I had no idea that there was any relevance in ancient and medieval history to current events, but the history of the antipopes is shockingly on point and surprisingly much more complicated than I imagined. I’ll cut to the chase here, but the whole post is fascinating.
So what can we learn from this? History is full of venal, self-interested rich guys who do not take no for an answer, and the thing is a lot of the time they actually get their way. People with weaker claims to the papal throne have in fact won when they managed to get other powerful people on their side. Moreover, “official” titles and lineages are not necessarily proof of moral worth. We should approach pontiffs on a case by case basis when we start making generalisations about Antipopes. The more you know about Urban VI and his election the more you can sympathise with trying for a do-over and fucking back off to Avignon.
In the grand scheme of things, however, whether or not we think of any particular Antipope as, well, an Antipope doesn’t really matter to them. What care do they have for us hundreds of years later and how we feel, when they were able to live out their days in luxury, writing screeds about how they were wronged.
There is a lesson here, as well as a warning. Rich dudes are not good at being told no. That can mean a number of things. It can been an amusing story in a blog six hundred years later, or it can mean a destabalisation process which feeds into military conflict. The difference is largely based on clout, but one should never assume that the powerful and rich who bestow such things do so because of procedure or some sort of nebulous concept of morality. They do so based on what it gives them. It is our job to make our feelings about that clear so that poor decisions are not made and retroactively forgiven. (*cough* Bush v. Gore)
I think I already knew that answer.