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Papacy

Bishop of Rome in direct descent from St Peter. Claimed supreme authority within western Christendom but this claim was not uncontested. The fifteenth century saw General Councils (backed by the universities) laying contradictory claims. In the sixteenth century the Papacy achieved the upper hand once again but was particularly sensitive to suggestions of the revival of conciliarism and to claims by secular threats to its authority. The Henrician Reformation can be placed fruitfully within this general context.