The Avignon Papacy refers to a period in the history of the Roman Catholic Church from 1305 to 1375 when the seat of the Pope was moved from Rome to Avignon. The period has been called the "Babylonian Captivity" (or "Babylonish Captivity") of the Popes (or the Church), particularly by Martin Luther but also by many Catholic writers. This nick-name is polemical, in that it refers to the claim by critics that the fabulous prosperity of the church at this time was accompanied by a profound compromise of the Papacy's spiritual integrity, especially in the alleged subordination of the powers of the Church to the ambitions of the Frankish emperor. Coincidentally, the "captivity" of the popes at Avignon lasted around the same duration as the exile of the Jews in Babylon, making the analogy all the more convenient and rhetorically potent.
Seven popes resided in Avignon:
- Pope Clement V - 1305-1314
- Pope John XXII - 1316-1334
- Pope Benedict XII - 1334-1342
- Pope Clement VI - 1342-1352
- Pope Innocent VI - 1352-1362
- Pope Urban V - 1362-1370
- Pope Gregory XI - 1370-1375
The wine Châteauneuf du Pape, which means "Pope's new castle", was named after the antipope's residence in Avignon.