The seventy years of the Avignon exile of the Pope (1308-1377) gave rise to the instability that occasioned the Great Western Schism (1378 – 1418). This schism divided Western Christianity for almost four decades - first under two men claiming simultaneously to be Pope, and finally under three papal claimants simultaneously.
During the Great Western Schism, the rulers of nations decided politically whether they would follow the Avignon Obedience or the Roman Obedience within the Church. In the broadest terms, France and Spain followed Avignon, while the remainder of the West followed the Roman Obedience.
Accordingly, from the year 1378 until 1409 there were two Obediences, i.e., two cardinals simultaneously claiming to be the head of the Roman Church.
The states of the centre and north of Italy, along with Hungary, Poland, most of the German-language countries, Holland, England, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway recognized Urban V1 and his successors in Rome.
The kingdoms of Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, Savoy, France, Scotland and after a few years of neutrality and intense propaganda from Avignon - the kingdom of Aragon, Catalonia, Navarre, Castile, and for some time Portugal, recognized the papal claimant in Avignon.
The situation became yet even more complicated and bizarre between 1409 and 1417, where there were simultaneously three claimants for the Papacy.
What here happened in the Church at large with two or three authorities simultaneously opposed happened at the same time in religious orders. The Order of St Augustine, however, was one of the religious orders least affected by the confusion caused by the Great Western Schism.
This was so for a number of reasons: the promptness and the uniformity of action of the Priors General who followed the Roman Obedience of Pope Urban VI and his successors; the fact that two-thirds of the Augustinian Provinces from 1378 onwards were located geographically in the Roman Obedience (fifteen of the twenty-four Provinces); and because from 1385 to 1409 the government of the Order within the Roman Obedience was in the hands of only two Priors General, the first who governed for sixteen years and the second for nine years, with all the advantages that such continuity afforded.
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