The History Of Christendom Is Filled With Class Warfare, Massacres And Tragedy

By Theodore Shoebat

We may speak of the glory of Christendom, but what of her miseries? Without misery there is no glory; without struggle nor conflict, there is no glory; without trials nor tribulations, there is no glory. So we cannot speak of the glory of Christendom without speaking of her plight. Reading of the nightmarish events that plagued her life, one sees evils reminiscent to those of the modern world, such as class warfare and tribalism. In this article we will look into the significant events of the mid to late 14th century, seeing how in this era there was class warfare — conflict between rich and poor —, war between those who upheld the political authority of the Church and those who did not — the Guelph and Ghibelline conflict; the end of the Avignon Papacy — in which the Church was not in Rome but France —, and how one massacre preceded the devastating Western Schism, in which claimants to the throne of St. Peter vied for the papal office. This article is part of our series on the fall of Christendom in which we will talk about the struggle of Christendom, her innovations and her eventual death. (To read the series so far, here is part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5)  Let us begin…

The Formation of the Golden Bull

In 1347, the King Charles IV was crowned in Rome, without lavishness or pomp. He pledged in a written statement, delivered to Cardinal de Colombiers, that he would repudiate everything done by the Ghibelline tyrant Louis (Ludwig) of Bavaria. Louis had a conflict with the Church as he presented himself as the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, and (being of the Ghibelline faction) he wanted to tear down the Church’s political authority and supported the anti-clerical ideologues such as William of Ockham and Marsilius of Padua. Charles IV also promised to neither claim nor take over papal territories which is what warlords like Giovanni di Vico and Francesco II Ordelaffi had done. Charles also promised to require his vicars in northern Italy to support the Pope. There was another thing that Charles would later do that would have a profound impact on European politics, and that was the formation of a parliamentary structure in Germany. He convened a Diet of the Empire at Nuremberg where he presented a well thought out plan to establish imperial elections. Charles’s intention behind this was to create a more harmonious political system in order prevent political conflict. He understood that the Holy Roman Empire consisted of different peoples, languages and cultures, and thus a system that could encourage harmony was necessary. In the words of Charles IV:

“Since the glory of the Holy Roman Empire consists in the variety of customs, ways of life, and language of the various nations that go to make it up, it must have laws and a method of government that take all this variety into consideration.”

This system came to be called the Golden Bull. This political formation gave significant position to the three bishop electors of Germany: The Archbishop of Mainz (traditionally the Chancellor of Germany who summoned the imperial electoral college); the Archbishop of Trier (traditionally the Chancellor of Italy); and the Archbishop of Cologne, who had the role of crowning the emperor as King of the Romans at Aachen. Then there were the other estates of the Golden Bull. There was the King of Bohemia (traditionally the imperial cup-bearer); the Count Palatine of the Rhine; the Duke of Saxony and the Margrave of Brandenburg. The system put forth by the Emperor Charles IV required that when an election was announced by the Archbishop of Mainz, all of the electors had to attend or send a deputy with a proxy (or else lose their vote); that the electors could not bring a team of bodyguards of more than 200 horsemen; that they could not make their vote (or sell their vote) before the convening of the meeting; and that if they did not vote in thirty days that their diet would be reduced to bread and water until they made a vote. The Pope at this time, Innocent VI, made no objection to the Golden Bull. In fact, this system of law was universally accepted as fundamental to Germany and was perpetually maintained until the outbreak of the Thirty Years War in 1618. During this time there was a conflict that was devastating Europe, and this was the 100 Years War between the English and the French.

The 100 Years War And A Terrible Revolution In France

After the Battle of Crecy, in which the English defeated the French, and the English capture of Calais, fighting between the two nations stopped due to the Black Death epidemic. They agreed to a temporary peace in April of 1354 in a meeting at Guines. In accordance to the terms of peace, King Edward III of England would stop claiming to be the King of France and in exchange the French would stop making claim to Aquitaine and relinquish the territories of Poitou, Touraine, Anjou, Maine and Normandy. But this meant giving up (basically) half of France to the English, and this was something that the French simply would not do. Notwithstanding Pope Innocent VI’s approval of the treaty, the French government under King John II (the “Good Fellow”) refused to support it. In 1355 the truce expired and fighting resumed. 

