1309: Pope in Avignon
Philip IV (the Fair) of France, struggling against Pope Boniface VIII to ensure the supremacy of the State over the Church, was able to circumvent the Pope's power by securing the election of the Archbishop of Bordeaux, Bertrand de Got as Pope Clement V who established his residence in Avignon in 1309. Clement opposed the proceedings brought by the King of France against the Knights Templar, but with very little effect, and on 3 April 1312, he dissolved the Order during the Council of Vienna. The Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, was subsequently burned on 18 March 1314.
Clement V's successors settled in Avignon, beautifying the city and the episcopal palace was converted into the Popes' Palace.
Gregory XI returned to Rome in 1377 and died there in 1378. The election of Urban VI on 7 April 1378 was met with hostility from Charles V, and Clement VII (Robert of Geneva), was thus elected pope on 20 September 1378 and established his court in Avignon. He became the first antipope in Avignon.
The Great Western Schism had just begun: two coexisting popes - one in Rome and the other in Avignon - with the Hundred Years War at the heart of the conflict with England supporting the pope in Rome and France the pope in Avignon.
The Schism was brought to an end with the election of Martin V in 1417.
Under Benedict XII, the episcopal palace became the official residence of the Pope and work to improve the building began in 1335. Italian painters such as Matteo Giovannetti and Simone Martini settled in Avignon, decorating the Popes' Palace in particular, with frescos. While in exile, a young Petrarch frequented the Papal Court before withdrawing to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse.
The Episcopal See was transferred to the former palace of Cardinal Berenger Fredoli the Elder, built from 1318 to 1320 (now the Musée du Petit Palais).
The tombs of popes and cardinals bear witness to the Papal Court's time in the city.