600 years of the Council of Constance

Council of Constance - Plague and war

No matter if it was the 100 Years’ War in France; European struggles for more influence on the Papacy that was represented by three Popes being in office simultaneously, each of whom trumping the other in levels of corruption, sale of indulgences and contract killings; recurring famines and – twice - the black death; reform and revivalist movements conducted by the ailing population that were subsequently persecuted by the Church’s brutal Inquisition: the 14th century was by no means a peaceful age. Hence, King Sigismund of Germany decided to fundamentally reform the Church, thus convening the Council of Constance.

Council of Constance

This huge event took place between 1414 and 1418; the centrally located town of Constance was chosen to accommodate representatives of the whole of Christianity. Envoys travelled there from as far afield as Portugal and Poland, Sweden or Ethiopia. During the time of the Council, Constance’s population was said to be around 60.000, as opposed to 5.000 when the Council was not in session. Politically, the Council cannot be described as a success – while it did lead to the unseating of three popes and, by electing Martin V, the termination of the Great Western Schism, the larger goal of general Church reform was not achieved. These omissions led to the Reformation and the split of the Church under Martin Luther 100 years later. Prominent victims of the Council include Prague theologian Jan Hus and the Czech scholar Hieronymus of Prague, both of whom were intellectual reformers that disrupted power-political processes and were subsequently burnt at the stake.

Council of Constance - Execution of Jan Hus

Not only are the medieval parts of Constance widely intact, there are also several other important sites from the time of the Council that can be visited, for example the cathedral (“Münster”), where participants held their meetings and the Council building – originally a warehouse – where the Papal election was held. We want to inform you about a multitude of events that will be held to celebrate the Council’s 600th anniversary.


600 years of the Council of Constance – Constance City Council
Larger and smaller events: www.konstanzer-konzil.de

New exhibition – Hus-Museum
Permanent exhibition and tours in several languages

Konstanzer Konzil - Konstanz 1414 - Silvio Natali
Council of Constance - The Constance Munster
Council of Constance - The old warehouse