The son of King Edward III, Edward the Black Prince, led an English army of longbowmen and they ravished through southern France, devastating the countryside and setting ablaze the regions of Montgiscard and Castelnaudary and the towns of Carcassonne and Narbonne. The English did all this without much of a fight and the Black Prince returned comfortably to his base at Bordeaux. There was one particular battle where the French were especially vanquished. It was on September 19th, 1356 at Poitiers. There the French warriors assembled, dressed in heavy armor that arrows could not pierce. But while their bodies were protected by metal, their horses could not be dressed in such armor. The English, experts in the longbow, one by one took out the horses. The French charged at the English by foot and put up an immense fight before the English hit them back hard with heavy calvary charges. Some of the English thought that victory was unattainable, but Edward the Black Prince looked to his men and exclaimed: “While I am alive it is blasphemy to say we are beaten”.

He turned to his top commander, John Chandos, and declared: “John, get forward — you shall not see me turn my back this day!” The French were overtaken, the English exuberant in their victory; the King of France found himself as a prisoner alongside two thousand captured French knights. France fell into a crisis.

The succeeding king, the Crown Prince or Dauphin Charles, took to the throne in the face of a moribund nation; the king was a prisoner, and he was only nineteen years old, timid and having to endure through the humiliation of a devastated army. In the midst of a brittle kingdom, there lied the virus of revolutionary scheming, festering in the puss of a wounded nation. The ideologue, Stephen Marcel, had dominated France’s third estate — the commoners, which was one of the country’s three Estates-General, the other two being the clergy and the nobility. Marcel, a provost for France’s merchant class, wanted the king to be subordinate to a council appointed by the Estates, thus undermining the monarchy. Here we see how in the history of France, the anti-monarchical spirit of the French Revolution was not something that happened to appear in the late eighteenth century, but was metastasizing and developing for centuries, from the medieval period onwards. There was a bitter conflict taking place between Dauphine Charles and the Estates. Charles laid claim to the throne by arguing that as the son of Louis X’s daughter he had the right to be king. But in March of 1347, Dauphine Charles acquiesced to the Estates by signing their Grande Ordonnance which required and allowed for representatives of the Estates to sit on the royal council and superintend the administration of the kingdom and to even get rid of unpopular nobles. Also in this weak condition of the kingdom, Dauphine Charles also made a two year truce with the English. But this also had its destructive effects, since many soldiers — no longer fighting in the conflict — became mercenaries and terrorized the countryside. But discussions on a peaceful solution were taking place. In London, on September of 1357, there was a peace conference attended by King Edward III of England, the captive French King John II, Dauphine France and the Pope. By January of the next year they agreed to the First Treaty of London which set the ransom for the captured John II at four million gold ecus. The treaty also demanded for the French to give up the entire southwestern quarter of France to England. But as this was taking place, the spirit of revolution was lingering around and waiting for the right moment to spark.

Stephen Marcel had been cultivating an intense nationalist sentiment amongst the people of Paris. He gave them their own national colors, red and white, and as their rallying signal he had them wear hoods of these colors. The Dauphine was in his chambers, and the mob, dressed in white and red hoods, was coming. It was February and the mob was being led by Marcel who was thirsty for royal blood. The mob rushed inside of the Dauphine’s chambers and slaughtered the Marshals of Champagne and Normandy right in front of his own eyes. The Dauphine was splattered with the blood of his Marshals. He begged for his life. Marcel took off his hood and placed it on the Dauphine’s head and had him brought to the Hotel de Ville. The Dauphine was overtaken with terror, and he had no choice but to acquiesce to the demands of the mob. While at the Hotel de Ville, the Dauphine addressed a crowd of the mob and declared that the two Marshals who were murdered in front of him were traitors who needed to be killed.

At this point, the monarchy had no authority over Paris. The city was under the control of a revolutionary leader, Stephen Marcel. A civil war (and really a class war) commenced in Paris between the commoners, headed by Marcel, and the nobility who were truly terrified at the violent uprising. Marcel’s forces attacked the Louvre and took control of it. The war led to horrifying inhumanities. While countryfolk were hit hard by taxes and pillaged by soldiers, the nobles themselves did not mind in partaking in abuses. There was even a saying amongst the nobles about the countryfolk who they nicknamed Jacques Bonhomme (Jacque the good  man): “Jacques Bonhomme never parts with his money unless he is well cudgeled; but Jacques Bonhomme will pay, for he shall be beaten.” Barons and nobles who were captured in the battle at Poitiers and released upon parole imposed heavy taxes on these countryfolk so that they could acquire enough funds to pay their ransoms.

