident was called the Great Schism (1378-1417) and it greatly weakened the Church's authority due to the loss of faith from the public. In an attempt to clear up the mess, the Council of Pisa (1409-1410) decided to depose both popes and elect another pope called Alexander V. But none of the popes were willing to give up their position as the pope. Thus, the Church now had three popes, each excommunicating each other and those who followed them.

How it all ended

In the end, the Council of Constance (1414-1417) managed to end the Great Schism in 1417 by securing the resignations of the two Italian popes, Gregory XII and John XXIII, excommunicating the French pope, Pope Benedict XIII and electing a new pope, Pope Martin V. But even though, the Council of Constance was successful in clearing up the mess, the Great Schism and the Babylonian Captivity badly weakened the Church's spiritual authority, as many devoted Christians started to lose faith in the Church. Not only that, it lead to people to criticize the Church as well as attacking the Church itself. But had not those incidents had happened, the Palais des Papes would never have been built. So in all, the Palais des Papes symbolized the period of time when the Church started to lose most of its authority over people. It was the time when temporal authority managed to defeat spiritual authority. However, the Palais des Papes still exists where it had been built.

Map of the Palais des Papes (Where to Go):

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Keeler, Helen. Grimbly, Susan. NetPlaces. "The Papacy in Trouble". The New York Times Company. (Accessed September 21.2011)

Fodor's: Travel Intelligence. "Palais des Papes Review". Random House Inc. (Accessed September 21, 2011)

Palais des Papes. "La Chambre du Cerf". Tours Droits De Reproduction Reserves, (Accessed September 29, 2011)

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Written By Tiffany Chen
Copyright @Taipei American School Class of 2014
All Rights Reserved