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Europe around 1400

The Church, an important factor in the social life of the early 15th century, was in deep crisis. Two rival popes competed for power, each with his own supporters in Rome and in Avignon. Throughout Europe, people, including John Wycliffe in England, Jan Hus in Bohemia, and Geert Grote in the Low Lands, rose up in opposition to the moral decline of the Church. They tried to reform the Church from within; about a century later Martin Luther heralded a new era with his Reformation movement, which precipitated a permanent schism in the Church by like-minded people.

Another factor that played a significant role at the time was the plague epidemic, which reached astronomical proportions, claiming countless lives between 1350 and 1450. An estimated one-third of the European population died, which led to a deep economic and emotional crisis, in which the social structure came under fire. Social unrest, civil wars, and travelling bands of bandits brought chaos throughout the continent.

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