The people, ever so exasperated by these abuses, revolted in May of 1358. They began around Beauvais and quickly spread to other areas where they murdered any member of the aristocracy they could grab. They burnt castles, and even tortured and butchered those living in the castles. They took women and girls and raped them, and they were so filled with an insatiable and diabolical spirit that they would even force children to eat the flesh of their parents who were burnt before their own eyes. The chronicler Jean le Bel wrote:

“peasants killed a knight, put him on a spit, and roasted him with his wife and children looking on. After ten or twelve of them raped the lady, they wished to force feed them the roasted flesh of their father and husband and made them then die by a miserable death”.

So the response to government abuses were truly far worse than the abuses they were upset by, which leads one to question the never ending presence of the revolutionary who complains and hollers on some government abuse, only to be holding an evil rage far more atrocious than whatever it is that he is protesting against. The nobles, seeing what horrors were being done, began to exterminate the rebels who became known as “the Jacquerie” (named after the insult, Jacques Bonhomme). Charles “the Bad”, king of Navarre marched his army against these wretches and butchered them by the thousands. Almost all of them were killed, and the villages and fields, where such rebels were heavily present, were filled with silence. Marcel, seeing no hope in his revolution, knew that he had to appease Charles the Bad somehow. He met with him and implored him to return to Paris. But that night a man named Maillard, who was an enemy of the rebel, struck Marcel in the head with a battle-axe and killed him. The French chronicler, Charles Jean Francois Henault, described the event as such:

“Marcel, afraid of being punished by the regent, whose armies had infested Paris, fills up the measure of his iniquity, by attempting to betray the town to the English: but, as he was advancing to the gate of St. Anthony, the 1st of August about midnight, John Maillard, a trusty and resolute citizen, dispatched the traitor with a hatchet, his death put an end to the rebellion, and the dauphine returned to Paris the 4th of the same month.”

The Dauphine returned to Paris as a conquering hero and orchestrated the executions of many of his enemies. (Emile de Bonnechose, History of France, pages 166-167) Nonetheless the turbulency of conflict between the French and English continued. France’s king, John II, was still a captive of the English. The first installment for his ransom was not paid on schedule in November and King Edward III of England declared that the Treaty of London was empty of significance and the war resumed. But by the year 1360, Edward agreed to the Peace of Bretigny since he realized that he was unable to endure through an occupation of a very resilient France.

A Turbulent Italy And The End Of The Avignon Papacy

King John II’s ransom was reduced by 25% and he was eventually freed on October 25th, although he had to leave three of his sons as hostages to fulfill the terms of the treaty. John II also sold his own eleven year old daughter, Isabelle, to the cruel Gian Galeazzo Visconti, so that he could get 600,000 gold florins to pay his ransom. Visconti was a very powerful figure; he had taken control of Milan, and then after that he took over Verona, Vicenza, and Padua. He soon controlled almost the entire valley of the Po river. He controlled all of the dominions of the Visconti family and wanted to unite them into a single state. In his pursuit for power he was in a feud with his uncle, Bernabo Visconti. There is a story about Visconti that truly illustrates that no matter how far you go into history — even into the height of Christendom — you will find people of political prestige who held fanatically anti-Christian and anticlerical views. Bernabo was in constant conflict with the Church. When legates of the Pope, Urban V, sent legates to Bernabo to deliver their excommunication papers, Bernabo told the legates to eat the paper. When the Archbishop expressed his disgust with this, Bernabo screamed at him “that here in his own land he was Pope, emperor and God himself, for here God could do nothing without [his] permission.” 

The war between the Church and the Visconti eventually would come to an end, but at a price. In order to make relations between the Church and the Visconti, Pope Urban V removed one of the biggest combatants against the anti-clerical Ghibelline faction, Cardinal Albornoz, who first fought in the battlefield against the Muslims in Spain before going to battle Ghibellines who were fighting to control Papal territory. Urban V dismissed Albornoz as representative in northern Italy all for the purpose of appealing to the Visconti. The Pope also promised to pay a half a million gold florins to get the Visconti to cease his control of Papal lands. The Visconti had pressured the Pope to dismiss Albornoz as part of the treaty with the Church. But eventually the conflict ended, and a new conflict was soon to sprout up from the abyss. Rome was living in relatively steady times and was ruled by a non-Roman. Rome had not seen such stability since the death of Cola do Rienzo in 1354.

