Pope Martin V

Pope Martin V was the 206th Pope. He was born Oddone Colonna in 1368, ascended to the papacy in 1417, marking the end of the Western Schism, a tumultuous period that saw multiple claimants to the papal throne and deeply divided Christendom.

His election at the Council of Constance was a pivotal moment, heralding a new era of unity and reform for the Catholic Church after decades of schism, confusion, and conflict.

As pope, Martin V faced the monumental task of restoring the papacy’s moral authority and centralizing its power, which had been significantly eroded by the schism and the Avignon Papacy.

Martin V’s pontificate was characterized by his efforts to consolidate papal authority and rebuild the Church’s spiritual and administrative structures. He initiated a series of reforms aimed at addressing the corruption and inefficiencies within the Church, though his measures were often cautious, reflecting the complex political realities of the time.

His commitment to rebuilding Rome as a spiritual and cultural center was evident in his patronage of the arts and restoration projects, which helped lay the foundations for the Renaissance.

However, Martin V’s tenure was not without controversy, particularly his responses to the Hussite movement and his issuance of papal bulls that, while seeking to protect Jewish communities, also contained provisions that reflected the prejudices of the era. Despite these complexities, Pope Martin V is remembered for navigating the Church through one of its most challenging periods, steering it towards renewal and unity.

The Hussite Movement

Pope Martin V was deeply involved in the politics of the time. Secular and sacred overlapped. A thorn in the Catholic Church’s side was the Hussite movement. Jan Hus, a Czech priest and scholar, was a pre-Protestant reformer.

Like Martin Luther in the next century, he spoke out about the selling of indulgences to relieve the burden of sin one carried. He was arrested and executed despite having a “safe conduct” from the King of Hungary, Sigismund.

Unrest in Prague and Bohemia followed. Pope Martin signed a Papal Bull authorizing Sigismund to carry out a crusade against the Hussites. There were five crusades. The Catholic army lost to the Hussites every time.


In addition to the Hussite Wars, which lasted until 1439, Martin V interceded in favor of the Byzantine Emperor, Manuel II, in 1420, granting indulgences for anyone willing to join a crusade against the Ottoman Turks.

He ended a local war by recognizing the leader of the opposing army as a vicar. By making the deposed antipope, John XXIII, a cardinal, Martin V reconciled the former pope to his deposition.

List of Events In The Life of Pope Martin V

138012.0AppointedBishop of Urbino, Italy
15 Dec 140133.9AppointedAdministrator of Palestrina
12 Jun 140537.4Elevated to Cardinal
12 Jun 140537.4AppointedCardinal-Deacon of San Giorgio in Velabro
140941.0ResignedBishop-Elect of Urbino, Italy
11 Nov 141749.8ElectedPope (Roma, Italy)
12 Nov 141749.8Ordained DeaconDeacon
13 Nov 141749.8Ordained PriestPriest
14 Nov 141749.8Ordained BishopPope (Roma, Italy)
21 Nov 141749.8InstalledPope (Roma, Italy)
20 Feb 143163.1DiedPope (Roma, Italy)

Facts about Pope Martin V

  • His hometown was Genazzano, a small village near Rome that later became famous for a miraculous appearance of a painting of the Virgin Mary.

  • He took the name Martin because he was raised to the papacy on St. Martin’s Day.

  • He was actually Martin III, not Martin V. When trying to figure out how many Martins there had been before this one, the cardinals accidentally included two popes names Marinus.

  • Martin V issued a Papal Bull against slavery,. However, the bull only applied if the slave was Christian. Non-Christians were not protected. In fact, Prince Henry of Portugal gave Pope Martin ten black slaves.

  • He was the first Italian pope after the line of French popes in Avignon.

  • His family was given fiefs in southern Italy because of his intervention, increasing their wealth and power.

  • He tried to act as mediator in the Hundred Years War between France and England.

  • Prior to his election, the Council of cardinals had gained great power, asserting their will over that of the pope. Martin changed that and returned the power to the papacy.

  • His successor was Eugene IV, who immediately set out to undo much of what Martin had done.


At the age of 63, Pope Martin V began to show signs of illness. He called a council and addressed them on February 19, 1431. The next day he died of what was called apoplexy, probably a stroke or hemorrhage in the brain.