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985
CONSTANCE, COUNCIL OF

convent, on an island east of the town, is now turned into a hotel, but the buildings (especially the cloisters) are well preserved. The 14th century Kaufhaus (warehouse for goods) was the scene of the conclave that elected Martin V., but the council really sat in the cathedral church. The town-hall dates from 1592, and has many points of interest. In the market-place, side by side, are two houses wherein two important historical events are said to have taken place—in the “Gasthaus zum Barbarossa” Frederick Barbarossa signed the peace of Constance (1183), while in the house named “zum Hohen Hafen” the emperor Sigismund invested Frederick of Hohenzollern with the mark of Brandenburg (1417). On the outskirts of the town, to the west, in the Brühl suburb, a stone marks the spot where Hus and Jerome of Prague were burnt to death. The Rosgarten museum contains various interesting collections. Constance is the centre of a brisk transit trade, while it has various factories and other industrial establishments.

Constance owes its fame, not to the Roman station that existed here, but to the fact that it was a bishop’s see from the 6th century (when it was transferred hither from Vindonissa, near Brugg, in the Aargau) till its suppression in 1821, after having been secularized in 1803 and having lost, in 1814–1815, its Swiss portions. The bishop was a prince of the Holy Roman Empire, while his diocese was one of the largest in Germany, including (shortly before the Reformation) most of Baden and Württemberg, and 12 out of the 22 Swiss cantons (all the region on the right bank of the Aar, save the portions included in the diocese of Coire)—in it were comprised 350 monasteries, 1760 benefices and 17,000 priests. It was owing to this important position that the see city of the diocese was selected as the scene of the great reforming council, 1414–1418 (see below), which deposed all three rival popes, elected a new one, Martin V., and condemned to death by fire John Huss (6th of July 1415) and Jerome of Prague (23rd of May 1416). In 1192 (some writers say in 1255) the city became an imperial free city, but the bishop and his chapter practically ruled it till the time of the Reformation. Constance is the natural capital of the Thurgau, so that when in 1460 the Swiss wrested that region from the Austrians, the town and the Swiss Confederation should have been naturally drawn together. But Constance refused to give up to the Swiss the right of exercising criminal jurisdiction in the Thurgau, which it had obtained from the emperor in 1417, while the Austrians, having bought Bregenz (in two parts, 1451 and 1523), were very desirous of securing the well-placed city for themselves. In 1530 Constance (whose bishop had been forced to flee in 1527 to Meersburg, on the other side of the lake, and from that time the episcopal residence) joined, with Strassburg, Memmingen and Lindau, the Schmalkalden League. But after the great defeat of the Protestants in 1547, in the battle of Mühlberg, the city found itself quite isolated in southern Germany. The Austrians had long tried to obtain influence in the town, especially when its support of the Protestant cause attracted the sympathy of the Swiss. Hence Charles V. lost no time, and in 1548 forced it, after a bloody, though unsuccessful, fight on the bridge over the Rhine, not merely to surrender to the imperial authority and to receive the bishop again, but also to consent to annexation to the Austrian family dominions. Protestantism was then vigorously stamped out. In 1633 Constance resisted successfully an attempt of the Swedes to take it, and, in 1805, by the treaty of Pressburg, was handed over by Austria to Baden.

See S. J. Capper, The Shores and Cities of the Bodensee (London, 1881); G. Gsell-Fels, Der Bodensee (Munich, 1893); Bruckmann’s illustrierte Reiseführer; E. Issel, Die Reformation in Konstanz (Freiburg i/B., 1898); F. X. Kraus, Die Kunstdenkmäler des Kreises Konstanz (Freiburg i/B., 1887); J. Laible, Geschichte der Stadt Konstanz (Konstanz, 1896); A. Maurer, Der Übergang der Stadt Konstanz an das Haus Österreich (Frauenfeld, 1904).  (W. A. B. C.) 

CONSTANCE, COUNCIL OF. This council, convoked at the instance of the emperor Sigismund by Pope John XXIII.—one of the three popes between whom Christendom was at the time divided—with the object of putting an end to the Great Schism of the West and reforming the church, was opened on the 5th of November 1414 and did not close until the 22nd of April 1418. In spite of his reluctance to go to Constance, John XXIII., who succeeded Alexander V. (the pope elected by the council of Pisa), hoped that the new council, while confirming the work of the council of Pisa, would proclaim him sole legitimate pope and definitely condemn his two rivals, Gregory XII. and Benedict XIII. But he was soon forced to renounce this hope. So urgent was the need of restoring union at any cost that even prelates who had taken an active part in the work of the council of Pisa, such as Pierre d’Ailly, cardinal bishop of Cambrai, were forced to admit, in view of the fact that the decisions of that council had been and were still contested, that the only possible course was to reconsider the question of the union de novo, entirely disregarding all previous deliberations on the subject, and treating the claims of John and his two competitors with the strictest impartiality. Feebly supported by the Italians, by the majority of the cardinals, and by the representatives of the king of France, John soon found himself in danger of being driven to abdicate. With the connivance of the duke of Austria he fled, first to Schaffhausen, then to Laufenburg, Freiburg, and finally to Breisach, in the hope of escaping in Burgundian territory the pressure exerted upon him by the emperor and the fathers of the council. His flight, however, only precipitated events. Sigismund declared war on the duke of Austria, and the fathers, determined to have their will carried out, drew up in their 4th and 5th sessions (30th of March and 6th of April 1415) a set of decrees with the intention of justifying their attitude and putting the fugitive pope at their mercy. Interpreted in the most general sense, these decrees, which enacted that the council of Constance derived its power immediately from Jesus Christ, and that every one, even the pope, was bound to obey it and every legitimately assembled general council in all that concerned faith, reform, union, &c., were tantamount to the overturning of the constitution of the church by establishing the superiority of the council over the pope. Their terms, however, could not fail to give rise to some ambiguity, and their validity was especially contested on the ground that the council was not ecumenical, since it represented at that date the obedience of only one of three rival popes. Nevertheless, John, who had been abandoned by the duke of Austria and imprisoned in the castle of Radolfzell, near Constance, was arraigned, suspended and deposed (May 29th), and himself ratified the sentence of the council.

Pope Gregory XII. was next required to renounce his rights, and this he did, with as much independence as dignity, through a legate, who previously convoked the council in the name of his master, and thus in some sort gave it the necessary confirmed authority. This was the regular extinction of the line of pontiffs who, if the validity of the election of Urban VI. on the 8th of April 1378 be admitted, had held the legitimate papacy for thirty-seven years.

All that remained was to obtain the abdication of Benedict XIII., the successor of the Avignon pope Clement VII., but the combined efforts of the council and the emperor were powerless to overcome the obstinacy of the Aragonese pope. It was in vain that Sigismund journeyed to Perpignan, and that the kings of Aragon, Castile and Navarre ceased to obey the aged pontiff. Abandoned by almost all his adherents Benedict found refuge in the castle of Peniscola on an impregnable rock overlooking the Mediterranean, and remained intractable. At the council proceedings were instituted against him, which ended at last on the 26th of July 1417 in his deposition. In this sentence it is to be noted that the council of Constance was careful not to base itself upon the former decision of the council of Pisa. The action of the council of Constance in renewing the condemnation of the doctrines of Wycliffe pronounced at Rome in 1413, and in condemning and executing John Huss and Jerome of Prague, is dealt with elsewhere (see Wycliffe; Huss; Jerome of Prague). Nor is it possible to mention here all the intrigues and quarrels that arose during three and a half years among the crowd of prelates, monks, doctors, simple clerks, princes and ambassadors composing this tumultuous assembly—perhaps