Meanwhile the Pope was in very serious talks about finally ending the Avignon Papacy and returning to Rome. The French cardinals, expectedly, objected to the Pope returning to Rome. But the emperor, Charles IV, supported the move and even offered to personally take the Pope back to Rome. The Pope was hesitant at first, but by June of 1366 he informed the cardinals, the Emperor, the King of France, Bernabo Visconti and the people of the empire that he had made the decision to return to Rome. The Avignon Papacy was soon coming to an end. The Italians were ever so exuberant about the decision; the French, not surprisingly, were quite upset.

By April of 1367, the Pope left Avignon. He arrived at Marseilles on May 6th and began to endure the pressure of the French cardinals who were so upset that they threatened to not accompany him in Rome. As a response Pope Urban V appointed a new cardinal, Guillaume d’Aigrefeuille, and affirmed that if the cardinals continued to desert him that he would just make more. On May 19th Urban took to the seas and sailed from Marseilles to the Italian town of Corneto. The winds were fast as the ship moved across the waters and arrived in Corneto. A group of ships formed a path of honor for the Pope’s galley. Crowds of pious townsfolk ran to the beach to where the waves were hitting their feet, so that they could behold the successor of St. Peter’s throne return to Italy after sixty-eight years of the papacy being in France.

Four men carried the gold-embroidered baldacchino under which the Pope was to walk. The ship had landed and out came the cardinals; it was easy to recognize the French ones from their discontented faces. The Pope came out, dressed in his papal robe. By October 16th Pope Urban was in Rome before the gaze of thousands of people in an exuberant procession to St. Peter’s Basilica. Cardinal Albornoz, who had fought with so much energy against the despotic warlords who ruled in Italy and controlled papal lands, had given up the ghost in August. He passed away not being fully appreciated by his ecclesiastical piers, but nonetheless his work for the advancement of Church’s political authority had been done with a zeal that transcended the superficial thoughts of men.

The Italian laypeople, hoping that now that the Pope was in Rome that there would be more Italian cardinals elected, were sorely disappointed when Urban V — in September of 1368, over a year after his return — appointed eight new cardinals six of whom were French and only one of whom was Italian. Italy was not the most stable place; it was politically turbulent, a reality that caused the Avignon Papacy in the first place. This instability was especially true in Siena, where there was vicious class warfare between the nobles and the commoners. 

The government of Siena was ruled by a council of gentiluomini or nobles. These had received the ire of the popolani or lower classes whose determined aspiration to rule the state led to their participation within the government. Let us briefly look into the history of this government of Siena. In the year 1137 the popolani took one-third of the government with 50 popolani and 100 nobles. By 1233 the popolani were fully mobilizing to drive all of the nobles out of the government, although this attempt was not successful. Siena ended up thriving when it expanded its territory and received land from feudal lords. There was soon a territorial dispute between Siena and Florence. The latter was of the Guelph faction which supported the political authority of the Church, while Siena took the side of the Ghibellines which supported the power of the German emperors. Within the 12th and 13th centuries both the Sienese and Florentines killed each other in a series of wars until the mid 1250s when a peace and alliance was finally settled. But this did not last; for in 1258 Florence protested that Siena was giving refuge to Ghibelline operatives who Florence had expelled. Florence then executed  Tesauro Beccharia, Abbot of Vallombrosa, who was accused of conspiring for the return of the Ghibellines. With this, both states began preparing for war. 

Siena received backing from the German king Manfred who ruled the Kingdom of Sicily and was of the Hohenstaufen dynasty. Manfred provided Siena with a strong group of German horsemen under the command of Count Giordano (the German mercenary commander). Siena also received the support of their Ghibelline allies. Florence, on the other hand. had a well armed citizen army led by twelve burgher captains. On April of 1260, the two sides fought one another in a long battle that lasted until the 18th of May, with Florence taking the victory at Santa Petronilla. But in the subsequent battle, in which the Guelph allies of Tuscany took part and Manfred provided Siena with hundreds of German knights, Florence had lost at Montaperti on the 4th of September, 1260. Florence was crushed and for years to come did not fully recover. It was the bloodiest battle in medieval Italy, an utter slaughter with 10,000 Guelphs being killed, 4,000 going missing and 15,000 captured and the rest fleeing for their lives. Only around six hundred Ghibellines were killed.

