Avignon of the Popes: City of Exiles
At the beginning of the fourteenth century anarchy in Italy led to the capital of the Christian world being moved from Rome for the first and only time in history. It was a critical moment, and it resulted in seven successive popes remaining in exile for the next seventy years. The city chosen to replace Rome was Avignon. And depending on where you stood at the time they were seventy years of heaven, or of hellopinions invariably ran to extremes, as did the behaviour of the popes themselves. It was during this period of exile that the city witnessed some of the most turbulent events in the history of Christendom, among them the suppression of the Knights Templar and the last of the heretical Cathars, the first onslaught of the Black Death, the final collapse of the crusading dream, and the first decades of the Hundred Years War between England and France, in which successive Avignon popes attempted to mediate.