The Council of Constance is the sixteenth Ecumenical Council recognized by the Catholic Church. It is known mainly for its successful ending of the Western Schism but in the process it also gave strong support to the conciliarist tendencies in Europe. Following the election of rival Popes in 1378 and the failure of the Council of Pisa in 1409 to resolve the crisis by the election of a new Pope, Alexander V, the Church found itself with three Popes instead of one. Under pressure from the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund, Pope John XXIII, the successor of the Pisa Pope, Alexander V, summoned a Council at Constance, with three specific aims: end the schism (causa unionis), reform the Church (causa reformationis) and combat heresy and purify doctrine (causa fidei). The Council was attended by roughly 29 cardinals, 100 “learned doctors of law and divinity,” 134 abbots, and 183 bishops and archbishops. Although there was a general perception, especially among the Italian bishops, that Pope John XXIII had more legitimacy than the other two claimants, it was decided by the Council that all the three Popes should be asked to resign. John Gerson of Paris University gave the reasons for this arguing that the final norm in the Church is the Council and that the Pope should obey the Council. He thus advocated what came to be known as Conciliarism but his version was a moderate one. The Council cannot suspend the plenitude of power of the Pope but can limit it if circumstances called for it. The Council is not above the Pope but if there is a need, the Council can meet without the explicit consent or order of the Pope and he should obey the Council for the good of the Church. At this juncture, Pope John XXIII who had become increasingly suspicious of the Council committed a blunder. He was unwilling to give up his position because he was convinced that he was the rightfully elected Pope and decided to secretly flee the Council in the hope that this would disrupt it. But he was captured by the soldiers of the Emperor, brought back and tried by the Council. He was accused of immorality of the worst sort, poisoning his predecessors, squandering the Church’s wealth, simony, intolerable avarice etc. He was deposed. Of the other two, one resigned and the other was deposed. The Council Fathers were enraged and passed the decree Haec Sancta in 1415 with a radically conciliarist tone: “This holy Synod of Constance declares that legitimately assembled in the Holy Spirit constituting a general Council and representing the Catholic Church militant it has power immediately from Christ and that everyone of whatever state or dignity even Papal is bound to obey it in those matters which pertain to the faith, the eradication of the present schism and the general reform of the Church of God in head and in members.” It clearly said that the Council was above the Pope and stressed reform in head and in members thus bringing the Pope clearly under the authority of the Council. Thus the Council of Constance came to be known for its radical theory of Conciliarism. In order to ensure the reform of the Church in head and in members, in 1417, the Council passed another decree called Frequens, calling for frequent convocation general Councils. It elected Martin V as the new Pope (1417-31), thus finally ending the Western Schism. As part of its programme of doctrinal reforms, it condemned two popular theologians of the time, John Wycliffe and Jan Hus. Hus was summoned to Constance under a letter of safe conduct but at the trial he was found guilty of heresy and turned over to the secular court, which sentenced him to death. He was burnt alive at the stake. Wycliffe escaped this fate because he had been dead some time, but in accordance with the Council’s directive that his works be banned and body remains removed from consecrated ground, his bones were exhumed and burnt in 1428. There are a lot of debates even now about the validity of the decrees of the Council of Constance. But the fact is that Constance is an ecumenical Council and the decrees were never formally rescinded.