But Ghibelline power in Siena would not last for very long. In 1269 the Ghibellines of Siena were crushed at Colle di Valdelsa by a united force of Guelph exiles — Florentines and French — and in this very battle the powerful Ghibellines figure, Provenzano Salvani, who took part in leading the Sienese in Monaperti, was killed. Ghibelline power in Siena began to decline. Guelph power in the city state began to rise and in several instances Ghibellines were actually expelled from Siena. Moreover, common people in the city were becoming more and more exasperated by the Ghibellines and popular support for the Guelph faction became common. The popular party, consisting of Guelphs, decreed in 1277 that all nobles had to be expelled from the supreme magistracy and insisted that the council should consist of Guelph traders and members of the middle class. This decree manifested in 1280 when the supreme magistracy was reduced to only fifteen members, all of whom were of the lower classes. By 1285 it was reduced to just nine members who were all burghers (people who were part of the bourgeoisie). Siena was enlarged even more and a friendly alliance with Florence was maintained. But the problem was that the government only consisted of the bourgeoisie — or the business class — and this led to anger from commoners, nobles, judges and notaries. A civil war commenced with the council of nine efficiently defending their position with a strong citizen militia.

Such was the turbulency of Italy that would arrive and go dormant only to arrive again, like storms that come and go and return again with a vengeance. Such are the ways of chaos in human society. This was the world that the Church was in. Such was the world that Pope Urban V was in. In 1368 the Emperor Charles IV visited Italy and arrived in Rome with Pope Urban V who was riding a mule which the emperor was holding (in accordance to a custom that was done in those days). But in the next year, 1369, this same emperor was attacked by a mob while he was in Siena and he barely escaped with his life. This violence was linked all the way to the turbulency in Siena which we have just briefly explained. Let us give a little background on the events leading up to this riot against the emperor.

Class War In Siena

In 1355 Charles IV arrived at Siena. His presence gave inspiration to the Ghibelline faction who then toppled the council of nine and replaced it with a magistracy of twelve who were elected from the lower class. But, just because the council members were part of the commoners did not mean that the poor were truly represented. For these councilmen were really influenced by the nobles who actually were the ones who stoked the revolution in the first place. But eventually the participation of the nobles in the state was driven out. A class war ensued between “the lower classes striving to grasp the reins of government,” and “the higher classes already in office striving to keep all power in their own hands” (The New Werner Twentieth Century Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1907,  p.45) The nobles, seeing that the twelve men who now ruled the council were inept at ruling, saw their opportunity to crush what the rebellion had established. The twelve councilmen, unable to remain united (for revolt only leads to more revolt) split into two factions with each side allying with one of two powerful families. The more moderate councilmen sided with the Tolomei, and the more fanatical councilmen joined the Salimbeni.  In 1368 the twelve councilmen were driven out by force from the public palace and they were replaced by a council of thirteen men, ten of whom were nobles and three were part of the noveschi or mercantile-bankers. But this new government only lasted from the 2nd to the 24th of September when it was overthrown by the dodicini  or partisans of the twelve councilmen who were backed by the populace and the Salimbeni and favored by the Emperor Charles IV.

The nobles were then driven out of the city and a council of 124 plebeians created a new magistracy of twelve difensori (defenders) who were composed of five of the popolo minuto (the lowest class of the populace). Eventually the dodicini joined the popolo minuto against the three noveschi (the mercantile-bankers) who were part of the council of thirteen. But the new popular order turned against the dodicini and threw them out. The new government of common folk were terrified of the Emperor Charles IV who was on his way to Siena from Rome and so to appease him it created a new council of twelve, consisting of mercantile-bankers together with the popolani and the dodicini. But the initial twelve councilmen, together with the Salimbeni, did not like this change at all and they were aided by Charles IV who sent a well armed militia to attack the government palace. But the people, angry with the emperor, resisted his forces, defeated them and took the emperor himself hostage in the Salimbeni palace. Charles IV simply came to terms with the government and left. (ibid).

The End Of The Avignon Papacy

Such was the turbulency of Italy. It was in this torrential atmosphere that the Pope Urban V announced that he was leaving Italy and returning back to Avignon. The Romans begged him to stay, but he replied that “the Holy Spirit brought me to this region; now He takes me to other regions for the honor of the Church.” But not too long after he returned to Avignon, Pope Urban V died. Ten days after his death the cardinals voted for Cardinal Pierre Roger de Beaufort who took upon the name Gregory XI. This pope was elected to the throne of St. Peter in the midst of a political atmosphere that was becoming increasingly anticlerical. This was seen especially in England where the parliament, in 1371, passed a law that prohibited members of the clergy from holding the highest offices in the government. This law was signed and enforced by King Edward III who kicked out his chancellor and treasurer because they were both bishops. Animosity towards the Church was also growing and this was reflected in the monasteries of Cologne which, in 1372, agreed to refuse to abide to the papal tax, declaring:

“In consequence of the exactions with which the Papal Court burdens the clergy, the Apostolic See has fallen into such contempt that the Catholic Faith in these parts seems to be seriously imperiled. The laity speak slightingly of the Church, because, departing from the customs of former days, she hardly ever sends forth preachers or reformers, but rather ostentatious men, cunning, selfish, and greedy.”

Here we see a letter that not only reflects the growing enmity towards the Church, but the corruption of the Church that became so present that the common people began to grow disgusted with the institution. In May of 1372 Pope Gregory XI told his cardinals in a meeting that he intended to bring the Church back to Rome “very shortly”. St. Catherine of Siena, one of the main influences of the returning of the Church back to Rome, revealed that the Pope vowed privately before he got elected that he would end the Avignon Papacy. But Gregory XI continued to acquiesce to the pressure of the French cardinals. The Pope’s hesitation was to the rage of the Guelphs who, exasperated by the Avignon Papacy, stirred up a rebellion against the Church. In 1375 Perugia kicked out the papal vicar Gerard du Puy, while the people of Viterbo breached a papal citadel and burnt it to the ground. On the morning of September 13th, Pope Gregory XI headed for Rome to end the Avignon Papacy once and for all. French cardinals wept as they begged him to stay. His sisters exhorted him to remain in France; his own mother fainted upon hearing the news. When Gregory XI arrived to the waiting ship on the Rhone River so that he could travel to Italy, his father was there waiting for him. And to pressure his son not to leave, he lied prostate on the ground at the entrance to the ship. Gregory XI stepped over his father and entered the ship. On January 17th, 1377, Pope Gregory XI arrived at Rome, thus ending the Avignon Papacy once and for all.

While the exile was over, horrific misery was soon going to hit a town in Italy; a massacre of the population organized by none other than a cardinal who commanded a team of ruthless mercenaries.

A Horrific Massacre In Italy

“Do you know that I live by war and that peace would be my undoing?” — Sir John Hawkwood

In the year 1377, the very year that the Avignon Papacy ended, the people of the Italian town of Cesena were butchered by the thousands.

The inhabitants of Cesena (which lies in the Emilia-Romagna region) were actually in support of the Pope, but ironically they were butchered by Breton mercenaries who were commissioned by the Church. These mercenaries were part of the White Company, a private army company which was initially directed by the German Albert Serz but then later on by the Englishman John Hawkwood. While in Cesena they were led by one Robert, the cardinal of Geneva who was sent into the Romagna region as a ecclesiastical legate. The mercenaries had first arrived at Faenza before they rode out into Cesena where they were welcomed by Galeotto Malatesta who was holding the town for the Pope. The mercenaries made their camp outside of the town, and with the advent of winter food became hard to come by. Scarcity led to violence as the mercenaries fought with locals over food. The price of food went up as the weather got colder. The cardinal of Geneva made a horrendous decision: he let the mercenaries enter the town where they — according to the Cronache malatestiane — “devoured, consumed and forced everything out of men and women.” The locals had enough of the mercenaries and a riot broke out on February 2nd of 1377 after mercenaries murdered four influential citizens. The people rallied in the streets crying out: “Long live the church and death to the Bretons.”

Together they hunted down the mercenaries, killing 300 to 400 of them. The mercenaries responded by implementing what one chronicler described as “the destruction of Cesena.” “Everyone — women, old and young, and sick, and children and pregnant women,” writes a Sienese chronicler, “were cut to pieces at the point of a dagger.” The mercenaries threw people off of the town’s walls and into ditches in the streets, and babies were “taken by the feet and dashed against the town hall.” The head of the mercenaries, John Hawkwood, was described by the Italian historian, Luigi Balduzzi, as being “contrary to justice” and an “agitator”. Thousands were butchered, and what makes the story even more disturbing is the fact that the killers were encouraged by the cardinal of Geneva who is reported to have urged John Hawkwood: “I want blood and justice.” (See Caferro, John Hawkwood: An English Mercenary in Fourteenth-Century Italy, pp. 189-190) Devout Catholics were butchered by a cardinal, and here lies a most depressing irony which marks the symptoms of a dying Christendom. What is also telling is that Robert, the orchestrator of the massacre, would pose himself as a pope against Gregory XI. He would become the Antipope Clement VII, and he would help lead the next nightmare of this stage of Christendom’s life: the Western Schism.